Photo: Royal College of Physicians performance. Big big screen.
Yesterday started well enough, with a well-anticipated 5 mile run. Things quickly soured as the getting-out-the-door ritual was unfortunately stressful. I was exhausted (hmn, going to be at 1 am and waking the next morning at 6 for a five mile run witll do that) and highly anxious about the performance at the Royal College of Physicians. But parenthood took precedence and we took the children to Coram's Fields.
As if the stroll to the park wasn't already stoked with thoughts of anger and indequacy (a rocking chair? hello?) Toni informed me that Coram's Field - a lovely playground (one with a policeman at the gate, to keep anyone without children out) with expansive sandboxes for the toddlers (like Orson) a wide variety of climbing contraptions (for people like Zelda) and even game captains to lead older children in more advanced play - was formerly the site of the Foundling Hospital. The bad historical juju, coupled with the sight of my own children playing without a care in the world made something inside of me crumble and I just had to sit and stare.
We arrived at the RCP in plenty of time to set everything up - including a lovely, wooden rocking chair. I didn't want to get into it with anyone, I was about to collapse. I realized I hadn't had anything for lunch, so Kelly and I breezed into the crowded hall where the food was, avoiding eye contact with absolutely everyone, loaded up a small plate, snatching an apple, a hunk of cheese, and bunch of grapes, and escaping back to the little room to the side of the stage.
There was a couch, some chairs, a table. I ate and whined about my life as Kelly, dutiful as always, listened patiently, and then went out to get everything arranged on stage and in the booth.
A large painting, a portrait, of Edward VII hung on the wall. He looked like my Dad, except for the suit.
Photo: The panel discussion.
I had never been so unsure of myself before a performance. And this wasn't even such an unusaul event, but I was so shaken, exhausted, overwhelmed and unhappy, I had no idea how I was going to be able to do this. Toni came backstage and we talked. I just resigned myself to my fate, the show would go on, of course. I just hoped it wasn't terribly awful.
The music started, Calvin's Theme, if you will (check my "Profile," it's there) and I stepped out and did something I never did before. The lights were on full, and I took my time walking to my place in the center of the stage. I usually just keep my eye on that spot, move to it, and look at my hands. This day I looked at everything. The table, the phone, the stepladder, I turned to look at the rocking chair. I took in this room of memories. It gave me confidence.
The room was a lecture hall, maybe three hundred seats, with an estimated 170 attendants, but they were spread evenly throughout the seats. The seats were steeply raked. I was mic'ed (I wasn't in Carlisle, they could hear me whisper in the back of that room without one) and when the opening music faded, I looked up and said, "WHAT?"
I surprised myself, and everyone else, by the volume. Good start, though.
And it was a good show, craning my neck up to the top, taking in the entire audience. Why has it taken five years to become so comfortable with this play? It's like something new, I am looking at the audience, not over them. I feel I am talking to them, not performing for them.
It was warm in there, some people were slouching a bit in their seats, but I didn't mind. The show was working. There were groans, laughs - the British jokes work.
It's become "We had a real English breakfast; eggs, bacon, sausage, turkey rashers, meat, meat and meat," as a complete list, not as commentary.
Photo: Nice shirt - and just in time, too.
The line, "Have you ever noticed, there are newborn babies everywhere ... even in Britain," always gets a laugh in London. It got a bigger laugh in Carlisle when I said, "even in London," which is what I will no doubt repeat tomorrow in Lincoln.
After a short break for coffee, there was a panel discussion about the entire conference, and Toni participated in that. After we stayed and shook hands with a number of folks, including some young couples - two couples each lost a child just this past November. They all impressed me with the way they had already incorporated their children into their lives, though they all had stories about how difficult some family member was being in ackowledging their lost babies.
The rocking chair thing, it turned out, was simply a last-minute error. The chair that they did in fact have at the SANDS office has recently been picked up, unbeknownst to those who knew they still needed it, by the owner who had since left "on holiday." The whole, "throw a blanket over an office chair" was a last-minute fix, an attempt to set things right, without realizing how important it was to me, or the show. A mistake, not some intentional (or even unintentional) slight. But hey, I get so few opportunities for diva fits.
For dinner we joined my brother and his family at a Giraffe close to our hotel. I was practically brainless, but the cocktails were scrumptious and I did my best to be personable. However, this 5 mile running, nervous breakdown having, solo performance acting twit was not through yet. I felt I had earned some joy, and so I left bedtime to Toni, and went out pub-hopping with Kelly and Adrienne. Adrienne finally got to hear the true story of how her sister and I hooked up, which seems creepy since I've know her since she was ten. However, as has been previously mentioned, she is now 23 ... which was how old Toni was when we started dating.
Oh Jesus Christ am I old.
Anyway, the pints were tasty, the conversation was blue, and I went to bed shortly before 1 am.
Photo: Zelda learns a fun magic trick from a complete asshole.
We caught the 5:50 out of King's Cross on our way to Lincoln, and I am writing this on the train. The day was spent quite liesurely, largely in Regent's Park. Con and Adrienne set off on their own the explore Westminster Abbey, and we just strolled through the park, paddled out on the pond to get a closer look at the baby birds, and took a nap under the trees.
We made a brief trip to Covent Garden where we saw the worst magician ever. I have seen buskers make fun of the crowd before for not applauding, but this guy was a legend. He actually stopped his act before it was over, to chastise us for standing around like dummies, and backed away without taking any money.
What a dick.