Saturday, 31 December 2016

D.O.A. Scrimmage

  A medical student waiting tables at a Christmas corporate removed two of the cover settings from a table near the stage.  A couple (it was the woman's birthday) were shown to the table to find a festive centre piece and nothing else.  Certainly not the glasses of champagne that ought to have been just poured.  The woman demanded an explanation.  The waiter explained that the most up to date dinner service print out had said D.O.A. next to the woman's name.
  'Yes, indeed it does,' the maitre d' confirmed.  'Drinks On Arrival...'
  'Oh, but in a hospital D.O.A. means something different.'

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Another Rule of Successful People: Be Specific When Visualing Goals

  Throughout my twenties I visualised the comedy character I play, Madame Galina, touring the provinces like Anna Pavlova. In my daydreams I was dragging a blue trunk, staying in old-school theatrical digs and being partnered by either of my two idols in the Royal Ballet at the time: Michael Nunn and William Trevitt. This was before I had ever performed further afield than my own front room with all the furniture pushed out of the way. 
  Then, in my mid-thirties, about to move back to London from Aldeburgh, where I'd been living for a time, I was walking past the Sue Ryder shop and volunteer Janet signalled furiously for me to come in. Then she dragged a blue trunk out of the stockroom and round the counter, gesturing for me to take the handle. The trunk was heavily full of something. 
  Janet hissed, 'Gillie said you don't have proper luggage, so I've been saving you this. Yes, there is something inside. But don’t open it till you get home, in case someone has kittens seeing it!  It's for you to wear as Madame Galina. Thrilled you've got yourself that London residency.'  At Murray's Cabaret Club. 'My aunt forbade us girls ever to go on to Murray's in the sixties after the theatre, of course. "Filth goes in there!  The Krays, that Keeler monstrosity. Filth!" Oh, but you're onto something with your ballet act - we all said after your show in the Jubilee Hall.  Even though you boiled that massive urn right underneath the wall heater on full blast because you were freezing - Susan Mary said - and fused most of the lights, so we could only see you when you came dancing downstage right. No, don't thank me, now - come on. Just get the trunk home and see what's inside...' 
  Opening the blue trunk when I got home I found Inside a rabbit skin fur coat. 
  For cheapness' sake, on tour as Madame Galina I would book myself into the standard of B.and B that thought it was too posh for hot chocolate sachets, reeked of zoflora, and had patterned settees, walls and carpets to turn your sight kaleidoscopic. One Blackpool landlady led me across the road to listen at the open window of a  rival's establishment:
  'Hear that hoover going, chick?  Notice there's no fluctuation in the tone. She's just left it on under the table, window open, trying to kid on that she runs a clean establishment. And she injects her eggs with tartrazine to make the yolks look more like the chickens that lay them have room to manoeuvre. And she wouldn't do you the courtesy - which it is really - of checking your room for tidiness before you go off to the Tower Ballroom and do your theatrics.' 
  And in 2004 my dancing idols MIchael Nunn and William Trevitt, having left the Royal Ballet and formed George Piper Dances, asked me to be in their Channel 4 series The Rough Guide to Choreography
  All my Galina goals as specifically visualised had come true.

Christmas song...

I'll be lone for Christmas
You can count on that! 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Further Overheard

In Coffee Link, Solar, Leiston.

WOMAN 1.  And he's petite. 
WOMAN 2.  Never used to be.  I saw some photos of him in the past and he was ever so tall! 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Morning Rules of Successful People 2

2.  Get to the work towards your main goal.
  Oh, a couple of the people I researched go for cryotherapy or kiting on the sea before this.  I thought I might smash a crate of frozen lemonade bottles on the floor and stand naked in the gas that escaped.  Or hang over the Meare by a rope round my waist hooked over the boathouse clock tower.
  I remembered early this morning that goal setting has been around for longer than you might think. Amelita Galli-Curci, the great nineteenth century prima donna, talked about putting on horse blinkers and positively moving forward to a goal, taking them off, waiting for her critics and rivals to start the carping, putting them on again. Less positively she said that when one of her rivals, Dame Nellie Melba, sang for example “Lo, Hear the Gentle Lark” you would think it was about a deafening, bloody big turkey.
  I have more than one main goal at the moment, so I have a pad and a fountain pen with my plans for each goal written out.  I leave the pad open wherever I happen to finish each evening and go back to it first thing next morning. Most recently I handed in the proofs of My Tutu Went AWOL!  A Drag Ballerina in Iraq.  Since March I've spent a lot of man hours telling editors not to argue with me about the spelling of camiknickers as I’m the one who has been wearing them onstage for thirty years; or insisting that a muscle boy as big as that can't be used as a body double on the inside cover for the Royal Marine Stacks, as Stacks was on rations in Afghanistan and had bulked down; or can we not mention in the blurb about me trying to confiscate the President of Estonia’s custard creams to give back to the camels?  Which nitpicking has at times made me lose sight of the main goal I set when I began the book – to tell the stories I witnessed first hand of squaddies in extremis.
  Having a goal makes you first ask yourself ‘why?’, before ‘what?’, ‘how?’ and the inevitable at times ‘will you please just get back on your rocker?’
  Set ridiculous goals.  Like mine to become a Prima Ballerina assoluta.  I set out to get paid enough to live on for dancing the Swan Queen, Giselle and Nikya; and have achieved this goal. True, I ought to have set out to earn enough to buy great swathes of Chelsea…but that's the current goal.
  How did I do it?
  I kept my mind on it at all times.  I spent a certain amount of time each day in the mindset of a leading ballerina from the Mariinsky. When I did ballet barre each morning, I was in a studio being coached by Komleva.   When I sat sewing my ballet shoes I gave imaginary interviews about my amazing career.  I plaintively recalled serious injury.  My terror as each new leading role as given to me.  I imagined receiving letters of praise and abuse. I outlined the pros and cons of working with different partners in the company.  Perhaps most importantly, I saw myself exalted taking curtain calls in front of a roaringly adoring full house.  And, yes, my kidneys nearly packed up through, apparently, the emotional stress of performing Giselle’s Mad Scene and suicide this method-acted way - Mr Wong, chief Chinese herbalist, had to be  called in during my acupuncture session to have a tut over my doubtful tongue – but this is also a sign that positive affirmations work.
  And a reminder to be careful what you wish for….

Friday, 2 December 2016

Morning Rules of Successful People...the Theory and the Practice

1.  Get up two hours before your first appointment. Immediately express gratitude.  Spend half an hour reading something inspiring, half an hour doing physical exercise...

  I was woken up four hours before my first appointment today.  There is no soundproofing to speak of where I live.  When I looked at this studio and the one next door I asked the letting agent to go into one studio while I went into another, and for her to sing, cough, shout, clap her hands, whatever.  Which she duly said she did.
  I was woken by the Sizewell engineer next door, who suffers with sleep apnea and who bellows at early dawn from within his Cpap-mask.  I reached for my Gratitude Diary and wrote: 'The Sizewell engineer goes home to Ramsbottom at the weekends.'  He says he lives in the posh part: Upper Ramsbottom.
  The Egyptian gander from by the pond opposite kicked off.  I looked out under the blind and saw that there was a dove sitting about ten feet away from him.  Usually anything smaller than him will be frightened away by his honking.  Not this dove.  The goose came through the fence from the Meare and the gander turned his attention to trying to bully her into the pond.  He's been doing this recently.  I wonder if he wants them to nest in there this year.  The goose won't go in the pond. Perhaps she remembers, even if he's forgotten, the ridiculous woman with the Jack Russell.
  Read about her here
  I was about to write in my Graditude Diary that I am grateful, in the light of how gorgeous was last year's gosling (a tiny, shimmering fluff ball)  for the goose being so sensible, when she decided she was going to...oh, God no...she does this...just don't look...she's decided she's going to cross the road.  I've witnessed four times at least when she has nearly been knocked down.  A number of cars had belted round the side of the Meare already this morning.  I pulled on clothes and went down there to
encourage her (by shooing) to stay on the grass.
 I explained yet again how it was okay-ish for the swans to chance the road: their size and whiteness: but not her.  Okay?
  She decided that I was right and went back through the fence.  The gander watched her then honked
again at the dove.
  I read the Book of Job for inspiration.  In Out of Africa Karen Blixen wrote that her farm workers saw God in terms of both Job and Tales of the Arabian Nights - as a richly imaginative being. I want to understand what she means so I'm reading both.  So far in Job I've been struck by a verse saying that God has poured Job out like milk and curdled him like cheese.
  For my physical exercise I did ballet practise.  I like to check from time to time that I can still do those solos that in performance would constitute showing the audience the bottom of my purse (i.e. that only come off when I'm at my flukily jammy best) so had a crack at the Black Swan Pas de Deux.  I imagined that I was being partnered by Matthew Golding at the Lincoln Centre. Which
comes under the heading of Positive Projection for Positive Outcomes.  I managed the dance okay, including the thirty-two fouettes, but had to tell myself to stop imagining all the gays and straight women in the audience getting off on how physically beautiful Golding is - as this (all in my head, I know) put me on the back foot.  Doesn't qualify as Positive Projection, this; and tends to end up in me adopting the MO of Maria Callas pacing her dressing room at La Scala, when she thought her applause so far had been inadequate, chuntering, 'I'll teach those stickers out there!' then hurling added tricks into the teeth of the gallery.
   Hence my putting in the gargouillards and the thirty-two changees and having Golding sacked before the next performance.

   Tomorrow's Rule will be: Getting to Your Foremost Task.