Thursday, 23 October 2014


Yes, the city can look this beautiful, just not all the time...
I'm once again a permanent resident of Edinburgh, the city I grew up in and left immediately after I graduated. Throughout the interim I have returned regularly to visit family, but otherwise my connections with the capital have long since faded; I no longer remember the names of streets that I once knew intimately and I lost contact with the last of my friends here long ago.

I'm not a hermit and although I'm happily partnered and the Other Half will join me in February, I need a social network. In London as I prepared to move here, I mentioned the lack of a social life to friend Todd, who immediately told me to take an acting course or join an acting group - which is how he got three good friends. Truer words, the cliché reminded me, were never spoken; indeed, it was how he and I met. That very night I sent off emails to several Edinburgh-based drama groups and colleges, pointing out that I had some experience in the theatah and wondering if I might get involved with them in some way .

The response was underwhelming. I won't name names, because I might yet work / collaborate with them, but I feel no great enthusiasm for those who got back to me. Two responded immediately, in friendly, helpful emails; a third wrote after several weeks, offering no apologies for the delay, and in a tone that suggested that I might grovel at their feet at some point in the future. The others I contacted have not got back to me, although I know at least one of them still functions.

I liked Organisation A. A friendly bunch, with a handful of actors under thirty and a much greater number of contributors over fifty, they put on several productions a year. The problem was that I wasn't inspired by their choice of plays, even though they all deserved to pull in large crowds. Their application form sits on my desk, waiting to be filled in or thrown out. I'd join for the social life, but I'm not sure what that would be. Besides, I'm feeling poor; this month the book sales which provide my primary income have been steady rather than outstanding.

Organisation B give courses. I chose improvisation. Fourteen of us in an echoing hall made it difficult for this rapidly aging individual to hear the tutor. Most of those around me were under thirty; perhaps three were over forty. We were set various tasks in scenarios in small groups. In one I decided to be a father-to-be expecting his fourteenth child; I'm nervous - "the fourteenth is the worst; it gets better after that until the twenty-third. I was a twenty-third". I suddenly have sympathetic labour pains and I'm on my back with my legs open about to give birth. I'm pleased with what I'm doing, but it doesn't mean much; I'm not really interacting with my two partners and we're merely one of several groups trying to make ourselves heard. there's too much noise going on around me. Why, I wonder later, doesn't the tutor do a group at a time, see how we each get on? Give us advice to help us interact better instead of just watching us make fools of ourselves? (Of course, there's nothing wrong in being a fool, but I'd like to be good at my foolery...)

Ah well, it was only the first of eight classes. We wandered off into the night and I returned home to a glass of wine, wondering if I would remember everyone's names next week and whether I really would learn anything. As I fell asleep that night once again I went over the opening scenes of the play I have been planning for months to write - and wondered if it would ever get produced.

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