Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

It’s a question that has vexed me for years and, as I find the gap between the end of my last relationship and the current time growing ever wider, the fact that I still don’t know the answer (and at my age too!) worries me even more!  So exactly how do you know when you’ve found the right person?

Ironic really – in my last (and first) long term relationship one of the reasons I fell for the guy was because I could imagine us together forever – don’t ask me how! It was just a feeling I had!  And yet we split up. I’ve never really had that feeling about anyone else since.  But how can I trust my own feelings when they turn out not to be true?! Maybe I’m missing out on a great relationship because I want this illusive ‘forever feeling’ that I think in my heart is an indicator of love but actually has no bearing on how a relationship will work?!

People often quote the ‘it’s a short life therefore you have to make the most of it’ comment in support of two opposing theories.  Ie, don’t waste time searching for the perfect man, life is short so enjoy the time you have with someone nice. But also don’t settle for someone who isn’t your perfect match – life’s too short to spend it with someone you don’t feel passionately about!  When I think of my life to come it terrifies me, in equal measures, to imagine being alone as it does to imagine being with someone.  What if I end up with someone who isn’t right?  What if I make a mistake? What if I waste even more of my life on someone who’s not the one?  How do I know if someone’s right for me?  What if I never have another partner?  What if I don’t go out with someone because i’m not sure if they’re right for me and then they end up with someone else and I realise I’ve made a mistake?

What if I’m alone for ever and ever?!

We’re all sold this beautiful picture of love and romance by books and movies – they make us want to feel the passion and magic that these fictional characters all seem to experience but we forget that most of these stories come from dreams and desires, not reality!  Honestly, I sometimes wonder if my habit of watching rom com’s and reading ‘chick lit’ has permanently damaged my ability to experience love as a normal human being!

Well, I’ve decided that my motto for this year is going to be ‘Do Something Different’ so maybe I should apply that to men and relationships as well?!  Singledom is all very well but it’s nice to have some variety! 2012 look out – I’ve decided this is going to be my year of plenty!!

There was a time when I watched The X-Factor avidly.  I really loved it.  I truly believed that we were being sold reality – that those shots of thousands of people turning up to audition were taken ‘on the day’, that all contestants were seen by the celebrity judges, that this was indeed a real talent show.  Maybe I was naive.  Maybe, as a Nearly Was, I just wanted to believe that here was a show that offered talented people a real opportunity to get themselves seen and to hit the big time.  Over the years, my opinions of the show have been as cruelly shattered as  the dreams of 99% of the X Factor contestants. 

I can’t remember exactly when I found out that all wasn’t what it seemed.  I suppose in the back of my head I must have realised that there was no way the judges could see all those thousands of people who turned up to audition.  That would take many, many days.  There had to be initial auditions to weed out the dross – so why were we being shown auditions of contestants who clearly had no talent or were mentally imbalanced?  I mean, why would you progress people through an audition when they so obviously did not have what the show was supposedly looking for – someone with the X Factor.  Surely they weren’t deliberately putting contestants through for people to laugh at, to make fun of, for the sake of ‘good tv’? 

I say again, maybe I was naive.  But it really did take time for me to realise that this was the reality – that the objective of the early X Factor auditions was not to find someone with star quality but to ensure that people kept watching the programme by giving them ridiculous characters to laugh at.  Schadenfreude. 

The contestants that you see on TV have already been through at least two auditions – these are held by producers and other people connected with the show,  and not by people with any musical pedigree.  There is a suggestion that they have a quota of  ‘good tv’ people to find in addition to putting through genuinely good contestants (I don’t know if this is true or not).  

To some degree I quite enjoy the final stages of X Factor – there are some genuinely original and talented contestants and I like watching them improve each week and gain confidence.  I don’t like the way the Great British Public often choose to vote for the less talented contestants because of looks or some other reason but then the Great British Public have never been very good at the whole voting for the best contestant business!  Anyway, that’s another blog post!!

What I can’t abide are the false, early auditions which set out to exploit delusional people for the sake of entertaining the public.  Shame on us for laughing at people who think they’re good or who are behaviourally challenged!  Just because a word exists for the act of laughing at other people’s misfortunes doesn’t mean that we should encourage it!  Schadenfreude or not these programs that legitimise making fun of others who do not know how bad they really are should take their moral responsibility more seriously.  It may help them get good ratings but it doesn’t make it right.  Are we to believe that people would not watch the X Factor if they decided not to progress the downright bad contestants through to the televised auditions?  I really hope that we as a public could be as interested in a programme that sets out to find real talent without having to laugh at not so talented people in the process.  It would be a sad state of affairs if this was indeed not the case.

This week I have been mostly drinking alcohol, watching shows and performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  Yes folks, I’m in Scotland and enjoying the surprisingly good weather!  Despite packing for torrential rain and arctic conditions, as is normal for Edinburgh in August, there has only been a spattering of rain since Tuesday morning and the sun has been remarkably friendly, popping out frequently to say hello! 

So, onto the Festival (and the reason I haven’t updated my blog for several days!).  If you’re a fairly normal kind of person you probably think that the word Fringe is just a way of describing the hair that covers your forehead or the tassels that used to hang around the edges of 80’s sofas.  If however you’re slightly mad, a bit theatrical, or interested in Arts ‘on the periphery’, then it’s likely that you know all about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, have probably been and experienced it as a punter at least once or maybe even performed there.

For those of you who don’t know, the Fringe is an Arts Festival which originally developed as a response to the more formal Edinburgh International Festival by performers who weren’t invited to perform but who turned up anyway and did their thing!  Since then it has grown into the huge Fringe beast that we know today and pretty much anyone can bring their show to the festival, no matter what it is, so long as they can find a venue to perform it in!   At the festival, literally thousands of shows are performed all day, every day for practically the whole of August.  The shows range from new musicals, old musicals, plays and comedy to dance, physical theatre and much more in-between.  Venues such as University buildings, students union, sports centres, lecture halls, churches and pubs change overnight into performance spaces complete with auditoriums and makeshift backstage areas.  It’s truly an amazing feat!  Every day a section of the Royal Mile, which leads from Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood, is teaming with performers desperately trying to publicise their show and get people to come and see it.  You never know what you might see as you walk down the street – people dressed as British queens, Jedi knights, headless kings, Romans, plague victims….the list is endless! 

Last year was my first year at the Fringe; hard to believe that I had gone through so many years of my life as a performer and never been to the Fringe.  With singledom comes an immense amount of freedom and suddenly I had the time to get involved with all those things that I’d never done before – going to the Fringe was just one of my many tasters of freedom.  I spent a week at the Fringe helping backstage with a show full of child performers, but despite that, it was seven days of immense fun not to mention a significant amount of alcohol!  So when I got the opportunity to actually be in a Fringe show this year I jumped at the chance. 

It’s been about five months since I first got involved with the Fringe show and it’s been a long and sometimes difficult path to performance!  We only had a very small show – a cast of three – and we were performing for just a week which is quite unusual.  Most shows will perform for a minimum of two weeks and many will even perform for the entire festival.  We had small audiences – between 11 and 35 each day – but we made it to the end of the week in one piece and sober enough to tell the tale – which may yet end up on a blog post, but not now! 

Unfortunately my Edinburgh Fringe 2010 trip ends tomorrow but I’ve had a fantastic week and as I sit here writing this I’m thinking about all the brilliant shows I’ve seen and the incredible talent, both amateur and professional, that has been thrown together at this amazing festival this month.  Here are some of my highlights:

  • Barbershopera – Apocalypse? No!   A very funny, witty, clever and tuneful show sung in the style of a Barber Shop Quartet.  This original musical, about a timid teacher who ends up saving the world by collaborating with the three horsemen of the Apocalypse (Death is, well, dead, killed by a freak accident…!), was simply brilliant and practically faultless. 
  • Spring Awakening – An excellent production from graduates of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama of this brilliant but at times difficult and graphic new musical dealing with teenagers coming to terms with their sexuality in late nineteenth century Germany.  The two leads were joy to watch and dealt incredibly well with some very challenging scenes.
  • Reginald D Hunter – A very funny, rude and crude, stand up comic who had the audience practically rolling in the aisles!  Me, I just loved his deep southern drawl! 
  • Showstopper – The Improvised Musical  What it says on the tin!  A new musical every performance, unfolding in front of our eyes based on ideas from the audience.  I saw this show twice and it was clever, funny, brilliant – favourite numbers include “Burying my doughnut” in the style of The Smiths, and “You’ve killed me” done as a smokey, jazz number.  Just wonderful! 

So many other shows – One Man Lord of the Rings, Comedy Countdown, Stand up comics Chris Addison and Paul Sinha, brilliant male a capella group Out of the Blue – too many to mention!  What a great week – what a great festival!  The Arts is well and truly alive in Britain!  If you’ve never been to the Edinburgh Fringe then put a date in your diary for August 2011 – you won’t regret it!

Edinburgh Fringe – http://www.edfringe.com/

Barbershopera – http://www.barbershopera.com/

Showstoppers – http://dylan.myzen.co.uk/ss/

Stressed to be pressed…

Posted: August 17, 2010 in Blogging
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WordPress.com is a great site! I love it even though I haven’t really got time to do it! But I’m getting increasingly obsessed by Freshly Pressed and what it could do for my as yet unestablished blog. I learnt very quickly that getting chosen for Freshly Pressed is deemed the pinnacle of success for serious WordPress.com bloggers, bringing potentially thousands of new viewers to a blog and an opportunity to see your Blog Stats go through the roof! It just proves how lazy we all are of course – in just two clicks you could be reading a post which has reached the dizzy heights of pressing, deemed interesting, quirky or funny enough to be fresh. No need for searching or trawling through tags – that’s what makes it so successful of course. We humans will mostly go for the easy options!

Anyone who writes a blog and says they don’t really mind if nobody reads it is lying!! And if they’re not then they should be writing a diary – that way your thoughts will be kept secret, at least until you die! If you want to write and be heard (or seen!) then you blog. Simple. And if you blog you really (with a passion) want people to not only read your posts, but to like your posts and to comment on your posts. It’s that desire for the buzz of acceptance, of popularity – whatever you call it, most of us seek it. It’s a bit like being on stage, hearing the audience clap and cheer you at the end of the evening – there’s nothing like it! Apart from perhaps seeing hundreds of lovely comments on your blog post….!!!

So the question is; how do you get your blog noticed and ultimately onto freshly pressed? Is it enough just to keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best? Or should you spend hours coming up with sharp, eye-catching titles as well as readable / amusing / clever posts? Given the sheer number of posts made every day the chance of getting onto Freshly Pressed must be fairly low! I look on Freshly Pressed all the time and have seen some really good posts. It amuses me that the ones I enjoy and aspire to be like are often very removed from my writing style – clearly my aspirations are way above my station! But the great thing is that they’re all so different which in itself makes it hard to try and catch attention as there is clearly no one formula. The worst thing is that I read them and simply despair that my posts will ever be good enough to be noticed and I am doomed to remain a frequently unread blog, baring my soul to no-one!

There is a lot of good advice out there, on other blogs ironically enough, on how to be a successful blogger and so far I’ve had some success with following a few of the golden rules. I guess the main thing is to enjoy what you write, keep writing and don’t worry about it too much.

And if you can’t be Fresh at least try not to be stale!

A real grown-up is hard to find

Posted: August 13, 2010 in Life
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Do we ever really grow up?  Or are we doomed to be children in adults skin forever, speaking corporate language, wearing power suits (damn those shoulder pads for coming back into fashion!) whilst wondering what the hell it’s all about?!  Did Peter Pan represent the reality rather than the fantasy – that deep down we are all just children rebelling against the chains of age that the world ties us down with?  And at what point are we meant to become grown up? 16 or 18 or 21 perhaps?  Or maybe we never mentally reach adulthood; we just learn to hide our childish behaviour and only let it slip out when we get mad, drunk or fall in love! 

These last two days have been filled with very grown up things – trying to sort out a new mortgage and interviewing for a new job.  I just don’t feel ready for this!  My last foray into both events was whilst I was under a big long-term break up cloud and I really don’t remember a huge amount about it!  Only that they were things that had to be done.  Now I have to deal with them in a sane state of mind and it’s scary!  “I am having a grown up conversation with another grown up about very grown up things….so why don’t I feel grown up?!” 

“Do you have a will?” my mortgage broker asked.  What?!  Of course I don’t have a will – I’m only ten years old, why would I need a will?!  But I’m not ten years old – I just feel like it sometimes!  Particularly when I’m advising people OLDER THAN ME at work on serious issues and thinking “how did I get from wearing ra-ra skirts and sitting in the corner at the school disco to this?”!  Or when colleagues behave like bullies and make you feel like you’re back in the playground….but that’s another story! 

Thinking about not being grown up makes me think about my childhood.  In particular my stepfather, Alan, a pipe smoking, good-looking guy who I had hoped would be around for a long time.  I remember being about 8 when he and my mum married after a relatively whirlwind romance.  Unfortunately, my stepfather found it difficult to cope with a ready-made family and after a competition to see who my mum would side with first it all went sour.  There was a time in my 20’s when I looked back on his behaviour and thought how incredibly childish he was.  I thought that being in your late 30’s equated to being grown up and therefore you should behave like an adult.  How wrong I was!  I realise I’m now a similar age to what he was then and finally I can understand how people end up exhibiting not very adult like behaviour when dealing with relationships and coping with other people’s children.  Whatever you do, however successful you are, it seems like there is a small child in all of us, just waiting to scream and shout and shatter that grown up image that we all try to portray. 

So, do we ever grow up?  Judging by the behaviour of adults around me as well as my own behaviour sometimes, I think that in reality we are all stuck in our childhood, probably at different ages, but nonetheless often reacting to events in a manner which we should really have grown out of by now!  By our age…..

God knows how I’ll manage if ever I get married or have children of my own!  What a terrifying thought!  Don’t you have to be at least 60 or something to do that?!

Well, nothing wrong with being Peter Pan for now – he had some very useful skills!  *Sigh* If only I could fly life would be so much better….!!! 

“So Cat, are you married? Any kids?” 

“No, I’m happily single actually”

“Oh, right.  I see…..” (Nodding head, sympathetic look)

I wasn’t always single.  From the age of 21 to 34 I was very much attached to one man (Nearly married as I like to think of it!) and always felt a strange sense of pride and, dare I say it, possession when talking to people about my partner.  “My boyfriend” is such an affirming phrase – it says to people “I am loved therefore I must be worthwhile”.   Which surely means that being single says to people “I am not loved therefore I am not worthwhile”.  It’s not true of course but it’s this sense of being defined by your relationships that is so prevalent in today’s society and so damaging to those who are struggling to cope with the aftermath of a break-up.  However successful, charming and beautiful you are if you haven’t achieved coupledom then you’re somehow incomplete.  If you’ve ever read Bridget Jones (or watched the film) then you’ll know what I mean! 

After the crying shoulder, tubs of ice cream and bottles of wine, what’s one of the first things people say to us when we split up with a partner?  “Don’t worry.  You’ll find someone else”.  What’s the first thing most of us do when we find ourselves single once again?   We start looking for someone new!  Some might say we are gluttons for punishment…. 

I often see people playing seemingly happy families  – in the supermarket, on holiday, walking down the street – and I can’t help but feel a bit jealous.  But I have to remind myself that I’m only seeing snapshots, one moment in time when for that featured family everything is good, nobody is rowing and the sun is shining!  Who knows what happens down the next aisle, or in the evening when everyone is tired and fed up or when they get home and the baby starts screaming as the gentle motion of the pram stops giving comfort!  We always think the grass is greener but I cannot truthfully say that my life is any worse now than it was when I had a partner, it’s just different – in fact if anything it’s marginally better than before!  I have more friends and more freedom although unfortunately less money! 

Yes, there are times I still miss him – I would be inhuman if after all those years I didn’t occasionally think of the times we spent together – but most of the time I don’t.  And yes, I hope I won’t be single all my life!  Because let’s face it, we are programmed to want to be with other people – this is not just a biological drive!  Most of us thrive on being around others – having friends is another way of persuading ourselves that we are worth something.  That if we were no longer around we would be missed, even if only a little bit.  And we enjoy the company of people who we share similar interests and values with.  So despite all the evidence that actually human beings should probably stay single (affairs, divorce, roving eyes of both sexes!) we still strive to find that ideal someone – the person we’re willing to share our life with if not forever then at least for a year or ten! 

But while we’re waiting to find the ideal there’s no reason not to enjoy the freedom of singledom – so all you couples out there don’t feel pity or sympathy.  It’s just another way of life.  And don’t feel envy either – enjoy what you have while you can as you may not always have it!!

Reluctant to Regret

Posted: August 10, 2010 in Metaphorical Musings
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When I first started this blog a few days ago I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to write about.  The concept for my blog was the notion of under achievement – the cat who fought to get to the cream only to find that it was off, or that another cat had got there first and left just enough for a quick, unsatisfying lick!  It was not about being negative, a loser, or a failure but just never quite getting to where you wanted to be.  Nearly….but not quite. 

Before my blog grows and my posts start to go in wildly different directions I wanted to take a moment to reflect on why I named my blog The Curse of Nearly Was!

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t spent hours in the past berating myself for my lack of success.  How many times I imagined where I might have gone on this journey of life if only I’d hacked away at the metaphorical overgrowth to get to the metaphorical yellow (or some other kind of brick) road that would have taken me in a totally different direction, instead of pulling a few branches off, getting a splinter and deciding that it was much safer to keep going on the nice, straight road where you could see into the distance and which seemed to promise comfort and stability.  You know, I hate that word – ‘stability’!  It’s a bit like ‘nice’ – nondescript and safe!  And yet for a long time I chose that direction, albeit keeping one foot on the verge as in truth I didn’t always trust that perfect looking road…..

I’ve never thought “I’d like to try that” and then not done anything at all to attempt to achieve it so I can’t comment on what its like to know you never tried.  I only know what it’s like to have never tried hard enough.  And you know what?  Sometimes it’s bloody frustrating!  Sometimes I wish I could go back and knock some sense into my younger self and tell her to get some balls (not literally….!).  There are constant reminders of my lack of success – my now empty house; seeing my drama school peers on TV or in the West End; my file of stories that have no ending!  That is why being a Nearly Was is a curse – you can’t get away from it.   You can’t think “Well I never tried so it doesn’t really matter”!  You tried because it mattered and the fact you didn’t achieve success therefore matters as well! 

But isn’t it a bit like that saying “Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all”?  Better to have tried and not succeeded then to have never tried at all.  Because when you try there is still hope, even if it is slim or practically non-existent, and whilst there is still hope then the world is your potential oyster…..or stage!  And if I stop thinking of the things that nearly were and think of the things that are now then I realise how lucky I am.  My lovely friends, my wonderful family, my theatre work (albeit unpaid – that’s the main difference between being an amateur as opposed to a professional actress!), the great times I’ve had and continue to have and yes, my house!  All mine (well, and the banks!) and always as peaceful or as noisy as I want it to be!  How can I regret anything I’ve done when it has kept me on a good, if different, path and led me to this satisfying place? 

As I sit here in my cosy house, typing on my laptop, with my ice cold drink sat on the table in front of me, I look on the news and see the catastrophic events happening in Pakistan and I realise that I am in no position to complain about my life or about the things that have happened to me.  I may be a Nearly Was but I am still lucky enough to have been born into a family that cared, that don’t judge me for what I haven’t achieved, and into a country where I don’t have to worry about clean water and dry shelter.  For that I am truly grateful.

 https://www.oxfam.org.uk/donate/pakistan-floods/index.php