Being Brave #1

Things I’ve done this month to be brave.

Went for a walk in a wood, which  I’m frightened of, where the middle class wankers let their idiot dogs run wild. Without taking diazepam 🙂

Took my class to a concert hall, to perform on stage. Long day, coach travel, lots of people. Was fine.

Started my new job, whilst still doing the old one. Lots of multi-disciplinary working, which I’m arranging.

Took my choir to an all day rehearsal and performance, which I had to conduct. Was fine.

Went to London, did lots of scary things, colitis flare up. Managed. Was fine.

Managed really bad colitis flare up, at work, home, voluntary work. Survived.

Meals out, money worries, walking on my own. All fine.

This month, I’m feeling brave.

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London + Neverwhere.

This time last week I was on Bankside, doing a good impression of a carefree tourist. You know, walking too slowly, looking at the river, pointing at buildings. “Oh look, that looks like..”
any number of things I’ve seen in Sherlock.

I’d taken my daughters to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe. My Bellatrix giggled, snorted and was transfixed equally. Marnsly too. I rather enjoyed gawking at John Light, playing Oberon, in awe of his torso, (fucking beautiful it was, I wanted to grab it and nuzzle it, and was thinking baaaaaad thoughts ) and one of the fairies, in an amazing corset, giving her amazing bosom a cleavage that made me flush…which makes me want to get a new corset…..and I’m blushing again*tut tut* Anyway, it was funny, clever and made me wish I could afford to see more theatre.

Anyway, for a fiver to stand in the Yard, it was a bargain. I loved it. I studied Theatre for A-level, was a member of several youth theatres and performed a physical theatre piece at the Edinburgh Fringe. I also toured Germany with several pieces, and collaborated with a German youth theatre to produce another. Showing off was my hobby, to disguise my shyness……..
…I was going to study performance at University, but I didn’t get there. Another story.

I can’t believe I ever did that, it feels like someone else now . I’d be terrified, the thought of travelling around in a shitty minibus for 2 weeks with a bunch of semi-strangers, who you are trusting with your life ( we threw and caught each other on stage, it was that kind of physical theatre. Bit wanky), is not a thing I could do these days.

But maybe I could.
I’ve just spent the weekend in London, doing lots of things that make me anxious. I had a long car journey at the end of a long busy week. Stayed in a hotel, travelled on the Underground, went to a theatre, walked miles, ate in a restaurant…all when I had really bad IBS.
I coped really well, I enjoyed myself so much that I felt right at home- I’m originally from West London, but left when I was 11- and still feel homesick for London.
I felt really free on the Tube, and I love the Tube map. I love the colours, the curves, the fact it has no real connection with the London above. The names, beautifully archaic and workmanlike modern, always make me think of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

Originally a T.V. series, the product of Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry, it was made into a fantastic, fantasy novel by Gaiman, an amazing writer.
I’m not going to rehash it, just Google it, many better writers than me have written beautiful things about this crazy scary world of London Below.

One day, I’m going to go to London by myself, buy my Travelcard, and spend the day travelling on the Tube. I’m going to photograph the shiny tiles, the grubby corners, the old bits of Underground that peek through the modern paint. I’m going to find an Angel in Islington, a Blackfriar, find feathers in Old Bailey. I will spend the day standing, swaying and smelling that dirty air. The rush of warm and cool air with its strange interplay, the flickering lights,it all feels like home to me. For an agoraphobic, it’s a strange passion.

If anyone wants me, I’m Below.
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Funny/Not Funny or That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

I went out last night, to a comedy gig. I went to watch Andrew O’Neill, the finest vegan, occult, transvestite, Death metal-loving comedian in the UK…ok, the world….and the three other acts on the bill at Just The Tonic in Leicester.
A Bonus feature: Ben Van Der Velde, a small Hobbit-like creature, all curly mop and tiny feet, was compering. He dealt with a truly bizarre heckler with skill, managing to turn the room against this amazing example of Midlands Man.

I did my CBT homework before I went, made sure I wasn’t too tired, took a 2mg diazepam, well, two….and was ready. I was going to kill this.

I felt fairly anxious, but managed it well. I remembered to breathe. Stupidly, I didn’t eat, because I worry about throwing up if I panic. Remember this, for later on!

George took forever to get ready…I truly am the peahen to his peacock….I love saying that…I’m calling him a cock haha..so we were running late, and Leicester’s fucked up one way system really didn’t help. We got there eventually…..

Anyway….we got in, I picked my seat carefully, Near enough to an exit, but a seat that wasn’t at the back, or “safe”.
I had to make myself uncomfortable, not indulge in safety behaviours, no packets of mints in my bag, one extra diazepam-not a whole strip, no imodium. This I managed well.

I then had a big glass of wine on an empty stomach, which was a terrible idea! It went straight to my head, relaxing me, oh yes, but didn’t help my vision and hearing, which turns itself down when I’m anxious. I managed to nearly walk into the Gents twice, couldn’t hear the woman in the toilet who was complimentary toward me (never happens!)…threw my already dodgy balance off, and made my heart pound……fuck. I then had another glass……..

Andrew O’Neill is funny. Seriously so. He is relentless on stage, he cavorts from Death Metal to child labour to the stringing out of an idea so far past it’s funny origin, it becomes an Epic. His non-sequiters are genius.
He’s also a lovely person. I blether at him on Twitter, and occasionally in person, and he’s patient and sweet in return.
Last night, I was, ahem, more blethery than usual, having consumed two big glasses of wine and no food. Sorry Andrew :/
He was of course his usual lovely self, putting up with my rather shaky,  babbling mental-woman act.

So, he was hilarious, and Evelyn Mok, who followed was great too. A Swedish woman of Chinese origin, her (deliberately) rather flat delivery disguises wicked humour, and self deprecation, which she then turns on the room.

All going great….then…

The next two acts were really strange. A man in a suit, looking like a used-car salesman, and one in jeans and a shirt two sizes too small.

I started to feel like I’d gone back to the Seventies. Dick jokes, jokes about oral sex, involving gagging on the smell and pubes caught in teeth. Calling sections of the crowd “Lezzers” Deaf jokes, involving mimicking the way Deaf people sign and speak. I can sign fairly well, albeit rustily, but can still recall “fuck you, you cunt” and “you fucking twat” . However, I resisted. I did start to feel really quite pissed off though. I had to stop myself from heckling them.

When I plucked up the nerve to stand up, I left. I was worrying about being called out by the geezer, but managed to get out without being seen.

I spent a while last night thinking about my reaction. Am I over sensitive? Are jokes about “smelly caves” funny? Was there some subtlety I missed?
I know mimicking the speech of Deaf people really isn’t funny.

I’m glad I left. I had a great night, laughed a lot,  managed my anxiety levels well, learned a lesson about drinking (STOP!) and only briefly embarrassed myself with A O’N. Which sounds like a great night out to me.

I then sat up with my daughter til One o’clock…I can’t remember what we watched on telly. Which is funny.

http://www.andrewoneill.co.uk