Month: October 2015

Rain starts play

Tea and CDs

I often work at strange times of the night. It’s quieter then and I can get a lot done in a short period of time, and let’s face it, there’s more fun stuff to be done than working when other people are awake! I’m either an evil genius or very lucky that my job allows me to do this. I can schedule myself to produce the things I need to do when I want to do them. I’m normally accompanied at my desk by at least one cat, a cup of tea and, playing in the background, whatever TV series I am binge watching on Netflix at the moment. (You can get it in Spain now, but for quite a long time I have been using it via a VPN which can mask my whereabouts to seem as if I am in the USA or the UK or indeed anywhere around the world, handy for watching telly mainly although the company who runs the VPN would insist it’s much more for your own personal security than for enabling me to watch every season of Mad Men back to back).

When we get some funny weather (storms, high winds, heavy rain) it can affect our internet connection in our village as it is done via some kind of clever wireless system.  Then I find myself with many more cats as they are not keen on the rain, the same amount of tea, but no internet. I can still work, as it’s mainly my brain and my notes which I need to produce the articles, but boy is it lonely! Then I have to turn to old fashioned things such as CDs for company. Yes, we still have them, about a thousand of them, all collecting dust downstairs in our living room. We just had a major clear out upstairs last week and soon it will be the turn of the ground floor. Can I cast out my CDs? Is that as bad as getting rid of books, which for me are easier to hoard than shoes might be for another woman. Decades of my life are chronicled through my CDs, my choices of bands, the songs that meant something to me at the time. I may not listen to them that often anymore but they’re still important, right? I will occasionally listen again to songs on Spotify which remind me of other times, some happy and some very sad memories. My husband likes to talk about that episode of Tomorrow’s World where the presenters demonstrated the apparent indestructibility of the CD, do you remember it? They poured substances all over the disc and scratched it up, but it still played, a nice metaphor for our lives as well.  But some of my CDs have been treated with love and still refuse to work. Much like the internet this morning as I write this column. We live in a valley in the countryside after all. Despite my connectivity to the world I am still, gratefully, joyfully, living in a small village on a Mediterranean island exposed to the elements year round. It’s times like this, as I tap out these words, surrounded by furry friends and listening to some Joni Mitchell, as the rain beats on the window and I am cosy inside in my office, that I get to remember that life really is rather great.

Find your dream


Follow your dreams

Back in the day, my first ever career out of school (funny isn’t it how we all used to think we would have one career and have to stick to it for the rest of our lives) was in the theatre. I was a stage and company manager, working my way up from the humble position of Assistant Stage Manager (tea maker, stage sweeper, lunch fetcher, prop maker, et al) through many different short term contracts with a wide variety of styles of theatre and companies. You would get the job, work the job and then at the end of the contract you might be asked to do another show, or you would go and look in the back of The Stage newspaper and see what was happening, or perhaps you would hear about something on the grapevine, or better yet, you would receive a phone call from a production manager or director who had heard about you and wanted to meet you. I started from nothing at my local theatre doing work experience, they in turn (and this was my first encouragement to keep going) asked me to return to work on a show the following year as a part of the stage crew, then one thing led to another and I joined the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain as part of their Stage Management Team (returning a few years later to actually work for them is one of the proudest moments of my life). I worked in the West End, and toured nationally and internationally, all without ever having stepped inside of a drama school or university to train.

Now, I know that you can’t apply this method to some types of profession, the obvious one being doctor and you can’t just show up and learn on the job as a dentist either I would suggest. Sometimes you might even feel that you are not qualified or able to perform a task because you weren’t taught it in a classroom and then sat an exam on the subject, but really there’s a vast choice of jobs that you absolutely should learn from the bottom up that do not require three years in college. More importantly is the individual aptitude and personality: are you enthusiastic, ready to work and eager to improve? I think these qualifications are all you need. But the crunch comes when you may be desperate to do something new in your working life, but simply have no idea what. That’s something I have never suffered from and I think it’s because I’ve always kept an open mind about what I can and can’t do, and what interests me or not. Why do people get so stuck in jobs that they don’t like when the reality is that if you want to change your job, you can. Look around and find something that interests you, research it, go and introduce yourself to the people who can help you, and be enthusiastic, determined, and ready to learn. I’m living proof that it works.