Thursday, August 31, 2006

There is a new job.

It's rather good, so far. Of course, this is the time of the academic year with the absolute least stress - very soon all of fiery burning hell will break loose, and go on and on and on until about mid-May. Nonetheless, I am feeling very positive about this one. It's a big college, but with a small, friendly and ridiculously hard-working English department. They're in the middle of some major long-term changes, which makes it a very interesting time to be there. For some reason, they think I'm quite experienced (I'm not complaining) and there could be further opportunities if I feel like trying to take on the incredible mess of Key Skills that makes up most of the staple teaching diet of the department (although I'm not keen to rush into that just yet). In the meantime, it even pays quite well. So that's nice.

I am fall-asleep-on-my-feet tired, having given myself exactly one day between running home from Edinburgh and starting at the new place. The longer journey to work is a slight drawback, but it's not impossible. I'm getting a lot of reading done. Currently working through Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meaney. As with Garp, I find the writing completely gripping, yet I have no idea why. If only he'd write a slightly shorter novel, I could attempt to teach it and see if any students can work out the mystery. Meanwhile, recommendations for my next read are very welcome, although If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things has been looking accusingly at me from my bookshelf for a while now. After a couple of years of this, I could even be fairly well-read. Unless I give in and buy a Gameboy.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The random insanity goes on

In order to get free internet access, I'm currently eating eggs with smoked salmon. It is not a combination that I recommend.

Well. Here I am in Edinburgh. We happy cast and crew of Educated Guess are two weeks into the random insanity that is the Edinburgh Fringe. Between flyering in the mornings, the show in the afternoon and seeing a whole lot of stuff in the evenings, I haven't had much time for anything. Now I'm in the internet cafe preparing for yet another interview, for which I have to fly home tonight, get to the other side of London early tomorrow and be back in Edinburgh again tomorrow night. Somewhere in the middle, I hope to give myself a half-decent chance at getting a job.

The play is going superbly. Act Without Words is a stunning play - brilliant concept, design and performances. I've now been in the audience several times (since I'm currently sharing my technical role with another person, until he goes home in a few days) and I'm still fascinated by Beckett's bleak but gripping take on life every time I watch it. We had an excellent 'must-see' review in The Stage last week, and today we got five stars in The Independent. (One piddling little publication that only runs for a few weeks over the festival and is mainly written by students didn't like us, but we're not bitter about that.) Audience numbers haven't been bad, either. Flyering is completely exhausting, but we're very popular in our suits and bowler hats as we give out our business card-style flyers in comedy ways. Indeed.

In the meantime, I've seen more comedy and theatre than I've had the time or inclination for in quite a while. Bill Bailey last night was utterly superb - surreal yet ridiculously intelligent comedy that actually had me crying with laughter for most of the ninety minutes he was on stage. Saw Simon Amstell of former Popworld fame the other day, who I liked a lot (sarcastic cynicism is his weapon of choice, and he wields it with power). There has been Dan Clark, who isn't at all bad, in a cool indie kid kind of way. We also went to see some Funny Women winners and finalists, although they weren't really all that funny - some were good. Plays have included a fantastic production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Tom Stoppard is my hero), after which I want to re-read the play in conjunction with Hamlet and think intellectually about parallel-worlds theory in the theatre, and a funny but thoughtful project called We Don't Know Shi'ite which was an exploration of Islam by four white, middle-class student types. Have also seen Shakespeare done panto-style (so much funnier than it sounds), a comedy interaction between two Americans called The Black Jew Dialogues, and a slightly odd but interesting set of monologues based on the idea of sperm donors leaving messages for their future unknown children. Still have many more plays I want to see, including a Caryl Churchill and some new writing. I've also been seeing Edinburgh - I love it and want to live here, indeed I do. There has, of course, been a lot of drinking in the meantime. Sleep? What's that? I scoff at such weak-minded nonsense. Or something.

But work is calling, as I have to go to a different internet cafe to print some of this rubbish that I'm churning out for tomorrow, and then we start flyering. Again. Off I go, then.