Friday, 8 August 2014

The last day of my thirties

I spent a large part of the last day of my 30s booking a honeymoon. I can't believe we've both been so busy that it's taken us this long to get around to it. Our friends and family generously clubbed together when we got married to give us enough money for a very special holiday, and we have decided to take it in San Francisco. Nathan has never been. I went, with Fiona, in 2000, and found the experience truly magical. We're both ludicrously excited. We have five or so days in the city and then we're driving down the Ocean Highway towards LA. It will be a wonderful post-Brass high.

Speaking of Brass, we returned to the mad house late this afternoon after getting well-and-truly caught up in rush hour traffic around the Blackwall tunnel. There's still something very wrong with the exhaust of our car, and to make matters even more perilous, we came within a few miles of running out of petrol. Gah!

I came back for a rehearsal with young Ben Jones, who plays the lead role of Alf in our show. We were rehearsing the trumpet voluntary he plays at the top of the show, trying to shape it so that he can play it with panache. He's a wonderful player who also happens to have an astonishingly beautiful singing voice so I feel rather proud to be bringing his talents to a wider audience.

I was also lucky enough to get a sneak peek of one of the Barnbow Lassies' costumes. The lovely Emily was modelling it in the little costume department behind the theatre space we've been rehearsing in. A pair of wonderful women have sat there every day this week creating little pieces of visual magic.

We've also been sent photographs of the set being built. I'm not altogether sure where this particular process is happening but it looks absolutely fabulous.

The cast all looked shattered when I saw them at the end of the day. They've been working through transitions between scenes today, which is thankless, but incredibly important work when your tech time is limited. This show will take everything out of them both emotionally and physically, but I'm convinced it will prove to be one of the most immersive experiences of their lives.

We went out to dinner tonight. Sara took a couple of us to Cote as a sort of birthday treat, and she presented me with a very special present; a framed original painting by her father, Morris Kestelman, which is a remarkably special thing. I know I shall spend many a happy hour peering into it. The subject matter, appropriately for me, is Stone Henge. It's either at dawn or dusk. The sky is filled with orange specks, and it's a very brooding picture in greys and purples, which she thinks may have been done as a set design. It has made my little room here at Sevenoaks look incredibly beautiful.

And so, at 00.15, I can officially call myself a 40 year-old man, which feels insane really. It doesn't seem like any time at all since I was young Josh's age, working as the assistant director for the National Student Theatre Company at the Edinburgh Festival in 1995. They remain some of the happiest days of my life, and to any of the cast of Brass cast reading this blog, I say one thing... Drink it in, my dear friends. Take mental snap shots. Remember these moments of freedom, creativity, boundless energy and optimism. Take photographs. Write journals. But above all, strive to build a life for yourselves which is full of variation, colour and a million-and-one little snapshots of happiness. Don't make too many compromises but always do the thing you've agreed to do. Be loyal. Never pass up an opportunity because a better invitation comes along. Be honest and open, and if you see someone looking lonely, or sad, make it your duty to cheer them up. Talk to your grandparents and parents about their lives and listen to what they tell you. You will learn a great deal, believe me, and you'll be able to pass their wisdom onto a younger generation. Above all, live your lives. Make every new day a challenge and revel in the beauty of every sunset.

There. That's obviously what being 40 does for you. It makes you reflective!

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