Observations of a Gatekeeper…

I work in theatre. Here is my attempt to give the “behind the scenes” stars their 15 minutes of glory.

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Time To Say Goodbye

Mavis was most seriously displeased. Rumours were rife of an office departure, namely the resignation of a certain Mr. Peter Sapi.

As Chairwoman of the ‘Office Entertainment and Dramatic Affairs’ Committee, Mavis considered it inappropriate in the extreme not to have been formally notified of Peter’s leaving. Mavis was after all, a person of much importance, as confirmed by her ‘Access All Areas’ staff ID card and her recent success at the World Flower Arranging Contest in which she had placed an impressive 2nd.

She was beaten only by the Russians but speculation had mounted in the days that followed suggesting illegal flower activity on their part in addition to foliage poisoning and illicit stem fixing. Now that she thought about it, Mavis was convinced that her oasis had been tampered with.

But back to the news of Peter’s notice having been tendered and Mavis was battling with a persistent sense of having been betrayed. Not by Peter it must be stressed, but by the powers that be who had failed to inform her of this shattering loss to the company.

One of Mavis’ many, many special duties as Chairwoman of the ‘Office Entertainment and Dramatic Affairs’ Committee was to organise and indeed star in any office gatherings resulting from such events as; Staff birthdays; Staff engagements/weddings; Staff members going on maternity leave; Friday afternoons.

Mavis kept a diary of such events and monitored it with faithful devotion. She checked it on an almost hourly basis, noting the dates and times for which a thorough vocal warm up would be required and arrangements put in place for the hiring of a Grand Piano. This catalogue of songs was affectionately referred to by all who attended as ‘Mavis’ Magic Mic – You’re Welcome’

Her repertoire was very much dependent on the occasion of course but she could always count on a few classics to woo the audience into submission/awe. Her colleagues/fans were particularly enamoured with such numbers as;

  1. Strangers in the Night (Sinatra)
  2. I’m Every Woman (Whitney Houston)
  3. Relight My Fire (Take That/Lulu) **Mavis sang BOTH the Take That AND Lulu sections it should be noted***
  4. My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion)

In fact many had commented on the likeness of Mavis’ voice to that of the latter mentioned Celine Dion.

“You’ve basically got the same range but yours is much richer” they’d say.

“Ya, you sound so EXPENSIVE when you sing” they’d offer.

“Ya, you’re LITERALLY sick!” they’d enthuse.

At first Mavis had taken great offence to any inference of her sounding unwell but having learned that ‘sick’ was slang for ‘the dogs bollix’ Mavis was suitably satisfied. She had always suspected her fans to be intelligent above the ordinary.

But this omission on the part of HR, their failure to notify Mavis of Peter’s leaving, had thrown her entire performance schedule into disarray. It was too late to make arrangements for a pianist at this stage and the very idea (as recklessly advanced by her manicurist) of a backing track being transmitted via some shabby desk top speakers was not at all in keeping with Mavis’ reputation for leaving both her heart and her larynx on the stage.

Peter would undoubtedly be devastated were he to be robbed of an instalment of Mavis’ Magic Mic. It was neither fair nor right and Mavis was still reeling at the earlier suggestion of her nail technician – she wasn’t a PEASANT you know!

Soon Peter’s final day was upon them and an air of gloom hung stubbornly over the entire office. People came and went to say their last farewells and to wish Peter luck, the sadness almost palpable. Mavis was experiencing a deep melancholy also, though hers was less to do with the loss of Peter and more a result of her inability to perform that day. This in itself would be a blow from which the office workforce might never fully recover.

But at 4.30pm something extraordinary happened, something that could never have been foretold.

The Director of Ticking got up to say a few words, a toast to the departing Mr. Sapi. People stood and gathered round, glasses of chilled prosecco were circulated, toasts were made and a magnificent cake was sliced and gobbled up by the well-wishing staff members. Soon all eyes were focused on Peter, his colleagues urging him to speak so that they might, for just a little longer, enjoy that lilting Northern accent and gentle charm that so distinguish the man.

It was just as Peter began to open his mouth that, as if from nowhere, a moment of inspiration took hold of Mavis.

“That’s it!” she thought. She had mesmerised herself with her own INGENIOUS.

“I don’t need a Grand Piano or sordid backing tracks! People didn’t come here to hear a piano, they came to hear ME!”

The silence that descended as Peter began to speak struck Mavis as the ideal level of respectful attention from which to sing, but sing a Capella! He would thank her later for saving the day and delivering on her mission statement as Chairwoman of the ‘Office Entertainment and Dramatic Affairs’ Committee; ‘to challenge, to seduce, to leave them wanting more’.

Having been mentally released from the shackles of piano accompaniment, Mavis proceeded to prowl from the back of the office and barge her way defiantly through the office crowds. She quickly seized the fuchsia pink feather boa from her stationary supplies cupboard and wrapped it round her neck. The diamanté tiara was already primed and in position.

She continued to move with enchanting conviction until finally she was at an almost perpendicular angle to Peter’s face and assuming centre stage with the man of the hour. There was no time to lose; she had the audience in the palm of her hand.

“Tiiiiiime tooooooooooooooooo say gooooodbyeeeeeeeeeeee” she warbled – a fitting tribute and a strong showcase of her powerful vocals and stunning range. At first the staff didn’t seem all familiar with this CLASSIC – had they never heard of Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman? Their faces revealed a sea of uncultured ill-breds and Mavis was embarrassed on their behalf for having shown their true colours in front of a man like Peter.

But ever the professional, she resolved to keep singing. “The show MUST go on” she pledged internally.

“Quando sono solo
Sogno all’orizzonte
E mancan le parole
Sì lo so che non c’è luce
In una stanza quando manca il sole
Se non ci sei tu con me, con me
Su le finestre
Mostra a tutti il mio cuore
Che hai acceso
Chiudi dentro me
La luce che
Hai incontrato per strada”

Peter had stopped speaking a long time ago. He was clearly moved beyond words. Someone attempted to intervene after the first verse but Mavis was quick to scold the offending staff member with a glare and a whip of her feather boa. She continued;

Time to say goodbye
Paesi che non ho mai
Veduto e vissuto con te
Adesso si li vivrò
Con te partirò
Su navi per mari
Che, io lo so
No, no, non esistono più
It’s time to say goodbye

And with that she made the creative choice to let her vocals fade out with a final note that lingered for a good 45 seconds. She could see they were impressed, not only with her breath control, but with her weighty, powerhouse vibrato.

There wasn’t much in the form of an applause but Mavis had noticed this to be the case whenever people were still reeling from the emotional gravitas of her performance. It happened quite a bit.

She nevertheless completed her set with a full curtsy whist standing in front of Peter. He struck her as somewhat shy so she considered the gesture the height of thoughtfulness and very much in keeping with the spirit of the ‘Office Entertainment and Dramatic Affairs’ Committee.

Mavis left the office that evening, confident in the knowledge that she had pulled out all the stops for Peter. He of all people had an unwavering appreciation for the talents of Mavis and was fully deserving of an appropriately dramatic send off.

She would miss him.

Finbar The Mouse – A Short Story

The smell of dead mouse.

But the traps around the office were empty. Somewhere between the walls of theatre land head offices and the unwelcoming office furniture there lay the remains of one member of the abundant but friendly mouse community.

Finbar had died from a broken heart for sure and the odour of decay was reflective of his saddened rodent soul.

Times had been good when Joanne of the Ticketing team had left an artisan loaf of bread under her desk one night. Finbar couldn’t believe his luck at the time and had even invited his many, many friends to share in the exploits that evening. They nibbled and gnashed their way through the loaf with giddy gratitude, squealing excitedly with each mouthful of delicious crust. Rather rudely, Joanne had neglected to leave out some cheese and caramelised red onion chutney by means of an accompaniment but Finbar felt it would be in poor taste to pull her up on her thoughtlessness on that occasion.

In the absence of a bread knife there was quite an amount of crumbs to contend with and even with his friends in tow Finbar was unable to operate the vacuum cleaner with ease. It was less to do with the over-bearing size of it actually and more to do with the bag being full.  Albeit reluctantly, Finbar decided to leave the scattering of crumbs in situ under Joanne’s desk. The cleaners would have to deal with these the following morning.

But looking at himself in the mirror of the basement gents toilets that night Finbar felt burdened with guilt. His dismissive attitude towards the cleaners and the knowledge that he had added to their workload did not sit easily with him. He tried to sleep, snuggling himself up in the safe confines of a cosy box of discarded printer cartridges, but his mind was plagued. The shame of abandoned crumbs infiltrated every thought and every attempt at dreaming.

At 4.27am and fueled by a jarring unease Finbar made his way back to the office space having decided to gather the crumbs into a neat pile for ease of collection by the cleaners. He was unable to discard them for reasons already mentioned (the hoover bag was full) but at the very least he could assist with their disposal.

A neat little pile. Then he wouldn’t feel so bad.

Little was Finbar to know that these actions would ultimately instigate his untimely demise. He returned to the box of cartridges and with a new found sense of relief Finbar fell soundly asleep, his heavy breathing interrupted only by sporadic squeaking snores.

The following morning it was a certain mound of grain that caught the attention of the EVIL office receptionist.

“How odd?” she thought as she sauntered nonchalantly passed Joanne’s desk, halting suddenly and staring intently at the mass of ‘unknown substance’ on the floor.  Peter, who occupied the desk next to Joanne’s, was also perplexed. Peter and the Evil Receptionist continued to gaze in dismay for a number of minutes until finally Peter surmised that this was surely the work of a pest and solid evidence of mouse activity.

Evil Receptionist didn’t like the sound of that one bit. The thought of unsavoury creatures scurrying around her handbag horrified her. What if one of them chewed through her make up bag and consumed her liquid eye liner with the same venom as had been directed at the artisan bread?

She vowed there and then to catch this mystery bread muncher and secure the contents of her handbag. Pest Control were duly notified.

Meanwhile, back in the box of expended printer cartridges and Finbar was starting his day with a sun salutation and gentle stretch. Despite the feast of bread that had been enjoyed by him and his many, many friends the night before, Finbar was feeling peckish. He headed towards the office kitchen where he was sure to uncover some leftovers he thought.

A special delivery of cupcakes had arrived in the office kitchen only minutes earlier. A ‘thank you’ gift from a another satisfied client. Finbar, once again, couldn’t believe his luck upon spotting the sugary treats atop the kitchen counter and was so excited to tell his many, many friends and invite them to share. The buns came in all different colours with lashings of cream cheese icing and decorative sprinklings of this and that. Whilst the bread had been a discovery of joyous proportions for sure, these cupcakes had the effect of making Finbar’s mini mouse heart thump uncontrollably.

But just as he was about to make a move the Evil Receptionist appeared with her greedy fingers, singling out a yellow cupcake and announcing her love of “all things lemony” to anyone who’d listen. He noted the midnight blue nail polish on her fingers. It didn’t do much for her pale complexion he concluded.

But soon the area was swarming with people and Finbar was growing increasingly concerned that he might not get to enjoy dessert. Finally and to his horror the remaining cupcakes were placed back in their box and rammed into the fridge before the office doors closed that evening.

Tomorrow would be a better day, he resolved.

It was about 11am the following morning when Finbar discretely entered the office. The box of cupcakes had once again been propped open and placed on top of the kitchen counter where staff members were coming and going, replenishing coffee mugs and filling water bottles. The cupcakes were dwindling and soon only one remained; Red Velvet.

Finbar waited and waited for the kitchen to clear but then something shocking happened! He couldn’t believe his mouse eyes when Evil Receptionist lunged from her desk and pounced on the remaining cupcake despite having already enjoyed her favourite ‘lemony’ one the day beforehand!

“How GREEDY can one person be” he fumed. He was stuck to the spot and rigid with rage. He had an overwhelming sense of having been badly wronged.

Such was his fury that he barely noticed the eyes of the Evil Receptionist landing on him, fixating on him even. The mystery bread muncher had been spotted. Evil Receptionist let out a fearful cry which Finbar considered attention seeking in the extreme. Nevertheless he felt it best to run and hide under a rather chic Phantom of the Opera slot machine that occupied the corner of the office kitchen. There he would remain until the coast was clear. Minutes turned into hours, hours turned into days. He couldn’t risk making a dash for it when everyone, including pest control officers, were now on high alert.

Surely his friends would come and save him; his many, many friends with whom he had shared his bread and with whom he would have shared that remaining Red Velvet cupcake?

But none of them came. Not a single one.

They just moved on to the theatre next door where sweet and salty pop-corn crumbs were proving the flavour of the day.

They never came back for Finbar with his giant little heart.

And so under the very chic Phantom of the Opera Slot Machine, Finbar breathed his last breaths. Laboured, not because of poisoning, but because of his heaving broken heart.

His smell lives on however.

Especially around the Reception desk.

Lost in Translation

She wanted to speak with Venue Hire. November 19th was the date she had in mind. We were fully on board with each other for a solid six seconds but like so many first encounters (in my experience at least) proceedings soon plunged into farcical and somewhat uncomfortable territory thereafter.

With the phone lines for the venue hire team ringing out I suggested that our caller email them instead with further details as to her request/enquiry. She seemed open to the idea but English wasn’t her first language so I knew to exercise a degree of caution when dictating the email address required. After some hasty tongue rolls and a gentle siren I proceeded as follows;

“So that’s venuehire@**********.co.uk

I was greeted with a stunned kind of silence which I initially perceived as a cultured appreciation of my resonant tones. The vacuous stuttering that followed was to dispel this notion entirely however and I was soon to learn that ‘Venue Hire Lady’ not only hadn’t quite captured said email address but hadn’t even recognised my utterings as letters/words/speech.

I’ll go again with that one” I offered, “It’s venuehire@**********.co.uk

She went to repeat it back to me and I was amazed to have “venuethetheatre.com.co.uk” recalled with noteworthy confidence. But that didn’t at all resemble what I just told her I thought. Indeed the company name had been completely omitted and for a second I wondered if I was being had. However it was too convincing and subtle a performance and not at all in keeping with the Musical Theatre world I inhabit – she was genuine for sure.

Several minutes passed. Several failed attempts were made but we continued to plough on. The ceiling looked fabulous.

“Eh…no, I’ll start again” I said, deciding to spell each letter out individually and decelerating my pace of speech to what some might argue is normal speed. This didn’t seem to work either and by the time I was on my third attempt of the letter “r” I could sense laughter rippling from the other end of the office. One colleague was even fashioning the letters of the email using his body, YMCA style.

This was worrying for me actually because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my modest life it’s that the danger of laughing inappropriately is never too far away from me. It’s a weakness for sure but one that reassuringly reminds me that there’s still light in my soul.

Now, I didn’t full-on laugh but…I might have half chuckled.

Chuckled down the phone, whilst trying to regulate my breathing.

Chuckled down the phone, whilst trying to regulate my breathing and RE-SPELL the same email address for the 19th time.

It was with much relief that she finally got it and we ended the call there, her seemingly grateful, me nearing joyous.

Until 4 minutes later the phone rang again. It was her.

“Ah…have you got Whatsapp instead?”

Hasty Grace-y

Grace was this morning’s caller of note. Grace was a little hasty. A little hot off the mark. An eager beaver. It was 8.45am.

“Oh hi! It’s Grace here! I’m looking to speak with your IT manager?!”

“He’s not yet in the office today, may I take a message in the meantime?”

A confused silence.

“But he told me to call at 4.30pm?”

“….Right….well do you want to maybe call back at 4.30pm then?”

“Ok…it’s just he told me to call at 4.30pm?”

“I see. Well, it’s only 8.45am now…so maybe call back at 4.30pm instead?

She seemed a bit put out by this suggestion actually.

“Oh. Ok. I call back later so.”

Theatre ticket confusion

“Hello?? Hello?”

“Ya, I can hear you, go ahead!”

“Hello???”

“Ya, hello!”

It was Edmund calling. Edmund, with his clipped Queen’s English and that very distinctive rasp unique to men of a certain class and of advanced age, the impression of their windpipes being restricted in some way. It sounds uncomfortable but it also colours them with an enhanced semblance of wisdom.

“Oh, good afternoon…”

“Hi.”

I knew not to compete on the accent front. He sounded glorious.

“I’ve…I’ve got a bit of a conundrum.”

He paused as if for dramatic effect. Most callers do this. Unfortunately I have lost all patience for theatrics and now prefer a more direct, results orientated approach. It’s called being dead inside.

“Go on…”

“Well you see, the thing is, I’ve bought two separate sets of tickets for two different shows at one of your venues this month…”

“Go on…”

“And you see, the thing is…”

“Ya…”

“Well the strangest thing has happened…”

“Go on…”

“My tickets…”

“Go on…”

“One set says S11 and S12…”

“Ya…”

“And the other set says 127 and 128?”

“…might it be i27 and i28?…the letter ‘I’ as opposed to number 1?”

Edmund paused but the silence was quickly broken by his weighty sigh of acknowledgment, serving as confirmation that this suggestion on my part had indeed solved the riddle.

“YOU…” he concluded, “…are a LOVELY YOUNG LADY.”

 

 

 

Boris

It was a mango coloured hardback that killed the fucker in the end.

I had never seen anything like him in my life. And it was definitely a ‘he’ – he had the ominous look of a “Boris” about him. A black body from which sprung about 19 hairy black legs that moved with unsettling pace and noteworthy ill intent.

I had just returned from the counter of Café Nero with my coffee in one hand and oat bar in the other when from the corner of my eye I saw something not-so-small scurry across the floor and in the direction of the table opposite me. Seated at said table was what I assumed to be a mother and daughter, chatting contentedly and completely oblivious to the evil monster lurking beneath and heading towards their handbags. The ladies were speaking German – with this in mind I concluded that they were decent people and that I would need to save them.

Unfortunately my ability to react in times of stress comes to a complete standstill and I generally adopt the stance of a Neanderthal – mouth open and gormless, not entirely dissimilar to a washed up whale. My desire to spring into action is blocked by acute fear and in keeping with this rather unhelpful trait I proceeded to warn the two women of the approach of Boris by pointing my oat bar in the direction of their bags and staring goggle eyed at one particular tote into which Boris had delved. No words came out initially but I did manage to lean towards the unsuspecting pair despite my crippling fear of Boris returning in my direction and at speed.

“Ex….excuse me?”

Finally, I could speak.

“Excuse me?”

The ladies were deep in German conversation. They seemed so happy.

“Sorry…eh excuse me…I think…excuse me…there’s a….”

They still hadn’t noticed the whimpering Paddy. Boris had robbed me not only of my dignity but also of my ability to project. Little FUCKER I thought.

And with that Boris came galloping out from under the tote and in MY direction with startling defiance. In an act of self-defence and fueled by panic I grabbed a book from a nearby shelf and propelled it across the café floor and passed the two ladies before watching it land neatly onto Boris’ body.

That stopped the ladies in their tracks alright and they watched in dismay as I preceded to stand on said book and twist so as to ensure that Boris was rendered ‘past his sell by date’, ‘gone to meet his maker’, “EXPIRED”.

“There’s a spider under that…” I offered by means of an explanation to the two ladies. My voice was shaking and the oat bar was trembling also. By contrast, the daughter was laughing heartily but the mum seemed slightly horrified. I think she disapproved of the book having been defaced by the remains of Boris and his abundance of legs. She wiped Boris off the book and put it back on the shelf dutifully and I thanked her for her cooperation in cleaning up the scene of the murder. When it came time to leaving they waved me off and we exchanged warm smiles and dorky giggles.

I wondered after if I should feel bad for damaging the cover of the book.

 

 

 

 

 

Who knew Stanley Clarke gave such good Base?

So Patrick’s a base player. I feckin’ knew it. Only the appeal of a musician could have explained my up ‘til now, inexplicable fascination.

Last night’s song selection was to inspire an actual conversation with Patrick. An actual conversation with ‘he of the harmonies’, the elusive Singing Spinner who had only recently invited us class participants to, and I quote, ‘come into his palace’.

I soon came to learn that Patrick is even more intimidating when standing at close proximity and interestingly, shorter in real life. Historically speaking, I had only ever observed him from the safe confines of my bike and owing to his colourful persona I had mistakenly concluded that he reigned a good 6 foot high. Upon mature reflection and having browsed a Spotify playlist alongside him I now know that 5’10/5’11 would have been more apt an estimate.

Now that the inclination to ‘grow a pair’ had taken hold, I paused as I made my way out of the studio to inquire with Patrick as to the STOMPER of a tune that had fueled the finale of our class. I figured I could re-visit it during my morning commute to work and pull strange faces to my self whilst navigating the mean streets. I noticed that I had adopted an angled stance so that one foot was facing the door and ready to flee should he feel the need to heckle me. He did this to the rhythmically challenged peddlers in the class and whilst I was confident that I didn’t fall within this category, unpredictability was just one of Patrick’s noteworthy facets.

 “That last song, Patrick. What was it?”

“I’m home Africa – Stanley Clarke”

“Who?”

“You never heard of Stanley Clarke?”

“No. Who’s Stanley Clarke?”

“Only ONE OF THE GREATEST BASE PLAYERS EVER!”

It was an animated plea but he didn’t quite enter ‘bellowing’ territory – my impoverished musical upbringing would not offend beyond restoration on this occasion.

“I play base…well, I used to play base but I wasn’t very good and realised that this was really my instrument.” He waved at his neck somewhat self-consciously on the word ‘this’ before modestly returning his gaze to his bike.

“Do you sing outside of here?” I asked, dripping in sweat and physically banjaxed – standard for a Thursday night at this stage. In a departure from his usual flamboyance he seemed shy in his response and I couldn’t help but detect an undertone of melancholy; “I wish, I wish.”

I could have walked at that point but instead I remained planted to the spot in the full knowledge that he had more to say.

“I actually write a bit. I’m hoping to team up with a friend and write some material with him.”

“Good for you Patrick. Let us know when the gig is.”

 

Alleged Theft – authorities call for anyone with further information to come forward.

On Friday, September 21st Mr. Irish rang Musical Theatre Headquarters with a startling allegation concerning the whereabouts of a pair of tickets for an evening performance of The King and I (dated Saturday, September 22nd).

During the course of said conversation Mr. Irish vehemently denied that said tickets had been mislaid owing to slovenly negligence. He also denied rumours of said tickets being mislaid owing to him being Irish.

Mr. Irish proceeded to outline alleged criminal activity which unfolded at his home on a date indeterminate but sometime in the weeks preceding his call on September 21st. The address of this apartment for the purposes of further investigation is as follows;

Mr. Irishman,

Messy Apartment 9a,

Presumably somewhere near Kilburn cos’ he’s Irish,

London

When questioned as to how it came to pass that said tickets had been rendered ‘MISSING’ Mr. Irish purported that theft and deceit had been involved. He alluded to a break-in at the aforementioned apartment on a date indeterminate but sometime in the weeks preceding his call on September 21st.

When questioned as to what evidence he had which might corroborate such weighty allegations Mr. Irish confirmed that a pile of highly sensitive documents had gone missing from his apartment during the course of said break-in on a date indeterminate but sometime in the weeks preceding his call on September 21st.

When further pushed on the same subject he further alleged that the pair of King and I tickets concerned was among the aforementioned pile of highly sensitive documents. It was at this point that the call taker suggested, perhaps falsely, that the pair of musical theatre tickets was what had instigated and indeed inspired the need for a break-in. 

Mr. Irish is now seeking damages from Musical Theatre Headquarters for the following;

  1. Loss of tickets owing to the King and I show being too ‘in demand’.
  2. Trespass of a ‘stagey’ person onto his private property.
  3. Loss of dignity owing to Musical Theatre tickets being discovered among his correspondence.
  4. Loss of dignity owing to his being Irish.
  5. Post-traumatic stress (see notes 2, 3 and 4)

Anyone with further information concerning the above complaint is invited to contact Musical Theatre Headquarters at their earliest convenience so that a full and thorough investigation may be launched.

 

 

**Inspired by an ACTUAL conversation with an Irish caller who’s tickets had gone missing following a break in**

 

 

Work Experience

“Can I show you a video before I leave?”

“Always.”

 “So, we had a free class at school and I wanted to show everyone that I could jump from one table to another but they were quite far apart…”

Lucy (not her real name) turned the screen of her phone to face me and soon I was bearing witness to a teenager hurtling her entire body from a classroom table and MISSING the receiving table in emphatic and bruising fashion. I was impressed by her undignified honesty.

“Jesus Christ, were you ok??”

“Ah ya, I mean, I ended up in A&E and I’ve done permanent damage to my back but I’m fine really. Anyway, thanks for today, Bye!”

And with that my shadowing student went on her merry way.

HR had mentioned something about a girl seeking work experience a few weeks back and I had agreed to her shadowing me without hesitation. This rash but well intentioned offering on my part was owing largely to the time of request being a Friday afternoon when the Friday ‘office bubbles’ had already been released unto the mouths of us parched and sole destroyed theatre minions. I hadn’t really thought about it since. In truth I had completely forgotten until the doorbell chimed about a fortnight later and in walked an adolescent bearing an unfamiliar, radiant demeanour – she struck me as hopeful almost.

“Hi there, I’m Lucy…I’m here on work experience today?”

I don’t cope well with surprises at the best of times, least of all when they appear just as I am trying to browse Skyscanner for flights to various European destinations.

I closed the tab but I was rightly fecked when I realised there were still quite a few to go; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Desktop Whatsapp, Yahoo Mail, RTE News – too many to hide inconspicuously. With a heavy heart I made the difficult decision to close Google Chrome entirely, leaving only Outlook and an Excel Spreadsheet on show. A false impression of office life but one I needed to allude to nonetheless.

I managed to spot a vacant chair looking sullen and abandoned at the far end of the room and seizing on the opportunity, I began the wheeling of said chair across the office space to the backdrop of squeaking levers and jamming peddles. I moved with laboured intensity, bashing and banging into the forest of indoor plants lining the aisles and the corners of desks that got in my way. Presumably the image was wholly impressive.

Lucy was waiting patiently; expectantly even.

“So, you’ve been on placement here all week?”

“Ya, it’s been incredible. I was with Stage Management at one of the theatres on Monday, Box Office Tuesday, the Electrics department Wednesday, Stage Crew yesterday…that was really fun!”

Finally she had reached the dizzying heights of Reception.

“Well, today you get to watch me print new staff ID cards so they really did save the best til’ last.”

It might have presented as a jovial remark but the observation of a machine spitting out plastic cards was indeed to be Lucy’s fate for the next 6 hours or so. Despite the drudgery that I was unwillingly inflicting upon-eth the child, she had an impressive assurance and energy to her and I suddenly found myself anxious for her to avoid a life sentence comprising staff ID’s, door releases and an unhealthy relationship with stationary. In fact, I was confident that today’s insight into my role might instill in her a healthy fear of failure. But come 5.30pm my worst fears had been realised;

“Ya know, I thought today would be really boring but it has actually been SO much fun. I’ve really loved it here!”

I had failed the child.

 

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