Thursday, 24 September 2009

Me, Camilla and the Archbishop of Canterbury

Don't think about buses. I know, they too come along all at once after long and unexplained periods of absence.

The thing is, I've had a rather successful bout of celebrity spotting recently. And given that it was my first in 10 years in London - I found it rather exciting in a small child at DisneyLand kind of way.

Now, I have to come clean about a little quirk of mine. I struggle with facial recognition. I get people's faces mixed up because they look the same to me, even if no other person can see the resemblance. For example, for many years I thought Chicago Hope and ER were the same show (for the record, I never followed either particularly assiduously). I thought George Clooney and Adam Arkin were the same person - just that in some episodes Clooney looked a little more tired and rough around the edges... Perversely, I've never found Madame Tussaud's waxworks particularly lifelike nor do I find look-a-likes particular "like." There you have it.

However, on the same day that I saw the A of C at The Garrick, I also saw Camilla Parker-Bowles!

I was about to cross Cornhill in the City when a motorcade descended upon the scene and swiftly blocked all pedestrian and vehicular traffic. This prompted dark mutterings on my part about England aping the worst of the post-Independence excesses of the African continent. Don't know why but motorcades always bring out the little French Republican in me. You know, La Victoire, one tit exposed, Le Tricolore flag in one hand, and the Cocarde perched on my head at a jaunty angle leading the Sans-Culotte over the Barricades. (Don't be alarmed, or worse titillated: it's just a little visual in my head, I don't actually act it out on the streets. )

Back to my mutterings of dictatorial excesses of the governing classes. As the first of the two official cars drew up to my level, I couldn't resist peering in - like a complete peasant! - and lo and behold there was Camilla looking rather glum and serious with another lady sitting beside her. My mood lifted immediately. I'd just seen Camilla! I didn't even mind the motorcade so much - besides, they'd now departed and I had the road all to myself again.

My latest celebrity spotting was Dexter Fletcher (the curly haired one in Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels and more recently playing the Concierge in Hotel Babylon) at Borough Market last Saturday - buying olives. Verified by a third party. (The conversation went like this. Me: Is this the guy from Lock Stock and Hotel Babylon or does he just look like him or does this person not even remotely look like him? Him: It's him. Definitely. Me: He look so different from his part. His hair is longer and almost white! Him: Yes, but it's definitely him:well spotted!)

Now there's a celebrity spotter extraordinaire. I think he's seen more celebrities than a paparazzi. It's partly due to working in Soho (sees Mike Leigh on a regular basis, cheered up Macy Gray) and partly due to his habit of lunching in posh places. He once sat next to Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson at Claridges. He also has the knack for being in the right place at the right time. He once sa George Bush Sr. drive past him in his motorcade during a presidential visit. And the thing is Bush actually waived to him...

The things wot I done the sights wot I seen

It's been a while, I know. Well, I've been busy. I have! Why didn't you write me?

Did you at least miss me? Wondered where I'd got to? If I'd ever come back?

Chances are no one noticed. A full month sans blogging - and nada.

Ah well, since you ask, since you're silently begging me to reveal all, I'll tell what I've been up to.

It all started with a wonderfully glorious bank holiday weekend with P&M in West Sussex where we were treated to Rusalka at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival (you know, the one where the leading lady famously tripped and fell into the orchestra pit - the week before we saw her), homegrown vegetables and fruit (we took home bags of the stuff - I even made rhubarb jam for the first time), and the company of two adorable miniature Dachshund. It was English summer at its best. Pure Julian Fellowes.

Then we went to Lords' Cricket Ground and saw our first One Day International (England vs. Australia and the Aussies' won!). That was fun too except it was so unexpectedly cold and breezy. Caught a slight chill actually, but it was well worth it.

The following week we were treated to The Mysteries at the Garrick Theatre, by Cape Town theatre company Isango Portobello . We loved it, the Archbishop of Canterbury loved it (he was there, I saw him. Dog collar and all). Don't miss it. In the meantime, here's a little snippet of modern anthropology for you: had a full row of American, middle aged, Church going ladies in front of us - sharing a bag of Bassett's winegums and a full row of kids watching the show in the row behind us. Kids had NO IDEA who or what the Archbishop of Canterbury was. Never even heard of him. Didn't ring any bells. By the way, The Garrick sells some mean chocolate ice cream at intermission, with flecks of dark chocolate mixed in. Yum. (Why the religious theme do I hear you ask? The Mysteries is a medieval play based on Bible Stories. Now you know.)

Then last Saturday got treated to some ColdPlay tickets at Wembley. We really enjoyed Jay-Z! He was amazing. It was amazing. Wembley I mean. First time there. Not just at the new arena, I mean first time at Wembley ever. Only been in London for 10 years (me not Wembley). Actually, it was my first concert in a while... did you know that those giant screens either side of the stage now have crystal clear resolution? No more pixelating! I need to go out more... Oh, and we showed up at Gate B and the man on the door said "you look to me like you have ClubWembley seats", glanced at the tickets and added "yep! it's over that way. Really good tickets." We didn't even know we had Club Wembley tickets. We didn't know what Club Wembley was. It's the posh bit. Where industry types and corporates hang out. They sell strawberries and champagne in the posh bar. We just had water from the main counter (no tap, £2 a bottle decanted into a plastic cup). And the other good bit was that we'd checked the weather forecast so we had our rain gear ready for when it started raining. And raining. And pelting down with rain at the start of the ColdPlay set. It was well dry in the Club Wembley bit though. But the rain gear kept us dry on the walk back to the Tube stop.

So that's my excuse for being - well - absent in the blog sense of the word. Blogsent? Ablogsent?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

When I grow up I wanna be a cyberdolly!

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. I've got a blog and a website, and five email addresses. I'm also a bit of a text fiend. But am I losing touch with reality?

Reality. Remember? Talking to other people face to face, or writing them a letter that folds into an envelope with stamp and mail? Getting your hands and knees dirty in the garden. Getting grass stains on your white trousers because you sat in the park at lunch...

Are we still real or are we turning into cyber versions of ourselves? Some people are getting a divorce on the grounds that their partner is in a "relationship" with someone else on one of those sites where you can create an alterego. How real is that? Is it that different from fantasising?

Where do we draw the line?

Maybe it's a question of balance. A friend of mine (she created the amazing set of my one woman show last year) just lost her entire email history for the last 10 years when her Yahoo account was deleted. Should so much of ourselves be invested in the ether, and entrusted to remote servers?

Well, it's convenient. Having a portable life that fits in your pocket. Everything is a click away. All your memories and experiences available at the click of a button or the swivel of the round thingy on the IPod. Life on the go. Life as take away.

Maybe some of the time. But do I want my life "to go" or do I want the option to sit for a leisurely 6 course meal without worrying about a restaurant's second sitting policy? Do I want finger food every day? Or would I like to use a knife and fork, chopsticks, and on special occasions those fancy fish knives and other exotic bits of cutlery that you find in a proper silverware set?

And that's not even counting gaming and other interactive pursuits.

Is the cyber version of ourselves enriching itself at the expense of our real selves? Does every minute spent on Twitter reduce our real life experience by the same amount?
What about all those "real time" applications? Is time real in cyberspace?

Who do I want to be? The imperfect one, made of flesh and blood, with all the limitations that entails, or the cyber version of me edited as I choose to present to the global internet community? What's a better sign of popularity: one real friend or 100 FaceBook friends?

What if people like cyber me more than real me?

In the meantime, I have an audition coming up for a French speaking part in a Polish bank commercial.