Saturday, December 31, 2005

Jesus, to thee, big lorry given

(It’s from O Come All Ye Faithful, working on the principal that I can’t use Christmas songs again for a while.)

The Christmas indulgences can at times be too much (pauses to stuff another piece of triangular Swiss chocolate with honey and almond nougat into my mouth). The plan, as you may remember was that I’d write more stuff for this blog in the last week or so, but that didn’t happen and it’s because I spent a lot of the last week typing out the script for “Sweet Charity.”

This is to be the next musical project at the theatre in Biggar (starting before “Dream On,” but not onstage until afterwards) and we’d borrowed a couple of scripts whilst the theatre high-heid-yins decide which one to choose to perform – having picked “Sweet Charity,” it’s really good to have it in a computer for the director to edit before auditions start. With “Kiss Me Kate,” we had tried OCR (optical character recognition). OCR is a great idea which should allow you to scan in printed sheets of text, and create a text file from it. In practice, the formatting goes all over the place – especially punctuation marks – and you end up spending so much time proof-reading and fixing each page that for “Sweet Charity” I simply typed it in. For people who care, the finished document actually ended up being a good bit longer than my undergraduate dissertation, but with less pictures and brainwork involved. This is why I haven’t been inclined to type until now. In fact, with an Amazon delivery (thank you for the voucher, Gran – I know you read this at times) having turned up today, I have CDs to listen to, more books to read, and Xbox games to look at, so I’m almost surprised at myself for writing just now.

So, without further wossname, here is one of the pieces I wrote – on paper, no less – whilst Computer-less in Perth. Hmm, if I’m going to raid romantic comedies perhaps “You’ve Got Mail (But Can’t Read It) might have been better. Anyway…

In five years I’ve only spent time living in two flats where there was someone living above me. If you don’t happen to know who is living above you then you have to come up with some kind of mental picture to explain the noises. In student flats, this can often be quite simple – they are going to be students and probably doing many of the same things as you (although in some cases, there were bits I frankly did not want to hear). In a proper flat with real, working people who keep regular hours and own cars the possibilities are much wider.

I have to prefix this next bit by saying that I really like the flat in Perth – it’s clean and pleasant, and (in sharp contrast to Leeds) there is a pub nearby which doesn’t make a lot of noise at any time really. There is a primary school nearby, and the screaming and shouting before school is a regular wake-up call, but that’s ok. The first week spent in the flat had been great in terms of not really being talked to, hearing, or even meeting the other people staying in the building, but Saturday was a different matter. At around 7am, there were the sounds from above. Footsteps: lots of footsteps. It sounded like they had run around every room 6 times and then celebrated with a ceilidh, and then cartoons specially amplified for the deaf. Yep, there were young children upstairs. During Saturday it was pretty easy to tell whether they were in or out of the flat – I can only suppose that they were popping out to the shops to stock up on e-numbers. There were heavier footsteps as well, and that made me think that it would probably be a children-visiting-for-the-weekend set up. So in your head you may already have a mental picture – I know I did. But later on I saw them, two young girls (one in a buggy) and a 40-something Father, coming in as I went out with packages of fish and chips.

Oddly enough, I never spent another full weekend in the flat – not because of the noise from upstairs but because of other commitments in Leeds and Biggar – but it did make me think about how it’s easier to dislike people when they are only in your head and you don’t have a solid image of what they look like. Someone pointed out that a major factor in how we treat each other is whether we regard them as “Us” or “Them” – it’s much easier to be nasty or cruel or whatever to people whom we think of as “Them.” So that’s my moment of reflection for now.

No comments: