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This is my blog, I write things here, but not that often.
I also sometimes write on the Clerke and Joy blog and occasionally for the Interval website and have written some things for Total Theatre Magazine. During my project Oh My God I'm Scottish too!! I kept a separate blog that can be read here. Blog blog blog.


[Interval] | Trying to grow up

September 27, 2013

from Bristol


This blog post was originally posted on the Interval website.

Interval office

I’m in the Interval office, as usual, and no one else is here.  I bat between getting a lot of work done (normally when there is a deadline imposed), and nothing at all. The in between stage is that I do something like write this, which doesn’t need to be done, but at least has some ‘air’ of productivity about it. These are usually my favourite things to do.

This morning I got here and spent the first twenty minutes sitting on the roof with a cup of coffee reading Alan Read’s ‘Theatre & Everyday Life’, whilst looking at the everyday life passing on college green below and I couldn’t help grinning to myself – this is really fucking good! And then feeling a bit melancholy about the fact that we have to leave.

However, there are parts of me very excited to leave, and reading a book is certainly one of them. Jojo (the other half of Clerke and Joy) came in the other week and we were looking through the sort-of library here to find books for a photoshoot for our performance lecture Tips for the Real World. We got talking about having a proper library in the ‘new place’.

‘Each individual member of Interval probably has a couple of hundred pounds worth of performance related books at home – imagine if they were all here, it would be so good, really useful.’

I’ve never taken many of my ‘school’ books into this building because I worry they will get lost or not looked after. We have a bookshelf here and although I love to browse it feels very rough, scrappy – a depository for books people weren’t so concerned about losing.

library

Jojo and I are keen in the ‘new place’ (which doesn’t yet exist) to set up a system where we all bring in as many books as we want, and we label and register them all in some kind of list so that it works like a real library. We’d keep track of who owns what book, and if you wanted to borrow it there’d be a place to write it down.

It’s a very small thing to do that might make our library much bigger and more usable. How great it would be to pool resources have access to all these books that normally lurk at home (for that, after all, is what libraries are for, right?).

The problem with the current situation in this building is one that I’ve experienced a lot before, mainly when I’ve been imminently moving house or leaving a city. It’s not that we couldn’t make a library work in the Parlour, much like it still wouldn’t be impossible to re-decorate the kitchen here – something that Jo Hellier and I have long dreamed of doing – it’s that it just doesn’t feel worth it anymore. What’s the point in putting in all the effort only to have to undo it and move it again in a couple of months?

It’s this sort of thing that gives the whole place a feeling of winding-down, and is the reason that it’s so important we find somewhere soon to move into. Between us we have a lot of ideas for things that we can do to make this collective more useable, more of a community, more supportive. There is no lack of intention and feeling within this group, but it seems futile to push an idea in a space that is going to be empty by the end of the year.

We use this space on a meanwhile use basis. It’s a brilliant scheme whereby we get free use of the building until it is sold, or needs to be used by someone else (someone who can pay money). I think it’s a fantastic way for artists to establish a space within the city. However, whilst the constant threat of quickly moving on in these spaces can be refreshing, it is also stifling. As a very young group it is important to have a transient, fluid nature, but we are growing – we have grown, and we need an opportunity to develop.

If we could have the stability of a space I have no doubt that we would make more happen in it. That we would care for it, put time into making it what we want it to be. I hope that Bristol City Council can recognise this and can see what we have already achieved and have the potential to achieve if they give us the opportunity. Whilst they have said they are committed to finding us somewhere new (the ‘new place’) we are still unsure whether they will or not. We’ve already experienced and come to understand the debilitating lack of communication between the arts team, who want to support us, and the properties team, who want to get rid of us. And even if they do find somewhere, it’s hard to know if there will be any stability for us to grow: build a library, paint the kitchen.

I’ve got big hopes for this hotch-potch group of people, I hope they’ll see that. I hope they’ll let us grow.

I hope we find a new home soon.


Rachael x




 

Fortnight Writing #3: Radar

September 16, 2013

from Bristol


Third piece of fortnight writing. The subject, 'radar' was given to me by Peter Clerke, an artist based in Winchester: director of Blue Apple Theatre and The Occasional Cabaret. My dad.

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The death of Radar


That thing that we had [once]. Was it radar?

How did you know and I know when we were so close? Or was it just that you were close enough for the hairs on my arm to touch the hairs on your face?

Or was it your heat. I could feel it from the other end of the street. That nice nausea, I don’t know where it went. Was it radar? I wonder if I, we, could still feel it [if I, we, wanted to].

My dad said to me, wouldn’t it be dangerous if birds lost their sense of radar: they would crash into us in the street. Our whole lives would have to change. That’s how it felt. Like crashing into your face, making it dangerous. By mistake, on purpose. Whole life shifting, changing and learning to adapt. Perhaps it was only I who lost it, this sensitive satellite mapping: tracking enemy aircraft, birds, humans, lovers.

Modern radar can detect objects as small as a loaf of bread. You can’t have been smaller than that, surely –

(I google ‘do humans have radar’ and a yahoo-answers page comes up; a person is ridiculed for asking, so I suppose we don’t.)


But it’s far less effective over long distances, and although I hoped that by writing sewing pressing it earnestly into letters and emails and text messages it would maintain I suppose there is eventually a lag. Or interference, radar jamming: intercepting waves. Ellipses. Stop. Awkward dancing. Stop.

Lost.

So perhaps it wasn’t radar. Perhaps it was only a precursor, quickly outdated, and a gap between this and the real thing. The sound mirrors at Dungeness: noise bouncing off concrete to detect something that couldn’t move as fast as we would need it to [now]?

 

 

 

 

 

Fortnight Writing #2: Risk Taking and Repurcussions

September 2, 2013

from Winchester


My second piece of Fortnight Writing: Risk Taking and Repurcussions. Subject from Ria Hartley, an artist, researcher and educator based in Bristol.

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Risks I have taken

Istanbul
Sex
Interrailling aged 17
Getting lost in industrial estates
Class A drugs
Cycling with eyes closed
Ibrox Braveheart
Trying to make a living from art
Jumping off a bridge

 

Negative repurcussions

Loneliness, sexual harassment
Attachment, bad sex, awkwardness
Theft, fear, bad sex
None yet
Vomit, gurning
None yet (surprisingly)
Abuse, head cold
Poverty
Bruising, mild river-sickness

 


I climb the path up to the bridge not quite convinced I’ll do it. Wondering whether sensibility or stubbornness will win out. I know that stubbornness is the reason I normally do things that are a bad idea.

We stand at the top and talk about it for a bit. Shit ourselves, almost. I really did feel a bit like shitting myself at one point. The inability to lose face is pretty strong. Stubbornness might still win out.

I take fucking ages. People come up, we chat, they egg me on. I climb over the barrier with them. They jump. I climb back over. Adrian jumps. I turn and walk back down the path. Meet a couple walking up. I haven’t lost face yet so I turn and walk with them. We talk. Egg each other on. Same story. He jumps. She doesn’t. She walks back down. I stay.

Everyone loses interest. I’m still up there. No one would care if I didn’t jump. But. Time passes. Time passes. This guy cycles past, stops, cycles back. We flirt. ‘Would you jump if I jumped with you?’ Yeah, I would. He locks his bike. I’m going to jump off a bridge to impress a boy I don’t fancy.

‘Actually I’ll go on my own’. I climb over. Let go. I don’t even want to. Can’t imagine hitting the water without breaking several bones (which means, I think, that I probably will). Fly for ages. Hit hard. Under,

1, 2, 3 seconds. And up. Breathe. Sore neck. Sore breast. Bruising but no broken bones. Swim to the jetty.

A bunch of people who had got bored of waiting hand me a drink. A group I’ve never seen before cheer as I walk past.

But the exhilaration doesn’t exceed the blatant stupidity and I don’t want to do it again.

What a dickhead.


 

Fortnight Writing #1: Listening

August 20, 2013

from Edinburgh


My first piece of fortnight writing (see below). The Subject - Listening - was suggested to me by Sebastian Hau Walker. Sebastian is a London based artist and the man at the helm of the wonderful CLUSTER BOMB [collective]

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I am one of those happy, lucky kids. The kids whose parents love them no matter what, will bail me out, support if not always endorse my decisions, even the bad ones I have made, and the bad ones I will make in the future. I am one of the kids who was read to.

Kids who get read to are lucky.

But at some point they stop reading to you. 1999, a tent in family friends’ back garden – there is a party going on in the garden but my friend Catriona, who is eight, and I, nine, have climbed into our sleeping bags and my mum is going to read us the first chapter of this ‘really great book’ that she has got.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had me hooked pretty much straight away, and when the end of it came and my mum rejoined the boozy adult world of the party and Catriona turned over on to her side and dozed off, I read the next three chapters. Greedily. And the next day more chapters on the way back to Edinburgh. And the book didn’t last me long, and I was disappointed when it ended. I love that: when you feel bereft at the end.

I was already a voracious reader, but Harry Potter is one of the first books I can remember devouring. And for me, and thousands of other kids all over the world, reading suddenly became something that was kind-of-cool. Up until that point we were the TV generation. Books didn’t factor for lots of kids in the nineties apart from at school, and for this reason alone I will always be wary of people who dismiss Harry Potter as pulp.

But, with this ‘devouring’ came, I think, the end of being read to. I can’t remember either of my parents reading to me after this (and it is, in fact, possible that they hadn’t read to me for some time before that either) – not because they wouldn’t but because I wanted to be in my own world when I read. To read fast and wild, because that’s how it felt. When as a kid, one begins to read in ones own head, there is an independence and power that comes with that – a being in control – that is unmatched by any reading experience up to that point.

I moved quickly from attentive listener to speed-reader. Listening to a school teacher reading a book aloud in class prompted nothing from me other than impatience – a knowledge that I could get through these pages to the Real Meat of the story much faster if only he/she would just shut-up-and-handover-the-book-right-now. Whilst I have always and still do love being read to, I somehow couldn’t cope with being able to see the book but not hold and read it for myself. I guess I like to be in control.

Storytapes/audiobooks and radio programmes are a different kettle of fish. I have always listened to and enjoyed these disembodied speaking voices coming to me, without visuals. It doesn’t frustrate me, doesn’t distract me, doesn’t make me want to rush ahead. Rather I am concentrated, focussed. It makes me happy. It is being read to no-pressure. I’m in charge of the play and pause and stop buttons and I love this space somewhere between reading and being read to.

I do not believe that as Mark Lawson argues, ‘audiobooks risk the infantilisation of literature’ and when I read these articles, of which there are many, I can’t help but wonder that what these writers fear is not infantilisation as they state, but democratisation. Listening being less daunting than reading allows for trying-things-out or dipping-your-toe-in. It makes literature accessible and manageable. I have recently listened to stories by Borges, Barthelme and Calvino – writers that have been on my ‘to-read’ list for a long time, but that I, a confident reader, moderately well read, with a degree, have always been (and yeah, I imagine irrationally) a bit scared of. For me audiobooks and radio manage to bypass and make digestible these ‘wrongly heavy’ texts – books we might believe to be difficult for reasons as trifling as the fact that the text is printed very small, or where the name of the author implies such great intellectuality that the book can’t possibly be simple.

Recently by way of radio podcasts listened to on bikes, buses, foot, in bed, whilst eating, or at my desk I have learnt about an Israeli satirist, sectarian tensions amongst young mothers in Belfast, Illegal immigrants in the US deliberately infiltrating detention centres and the implications of UK government waste. It seems I am loyal to voices far more than I ever have been to a newspaper or magazine.

I will always read books and relish the visual characteristics of text on the page, any page – even this one. But I cannot diss the power of someone having already done this for me, of being read to or relayed information aurally rather than visually. Listening. Moving from my parents to Ira Glass via Tony Robinson and Melvyn Bragg seems only natural.




 

Fortnight writing

August 2, 2013

from Bristol


I really like writing, I always have.
But, I have always struggled with the same things. Probably lots of people struggle with them. They are annoying and get in the way and stop me getting better as a writer.


1. Subject.

What to write about? Why now? For who? Sometimes I think of something that I could write about, but decide that no one will be interested in reading about it, or that once I’ve written my opening paragraph I will have nothing else to say. I worry about always writing about the same things, or in the same style, and this becoming boring for anyone who might read it. This has become more of an issue since leaving full time education where people usually told me what to write about.

2. Finishing.
I’m not very good at finishing things unless I have to. It’s not because I don’t want to, I do, but something blocks me and the amount of unfinished pieces of writing saved on my computer is becoming embarrassing more than anything. It’s a kind of weight that I have – unmoving, forgotten-about text that just sits there. Unsurprisingly, this was also less of a problem when I had the strict deadlines of school or university life. Whilst I always had to run across campus to hand in at 5pm (4.53, 4.56, 4.59), I always got there. Now no one tells me when to stop, hurriedly write the conclusion, hand it in or launch it into the world and my self-imposed deadlines never feel quite as rigid as the threat of failing a degree did. So I keep not finishing.

 

In light of this, next week I will begin Fortnight Writing, a new and ridiculously simple project that I hope will make me write more stuff, more varied stuff, more good stuff, more bad stuff, more different stuff, whilst putting these two aspects in other people’s hands. It’s a kind of ‘back-to-school’ deal, except – thankfully – I don’t have to go back to school, and I get to choose my own teachers. And they don’t get to give me a grade. So not really a lot like going back to school, but you get the idea. 

It works like this. I ask someone to choose a subject, which they must email to me on a chosen day (the first will arrive on Monday 6th August). It can be anything but it cannot deliberately dictate the kind of writing I will do. For example, instead of 'An analytical essay on the performance practices of the Wooster Group' the subject would be plainly 'The Wooster Group’. I then have two weeks exactly from the date and time that I receive the subject to complete a piece of writing in any style I wish, and email it back to the original subject-giver. There is no word limit, and there are no rules on how I choose to interpret the subject. I must, however, write under that title, and I must complete a piece of writing for every subject, even if I don’t want to.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. There’s not a lot in it for anyone apart from myself, but hopefully there will be some interesting or entertaining by-products that you may or may not wish to read. You can, I will put them all here on this blog and there will be nothing I can do to stop you.

I will choose my ‘subject-givers’ from a broad range of people that I know and possibly some that I don’t know, who I think will give me something interesting or challenging to write about. Whilst their role is in many ways quite small, I hope that they will relish the opportunity to have something written about a subject that they perhaps have always wanted to read about, or if not, at least enjoy the opportunity to propose something really difficult to me.

 

First piece will be posted on Monday 19th of August. In the meantime, to prove that I have always loved to write, here is a poem called 'One way wrong way' that I wrote when I was ten (it's probably still the best poem I've ever written). Note the very deliberate choice of Tuesday.






 

Don't fuck with public space

July 29, 2013

from Bristol




Just over two years ago I left Istanbul, the city that had made my home for the past ten months. I knew I would miss the food, and my friends – these things are the instant, daily pangs that one feels at the end of anything. And over time I began to miss the city itself, its mad loud beating pulse and awkward decrepit buildings beside hi-rise shopping centres. Our one-bedroom flat on Balo Sokak. Trips across the Bosphorus to the calmer Anatolian side.

It took much longer, though, for me to want to go back. A year. When I did, it was not gradual: I very suddenly had to go, booking the flights to travel in late September as a birthday present to myself. Yet here was a city that I could never really be myself in, never quite, for all it’s western pretensions, wear the clothes I wanted to, feel like an equal to a stranger or agree with politically in almost any sense. After ten months I had been more than ready to leave; my mind muddled by the realisation that simply by living there (renting a flat, having a bank account, shopping at the supermarket) I was, in my ignorant ex-pat way, supporting a regime that still believes in torture. That is becoming more and not less religious. That doesn’t believe in the things I believe in. And once I had felt this, I could not un-feel it, and leaving was only a matter of time. 

But, my friends loved it still. For them it is home. The place in which they have grown up, or aimed for from another, quieter part of Turkey. Sure, they were discontent but it never seemed to me that they were particularly more discontent than I am with Cameron’s government. And like most of the people I know in the UK, whilst they mumbled about going elsewhere few could actually really imagine settling in a different country.

By the time I went back in September however, I could feel a shift. At the same time as I was falling back in love with the place, glad of the year’s distance to make me yearn for it, my Turkish friends had spent the previous year growing restless. Getting angry.

Erdoğan’s government regarded them, these people, my friends, less and less. With each year he seemed to have realised that he did not need them on his side. That with big business and a booming economy it was enough to have the farmers and the moneymakers without having the city dwellers, the liberals, artists, young people. Plans for a third crossing over the Bosphorus pushed ahead, shopping malls popped up in place of past-treasured landmarks and alcohol and entertainment licenses were revoked at an alarming rate.

My friends now felt stifled, and sitting in Beyoğlu’s smoky teras bars with them in late September last year almost all expressed to me a desire – or more, a plan – to leave Turkey within the next five years.

I was shocked that the balance had tipped. My friends, the previous reluctant patriots – trapped in a love hate relationship with their nationality (but Always determined to ‘make it work’) had decided to leave. To give up, ship out. Finally accept the fact that there was nothing they could do here, where Erdoğan still enjoyed huge support in the provinces and the green spaces diminished daily.

At the time I was unsure whether to be disheartened or enthused about this. I spent one night vehemently trying to argue a friend into staying: but this city is really Something Special! There’s nowhere else like this in the world! You’ve got to change things from the inside! And the next helping another to plan his escape, glad of his decision to live in Berlin and be able to achieve the things he’s always wanted from life.

Since then more religiously motivated policies and opinions have crept into legislation. A couple were told to stop kissing on the metro. Air hostesses prescribed a uniform shade of lipstick. Already shaky attitudes towards women were getting worse - just yesterday a politician said on TV that pregnant women shouldn’t be seen in the street - and I thought about these people who I’d sat with in September, and hoped they could get out sooner. Go somewhere else. Because at a point you stop caring about the wider political scene and just want the people you love to be happy.

And then Gezi Park came up for demolition – the government planning to build a replica Ottoman style barracks, replete with yet another shopping centre. Parks are important spaces. I don’t think governments realise quite how important (or perhaps they do now!). Open space is limited in any city - I’ve been lucky enough to live in a few fairly green ones but lots aren’t. Istanbul isn’t. A park is a place that everyone can use: it’s communal, free, and probably the most class-less space we have, particularly when it’s in the centre of town like Gezi.

And so the people began to react. To fight for their park, and consequently their way of life, beliefs and rights.

On the 31st May I turned on the radio in my mum’s house – coincidentally sitting at the time with a German friend who had lived in Istanbul at the same time as me – and over breakfast we listened to BBC reports that thousands of Istanbullus were occupying Gezi. Here they were, my friends the city dwellers, liberals, artists, young people, and over the next week as police reacted violently and hospital admissions and arrests soared, they were joined by the very people who had voted Erdoğan and the AKP in in the first place. Field hospitals sprung up in high class restaurants and old women banged pots and pans in residential districts. Horrified masses united by the shared anger and disbelief that human beings could be treated like this.

The park sit-in became a catalyst for protests all over the country, pushing back against all that is wrong about the way the AKP have ruled over the Turkish people these last ten years, and once again giving people a belief that their country was worth it, that they might be able to stay here and change something. Within a week there was action in every province in Turkey. Twitter seethed and like in the Arab Spring uprisings that were happening so closeby at the time when I lived in Turkey, information was shared online by the people at the centre of the events. The protest about this communal space had become communal news and the world started to notice.

And two months on, things are happening. It’s slow moving. Police are still attacking protestors with tear gas, blocking public spaces and arresting innocent people but it sounds like there are some good conversations going on – nightly meetings that I’ve heard (and I hope) feel like the beginnings of change. The fact that these protests are continuing, that I have finished this piece of writing, started on the first day of protests, rather than ditching it when it became quickly irrelevant is testimony to the resilience of the Turkish people, and proof of just how much they care.

And it’s given a generation of young hopefuls something to fight for, something to hold onto.

I’m very glad and very proud that my friends are amongst them, in the streets, at the meetings, holding on, and I hope they can continue to do so. Because, for all its faults, that city is pretty incredible and I think it’s worth fighting for.




 

Pointers for a gang mentality (Interval)

July 28, 2013
from Bristol

This is a blog post that I wrote last week for the Interval
website. Interval is an artist led support network and studio space in Bristol that I am lucky enough to be a part of. The Braveheart screening mentioned in this has unfortunately already been and gone.
--

23 July 2013

Something we often talk about at Interval meetings is the fact that we’re not always as much of a community as we would like to be. Sometimes we feel more like just a group that use the same space, so it’s something we’ve been trying to address. It feels important that as well as having a cheap communal space, we also help each other with the work we’re making, and spend some time together.

So we’ve been doing a few more things. Lina held a film night a few weeks ago which sounded like a great success, and I’ll be holding another one (details at the bottom of this post) tomorrow. We’ve been using a facebook discussion group which strange as it might sound makes me, at least, feel closer to everyone – something about being able to clearly see what’s being said rather than a million reply-all emails. Last month Eleanor and Jo showed and talked about some work they were making at a sharing, the first we’ve had in a while, and it’s been really great to get to see the culmination of both of these projects – Jo and Yas’s The Water is Wide that was shown as part of 38 Bristols and that many of us took part in, beating a drum for four hours to send a sound to America and Eleanor’s Desperately Seeking Susan that I cycled hell for leather to get to see at the Cube on Saturday night (and I’m real glad I did).

Noemi Iglesias drumming as part of The Water is Wide


And, of course, inevitably, bittersweetly, the beginning of the end of this building has brought us together more than anything.

But before the end (and it won’t be the end anyway! The council are going to re-home us! Hooray!) we’ve got some new blood too. Alfie Heffer has joined the group and this morning we’ve sweatily carried a new desk to the Interval office from my house in Easton. Hello Alfie! Hello new desk!

Our new desk and new member...
Alfie taking a break with our new desk.

The sun has been shining for weeks, there was the most fantastic thunderstorm last night, we are moving forward as a gang, and you should come and watch Braveheart tomorrow night if you’re into that sort of thing.

Love, Rachael x



 

Letter to DWP

July 3, 2013
from Bristol



Dear Department for Work and Pensions

 

I’m trying to work a few things out and I was wondering if you might be able to help me. Because I’m confused. And I’m poor. And I’m trying really hard.

A bit of background: I’m 23 years old, single, female, self-employed, an artist and on jobseekers allowance. I have a first class degree in theatre from a respected art school and although I don’t wish to gloat, I’m doing all right. 

My first show was commissioned by a theatre in Brighton and presented at the Brighton Festival. It received Arts Council funding and, for a period, we were able to pay ourselves for the work that we were doing. We’ve just started booking a tour (we’ve got a show in Hampshire and another in France so far) and we’ll be putting in another Arts Council application to help with that, so hopefully we’ll be able to pay ourselves properly again soon. I don’t know if you know much about this industry, but within a year of graduating, that really is doing quite well.

For now I’m dipping in and out of other bits of work – theatre production, web design, helping friends with their projects, and sometimes there is enough money but often there isn’t. Sometimes there is none. That’s just how it goes. 

I’m also looking for a job. Because even though I’ve already got a few of them, the only way I’m currently surviving is by claiming £56.25 from the Jobcentre every week.

Unlike friends of mine who are just a few years older, I am not eligible for Working Tax Credits. Despite the fact that we might be doing the same job, earning the same money, at the same stage in our career. It’s not a lot, but it helps them keep going, and it means they don’t need to lie to the Jobcentre. 

The truth is, I’m working more than sixteen hours a week. Sorry.

I told the Jobcentre this by mistake once and then had to wildly backpedal because I can’t claim any money if it’s too many hours. And of course I wonder if the information in this letter will get back to them and they’ll cut my benefits? You see, despite having a degree in theatre, I’m not a natural born liar. 

I work really hard. And perhaps I am misguided, believing that if I really want something, and that if I’m willing to put in the work, I can do it. I’ve always been an idealist.

(It’s likely something to do with the fact that I started high school in 2002. My generation has probably heard the words ‘entrepreneurism’ and, ‘enterprise’ more times than most entrepreneurs have. And whilst I appreciate that I am referring to a pre-recession economy, I doubt that even you would dispute the benefits of bright young people starting their own businesses, pursuing the career that they have trained for, being motivated, caring. People who give a fuck.) 

I know you’re trying, a bit, and I think it’s great that you’ve employed someone from Dragon’s Den to run a start-up loan scheme, honestly I do. But for individuals, freelancers, artists like myself, taking out a huge loan is an unrealistic and compromising situation to be in. We’ve already got enough student debt, overdraft payments, money owed to parents.

And in much the same way that food costs the same for jobseekers under 25 (who receive £56.25 a week) as those over 25 (who receive £71.00), under 25’s who are working towards running a successful business deserve the same support as their older counterparts. 

It would be unrealistic for me to expect you to create a new system for artists. I am under no illusions about the privileges I already have, the channels of support and funding that are available (still, just) for creating art in this country. I’m really grateful for that.

What I am asking, is that you explain your inexcusable ageism. And if you can’t explain it, that you change it. 

The fact that Universal Credits are coming in is of little relevance to people like myself at the present time. If you have now decided that under 25’s might, just maybe, in the future, deserve some support when they are working, then you need to create a provision, an exception, something to acknowledge and allow for those like me who – as I said – are really trying. Right now.

The website for your start-up loan scheme states, “With the support of Chairman James Caan and Prime Minister David Cameron, we are starting 30 businesses a day”. Do you realise how many more you could be starting by just providing young self employed people with a little help? 

We could probably save the economy if only you’d let us.

 

Off to do my jobsearch.

Yours sincerely,


Rachael Clerke

 



 

 

It is almost the tenth of May

May 6, 2013

from Brighton


I am in a pre-show state of disrepair. Everything is broken. I am broken. Yesterday my very expensive and eternally* useful camera wouldn’t turn on. My headphones are held together with araldite and sellotape. My laptop is doing something strange with sound that is horrendously worrying seeing as we are planning to operate the show from it on Friday. I have a blister on my left foot that is making it difficult to walk. As soon as the sun came out an arm fell of my sunglasses. I need a hair cut. I need to clear up the desktop of my computer so I can actually see the things I’m meant to be working on. I need to sort out all of these things but I just. Don’t. Have. Time.

They will have to wait.

Almost there.

Four days.

Breathe.

http://brightonfestival.org/event/367/volcano/

 

*HA!





 

Victoria, 4.20AM

April 15, 2013

from Bristol


If you happen to travel through the streets between Victoria train station and coach station at the right time of night, you will discover a very particular species of people – lets call them The Night Flitters – boarding coaches to Edinburgh, Paris, Warsaw. We don’t talk, not at this time, just yawn and pull heavy bags and because of this never find out where the other is going, aside from the gaggle in your own queue at the coach station.

I can’t help but imagine that people are going home for good – as in, for definite. Coach travel is cheap and you can take as much stuff as you want.

This one: A young woman, not much older than me asks me the way to the coach station (she is walking the wrong way). She’s wearing jeans and a jumper, with a fake fur leopard print coat hanging somehow elegantly off her shoulders, and is pulling two large suitcases with more bags heaped on top. I point her in the right direction and she turns around, so that we are now walking the same way. I don’t offer to help her with her bags, because it’s not that kind of situation, and we both tramp on through the wet newspaper mulch together.

Or this one: A whole family, Bulgarian or Romanian, I think, are sitting on boxes at stance number fifteen. It turns out you can’t take as much as you want on the bus after all (they have a lot of stuff) – the megabus man has just told them, and the mother is furiously digging through her box/seat, pulling out various household items: clocks, a mirror, a framed photograph. She looks at the photo – it is large, about A3 or so and the frame looks heavy. The picture is of a waterfall. She starts to remove the image from its frame but stops half-way and puts the whole lot into the fast-growing ‘discard’ pile by her feet. I like to think she decided she didn’t need it anymore because they were going back there, to the waterfall. I hope they are. London is tough. The kids look knackered, but it is 4.30 in the morning so I guess that’s all right.

Of course, there are others out at this time. The burly workers loading tomorrow’s sandwiches into Pret-a-Manger. Homeless men huddled against the side of the train station. A night shift worker heading home with carrier bags full of shopping from the 24-hour Sainsbury’s that must be somewhere nearby, avoiding the rush.

And likewise, people like me, just going ‘somewhere’ – to visit a friend, catch a plane.

I leave places a lot in highly un-romantic, un-exciting situations, so should know not to overthink the lives and circumstances of those I cross-paths with in these early morning bus-station encounters. But there is always a kind of sad, kind of melancholy, kind of lonely air to these late night leavings, including my own [often incredibly dull] ones – something about the cold and dark, that whilst making things more miserable, also somehow makes them more intriguing than their daytime counterparts.

 



 

 
 





© Rachael Clerke 2011-2016

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