It needs to pack its bags and move on.
Childhood comfort food – ‘chet’ – simple onions, peppers and tomatoes on well toasted bread (my gran used to make this for us on cold Sunday mornings). I needed this today
It was last September when this whole circus of a year started and it is not looking as if things will change anytime soon, but i really wish they would.
It started with redundancy at work which left us at less than a 1/3 of what we used to be. All at risk, it wasn’t the most peaceful of winters having to wonder almost 6 months if i would have a job at all by the end of it. A few interviews only confirmed that i really didn’t want to go anywhere else and be back on the hamster wheel in the commercial world, living out of a suitcase. Then in March thankfully i had a job, but not the job it used to be. About 2x of it in fact as it has turned out. Not all days, but never really less than 1.5x. Followed by the uphill battle for our workplace as a whole, which has only ended about a week ago with finally some certainly over the next 10 years. But with impaired finances and other circumstances which will make life difficult for everyone.
But at this point i owe massive thanks to all those who spoke up and wrote in the papers and took to the street and saved it. For a few months it looked as if it would be much much worse. This, this we can make work.
We still don’t know exactly how things will work out, but we’ve been adjusting during the summer. And i’ve had to adjust to much lonelier summers at work since everyone with kids was off and i was left with it and no holidays in sight. Mine are spent flying back to see my parents and somehow this year the few days i squeezed to take off were spent battling flu around a bank holiday. I hope the good memories from last year’s 1 week Scotland trip will manage to keep me going for many more months.
In the meantime last November my flat was a building site as all window sills were getting replaced, the kitchen got repainted, with smaller paint jobs once windows fixed. I came back from Xmas trip to find a leak in the roof which had stained my bedroom ceiling. And i had the pleasure of the increasing damp until July this summer. Finally after another 6 weeks building site outside the window the roof was (hopefully) fixed for a while. And 2 weeks ago the bedroom got finally repainted. I hope with 3 building sites in a year i’ve completed the 5 year average.
July i joined a friend for 2 days around estates in Derby to get some fresh air and hopefully put a nasty cough behind me. Which i did, but the break was somehow ruined when Brexit hit right in the middle of it. Whatever people say about the timelines and so on, the world around me has changed irrevocably, and not for the better.
(Working with news screens in your view line all day is a stark reminder of what the world is like and how much this place has changed. I have trouble recognising it though when it refuses to shelter even children in the most vulnerable of circumstances 😦 When it and its neighbours can dismiss those in terrible need with threats of dismantling the camps they take shelter in, instead of trying to provide help. I have real trouble reconciling what i read in papers i’ve dealt with to try and claw some security back and how we act. We seem to be drifting far and farther away from the principles we supposedly stand for).
It’s all a bit of an unfortunate chain of events but it felt like every step was into the unknown, job, house and overall life uncertainty all at once. You suddenly realise how few safety nets you have, if any at all. And that it is something almost nobody can understand. Being the boss of your own destiny also means that yours is likely to also be the only hand to stop you from falling.
And then in August, my already small family, scattered around the world dwindled to the fingers of one hand (and this includes cousins and uncles). Loosing somebody so close to you does tip the scales in some ways. You learn to look past or just accept the declines you can’t stop and just focus on what you still have, at least for a little while longer.
Thankfully there’s been the blip here and there of nice, positive things, like a good word, a workplace which in spite humongous challenges still has hope and inspiration, the unexpected token from far away, a friend who visits, one who gets you out of the house to go see theatre with them. All that has made a difference, as frankly has the sun which decided in September to give us some long overdue summer.
Karma not quite done yet however it seems. At the moment it is telling me that a trip decided in a ‘what the hell’ moment may not be a good idea. Everything that could go wrong has, things that have never ever happened to me in a lifetime of travelling. I ended up booking the same flight twice, because the website had a hick up. And got charged twice and lost a chunk of money in trying to claw it back (cured me of using agency sites ever again, appalling service). And it wasn’t the flights i wanted either, since those increased beyond my budget while i was trying to book. Now i am forced to take a bet in a travel across the pond as if it was Europe, hoping i’ll make it from flight to town and also back in time for theatre. And i hate taking those time gambles. Then i bought the wrong theatre tickets. Yes, wrong dates (never done that before either and i am hardly inexperienced where bookings are concerned). Never mind there is only 1 price in the entire place and it is anything but moderate. I got myself out of that particular disaster at the pricey cost of international phone calls (to which i had to figure out international call numbers on my own as staff was totally unhelpful via email) and another steep fee. (Way to go on making new customers feel welcome).
And it continues with more admin (which assumed known as i had investigated for reasons of work earlier in the year) to even be able to make the journey. Turns out visa is double the price of a ticket if you are a tourist. Plus it involves personal interviews and begging for admission and justifying all your life enough to be believed and approved. I think it was my subconscious which refused to go there until now and deal with any of the humiliation because i know where it takes me back to and how much i would dislike doing it. It’s possible that if i used my brain and started here instead of applying heart to it i would have not even considered it. Now i have no choice. At present i am not even putting together all the costs vs time in particular because it would spell one clear word : nutter.
While i was still chewing my way through this particular first time ever planning fail this happened. Jonas Kaufmann has had to cancel the upcoming Hoffmann performances in Paris because doctors have found a hematoma on his vocal cords, probably caused by side effects from some medication. He’s under strict orders for total vocal rest until this is absorbed. That’s sort of the scientific bit of it. The long version is that a singer and very nice person i have known for 10 years now is facing career and personal uncertainty. Singers’ careers are so fragile, you rarely know what is around the corner and small things can have important consequences. And singing is rarely just a job for any of them, it’s what they love, what drives them and like in this case, what gives joy to so many people. And they are always under scrutiny, criticism, etc. Not knowing when, how you will be able to sing again can only be a source of horrible anxiety.
Truth be told i never expected this to impact me as much as it did (regardless of having a matinee train ticket to go see him in a role new for him and which i love). But all the years i have enjoyed his singing and acting and all that have come rushing back in my mind. And the thought of somebody so generous with his gift, who has brought so much joy into many years of my life out there, stressed, anxious, not knowing what the future holds for him is just painful. The frustration of not being able to help or support is horrible.
I can only send all my warmest thoughts, virtual hugs and wish him loads of patience and a truckload of good luck. If thoughts can help at all, all mine are his. And this (for no other reason than it is the fist role i ever heard him sing and love this duet the way he sings it very very much):
As he was saying to Violetta the first time i ever heard him 10 years ago:
La tua salute rifiorirà.
And because inevitably i lost myself in youtube videos of him singing here’s 2 more bits from the fabulous Andrea Chenier he did recently at the ROH. Singing, he really is a poet on stage 🙂 Get well soon Jonas! You’ll be back here, having fun with Tony, in no time.
Tomorrow is Monday, sunny day – yay, monthly reporting week – not so yay, but at least i’ll be away from the building site downstairs, next door and across the street during the day, all home appliances working so far, i’m feeling ok (last week’s back pain finally gone), JK has one more recovery day behind him. Things can only get better.