Strike One

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Too long again, I know. It seems the blogging habit just hasn’t carried over into my post-traveling life. That said, there are a few things to report on.

I had a job interview on Friday – my first real chance at a real job. Up to that point I’d simply been trying to meet as many people as possible in the hopes that eventually something would cross someone’s desk and they might think, “Hmmmm… I wonder if that Canadian woman is still knocking about?” But Friday? Friday was a real interview for a Production Management job with a small company opening a show in late October and then touring 5 different UK venues. It sounded like an interesting gig, the pay was enough to keep me going, and it might have been the foot-in-the-door that I’ve been hoping for. Of course astute GGSRED readers will already suspect, due to my subtle use of phrases like “might have been”, that I did NOT get the job.

Honestly, I was a bit surprised by this. I thought the interview went really really well – I think I asked more questions than they did, and found myself getting a bit excited about finally diving back into work again. Of course there were one or two stumbling blocks. I could tell they were nervous that I don’t have a real web of professional connections here yet, because small companies usually need to draw on every possible resource to get a show running. And there was a question about whether I’d still be here in the new year and into the spring, when they are planning to remount the show for some important festival and tour dates. Ultimately they said this was the reason for their decision – I simply couldn’t guarantee that I’d still be here. Never mind that there’s no guarantee that whoever they did hire won’t jump ship if something better comes along. And also never mind that it would have been simple for me to stretch the truth a bit on this point, something a couple of people have already said I should have done. But I didn’t, and they picked someone else, and I have to tell you that it’s kind of knocked me on my ass.

So it’s been an off few days. Naturally, I’m feeling down about things, and that’s coloured my whole attitude, making me focus on all the things that aren’t working. Yes, I’ve met a lot of people, but that’s slowing down. Also, even though I’m meeting new people at new theatres and production companies, it’s starting to feel a bit like I’m listening to a broken record. Everyone is friendly and helpful, but I keep hearing the same names over and over again, and it feels like I might already have almost reached to the edges of this particular web. If I haven’t already met someone, then I’m waiting for a response to an email or phonecall to them, or waiting to get contact information for them from someone else. There’s a short list of people and theatres that I haven’t tapped yet, but that’s getting smaller. Oh, and it’s now clear that I won’t be getting an interview for the Olympics position that I applied for before I left Canada. Most importantly, no one has yet said those magic four words to me: “When can you start?”

Add to this a growing dissatisfaction with the glories of Willesden Junction, and you’ve got a somewhat toxic mix. The neighbourhood is just sad. Even the local pub is kind of grubby and cheerless, and you know when you can’t find a convivial pub within walking distance in London then you’ve been exceptionally unlucky or unwise in your choice of location. I’m starting to regret my decision to stay at the tiny flat for another three weeks, but at the same time I really didn’t want to deal with the hassle of finding somewhere new, packing up, and moving. Yes, it’s poorly located, expensive and tiny, but I guess now it’s home. In fact, I’ve lived here for more consecutive days than anywhere else since I sold my house all that long time ago. But it does suck the life out of me a bit, and sometimes have to remind myself that in less than an hour I could be just about anywhere in London. LONDON! I really do need to snap out of it and at least enjoy being in the city.

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Then again, to get anywhere requires enduring the tube, which has it’s own stuffy and sweaty brand of cheerlessness. Especially when the escalators in particularly deep stations stop working. Or when there’s a signal failure on the Bakerloo Line on top of a planned closure of the entire Circle Line… not that this scenario happened to me on Saturday night.

At least if I do stay the odds of me ending up in a nicer neighbourhood than Willesden Junstion are so close to 100% that it would be difficult to slip a slice of Tesco Value Pack Streaky Bacon between the two (and I can tell you from experience that Tesco Value Pack Streaky Bacon slices are so thin you could read the Daily Telegraph crossword through one).

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This is NOT Willesden Junction. This is the sculpture gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, to which I escaped this afternoon. You can tell it’s not Willesden Junction because it’s not full of shuttered shop fronts, internet cafés for making cheap international phone calls, and dollar stores.

And on the positive side (which is a side I’ve had to force myself to remember in the last few days) I still have a solid application in at a great theatre in the West End, and expect to hear something about that this week. And there’s a chance of something at a busy production company, and a faint hint of something else that was really nothing more than an almost-whispered maybe. I know I need to just keep at it, but I do feel like time is running out. My return flight to Winnipeg is on Sept. 13, and if something reasonably solid and encouraging doesn’t happen in the next three weeks, then I’m not sure I can justify changing that flight to a later date and hanging on for a few weeks or months more.

That’s life in London these days, sorry I didn’t choose a cheerier time to finally get another blog post up. At least I can report that I’m now starting to look the right way when crossing the street. This is after I literally ran in front of a bus – double-decker, of course – while on a Hash just after I arrived. I’m getting used to glancing over my right shoulder when I cross the street, but I still get an odd tingling down my whole left side when I’m crossing while looking the “wrong” way. It’s like my body is bracing for the impact it can’t accept is NOT coming.

I’m also starting to get a bit more comfortable with the quirks of language. For instance I say tube (as in London Underground Train), CV (resumé), flat (apartment) and mash (-ed potates). Words I can’t yet say without feeling like a complete fraud? Trousers, as in pants. But this is one I really need to get over because here “pants” means underwear, which means you don’t want to go around casually commenting on people’s pants. Also: quid (pound sterling), spanner (wrench), boot (trunk of car), mate (friend), cheers (thanks) and chemist (drug store). And did you know that in England a “grill” has nothing to do with a BBQ, or with applying intense heat or flame to the underside of food? Nope. Here, a grill is the broiler element in the oven, or anything that applies intense heat from above. It’s upside-down world, I tell ya.

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Couldn’t have said it better myself.

8 Comments:

Robert said...

Keep Calm, and Carry On! Indeed!

Things ain't booming back home, so keep that in mind before you come back to Canada. NASCO/IATSE is on strike in Vancouver. We at DWD had to lay off 50% of our staff last week. Thinking of getting rid of the water cooler next week. Are you sure you want to come back to that?

Take a job that is beneath you and show them you are wonderful and move up. Trying to launch into a new market near the top is a tough row to plow.

Best Wishes
Rob H.

Mitch said...

Strike one... but you never swing on the first Pitch!

Like Rob, I do love that sign in the photo.

Keep your chin up Pam, you are doing the right thing. At least now you have gotten your first meeting out of the way. There will be more, and soon that Canadian woman will no longer be knocking about, she'll be too busy working, and tearing up the town, showing off some good ol' Canadian gumption and "git 'er done"-ness.

We are still thinking about you alot, and a small cheer goes up in the house when there is a new blog post.

Take Care, and keep your head high, confidence sells.

Cheers,
-Mitch

phoebe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
phoebe said...

Hi Pam,
I have reached out to a couple of contacts of mine, one is a Londoner who has a ton of contacts in many aspects of entertainment. The other is a colleague of mine that has worked may of the Olympic games in the last decade. I will keep you posted on anything that I hear.

Keep positive!!

Cheers,
Phoebe

Kim said...

I don't know how many times I've "not got a job" only to find out that the person who got the job instead of me only stayed for the short term. Unfortunately, if you don't get the job because someone you know vouches for you, it is simply a matter of telling them what they want to hear.

I hate dishonesty, though.

And I'm going to toss out a cliche... one door closes and a better one opens. Someone will see your gifts.

Good luck and as always, still following.

Anonymous said...

Hey Pam, this is Ella, I wrote once before and have enjoyed reading all your travels... I'm really thrilled for you that the world tour turned into an impetus to try out living abroad - how cool!

And (as someone who's been living abroad for several years now) I want to encourage you to hang in there and give it more time, even if it means extending that flight without having a good, solid reason for doing so. This stuff takes time to fall into place, sometimes lots of time (as much as you may not want to hear that...) and if you want it, it's worth giving the London adventure the benefit of the doubt for a while longer.

Oh, and if it makes the difference between enjoying your life and not enjoying it - it's probably worth moving flats :)

That's my two cents, for what it's worth. But, obviously, do what feels right to you! I wish you all the best.

Suhasini said...

Keep calm, and just carry on....my wishes are always for you.

Regards,
Suhasini

http://indiancolumbus.blogspot.com
A unique travel blog

Last Minute said...

Keep Calm and Carry On, this is the best slogan ever! It gives you such confidence that everything will be alright though it is not always like that.

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