Pic of Pics: Plymouth

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Me and the fambly, on the water taxi in Plymouth. (To mollify Rob H, and to show everyone that I'm still hanging in there with the Longer Hair Experiment.)

And, for those not plugged into the Twitter feed, I GOT THE JOB. I'm now working full time, and have just finished Day 3. It's good, and busy, and frustrating (already) and yet all feels eerily familiar. If I had time to catch my breath I might be able to blog about it, but I'm suddenly too busy working, searching for a long term flat, and generally trying to remember how to function when 8-10 hours a day is taken up with... work. It's been a looooooong time.

Hanging in there

Thursday, September 23, 2010

(Insert obligatory apology for long long long break between blog posts here.)

First things first – I’m still in London. Well actually that’s not strictly true. As I write this I’m just outside Reading, on a train to Plymouth for a few days visiting with family. So while I am not, strictly speaking, in London right now, I am still very much more in London than I would be if I were in, say, Winnipeg, if you get my drift.

Oooh. She does not look happy about having her picture taken.

The original plan, for those who remember it from way back in July, was to hang around for six weeks trying to see if the crazy idea of moving over here and finding a job is actually feasible. That is to say, if I could reasonably expect to find enough work to survive without ending up sleeping under a bench in Paddington Station or stocking shelves in a Tesco Express. However, as the days passed it became clear that six weeks is a ridiculously short amount of time in which to restart a career that’s been dormant for a year, on a new continent. It seems that even I – world traveler, insanely popular blogger, and possessor of a now almost infinite supply of anecdotes on which to dine out – even I cannot expect to land on my feet in such a short amount of time in such a big city.

So I’ve extended the plan. I rebooked my return flight for November 1st, and am hoping fervently that I’ll get to rebook one more time and change that flight into the first leg of a trip home for Christmas. (Never mind that the change fees for two rebookings will mean that it would have been cheaper for me to get a one way ticket. We are not thinking about that. Nor are we thinking about the ever-dwindling savings account. Not thinking about that at all. Nope.)

Extending my stay in London meant that I had to find new accommodations, which was not a bad thing at all. You may have detected, in my last few posts, a certain lack of enthusiasm for the neighbourhood and flat where I spent my first six weeks. Willesden Junction was a hard place to love, and living in one tiny, stuffy, somewhat rundown room there only added to the general sense of desperation that attended my days. Yes, it’s true that the decidedly “efficient” size of the flat meant that you could fry an egg from bed, but I knew it was time for a change.

I ended up finding a place that is so perfect I could hardly have managed better if I’d been ordering from a menu. I’ve got a beautiful big bedroom in a shared house in Brixton, which is south of the Thames. (Note to those who only know Brixton from riots and unrest in the eighties – it’s WAY different now. Cleaner, safer, happier and just nicer.) The house is a three story Victorian inhabited by three other people, and it’s all clean white walls and dark wood floors and book cases and comfy furniture.

The gigantic kitchen, looking out onto the tiny but perfect back garden

There’s a washer and dryer, dishwasher, TV, DVD player, and wifi, and my housemates are friendly and welcoming and smart and play Scrabble and do crosswords and are interesting and fun. And to top it all off, it’s actually significantly cheaper that Willesden Junction. Go figure.

My bedroom. It’s about a third bigger than the WJ flat. (In fact, when I finally found a reasonable pub in WJ, there was a projection screen tv on one wall, and I swear that screen was bigger than the WJ flat. And I’m not even exaggerating this time.)

I even have a desk and a small comfy couch. Bliss.

So things on the home front are much improved. Things on the work front have improved too. I actually worked! For money! For a whole week! In two different places! I was asked to fill in at the last minute and ended up working days at one theatre and evenings at another. It made for a really busy week, but it’s a real foot-in-the-door, and I can already tell that it’s earned me not just a few extra pounds to keep the wolf from the door, but, more importantly, some more good contacts that may already be bearing fruit. Things are looking up.

My first day of work necessitated a very very early start, which meant I was walking across the Thames from Embankment (my favourite tube station) while the sun was rising over London. Yup. That’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. Even with all its frustrations, this city is still magic.

I’m impatient for the big break, but I also know I need to be careful and patient. I had drinks this weekend with a friend from the business in Canada, and a local guy who’s been a huge help in getting me connected with a lot of useful people. They were both really impressed with how far I’ve come in such a short time, and cautioned against getting nervous and taking a job that won’t be right in the long run. They think the best thing would be to get short term work in a lot of different places, which will help get me known around town, and give me experience with as many different theatres and people as possible. What I need to be wary of is ending up in a long term, full time job that takes me out of circulation and tucks me away somewhere there’s no chance of meeting new people and advancing my cause. (Like running the stage at St. Snortleby School for Girls, Slough Branch. Steady work, I’m sure, but just kill me now…) In some ways it seems counter-intuitive to reject permanent work in favour of something riskier, but I think it may make sense for the long run.

So that’s the report from the 11:06 to Plymouth. And I have to say that it’s really really nice to be traveling by train again. A proper train, that is, not a tube train. I’m very much over the whole Underground system. It’s true that it’s generally efficient, except on weekends when random closures for “planned engineering works” can shut down significant chunks of the system, which adds a frustrating level of complication to any journey. And except when there’s a tube strike that leaves one with a 45 minutes walk from Euston Station to the south bank. Or when there’s an unexplained cancellation of service resulting in everyone being ejected from the train at Queens’ Park at midnight on Saturday, leaving one walking all the way to Harrow Road only to turn in the WRONG direction on that road and spend another ten minutes walking back the way one has just come, then realize one’s mistake, causing one to stomp impatiently across the street and wait ages for a bus and get home around 2 am. For instance.

Like I said, it’s still nice to be on a proper train again.

Bucolic but unfocused view from the train. Those little white dots are sheep!

Late-breaking news: This afternoon I’m going back to a scenery shop I visited a few weeks ago to talk to the boss man about an actual job to do actual, full time paid work. It would be short term, but that’s perfect for me right now. Cross all your fingers for me!