Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Listlessly Listing

Opening my diary at random, I came directly to an entry labelled "Week of Action". Recognising my pretentious jargon, I tried to re-familiarise with the person who was writing at the time, to remember the difficulties he faced.

At this point, my role as an Au Pair could no longer continue, courtesy mainly of the credit crunch. As mine was a live-in position, this meant drastic change was afoot. My home for a year was to be no more. In many ways I knew this was a good thing. A year is a long time at twenty, and for some time I had thought about moving on. I had seen, done, learned so much, but perhaps it was right to finish at that point, before too much monotony set in. So the action required involved finding a new job and somewhere to live. Difficult enough to find one of these in a short space of time, but two... I do remember finding this enormously hard to juggle. I think a year of living and partying had left me with little reserves and therefore little breathing space. Most claustrophobic.

However other actions where required that week, too. Things were very busy at Drama School, with lots of words to learn for an upcoming performance. Committing words to memory is obviously an essential part of acting, but each time I would leave it dangerously late, and wonder how on earth I managed it the previous time. I expect I would tell myself to not think about it, but to do. The precedents probably left me over-confident, and I have often been concerned about my hubristic tendencies. With best intentions, I was attempting to get "ahead of the game", by learning those lines as soon as possible. I think I must just enjoy writing lists, because there was absolutely no possibility I would be prioritising words over accommodation. The very idea is laughable, but there it is, in the list. Writing lists makes one feel pro-active, productive, professional - just pro! However it does not; at least not in my case, translate into action and achievement. But the intentions are always there. Can one get through life by good intentions?

The final item on the list of action related to a fellow nanny. A stunning but sporadic friend from home, who came by an ostensibly good position with an upper-class family. I say sporadic because for months we would speak all the time, then suddenly for almost a year I would hear nothing. It was at the end of one of these nothing periods that she contacted me, and naturally I felt rather a friend of convenience. However when in a new country, one must take advantage of as many friends and contacts as one can. And in the course of the year, she and I became good friends once again. However, her behaviour one evening left me utterly appalled.

It was in early December, but already very cold. Her sister and some friends were visiting, and we arranged to all go out. As it was a Thursday, we chose Punk, where we had had many fun evenings over the course of the year, and thought it would be nice to share this with the outsiders. The evening started ferociously badly, as I was kept waiting for ages outside the tube station. I utterly hate being made to wait, and think it most discourteous. Obviously five, ten minutes is absolutely fine and to be expected in a city like London. But almost half an hour? I think not. And I made no secret of the fact I was in a poor mood, which in retrospect was rather graceless. Of course I don't think I was actually rude, just colder than usual. Quite literally. Then one of the friends insisted on finding the appropriate cash-point, for only one would do. Exasperated, I said I would meet them inside the club. Rather low on funds, I didn't want to miss the free entry threshold! Eventually they did find me, and we made full use of the happy hour. Such fun!

Punk is, or was, one of those rather fun and frivolous places. That night there was the usual dress-up box and also a hair stylist. Naturally I wanted to take full advantage of this facility, enjoying several style changes. The friends found me - or so I assumed - terribly amusing, which probably spurred me on. It was also a good excuse to leave a circle of chatter focussed on small-town gossip over cheap white wine. Most dull. I am of course always keen to catch up on news, but London quickly makes anything else very insignificant. When I go out, one of the things I love to do is dance, good music allowing. It certainly was that night, and I tried to encourage people in my group to join me. No deal, apparently. Bored of them, I went by myself and made some new friends, hopefully in a less twee manner. After some time, I went looking for my friends. Absolutely no sign inside. Nor were they outside, amongst the smokers. Unbelievably, they had left me by myself without even saying "good night". I was furious, and appalled. I chose not to think about it then, and returned to the people I met dancing. Much more fun and the night carried on much, much later.

Weeks passed before I heard anything from my friend, and I was so cross I completely ignored any contact from her. The series of events that this incident began have been some of my most memorable. In a strange way I am grateful for her unfair behaviour. But I was not brought up to do such things, and find it very difficult to forgive others for this reason. Again the middle-class demon rears his well-washed head. However I included her in this list of action, because her departure from London was imminent. I very nearly decided not to meet with her, but felt this would be petty. It would not punish her, but myself. So I did, and I am glad I did. We had a lovely evening and I was able to put my grievances behind me. I don't think I will ever be able to see her or the others in the same light I once did, but I harbour no resentment.

And of that week of action, I can quite clearly see that I did manage to achieve things. Perhaps not all of those things on the list, but then lists are dull.


  1. So many friendships fall apart. I'm glad you weren't petty and saw your friend on her last night in London.

    Now another December, another week, another day.

  2. I know, so am I. And Time definitely heals.