MA 21 Professional Studies-Skills Audit Checklist

Provocationthis week: To conduct a skills audit checklist

Wow,  this was something I felt really uncomfortable doing. It reminded me of the questionnaires you used to fill out in ‘Smash hits’ or ‘Bella’  those trashy teenage magazines that pose trite terrible conundrums like ‘ What sort of person are you in a relationship?’ and then you would work out who you were from the answers you gave. I found a lot of the questions didn’t really relate to me at all. Anyway it turns out I can remain calm under pressure. Who knew?

Well I knew….Certainly in a working environment I have learned to roll with the punches like when you are an hour from curtain up and I’m filling the parts of three people who suddenly are unavailable to perform their roles or  when stage fright overcomes a performer mid flow and I take the helm. You never know what will happen and you certainly can’t always prepare. One thing I think I have learned from that is that panic does not help. Take the reins and try to keep the waggon rolling and hope no one notices the wheels have fell off, yes sometimes it can be a bumpy ride…

 

Working with others and taking responsibility were also a strength. This is something I offered a lot when working on the M20 module. I enjoyed the opportunity of being in a room with others and having tasks that fed into the development of the project. I really thrived in that environment and was at my happiest.

An area to develop and certain one I think I don’t like to admit is: planning and focusing on detail. Now I do and I don’t. I know what the plan should be and I start off with very organised and clear intentions. A little bit like starting a new book and writing in your best handwriting, the first few pages are great but by the end of the book the handwriting has gone to pot, you’ve stopped underlining and it no longer looks like the same person who started the book!

Reflecting on the last point, the skills audit picked up on my energy and drive and in terms of learning, a lesson I take in developing as a collaborator is that it’s about having the right motivation.  Certainly putting me in education and training categories as well as creative and planning events I know I can work at my best with the right people. I thrive in a creative environment and can check in on terms of fulfilling a brief when there is a team there to support each other. When looking at the projects I was involved in, I loved being a part of them all. I want to take this forward with me, knowing that I can support and can be supported. This makes for the most agreeable environment and at the end of the day we all want the same thing. To be doing something we enjoy! Another strong comment that came from the results of the audit. After all we all want to do a job we enjoy.

Embracing the Arty Farty

As a performer and director for many years I never feel more privileged than when working with young people. Engaging with young minds gives me purpose to create  and feed not only my imagination but also those around me. This certainly wasn’t the dream that made me go out and haul my backside through drama school. My family all thought I would be on coronation street but fate and the need, I hate to say it, to earn money turned me in a different direction. And thank goodness it did!

20 years on I have created a range of works, from musicals to Shakespeare. Usually veering towards devised and original works, as they can so often take you in a direction you never thought when the ideas were first conceived. Also creating your own work is liberating, not only creatively but in these ever increasing times of pinched funding, financially.

I have ventured with  impressionable youngsters to the Edinburgh Fringe and know that for some it made a significant impact on their lives that has never been forgotten. This is a goal I want achieve again, to show young people their abilities can be limitless when they open themselves to possibilities.

My vision now is the continuing pursuit of making theatre with young people. Giving them the tools to be able to try new ideas and not to be afraid to experiment with drama in its many forms. I want them to react to the world around them and the stories that can be told. I want those that collaborate with me to see that they can be unique and bold in their choices. I want them to rebel against the mundane and expected routes presented to our youth. There is a need to re connect with young people and present them with alternative ways to express themselves.

I want to be able to present audiences with something unexpected. Original work that shows ideas of what young minds can achieve. I love working with visual imagery and exploring movement. My early pieces leaned heavily on trying out these forms and as I move on I want to develop more work that  can embody a performers movements and gestures just as much as the dialogue when exploring the narrative of a piece.

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I take my inspiration from companies such as DV8, Frantic Assembly and I have a huge love of how mask companies such as Trestle and Vamos engage with their audience. Each have unique story telling concepts that challenge the audience to take notice.

It is important for me to continue developing as a director and performer myself and find my inspiration, in this way I think I have the tools to inspire others and to get them to look at the world with a new perspective. For me it is sometimes the simple thoughts that won’t go away are worth looking at to see if there is a piece of drama unfolding or certainly a chance to start a journey that may reveal a whole new  potential to create and devise work, often  spontaneous improvisation can yield a starting point and shows that we can truly create from anything.

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As a performer I never got as nervous before a performance as I do when allowing others to step in that role and perform a piece. I know it may scare them to death for a multitude of reasons. But I know that the hard work of getting them there reaps so many benefits. The confidence and skills they build, the ability to mentally and physically engage with work they have an active role in creating. Having ownership on your efforts and the journey you take to get there is something real and tangible and a gift that can be given again and again.

 

Reflections on my Artist Statement

If someone had asked me to write an artist statement 6 months ago I truly would be thinking “for who?”

My first attempt at this was during the introductory module with Frantic Assembly and it is something I had never done before. The idea that I’m an artist was ridiculous. I just do something I love, the only way I know how!

It is a unique feeling, being able to acknowledge what it is you do and a deeper recognition in seeing the value of your own self worth. For me I have had the validation that yes, I have been able to have a positive impact on young people interested in making theatre, or even just signing up for something they never really knew what they were getting into. You accept this as a huge positive as a teacher it doesn’t always happen, but in the arts when it is something you feel passionate about and you know how richer your life is for this medium. You have to share it.

In writing an artist statement you truly do share. You accept that this is a calling. And it sounds like an arty farty  thing to say. You get used to hearing these phrases bandied about because what you do doesn’t seem as important as maths and science and it’s ‘not a proper job!’ Well I see plenty of these proper jobs on the credits of a film or in the programme of a theatre production. These people who don’t do proper jobs, enlighten, amaze and engage millions, via a goggle  box at home or with those who do actively engage to spectate with live performance or visual art or the many forms that arty farty may take. It makes the world an interesting place and for me I realise I need to embrace that I am part of the movement for making the place more interesting. My artist statement shows I have grown in confidence. So I can truly begin to realise what I do and actually why I do it.

M21PA A New Purpose…

Back in March, enthused by the introductory module in collaborative theatre making, working along side Scott Graham and Simon Pitman in getting to grips with how a company like Frantic Assembly create work. I was keen to embrace this style of collaboration. It made sense to me. Even though I feel I have always been someone who copes on my own, taking on all the roles needed to bring forth a piece of drama. “Jack of all trades but master of none”. Ultimately I realise looking at how I do things I am never completely on my own. Like being able to do this course. It would and only ever could be possible with the support of those around me. As my family and I juggle work to make certain things happen, check schedules and organise who needs to drop off children and pick them up.

It’s important that I do give up some of the reigns when looking at creating work. Intuitively I have had a sense of others building on what tasks I have given and therefore a collaboration has taken place but having a purposeful collaborative. When I first wrote my proposal in response to the Duane Michaels picture

This was a real opportunity to have a response to something and have more than just my perspective. This was an opportunity to be able to develop my ideas with people who had very different skills sets and talents to mine.

The proposal was quite intimate in the response it wanted, questioning how we might engage with the stories that we saw unfold? What did it unearth in our life and what resonance did it have today? The Michals images were very raw for me, issues with my eldest child,  very real and emotional topics to draw on. Something I realised at the time but in collaborating with others I would take my experience and have further insight into what version of this event could be explored. Hindsight in not having my proposal gave me relief. It’s fresh and still topical. It may have been difficult for me. Although I am not one to shy away from difficulties.

What the process has done for me is to look at things in a way I may have not before. To see stories not just that are bound to me but to look outward for more inspiration.  Things I have been interested in but dismissed now are perhaps a source of an idea. Why does it interest me? Why does something get my attention? It could be the most insignificant thing.

I have new purpose, something for me that is battling the depression inside me, that tells me that I can do better and can find something that will help me fulfil an ambition to create something worthwhile with people who can develop their skills along the way.  I’m already thinking of what it is that can make work more dynamic and engaging. Graham told us he isn’t interested in there being lots of Frantic clones, but the idea that we can take a format, adapt and evolve. That’s a purpose. For me I have got busy with life and it has run me and now I have to run my life with a bit more purpose. The first step for me is not to do it on my own. And in looking forward it will be about finding out how I can bring together a group who can trust in each other and have the same values.

 

M21 Professional Studies- Qualities to Admire…

 

In the ever changing climate of theatre, artistes, companies, collectives work to make themselves sustainable and as any true creative there is more than just a  desire to make work and of course keep the ‘roof over your head’, there is an integrity that lies within that companies ethos.

Vamos theatre is a company whose work I have managed to see a couple of times and despite the lack of usual dialogue, performances have always moved me to tears.

The statement or mission from Vamos, although brief speaks volumes for this full mask theatre company.

Vamos is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, founded by Rachel Savage it is made up of trustees with a collective legal, financial and artistic responsibilities whose ethos is about the “belief that wordless skills of our pioneering full mask company encourage empathy and understanding in all of us regardless of who we are”.

The company who have operated since 2006 offer so much more than just their touring performances. Yes they do the festivals and usual attractions that one might expect and it’s not unusual now for companies to offer their skills for educational and outreach programmes. These make for a good sound business and tick the boxes that can allow them to create new work. The work they do however is ” rooted in social research”.  Very much following Savages vision to bring the human story through the masks.

Vamos have been working in the care sector since developing ‘Finding Joy’ in 2013,their award winning production about dementia. A browse through their web page tells you over 25000 people have experienced their health and care workshops and performances.

http://www.puppetcentre.org.uk/animations-online/features/silent-speech-rachael-savage/

This company are clearly successful because of the engaging theatre that full mask work brings and the way that Vamos connects to the audience through the characters storytelling. These stories have been researched with care and explore the complexities of human relationships and situations. Furthermore they have expanded their voice or rather lack of voice by reaching out to the care industry and building positive engagement with those receiving care through workshops, mask making and much much more.

Daphna Attias Co Artistic Director of  Dante or Die and Peut Etre Young Theatre.

concentrating on her work with Peut Etre

http://peutetretheatre.co.uk/who-we-are/

Artist statement. A short brief insight in to the clear vision they have of themselves.

“Surrealpoetic aesthetic to the world of children’s theatre. Driven by desire to create early theatrical experiences for the young audiences.”

This is something that I can relate with. In a blog with the Roundhouse Attias speaks of what she wants her young audience to get from her productions, she reveals the drive to inspire the young with what they see on stage so they can take it away with them and  “do something to express themselves and be creative.”

Attias is also a great believer that if you want to make work then just to get out there and make it.

http://www.roundhouse.org.uk/blog/2015/12/friendship-creativity-and-learning-to-fly-meet-the-little-birds-director/

One of the things I pick up from her  and fellow Co Artistic  director Terry O Donovan through their other company Dante Or Die which creates  “ambitious site sensitive productions inspired by contemporary stories and the enchanting in the everyday.” Is how accessible they are. They make themselves available to direct or mentor students and companies. I dare say a fee is involved but the potential to reach out to professionals that are not aloof and  maintain a grounding and integrity that their work promotes and also using charitable status outreach and community groups which feeds into their creativity.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=

Again success for these companies is the integrity through which they work. Honest accessibility is something to be admired. Artistes using the tools that they have to put more than a performance in the marketplace but looking for community and communication with their market.

M21PA Professional Studies: My top 3 takeaway learnings

My top three takeaway learnings from the professional studies lectures led by Jackie Elliman, Percy Emmett and Anna Moutney (producer from frantic).

As someone who has run my own business and been self employed for 17 years it was interesting to get an insight as to how I could have started my business all that time ago with right guidance. The scale I started at and still am is testimony only to  what I haven’t explored and the avenues I haven’t taken. I’m not unhappy I’ve ticked along and had my share of successes.  But I have missed opportunities, maybe down to lack of knowledge and insight or even just not being fired up enough to be pursuing the next thing. It’s hard when you are on your own to keep that going. The discussions made me realise the importance of finding the right business set up.

No#1 The plan

First, is really looking at what it is I want to do and why should people care? This is a sound mantra that Percy looks at. Especially given the nature of our industry and the huge variety of interests there are. This ties in with being able to formulate a business model. And as Jackie Elliman spoke about giving yourself Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic targets. This is the heart of any business, that has your vision but also needs to have the research to take you forward with your strategies and actions. Anna Moutney, producer from Frantic Assembly was the epitome of what is to work hard and work harder as in words “nothing comes for free”. One of her standalone comments ties in with all of the takeaway learnings from our industry experts and that is about getting organised- pro active and getting people involved.

no#2 Press release

If I want to go forward in business however, looking at press releases and my ability to engage with social media and make it work for me is one clear way forward. I need to fully get to grips with this powerful tool, with the potential of reaching  the right audience and exploring other possibilities along side that are what can really build an audience and a business. Making friends with the media, getting organised enough to be ready to have something of interest. Finding angles to get you noticed.

This is something I really need to engage in and exploit.

No#3 Funding

Looking at the nature of the beast, funding is something that you will need to get your head around. I’ve been successful in applying for pots of money in the past and there is a knack to it. Getting my head around the possibility of doing this again all ties in with the venture of how to pursue the right avenues. Tying in the “what do you do” and “why should people care?” aspect  once more. Not being shy to reach out to those who lend themselves to getting funding for groups and projects could be a way forward and aiming yourself at the right trends. If I want to make work I need to be prepared to explore what it is I can create. I can still get to create how I want, I may just need to taper the market to get on with the creative business of making art happen.

Looking at reinvigorating the business plan  is certainly something I plan to action given some of the ways forward from our discussions. I shall be having  conversations as to how myself and others see themselves involved in creating work. What benefits and opportunities we create, part of that plan for me is to engage with social media. To network the journalists that even at this point in my plan will an essential part of banging the drums to get the right attention.

Not having all the answers

So there has been a lot going on. A weeks research and development at the beginning of April gave us food for thought. Ideas and workshops a go go. That’s us completed a full week and already at the start of a second week of rehearsals. There have been lots of ups and downs in trying to pin down some moments. Some very clear breakthroughs and a real sense of moving in the right direction.  Also I think about understanding of how to communicate and use this new language and process. A realisation for me last week was something that was mentioned in our beginners course. Trusting in your collaborators. I’ve  been very keen to get up and get moving and at times we seemed to have talked ourselves around in circles.

In as far as contribution and collaborating there is a wealth of things to explore. At times it has been frustrating. Sometimes wanting to pin things down seems to be the natural thing to do. It feels like a foreign entity that we don’t need to have all the answers just yet. Developing material and finding how it may lead us somewhere is the concept that we must trust in.

Peppermint tea…

First blog in a while,

Just about to rejuvenate with a pepper mint tea. Then bring you up to speed on week one of the advanced theatre making module.

so this time last week I said to Ruth. “This time next week we’ll be half way through our first week!” This thought was frightening. We had received information of what groups were working together and upon whose proposals.

My initial response was one of a little disappointment. Of course I was fully prepared that out of all the proposals only 4 would be considered. Actually after the first day I realised that actually I was rather pleased with this outcome. The prospect of my proposal was based a lot on my recent relationship and experiences with my teenage son. Even though I was fully prepared to be distant from it. I think now I would have found it diffficult and all too fresh.

I did find on Monday once we had a warm up and we got down to looking at everyones proposal in detail, that I had far more to offer each group, and how stimulated I was by the collective ideas of the group.

As a devised and performer working with Ruth, Kristen and Charlotte is going to be an exciting time. I feel enthused and invested in the proposal that Ruth has. Stemming from her reaction of of the out of water tulip in the Rego painting. We have all had fertile discussions at what direction we can go in looking at the idea of decay. The removal of support from something. The uprooting and what the flower symbolises.

On returning home in the evening I have looked at what I could add in written responses. Seeing a daffodil on my way home I wrote about what I saw as the flower battled in the breeze. How it seemed to rebel and that it was there clinging to the earth. But how that self same flower resigns it’s self to an early fate when it is removed from the ground.

I also found some poetry by Ted Hughs  and Silvia Plath. Both very rich in their imagery and even more so given the toxic relation ship that this couple had. infamously  Plath took her own life.  Which seemed significant when looking at potential narratives of stimulus.

I returned on Tuesday  full of excitement and told Ruth that she would flip her “ginger wig!”

we played on Tuesday with the guardian game, a falling exercise in groups one that we had explored in similar circumstances in the intro sessions. We looked at this again when trying to find some physicality for a starting point. It was a productive hour, the whole group able to collaborate but which resulted in using two people to support and carry and move on person as they resisted or fell into a space. The idea that we kept the feet on the floor. At one point we experimented with one of the groups having their person raised on a level. It created some lovely imagery. Kristen was being manipulated, caught moved and the ideas from it were the head heavy flower and connotations with that movement.

We have done much talking and discussion. Ideas around gifts and flowers. I worked at teasing out some of the responses that we got from Questionaires that Ruth worked on with us. I found some interesting ideas that I shared and how we could move forward with text.

We developed more concepts on slime and decay and the visuals.

we met with Tom Marshall our sound designer today so we can start looking at what to give him in terms of ideas .

This afternoon Scott, Jess and Simon looked at the giving of gifts. We had Charlotte moving me around the room. The idea of me accepting everything she does. Simon then started presenting me with objects.by the end of the exercise I was holding a water bottle, a bag, two plastic balls , a yoga mat under my arm, two folding chairs and a broom. Scott then asked me to talk to them about a gift I had received whilst holding all this junk. When we reflected on it there was the issue of the expectation of a gift what people do with it and what accepting everything had done to me. Distorting my shape. Could I replicate the distortion without the objects?

We discussed further ideas and we have had some useful directions. I am still keen to explore some writing now and my team are supportive of this pursuit for me. We know that we are not expecting to have a fully formed idea by the end of the week as this is just research and development but I think we should have honed some concrete events to start planning for in the rehearsal room. Next chapter….

The chapters….

Assessment 1:Self study log

Connect, affect, disconnect
It’s been a fair few weeks since I took the plunge and decided that starting an MA in Collaborative Theatre would be a good idea.

A two week introductory course with Frantic assembly was the carrot that I needed having dabbled a little in some of the techniques I had come across in my teaching.  The impact that this has had on me and how I perceive me moving forward in the arts and in my career has been recognizable.

Scott Graham spoke much about the ‘Crooked Path’ and the journey that we find ourselves on in order to get somewhere. I certainly started on my journey a long time ago with a belief in my self and a passion for drama. Following my crooked path took me to starting my own youth theatre, having been to drama school and not truly getting where I wanted to be. I returned to my home town and  found myself teaching and directing and writing for young people. I believed myself to be good at this; following my instincts and enjoying the various results that came from collaborating with young people, enthusing their creativity and building their skills.

When it came to working  I don’t know if I actually followed a process. I discovered ways to encourage and developed exercises to work with, even using key phrases with students to resonate with students and help them work in practical ways. There was always a vision and improvisation and devising was key. I have always naturally been drawn to telling stories in different ways, I used physical theatre or what my concept of physical theatre was. Something I have learned is that I do need to record more of how I develop and take notice of the process. So much of what I do is spontaneous,which has its place but from that spontaneity could be elements of my own building blocks, things that work for me and how they can impact on the way I want to tell stories.

My understanding of how I can use the devising blocks in my studio to investigate and create moments of theatre have been amplified. I have a drive and knowledge and confidence in exploring with these tools where previously I may have floundered. I want to attempt new ideas and make collaborative connections.

As part of my self study I made a conscious effort to reintroduce music into my rehearsal space. I have been using this with my classes in school and with my youth theatre.

I have used this in warm ups, they have always been an essential part of my practise. Games and exercises are a vital resource and this was reinforced over the two weeks with frantic. The music is like the weather in the room, you can create the temperature. Moving on from this was the capacity to use it within the devising blocks, using a soundtrack and giving a different lens to the moments that  are drawn together from the devising blocks. I  have played around with this  a few times allowing students to see the difference the music may make to a scene played with the movement of hands in the same way but with just a change in music. I have deepened my interaction with music, using the app Spotify to support my knowledge of artists and genres, helping me build up a repertoire of material that may be useful to me when creating work.

Part of being on this course made me realize the huge gaps I have in my own knowledge, so reading up on plays and practitioners- looking into companies and directors that have passed me by while I have been busy with work and family. The approach I have to teaching in class room now has more structure. I feel able to deliver cohesive lessons that will enable young people to grasp what performance is about and I feel more confident to steer them in a direction that will allow them develop skills that encompass a wide variety ways that they can feel valued and supported in the drama room. I have implemented changes that already have a clear process and add clarity to the Schemes Of Learning I have in place. I have formatted the Proposal, Attempt and Presentation structure that we worked on with Simon in week 2. I’ve also developed the Terminology of ‘fixing’. To fix something- duel connotations in rehearsal to fix and improve work. But also about fixing- to secure something in place when they know they have found something that is working. All of this has aided  my Dept development plan and given me a clear vision of how I see the progress in the delivery of my lessons.

I have been writing, using my blog to put down thoughts, feelings. I have scribbled ideas down for plays and performances. I have also worked on some Automatic Writing and sent a letter to my Pen friend as part of the task to get me in the habit of writing. All in all my self study has opened up a lot of potential for me to explore. I feel that there is still a lot more. The writing aspect for me is something I want to develop further and certainly requires more input and exercise but I feel happy with the direction I am going in.

Devising blocks…

Before the two week course with frantic I had looked at some of the frantic YouTube videos and used the exercises with classes in school and in my youth theatre. I had some really lovely moments but I  felt stunted about how I could move on from these and as suggestive as the work was on their own probably only looked at these as standalone introductions to getting groups to work in physical theatre.

The two weeks for me was more than just the building blocks but the whole understanding of how useful they are in an approach to creating movement. And as fantastic a tool the videos had been if you can’t do a frantic workshop, to have Scott personally take us through the devising blocks was a vital part of the resource. As a practioners these blocks had been borne out of necessity, the action needed for performers to play and experiment with ideas . Knowing Hymn Hands was specific to a performance and how relevant it was to Scott and Stephen (Hoggett) when exploring the context of the story of men dealing with the grief and loss of a childhood friend through suicide gave a certain clarity as to what devising blocks are. Scott doesn’t want a wave of new practioners churning out material that just revamps Hymn Hands.

Funnily enough a young group of performers I recently watched do a production of Frankenstein had a moment of Hymn Hands. It worked but it didn’t really add anything to the performance. It did ring a little of “we have done a frantic workshop, how can we stick it in?” The students did a fantastic performance and nothing took away but equally it felt like it was done for the sake of it. That’s not to say I wouldn’t want my students to experiment with building this into their work if possible.

Not long before my experience of the course I had wanted my youth theatre to try something less naturalistic as a way to just get them moving and not thinking too hard. I set them off with a task of choosing a word. Working in threes they were to add movement with this word. As an example I gave the word pizza just to show it could be any word. I set them off, my younger group stuck with pizza. One of my older boys stopped and wanted me to explain some more. I think he needed to see where he was going with this. So I said ‘freedom’ and then demonstrated saying the word but standing in front of him. I did a couple more moves and I could suddenly see the penny drop. There didn’t need to be a big discussion- experiment WORD/ACTION

Watching the groups back we then had some really interesting stuff, of course the pizza one was funny. The freedom one had huge connotations and so much room for development but it also gave the students that realisation that this started off as a simple word/action repeat scenario but very easily could be the starting point for dialogue/story/character.

For me the devising blocks are about play, the ones that particularly stood out for me were the ‘on blindness hands’ borne from British sign language a play to experiement dancing with hands. A good exercise to play with unison and build up a string of material but even more interesting was how the group played with the pairs and experimented with the direction. Pairs had worked together facing one way in unison we got a chance to set them facing each other, move in closer, slow down speed up. The results were varied and hugely interesting and watchable. Each movement had come from 4/5 sign language moments that had been exaggerated played with and transformed.

The ‘passive’ was also a  really interesting one for me. The fact that the moves are not even dictated by the performer but just remembered . Again the key result was watching, with music and observing how that outside lens perceived the narrative when the moment had an audience.

Going back to the exercise I used with my group, I could now look at playing around with text, movement and sound tracking the events to see what other layers can be delivered in an attempt build devising blocks of my own. This was a lot of what I got from the two weeks. The devising blocks are a source of getting practical answers from performance and performers but taking the ‘crooked path’ to use the imagination in search of finding new narratives. Taking the actors on that collaborative journey too.

A letter to Posie

DSC_0001_4Eight sides of A4 mark my first letter to Posie in about 20 years…

Posie Danby was 12 years old when one Christmas after the dinner and the gifts were out of the way. Her grandmother who had bought some cheap  Christmas crackers from Woolworths was about to discard the cardboard box in the fire when she noticed the writing on the inside of the box….

The summer before had seen me helping out my mum, making crackers from home-transferring crackers from one box to another in a bid to earn some extra pocket money. In the repetitive boredom of the task I found myself writing my name and address in the bottom of a couple of boxes and therein that moment of happenstance a friendship had been conceived although I would not know it until the following January when a letter addressed to me with a Canadian postmark landed on my doorstep.

We wrote, loyaly as good pen friends do. Having much in common – younger brothers, music, interest in boys. Years later I would spend the summer with her family having saved and worked hard to take my first flight at 17 on my own. Posie  visited here a couple of times, her last visit just a couple of years ago when she came with her eldest son,MacDuff then 5 and she had been here in 2003 for my eldest sons christening as she is his Godmother.

Oskar was 18 months when we visited Montreal, where Posie (actually christened Nicola but the nick name had stuck when her Grandma had called her that).

We spent 3 weeks in Montreal, I spent my days negotiating the subway with a push chair and getting to see the sights of the city. Picking up a bit of French on the way.

Posie who worked at the MgGill university as a translator, was at work some of the time during my stay but spending time there the distance in miles and time not seeing or hearing from each other for long spans were soon forgotten up as if the time that had passed between visits and letters were just days.

The letters we passed back and forth as teenagers had made way for email, but as life always does take hold our correspondence dropped off. We were busy making careers, making a life and making babies. And now it’s the odd post and comment on Facebook to check in and a long distance phone call once in a while.

So last night I did something I hadn’t done for a long time. I wrote a letter to Posie. I will stamp it and send it the old fashioned way. By the time she reads it, the thoughts and feelings of the moment when I wrote will have long passed. A week or two no doubt. Will they still be relevant? Will they still feel true? They will remain trapped in that time forever.

I wrote to her as I did when I was 12, on scraps of paper in bold purple felt tip.

Our letters were always colourful, different shades of paper, a change of ink- often many times on the same sheet. I stuck with the purple pen for the time. My words flowed. My news of all that has happened and of how I feel. And questions of what was going on with her and the family, that which wasn’t posted on her timeline. I hope she will send me a reply. The old fashioned way and I look forward to finding an envelope in her handwriting in the near future.