HAPPY BIRTHDAY NAN

Whilst I know I’m a bit late on the #InternationalWomensDay I would like to introduce you to one of the many women in my life that have influenced me massively. This in particular woman has to be up there at the top of my list. This my Nan. Today is her birthday (as you probably guessed from the title lol.) I’m writing this post to let her know how much I love and appreciate her because every once in a while it’s nice to be reminded that you’re one #AMAZING human being. So this one’s for you Fre x

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“A little bit parent, a little bit teacher and a little bit best friend.”
My Nan is a superhero. Despite being late to my birth she’s always been there for me whenever I’ve needed her most. She’s my best friend. A woman I can literally tell anything to. Some people find it a chore taking the time to speak to their grandparents but I most definitely DON’T. It’s quite sad really, that some people get old and are forgotten about. Visits slowly decline due to busy lives and the people who were there for you before you were even born end up being all alone. But I know that will never be the case in our family. God forbid if that happens to me when I age. (Future Family: know that once I pass, I will haunt you if you ever let me get old alone.) However, my Nan is very much still in her youth and is the best drinking partner anyone could ask for. She’s a ‘Progress Coordinator’ at Dorset Gardens and she makes it very clear that that’s her title – and so she should she’s worked extremely hard all her life. Whether that be babysitting for her elder siblings children or delivering newspapers around her block. She has so many fantastic stories to tell and that’s why I love sitting on her sofa in the back room, sipping tea together and casually chatting. You learn so much from your elders, you really do. I sometimes forget that they’ve lived the life we live and know a lot more about it than we do. It’s never a dull moment chatting away with both my Nan and my Grandad whilst watching Eggheads. They wind each other up in the best way. It’s hilarious. I want to have that kind of love they have for each other when I’m older. It’s beautiful.
Now my Nan will always say I was TERRIBLE when I was younger, a right nuisance. And YES she was correct. She always speaks of the times I would wake up first and how she would have to take me away from Jason when he was sleeping because I’d purposely wake him up. Or how you could never take me anywhere because I would go on and on and on. And to be fair that’s still very true today haha. I would always have to be entertained. Growing up we were always at her home and she would always cook us our teas or pick us up from school. I remember often peeling her vegetables for the tea and painting her nails. I guess I’ve just always been close to my Nan, I see so much of myself in her. My Dad was very fond of her as well. He loved her like a mother and she loved him back like a son. When we did go on holidays together it was always my Nan, my Mum and my Dad going off getting drinks leaving my Gramps with the kids. Thinking back, we did have the most amazing times and I’ve got memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I miss those holidays. She, alongside my Grandad, was there for us when we lost my Dad. They always have been and they always will be. She was a rock during that time and kept everything together. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain how thankful we all are for that. I hope you give him a good crack when you eventually see him up there from me.
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Always been the best of pals – celebrating my birthday back in the 90’s.

I absolutely love spending time with my Nan and Grandad. Whether it be days out to Widnes for fish and chips or nights at the pub. They really are party animals and I have many stories to tell about their ordeals. I hope that I’m exactly like my Nan and Grandad when I grow up they’re the best. Trips to Wales – most weekends, are fabulous. I’m always laughing when I’m with them, they’re just so infectious. We always go the market that’s a MUST and she buys some real good steals there. My Nan stays in the caravan usually if we’re taking trips to the beach – My Grandad is more of the adventurous one – his latest thrill has been boats. Gotta love him. She often tells of a time when he hired out bikes in Cyprus. Let’s just say it didn’t end well. Sitting in the club of a night is always funny, taking the piss out of each other is also a MUST. We’ve even got Jason up there dancing once. What I have learned is that my Nan remembers EVERYTHING no matter how drunk she gets. She can drink for England, she really can. So you’re always reminded of that embarrassing thing you did or said the night before.

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The time when she slept in the awning and woke up with a bad back. SORRY

Since being here in London she’s been one of the many people I’ve missed. I miss being able to ring her up and say “Hey Nan, I’m just finishing work now, can I pop round?” to which she usually replies “Oh Ey George, I’m up to my eyes in it, I’ve got loads to do today. You’ll have to go when your Mother comes” and I’ll follow with “Oh I see doesn’t matter then.” To which she usually says “Oh you can come if you want, see you in a minute.” When I arrive she’s smiling and putting the kettle on. She proceeds to tell me about the latest show she has been watching and we usually watch bits of it, getting me hooked. I must admit, she does watch the most amazing shows!! She makes the best poached eggs as well! Before we know it its time for me to go and she exclaims that she is going to bed before anyone else comes. This is why I love her. She never fails to make me smile.

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Trip to see ‘The Bodyguard’ at the Liverpool Empire.
I wrote this little something for you inside your birthday card but I can assure you, these are merely a few of the countless things I love about you. I hope you have the most amazing day and hopefully get a chance to get your feet up and relax. Once I’m earning the big bucks I’ll whisk you away, I promise you that.

Happy Birthday Nan,

All my love – George x

9 things I LOVE about you.

1. I LOVE to see you laugh & smile – it’s contagious.
2.I LOVE the way you cheer me up when you find me with a frown & always raise my spirits when life has got me down.
3. I LOVE how your home is always open to me as well as your biscuit box.
4. I LOVE how you drink your bitter in 1/2 pints because its more ‘Lady-Like.’
5. I LOVE how you’re always proud of me & strive for my success but I want you to know that it is I that should be proud of you for all you have done for us.
6. I LOVE the way you cook fantastic dinners & make superb cups of tea.
7. I LOVE you for your stories, our drunken outings, our karaoke duets & our chats about life and TV shows.
8. I LOVE how you bend over backwards, even when your energy is low, to keep your family happy.
9. I LOVE you for your patience & honesty but mostly I love you for the way that you love me & because you’re not only my Nan, you’re my best friend.

Lizzie Musical UK

On 23/02/2017 I had the opportunity of obtaining free tickets to a new show off the west end during it’s previews. It was day 2. I’d never been to the Greenwich Theatre before, it’s so close to where I’m living as well. There’s a nice little social hub area before you take your seats were people were conversing over wine and gin and tonics. It felt quite fresh and vibrant in a social way. With music by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt, lyrics by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Tim Maner and book by Tim Maner, Lizzie is based on an original concept by Alan Stevens Hewitt and Tim Maner. This new production comes to London following a run at the Frederica Teater, Denmark in January 2017.

Taking our seats we were greeted with this view.

Immediately you could recognise the rock elements to the show. It was exciting. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a ‘rock’ show before. I went in knowing nothing other than recommendations from friends informing me that the singing was phenomenal. This is one of my favourite things about not knowing anything about a show because you go in not knowing what to expect. You either leave inspired or leave disappointed.

The latter on this occasion wasn’t an option for the night. The actual structure of the show was set out in more of a Rock concert setting as opposed to a rock musical and I think this is one of its greatest selling points. It gets people interested in the show and it’s definitely something to talk about. I don’t think it would have worked if it was staged similarly to most musicals. At the interval it was definitely a topic of conversation between myself and my friends. I was enticed from the moment the show started.

The music was electrifying and the vocals were insane. It’s one of them shows where the lyric drives the plot line and so you find yourself listening extensively to the lyric which in essence draws you in much more. The lighting that was used really caught your eye, it complimented both the music and story line, capturing your gaze at just the right times through a quick flash of fluorescent bright white lights to deep orange tones throughout.

The show tells the story of Lizzie Borden. An American woman who found herself in the middle of a murder trial in the hot summer of 1892, in small New England city – Fall River, Massachusetts. The murder victims were her father and step mother. This at the time became a media sensation that got hundreds of people speculating and her story has become an American Legend. It’s bold and it’s mysterious. The whole show is captivating.

For the first 15 minutes of the show I was sat like the reserved theatre goer I am with a gentle tapping of the foot making sure that I wasn’t distracting anybody too much but by the end of the second half I was bobbing and ‘rocking’ away uncontrollably. Okay not exactly rocking but still you get my point. The music is incredible. It has such a different quality to other shows I’ve seen at present. Lizzie is such an interesting concept.

I think that the beauty of the story is that you watch it unfold before your eyes through Lizzie’s kind of distorted way of life. The more Lizzie is entrapped by her own mind the more the story goes into somewhat of a state of frenzy. Watching this take place on stage is mesmerising. Bjorg’s performance is impeccable and the other three leads are all on par with her performance. I couldn’t fault any of them – each were different in their own way, often complimenting each other as well as contrasting with each other.

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The cast and creative were absolutely incredible and I got the chance to take part in the Q&A session after the show. Here’s a link to a live feed I posted to my Facebook. Lizzie Q&A  (not the best quality I apologise)

In the session they talked about how the show has been created and the different versions that has been produced over the years. This version featured an incredible international cast – Bjorg Gamst as Lizzie, Bleu Woodward as Alice, Eden Espinosa as Emma and Jodie Jacobs as Maggie.

What was really nice to see was 4 amazingly strong women up there on the stage kicking some ASS, especially with the situation that’s going on at the moment across the pond and across the globe really. It felt very relevant and the use of rock music complimented this. It was a rebellion on stage. I loved every single moment of it and it was thrilling to watch.

My favourite moments have to be the love story between Alice and Lizzie, Jodie Jacobs fantastic comedic portrayal of Maggie and my favourite songs would be – This Is Not Love, If You Knew, Maybe Someday, Will You Stay and Mercury Rising.

If you do manage to get any spare time on your hands I implore you to go and see this show. It is incredible. And please let me know what you think also.

Lizzie runs at the Greenwich Theatre until 12/03.2017.

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Photo Credits – Soren Malmose

"Believe you can and you're halfway there"

For those of you who don’t know who said this quote it was Theodore Roosevelt Jr. Theodore served as the 26th president of the United States of America in the years 1901-1909. Scholars rank him as one of the greatest presidents the country has ever had.

But lets not make this into a history lesson now shall we.

Instead lets focus on the words used in this quote and the relevance it has to me and the impact I feel it has on many. Now, belief is such a wide area of topic to focus on and can come in many forms whether that be religious or not. In my case, belief has a lot to do with one’s state of mind and spirit. Believing in something can give you the utmost rush of joy whilst at the same time fill you with thoughts of doubt and worry. When you want something so badly you cant help but be blindsided to the things that matter the most. You’re not always level-headed. I’m sure all of us at some point in our beautiful lives have put so much effort into something all at one time but in reflection, when looking back we realise it wasn’t worth it after all. However in regards to the quote, belief means a whole different thing altogether. Something we all, at some point, have struggled with. And that is believing in oneself.

This is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Sometimes just the inability to progress and move forward puts you in a place where you’re left asking Why? What more can I do? Why isn’t this working for me? Why can’t I just let go? Am I good enough? These are all questions I’ve asked myself and I think every performer has their own set of questions they ask themselves in every class. I feel as though these questions daunt on me mostly in my acting classes. I have always said that this is the discipline I have the least confidence in and this is the one I try my hardest in, in order to get better. Despite the grades I’ve received in the past there’s just something inside of me that knows or rather tells me I’m the worst at this discipline. I guess knowing this is detrimental to my learning as if I keep acknowledging these thoughts and telling myself ‘yeah it is my worst one’ then these feelings aren’t ever going to go away. All I can do is try to flip them around or turn them off. But this is a lot easier said than done. I honestly don’t know why I have these thoughts because I know that I can act. That was meant in the least arrogant way possible, I promise. But for some reason I’m stuck on this cruel cycle that just keeps repeating itself over and over. When you lack self-confidence in anything you do you’re left knowing you could have done more or better. Over time I know this will get easier to manage but, with 3 more years to go I’m ready to keep on fighting and come out on top. A whole load of people experience performance anxiety and sometimes it can be the scariest thing in the world. It stops you from going out there and getting that job you want or experiencing different things and trying something new. You get comfortable, when really you should be throwing yourself out there. It happens in everyday life. We all suffer.

What I will say is that this has gotten a lot easier to manage now that I’m in higher education. Before coming here I said to myself ‘Right. Leave your old worries behind you and step up your game. They’re only going to get in the way in the long run so its best leaving them behind now.’ This is something I have to remind myself on the odd occasion. It’s usually when working towards acting monologues and so forth. Don’t get me wrong I do love acting but I’ve always found myself taking more of a lean towards the theoretical side to the craft. I like to sit out, watch, and give my suggestions. However when I do get these moments of doubt I like to close my eyes, conjure up my ball of stress and worry and panic in my hands and then throw them away. A technique my acting teacher, Abbie Rippon, showed me before starting improvisation lessons back at college. This has stuck with me and I’ve found it really helps. But when I can’t do that, in fear of looking like a psycho in front of my peers around me, I similarly close my eyes, inhale and say to myself in my head ‘Fuck it’ (pardon my french) and get on with doing what I’m doing. This always leads to me doing my best work and its a trick that’s helped me thus far. This sensation makes me feel like I’m flying, soaring across the air. I just forget about looking like a loon and I’m totally in the moment of just doing and creating without really putting too much thought into it. I find that when I over think and over analyse my work starts to plummet. I get myself worked up and it’s not healthy.

Last term we were working on duologues and this was the perfect boxing match for myself and my doubt. But like everything in life, I overcome it. I remember one of my last few rehearsals at Laurie Grove, a few days before my actual assessment. Helen was pushing and pushing and pushing me to find more of a sense of my character. At the time I was confused and lacking in confidence shall I say, but I’m glad she kept at it. She took me by the hands and spiralled with me around the room telling me to close my eyes, it was just me and her; everyone else disappeared, all the while asking me to find my character through my breath – something that was relatively new to me in an acting sense. There was something so magical about this moment that I’m really grateful for. Whilst spiralling there were, for a brief moment, glimpses of me just letting go and being free almost. It felt like I was teleported to a room where everything was white and serene. It was like being in a meadow full of daisies and greenery being 5-years-old again playing without a care in the world. I was lost but in a good way and when she finally let go of my hands allowing me to find my feet and embody the character through my senses, text and physicality I found it really helped me get to know this person and become him. This was another of those ‘fuck it’ moments but without my mantra so to speak. My mind was calm and at peace and I just went with it. It was beautiful. To me anyways. Whilst this may not work for you, it certainly worked for me.

You’re probably thinking I’m a nutter right?

What I’m really trying to get at is, just have the faith to say ‘yes I can do this’ and go with it. Let go of all inhibitions prior to that moment and leave them at the door. Having someone who believes in you even when you don’t always believe in yourself shouldn’t ever be disregarded. Thank that person. So Helen, if you’re ever reading this thank you. But when you do finally believe in yourself, like I did 5 minutes before my call, you’re already halfway there. What is left is the trust in yourself to know that the hard work and commitment you’ve put into this piece for weeks pays off. Like with anything in life, you have the power to shape your future, if you don’t take the risks and you don’t believe in what you can do, you’ll never get the chance to fly. It has to come from within. Its inside of us all. You can do it.

 Yes, that is me and yes I am flying..

 Christmas break.

Christmas. My favourite time of year. A time for family. A time for friends. A time for food and a time for alcohol. Or in my case, a lot of it.

I decided to stay a little while longer after my course had finished to get some hours in at work before heading home. But the day had finally came and I was up for 7am. With my suitcase fully packed and my flask of tea in my hand I made my way to the station. I boarded the train to London Victoria and from there I headed towards the Coach station. Unfortunately my suitcase decided that it wasn’t going to be my friend that day and made a special effort to embarrass me in public. The wheel had broken. Luckily I still had 3 left to transit with. However, every time I walked 10 yards it would make this hauntingly dreadful screech that had on-goers looking at me as if to say ‘Can you not?!‘  With a ‘fuck you all‘ attitude I proceeded on my journey to the coach station. I had made it.

My coach on the other hand hadn’t.

Instead of departing at 10:30 am, I eventually departed at 11:11am. Yes I made my wish. Leaving the magical moment in the past, the megabus set off and I now made my way out of London. The bus was several hours long but for the price of £3.50 I couldn’t complain. It gave me a chance to self reflect and get a few bits of my work completed. Also a spot of reading never goes a miss – read more kids, it’s a joy.

I eventually ended up back in Runcorn waiting for my ride home. My mum came to pick me up. Shoving my suitcase into the boot, I hopped right on in and we made our way back to my home of 19 years. Driving through the lovely town that is Runcorn, I looked out of my window seeing all it has to offer. For the record, not that much. First we drove past Chambers, a bar I’d be spending a couple of nights in over the Christmas break. Driving a little further, we stumbled across ‘The Royal’ a pub I love. They regularly play the oldies and Whitney. That pub brings out dance moves I didn’t even know existed inside of me. It’s great. Waving it goodbye, we made our way home.

Whilst my bedroom had been turned into a part-time laundry room, my room was pretty much still the same. The living room was still as cosy as ever with the fireplace lit and the warm orange tones of the furnishings giving off autumnal vibes. I took a seat on the couch and took a sip of my cup of tea. It was good to be home.

That night I slept like a baby. The best sleep I’ve had in ages. The next day my Nan and Grandad came round to the house. It was so nice to finally see their faces after so long: after a few hours passed I decided to go the pub with them both. The night was filled with many vodka lemonades and chats about the past and how the good old days were. I spent quite a few nights in The Grapes with my grandparents over the Christmas break. It was cute. I especially enjoyed my visits to their home and days out with them both.

Over the next few weeks I spent my time seeing my family and seeing friends. I also spent a lot of it working at my old job. I missed Burger King and my favourite shift was when myself, Sophie and Lucy were working together again after being away at uni across the country. It was good to finally be back together again.

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I decided to be nice this year and buy gifts for my family. Some sentimental and some not. I took my sister to go and see ‘Sweet Charity’ at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. This was just a good show. The cast were phenomenal!!! Every year I help my Nan out with her gift wrapping, she always has everything ready for each person. She’s good like that. I love being in their home; it’s just something about the pair of them, they bicker and moan but they love each other and it’s funny to watch. They both wind each other up and I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve almost spat my cup of tea out when they’re telling me a story or a joke. Eggheads is a must when watching the tv with them, my Grandad always says ‘I’ll beat the lot of them.’ I swear if they had their own little sketch/sitcom they’d be brilliant.

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Christmas dinner was at our house for the first time in years. I was in charge of making the mulled wine; it went down well. The evening was filled with laughter and love. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Whilst I didn’t get to spend New Year’s Eve with my friends, due to the fact I was babysitting my sister Tilly, I did see them numerous times over the holidays. Although it felt like I hadn’t seen them at all. But the time we did spend together was special! From the drunken nights out to the chilled out drives, it was all amazing. Even if I did get wasted a few times. At least we were wasted together! There was a time when I feared for my life and that was in the front passenger seat of Beth’s car. We were making our way towards the Trafford Centre. Everything was going fine until about half an hour in. Beth took the wrong exit 3 times and it felt like we were driving to nowhere and back again. Changing lanes on a motorway has got to be the scariest thing I’ve ever witnessed especially in Beth’s car. Fortunately we never crashed, though my heart still felt like we had. Pulling up into the parking space I quickly undone my seatbelt and rushed out of the car for fresh air. I hope our next journey there is less problematic.

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I did however finally get to see Kloe and Becky! I hadn’t seen them the last time I was down and I was looking forward to seeing them like crazy. We all met up for Nick’s birthday at a cute Italian restaurant where we sipped endlessly on the fresh wine whilst eating our main meal. It reminded me of being in New York’s Hard Rock Cafe. An experience only the four of us can begin to explain. It was eventful and it was hilarious. It was good to be back in their presence. We then met up in Manchester, to play mini golf – Nick’s idea! I was late as usual, delayed trains are not my friends. Klo Klo came to my rescue and saved me from getting lost. Junkyard Golf Club was giving me jungle vibes and in the end I won the tournament. I guess you could call me a jock. We decided to celebrate the victory in Nandos. During the 20 minute wait for a table Nandos, on this particular evening, were playing some funky melodies. One couldn’t help but freestyle to it. I think the four of us would agree that that moment was special. We rounded off the night by checking out a few of the student bars and heading back to Klo’s flat where pizza and Harry Potter awaited us. Of course we didn’t actually get to finish the film, because Grandad Nick gave a running commentary throughout the whole duration of the movie.

I was in charge of the alarms. Big mistake. We were supposed to get up at 10am. But I Snoozed the alarm..

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Failing to make our booked train, we boarded the next one and made our way back to Priestley College. We wanted to pop in and say our hello’s and goodbyes before heading off back to Uni. It was so nice to be back there – a place where we became friends and a family all in one. Sarah invited us into the staff room for tea AND biscuits. Cute I know. I could have stayed there all day, its like a second home to me.

But eventually, I had to return back to London. Due to the fact of my suitcase being broken I had to haul everything I brought down with me back in my back pack. I could barely walk in it, it was that heavy. NEVER AGAIN. I wont over pack next time. Consider it a lesson learnt.

Whilst my friends from back home may not be here with me everyday, I know they’ll always be there when I need them and I the same for them. It’s little things like seeing their tweets or late night facetimes to messaging them every now and then that consolidates this. I may be far away, but if any of you are reading this, know that I’m always with you in your hearts.

And every single one of you has just majorly cringed at that ending but hey ho that’s just who I am. This Christmas was a blessing and I intend to make this year one too.

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It’s supposed to say “4 Musketeers”