This morning I had the chance to get out of the office (unusual, lately) and model for a press launch photoshoot. One of the other models was very beautiful and had a very beautiful three year old with her, so I should imagine most of the press coverage will feature them. But if your paper has a shot of a lot of feet, mine might be one of the pairs featured. Chipped blue nail varnish, if so (o, the shame). We were demonstrating the Barefoot Trail.
For your information, and rather to my surprise, the Barefoot Trail does exactly what it's meant to do; I came away feeling relaxed and revived, and as if I had been close to nature for a short time. All from wandering about barefoot on assorted surfaces such as wet grass, logs, pine cones and sand. The New Age Fluffy Stuff won over my cynicism, hands (or rather feet) down. It was glorious. If muddy.
In the afternoon my boss and I had a long meeting with someone from Finance, someone from Visitor Services, and The Man With The Answers, to talk about hitches and glitches in the new ticketing system. Most of the aforementioned hitches and glitches, if I'm honest, are in our handling of the system, not inherant in the thing itself. It was a hugely constructive meeting, the kind I wish all meetings could be. Although we only got through about 20% of the things we needed to sort out, we did have really thorough discussions about those things, and make real progress on them. I suppose we just need to have more meetings, and slowly work through the remaining 80% of the issues with the same thoroughness.
Halfway through this meeting the weather turned on its flipside and began to pour with rain, then hail, and then thunder as well. The office we were in is in an attic and the rain and hail were pounding on the roof and bouncing into the open windows. The Man With The Answers sat smiling in his usual unflappable & Buddha-like way - until I said "Answers, I'm getting worried about your books" (which were on the windowsill behind him) - at which point he suddenly reacted with alacrity. Good chap; I am sure even Gautama Buddha preferred to keep his books dry. Keep your powder and your books dry, eh?
He appears to be reading a playscript, which is intriguing (I would know the Faber & Faber Drama livery anywhere). But being nosy about other folks' reading can seem tremendously rude, so I bottled it and didn't ask. Now I'm just curious (equals nosy).
Then it was back to the office, and then to the leaving drinks for a colleague who is moving on to pastures new. This last happened to coincide with the Grand Re-Opening of a local bar (sheer chance, but it meant we got two free drinks each and a lot of slightly random free tapas). So by the time I left, early, to go and vote, I was full of food and drink, and decidedly relaxed.
Trotted to my local polling station (the infant school over the railway line) clutching my poll card. Even at well after nine pm there was a steady trickle of people. I handed my card over and said, maybe a tad too brightly, "I hope it's okay to vote when you've had a couple of pints, I've been at a colleague's leaving do."
Polling officer: Dearie, if you're here and you can make a cross with a pencil, you can vote.
So I voted. I'm not sure whether I should be cheered or depressed by the discovery I'm allowed to vote even if half-cut. I've decided to be pleased about it.
Like many good Lefties I sometimes have those moments of wondering if there's any point in casting my vote. Parliamentary democracy has its flaws, goodness knows, and ours is as messed-up as the rest in many ways..
But so many people across the world even today never have had and never will have the chance to make that cross on a ballot paper, to try and add a drop of influence to the vat. Most of my ancestors didn't have the vote - none of the men, to my knowledge, until 1918, except possibly the Hyders in Bristol, and certainly none of the women until 1928 (property qualifications are intended to exclude the peasantry, after all, and I come from very solid working class stock!). I would be utterly ashamed of myself if I didn't go out and vote.
Now home, sobering up, and writing this.
Last night I was at the ballet; two lovely non-narrative pieces and a gritty, grim, bleak story ballet about the spirit of Jack the Ripper haunting London and inspiring Walter Sickert and a friend of his to commit the Camden Town Murders. "Sveet Violence" said the German woman in the row behind mine, carefully reading her programme aloud to her neighbour. Well, quite; I couldn't have put it better myself. Actually the title is "Sweet Violets", but anyway... It's choreographically terrific. Also grim, grimgrimgrim, also grisly and dismal. Beautifully danced, though, of course (Lauren Cuthbertson in particular was superb as the second woman to be murdered). But it was a relief to go from that to "DGV" with its superb score, high energy and rich, resonant optimism. Graphic violence and murder in pointe shoes may be very impressive; but hope and love and human connection carry the more meaning, for me, cockeyed optimist that I am.