On Our Way Home

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

We’re on the plane. On our way home. Imagine. England begins to fade into the sunset. Literally. Plenty of melancholy accompanies this fading. The pain of closing one door, and opening another. Why is it that doors are vested with such complicated feelings?

I need to go back a bit. I haven’t told you about Friday. It was a good day. We had a media call to shoot some footage for Canadian television. It all went very smoothly. It was great to have a director and two cameras shooting, and to actually get coverage of certain angles and lines for editing. So often footage of stage work that is shot for television is unsatisfactory because you are trying to capture a large live medium on an intimate repeatable one. They are just not terribly compatible. But this situation was quite unique as media shoots go, so hopefully the product will be a little more watch-able than most of the two-minute clips you see on the news.

We had a good final show in Newcastle. So fast this little run. Oh, and I forgot to tell you that we had full houses for all four shows, which was great. They really liked our final kick at the can on these shores. Jim and Donna Wright, the High Commissioner and his wife, travelled all the way up from London just to see it! They were very supportive, and said they would tell all their friends in Ottawa to come out. So take note all you Ottawa diplomats.

We had a drink with most of the Macbeth/Macbett boys after the show, since they were doing a staged reading of the new Anthony Neilson piece that they are taking to London in November. It was good to have a little goodbye with them. Such great fellows. And as Kelly says, we have become very close even though we haven’t shared the stage with them. We are still somehow members of the same company. So that was nice.

And when it came time to say goodnight, and goodbye, I found myself inexplicably crying. I just let that happen, and ended up sobbing most of the way back to the hotel in the taxi. It’s all been so big.

Now here comes the nasty part of the story. I’m going to blame it all on Corrine (teasing! teasing!). Since her flight was at 15:30, and the drivers were concerned about roadworks, and traffic on the M25 (how many times have I heard what a parking lot that highway is, only to go through it like you know what through a goose?!), we were picked up by a small coach at 4 o’clock in the morning. That is cruel and unusual when you have just closed a show, and a run, and have suitcases the size of steamer trunks to drag down the stairs, and there is no breakfast, let alone NO COFFEE!!

Dear Katie Vine, our new Stage Manager was there to see us off, even though she has an old cat who is critically ill at home, and wanted nothing more to get back to her pet the night before. (A little thought for Katie’s cat. And an enormous thanks to Katie for being such an awesome addition to our merry band of wanderers.) But lest I get distracted by positive and happy thoughts, let me lead you back to the hell that is a people mover stuffed with six exhausted actors and their luggage, and two unwitting drivers who happened to be the messengers we wanted to shoot. We tried desperately to get back to sleep once we set off, but to little avail. The seats were impossibly uncomfortable, it was either sweltering or freezing, and the drivers would insist on talking loudly to each other to keep awake!

We stopped for a toilet and breakfast break at around 7:30. Hysterical. Blood shot eyes with last night’s stage make-up still in the corners, and hats covering the bed-head, we staggered into the service centre. As a side note, I need you to bear in mind that when we got on the bus it was dark, and that we picked Kelly up at a separate location, so there is some understanding the following sequence of events. We’re standing in a queue to pay for coffee (the Saturday morning breakfast rush was apparently on), and Kelly walks up to two men in the line-up that she assumes to be our drivers and says in a rather coy, Marilyn Monroe voice, “Excuse me gentlemen, but is this our half-hour break?” Corrine and Lisa and I are already laughing cuz we have seen the bus drivers and know that these are not them, and these poor men aren’t quite sure what to think of the crazed looking woman in a cloche who is beseeching them, but one of them gently replies, “We don’t have a clue who you are, dear”. Kelly nearly dropped apoplectically to the floor in horror, and began apologising profusely to the strangers she’d accosted, while the rest of us howled with laughter. All chalked up to no sleep.

We managed to get safely back to the bus. And arrived at Heathrow at 9:30. Yes. NINE-THIRTY. What was expected to be a seven-hour journey had become a 5 hour journey, and now we were six hours early for even the earliest flight. This left us all somewhat bewildered. At this juncture we had to say goodbye to Corrine because she was leaving from another terminal. And Pippa too was off to Gatwick to make a connection to Rome where she is heading for a week. So five of us gathered luggage carts and piled them high with bags that were likely over-weight. But we couldn’t check any of this luggage through until noon, so we were stuck wheeling it around the airport for a couple of hours.

Check-in and security at Heathrow Terminal 4 is a nightmare. When they tell you to be there three hours early they mean it. We came up from our second breakfast to stand in a one hour queue for baggage check-in. Then there was another 1/2 hour getting through security.

Very strict, too. Only one carry-on, shoes off through the metal detector, liquids in bags. No joking around. But once on the other side only another 3 1/2 hours to waste, without sleep or prospects of it! I think we all had tears at least once in that time. It’s just too much to ask- a five hour bus ride, an eight hour wait, and then an eight hour flight.

But now we are homeward bound, and excited about seeing friends and family (my friends David and Pam are picking me up! can’t wait), and not excited about having to catch up with banking and accountants what might be growing in my humid basement, and all the realities that have been existing at home for three months without us.

Reflective too. It’s so strange that it is suddenly done. And yet, not done. Too tired to be clear. And yet, clear in my gratitude for all this, regardless of the incomprehensible travel day. Clear that I will have these memories to cherish, and will hold the relationships that have been struck with so many wonderful people over the past three months.  Sleepy, but clear.

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