Treading the boards once again. And then again.

Coming very soon there’s an opportunity to see me making fool of myself on stage once again. The Friends of St Nicholas School are putting on a cabaret and I’m going to be singing(ish), dancing(ish) and acting(ish) in a selection of acts. It’s always a good laugh, and mostly performed by people who would never normally go near a stage. There are, as I write, still a few tickets available for both nights.

Let me know if you want to come along. There’s a bar (and, frankly, you’ll probably need it) and all funds raised will support the work of the school.

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But then, after that, I’ve actually been invited to join a small theatre company to take a role in a comedy musical they’re putting on. I’ve done musicals before (Jesus Christ Superstar, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Barnum, Superstar again, Thoroughly Modern Mille, Me and My Girl) but it’s nearly nine years since I took part in a proper production.

This is a small village company and the play has been described to me as a sort of “Carry on Les Miserables”. I’ll let you know more as soon as I do.

 

 

Communication

Will the slight redesign here inspire me to write more often? Unlikely. But I have started on a little project that I’m enjoying, and it’s to do with communication, so may have a knock-on effect.

You see, I am rubbish at keeping in touch. With friends, and more importantly with family. I have a mum and three older brothers, all of whom I love very much. But you’d hardly know it from how little I communicate. I’m a bad son. And a bad brother. And the odd thing is I’m a really keen social media user, and appear to love all manner of electronic communications, but they don’t appear to have helped one little bit with me keeping in touch with those who really matter.

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So just before Christmas I started an experiment: going old school. I wrote my Mum a letter. Remember them? Hand written. With a pen, on actual paper. And I put it in an actual envelope, and actually posted it. With a stamp and everything. The following weekend, one to my oldest brother. And so on. I plan to keep going round in rotation, writing a letter each week to one of my blood relatives. How long will I keep it up? Who knows. But I’ve enjoyed it so far, and my Mum’s second letter is sealed up and ready to post in the morning.

 

A pile of books

Next to my bed* sits a pile of books. Books I’m reading, or plan to read. Once in a blue moon I tell you about them. This is the current pile.

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(*Not actually by my bed just now as the bedroom is emptied for redecoration.) 

The Cloud of Unknowing. Anonymous. 

Recommended by a good friend who thought it might go down well with me in my alleged spiritual life. Written by an unknown Christian Mystic in around the late 14th century, it is, apparently, something of a classic text. Interestingly, another good friend who seeks to help and guide me with spiritual stuff suggested I should flush it straight down the toilet. I’ve barely dipped into it so far, despite having had it for a couple of months now. (Sorry, Andrew. I’ll get it back to you some time. Once I’ve read it.)

Bounce: The myth of talent and the power of practice. Matthew Syed.

A Christmas present from my wife’s mum. About half way through this one. Fascinating insights into the nature of success and how it’s all down to practice rather than innate talent.

How to be a woman. Caitlin Moran. 

A birthday present from my oldest brother. Not started it yet. In his card he said “this may seem an odd choice of book” but I was able to reply “It’s a perfect choice of book; I’ve been wanting to read it for ages. I’ve enjoyed the few random columns of Caitlin Moran’s that I’ve read. I thought her “posthumous advice to my daughter” was great.

The Rosie Effect. Graeme Simsion.

Birthday present from my next-oldest brother. Not started it yet. Don’t know much about this one, but he enjoyed it, so I hope I will too.

Faith and Doubt. John Ortberg. 
Reaching for the invisible god. Philip Yancey. 

Someone at church was having clear-out and gave away a load of books. These two caught my eye. I may read them. One day.

Pyongyang: A journey in North Korea. Guy Delisle. 
(Not in my picture as I’ve lent it out already, but mentioned as I enjoyed it so much.)

A Christmas present from a nephew. Read it in a day. A french animator’s account of his time spent in North Korea working with an animation studio. An incredible insight into the bizarre and oppressive regime, told with elegance and style. The genre really seemed to suit the subject, his drawings sparse and simple in keeping with the surroundings he found himself in. A worthy read, and an introduction to a new genre for me; I’ve never read a graphic novel before. I may read more.

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Housekeeping notice: Astute readers may have spotted a subtle change to this page. Gone is the long-standing title and header “A Work in Progress”. It’s been there since 2007, not meaning very much. “A website called Trevor” has taken its place. Also not meaning very much. 

 

Observations after a few evenings of casual work at the sorting office.

Post, on mass, is grubby. You might not think it when you post a letter, or when one pops through your door, but try sorting through an evening’s worth of mailbox contents and see how clean your hands are.

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Some people send a lot of Christmas cards.

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If you’re posting Christmas cards at the beginning of December, why first class? Are you worried they won’t get there in time?

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Occasionally a whole pile of Christmas cards from one customer will arrive mostly with second class stamps on, but one or two with first class. I like to picture them evaluating their friends and deciding who deserves first class.

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If you don’t seal your Christmas cards, but just tuck the flap in, your envelopes have a pretty good chance of getting ripped.

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If you post a letter in Stevenage, to a Stevenage address, it goes on a little overnight trip to Hemel Hempstead.

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Simply writing “do not bend” on your envelope does not confer any sort of magical powers of protection. If you don’t want something bent, I’d suggest it’s up to you to protect it with a properly stiff envelope. (See also “fragile”.)

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Father Christmas has an official Royal Mail address! It’s Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ, and anything that gets there gets a reply. Even if you send something to Santa elsewhere (north pole etc) it ends up at XM4 5HQ, and is treated as first class – even if there’s no stamp on it.

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1p stamps still exist. Who knew, eh? Unfortunately for this customer, the “1p” looks just a little bit like “1st” if you don’t look properly.

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Educating myself: world politics edition

Following a couple of recent conversations (on Facebook and in a pub) I felt the need to try to learn at least a little about what the heck is going on in the world. Certainly to learn more than I could just relying on soundbite quotes and cartoons on social media.

I’ve come across a few well researched articles entitled things like “What ISIS want”, which I may link to later if people are interested, but before I do that this article from September seems to be a pretty thorough, if heavily summarised, history of the islamic world and its divisions. From just this one article, I feel I understand just a little bit more about “the middle east” than I ever have before.

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It’s a longish read, but the writer has a light, even humorous, touch and manages to make it all pretty engaging. A bit of a ‘horrible histories for adults’, I suppose.

If you feel so inclined, read it with me, and let me know what you think.

http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/09/muhammad-isis-iraqs-full-story.html

 

after (8 of 14)

Before and After

I photographed a lovely property in Bricket Wood last week for one of my regular clients. While I was there I noticed another agent’s sale board outside, so couldn’t resist a sneaky look at their website to see the photographs they’d been using.

Now, I’m not saying mine are the best photographs in history, but let’s do a comparison shall we?

Before (18 of 18)after (1 of 14)(I took the other agents’ board down before shooting this.)

Before (9 of 18)after (5 of 14)

Before (2 of 18)after (7 of 14)

Before (13 of 18)after (8 of 14)

Before (4 of 18)after (4 of 14)

Before (1 of 18)after (13 of 14)

Before (8 of 18)after (14 of 14)

Before (6 of 18)after (9 of 14)

Before (7 of 18)after (10 of 14)

Before (11 of 18)after (12 of 14)

Before (12 of 18)after (11 of 14)

Before (5 of 18)after (2 of 14)

Before (17 of 18)    after (3 of 14)

I’m learning all the time on this job, and looking at these two sets of photos helps me learn. Whilst I can see I’ve taken more care about angles and paid more attention to some details, There’s is actually something rather vibrant about the originals, and mine could do with looking a little less ‘flat’. I’m also intrigued to note that despite not knowing where to point their camera, whoever took the first set did choose to lift a couple of rugs. I wonder if that’s something I should be doing?