Secret Valentine

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Eleven years ago, I was at drama school. Since school, I’d harboured a dream to be an actress and after a successful audition, was a student on an intensive acting course at a drama school in Birmingham. The course was emotionally and physically draining and by February we were all in need of a boost.

So, on February 13th 2002, my friend Cath and I went into WHSmith in the centre of Birmingham, and bought twenty Valentine’s Day cards. That evening, we both set about writing a card for every single student on the Diploma course so that the next day, everyone would feel special. We disguised our handwriting on each card by using different pens, opposite hands, capital letters…etc. so that each card looked to be from a different admirer. Then, in the morning, we seized an opportune moment and hid the cards on a table in Reception behind a huge bouquet of red roses that had arrived for one lucky person. Mid-morning, the cards were discovered and handed to us. Everyone took great delight in receiving them, and even more in trying to guess who the author/authors were. I admit to feeling a little smug when our drama tutor compared two of the cards written by me and said authoritatively, “They’re obviously written by different people”. Cath and I acted as baffled and excited as everyone else and it remained a secret between us until after we’d left drama school.

As I left the building that evening, the gentleman on Reception asked if I’d received my delivery.  “Yes, I got a card with everyone else!” I replied.  “I don’t mean that” he said,  “I mean the flowers”. And there, still sitting on the table that we’d hurriedly left the cards on hours earlier, was the huge bouquet of red roses.  Which just happened to be from a secret admirer, to me 😉

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I went to my drama class earlier tonight.  Ten years ago, I went to drama school for a year. I haven’t set foot on a stage since and I’m trying to find out if it’s fear that’s prevented me from acting, or plain disinterest.  Tonight was week four of a six week course and I’m breathing a sigh of relief that we only have two sessions left to go.

The tutor is good, and the sessions structured.  I just don’t like any of the other students.

On week one, our first exercise was to reveal something personal about ourselves to someone else who would then share it with the group.  The most disturbing admission of the evening was from a man who said he wished his father was dead.  Said man also wears slippers to do all the inevitable warm-up exercises which I also find disturbing.  What kind of man wears slippers in the twenty-first century, let alone chooses to wear slippers to aid his mobility?

The most irritating person in the group is an overweight lady who continually raises her plump little hand to ask questions about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.  Her most interesting feature, visible through her off-white tee-shirt, are her breasts, which point in almost opposite directions to one another.  Unfortunately, so do her eyes.

Tonight, we had to perform the scenes that we were given last week with our partners.  Only I didn’t go last week so didn’t have to perform.  The tutor was apologetic and I was secretly pleased.  The theme for last week – and the reason I didn’t go, was that we were all asked to bring in a piece of music that made us feel an extreme emotion, be it rage, joy, grief, regret etc.  I knew that most people would opt for sorrow/grief and couldn’t bear the thought of being surrounded by weeping and wailing.  I’m too happy to be sad.

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