Archive for the 'Spiritual Travels' Category
Around five weeks ago, Shirley, a spiritualist minister at our church, took me to one side and predicted that I would âseeâ a North American Indian during my US travels. ââŠbut only you will seeâŠother people will not noticeâ she said finally.
Now the memory of that conversation has stayed with me since that time. I certainly didnât see one during my stay in New York â but then I didnât expect to see one in the frothy metropolis of Times Square. Nevertheless I know enough to expect the unexpected and think and hope that have learnt enough to never second-guess life, so I tucked the prediction away in a corner of my mind, like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, promising not to force it into the developing picture of my American travels, unless I found a space into which it fittedâŠ
âŠThe sky clicks, like a jigsaw piece, into the angular Houston architecture. At first I found it alienating and memories of England and especially my home town of Durham City came crowding in, producing the all-too familiar knot of homesickness that I always feel low in my throat when I am in unfamiliar surroundings.
Are people the picture within a frame of their environment? I have always thought that the frame that surrounded me in my growing years, has helped to form and produce the individual that I am. The frame of my city; the frame of my friends and the frame of my parents have all contributed to the entity that is now âmeâ. Opening my hotel curtains on my first morning revealed a frame into which I thought I did not fit and which, almost at once, brought on the familiar pangs in my gulletâŠ
âŠnot only that, but the humidity was such that it seemed difficult to draw oxygen from the hot air â perhaps one day in the far future, Housteners will develop gills to augment their lungs - People walk slowly in Houston to avoid evaporating.
After a space-shuttle descent, by lift, from my room on the 26th floor, I set out into the futuristic glass, concrete and metal world. Maybe because I needed to pull myself into focus, I searched out the centre of town, only to discover no real axis but several; some of them I know I have yet to identify.
My first walk down the angular streets soon became intimidating; the vertical buildings join the sidewalk at a set-square angle. I progressed like an ant, along the grid-formed streets; right-turn, left-turnâŠlostâŠ
âŠthen I found Main Street.
Main Street looks like all the other rectangular passageways, except for the local general-store. I gratefully retreated into a semi-shoddy conglomerate of ÂŁstore cheapness, KFC chicken (and sausage-on-a-stick North-East English âChippy-Dingeâ) The higgledy-piggledy contents of nylon socks, shampoo, batteries, unfamiliar tobacco, sweatshirt, childrenâs games, and general-store paraphernalia rested my eyes from the hospital corridor sidewalks. After browsing for a while, I bought a ham sandwich and a packet of Bugler tobacco (!) And set out again into Houstonâs geometric streets.
Passing the Dolphin Fountains on Main I felt the first spats of the storm that was about to lash space-town. At first I thought I had caught spray from the leaping jets, but the drops of water that spoilt my first half-rolled cigarette, caused me to look up.
The sky had become a vanilla and ice-cream soda float, pouring into the spaces between the angular buildings, where dimensions of vertical and horizontal became indistinguishable, lurid and blurred in the down-pour that hit like a forearm smash and drenched me in a steaming melting-pot of warm rain.
At that moment I was baptised into the raw spirit of Houston, where the peach like vulnerability of flesh is at mercy from its own artificial creation; where heritage is ripped down for the new and history dies at the end of the present moment.
Houston is the Savage Rose.2 comments
âTwas the Night before HoustonâŠ
Ninth Avenue from the Top of the Hudson Hotel
âŠand I was lying on a recliner, right on the top of the Hudson Hotel in New York. It had been the last day of rehearsals for the âWhistleâ company, before we all move to Houston tomorrow.
Click above for Japanese translation
You will appreciate that I cannot âblogâ about what goes on in rehearsals; to do that would be the equivalent of a doctor, publishing details of your private visit â but what I feel I can say, is that this is one of the most special companies I have worked with, during my rather long career (42yrs). Perhaps one day, when I have long retired from this strange volatile profession, I will include in my theatrical reminiscences, stories of the moments that the vulnerable people I work with have encountered. We have many young members in our company; the youngest is around 8 yrs of age and the oldest member has reached the bridge of the half-century, but they all share the innocence of early childhood â an innocence and openness that is essential, in my opinion, for every performer.
But only a few
And down they forgot
As up they grewâŠ
All I feel I can say is that yesterdays final ârun-throughâ before we move to Houston âwe have a problemâ (âcourse we donât â itâs just a phrase that makes people smile), astounded me. Frankly I thought it was Fantastic.
There was one moment, which was rather spiritual. Everything was prepared and so I decided to do something that I have never done before the production is on the stage in the technical rehearsals â I decided to set the final curtain-calls (the bows). Suddenly my mind went blank and I seemed to be stopped by an unseen hand. âSorry I canât do itâ I said. Many company members then reminded me about the theatre superstition of planning curtain-calls in the rehearsal room. They and I felt it was a good omen â or âSpookyâ as one company member remarkedâŠ
After the company left to prepare their private lives for the move and also for the forthcoming tour of the mid-west, I sat in the empty rehearsal room and felt the echo of the vibrations of the last two weeks; emotions do leave an imprint after the âemotionersâ have gone. To me itâs like a silent buzz; a sort of vibrating static that makes the air slightly viscous and treacly-fluid â I love it.
Finally leaving the Chelsea studios on W26th street (between 6th and 7th avenues, leading to Broadway) I experienced the usual âcome-downâ to Normality (whatever that is) and hailed a yellow cab to the Hudson HotelâŠ
In the evening I visited âWhimsâ the fantastic restaurant that David and I found a couple of weeks ago and had my final New York meal. It was delicious.
Five Spiced Duck Breast
With fingerling potatoes
SautĂ©ed Bok choy
And a Red Wine Raspberry Reduction.
Have you ever had a meal which is so delicious that you just have to go so slowly and savour each little taste?
The meal was served by a bright attractive and very friendly waitress called Rachael Lee. Rachael hailes from Oklahoma and we chatted about my impending move to Houston. Americans really know about good service and Rachael is no exception. I wish her well with her future and with her future plans, whatever they may be. Thanks Rachâ
Iâm sitting in my hotel room, finishing this short entry, before taking a taxi to the airport in a couple of hoursâŠ
âtill the next time
I apologise for the lack of definition in recent photos. I forgot to pack my camera when I left for the States, so therefore all photos are from my camera-phone.(Iâm actually a little surprised at how good they are)No comments
If you look at the Module on the home page, you will see that itâs almost the full moon.
âWhen you get caught between the Moon and New York City
I know itâs crazy, but itâs true
If you get caught between the Moon and New York City
The best that you can do âŠâŠ
The best that you can do is fall in loveâ
David and I have found a really cosy, yet modern restaurant just near our hotel. The food is gourmet quality and the surroundings are computer-chip modern and yet manage to be warm and friendly - all at the same time. (Click on the link below if you like good food, I really think they deserve a âplugâ.)
click on the Japanese characters below if you want a translated pageâŠ
I wasnât too well last night and I was a little worried as I slumped into the yellow-cab on my way to rehearsals, that I wouldnât have the stamina for the intensive but fascinating sessions. âWhistleâ continues to absorb most of my days - capturing the emotions within each scene feels rather like catching lightning in a bottle and managing to cork it, before it disperses into the aether. Fortunately around mid-morning, I sneezed, popped my cork and broke the cold that had been bottling up unknowingly inside my pounding head. Naturally I had thought (hypochondriac that I am) that I was due for a mild stroke at least; but the resounding âphsChawww!!â I unexpectedly produced - during one of the quiet scenes of course - cleared my brain and elicited âbless youâ responses from the cast. My âThank you for your support, I shall wear it often.â reply, caused a gratifying giggle from the company members. Americans and especially American thespians, seem to adore my quaint English sense of humour (humor)
Iâm getting really excited about our opening in Houston in around ten days time and our forthcoming tour of the mid-west. If your interested and especially if you live in the USA, do click on the link below. A word of warning however; if your internet connection is slow, put the vidâ on pause whilst it loads, otherwise it keeps stickingâŠ
After our meal, David went to buy some fruit juice from an all-night store, whilst I had a ciggy outside. I looked up and there it wasâŠ..
Now click on the link below and have a private karaoke
(if you sing like me, I suggest the bathroom as the best location)
Love to Sarah and Pete Howarth who got married to this songâŠ..
âtill the next time
Whistle Down The Wind â USA
From my hotel window
Itâs been a week since I returned to New York to rehearse âWhistleâ for the forthcoming tour of the mid-west. My initial impressions of New York and New Yorkers as being more friendly than Londoners has not lessened at all, in fact I am even more surprised at the warmth and friendliness all around me.
|Translation for 140 languages by ALS|
Perhaps itâs me â perhaps I am attracting friendliness and hospitality â drawing it to me like a magnet. Itâs a thoughtâŠ
I fully believe that most, if not everything we experience and gain (or lose) in life, is of our own doing. I believe we design our own successes and failures; our own harmonies and our own discords. Most times we are the architects of our destiniesâŠ
I first saw the film âWhistle Down the Windâ in the early sixties and although the story has now been transplanted from Lancashire to the mid-west of America, the central message of love and belief remains unchanged. So maybe itâs rubbing off on my attitudes to the people around me. There is a magic about the piece that unusually has increased in its present incarnation â maybe because Americans still have an unashamed belief in Jesus. Please donât be offended, but Christian fervour seems more tangible on this side of the pond, together with a greater sense of identity. But then the UK is going through an all too quick change of identity, both in religious belief and also in social custom. Politicians must take into account that their ideals and visions of the society they wish to create may be at odds with the needs and wants of their âsubjectsâ.
There is a drive in the UK toward a healthier society. Smoking is an easy target; a target that also allows folk in small positions of authority to say âNoâ. Real authority comes from trusting and allowing populations, rather than restricting and banning. Real power often comes from being able to say âYesâ.
Meanwhile violence and murder continue to increase. Greater focus should be placed on spiritual development and mutual respect; otherwise we may end up with a physically strong but spiritually hollow population. It is of little comfort to know that we may be mugged by a healthy non-smoker.
The quantity of life does not equate to its quality.
At my hotel door.
My present work-rate is extreme and therefore this Almanack entry is short, but I will post another within a couple of days.