A revision on my current skillset

Name: Sally
Age: Some (more than last time)
Gender: is (still) a social construct

Skills: Administration inc. diary management, meeting admin, note-taking
Event Planning
Human clicker (powerpoint, prezi, etc)
Hypocritical lecturing on various topics
Good phone manner
Amateur graphic design
Project management
Comprehensible in 4 languages (higher competency when drunk)

Experience: 5 years admin experience
3 years management experience
Lifetime experience in being slightly below average
1 week+ experience of functioning on hardly any sleep
3 years of Benjamin Button skin (becoming more greasy/teenage as I get further into adulthood)

Personal Qualities: Friendly
Very consistently late (~40mins)
Will apologise for anything/everything
Generous with food
Unable to say no

Mildly Contradictory

I think I’m a confusing person.

Well, I know I’m a confusing person, just in general, but that’s not exactly what I mean. I don’t mean that I articulate things badly, or in an overly convoluted manner (as illustrated). Maybe I should rephrase. I think I’m a confused person.

I have a confused personality, and it’s something I’ve found myself explaining to people a lot recently. What do I mean? Here are a few examples:

  • I used to be president of the Opera Society, but my go-to music is dubstep.
  • I do an office job, but walk over 10,000 steps almost every day at work.
  • I’ll stay up late to watch the Superbowl, or to watch live-stream Dungeons & Dragons
  • I have no idea how to do my own make-up, but am obsessed by having perfect nails
  • I’m outgoing but intensely shy
  • I hated my Masters, but still want to go back to do a PhD.
  • I don’t understand other people but immediately pick up their accents (which is apparently a sign of empathy, something I would say I am terrible at)
  • I love art, but have absolutely no opinions on it at all
  • I’m happiest when I’m around people, but always avoid making plans
  • It’s my professional role to organise things, but I’m perpetually late
  • I want people to think I’m “cool”, but still a) write a blog and b) post links to my blog on social media
  • I’ve moved to a new continent by myself, but can’t bring myself to go on holiday alone

And I mean, I know these aren’t all contradictions, but it is just a lot of stuff to try and build a personality out of. It makes it difficult to convey what I’m like as a person, because actually I’m not even sure I really know. Or maybe I do know, but it’s just that I have 8 different personalities and that’s quite difficult to get across without sounding slightly mad.

Maybe I just need to settle on slightly mad, and leave it at that.


I have spent this evening repeatedly telling people that I’ve not auditioned for 9 or 10 years, and in the interests of honesty I should say I’ve realised that’s a lie.

Technically I auditioned about 4 years ago for a music theatre showcase. I sang ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ because I’m everyone’s mum and I’ve got a posh girl singing voice. I didn’t get in, which was a blessing because on the evening of the actual showcase I had no voice and only just made it through the evening. I also auditioned 8.5 years ago, when I first started university, to be in Grease. I was also unsuccessful there, but it did help me find my place backstage, so I mustn’t complain.

Regardless, this evening when I auditioned for the first time in a fair old while (if not actually 10 years) I remembered what it feels like to be genuinely, face-shaking, knee-knocking nervous.

As a general rule, I’m a fairly nervous person. I just hide it well with facts, and lots of confidence in other people. Once I know people I also hide my nerves with wild gesticulations and slightly ridiculous voices. I’m just used to having low-level nervousness most of the time.

In a slightly unexpected turn of events, most of my nerves came through in my singing (I think), and I managed almost all, if not all, of the basic dance. A definite first for me.

One way or another, I’m looking forward to the Wedding Singer – it seems like a fab show, and if I don’t get to see it from onstage then I’m sure I can see it from the wings or the audience. And one way or another, I’m proud of sticking with today, pushing past (to a certain extent) the nerves, and getting involved. When the worst outcome possible is someone saying no, that’s not a terrible thing at all.

(And when I’m alone, I can sing the below shake-free, and it’s a fab song)

My Mediocre Middle-Class Millennial Memoir*

I maintain** that one day I will write the story of my life. And when I write my novel (read: when I cop out and compile this blog into a book, which apparently works for some people and frankly they aren’t great at writing so I don’t see why I shouldn’t benefit as well, but I digress) I am thinking of the above title.

Mediocre – well, it is a bit. Today I had a huge life drama when I realised that the person who is trying to sell me their house probably won’t succeed in selling me their house, because they are terrible at paperwork and adulting. In the grand scheme of my life, that’s  big news,  but in the grand scheme of the world it’s not exactly a tsunami. My drama is very much the teacup-based storm type.

Middle-Class – in every way really, from my background, worldview, lifestyle, the whole kit and caboodle (inc. idioms, apparently)

Millennial – despite my best attempts I fall firmly in this category. Not least because I write a blog, which is almost as millennial as avocados and depression.

My book will include wonderful anecdotes of failed attempts to lose weight, terrible dates,  and awkward encounters with old acquaintances whose names I can’t quite remember. It will be oddly interspersed with playlists and reviews of musical theatre productions.

Occasionally, it will attempt to be “real” writing and deal with controversial topics (badly) or to be incredibly deep and meaningful.

Mostly*** though, it will be remarkably average. Which I like thinking about, because on days like today when it feels like most things aren’t going very well, it reminds me that all of my woes are terribly average, storm-in-a-teacup problems. And if a whole world of exceptional writers who have experienced really fascinating, troubling, amazing experiences have lived through them, then I’m sure I’ll be fine.



*Yes, I am aiming to use every ‘M’ word in the English language
**5 points to Gryffindor
***more additional points

Oh yes I did

Two weeks of panto is over. I’m exhausted and I feel like I could sleep for a million years, but I also had a fabulous time.

I’ve done a lot of amateur theatre in my life. A good dose of school shows, a bit of village-hall drama, and a very serious amount of university society theatre, both backstage and front-of-stage.

Since I graduated I’ve been thinking I’d like to find a new group. I don’t really know what stopped me particularly, because I know of a lot of different groups performing in Leeds, doing all the kinds of things I love to be involved with. Maybe it’s an innate shyness which held me back – waiting to be invited, so I didn’t feel like I was diving in alone to prove myself in a brand new group of people.

I don’t know why I was worried, but I was, and I’m happy to say that 2 weeks later I feel ridiculous for ever thinking that way. You could not wish for a kinder or more welcoming group of people than the people I met doing the panto with LIDOS. From little trinkets and good luck cards, to hot cups of tea and biscuits in the interval, it was like settling into a family.

I was also lucky enough to talk to a lot of people who have been involved in the society for years, and learnt all about the history of amateur theatre in Leeds, especially those groups based in the old Civic theatre and latterly the Carriageworks. This city is so vibrant with culture, and the Carriageworks is a wonderful hub for the amateur sector, so I was horrified (as so many people have been) to learn that there are plans afoot which will seriously impact on the amateur groups who currently use the space.

If you have a moment, please read and sign this petition, which gives much more information about the proposals for the Carriageworks. It’s fabulous that Leeds has such an active, friendly, and engaging amateur theatre scene, and we should do what we can to preserve that.

Oh yes we should.

Fashion (and other things I don’t know about)

I recently learnt a great phrase I’d never heard before – “dress for your diary”. It’s very appropriate for my job, because it’s a typically relaxed environment with occasional need for business dress, or sometimes full-on formal. Or sometimes hard hats and steel-toe boots. It’s a mix.

The challenge with the dress-for-your-diary concept is when you have a formal meeting in work at 4, but need to be in the theatre ready to crew by 5.30.

What I’m saying (in a roundabout way) is that I’ve found a new theatre, and reignited my passion for moving things quietly in the dark. It’s been a couple of years, and I’m much more tired and old-lady-like now (which is what having a full-time job will do to you, basically) but I am honestly having the most fun. I don’t know why I ever left really.

I think it probably says a lot about me, that the biggest challenge of going back to technical theatre has been the fashion side of things. Firstly, remembering to rescue my steel-toe boots from under my desk at work, where they’d been gathering dust following the end of our major building refurb (it was immeasurably helpful that I had my own pair, because apparently your standard construction site spares don’t come in tiny size 4). Secondly, having to go out and buy more plain black clothes. It only takes a few years of mostly being seen during daylight hours to force you into buying clothes with actual colour (or at least various tones of grey, my usual look).

Finally, and probably most challenging, has been picking out outfits which are appropriate for work, but which either transition to backstage easily, or fold up small enough that I’m not carting around an entire second wardrobe each day. Having coached myself into the world of coloured clothes I now don’t really want to go back, which means changing at least one item day to evening.

I didn’t ever think I’d be preoccupied by fashion choices. It’s amazing what a few years can do.


I have spent the last 3 days with my voice dipping in and out of action (punctuated by very aggressive coughing). It sounds a lot worse than it is, which makes it fairly funny, particularly as my job involves quite a lot of talking.

I’m good at talking, as a general rule. In the right context. I’m very good at talking to your nan, and I’m fairly good at talking to people who are more senior than me. I’m good at being ‘bubbly’. The talking I’m best at is thanking people profusely, or apologising a lot for things which are completely beyond my control. Which, for the record, is always genuine. I am just a very apologetic person.

I’m not great at speaking other languages (as previously discussed, at length), but I am good at talking about language. Which is probably a bit confusing. And definitely very nerdy. But I’m quite proud of it, really.

However. I am very very bad at one specific kind of talking, and that is talking to people of roughly my own age in a social context. Particularly in a vaguely romantic context.

Apparently, past me thought this might be conquered by the internet. I might be terrible at talking, but I’m not terrible at writing (dear lord, never read back to the start of this blog if you believe the last phrase). I figured that hiding behind an internet profile might help me talk to more people. And it has, technically.

But the thing is, if you talk to someone long enough on the internet, eventually they might want to meet up with you. My research shows that no amount of talking on the internet prevents awkward silences and staring into drinks in real life. It’s not fun. It’s probably quite fun-ny, and it makes for fairly good anecdotes (there’s another kind of talking I’m good at – laughing at myself) but it’s not fun at the time, it’s just difficult.

I always used to think I was an extrovert, but as I’ve grown up I’ve realised I’m really not. I’m just an outgoing introvert, who turns into an actual introvert the second social interaction is involved. I always thought that being talkative was what made you an extrovert, but recently someone explained that it’s more about where you get your energy from, and I do not get my energy from other people. It takes all my energy away, which is probably why I freeze up so much as soon as I’m around a person I actually want to talk to.

I’m sure that one day I will learn how to do the talking to the people, but for the moment I am going to continue voiceless.

And not only because I cannot shake this ridiculous cold.

Twenty Eighteen

What can I say about 2017. It has been a horrible year. Not all of it, of course, in fact a great deal of it has been wonderful. Sometimes it just feels like the bad overshadows the good. I’m very optimistic that 2018 will go the other way.

I don’t *do* New Years’ resolutions, because I fundamentally disbelieve the idea that you can begin new things in January. It’s cold, and horrible, and all normal people should want to be constantly wrapped in blankets and fed cheese.

That therefore means that these aren’t resolutions, they are just aspirations for my 2018.

  • I would like to smile more. I am irrepressibly optimistic (it’s frankly quite annoying) but I am not sure I really smile very often. This year I’d like to smile more, and find lots of reasons to smile.
  • I’d like to improve my overall health. I’m still very prone to illness (misc) and I still have achey joints, and I definitely believe these are fixable things, with a little work.
  • For years I’ve been trying to learn German, and Greek, and a whole variety of other languages. I’m not sure I’ll ever really learn them (despite the 6 years of university, I’m not a natural linguist) but I would like to try and use them, by going to more places.
  • Lastly, I’d like to learn how to rest. It seems so easy when other people do it, but my brain just buzzes away and won’t let me stop, and actually that’s probably causing the lack of smiling, and the illness, and probably the inability to focus on learning a language to be quite honest. So learning to rest is my final aspiration.

Resolutions are a lot of pressure. It’s ok to leave them for a while (I totally stand by April Resolutions) and just begin the year with a few nice aspirations.

After all, the one big positive of having a horrible time is that from here, the only way is up.

A life of moments

“Oh, if life were made of moments
Even now and then a bad one
But if life were only moments
Then you’d never know you had one”

Let me tell you about two moments in my life, both related to the 21st-23rd of February 2007. My upper school did a production of Bugsy Malone. I was 16, nerdy, and had just chopped all my hair off in some kind of show of teen individualism.

I knew I wouldn’t be cast as Blousey Brown (the lead) and I didn’t want to be. Ever since playing the little match-girl in year 6 I’ve been successfully blending into the background of shows. I just wanted to be involved.

Then the cast came back, and I’d been given a one-line part, as the failed opera singer who auditions to sing at the club.

My heart sank, and I went to find Mr Jones to tell him that I couldn’t do the part. I was so self-conscious of my voice already, and I felt like taking the part would be the final nail in my already quite firmly sealed  social coffin. He was nice about it, and said that I should do it – it’s the right style of voice for me – but he let me drop it on the promise I’d still be involved.

And I was. In that show, I ended up doing everything, from building set, stage managing, costume, to playing about 6 different parts and helping choreograph some of the dances. It was one of the shows which definitively gave me a love of every side of theatre.

Moment two came a few weeks after the show. We were packing down after a live rock concert which Mr Jones organised every year. He was a “cool” teacher, not really much older than us, and with a background in media which meant that traditional dirge-like music teaching really wasn’t for him. The DVD for Bugsy Malone had just been sent through, and as we packed down the amps and staging for the concert, he mentioned he’d watched it.

Then he turned his head to me and said “Sally, has anyone ever told you you’re amazing?”

I found out yesterday that Mr Mark Jones was fatally injured in a car accident last Friday. Since I heard, I have seen so many other people sharing their moments, and that’s what he gave people. Until the second moment, I’d thought he didn’t like me, with my classical voice and my complete inability to learn the flute. But in a few words he proved otherwise.

When I got to Uni, I met OperaSoc, and suddenly found the people I’d been looking for. I could do all of the theatre things I wanted, without feeling like I’d lose friends in the process by being “uncool”. I don’t think I’d have joined if I didn’t have Mr Jones’ voice in the back of my head reminding me that I’m an opera voice.

He also, incidentally, introduced me to ‘Into the Woods’. It’s my favourite musical, and one of the productions I am most proud of my work on. The quote about moments which I began with is from the show.

Now I’m a trustee of Northern Opera Group, and I work in the building where I took part in my first OperaSoc show, and where I gave countless hours to improve on the backstage skills which Mr Jones began teaching me. It is not overstating to say that everything I am today, I am because of those two moments.

I’m desperately sad that Mr Jones can’t give other people their moments any longer, but I have 100% confidence that in the almost 11 years since my moments, he’s done the same for hundreds and thousands of other people.

He’ll be in my heart and memories forever.


Last night the sky was so perfectly clear that I stood outside for 15 minutes before I got home, and just stared at the stars.

The thing about stars is that they mean everything. They have been interpreted in literally every way possible, from controlling and dictating our personalities, to creating everything in the universe. They can make you feel tinysmall, like nothing you ever do will matter in the vastness of the cosmos. Or they can make you feel huge, because out of all of the particles in the vastness of the cosmos, a few billion decided to come together and form you.

(Youtube is just full of such terrible videos, how did we even cope in the mid-2000s?)