Journal Entry, Sat 14 Jul ‘01
Contract and medical questionnaire from Sterling Tech. They want me to start on the 23rd of this month.
Went up to Manchester on train, called into CZ and Rem, while walking past Hollywood Showbar who should spring from the door but Chris Bond and his mate!
(Notes: the contract from STL arrived in a DL-size envelope, so the sheets were folded twice. Why not use an A4-sized one? Contract was three pages and medical questionnaire was two pages, and they had included duplicates of each. Called into my GP to ask about medical and he said there’s a three-week waiting list for examinations. But STL gave the impression that I should provide them with the results of this medical before starting work. In nine days’ time!)
Journal Entry, June 2001:
Not really a journal entry, but a list of people to notify. In mid-2001, after about three months of being jobless (applied for about 80 jobs and attended 17 interviews) I had been offered work in Manchester, so I set about moving house.
At that time I had no computer, or printer, or e-mail address so my list is handwritten in blue ballpoint on fine-ruled A4 paper. It reads:
Moving House – People to Notify:
Abbey (Abbey National, which later became part of Santander), Britannia (Building Society, which later became part of the Co-Op bank), RIGP Finance (but the 3-year loan on my bike was fully paid off a month before I was due to move), ntl: (a telecoms provider who later became Talktalk), and MSF (the Manufacturing, Science and Finance trade union, which later became Amicus and then turned into part of the Unite organisation).
I had also been reading Terry Hodgson’s 1992 book on Modern Drama, and made some notes about his various chapters.
Melodrama – violent on-stage drama perfectly suited to cinema, Chekov moved melodrama off-stage. Dramatists narrate violent events rather than enact them. Ibsen and Chekov – complex moral patterns, rounded characters like Dostoyevsky in novels.
Ibsen – dynamic arrival, naturalist plays, like Zola and Balzac, Ibsen was poet with social concerns, ‘Ghosts’ provoke condemnation, sombre play it deceives both audience and performers. ‘Enemy of People’ – one man vs unfree society. Dreams of freedom in all his plays, questions possibility of ever attaining.
Stanislavski – analysed technical and psychological aspects of a role. Connect inner and outer work on text with inner and outer work on self. Chekov was concerned with personal and social freedom – freedom not same as success, moving on may solve nothing; enslavement to one’s own nature and talent.
I made all these notes – not sure why – and then put them away to gather dust while I moved to Manchester to start a new job, on better money with better career prospects and more interesting duties. Only now, twelve years later, do I read through them and wonder if it was a warning. I have moved on, but am no better off. Hundreds of miles and thousands of pounds later, I still have a routine job that a school-leaver could perform, at a salary level that a new graduate would spurn.
To return to my notes on Hodgson’s book:
Pirandello – concerned with individuals fixing categories on others, and on the way events and situations force people to adopt a mask. Seek to be free in order to become whole. P- was pessimist, attacks conventions of naturalist drama and sees human relationships as mutual incomprehension.
Symbolist Drama – Maeterlink, poet, mysticism, Pelleas et Melisande, his works depend on exact technical effects. Strindberg combined symbolist with aims of Ibsen and Chekov, realm beyond visible world, conflict between real and ideal.
Artaud, Brooks and cruelty. The manifesti explore his thoughts about psychological theatre, and about essential passions – myths, heroes and monsters. Experimented with drugs, obsessed with madness, plague, orientalism and synaesthesia, spent years in asylums.
Journal Entry, 25 May 2001:
…They asked me if – having cleared all the issues of compensation out of the way – I would be willing to work for them. I said yeah, the only problem is trying to get to work in winter when it’s ten below freezing. He then asked about salary; I said that I don’t know what I’m worth, and would have to consult the RSC salary survey.
“Well, we know what you were on before, and we would be looking for a figure in the same region” said he.
“Fine” said I, “if you think that’s a suitable level for a 37-year old in the paint industry with a PhD.”