October 18, 2009

The Geneva Sleeping-bag Adventures

I'm rehearsing a play in Geneva - we're an international company, with members spread out around Europe and so the Geneva adventures are one week of intense working and living together. Being the only pregnant member of the troupe - one other actress has a 3-month old baby - I was assigned a mattress at the foot of the lady of the house's bed. This way, I'm in a secluded spot, as opposed to sleeping in the living-room with 8 others.

Sounds ideal, but the lady of the house has a mild snoring habit. At least once a night I wake to the gentle sounds of her loud night-breathing, but usually it passes within the hour and I manage to fall asleep again. Last night however, she was determined to saw down a large patch of forest in preparation for the coming winter and I awoke with a start around 2AM. The volume of the snoring had increased dramatically. It also did not let up within the hour. I tried a few tricks - I rustled a paper bag to try to subtly wake her or make her stir and hopefully change position. To no effect. I went to the toilet with the squeaking door.... three times. I sighed loudly. At 4AM I got pissed and grabbed my sleeping-bag to find a better place to sleep. I stumbled into the living-room/dormitory and found a half-flaccid blow-up mattress, vacated by a troupe member who left earlier in the day. The dorm was blissfully quiet and I wondered why it had taken me two hours to consider this option. Not 4 minutes into my bliss and someone at the far end of the room let rip an impressively loud and resonating fart. I decided to interpret it as a little welcome. The air had hardly cleared, when the snoring started from the far end of the room. First the back end had been cleared and, obviously, now the front needed clearing. I couldn't believe my luck. But it had been so quiet only moments before that I was sure it was a fluke and so I wanted to stick it out.

An hour later, at 5AM, I stormed back into my previous room for my iPod. The plan was that Greg Laswell was going to lull me to sleep before I burst into hot, angry, tired, pregnant tears. The director's pink hairless Sphinx cat was also disturbed by the incessant snoring and came to join me on the air-bed, doing his level best to overpower both Greg in my headphones and the high-volume snoring with his beautiful purring. So now I had an acoustic threesome going on, but it wasn't a happy mix!

At 5:34, when the snoring, sudden gulping for air and unpredictable, eardrum-shattering farting overpowered both Greg Laswell's dulcet tones and my will to live, my sleeping bag and I returned to the monotonous yet thankfully fart-free sawing down of a Swiss forest which was taking place in the master bedroom. Resignedly I curled up on the mattress at the foot of the mistress of the house's bed like a long-suffering house dog. At which point my intra-uterine baby woke up and sent me that now all too familiar wave of nausea indicating that I best get myself a snack before I start heaving and end up losing my mind along with a good night's rest.

So off to the kitchen I trekked, accompanied by Gin, the hairless kitty. Long-life milk and honey on rice crackers kept me busy till 6:10AM, when I finally retuned to the lion's den. I think I need to give earplugs a second chance.

June 05, 2009

Trailer for HOME

The making-of HOME

World Environment Day, June 5th - HOME

This World Enviro Day marks the global premiere of HOME - Yann Arthus-Bertrand's film about our planet. You can now watch it for free on the internet, or join one of the initiatives around the world in exceptional locations. In Paris, they are screening HOME under the Eiffel Tower at 10 pm. In south Africa, the Alliance Française in CT, Jhb & PE are showing it. Find what's happening in your location on google maps: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/mpl?moduleurl=http://www.home-mapplet.com/home/

"We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate.

The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being.

For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film.

HOME has been made for you : share it! And act for the planet."

Yann Arthus-Bertrand

PPR is proud to support HOME

HOME is a carbon offset movie

More information about the Planet

Site Web : http://www.home-2009.com

October 12, 2008

Flatiron District, NYC, Sept 2008

Soundbite - NYC

You're not from here, right?


So you can't MAKE an ID.

I don't want to MAKE an ID. I want to have a passport picture taken.

Confusion ensues when the BF misunderstands 'bring a photo ID' to mean he needs to bring a passport photo before visiting the UN in New York. After trekking to a number of 24/7 Duane Reades at midnight only to find the photo section is not open 24 hours, we eventually ambush a little camera store on Broadway, hoping they will take pics of us... but they refuse to have any part of our scheme to make ourselves an American ID... ahhh the joys of English versus American. The BF eventually re-read his sms and figured it out.

September 08, 2008

Dinner with Kevin Bacon, anyone?

I dined *near* a real celebrity in New York City tonight! This is a first for me, people, because, as previously discussed, I usually do not pick my places well. This evening, after a performance of my play, I was invited to a restaurant right next to our theatre and Kevin was dining there with his grown daughter. (There was a brief, gossipy exchange with the waiter as we tried to work out who the woman who wasn't Kyra was....!)

I wished I had had the wherewithal and the 'coolth' to go up to him and say...
3º, Kev
because my Kevin Bacon number is 3 (and I am mighty proud of that, y'hear?!)

August 28, 2008

Of theaters and DHL in the middle of the night

Tonight was my off-Broadway debut in New York City!

I know this may come as a surprise to some, seeing as there has been no build-up to this historic (only for me, obviously) event. I thought I would be blogging every day - however, rehearsals have been very tough, lengthy and fraught with obstacles and "stuff" (eeeeeeeenough said!).

Difficulties aside, New York City has been lovely. The weather has been 'toadally AWesome',the exchange rate is great, I live on the upper west side and summer in the city can be fun!

Anyway, this post is NOT about opening night or summer in New York City. It is about DHL. Or rather, it's about 1800 numbers and American customer service.

There is a long-standing tradition in my relationship that whenever I have an opening night that the BF can't attend (i.e. most of them because they take place on foreign soil!) he sends beautiful flower bouquets to the theater. So, when there were flowers at the theater tonight which were not for me I was a little sad. Because he hadn't sent an sms or email to say break a leg or merde either. But, being the connsumate professional I am, I only shed a few hasty tears and then went on stage to 'knock 'em dead' as they say in these parts.

When I called the BF in France at 2:30AM (my time) to tell him about how it all went... he was really upset to find out that I hadn't received the flowers he had indeed sent. So, simultaneously, we visited the DHL tracking site and saw that a delivery attempt had been made, but because the box office only opens at 5PM, no-one was there to accept it. However, if they re-try tomorrow before 5pm, it will be the same story, so I decided to call DHL's 1800 toll-free number to give them a specific delivery time.

It was 3:04AM when I dialled 1800-CALL-DHL. I got an automatic voice asking me which service I needed and instead of pressing hash, I could speak to this voice and get referred to a 'representative'. There was obviously no wait (BONUS!) and the very friendly person on the other side sent a note to the depot immediately and I will get my flowers tomorrow at the requested time.

I know this is 'all in a day's (or night's) work to Americans, but I am still stunned about how this stuff actually DOES work around here. Why do they think people would need to be able to reach customer service at 3AM? Why would they just offer 24 hour, free service like that? I was half-hoping to get to a recorded message saying"our operating hours are from...to..." so that it wouldn't be quite so embarrassing for their French customer service counterparts. But alas... shame on French customer (non) service yet again. As much as I defend your need for proper lunch-breaks (and I respect that - digestion IS key) look at what the "d*mb Americans" can get done. AND with a smile to boot.

Here is what this scenario would have looked like back in Paris:

1. Trying to find the customer service number on the website requires several hours of detective work

2. You eventually find a well-hidden email form that you may submit, but receive an immediate response saying it will be treated within the next 90 days.

3. You FINALLY (with the help of your lawyer) find the CUSTOMER SERVICE HOTLINE!

4. It costs 35c a minute (that's Euro cents - do the math) to call.

5. It will only be answered from 9:30 - 12 and then from 14:30 to 3PM.

6. You call, during their appointed hours, and pay to hear 22 minutes worth of lying- through-their-teeth-adverts about the company and their services.

7. At minute 23 of your 'death by customer service hotline', a snotty bitch finally answers the phone, gives you tons of attitude for not having been at the theater when they tried to deliver and tells you that the re-delivery will cost you €35 and will be between the hours of 9AM and 4PM - NO NEGOTIATION.

You gotta love the whole "customer is king"thing they've got going here!

August 25, 2008


Girl on phone in New York City's upper West Side:

Well, when I sneeze, I sneeze in my head. Not with my whole upper body, so I don't know WHAT she did!


July 23, 2008

Fire up your buns!

On our last night in Corsica, we crossed half the island just to go to Guitar Nights in a tiny village called Patrimonio. Tommy Emmanuel and the John Butler Trio were playing at a guitar festival there.

If you’ve never seen Tommy Emmanuel, you really should and I don’t care if you don’t like guitar music. I’m not especially fond of guitars myself (I prefer playing the fool), but I saw Tommy Emmanuel a few years ago in Chantilly when friends of mine had been asked to open for him. Despite my total lack of enthusiasm for guitars (an all too easily abused instrument owned by far too many mediocre players), I was hooked by Tommy. The guy’s genius is so obvious that WHAT he plays becomes irrelevant as you’re mesmerised by HOW he plays it.

With total abandon he drums, bangs, brushes and slaps on his guitar. He pulls on the neck to make it whine and presses it against his chest to cause all sorts of distortions. He jumps, jigs and head bangs the microphone to keep the beat going – in short, a live concert of his should be on the list of “1000 things to do before you die”. And, by the way, I still don’t like guitar music.

So, there you go. We drove to the open-air arena for two hours, waited for another two and drove back for two, just to get our dose. The John Butler Trio was great too.

After Tommy Emmanuel’s energetic performance, however, something happened to certain audience members and they lost all self-discipline. Originally there was a standing section in front by the stage, seating in the middle and people standing in the aisles and behind the seats of the open-air arena. After the break, a few people who had been standing behind the seats, decided that love-thy-neighbour and civil cooperation is for the birds, and ingeniously stood themselves in front of the seats, on the same level. The upshot of this obviously was that the seated people directly behind them (most of whom had arrived two hours before the start of the concert – ask me, I know) had their view of the stage totally blocked. This happened to a guy and his son/brother 2 rows ahead of me. So, instead of asking the people in front of him to move further forward (and thus be lower), this clown and his son/brother decided to stand up in front of their own seats, resulting in another 4 rows behind them to be blocked. When a few of us called to him and his son/brother to sit back down again, he turned around, shrugged and pointed at the people in front of him. So I signalled to him to move further away if he wanted to stand. Only, with the John Butler Trio playing onstage and in the darkness, all I managed to do was wave my right arm in a voetsak* motion and yell, “Go then! Go away. GOOOOOOOO!”

The guy, who was wearing sunglasses (at night), lowered his glasses on his nose and looked right at me, threateningly, as if wanting to imprint my face on his mind so he could thump me later and said: “Quoi?!?!” He also looked across at The Boyfriend and made menacing hand signs.

I continued my waving/rowing/voetsak motion and my yelling, adrenaline pumping through my veins. After what seemed like an eternity, he pushed his glasses back up and turned around to face the stage again. His son/brother sat back down while he remained standing and started to sway his bottom around to indicate how much he was loving the concert that we could no longer see. Next, he held up his video camera to ensure that he would be able to enjoy it for years to come.

Meanwhile, people were getting more and more out of hand as half of the people from the back had followed suit and moved in around the seats, and half the seated population had either left the stands or stood up and added to the chaos. In a short break between songs when it was quiet, people at the back yelled “SIT DOWN” and a man behind me shouted: “One person’s freedom ends where another’s begins. The musicians have come here in the name of PEACE!” It was a circus and a typically francophone scene. This culture is not brought up to consider anyone but themselves (and maybe their own children, if the kids are lucky).

I was fuming at how the supposed music-lover’s behaviour had degenerated. I was also secretly hoping that the video camera jerk would come and find me afterwards to clap me, so that I could then go to the cops outside. (Waving your arm is not an offence, smacking girls however, is) I’m not one to fear a fight, although perhaps I say that now precisely because I have often been on the verge of receiving a beating that never materialised - I may not be so brave after a broken nose. Anyway, I was full of fury and adrenaline and needed to DO something to fight back. Just then, I remembered I was chewing gum. Yes, people, I did stoop that low. Not just once, but twice, to be on the safe side.

I inconspicuously launched my beloved Cinnamon FIRE gum (found tucked in my suitcase from my last trip to SA) onto his seat. I couldn’t lean far forward enough to make sure it hadn’t bounced off the seat, so I pushed another piece of Cinnamon FIRE into my mouth. The BF saw me and asked for some too. I did not mention my clandestine activities because I knew he would disapprove of such un-lady-like behaviour. I chewed, until it had reached just the right mix of stickiness versus chewiness, then with a flourish disguised as an attempt to see the band on stage, I leaned right forward and launched the second piece of gum onto his seat. This time I was certain it had stayed there. I couldn’t get the Cheshire cat grin off my face, so the BF noticed that something was up and I admitted to having ‘lost’ my gum.

No, you didn’t?!?! He asked incredulously, not without a hint of a mischievous glint in his eye.
“I’m afraid I did… and it’s bright red, so it might leave a stain” I moaned.

And so the concert continued and my heart raced as I watched the video camera jerk’s white Bermuda-shorted bottom (remember, I have absolutely no view of the stage). Eventually, I got bored of that and decided that I was going to try to get a glimpse of the stage from the back. I left the BF in his seat and stood among the reasonable people at the back to see John Butler.
Not long after, the BF appeared and said: “Let’s go. Your man sat down and when he got back up he wiped his bottom, turned around and looked at the seat and then looked around for you like mad. I just sat there looking away, but I swallowed my gum because I don’t want to be caught with bright red evidence in my mouth.”
As we strolled out of the arena and up the hill to the car, I laughed my ass off… in a real he-who-laughs-last-laughs-longest manner. The Boyfriend, however, is still marvelling at my precision throw (pssssshhhhhhh, let’s not tell him it’s all in the forward lean….)

*voetsak or voetsek [foot-sak]
South African offensive, informal an expression of dismissal or rejection [Afrikaans, from Dutch 'voort se ek' 'forward, I say,' commonly applied to animals]
in other words: piss off!

July 22, 2008


They’ll tell you about the beauty of the island (true - the French call it l’ile de beauté) and the beauty of its women (often true - Laetitia Casta is half Corsican, as is the cute girl from our last hotel), they warn you about the local’s driving habits (too true! We drove, braked hard often, but luckily lived to tell the tale) and the population’s suspicion of foreigners (not true - most people were very friendly and a few people were not). But what no-one mentions and what I consider Cosica’s dirty secret ... (who am I? A total non-expert tourist-monkey, of course) are the FAT MEN! Local men are more often than not huge, with little or no hair, have a penchant for floral-patterned shorts and are often seen either chowing (eating is too elegant a word for it) or riding motorcycles that look like they are going to be swallowed by their huge bums. I know I’m getting gross and graphic, but it IS gross and graphic – a beautiful island filled with badly dressed, fat men that nobody warns you about - ugh. However, don’t let that little detail put you off! I'm just making an unqualified observation...