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An Incident

No one can deny that since the attacks in Paris a couple of weeks ago, walking around in Europe isn’t the same. Taking a simple commute to work or into a city you’re visiting for the first time makes you slightly more anxious, or you wonder what the latest situation is in Syria and what country the terrorists are hiding in.

My day began in Salford Quays, more specifically MediaCity, as I have training with a Northern England news channel. I’m based at home in the Isle of Man, which in comparison to Manchester is tiny in every aspect.

I have a sore foot at the moment which may sound trivial, but without going into detail I’m on antibiotics and have dressings and stitches on one big toe to haul around in wet weather. This morning it had swelled to the size of a golf ball and breakfast was eaten and I checked out of the hotel. I left my suitcase behind the counter to collect at the end of the day before Leeds later that night and began the hobble to work.

This might seem like an insignificant day so far, but a number of things happened which at the time seemed important but after one main event of the day, didn’t.

Firstly, after meeting Kate in Piccadilly for lunch, the tram I got back to Salford Quays decided not to go to MediaCity all of a sudden, meaning I was very, very late back and the soft slip on shoes I was wearing were drenched, meaning my golf ball toe was too. I arrived back in the office feeling flummoxed and useless, incomplete without the ability to move around on two feet and not wincing.

Secondly, I had paid a deposit of £50 to the hotel I stayed at for one night for ‘any extras, for security measures’. I didn’t buy any extras, and after being told this morning my bank would receive the money later that day, I didn’t see any magically appear in my account.

These are such trivial things, being late and money, compared to serious things like what happened next.

As I was watching a work mate edit on camera software, about ten minutes later a siren blared out from speakers in front. It wasn’t like a standard fire alarm, it was like a ‘something really serious is happening and we need to go’ sound. A recorded voiceover announced that an ‘incident’ had been reported in the building, and to wait for further announcement.

About another ten minutes passed of this, slightly panicked as people were saying that this alarm wasn’t a familiar one. Not familiar? Panic started to approach in my mind, and suddenly the alarm sound changed to a quicker ‘get out of here’ blare with the voice ordering us to evacuate the nearest exit.

Shaking, I grabbed my bag, laptop and coat, half wondering if this was some kind of terrorist threat or just a fire. But why incident? Why not an alarm familiar to those who worked there? I tried to avoid eye contact with people for fear of them seeing my scared face, ashamed that I was from somewhere so small for the first time in my life and frightened that there were people inside hurt, or worse.

I know it sounds like I was overreacting, but it really did feel like something horrible was going to, or had, happened. I followed people down the stairs, crying silently because I just wanted to go home, speak to my family on the phone and tell them I was alright.

Turns out when we got to ground level in the courtyard, we were told it was a false alarm. Windows had been opened in the university building next door and I felt embarrassed for worrying myself and thinking the worst. Trudging back in, I felt relieved but I still wanted to go home, my inner alarm bells had reached full capacity and drained me.

I carried on through the day, but wavered towards the end and now I’m in Leeds. I can’t seem to relax properly, despite the evacuation being false, my empathy for those who are in constant fear in areas of the world where terrorist attacks have occoured has only grown stronger than it was already.

We can’t let these horrible people, who disguise their evil behind religion, change the way Europeans live day-to-day. I don’t know the answer but something has gone wrong somewhere down the line during these terrorists’ lives and are set on their objective to destroy a free and open society in European countries – countries which have their own problems and sufferings too.

I wanted to write about how I felt today because in this century, at any moment our lives can be at risk in a number a of ways. Accidents, illnesses, terror, freak weather, earthquakes, abuse, anything can affect us no matter where we are.

The only thing you have control of in life is how you deal with everything thrown at you. I shouldn’t have been embarrassed about being from somewhere small. I shouldn’t have paid 50 pounds for what was clearly a way of making me pay when work had paid for my stay. But I’ll learn from the experiences and somewhere in the future, life will throw me a chocolate I won’t expect, but I’ll eat it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bathroom Theatrics – A Review of Siobhan O’Loughlin’s ‘Broken Bone Bathtub’

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I was invited to watch a performance of a play which was performed entirely in someone’s actual bathroom. Keen to re-live my days as a drama student, as bizarre as it was to consider actors making themselves throw-up as theatre, I was intrigued.

It was only about a fifteen minute walk away too, so I set off to find the address, which turned out to be a lovely house, and wasn’t sure whether to enter through the front door, or through the back garden, which was lit invitingly and indicated that was the right way to go.

After ringing the front door only to be told, through mime, to go round the back way, I joined the audience in the homely kitchen, snacks galore (YAY).

We were informed that Siobhan was “ready” for us after a half hour wait, so we entered the bathroom not knowing what to expect – will there be room for us all? Towels? And, the most obvious question, will we have to avert our eyes?

Turns out Siobhan had plenty of bubbles in the bath, so nothing was seen that would cause awkwardness, and the cast which had her broken hand was propped up on the side of the tub, with herself hunched over as if in thought – distress?

The play itself is about Siobhan’s real-life experience falling off a bike after a collision with another cyclist in New York City, where Siobhan used to live but is, for the time being, touring across the globe with this play, in different bathrooms.

She interacted with us, asking us questions which sprang up randomly, like a conversation: “When was the last time you held someone’s hand?” was aimed at me at one point, which, unfortunately, was not Justin Bieber, but was my grandmother.

I found I was quite willing, after the first section of the play unfolded, to tell Siobhan and entire strangers (bar my friend) about how at my graduation in July, my granny said she was very proud of me, and recognised that she had tears in her eyes when I said that I’m grateful she was there.

Without saying anything we both knew that we wished my granddad could have been there, and I automatically held her hand to show I knew what she wanted to say. After the reflection, Siobhan highlighted how holding a hand is a very intimate thing to do between humans – we express emotion through hands to show others help, sympathy, anger, and many other expressions.

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Siobhan would carry on her conversation with us about how she broke her hand, which had healed but she wore a cast to represent that she really missed her hand at that moment in time. The reason she was performing in a bath was because she had to ask people to help her out and wash her hair etc.

Towards the end of the piece, you could really sense that there was a change in the room – apart from the fact that the bath water was probably getting colder – as everyone had shared experiences and a bathroom, in my eyes, was somewhere to reflect and private to the individual.

The most poignant part of the play for me was when I was asked: “When was the last time you felt really alone?” I mentioned numerous times, most recently losing friends, relationships ending, family loss, but always reassured myself that the ones who were still sticking around and spending time with me, or family that were still living, I should appreciate them and they always brought me back round.

I would recommend going to watch Siobhan’s play simply because it evokes what most of us are afraid of revealing to others, what we are insecure about, wanting to ask for help when we really need it, or simply being able to admit that crap happens and that life is unfair – Siobhan has written about a time when she felt incapable of doing what she wanted to do in daily life, but as she eventually healed she not only wrote a cracking play, but made discoveries about herself as well.

To find out how to watch ‘Broken Bone Bathtub’, visit http://siobhanoloughlin.com/

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Florence and the Machine at Glastonbury 2015

All week I had been hearing mixed opinions about Florence and the Machine replacing Foo Fighters at Glastonbury – some thought it was a risky move and others weren’t phased, or seemed to agree with the tabloids: ‘GO WITH THE FLO.’

The only good thing about being ill on a Friday night in June was the fact that it was a perfect excuse to watch the Glastonbury coverage on BBC Three without interruption. However, as many of you will know, they only cover limited songs from each set that they choose from – Friday night’s picks were Catfish and the Bottlemen (yay), Jungle, Wolf Alice (excellent stuff), The Vaccines (tight white jeans will appear on men’s legs after this) and James Bay, who was sporting his favoured hat and one of the highlights of the night for me and proving why he deserved his Critic’s Choice Award.

I kept flicking between the TV and live streaming online, and knew it would be silly to wait until 11pm for Flo’s set. So I went onto the Pyramid Stage web cam at 10.15, eagerly watching the stage in between members of the crowd and pretended to be there, cider in hand. Cheers from the crowd at quarter past on the dot indicated that something was happening, and there she was, Florence Welch in a shimmering silver suit…and no shoes. Classic Flo.

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The band opened with ‘What The Water Gave Me’ and it was enough to cement the fact that this band, who first performed at Glastonbury back in 2009 in the Tiny Tea Tent, were meant to step in for the Foos. I’d watched Dave Grohl live in Manchester play to us, a crowd out in the open air whilst it was raining, and thought that he would be happy for Florence and the Machine at this moment. He is one of those singers who doesn’t give a shit about what you think of him, but is also like a friend to you in his mannerisms and the way he interacts with the crowd.

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Florence interacted the same way in which Dave likes to have a conversation with the audience – she kept asking people to ‘turn to one another and tell them you love them’, and at one point asked everyone to take off part of their clothes and ‘raise it high above your head’ during ‘Rabbit Heart. She is an enigmatic performer, not a pop star but an artist in every way – using her hands to express her fondness to the crowd, all the while enrapturing everybody with her vocals during my personal favourites ‘Cosmic Love’, ‘You’ve Got The Love’ and ‘Ship To Wreck’. Florence was running around vivaciously in bare feet and it’s no wonder that her mother was terrified she would fall, who Florence announced was covering her eyes with her hands worried that she would break something.

The band’s closing song ‘Dog Days Are Over’ was a perfect ending to a perfect headliner. You could really feel the energy of the crowd and most of all, Florence’s appreciation of the moment. Aside from being one of those songs I listened to constantly on repeat back in 2009, a mere 17 year old (*sigh*) which tugs at the heart strings, the song captured the meaning of exactly what Glastonbury Festival is all about – ‘leave all your love and your longing behind, you can’t carry it with you if you want to survive.’ Put more simply: forgetting about yesterday and tomorrow and enjoying the moment – peace and love and all that.

Florence and the Machine cover ‘Times Like These’