Collecting vinyl has given me a brilliant new hobby that fills me with childlike wonder. On Saturday I was mesmerised once again by the sheer variety of records (all of which I wanted) in the shop, all staring me in the face and jostling desperately for a place in my growing collection. After some deliberation, and having flicked frantically through what was on offer, I eventually chose Blur’s Parklife to take home. As I took it down the street with me I felt lifted, as though a record had the power to instantly improve an entire day. When you eventually approach the turntable with it, it’s one of the most tactile things of all – you can peel the cellophane along and away from the smooth surface, and once the disc itself is out it gleams and shines in the light, just waiting for you to connect with the music it’s about to unleash.
That’s one of the great things about music, or any other artistic pursuit. It allows you to make that link, either with the people who share your passion or with whatever work you may be doing. The ideas and opinions we have when on these journeys are like tradable commodities, and they can help us to while away countless happy hours. When my cousin Matthew dropped off a new LP just last night – The Smiths’ Hatful of Hollow – as a late Christmas present, it felt almost like he was passing something along to me. We share the same enthusiasm for the same band, and it’s only going to be strengthened now that I have that album. In all of my life, however, the best experience I had of a multitude of ideas bouncing around in one space came during Years 12 and 13, in my A Level Drama class.
In the latter year we were tasked with devising our own 20-minute drama piece for our final exam. This eventually took the title it shares with this post, Crumbs In The Butter, and it was something I was personally very proud of. Over many weeks my group – Deanna, Alice, Olivia, Flo and myself – collaborated to bring our ideas, many of which came from a large sheet of paper scribbled on with red pens, to life. Along the way there were disagreements, as there will be in any group at some stage, and being in a difficult place at the time I probably didn’t help by abruptly leaving the classroom for fresh air in the middle of some lessons. Thankfully, however, the group and Mrs Westwood, our teacher, were very patient and we duly knuckled down to create our performance. Countless ideas were scrapped almost as quickly as they were floated, and all of what made it into the finished product only served to give each of us equal prominence. In that class there was always lots of room for compromise, which I felt was very encouraging, and as individuals we were all instrumental in developing our own characters. Seeing as any impact my movement would have on the performance was going to be minimal thanks to my wheelchair, I made sure I projected with my voice as much as possible. I guessed it would help if some of my dialogue was also memorable, so in one scene, for which we borrowed the “never have I ever” game to use in our dialogue, I decided to do a spot of improvisation, firstly as a joke – but it ended up sticking. Our characters, all of whom were keeping secrets from the past, had to follow the words “never have I ever” with whatever that secret was.
I, however, decided it might be to good effect to put a break into the seriousness of the scene. With that in mind, when it was my turn to say the line, I uttered, “never have I ever walked”. As I said, I didn’t expect it to be taken seriously, but the rest of the group was so welcoming and considerate that it was kept in as my line. Throughout the whole process, everyone was asked for their opinions and ideas, allowing the creative juices to flow in and through us all. Admittedly, my confidence wasn’t always that high at times, but I felt that despite the differences we occasionally had, we were like a family and we could help each other out when it was necessary. This meant that when the big night finally came, we all stormed it, cementing the fact that it was a pleasure to be involved with – even if we did have to write an evaluation afterwards! You can now see why sharing, discussing and even floating ideas is so special to me, because they really can stay as awesome and long-lasting memories (and my longest blog post so far). In fact, I reckon the natural next step is a reunion performance!