Although I’ve been running Charaderie since 2004, it was only in May of 2016 that I took the plunge and gave up all other (safe, regularly paid) work to concentrate on fully developing and growing the business.
Previously, I’d worked at Wedding Presents Direct (now The Wedding Present Co) for 10 years, and received from them the most thoughtful leaving gift; vouchers to buy tickets to a choice of many live events.
In the spirit of sharing, what better now than to write an article about my experiences and how they’ve resonated with my world of work since going solo?
The Proclaimers Live at The Hexagon, Reading, 17th June 2016
A fan since the mid 90’s, this was my first ever opportunity to see the glorious twins live, and I took along a friend whom I used to drive mad, back in our student days when I would play their CDs on repeat (yes, I am that old, and yes she’s now a convert). As excited as small children we beamed and tapped our feet, we felt our age when we bought ice creams in the interval and sat sedately in our seats to eat them, and as everyone else was sitting down we didn’t get up to dance and sing (shout) loudly until the last few songs, despite feeling the urge.
Seldom worry about what everyone else is doing – we could have squeezed in a few more precious dances in if we’d decided to be leaders rather than followers (and Craig and Charlie might even have spotted us and made eye contact, bowled over by our moves). As we drove quickly away from the car park in our middle aged rush to ‘miss the traffic’ we saw them signing autographs at the stage door. I momentarily thought about screeching to a dramatic halt and leaping out of the car but I drove past and back onto the M4, immediately regretting it and wishing I hadn’t been in such a rush to leave…
The Mousetrap, St Martin’s Theatre, February 16th 2017
A precious weekend away with my partner without the kids, a trip to the big smoke and an opportunity to finally see the world-famous play in all its glory. I did already know ‘whodunnit’ and was underwhelmed by the production itself (dare I say just because it can be the longest running play in the West End, doesn’t necessarily mean that it should). However, the heady mix of a child free day and a lunchtime pint made for an unforgettable experience. I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie, and I came away wishing I had seen the first, fresh production back in 1952.
Going to see The Mousetrap was a bit like ticking one of those jobs off the list that you don’t really want to do but know that you should. It cleared some headspace and ticked a box, a reminder that not everything I do all day every day can be the most exciting thing on the list, but worthwhile nonetheless.
The Boys in the Band, The Vaudeville Theatre, 18th February 2017
Back in my Theatre Design days, I worked on a brilliant production of ‘The Boys in the Band’ at The King’s Head Theatre, Islington. I knew it virtually off by heart, and can still remember the cadence and pitch that some of the lines were delivered with. This trip was a birthday present for my (Proclaimers) friend (who had also studied Theatre Design with me, and worked at The King’s Head) and we spent a glorious evening experiencing the warm glow of nostalgia.
The production was excellent and we spent the interval googling the names of the actors who had been in the original production back in the 90’s, with promises from me that I would immediately track them down on Twitter and make contact the following day.
If you are gripped with the urge to do something, just do it. Of course, I never got round to finding those actors and now, a year on, the moment has sort of passed. Having said that, I might just get up in the loft this weekend and see if I can find the original programme…
The London Dungeon, 29th September 2017
Last but not least was a trip to Dungeon Lates at The London Dungeon, an experience which ‘mashes up theatre, special effects and intriguing storytelling with wit, humour, and plenty of edge of the seat surprises for an after-hours experience like no other!’
A last minute crisis at home meant that I invited along another friend, who was excited at the prospect of an impromptu jolly in London. We drank miniature Prosecco on the train, and it was only when we were in the dungeons themselves that she confessed that she is scared of the dark.
We got through without too much screaming, drank awful ‘gin’ cocktails and again, felt our age when clutching our handbags surrounded by a youthful group who had made much effort with their leather costumes.
Forward planning is always a good idea. Years ago I worked near the London Dungeons and assumed that they were still in the same place (they’re not, they moved in 2013). We discovered this when we arrived at London Bridge to find our phones inexplicably telling us we still had half an hour’s walk to get there. We were late, it all worked out in the end, but it’s (hopefully) the last time I make that mistake.
My little adventures have mirrored lots of the challenges I’ve faced in launching a business; embracing change, improvisation, planning, seizing the moment, appreciating my skills and allowing myself time to relax. Thank you Wedding Presents Direct, I miss you all!