This is a writer’s blog. When I write stuff here its supposed to be about writing, or being a poet, or poetry events. But sometimes life and work gets all jumbled up. A few weeks ago, Me and Nuala got the news that we were successful in our application for Arts Council England and British Council funding for taking our show ‘Folly‘ to the Adelaide Fringe. One of the most exciting and overwhelming bits of new I’ve ever got.
For me, the funding means being able to produce the show properly, which means more to me than I can articulate in words, especially after a year of us both working on Folly for no money, begging/borrowing/ stealing favours from generous friends and strangers alike to make it happen. I would have done the same at The Adelaide Fringe- we were coming here anyway, funding or no funding. I would have flyered my way around the city with photocopied posters and done shows to whomever we encourage through the door with no publicity budget… but the funding means being able to buy a little bit of advertising space on the fringe website, it means being able to pay a working artist to design our posters and flyers, and most importantly it buys us time- time for rehearsals and time for publicity. The thing I find hardest about being a self-employed artist (and this is an observation, not a whinge) is making to time to actually create, develop and try to promote your work, in between replying to a million emails, organising and negotiating money and time on behalf of your yourself, and trying to earn enough to feed and shelter your arty-farty little self. So, the grant makes those extra, developmental things possible, and I feel endlessly, overwhelmingly grateful and excited.
Whilst we were receiving and processing this wonderful news, my dear old granddad- a WW2 veteran, butcher, long distance lorry driver and almost demonic winner of dominoes- entered the last stage of his life. I was up and down to Doncaster throughout the month before I left, to see him and spend time with my family. It is not something I can easily or confidently write about, watching someone pass away. So I won’t write about it now. But the process of saying goodbye to my granddad and laying him to rest, of grieving alongside my family, was a sharp counterpoint to the joy and anticipation of preparing for this trip to the other side of the world, for my first experience of being an international writer and performer.
If I got to choose how things work, I would have kept Gramps with us until I was old myself. I would have got right on board with his ‘one (enormous) whisky a night’ rule, sat in a arm chair next to his, watching the cricket and jabbing at things (or people) with my walking stick. But knowing things don’t work that way, I am so grateful that I got to see him cross the bar and laid to rest before I left.
It’s been a tumultuous and unusual time though. Getting this gleeful news about funding for the show, saying goodbye to my lovely gramps in the most final way, saying goodbye to all my loved ones for three months, grieving with my family, soaking up the precious and tempering love and humour of my fucking brilliant friends who pretty much hugged, bundled and giggled me onto the plane (as well as packing my bags for me- thanks Adam, sorry customs) leaving hardly any gaps for doubt or nerves to sneak through.
And now I find myself here. Warm as you like in the South Australian sun. Experiencing an Aussie Christmas with my dear friend (and Folly co-writer) Nuala and her warm, welcoming family. They genuinely barbecued the turkey on Christmas day. There’s this spooky ethereal ring around the sun. The sea is so clear you can see the sand between your toes. I haven’t worn socks for a week. Throughout January, February and March we will be performing our show, Folly, in Melbourne and at The Adelaide Fringe.
We’re here. It’s happening. What a strange couple of weeks.