Seven years of The Crucible

Yesterday Richard Armitage tweeted this…

… and I can relate to the feeling old statement. It doesn’t feel like seven years ago that this play was staged at The Old Vic in London and that I went to see it during ‘the summer of love’, a term coined by some Armitage fans at the time due to the outpouring of love for this production and for Richard during that summer run. The Crucible gave me a lot personally as well.

By the time I traveled with my husband to London in July of 2014 to see The Crucible, I had been an Armitage fan for 8 years. I was a solitary fangirl at the time, eagerly slurping up Richard Armitage news and discussions on message boards and on certain blogs, lurking but never jumping in myself. During that summer, Servetus on her blog very helpfully kept a running commentary on all stage door encounters that were shared online, hence making it really feel like a summer of love for me. Check out the archives on her blog for June – September of 2014 if you are curious to see pictures of fans with Richard and read fan reports.

In tandem with this trip I had also been wanting to jump in to blogging on my own blog for a long time. I had started this blog with a single post in 2013 but didn’t know where to go from there as I didn’t want to write a single issue blog, so I stopped again. I was feeling especially inspired by some other Armitage blogs I also read (like Guylty’s blog or Herba’s blog and some other really great blogs that have alas gone silent over time, but popped up again partially during last year’s online blog reunion, see this Twitter hashtag).

Anyway, during this summer of Crucible love I started to feel the pull to also share my Crucible play and stage door experience. I was just a bit iffy about the public attention, i.e. worried that if I did get active, I too would eventually be caught in fandom spats as I had seen happening from the beginning of my fangirling days. I wanted to share but I didn’t want the drama, real life was busy enough. Then in September of 2014 I finally decided to stop over-thinking and over-analyzing, I just jumped in and wrote about my Crucible experience. With that post, really, this blog was born. Richard Armitage in The Crucible and the fans’ enthusiasm had pulled me over the edge and finally got me blogging. I didn’t announce anything about that post anywhere and it wasn’t until a few months later that this blog even started getting any traction but the slow start suited me well.

Not only did The Crucible get me blogging, it also, very importantly, led to my first personal encounter with Richard Armitage whom I had admired from afar for all those years. I can still remember the excitement while meeting him and handing him a little gift and exhanging a few quick words with him. Alas my camera failed that evening (also it was dark outside that stage door) and the pictures are all grainy but I don’t mind so much as the memories are all still there and really do not feel like 7 years ago! I am forever grateful to Mr Esther who helped me get my Crucible booklet and ticket signed and my little North and South poster as well that I had brought from home.

He also took this picture of me with Richard (I look a little manic!), which is now still the lock screen of my phone before I unlock it to reveal Mr Esther and our cats.

What The Crucible also gave me was a renewed admiration for Richard’s acting talents. I’d not been a huge fan of Robin Hood and Spooks and while I did love him in The Hobbit, I longed to see him do a great role without prosthetics. And boy, did I get that with Richard as John Proctor…

Mr E and I were both quite blown away by the production, by the cast and especially by Richard in it. We were mesmerized throughout and feeling quite shaken and drained by the end of it. My husband, who has always been supportive of my fangirling hobbies but always benignly from a distance, was just as much in awe as I was. Richard Armitage on stage is a wonderful thing to behold, he has a big presence there, he feels large and powerful, and when we met him at the stage door after the play he suddenly felt slight and almost shy. He must have felt competely drained.

That Crucible experience stayed with me for a long time (still very much alive in my mind and heart when I finally posted about it a month and a half after I’d seen it) and I was pleased when it was announced that the play would be filmed. When it came to the cinema in early 2015, I took my mother to see it and she too was very impressed. So much so, in fact, that for my birthday two months later she even gave me a watercolour painting she had made of a Crucible scene. It is now hanging above my signed Crucible ticket and poster in our dining area. That painting became my blog header and I also had a phone cover made of it that Richard Armitage even signed a few years later at the Newcastle International Film Festival.

I am glad The Crucible made me able to share some fangirling with my husband and even with my mother and I credit Richard as John Proctor for giving me the push to set me off on this blogging journey that I have really been enjoying these past almost 7 years. The play has been an important catalyst for me and I have loved revisiting it again and again over the years. I still think it is one of the absolute best things Richard has done in his career, he would have really deserved that Olivier Award he was nominated for at the time.

Long story short: happy 7th anniversary to The Old Vic’s The Crucible production, I’m glad you were made.

It’s been a year

A year ago today I went to the office building I work in for the last time before going into lockdown. On Thursday afternoon, March 12th, we were all glued to a TV screen at work, watching breaking news announcing that the country had to go into lockdown. Even then I don’t think we were completely aware of how serious all of this was for all of us but we very soon learned. I went in to the office on Friday morning (Friday the 13th!) for an hour or two because I had an appointment to explain to two colleagues how to work in Microsoft Teams, already learning to do so by keeping a little distance between them and me (how important that software would become, starting on the Monday after lockdown started!). The office was already virtually deserted that day. I went home again for lunch and haven’t been back there since.

At the time I couldn’t imagine that being in lockdown would last a year! I was going to write a whole retrospective on observations and lessons learned but I had a bit of a difficult day yesterday and I find I can’t bring myself to do more looking back today. All I can say is that I’m glad I didn’t know then that this would last so long because I don’t know how I would have survived such a prospect. I do know that now with vaccines rolling out all over the world I have hope that we can hug people again in the forseeable future, that we can go out to restaurants, cinemas, theatres, concerts and museums again, that we can travel again and live life instead of just making do and existing. I hope that by March 13th 2022 this period in time will all be a memory, that we will never lose anyone due to this horrible virus again, that we can recalibrate and change the things we now realize we need to change and protect the things we missed most during this lockdown year (and a half?). The end is in sight, I hope.

29 years ago…

… today since our first kiss at a train station as we parted after a long night and morning out on the town together. I found an old grainy picture taken not long after in the not very romantic hallway of said train station…

… and I’m still as happy with the man as I am in this picture. When I look at the picture it feels like we were babies then, even though I was 21 and Mr Esther was 20 and we felt quite mature and grown up at the time. Train station kisses are good omens for happily ever after, I guess…

… they were for John and Margaret in North and South and they were for Mr Esther and myself. 🙂

Diamond anniversary

On September 16th, 1960 (60 years ago today) my parents got married.

Their marriage has always been a real role model for me. Although they were very different as people, they were true partners in everything, always proud of the other, lifting each other up, encouraging the other in separate and common endeavors, each person allowed to be themselves within their union. Even as a youngster I always thought that if I ever marry, that is the kind of marriage I would aspire to. If I couldn’t have that then I would rather be alone and to this day I still feel that way. I wanted be in love with my best friend through thick and thin, I wanted to be able to completely show myself and be accepted for who I am just as I would want to be able to accept the other completely for who they are, just like my parents did, warts and all, with open lines of communication and no taboos between us. I am lucky I found someone like that. I am ever grateful to my parents for showing me that such a partnership is possible and that I didn’t need to settle for anything less.

I wish papa were still with us to celebrate this day. At least the sun is shining today, just like it did on her wedding day my mother told me this morning on the phone.

(A rose in the sunshine in our back garden today)

Happy diamond anniversary to my beloved parents!

21 years

Mr Esther and I got married 21 years ago today…

… and he’s still my favourite person in the world!

On to at least another 21 years! ❤️