Books Magazine

Unfinished Business

By Ashleylister @ashleylister

In conversation at Manchester's Cornerhouse on Monday the 16th March with Julie Gardner, another member of 52, the best poetry-writing group I have every belonged to, we were discussing earlier life choices, and wondering about our own "path(s) not taken" in the dilemma so memorably captured by Robert Frost.
I suspect that in our young lives what occupies so much of our time is consideration of the present and the future, whilst having lived full and very active lives, it is little wonder that we reminisce and wonder.
In my case, the Cornerhouse itself brought back struggling through the grief of the late 1980s following our daughter, Rebecca's untimely death in October 1985.  I'd used Cornerhouse as a haven and base following my resignation from teaching in FE, and a pretty fruitless search for an alternative career in Charity Management or "in the media" with London and Manchester as the most likely locations for future work.
But we were discussing much earlier choices.  Why did I choose Reading Uni when I was fortunate to be offered places at Reading, Nottingham and Leicester?  Why did school not persuade me to try for Oxbridge, as nowadays I love the cities of Oxford and Cambridge so much?  Why do my PGCE in Liverpool after not liking systems analysis in industry for the three years after graduating?
A sense of what might have been, and Unfinished Business permeates all of these, and I believe can be traced back to my birth in the circus that is the working-class holiday resort of Blackpool - I really had no need to run away to join the circus as I was born into its DNA: entertainment, and was encouraged by an uncle who was a Tower Company musician.
From being a tot, I became familiar with the baroque elegance of the Tower Ballroom, and the rather more subdued Edwardian glamour of the Empress Ballroom of the Winter Gardens.  Did I waltz into Strictly-style ballroom dancing? NO, but the theatres and entertainment palaces of post-WWII and 1950s' Blackpool seeped into my veins to embroider an extended family tradition - my Southport cousin and his wife became stalwarts of The Little Theatre in their home resort.
Meanwhile I acted in and later directed stage productions from boyhood in junior school through secondary and higher education, but the key "path not taken" was on graduation when instead of the post of ASM (general dogsbody trainee Assistant Stage Manager to "learn the ropes" quite literally) at The Theatre Royal, York, I opted to become a systems analyst with Pressed Steel Fisher, a subsidiary of car-makers British Leyland at their works at Castle Bromwich in the late 1960s.  What might have been, had I worked at a provincial repertory theater and moved on to other playhouses in other cities and towns?
The theatre-bug was partly assuaged when I quit industry and retrained for teaching English and Drama, and produced enjoyable performances at the Palatine Road Main Hall of Blackpool and the Fylde College of F&HE (now an exhibitions' space) of Billy Liar, and again of the same play, but with a fresh cast, at the "new" Tech site at Bispham.  The Unfinished Business nowadays is to complete and stage a play of my own, probably at The Edinburgh Festival.
There is inevitably a lot more but, for a contribution to the LDGPS continuing blog, that will suffice for the moment - all I'd suggest is that if you have a burning ambition to pursue any activity, do turn it into a way to earn your living.  There can be no other way to spend our time than by getting paid for doing something "in your blood".
By being a successful actor, Angelina is now able to do what she REALLY wants to do!
  Unfinished BusinessUnfinished Business

C J Heyworth 17/03/2015

Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog