Debbie Does Pinot or Potato Salad. 5th June


Our mooring was chosen for it’s proximity to the station. We had tickets booked to head to London for the day. Tilly was left in charge of the boat with an extra scoop of biscuits.

The walk to the station took us along the towpath, then down off the embankment and along a footpath before joining roads that led to the station. The station sits high above the roads, we spotted some steps that looked like they would lead us up to platform height. Except these steps just led up to the car park! We then spotted more steps that looked like they continued from the car park, so we climbed them. These did take us up and over the viaduct to the other side of the road we’d just walked along then down to the underpass to the the station. At least all these stairs increased our steps for the day!

I headed off to catch my train first, I’d opted for a slower train via Long Buckby, Bletchley etc to London, this was £6 cheaper than the faster trains one of which Mick had opted for ( he has an old foggie card and it was my idea to go to London in the first place).

BT Tower

My train arrived with an hour spare before my appointment so I got some lunch crossed over Euston Road and sat down in Gordon Square in the sun. Then a short walk around the corner to RADA. In February I’d been an observer at a Separate Doors 3 masterclass in Huddersfield making sketches for the report that will follow. Today there was to be a forum ‘Integrated Theatre featuring actors with learning disabilities, the will AND the way?’

One of my sketches

Over the last seven or so years I have designed a couple of plays with Vanessa Brooks and Dark Horse Theatre Company. I have also attended workshops and participated in the ‘Silent Approach’ a technique where all participants in the room are on a level playing field, a very inclusive method of working.

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Today the forum was attended by around seventy individuals ranging from Directors, Actors, Producers, Academics, Writers, a Composer and one Designer, me. Introductions were given by Geoff Bullen from RADA and Vanessa Brooks which were followed by three panels which discussed different aspects of integrated theatre.

Much has changed in the last few years, parts in television for learning disabled actors have started to branch out from just medical dramas. Next month the National Theatre will produce Jellyfish by Ben Weatherill with two leading learning disabled actors, more integrated pieces are starting to be produced around the country.

Physically disabled actors have a voice, funding has veered towards companies in that sector. Where as learning disabled actors often don’t have a voice of their own, not one that can be heard or understood by all, so others are speaking out for them. Those in the room today already support the sector, but the room needs to expand and loose it’s walls for the message of such talented actors to spread.

Todays programme

I live my life on a narrowboat away from most of my previous life of show after show after show. At times I have felt as though I have left that world behind and now live a separate existence at 3mph. But on days like today I feel included, my voice as equal as the next, If you look past the windlass and the muddy jeans there is still a Designer beneath. Possibly more confident in myself because of my time away. However I still can’t make my mind up quite how to paint my panto model!

It was lovely to see a lot of familiar faces today, one of which was Mick’s sister Kath. She was at the forum representing The National Theatre and we’d arranged to meet afterwards for a catch up. We walked to Euston to meet up with Mick. He’d also had a busy afternoon, having met up with a friend who is over from Australia and then popping over to Hackney to pick up our post.

Well it had to be tried!
Post at last

A nice meal was had at Cafe Rouge followed by beer and a glass of Debbie Does Pinot in a pub just across the way from the station. A nice catch up with Kath, who hopefully we’ll get to see again in a few weeks when we reach London by boat.

Our train back was a speedy one. But as we neared Milton Keynes the train slowed and made an unscheduled stop. A fault had occurred with the train meaning it could no longer head northwards. The next London bound train pulled up and the passengers from both trains swapped. Our train would return to London, Mick thinks it maybe had a cracked windscreen, whilst our new train would now head northwards. Only a slight bit of confusion as everything on our new train suggested it was still going to London, at least it exited the station in the tight direction.

The delay luckily had been only half an hour, Tilly was hungry, very hungry on our return.

0 locks, 0 miles, 7 trains (1 broken), 2 tubes, 26 bus, 1 sock almost finished, 70 forum attendees, 1 potato salad analogy, 15 known, 60 seconds avoided, 1 sister-out-law, 2 burgers, 1 salmon steak, 1 cat home alone, even Tom Tom didn’t come to see me!