28/04/13 – 11/05/13 I don’t think we’re in Kansas any more…

The first thing that struck me as I sat with a group of Corby’s artists, writers, dancers and musicians in the Core at the Corby Cube, was that this was about as far from social work as I could get.

It was Sunday 28th of April and I was to meet up with Spike, a local poet and Chris Sudworth, the artistic director of the Core – Corby’s sparkling new theatre.

It was a delight to watch them both in action – Spike, a larger than life Glaswegian with his ready smile, clearly a people person; Chris, with his boundless enthusiasm working his way through the group, demonstrating his expertise in everything from lighting to dancing, from acting to music…

They were going to be working with me on a walk/ talk thing, about walk a mile, as part of the Corby walking festival.

Chris had asked me to come along with roughly 10 stories from the walk – I proudly told him with a smile I’d managed to whittle it down to 24… He grinned back,’Thats great – we’re going to reduce that to 5…’

But….?

Spike was going to work with me to piece it all together. He signed and gave me a couple of his books of his poetry – I read them to Ella later on – he is really rather good we concluded – by which I mean I found them hard to put down.

He writes about you and me – familiar stuff – stuff that welcomes you in like an old friend.

And then it all went a bit…wahay.

For a week a got to stay with old friends and relatives – Paul, Derek and Colin and Spike…I loved being welcomed in and sharing a bit – quite a lot – of their lives.

On the first day, when we were supposed to be writing, Me and Spike wandered off on the wrong walk and began to get to know each other.

He introduced me to artists, poets and musicians – Billy, Donna and Joe – I met the folk at Corby radio – being interviewed whilst being filmed

Johanna, the film maker, joined us on the second day, straight into it – after all this time it no longer feels strange being filmed – it’s like putting on an old comfortable pair of shoes.

I hadn’t realised at first, but the Corby poet and I shared the same infantile humour – with the occasional reference to Monty Python and Blazing Saddles…we were hilarious…

By the end of the week though, I got the distinct impression that Johanna would have happily shot us both – and not in an artistic way.

We met regularly with Chris from the Cube – who prodded and cajoled us in the right direction…always warm enthusiasm…teaching me the art of drawing in the audience, showing, rather than telling the audience.

It was, to be frank, a hoot.

The weekend before the big day came – and we just chilled – Spike with his enthusiastic, interesting and interested son, Daniel – me and Johanna went to the lovely Ella’s – she took the opportunity to relax before the big day.

I know a lot of people would find the idea of standing in front of a bunch of strangers a bit threatening.

Me? I find it thrilling.

I was taken back to my 5,6 and 7 year old self where I stood up in front of the class, the school, anyone who’d have me really, making up stories about rabbits, bears…anything really…

I was a star…I was brilliant…in reality it probably gave Miss Jones the opportunity to catch up with her marking.

Yes, I was spoilt…I don’t ever remember mum telling me to shut up…stop hitting your brother, maybe…but never to be quiet.

With these childhood memories firmly installed I was more than happy to walk and talk with the 40 odd folk who turned up that sunny day at Corby’s boating lake.

I was so well prepared – I had a great time –

I pulled folk into the story of the walk – leaving the Cramond Brig Inn on the edge of Edinburgh, walking across the Forth Road Bridge, telling the story to strangers for the first time, and the wonderful story of Lou, her hospitality, her friends and six degrees of separation…

And what my experience of loopiness is like.

Spike read his insightful poem

people clapped and then it was over.

What a great week.

I was unable to eat afterwards – I was still excited – a number of people joined up to the Facebook Group

giving me great words of encouragement…

And then, a couple of days later, I dissociated.

The world floated away – the inner voice that said it has always been this way became louder and louder, blotting out any reason, any sensible thoughts – the world no longer existed – all I had was a gossamer thread holding me onto reality and a quiet, yet persistent voice trying to assure me, ‘This will pass.’

And it has, as it always does.

I’m keen to get back up to Cumbria to walk – but I have to fit in now with real life – I need to meet up with Chris and Spike to start to think about what next…

I’ll be walking soon enough.

Walk a mile

Chris

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