I took Max and Darcie to a family workshop


I took Max and Darcie to a family workshop I was leading this weekend.  It seemed to make sense on paper.  They were staying with me and Steve was going to pick them up at lunch time.  They’re in the age group for the workshop and pretty cool kids and I was sure it would work out fine.  I was wrong and I don’t even think I can blame the unusualness of a mic cord that was hanging down my shirt.

The first time I lead a workshop is always going to be a test.  After I’ve done it a couple of times I can do it by rote and by the sixth time I start to feel as if everyone can see how fake and practiced my ad libs are.   On this occasion, I was stepping in for someone else but I thought I had a handle on their plan.  The themes were exploring and map making, the story was Charles Darwin including those 48 giant turtles and I always have fun working with families.

I started off well on the night before.  After the kids were in bed pretending to sleep, I sat up reading and printing out some notes for the session and got an early night.

Twelve hours later I’m standing in the education studio in front of 40 odd adults and children, failing to get a decent print from polyboards as part of a demonstration and suggesting, with luckily no success, that a small child sniff a permanent marker to point out that they are strong and we should put the lid back on immediately after use.

There were lots of things that worked against me – a disrupted sleep to read The Nightingale and The Rose, a tube journey less profitably spent playing I-spy than re-reading my notes but I’ve boiled it down to the two essential things that should have happened but didn’t.

I need to smoke at least one cigarette.  It can be argued that the cigarette when you’re walking up a hill to the station or hanging around outside work are not comparable to the rich enjoyable feeling of that first smoke after having spent the evening eating homemade stew, drinking wine and chatting.  Or maybe that its’ charm.  Either way the cold air and time spent dodging the rain tells my brain to wake up better than the rest of the morning routine ever does.

I need to be cold hearted and cynical.  I’m talking about mean-spirited, cancelling the Easter parade, grinch-like behaviour.  A dirty laugh, some adult humour, a bit of gossip and some political hectoring is needed like a lemon in coke.  I cannot go straight from fun aunt Viyki into artist leading a workshop, either one or the other has to go, if just for 10 minutes, or it just won’t fizz.

And it was being filmed, strictly for in house viewing and is admittedly going to be whittled down to at tops 3 minutes.  But if you’re wondering if I’m over-exaggerating and thinking that these things are petty, it is in all earnestness that I’m saying that I won’t be messing with either of them again.

They only filmed the first session, because predictably, covered in glory might be the description of my performance in the second session.  And the gossip was pretty good too.