Sunday, February 17, 2008


I have been offered a job.

I, Livvy U, who has never had a proper job in my life; who has remained avowedly freelance through thick and, let's face it, lots of thin; who turned down jobs-a-plenty in those faraway days when I went out to temp to stay true to my vocation as an actress - I, who had my doubts, re-trained, and still clung to my Schedule D number, my pathetic list of expenses and a fading sense of myself as a dyed-in-the-wool bohemian - that same Livvy has been offered a job.

A job-job. A titled job! A job-job with a salary!

For those who have never trodden the freelance path, it must be hard to imagine the magnitude of this change, but change for me it would be in profound and subtle ways. These ways drove me to spend most of the week before the interview in a darkened room, holding my head and agonising over just how much, and what constituent parts, of my artist I would be abandoning by taking this job, were I, who had not a hope in a million, to be offered it. Would I ever act again? Did I really want to give up the driving passion of my life before the Bim and Anna-mouse came along? Would there be time to continue writing, my newest-found love?

Then there were the nights spent agonising over the hours. I did not want a full-time, 37 hours a week, 52 weeks of the year job. I knew this. This much was clear. Rushes of guilt swept over me at three in the morning that I could even be thinking about leaving Anna-mouse for this amount of time, let alone compromising the re-built, fragile closeness with the Bim.

On the Saturday before the Monday interview I told the Bim that I did not want the job.

He said, like everyone else, that I must attend the interview. "Ok, ok," I said, in a bad-tempered kind of way, knowing that he was right and that I had to, just to see the wretched process through.

On Sunday night I got out all my old Community Dance Studies files (because I had, after all, got a Distinction, I'd simply never used the knowledge, because I met the Bim and... well, you know). I realised that not only did I love this subject but that it is something I feel passionately about. I was born with the arts in my blood, I am utterly convinced of their power to change and empower people... Why not just jot a bit of that down and have a little think about it so that I didn't disgrace myself in the morning?

And then the morning came, and with it the alchemy.

It turned out to be one of those blessed days where every little thing comes together in support of the bigger picture. I could almost see the universe organising it all for me. I could certainly feel it. A friend had told me to go in 'all guns blazing', and I did - but really it felt as if all I had to do was turn up. The rest had already been decided.

It was an amazing hour. I found someone else sitting on the sofa with me, speaking with vision and passion and clearness of thought. Someone whose company I hadn't experienced before. Turned out to be the person I've become since having Anna-mouse. It seems that profound things happen when you let the profoundest things in life happen to you. I was astonished to discover that the last three and a half years have been working an alchemy within me all of their own. Quite something for the woman whose brain became so fuzzed by the initial shock of childbirth that she thought she'd never think straight again.

They began to look at me in a particular way and I began to realise something was going on here. The objections, logistical, practical, emotional to my taking the job began to disappear. Don't want to give up acting? We have no objection to your going off and doing a couple of jobs a year! Don't want to work nine to five because of your daughter? Of course you'll be on flexi-time! Don't want to work 52 weeks a year? Would it make a difference to you if we made the job term-time only, which was actually our original plan?

I don't want to put any pressure on you, he said an hour and a half later, calling to offer me the job, but we really do want you.

Sometimes you just have to listen to what life is saying.

So I said yes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Comeback

I shall come back quietly - though life has not been quiet.

I will honour my promise, and curl myself round the Bim's warm, sleeping back at 11pm.

I will write just a few words, dear words, oh-how-they-comfort-me-words.

I remember moments of the last couple of post-less months. I remember that I could not write here anymore, much as I wanted to hold onto the precious, un-met fellow writer-readers who come here and are unerringly kind. I discovered that people you have never met can feel close to you, and vice versa, and that this is bolstering and affirming in troubled seas.

It's true that crisis equals opportunity. We decided to look at it that way.

Following the semi-comic tragedy that was a moment in our marriage, the Bim and I took a long hard look at each other, wondered what the hell we'd been doing, and set to putting things right.

The hurt of it all ravaged my immune system and I spent weeks fighting one thing or another, or nursing Anna-mouse through the night, or holding my migrained head in my hands.

The Bim returned to work after the Summer of the Bad Back and promptly discovered he was being hounded out of the building. One night just before Christmas there was a loud banging at the door and a man handed him a letter, Special Delivery. Come to a meeting it said. You are going to be disciplined. You may well lose your job. A couple of hours later, when Anna-mouse was down and the house quiet, we looked at one another and knew that another chapter was over. He resigned the next day.

Christmas with no income, hmmm!

But mysteriously and wondrously we were happier people for the changes wrought.

Once, the recent past came to remind us of what we had escaped - I met the Woman Down the Road in the street, we managed a pleasant conversation, I just about made it up the hill before collapsing into the Bim's arms at our door.

For several, nervewracking weeks we have clung to the vision of a new existence - and yesterday, quite suddenly, it paid off, in myriad ways.

And of course the girl who drives us continues to run into the wind, her hair backlit gold by the winter sun.