2016 Firsts

As has been traditional since 2010, I’m beginning 2017 by attempting to chronicle all the things I did in the preceding year that were ‘firsts’. These days, instead of keeping a running list, I use my iPhone’s camera roll as a memory jogger and compile the list at some point in the first days of the new year. I’m really only posting it so that it’s stored somewhere. Plus, it came up in conversation on New Year’s Eve, so it seems appropriate to still keep up the habit.

So, 2016’s Firsts:

Celebrated Epiphany with port.
Experienced London Lumiere.
Attended my first burial.
Toured behind the scenes of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Passed a Theology MA.
Listened to the Hamilton soundtrack. [And become obsessed.]
Facilitated a TI workshop solo.
Watched the pancake races at the Guildhall on Shrove Tuesday.
City hacked London.
Drunk gin at a gin palace.
Taken chums to Belfast.
Attended MK3D at the BFI.
Attended the installation of a priest.
Lived in Highbury.
Walked the New River Path.
Met (and joined) the ‘Blimey Charlie’s Angels’.
Watched the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice.
Led Good Friday meditations.
Waterboarded a bathroom.
Travelled by bus in Paris.
Seen Sunset Boulevard.
Watched Glenn Close perform live.
Visited a prison.
Eaten afternoon tea on a bus.
Hung out at the London Aquatics Centre.
Played in the Highbury Fields playground.
Watched someone have radiotherapy.
Been a judge for an awards ceremony.
Walked from Gare du Nord to Gare d’Austerlitz.
Owned steel toe capped wellies.
Visited a strawberry festival.
Tiled a bathroom.
Drunk Lynchburg Lemonade.
Plastered a ceiling.
Swum in Lac St Helene.
Visited Eymoutiers.
Bought a book at Shakespeare & Company.
Owned an iPhone SE.
Stayed at St Neots retreat centre.
Ordained priest.
Drunk at the East London Gin Distillery.
Presided at the Eucharist.
Listened to the You Must Remember This podcast.
Used the secret railway to Moorgate.
Voted in an EU Referendum.
Attended a memorial in Trafalgar Square.
Worshipped in Chelmsford Cathedral.
Joined Snapchat.
Attended a rally in Highbury Fields.
Owned a Kenwood.
Lost a grandparent.
Helped lead a funeral.
Hot tubbed in Forest Gate.
Made Lynchburg Lemonade.
Broken a toe.
Watched a play on the Camden Fringe.
Made raspberry gin.
Listened to Harry Potter & the Sacred Text.
Climbed to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Hunted for Dream Jars.
Visited a parishioner in a hospice.
Watched Groundhog Day, the musical.
Explored the Hampstead pergola.
Hunted for rhinos in Exeter.
Baked raspberry & dark chocolate scones.
Experienced Friends Fest.
Slept in my parents’ new home.
Drunk a Pumpkin Spice Frappaccino.
Explored a tube station covered in cats.
Visited the Museum of the Docklands.
Stayed in Capitol Hill district.
Shown an American their capital city.
Run in DC.
Had a gel manicure. (By a male manicurist.)
Shared a cocktail served in a fish bowl.
Toured DC monuments by night.
Travelled through DC by bus.
Explored the National Cathedral.
Ridden on a double-decker train.
Stayed in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Kissed in America.
Eaten Sprelly.
Brunched at a Cracker Barrel.
Road-tripped from Virginia to NYC.
Travelled through NYC by car.
Visited the Tenement Museum.
Watched Jimmy Fallon rehearse.
Drunk at the Boat House in Central Park.
Assisted at a confirmation.
Graduated with a MA in Theology.
Watched Harry Potter & the Cursed Child.
Attended the fireworks in Victoria Park.
Visited Leicester Cathedral.
Made a cake in the shape of Thunderbirds 2.
Sous-cheffed Thanksgiving.
Conducted my first funeral & burial.
Watched In The Heights.
Played Mission Possible.
Heard Rowan Williams speak.
Baked Maids of Honour.
Presided at Midnight Mass.
Hosted family Christmas.
Flown into DC.
Celebrated New Years in a different country.

2015 Firsts

Totally cheating – I did write down my 2015 Firsts at some point in January 2016, but I neglected to post them on here. So I’m playing catch-up for posterity’s sake… (And back-dating so that no one really notices.)

Walked in Wanstead Park
Lectured for WTC.
Visited Leinster Terrace.
Swung on the swing in the Lambeth Palace garden.
Attended a humanist funeral.
Eaten tea at Wadham College.
Given up alcohol for lent.
Baked multi-coloured cakes.
Played in West Ham park.
Eaten at the Cereal Killers cafe.
Drunk gin from Vancouver.
Taken a Lewis Caroll walk in Oxford.
Owned a baguette box.
Visited Royston.
Taken a child to Messy Church.
Processed along Columbia Road with a donkey.
Participated in a lingerie shower.
Shown Eric the builder around London.
Paddled at Lac de Vasiviere.
Baked Picnic Slice.
Attended Citizens’ General Election Assembly.
Watched Carrie the Musical.
Invigilated an exam.
Watched Gypsy.
Worn a dog collar, cassock & surplice.
Attended a priesting.
Been mentioned on Wittertainment.
Ordained Deacon.
Worked at Christ Church Highbury.
Baked strawberry cake.
Received Boomf marshmallows.
Visited Winchester.
Made blackberry gin.
Baptised a child.
Attended a rugby world cup match.
Done mindfulness colouring in.
Stayed in Brooklyn & Vermont.
Rode an Amtrak train.
Visited the NYC Transit Museum.
Worshipped at St Lydia’s.
Drunk cocktails at the Rainbow Room, Rockefeller.
Had a blow-out.
Received flowers from a train company.
Carved a Jack O’Lantern.
Created a fire engine cake.
Visited the BFI.
Met the Good Doctors.
Eaten Lucky Charms.
Preached on Christmas Day.
Spent Christmas away from my parents.

At the ballet…

This week marked four years since I made my first ever venture into the world of ballet watchingCinderella at Sadler’s Wells. It was an experience that had been on my list of ‘first’ things I wanted to achieve in 2010, and I managed it with 10 days to spare. However, it was subsequently pointed out to me that while the work of Matthew Bourne is certainly excellent, it falls more into the ‘modern dance’ category rather than ‘ballet’. (I’d never seen a Bourne production live either, so it was still a first!)

Days before the anniversary of this auspicious event, I finally realised my First properly. Surely no one could argue that the Royal Ballet performing at the Royal Opera House doesn’t count as ballet??

As with my Bourne experience, the initiator was my balletomane friend Jules. In the heady days of summer, shocked that I’d never entered the hallowed ROH, she bagged some bargain tickets for a Christmas performance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. [Top ROH tip: our tickets were £10 and in the heights of the Upper Amphitheatre slips, where the seats are actually cushioned benches. Being row CC and numbers 15 & 16 meant that we actually got a pretty good view. Any higher a number or row DD and things would’ve been tricky. Only one small part of the stage was obscured, and for £10, I’m willing to make that sacrifice!!]

alice & White Rabbit

Premiered in 2011, Alice is the Royal Ballet’s first full length ballet for two decades, choreographed by the rather fabulous Christopher Wheeldon. My biggest fear with watching dance is that I won’t understand what’s going on without words, but this made Alice a safe choice, given my familiarity with the source material.

Actually, even without the book and film versions, I think I would have understood the plot in this production. The beginning deviated from the source in that it featured a Lewis Carroll-esque photographer; and a handsome gardener chased away by Alice’s mother after discovering the pair kissing – but I picked up on this without the aid of the programme notes. The characters in the prologue went on to ‘play’ the Wonderland characters, Alice’s mother being the Queen of Hearts chasing the gardener’s Knave.

Alice-30

The production was just as bonkers and colourful as any version of Alice deserves to be. The Mad Hatter, resplendent in green and pink, tap-danced through his scenes; the caterpillar was a reincarnation of an Indian maharajah, whose Bollywood style moves perfectly captured the larvae’s undulating movement; and the Queen coasted in a giant acrylic heart for all of act 1! The set was reminiscent of Tori Amos’ The Light Princess, with animated shadow puppet style backdrops at points where extra narration was needed. Once released from her heart on wheels, the queen was the campest and most demanding prima ballerina the ROH’s stage can ever have hosted!

Caterpillar Alice

The ballet was magical and I highly recommend catching it at some point. (I’m pretty sure the entire run is now sold out, but it’ll be back…) But, almost more impressive was the sheer act of watching something in the Opera House. Fortunately, the 3 act ballet provided us with two intervals in which t take it all in – one spent admiring the auditorium space, and the other the sparkle and charm of the bars and corridors. Man, I love a good chandelier!

Looking up at the amphitheatre barObserving the observers in the amphitheatre bar.

It was an epic night out, one that might only have been improved had I still been living at my previous address, a mere 20 minutes walk from the ROH’s steps. Emerging to discover freezing rain would have been much easier to deal with knowing I’d be warm and dry in half an hour, instead of at the end of a 1 hour bus journey! [Three years in WC1 has spoiled me.]

Thinking back to that visit to Sadler’s Wells four years ago [incidentally, gosh what a lot has happened in those four years!], I’m pretty confident that a trip to the Royal Ballet would have been too much for a ‘first’. I simply didn’t know enough about the ballet world to have appreciated it.

What’s changed? Well, inadvertently, I’ve been on a crash course in ballet history, courtesy of a couple of BBC documentaries and a YouTube black hole. I knew a certain amount already, thanks to assiduous re-reading of the Drina books (last re-read in August!) and a certain fondness for stage/ballet school tv shows. The discovery of Dance Academy on Netflix early this year would partly explain my descent into ballet exploration. Set in a fictional Australian ballet school adjacent to the Sydney Opera House, it’s three seasons were a brilliant mix of ballet and Neighbours! Then there was the not fictional at all First Position – an award winning documentary about the Prix de Lausanne ballet competition. Mesmerising!

The above would probably be what I’d call an introduction to the world of ballet – they’re easy watches and in the case of Dance Academy, positively addictive. If you want to take things a little further, here are some links to gems that offered me some solace while finishing off my degree earlier in the year:

Royal Ballet School documentary (From the 90’s, featuring some famous names when they were young, and epic 90’s hair.)
Strictly Bolshoi (Christopher Wheeldon choreographs at the Bolshoi)
Ballet in Birmingham (Welsh pupils at Elmhurst School)
‘Agony & Ecstasy – a year with the English National Ballet’

 

Next year, I may have to set my sights higher – a classic ballet. Swan Lake perhaps, or Giselle? At least my childhood love of dancing books means I have an idea of their plots too! Jules, what do you reckon? Same place next year?

2013 Firsts

I know, I said 2012 would be the end of this – but after writing a review of 2013 and going through last year’s blogposts, they just came popping up. So here’s the list I’ve been able to compile from my memory and blog:

Watched the New Year’s Day Parade.
Had physio & podiatry appointments.
Eaten mint M&M’s.
Watched a film at the IMAX. (Les Mis, obviously.)
Launched lizclutterbuck.com
Drunk tea at Tinderbox.
Been interviewed by UCB.
Experienced a retreat in daily life.
Learnt to french-plait my own hair.
Taken anti-malarials.
Visited Uganda.
Been fitted with orthotics.
Drunk tea at Teasmiths.
Been interviewed by Premier Radio. (And been in a live radio studio.)
Become a school governor.
Chatted to Rupert Everett.
Visited the London Transport Museum. 
Watched Robin run a marathon.
Visited the Titanic Experience.
Completed the 0-5k app.
Visited the Clerkenwell Design Show.
Joined the PCC.
Looked after Doris for over 24 hours in London.
Travelled on the Emirates Sky Line.
Watched the Graham Norton Show being recorded.
Drunk Strawberry & Lime cider.
Eaten dim sum in Chinatown.
Watched the News Quiz being recorded.
Watched The Book of Mormon.
Watched Andy Murray win a semi-final at Wimbledon from Henman Hill.
Experienced the joy of a Brit winning Wimbledon.
Watched A Chorus Line.
Hunted for Gromits.
Seen a play at the Finborough Theatre.
Done the Enneagram.
Written for the Church Times.
Played Greenbelt Bingo.
Experienced the Les Miserables Mass.
Flown Air France.
Visited San Francisco & the Bay Area.
Visited Facebook, Google, Apple & Stamford.
Owned an iPad.
Drunk a Shake Away milkshake.
Had a cooking lesson in a Jamie Oliver cooking school.
Cooked Thai Green Curry from scratch.
Been the student rep for a QAA inspection.
Eaten afternoon tea at Bea’s of Bloomsbury.
Played Love Letters.
Sung at the St Mellitus Open Mic Night. 
Participated in the November Care Package Swap.
Had a chaplaincy placement at Guy’s & St Thomas’.
Visited BT Tower.
Watched Sherlock.
Owned a cassock.
Been interviewed by the BBC.
Watched The Light Princess at the National Theatre.
Preached at a carol service.
Had a trip on the London Eye in daylight.
Created a Gingerbread Nativity & made Royal Icing. 
Attended a Desert Island Discs themed dinner party. 

2013 Firsts

Tappity tap tap

I realise today’s Friday and that really, today’s post ought to be fun, but instead of providing you with quizzes, articles or generally comedy, I will instead provide amusement via my own, ridiculous, life…

It struck me a little while ago that I was losing steam on my whole 2010 Firsts thing. Nearly 6 months into the year, I’ve not actually achieved much that was on my original list – my eyes remain un-contact lensed; neither driving test has been booked and I’ve been dissuaded from trying out the redhead thing. [Any London friends able to recommend a good place to get waxed and want to come with me?!] There have been plenty of other things that have made it onto the list, but I need to be a bit more intentional.

One item on the list was ‘take a dance class’. A couple of weeks ago I bumped into a colleague (R) who mentioned that he and C were thinking about taking a tap class and would I like to join them? While tap wouldn’t be my first choice of dance, I figured it would be an amusing experience and in the spirit of 2010 Firsts said yes.

Last night was tap-dancing time. As further details of the plan emerged, I began to worry. The location of the class was none other than Pineapple Studios – current location of a cult Sky TV show (though, as it’s on Sky I’ve only seen a couple of episodes). Actual professional dancers go to classes there – for years I’ve known dancing friends speak of the amazingly difficult classes they’ve taken on the premises. As a result, even beginner’s tap at such an esteemed location had me quaking in my [tap] shoes.

We nearly chickened out. Over Japanese food before the class we pondered the option of simply going to the pub and pretending we’d been to the class, but we went and once the day membership stamp of the studio was on my wrist, I felt like a bona fide dancer!

Before: Getting stamped & the boys in their footwear (and C’s white yoga pants…) 

It was no walk in the park, but a lot of fun. Thrown in at the deep (well, deep-ish) end, we simply had to follow the instructor’s moves and try to ensure our feet matched the rhythm of tapping echoing across the studio. I was rather relieved that my promised tap shoes had fallen through as not making noise meant that my mistakes were less noticeable! 
We survived the hour and left the studios on a high of tap-tapping adrenalin, skipping through Covent Garden re-enacting various shuffles, shimmies and shakes – we were a sight to behold. Honestly. Then, to complete the public humiliation, R decided we needed a photo and stopped a passer-by to get one. The shame.
It was R’s idea to do jazz hands – can’t for the life of me think why I agreed. 
Anyway, another 2010 First is done and dusted. Plus, yesterday I also interviewed people for an actual job and that’s two firsts in one day – it also means we’ve appointed ‘my assistant’, which is simply a grandiose way of referring to someone who’s actually way more qualified than me who’ll be working on a big research project with me. (Plus, it annoys C because he hasn’t got an assistant – hah!) 
And as for the dancing – I’ll be back. Probably not for tap, I’m not sure it’s really my thing; but I’ve spotted a beginner’s ballet class that I’d love to try…