Festival sheep earsFirst of all, for all of you who have been despondently checking your email and blog feeds, an apology for being late. I didn’t post anything last week, the first time my post frequency has lapsed. It’s not been for lack of anything to write about: but the Brighton Festival opened last weekend, and I promptly got a cold on Sunday. I’m not very good at being stoical when I’m ill, so I basically felt a bit sorry for myself for a few days and got Oliver to make me lots of cups of lemon, ginger and honey whilst moaning about how rubbish I felt and sneezing/coughing ostentatiously.

Meanwhile, I have been happily riding the wave of excitement associated with being involved, even in my own rather modest way, with such a monster of an event. Six days into the Festival, I saw my seventh show last night. In previous years, I would leaf through the brochure and usually end up getting tickets for two or three things, so to be able to see so many shows is a real privilege.

The opening weekend was incredible. There was a nice moment on Saturday afternoon where I was approaching the Dome stage door in utmost concentration whilst trying not to drop our guest director’s birthday cake – which weighed a bloody tonne – and the Canadian performers I had picked up the day before waved at me and stopped to chat. Brighton was gloriously sunny and heaving with people enjoying the Children’s Parade and all the Festival and Fringe events – a lot of them wearing the Festival sheep ear headbands (that’s what I am wearing in my picture this week, in case you were wondering). Even though my own contribution is minimal, particularly compared to my colleagues in Artistic Planning who are literally working flat out, day and night with no days off, I wander among the Festival branding in town feeling slightly like it’s ‘my’ Festival.

In my previous job, I never experienced that kind of buzz – I rarely felt truly satisfied with anything I did at work. It’s not that I didn’t work hard or that there weren’t periods of heightened activity, but I never really felt that there was anything tangible that I could be proud of. I had a lot more responsibility in my previous job than I currently have as a volunteer, but I feel a lot more engaged and proud of my work now. Actually, that’s probably not quite true – I’m not exactly proud of specific things I do at work, mostly because what I do isn’t hugely difficult or impressive, but I am certainly proud to be involved and to contribute something in whatever way I can.

There is a delightful young French intern in our office who is studying a degree in cultural events management in Paris and spending three months in Artistic Planning to gain experience. Although I have said before how pointless it is to regret what you did and didn’t do at previous points in your life, I really do regret not having done something similar ten years ago when I was her age. I almost feel a bit like I have ‘rewound’ my own career by about ten years, being back in a sort of office junior position where I am hopping around all wide-eyed and excited by everything. I keep having to remind myself that I am actually 34 in a couple of months and I probably do have to work out a strategy soon for how I am going to earn a living again after this break.

On the other hand, after so many years being staid and serious beyond my years, I’m just enjoying my little bit of time out as the office junior. I am learning a lot about what I do and don’t enjoy at work, even though I don’t feel I have completely left my comfort zone yet. I certainly enjoy the buzz that comes with being part of something like the Brighton Festival, and for the time being I am trying not to dwell too much on the fact that there are only just over two Festival weeks left, and that the end of my volunteer role is therefore scarily close. I’m sure there will be a post-Festival comedown as a flipside of the current high, but for the moment I am just enjoying the ride.


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