It came to me hugely . Like “the elephant in the room” we mentioned briefly on Sunday.
The reluctance to want to talk about things…that matter.
Matter in a different way for us , than for Banksy though , who had a global agenda with his “big” bold animal statement .
I just have an education one or maybe an inspirational one to try to impress upon my ” young drama herd ” .
The Elephant in the Room indeed .
I could have of course , just pretend it’s not there : The “can’t quite pinpoint it ” reluctance , that bits of our cultural Sunday seemed to bring.
I could just carry on as if everything’s rosy and convince myself we had a fab time ….
…but those that know me better , know that if something has to be said …I’m going to say it regardless . Because to not , is not being Mhairi truthful…
Sunday was un-usual and I think a little revealing in more ways than most .
It was a lesson learned , even for me : This is maybe going to be trickier than I thought .
It seems Culture is still a grey word , in the broader Youth landscape of our Spires Scene.
But I’m not getting at you for it ; I’m just not sure I can chalk it up to a mild taster experience , without a follow up explanation .
I think you need to know how it went and how it could have gone better.
We can look at the day in 2 ways . And you’ll potentially fall into one of these brackets
1 Had some fun of a Spires Valentine Sunday ?
2 Maybe actually learned something ?
The first is easier to think about :
It was a good chance to see some PACE friends you hadn’t seen in a while , catch up , chat and enjoy the lovely gourmet spread we all took time and obvious effort to prepare for ourselves.
Thanks in great part to Colleen for her love-table decorating skills and the time she put into making it look so special.
So heart felt of her , but then she would never want to give you or anyone , anything less than her best effort , in everything she does here.
If food be the food of love , we sure ate on and on and on…..didn’t we ?
Max’s ARANCINI snack bites with feisty ARRABBIATA sauce , a particular triumph !
( perhaps a passion for creating tempting food lying deep down inside this young imaginative PACE lad , I’ve certainly never yet tasted better)
So tastebuds were perhaps stretched a little: an olive here , a tortilla there , some hummus and love apples , a kumquat , a fig in the air , to our usual toastie comfort fare?
“Food and chat” are always better ways-in to more meanignful conversation …except …when conversation is “round the food” and not about it .
Unfortunately I could tell things weren’t going to go the way I hoped for this day , by the time we had fought through , our LOVE DISCUSSION .
A RED talking point that took a while to reveal its blank canvas of:
“the Earth without Art is just Eh….”
We were a bit more eh , than art …till the penny was end-dropped , in a more teacher-lecture like way.
Thank goodness for a white board and markers. Where would Spires 1 be without visual aids …?
By the end of the long Love Film list , many had “left the building” (not literally) , but certainly in a more questioning interest or awakened expression …
The silent nodding heads and numerous stifled yawns , gave the “watch better film” game sadly away .
Time for a break
A quiz ?
…A distraction to pep the flagging youth-culture spirit and hopefully bring the understanding back , but this time in a ” quirky fact social setting ” ?
Something familiar , to at least keep trying to open minds a little Sunday morning wider .
I think the food won the play.
A knowledge tour of more cultured Italy and France was not really all that satisfying . A buon appetito cultural dish left largely untouched by most , in favour of juicier teen banter and Valentine sweet things .
SPACE members largely coming to my quiz round rescue , probably recognising by my rising voice, a faint need for some fulfilment maybe other than the food ?
Reading my changing expression and realising, things were going to have to change in Spires 1, to avoid the inevitable “Mhairi room-silent moment”.
Didn’t anyone see the signs ?
The gastronomic , film , country and play Culture that was being subtextually waved under young noses .
Didn’t they find it filling ?
And even though Cameron Bolagnese created his Roses team skill…
….I think the lunch chat won the final round. I think many had , had enough .
…Culture was largely lost , save for a few who entered into the spirit of it with some Mediterranean Shakespeare willing
Oh me …what to do …? Where to go from here ?
2 hours to go and the future of this new venture hung , heart-like , in the culture balance!
Any teacher, mentor , leader faces a choice at sometime with a group : To Give Out or to give in .
This is something that presents itself in any youth-full setting : school , college , university , and even here in the drama space .
Give Out or just , give in …?
To Give Out , you need a glimmer of hope “out there” a face or two in the crowd who will you on , a smile , a question , a more forward attitude , a life line to reach for when you think , all is maybe, on them, lost?
It’s a split second reaction , a mind whirr of stay or go , do or die , crank up or dumb down .
I almost chose “to give in”.
I almost gave in because I thought – this isn’t popular …this is point-less.
I wasn’t doing things people wanted , I was making it too hard to think about, too much to focus on , too dry , too talk based , too much for youth to maybe teenage bear.
I wasn’t letting the group tell me what to do , I wasn’t enough, in making the necessary difference .
My Drama Confidence faltered…
Time for some fresh air.
A bit of peripheral perspective Is always needed , walking away for a few minutes can give you time to think , to look sideways at a situation you think you can see only see going in one inevitable direction .
And thanks to my SPACE SUPPORT network I think from then , the culture club penny , truly started to drop.
Hearing it from the Spires horses mouth , and not from the big PACE rider.
The reason they were here – was actually to learn . The thing that till then, nobody really clicked , or appreciated.
The Elephant in the Room
Maybe some hadn’t realised that when they signed up for LOVE CULTURE DAY? …Thought it was something else entirely?
You have to want to learn , to discover new things , to ever become more enlightened – dare I whisper it ” cultured ” .
They don’t call it, Pearls of Wisdom , for nothing …
I spent a lot of time preparing for this culture day , in amongst all the other prep I do for each class , to make sure I’m good enough for you .
To make sure I know a lot , to be able to teach you better , and to raise you higher through my personal standards.
I spent most of Saturday night typing and updating ” the film list” , most of Saturday researching Banksy and all of early Sunday morning making an education quiz to make culture awareness more entertaining.
Maybe some of you spent a lot of time researching things too?
It’s annoying isn’t it that we didn’t manage to get a bit more out of the time we jointly gave to this occasion.
It’s frustrating to think of all the other things , you could have known by the end , if you’d opened your mind more sideways , from the start and come in really wanting to learn , to go home brighter.
How that knowledge would have sat comfortably somewhere inside you , ready for when you needed to use it in future
… And it will come out , if it’s in there still …
The next time Art appears in front of you , you’ll look at the message more , the effort of thought, behind the image.
The next time you’re in an Italian restaurant you may order Farfalle alla Pesto followed up with delicious Torte dells Nonne
The next time we discuss Shakespeare’s R&J , you’ll get she was 13 and hadnt really a clue what she was doing and when you come ever , to play the part , you’ll carry that uncertainty of being 13 with you and defiantly act better, more truthfully .
The next time Banksy hits the headlines , you’ll have an opinion , you’ll be able to say “good for you” or ” he’s crossed a line” ..you’ll be part of his guerilla scene , his reactive audience , his elephantine intention.
Or the next time , you sit scrolling through Netflix because you ‘re up to date with your “go-to” box set , and catch sight of a film recommendation or two, you’ll take a risk on a Dead Poet Society , an Indian Lunch Box or a fated Mission to Mars.
You will understand then ; you’ll wake up and smell “the Italian coffee” and feel that little bit more cultured , more open , more special for knowing things – yourself
That is …If there is a next time ?
There’s that elephant in the room again …now , should we talk about it , or should we pretend it’s not there ?
A word that changes the outcome of the room , the individual in it , your eventual attitude to the world .
For me, giving in , is never an option , and though it might not be a popular choice , and I might not be popular for saying it,
I’m not giving up trying to make you see its far reaching potentisl .
As Margaret Thatcher ( The Iron Lady ) famously said
” the lady’s not for turning ”
I’ll leave you to want to figure out what that means , to figure out who she was , and why she even said it.
But I’ll tell you this :
She was very unpopular for saying so. But brave in her own way.
I’m not Maggie Thatcher in any shape or form , I’m just trying to make a point , an important point to you all:
This is not a game anymore . It’s a choice you will have to make and to stick by.
Not pretend to get , play along with or feel you have to , to think you are pleasing me.
For Culture Clubs to work in future , it needs you to find the personal incentive to come and drive them forward ; to keep the page turning over , the mind ticking away in different directions , the enlightenment growing inside you to,light up the drama space .
You can’t keep waiting for me to spoon-feed you all the time , to force your eyes open , to constantly have to lift your head up and outwards.
I’m here to inspire you , to look for yourself when you are willing.
When doing what you normally do , isnt enough any more . When you want to open PANDORAS Box and see what comes out the other side.
What I can do , is take a bet now on a small nucleus of potential and hope they give culturally back someday : Like Garth, Abby , Cameron and Eleanor tried to do , for you , in the space on Sunday
Tried to make you see , that with out all this extra Spires stuff ….they wouldnt be who they are today . And if that’s not a perfect advert for how you can turn out here I don’t what is …
They are ” such stuff as Spires Dreams are made on …”
And if you kind of want that too , then read on…and if you don’t : stop, switch off and let this thing , go .
So , my cultured elephant chums , know I’m not giving in .
I’m not going to accept that this extra stuff isn’t what people really want .
I know it is, because you come here looking for something different , you come here to get away from the hum-drum of your everyday and your creative mind-switch set to off .
You come to get something else.
So I’ll keep giving out , because I believe it makes a difference , I know it does ; when I look back at the ones “who took that Spires road less travelled ” with me , and are all the better now for it.
I’ll keep giving out this stuff, because when I saw Ben Anderson on Sunday , all bright eyed , and engaging positively with difficult material – difficult for him , not just because of his young age , but because he probably felt so inexperienced with the world and the people around him .
And yet ; I think you’ll agree he probably got the most out of the day , by far than anyone. Even me.
Because I think he realised he knew more than he thought , was wiser than many for his years and that his fledgling relationship with culture had just sparked an interest that was already changing his view of the world forever.
He walked into Spires last Sunday with a head full of random facts , but I bet he walked out with a mind full of wonder!
And that is absolutely worth the fight for me , to keep trying , to save ” this elephant ” .
I hope you agree , I hope you stay with me and fight for it too.