I’ve got so used to feeling crazy – off my own bat – that I was surprised to remember something the other week. You can learn crazy behaviour, too.
It was thinking back to when I took a Commonwealth literature course at university, which in turn I remembered because I was blogging about the death of Chinua Achebe. And starting to write about the influence of my then tutor – Britta Olinder – at the English department at Gothenburg, I recalled how she set off some new craziness in me.
Actually, I probably tempted her. I was wanting to take four weeks out of term to go to London. I always went to London in those days. It was my crazy. The thing is, you don’t expect a teacher type person to encourage you to skip four weeks of classes, and then to tell you all that you must do when you’re gone.
So, Britta got all enthusiastic and mentioned all the plays I’d want to see in London, including the one I sort of used to justify my absence with, Under Milk Wood. I was writing my essay that term about Under Milk Wood, at her recommendation.
The others in my group got all excited, too, and some of them asked me to get them various stuff in London. So, all was well, and I went to plays, including UMW.
Once back, I found Britta making plans. She wanted to go on a theatre trip to London. She thought that we should all go. Not necessarily in term time, but anyway. She looked through the Observer for inspiration, and she picked a week in February (this was 1979) and phoned round all the theatres and made group bookings for tickets.
Then she set about getting funding. I’m such an idiot I’d have happily paid myself. But with various gifts and group dicounts and with it being off season, we got our week for the princely sum of around £45. That’s hotel, flight, eight plays and two tours. Even in the stone ages that was good value. And off we went.
I mean, the thought would never have occurred to me that you could see two plays in a day, and that you could go to the theatre every day. We did, and on matiné days we got two performances. In he mornings we gathered in the breakfast room and talked drama. Britta told people how to get to the theatres, and I corrected her and suggested a better way. We were all happy.
We saw so much and such varied stuff. Plays I’d never have thought of picking if I’d done it on my own. We saw ‘real’ actors off television. John Thaw. Did the tour behind the scenes at the National. It was great.
And once the seed of madness had been sown, I knew I could do this alone, and I did. Obviously not with funding from any bodies of any kind, but it was a good hobby to have discovered. And all because I was keen on truanting from my education.