I have survived! Not only am I still alive but I have had a fabulous time in the Big Smoke and my Exhibition was absolutely brilliant 🙂 I am suffering the tortures-of-hell-consequences for doing something I’m clearly not up to, but I care not because I loved (almost) every second.
My prints finally made it down to the organizer on Monday. I’d paid for a 2 hour delivery slot and the sodding driver was an hour late and the organizer was pissed, but at least my pictures got there in the end which is the main thing.
As you read in last week’s roundup, the week leading up to my trip was stupidly stressful and I’d had a migraine for 4 days. Not only that but my mast cells had given me diarrhoea, hives, insomnia and raging heartburn at the mere thought of travel, eating out, not being in my usual routine and having actual emotions like excitement. I was not defeated, however, and was up at 6am on the morning of my journey, finished packing, made some butties to eat on the train, took the dog out for his walk, drove into town, dropped him off at my folks and my Dad took me to the station for 10am. I was knackered before the train had even left the station 😉
I get motion sick standing still so was dreading spending 3 hours on a tilting Pendolino but actually I was reasonably OK and arrived at Euston on time. The tricky bit was finding the correct line on the tube to Waterloo and negotiating the 2 million steps and the terrifying downhill escalator to the underground (I’m petrified of heights so my legs were like jelly and I was gripping the handrail like my life depended on it which, to be fair, it did because trust me when I say if you fell down one of those escalators you’d be pretty much toast). I managed to prize my mitts off the handrail, made my way to the Nothern Line (making sure I was headed southbound and not northbound!), manhandled myself, my backpack and my case-on-wheels onto the tube and off we whizzed. As we entered the tunnel my nervous system went bonkers with the vibrations, lights, dark and speed and for some reason my mind decided to distract me with visions of the 7/7 underground terrorist bombing (thanks for that brain) but 10 minutes later I’d arrived at Waterloo and after negotating the up escalator and another 2 million steps I emerged into the light. Phew!
I’d chosen a budget hotel about a 10 minute walk from the station and with the benefit of Google street view had been able to have a dummy run of how to get there. I checked in and have never been so happy to be safely in a pokey, boiling hot room with the hardest bed in the known universe in my life 😉 There was little time to rest, though, as I needed to shower, put my make-up on (it’s been that long I’d actually forgotten how) and put on the only dress I possess ready to meet a friend who lives in London for an early supper in a restuarant over-looking the Thames.
My friend is handsome, intelligent, funny, interesting, vegetarian, single, we are the same age and, I’m fairly sure, fancy each other. Why, then, have we never gotten together? I ask myself the same question and the answer is he’s never asked me – the fucker 😉 In all seriousness, it doesn’t help that I never want to live in London and he never wants to live in the Lake District. Plus he has mahoosive commitment issues and I have mahoosive abandonment issues – the truth is, we’d probably be each other’s worst nightmare. He is lovely though and I do enjoy spending time with him.
We were then joined by a friend from an MCAD forum who also has hEDS and ME and whom I’d never actually met before in person. I was so incredibly touched that, with the help of her husband, she’d made the effort to travel into the city to support me despite her health problems *big love to them both*.
The private viewing night for friends, family and press was at 6.30pm so we made our way to the Gallery. I was so excited I can’t even tell you 😀 Other photographers were being exhibited there and I was expecting to be shoved in some tiny corner out of the way, so imagine my utter amazement when I was right in the front of the Gallery alongside four of the Exhibitions biggest attractions. 😮 and double 😮 My pictures were all visible from the street too, so everyone passing by could see them. I have no clue what I’d done to deserve such exposure but was tickled pink!
A friend from school who works in central London was the next person to arrive. We haven’t physically seen each other since we were 16, so it was incredibly kind of him to offer to come along and I just wish I’d had more time to chat to him about the intervening 36 years!
Another friend with hEDS whom I met online, this time in a Schnauzer forum, also made a big effort to come to the private viewing night despite having had a full day at work, being on crutches and feeling massively unwell! I was just so incredibly touched at the generosity of these lovely people who all put themselves out to come along so that I wasn’t alone (unlike my cousin who lives in London but couldn’t be arsed).
Hundreds of people turned up for the private viewing. I chatted to as many as I could and received some fantastic feedback on my pictures, but thankfully the event was only 2 hours long and I was back at the hotel by 9pm, crippled and barely able to walk. Who the FUCK invented heels on shoes anyway, because whoever it was they deserve to be shot 😉
I barely slept a wink on the rock hard bed, due in no small part to the fact my back was killing me, so I was up at 5.30am the next morning and down for breakfast an hour later. I’d decided to spend the morning photographing Leake Street Arches which is a famous graffiti tunnel, as well as making the obligatory visit to the London Eye (just looking at the height of that made me queasy) and the Houses of Parliament (sadly Big Ben is still swathed in scaffolding as it’s being restored).
At noon I headed back to Waterloo station to meet a lovely friend who travelled all the way down from Cumbria to London for just a couple of hours to see my Exhbition 🙂 I then stayed behind to look round the Gallery while it was quieter with fewer people around.
The return journey home seemed to take ages and about 90 minutes in I started to feel properly shit. The train itself was old and rickety and rocked so violently it was like being at sea in a storm and I’d eaten so much histamine containing food I had waves of anaphylactic reactions washing over me. It didn’t help that we were stationary outside Crewe for 40 minutes as trespassers had been spotted on the line (the little shits disrupted the entire west coast main line for the rest of the day) and by the time the train pulled in to my home station it was gone 8pm and I felt like death. Two days later and I have barely been out of my pyjamas and still feel like crap.
I am still glad I did it though. That my pictures have been in a central London gallery is so mind blowing I still can’t take it in and the feedback I received was awesome. I will not be leaving Cumbria again in the near, or distant, future and will spend the time from now until I die wearing nothing on my feet but wellies and fur lined slipper boots, but I will have some fabulous memories to treasure and the knowledge that I was brave enough to follow my dreams 😀