Alight Fingers Juggling and Circus Skills Workshops  

Balls To The Baltic - Latvia or Bust



So Sad

The following morning it was the lovely Lelda’s turn to pick us up. It was an easy 11am start to the day, and needless to say, Jonathan wasn’t ready, so we sat around chatting while we waited, and seeing the guitar perched against the wall Lelda asked me if I’d play something. Never one to refuse a pretty smile I strummed away for a little bit, and then sang a song I’d written the previous year (bearing in mind that it was January, that wasn’t so long ago), which was still in the front of my mind called ‘So sad it’s funny’. It’s a bittersweet song about seeing the funny side, or finding life’s pleasures in amongst the chaos, and being able to focus on the good stuff as the crap rains down. Sometimes easier to say than do, but we try.

Jonathan managed to time his entrance perfectly just as I was coming to a close (That or he was keeping his distance until I’d finished singing), so the three of us then headed out of the flat, down the five flights of stairs, and into the van. Allowing Lelda the honour of shaking the gorilla by the paw we headed off to experience the days amusements.

We started off touristing again, and on our insistence Lelda started to teach us the Latvian national anthem. We massacred that as we learned it, or at least the first verse and the van shook with the dulcet tones of as “Dievs, sveti Latviju” as we headed into town. We then proceeded to break into song at the drop of a hat for the rest of the day with our new found masterpiece to everyone else’s bemusement. I don’t think we got it right once, but we tried ...

We were taken to another of the local churches. Once again it was a stunning piece of architecture from the outside that didn’t quite live up to it on the inside. I was ‘told off’ by a lovely little old lady, for walking on the wrong piece of carpet, which once again confirmed my belief that the worlds religions are not run by priests, bishops, or cardinals, but by little old ladies with a direct line to God and The Truth. I smiled my sweetest, ‘don’t mind me I’m a dumb tourist smile’ as Lelda led me from the carpet with what may have been embarrassment or amusement or possibly both. Perhaps carpets are only for the worthy. Perhaps it was an antique carpet (it certainly looked old, although more in the ‘it could do with a good vacuum’ sort of way), or perhaps she was pointing at my boots and waving her finger in an accusing style because she didn’t approve of my fashion choices.

We met up with Martinch, and as the next stop on the tour (the theatre) wasn’t ready for us (who is?) we went and got on with the serious business of getting a cup of tea. Jonathan hit possibly his emotional low point on the entire tour when he was given something that tasted of cinnamon and not actual Tea. I’m sure that there’s a nation of English people who will completely understand his plight. I drank coffee and laughed. He did something decidedly un-English, and got it replaced.

And then we had a run around the theatre, getting a look backstage, understage, round stage and overstage. It’s quite bizarre in that there’s something mildly ‘churchish’ about an empty theatre when it’s devoid of the bustle of people taking or leaving their seats or for that matter, an actual performance. Or maybe it’s just that there’s something theatrical about churches.

The serious business of the day was to be held at the local special needs centre. As we drove there over cobbled streets, with Lelda vibrating on my lap I had to think long and hard about how I was now, according to local custom, a married man. We had fun getting the equipment into the special needs centre, as the front doors weren’t wide enough to accommodate the walking globe, although it is was somehow smuggled in later through a back door. We were shown to a back room where we could get ready, where the White Leg clowns, who’d, arrived before us were already in mid transformation.

We were then treated to a small show that had been put together by members of the centre before we got to return the favour. Following that Jonathan donated some spinning plates, and we had a workshop, which started on plates, and once again I ended up teaching people contact juggling. I was amazed at the shear tenacity of some of the people there, but maybe it’s one of those things that if you’re used to having to try hard to achieve some things, you don’t mind trying that bit harder. It makes it so much more of a joy to see their successes. It probably also has a lot to do with the people who work in these centres. I’ve noticed this in the UK too, that the people who work in such places tend to be incredibly dedicated and caring people, and I think that rubs off on the people who have the benefit of their care.

In amongst all this, I was pulled to one side and asked if I’d make a quick juggling video. One of the best ways, short of personal tuition, to learn new tricks, or at least to get ideas, is to watch other people doing them on video. The obvious benefit being that you can see where the hands are when the balls are wherever, and if you can’t, you can slow it all down, until you can. Obviously, there’s still another big step in that you have to then learn how to make your own hands do these things, but it’s a good start.

We then spent a while sitting around having coffee while we had an ‘official’ meeting. The idea being that we could work out what other things we could do in the future. I must admit that my attention wasn’t really up to the mark at the time. Between having just finished a show, the pleasures of translations (although that was quite funny – Sulvita would go off on a great monologue for about 5 minutes, and then, when she had finished, Ieva would translate the entire thing down to two sentences. I can only assume some words in Latvian are very, very long), and more to the point, creatively at this point, I didn’t have anything to contribute as I was still soaking up this trip, and as much as I was enjoying it, my mind wasn’t geared up to working on a next one.



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