I press ‘hang up’ on my meeting.
I take a breath.
I can’t help feeling a little disappointed.
Today was supposed to be my first face to face meeting with our Glasgow Ambassadors. We were planning to meet in a park. We would have kept our distance from one another, but importantly we would have been sharing space together.
Glasgow had other ideas.
The relentless rain – an unfortunate, yet familiar trait for August in this city – was too much for us to brave.
So, the digital world was our safety haven, as it has been since we all started working together.
When we first say hi, we express a little sadness at not being in each other’s company.
‘Soon though’ we say to ourselves. ‘Next time the weather will be on our side’.
And we have a very productive meeting. We discuss our ongoing adventures in reaching out to young people who we hope will end up being our participants. We agree the positivity we are getting from folk is encouraging, and all three of us comment on how this reinforces why the project is so important to us. Especially just now.
We laugh as we always do; sharing anecdotes of our week past. We also express our continuing feelings of isolation and our desire for normal face-to-face contact to resume.
We also all share our ongoing anxieties about how we are going to navigate through a project that at its very heart is about closeness; about the relationships we build and nurture. Will we really be able to bring people together in the ways we want to and explore these themes in the ways we have imagined?
Our short and practical answer is yes. We are planning for ways that group workshops will be able to take place safely in person next year and much of the research outside of the workshops will be one-on-one. So, it will be fine. We’ll just need to be dexterous. And if it really isn’t possible to meet, we will find creative ways to make our digitals meetings meaningful.
By the end of the conversation I feel revived. We are on track and our new participants are keen to come on board. We are navigating this unknown terrain together.
I press ‘hang up’.
I take a breath.
But I can’t help feeling a little disappointed.
Because if I’m really honest, all the things that I hold dear as a researcher and a theatre practitioner are wrapped up in liveness. My ability to listen deeply and to respond with care and a critical consciousness. My passion for tracking stories as they emerge from those around me, and helping in giving them form whether in a words, actions or visually. The humanity I find in being able to look somebody in the eye, and to know that I too am being seen. And my belief that (to paraphrase James Thompson) it is in intimate, live interactions between people where the ethical demand required of us when striving for social change, can be ignited.
I learnt all of this
And so, I am daunted by this distance.
I am daunted.
I take a breath. All I can do is sit with that.
I open my calendar appointments and book in my next meeting between our Glasgow team.
And I write in capitals
Glasgow weather, please don’t let us down.
UK Research Fellow