Puddle Jumping: A Tutorial for Grown-Ups

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It’s raining today.

Grab your wellies. It’s time for some puddle jumping.

There are few things in life that provide such unadulterated joy like jumping in puddles. It’s the smell, the sound, the feel of the rain falling around you, briefly turning your world into a wonderland – if you’re willing to brave the weather and discover it.

There are small puddles and there are big puddles. There are small lakes with isolated islands at their centre, upon which only the bravest of Puddle Jumpers may proudly stand. There are the suddenly deep ones that are the only true test of a good pair of wellies. There are those with hidden sink holes that briefly suck your rubber-coated foot into a muddy vacuum. A grassy verge, transformed into a marsh: the ultimate onomatopoeic surface. And there’s the shallow, slow moving channel that was once a footpath – a syncopated splash with every footfall.

There’s nothing quite like hearing your 23 year old sister shout excitedly “Those ones look good and squelchy!” Or having her out hold her hand to you and you both know instinctively what to do: hold hands, run and jump…

Laugh at the puddle water now dripping down your wellies into your socks. From this point on, no puddle will scare you, no mud slide offend you. Kick up some leaves, play pooh sticks, shout as loud as you can because there is no one around to hear you. And laugh as much as possible.

I’ve been a bit stressed recently, but an hour in the rain can do wonders. No matter your age or your preoccupation, jumping in muddy water is guaranteed to make you smile. It’s cheaper than a therapy session and far less likely to induce a hangover than a trip to the pub.

So if you’re in need of some stress relief, here’s my advice:

Hold hands.

Run.

And Jump.

hold hands 3

Organised Spontaneity…

Organised Spontaneity: The magic of film and theatre. You organise a place and time. You arrive, buy some popcorn, take your seat and wait for something to happen…

It is a sad fact for those who devote their lives to this industry, that the magic is diminished by their very involvement in it. By knowing too much of the process, it becomes difficult to let the magic happen without analysing it.

But then, sometimes, the magic jumps right back in.

*     *     *     *     *

I volunteered to help out on a film set last weekend. For anyone reading this who assumes the words “film set” mean something glamorous and thrilling, let me dispel the illusion: this is rarely the case. Nothing extravagant, no notable names or fancy locations: a small “hipster-ish” bar not far from London Bridge, a small cast and crew, and a few friends helping out, on a cold and windy day in January.

The majority of our time was spent on the small, open roof terrace. With little to protect us from the elements and intrusive noise from the building works close by, it wasn’t the cosiest of settings. It didn’t take long for people to engage in their own personal warm-up routines between takes; what I shall refer to as The Warm-Up Shimmy soon becoming a popular choice among cast and crew alike.

The most anticipated scene to be filmed was the first meeting of two female leads who quickly fall for each other. You might have thought that the casting for these two characters would require some compatibility testing, that they should meet in advance to assure there was a level of natural chemistry before making the final decision to cast the pair. This was not the case.

Until the moment the director said “Action,” neither of these women had seen each other before. Instructed to stand at either end of the set and look at their feet, less than 10 feet from each other, but not allowed to look up.

“Camera rolling”

“Action”

One walks. The other stays still. They collide. They look up. They make eye contact. They smile…

Without rehearsing, without really meaning to, they smile. A perfect moment is created, captured on film and preserved in slow motion.

Organised spontaneity. Making magic.

And, that’s why I love acting.