Tag Archives: God

I’ve been thinking about Bretton Hall

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Ten years ago launched the start of the best part of my life, with an audition for Bretton Hall, a place of wonder and dreams at the heart of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.*

I’ll not lie. At the time of the audition, I was not in a happy place. Life sucked. Big time. And studying Acting at Bretton Hall was my vain hope for a lifeline.

The audition didn’t go too well, mainly because I was a rubbish actor who had never even been given a speaking part in a school show and I was competing with hundreds of leading talents from schools across the country. They all knew who Stanislavski was. I thought it was a holiday destination. As part of our audition, we had to perform a self-devised solo piece inspired by a ‘contemporary issue’. The other students in my group did theirs on drugs. Mine explored the meaninglessness of life and began, “How do you want to die?” I was also rather shy. And shy people aren’t supposed to perform.

So I went home, resigned to the unhappy fact that I didn’t really belong in such a grand institution.

But a few days later, (after a divine encounter with God no less, but that’s another story), a letter arrived with the glorious offer of a place.

And so, that September, the first three years of my (new) life began… Late night walks under the stars, a mansion of mysteries, priceless friendships, faith adventures, bearing witness to far too many nude performances, and my first kiss (whom I married).

Me and Sharon in our favourite sculpture, which played music when you jumped on the ground


* Or at least it WAS until heartless academics at Leeds University sold the campus in exchange for a hat (or so the legend goes).

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I’ve been thinking about Father Christmas

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I’ve been thinking about Father Christmas and how, as a child with skewed theology, I would often confuse him with God; they are both everywhere, they both know whether you’ve been naughty or nice, and one of them gives you presents. We owned this rather garish door decoration which spent most of the year on top of my wardrobe in a bin liner:

I was convinced that Father Christmas was using it as eyes to spy on me, so I endeavoured to be as good as possible.

One winter, Father Christmas accidentally left his hat under our tree and I took great care of it for a whole year, not letting my brother too near it (“Karen, can’t we just keep it? He’ll never know!” “Of course he’ll know! He knows everything and you won’t get presents if you’re bad!”), and only trying it on at rare occasions. I left Father Christmas a note the following Christmas, explaining how well I had looked after his hat and hoping he hadn’t been too cold without it. I wanted to add that my brother had tried to steal it, but I figured Father Christmas knew this already and would punish my brother accordingly. The next day it was still there, this time with a bag of sweets and a letter; ‘Dear Karen, Thank you for looking after my hat. You can keep it because I have a new one. P.S. Share the sweets with your brother.

An early lesson in grace I suppose.