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04.09.2020- Lockdown Lunch #17: Jessie Anand

Just like that- the first Friday in September is here! Whilst the back-to-school sensation might not be quite the same this year, there's a definite, if different, sense of change in the air, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one sitting here wondering just where the year has gone. So much of the last six months has been defined by a real sense of uncertainty, but for the time being at least it looks like that's here to stay, and is something that we're all learning to adjust to. With a lot still being in flux for me just now, I'm determined to capitilise on the opportunity to spend a bit more time doing what I love, and developing this new strand of content for these pages over the last few months has been a total joy. I've loved connecting at a distance with all sorts of inspiring individuals, so I'm hoping to keep the Q&As coming for a little while longer at least.

My guest this week is one of my real-life pals- the wonderful Jessie Anand! I first met Jessie back in 2014 when we were part of the same team at work, and sitting opposite her each and every day was a total delight. As well as getting. shit. done, we also struck up a firm friendship, cemented over a mutual adoration of BBC costume dramas, lunch breaks in the cafe around the corner and a shared love of the industry we were working as part of- theatre. Since then, Jessie has gone on to continue absolutely smashing it as a freelance dance, theatre and opera producer, as well as setting up Spectra Ensemble, a brilliant opera company specialising in pieces from the early 20th century. As if that wasn't enough, during lockdown she's also masterminded the launch of Spectra Ensemble's podcast, Performance in Progress. I caught up with this busy bee to see how she's been finding life lately:

How are you coping with things at the moment? 
I think I've moved to an 'acceptance' stage of grief. I fought against the 'new normal' at the start of lockdown, and found it difficult to hold onto a sense of purpose and direction, but it turns out that we are more adaptable than we think! Like most people in the performing arts, I'm still feeling pretty bereft without my industry being able to operate in a recognisable way, but I'm very lucky that I do still have a job in the sector I love, and it has been nice to come off furlough recently and get back into that. I think it will be a long time before we are able to operate at full capacity again, though. 

What are you missing most about life? 
Having major events to mark the passage of time. Normally my summer would be marked by Edinburgh Fringe and the opera festival season, not to mention a slew of weddings. It just feels very strange to have nothing but the weather to remind me this is September rather than March!

Which food/recipes have you been reaching for? 
Some things never change, and lockdown has failed to bring out my inner Nigella. As I am still resistant to spending any more time in the kitchen than is necessary, it has been down to my boyfriend to decide what to do for those three (!) home-cooked meals a day. We seem to have eaten vast quantities of eggs, which I find very comforting! We've also been learning to make pasta. I can manage that because it is basically like Play-doh. He is an enthusiastic and talented cook, so he can make it taste nice even when I've made a big mess of it.

Which small things are making you happy? 
Not getting dressed in the morning. My window boxes. Being able to eat at any time of day. Playing footsie under the table whilst working. Dreaming about having a dog. Having a chance to think a bit more about what motivates me - I've been making a podcast for my opera company, Spectra Ensemble, and it has provided a great opportunity to reflect on what kind of work I really want to produce!

What have you been up to as lockdown as eased? 
I moved house! Nesting has been really nice, and I managed to find a few bits for the new place at small independent shops I've never had time to explore before. I've also been to see some live theatre - although, it being an outdoor show, it got rained off part-way through...

I've been dreaming of getting a dog too, my friend! A huge thanks for Jessie for finding the time to take part- be sure to check out the podcast here and keep up with all of her producing adventures here.

(Image credit: Jessie Anand, please do not reproduce without permission.)


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