Yesterday, as Facebook likes to do sometimes, it showed me a memory. Most of the time when this happens I'd scroll past barely heeding it, let it draw a small chuckle as I briefly return to that time/space/messy night for a flickering moment, only to move on again swiftly to the next item on the agenda.
But this one made me pause. I was taken out of the torrential rain and blustering of an unseasonably cold May(vember) in my home studio of County Wicklow, Ireland, and brought straight back to a hot, sweaty and bustling London city, into a studio - Maple Street Creative - with a host of other artists all boxed into a small space with not a shred of social distancing in sight...
I was there after responding to a social media call out from VO East Africa, who had been looking for willing voice artists to contribute their time and talents pro bono to raising awareness of the drought-induced famine in East Africa at the time for the World Food Programme. A host of creatives turned up - not just actors and voice-overs, but writers and producers, too. They came from all over to various studios - we were just the London crew. Some joined in remotely. Of course, if it was to happen again today, it would be entirely remote. There would be no squeezing into a small studio in a heatwave, sharing air-conditioned air and booth space that hadn't been meticulously sanitised.
In that one 'memory' I realised just how vastly things have changed. Not just for me personally - I no longer live in London nor go on the actors' casting circuit these days - but globally. For everyone. It made me wonder - just how much has life changed for each individual in that photo, brought together on one day in May almost a decade ago? I can't recall most of their names, though I am still friends with a few of them on social media. Of the few I still see updates from, I know Nii Ayikwei Parkes is still a successful author, Mike Cooper still a successful voice-over (and a goat herd!) somewhere across the Atlantic. I don't know where Joseph, who organised it all, is these days - I don't see him often around Twitter.
It made me miss London fiercely - even the suffocating tube on hot days. Though I highly doubt the sight of a packed and sweaty tube carriage is something that even exists at the moment. And it makes me miss the random creative unions that a life with spontaneity and freedom of movement allows. I'm sure a time will soon come when things like this can happen again. In person, live and direct. Where travel can again be spur of the moment and freeing, instead of anxiety-inducing. It will soon come. And I am more than ready for it.
Things have changed for many of us, but sadly for the people of East Africa, they are still the same. On and off since the drought of 2011, they have been dealing with food crisis after food crisis. To learn more and to help, go here.
RM Clarke is a writer and voice-over artist. She has written for various literary mags and anthologies and won awards. She has put her voice to most things she can think of.