Louise Leigh

Louise Leigh

Reappraise, reexamine, pivot.

Every month we will be inviting our readers to pitch us articles on a theme revealed in our regular newsletter. This month’s theme is ‘resilience’ and Louise Leigh’s pitch caught our eye. Here Louise shares how her sons taught her a thing or two about what resilience means…

It’s March 2020 and I’m listening to the new comic’s ‘Set Text’ Stuart Goldsmith’s Comedian’s Comedian’s Podcast as the realities of lockdown are hitting. He’s asking himself how to operate now that everything has changed. How can he make a living trapped in the house? How can he continue to be himself within these new parameters? 

There’s something terribly familiar about the conversation. Is it Deja Vu or have I actually heard it before? And where? 

Then it hit me. It’s the same conversation I’ve had at baby groups and in the school playground. When you become a mum, you’re constantly forced to re-appraise your skill-set, reexamine your life goals and pivot like a sofa in a sitcom. 

And that’s what resilience is, isn’t it? Hitting a barrier, changing direction, finding a way to keep on going. This summer, my teenage boys (15 and 13) taught me a huge amount about resilience in creative practice. I try to think about it every time I send a pitch, or apply for a big gig or do anything that scares me, comedy-wise. 

In the heat of the summer, they entered a Game Jam – a timed, themed computer game-developing competition. They had one weekend to create an entire game from scratch, entering an international field.

They call themselves Trampoline Games (because if they’re not gaming they’re mucking about on the trampoline). Son One does all the programming, teaching himself a whole new coding language, on this occasion. Son Two and Friend do all the music and graphics. For almost every waking hour of a sunny weekend, they toil. Rendering, fixing bugs… stuff I don’t understand. At meals, they are deep in discussions of “laggy physics” (or something – honestly, it’s Greek to me!) 

We get to Sunday afternoon. The deadline is at 6pm. Coder Boy is feeling the pressure. The music and graphics are great, but he’s not sure he has the expertise to do justice to their brilliant idea. He tries fixes and workarounds gleaned from online forums, he consults a friend of mine – a comedian with a computer science degree who answers my Twitter callout.  He’s still not sure he can make the game behave the way he wants it to. 

The atmosphere in the house is incredibly tense. He is incredibly tense. He is alone, battling with his idea, the tools he has available to create it, and the deadline. I can provide only biscuits in support. 

The deadline comes. The deadline passes. They haven’t made it. 

I hold my sobbing boy – as tall as me –  while he tells me this is the last time he’s doing a Game Jam.  
Heartbreak. About twenty minutes pass. It’s tea time. The two boys come downstairs and sit at their pasta, chatting. Every sentence begins with two, incredible words: “Next time…”

Hit a barrier. Reappraise skillset. And PIVOT. 

You can play their work at Trampoline Games, including the games they have designed since the summer.

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