If you’ve been to the Bike Shed in the last three years, the chances are you’ll have met Justine. In an organisation full of unsung heroes, Justine is probably the most heroically mute.
She first worked with us as the Assistant Director on Kieran Lynn’s play Bunnies back in the Autumn of 2011 and she’s never really left. She’s directed short plays, stage managed and, through an incredibly difficult nine months, held the place together as Acting Technical Manager. During all of this, she’s also worked behind the bar.
In our more lauded cultural institutions, this wouldn’t mean much. To us, though, it puts her at the heart of the organisation. She is often the first person people speak to – either over the phone or in person – and she’ll be the person you’ll have the longest conversation with, as she guides you through our selection of spirits.
Not that Justine is just someone who is average at lots of things. She’s very, very good at one thing. And that is making cocktails. In the history of the Bike Shed, she’s shaken more cocktails than anyone else. In the Summer months, she runs her own business, the gorgeous bijou Cocktail Caravan. It’s been a delight to watch her develop over the years, from a university graduate to a successful business owner.
It’s taken me a while to get to know Justine, and she’d probably agree that we’ve had a rather rocky relationship (all my fault, not hers). Neither of us are gushers. Both of us prefer honesty. And over the years, she’s taught me many things – the importance of clarity, of consideration of other people’s feelings (still learning, folks) and of the importance of dependability.
That last one – dependability – is too often said with derogatory undertones. But it is essential for any organisation to function and therefore succeed. It’s the rock upon which we build our church-like cultural organisations. It is the word that, for me, epitomises Justine.