Festival Day 2

Today I awoke with the dawn, fresh and refreshed. Last night after twenty seven cans of red bull and a bottle of vodka I ran into a benevolent fawn that offered to scream away all my rage and frustration with me. He took me on to the tightrope and we stood there and looked at the sleeping cows. We screamed. It was amazing. Screaming is the best way to get some of the horror out of ourselves. The cows didn’t even flinch. They just went on sleeping. All of them but one, that is. One “cow”… I saw it raise its head. Oh no. Jupitus. He had heard my scream. I saw his tooth glint as he smiled.

I returned to the festival, but now I had to confront him. I had no choice. The Blitzburgers were playing their difficult second album and Toby was in the comedy tent talking about sardines. It was a good time to die. I had to confront Phill. As is traditional I removed all of my clothes and painted the word “Catshit” all over myself in ogham. Then I carefully inserted a walnut into my left nostril, and marched towards the field chanting the lyrics to Abba’s breakthrough hit “Waterloo”. The fawn was back on the tightrope, screaming.

“My my
At Waterloo Napoleon did surrender
Oh yeah
And I have met my destiny in quite a similar way”

My voice was cracking with fear as I tried to maintain the steady drone. All on one note. B-flat. It’s the only chance I would have to weaken him. Below me one of the cows separated from the herd, its flank shuddering. Jupitus. The Ogham on my body started to glow, the heat of it burning into the glue on the sanatogen still gaffered to my leg.

“The history book on the shelf
Is always repeating itself

Waterloo I was defeated, you won the war
Waterloo promise to love you for ever more
Waterloo couldn’t escape if I wanted to.”

In the dark, the form of the cow was melting, shifting, changing. I reached into my pack for the bionic arm. The walnut felt heavy in my nostril. I was going to sneeze.
“Waterloo knowing my fate is to be with you
Waterloo finally facing my Waterloo”

And he came at me. 3 tonnes of howling Jupitus rage. The tightrope fawn was screaming behind me to the indifferent world. On the wind I caught a snatch of Toby’s voice, talking about kale. And he was on me. I tried to hold him back but he was stronger. “Oh yeah” he snorted as his weight winded me and the bionic arm snapped. I realised that my only chance was giving up the fight. I went limp and collapsed under his weight. All the breath was knocked out of me. It was going dark. I could feel the call to oblivion as Jupitus’ hands scrabbled for purchase on my throat. And then the gaffer snapped. The sanatogen junior vitamins pinged into Jupitus, one by one, full of goodness as I slipped in and out of consciousness and suddenly volcanically sneezed. The built up hayfever snot behind the walnut gave it the power of a cannonball. Right on the head! Jupitus went still, knocked out, the vitamins working in his bloodstream, his tongue lolling, his cowsuit shredded. A momentary pause.

I was trapped beneath him though. Behind me the fawn was still screaming out all my rage and frustration. Toby had stopped talking. Perhaps he was having a meal. I took stock. Beneath an unconscious Jupitus full of vitamins, I looked at the stars in the night sky. Maybe everything was going to be alright after all. “I feel like I win when I lose.”

But I was tired. The ogham was smudged now. Cat sit, it now said reminding me that I hadn’t organised anyone to look after Pickle while I was here in a field in Smurgleburg under Phill Jupitus. The stars winked at me. Jupitus shifted. His eyes shot open. He winked at me too. The vitamins gave his eyes a shine. “Brother!” he howled, the tears flowing freely, and he kissed me on the mouth. “I’m sorry I didn’t laugh in Edinburgh!” I panted, trying to get my arm out from under him so I could wipe off the spit. “I was hungover and you were being too dominant. You annoyed me.” We hugged. “Let’s get some beers off my rider,” said Phill. We danced the night away. Eventually, exhausted, we said farewell and I went to my tent. As I went to sleep I could hear Toby talking about saveloys. Back on the tightrope, the fawn stopped screaming abruptly. Someone had cut the tightrope.

And I woke up fine. Phill and I are now good friends. He’s given up the cow impersonation. I still think he has an eye on my Woolworth’s fish finger sandwich. If I pretend I havent heard him when he says he loves me, the friendship works really well. But sometimes he says it three times in a row.

What will happen tomorrow? Has Al scheduled another one of these? Who cares? I’m off to dance to the Crafty Spuds. They’re teaming up with Norman Blitz.

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Festival Day 1

Right. I had some shitty news. So I have gone off grid for a few days. I’m at a festival. I don’t even know the name of the festival. It begins with an S. It’s in Somerset. Shindig? That sounds right… *google*

Yep. It might look like this. A friend of mine had a spare ticket.

© Sarah Koury  www.kouryvindaloo.comI wanted there to be lots of cows. That guy on the wire has to stay there for three whole days. The line-up is hilarious. I honestly don’t give a monkey’s about anyone who is playing except for maybe Correspondents. I don’t know who most of them are. And those I do know – Phill Jupitus…? In massive letters? I’ll probably choke to death on hayfever or freeze in my sleeping bag. But I need a change of scene so I am getting one. This blog is being written in advance. The facts contained herein may be different from the reality as it manifests. But if I don’t do this I will arrive there, realise there’s no reception, spend most of the first night looking for a way not to break the blog-chain which has reached the figure 497 with this post, and end up not relaxing and chilling out which is the reason I came here.

So here is what might have happened to me on the first day. And this gives me a blog-break in real time as I’m banking 2 days the evening before I leave…


I first noticed him following me when I got off the train at Somerset Piccadilly Station. He was trying to blend in with his surroundings, shifting with the light, moving from cover to cover. Phill Jupitus. But what did he want with me? I kept my head down. Behaved as if everything was normal. Walked past the orgy of bald men in their fifties shouting “TAXI”. Joined a queue at the bus stop. In front of me was a tall skinny boy talking animatedly with his friend about crabsticks. Jupitus was in a field, flanking me, dressed as a cow. He thought I wasn’t wise to him, but he hadn’t been working on his moo. And he kept mooing over the other cows when they tried to moo. Textbook Jupitus. Even the pigeons knew he was a fake cow.

The bus arrived and I kept an eye on him, galumphing along behind it with his big legs at supernatural speed, cow suit flailing with his rolling gate, hiding huffing like a train fuelled with lager and rage, never more than ten foot behind the bus. I could see the madness in his eyes. A damp picture of my face clutched in his hand. I racked my brain. What could I have done? I only saw him once at that panel show in Edinburgh. The bus stopped at Nother Chostberry. Twelve old ladies disembarked, before one of them got back on. “Mine’s the next one,” she laughed. It wasn’t funny but we all chuckled obediently, automatically. My mind was on Jupitus. He was pretending to be a cow again while we stopped. The boy, whose name was Toby, was still on the bus, talking about mandarins.

Seventeen stops later we arrived at Blimpington which is where the Shnurrrdog Festival is definitely taking place. Keeping Toby between myself and Jupitus I hauled my bag from the bus. He was talking about chipotle oblivious that he was my human shield.

I had packed in a rush. I had a bionic arm, seven tubs of sprouts and a fish finger sandwich from Woolworth’s that I had kept from childhood. It’s the only time I ever saw them selling food. It’s worth a lot of money. I tried not to look at Jupitus but I could sense he was there, still on me, inevitable, powerful, terrible. Could it be the sandwich? I had other things to think about though. The War-Child volunteer was trying to make jokes as he fished in my bag and fingered my sprouts. “You know you can’t take any vitamins onto the site,” he said. “I have none”, I assured him, feeling the guilty pain of the sanatogen gaffered to my inner thigh. Shit. I had been distracted. Where was Jupitus? I’d lost him.

I walked into the festival site. I could hear the Mumpflunkers playing on main stage. Behind me, a shadow flickered and was still. On the wind came the unmistakable “tsccch” of a ringpull. Was that him? Was he in? Had I lost him? How had he got past the War Child volunteer? What does he want with me? Is it safe to relax?

Find out tomorrow as this tale reaches its thrilling conclusion.

Pre-blender

The ticket says “May Cause Acute Death.” I’ve never met anyone who has told me they’ve seen this show. I have a friend in it and the ticket is in her name, so it can’t be traced back to me. I’m somewhere off the Goswell Road and its sweltering.

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Looking closer at the ticket I can see that they’ll confiscate all my technology and my coat at the door. They recommend we wear pyjamas. They also say “No alcohol beforehand”. I’m having a pint. Rebel.

I’m going to get put into a gigantic blender.

I was almost involved with this lot creatively. They came to see Christmas Carol. They were very bouncy and positive. We spoke animatedly about gender and identity. “If you want some extra heads on the making side, that’s what Mel and I do.” The old guy gave his card to Mel but I think it was less about work than we thought it was at the time because he never returned our calls regarding collaboration. The old guy was very genial, rich as cake and drunker than I was last night when I spontaneously agreed to go to a festival tomorrow. What? Yes. Yep. Three nights in a field. Although I needn’t worry about it as I’m going to have everything confiscated in a warehouse off the Goswell Road and then I’m going to get put in a giant blender as punishment for this hair of the dog I’m absorbing through my tongue as I write.

And I’m still leaking out of every orifice and hacking like a riding school pony. Just as well I’m going in the blender. Three nights without proper food or sleep in a cold tent surrounded by grass will kill me as surely as this blender. I thought I was getting better at derailing my inability to say “No” to anything. Clearly I’ve got a long way to go in that regard.

Just an hour left before the door opens. I wonder what sort of sauce they’ll make of me.

The show is called “Somnai.” I think it’s about dreams. I dream lucid so dreams are usually terrific fun. I’m hoping that this will be too. I’m more interested in the shape of it than the material. They have lots of money, lots of tech and no experience making immersive or interactive work, or making theatre in general. If I had access to that budget and that tech I can dream of all sorts of things I’d be able to create. I suspect this will be unusual. Odd. Splintered. They are using Virtual Reality headsets. I think we get to walk around with heavy heads. That’s how they’ll get us into the blender. I’m curious if it’s augmented reality or a prerecorded virtual world. I’m curious to see if they use touch and smell and taste. A VR headset is an unusual mix of sensory deprivation and over-stimulation. It’s like sticking your head in a bucket when the bucket is Narnia. They’re pretty heavy on your face, and this show has been running a while in this weather so I suspect they’ll be damp too.

I might go for a little walk now I’ve written this and had this pint. I need to see if I can find a power-block for my phone. There might not be reception at this festival tomorrow… What have I agreed to? Never mind. Blender.

Craftspeople

I’ve spent the day on the phone. I got sent a list of tasks yesterday. “Source a load of actors to play soldiers, find 4 location managers, find a load of PAs.” So I did all that, and rang back with my findings only to be told they’d already found the most of the people I’d been sourcing. Now I understand why people go and work together in the same “office” room, despite the fact that those “office” places frequently turn into noxious hellholes.

Still I managed to get a bit of work for some friends – and some strangers. But I’m fuming about the strangers right now. We are doing WW2 reconstructions in an English Heritage site, filmed, but we can’t fuck around. They won’t let us have a Churchill impersonator. They want “historical accuracy” by which they essentially mean “a load of white dudes.” I managed to get one woman approved as a radio operator. And then I shouted out to actors who had seen active service.

I’ve ended up with some really interesting ex-services actors. The fee is just barely what I would accept for the work, so charm offensive played a part in me getting them interested. But now apparently the client wants people who can be PA’s on the shoot as well and just do the acting as part of it. I’m going to send them my guys and let them decide as it’s just cost cutting and I’ve got the quality. If they want actors and PAs I want more money for those actors, especially since the fee they’re offering includes a buyout. It’s good money for a days work but these things don’t just work for a day. They play and play. If they just want people dressed up as soldiers facilitating things who aren’t too concerned about image rights then so be it. I can find those people too and they’d be marvellous. But they aren’t the people I’ve been looking for. I’ve been talking to a load of soldiers who have become actors and have genuine skill and experience in both arenas. People with hard line military experience who now prance about in tutus. Or would if the money was right. I don’t want to have to phone round and and say “uh sorry guys you have to PA as well” – even though nothing is contracted yet – because every one of them could kill me with their little finger. But acting is a craft and these people are extremely skilled specialist journeymen and should be paid accordingly. It has also made me realise that I’ve come some distance from the version of me that would spend three weeks above a pub doing something I categorically didn’t believe in while paying my own transport for the privilege. At the time I felt it was my duty to my craft. I wanted to make things and put them out there, observe, learn, adapt, make more things better. I still do, but at the start I’d try anything so long as it would involve me learning audiences and skilling myself in front of them. I had some hits. I had some misses. I wasn’t concerned. You gain confidence by winning. You learn more by failing.

I’ve always held the old model in how I think of this craft. Apprentice to Journeyman (It’s an old model genderwise) to, one day, Master.  I currently put my self-identity into a skilled journeyman. I’ve met a few masters. I’ve met plenty of apprentices who think they’re masters, and many remarkable practitioners generally on all parts of the journey.

It’s nice to be able to offer work. But I’m not going to offer thankless work. “Be in my play that I writted. No money. Lots nice! Gropeygropey.” “This film will be submitted to high end festivals and will be a great experience! You’ll be working with *celebrity whose fee commanded the whole budget* It will be a great networking opportunity. The set is made out of gold. Tickets are £700. No fee.”

Bums. I’ll make some calls in the morning.

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Ladders

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There’s a door in my kitchen that opens onto a thing that is referred to as a “fire escape.” The people in my block get extremely funny about it out there. They monitor its use. I had a “health and safety inspector” knock on my door once. “Excuse me, sir, is this your ladder to the roof?” “Yes. It is.” “Can you remove it. Someone could injure themselves on it.” “I could put a laminated sign on it saying ‘Be careful not to injure yourself using this ladder?” “No. Just remove it please.” “But what if there’s a fire in the stairwell? This is – notionally – the fire escape. It goes nowhere. People might come out here and realise they’re trapped. This ladder means they can escape across the roof.” “We have fire doors in the block. Any fire will be contained by the fire doors. Remove the ladder please.” I didn’t remove the ladder. Two weeks later it had been removed.

Today, this perfect May day, I did a load of laundry and left it on the “fire escape” to dry. I’m hoping it doesn’t get confiscated too. In the event of a fire anyone that found their way up there would be too busy trying to scale the last few foot of wall with their fingers and swearing about the fact there’s no ladder to be concerned about the obstruction of my laundry. They might even be able to stand on the laundry to grab the roof. But these health and safety bods aren’t thinking rationally. They’re working from paper. And you can never underestimate the capacity of a certain type of human to be obstructive. He wasn’t actually a health and safety inspector anyway. He was just some dude who works with the head leaseholder.

The major issue here is possession. They don’t want me to be seen to possess the space even though there’s a switch in my flat for a light out there so they bully me out of it. If I had my way I’d put a table there but someone would get weird about it very quickly even though nobody uses it or has access to it but me. I’m hoping all my socks are okay because I literally washed the lot and then had to put on the least damp ones to go out. The rest are air drying there as the evening falls.

I went mentoring tonight in my damp socks. Off to Somerstown to volunteer with a charity helping kids from some of the estates around that way. We wrote the beginning of a play about a lion in a diamond palace who wants to be the best by solving the impossible rubik’s cube. Then I walked one of the kids home to his estate, and up three floors carrying his musical instrument, and remembered this time last year and how so many people died partly as a result of similar thinking by “safety” people – “The fire doors will mean that a ladder is unnecessary.” Such arrogant thinking. That the thing we have made will defeat the force we cannot control. We are lying to ourselves. Just as we are still subject to death, so nature is still more powerful than us. If we war with it we will eventually lose. It’s going that way as the air turns to poison. But that’s probably just my hayfever talking.

What’s up, doc?

8.10pm. I have been in the pub with Max. But my GP is holding a late drop in. So I drop in. Just to put my mind at rest about this bastard cough.

I tell her my medical history, that isn’t on her records because I went private as kid, back in the faraway moneytimes. I explain that I had double pneumonia after a broken rib, and each of my lungs collapsed in turn. It cost me a year of school. Now I’ve got a cough that won’t go away, which is where it all started last time, although last time I ignored it for months. She listens to my lungs. “Your lungs are really good,” she tells me after a run around with a stethoscope. She’s quite an unusual doctor. Very full forward. Very happy to banter with her patient. We hit it off immediately. I trust her.

I tell her “My friends have insisted I go to the doctor. Plus I’m a bit worried. And then I had a mate over last night and she told me I coughed all night long. I didn’t even know.” “Look, I can see you’re worrying given your past. But this sounds viral to me. You’ve already blown your nose twice since you’ve come in. Do you get hayfever?” “Not usually but I think the plane trees are trying to drown me this year.” “What you taking before you sleep?” “I’m on Actifed for…” She interrupts me. “None of that stuff works. That’s just ‘selling-medicine’. You should avoid all that ‘selling-medicine’ apart from maybe basic paracetamol once in a blue moon. It’s just for selling, that stuff. Most of it’s a load of rubbish.” “Yes,” I tell her. “But it sends me to sleep.”

She writes me a prescription for some sort of nasal spray. Mometasone as I recall. To stop the drip back when I sleep. So I’m not filling my lungs with snot every night. She tells me to sleep with 3 pillows but the pneumonia year leads me to know that I won’t sleep if I attempt it, and I’ll kill my own neck trying. Still, it’s her job to encourage me towards these ideal scenarios because if sleep were possible under such circumstances it would be wonderful.

I’m home now. I’ll get the prescription tomorrow. Right now I’m hungry and so is the catmistress. She’s jumped on my lap but I know it’s only cupboard love. I’ll feed her from her brand new supply of tasty vitamin nonsense.  And then I’ll cook fajitas for myself..

It’s already ten past nine. I spent most of today trying to clean and tidy things I have pretended don’t even exist for ages. I’ve got a clear job for tomorrow booking people and making calls. Things are feeling really lovely, really varied, really positive. I have a sense that the next month is going to be an absolute beauty and I’m hoping that by shoving this stuff up my nose from tomorrow my old shit bronchial tubes don’t get the better of my “remarkable lungs”. An odd thing to be complimented on, outside of it being a clumsy euphemism for boobies. I was strangely flattered.

Here’s the sunset and birds. Will I ever develop a photo habit? I remembered going home. Chelsea. Birds. Dusk.

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Carrying things

Out in Hodderston in one of those homogeneous industrial estates that pepper British suburbia is a unit called The Scenery Shop. It’s essentially an aircraft hangar sized room that you can paint and cut things in.

We forget that all of those beautiful sets we see in theatres are slammed together out of recycled bits of other people’s sets and new wood and sweat and madness in places like that shop. They’ve been out there sticking lino to things and building curved flats and columns and walls and so forth.

Brian, Mel and I arrived at about 3. I had endeavoured to dose myself such that I wouldn’t leak all over the stuff I was carrying. It’s for “The Rink” at Southwark Playhouse. Looks like they’re building a great big old skate rink. We just had to shove it in the back of a great big articulated van. I got about halfway through before whatever medication I had in my system had been fully sweated out and I was hacking my guts out. Still, a money-positive day and it’ll go towards healthy food, vitamins and medication. Now I’m in the car being driven back through the evening. I like driving with Mel. She drives like I do. We one-bombed it to Liverpool a couple of months ago listening to music and putting the world to rights. Neither of us needed a wee. It took 5 and a half hours, but most of it was getting out of London. She missions when she drives. Now she’s caning it into town and I’m going to try and fight through the fog to see some friends tonight. I’ve earned some money. Now I can spend a bit. Although I don’t actually know how much I’ve made today. “You’ll be paid.” “Amazon vouchers?” “No.” “Twiglets?” “No. Money. I just don’t know how much yet. But I know they’re not taking the piss.” “I’m in.”

Labouring with friends is not a bad way of spending a Sunday afternoon. I’d have positively enjoyed it if I hadn’t been streaming. My current working theory is that I’m beating this sickness though. Antibiotics antibischmotics. I’d sooner do it the slow way. I think I had two bugs simultaneously plus hayfever. God knows what’s happened to my immune system.

So I’m going to go out tonight. Not big. But out. I might feel rough but that’s no reason to stop existing. And experience tells me that staying active when you feel rough can sometimes help you forget you feel rough. Even if it does prolong the sickness a bit. Screw you. I rested yesterday. That’s enough, surely?

I’m seeing some of my “Witches” tonight. In Alice’s tarot she has a new card called “The Witches”. It’s a card about powerful alternative women in your life who exist outside the way things are normally done. When I describe that card to people I always think about the witches in my life, men and women. Alternative thinkers, remarkable humans, some on the borderline, some in the thick of it. Over the years I have assembled the most unbelievably powerful coven. I never ever lack a source of insightful guidance. I never lack someone to walk alongside and just “be” and mutually mend in the process.

Job done. Time for fun.IMG-20180520-WA0001