Brighton beach

I’m standing by some French windows looking out at the sea on the marina in Brighton. Yesterday at about this time I was doing the same thing in the equivalent place in Hastings. If I’m gonna pay £300 and six points for a fucked up old car I’m going to fucking use the damn thing. I’ve been Bunberrying, or as close as can be achieved at this stage of lockdown. Careful visitations. Talking about work as well as just … talking. I even transported an instrument that needed transporting. Multitasking.

Last night I was singing gypsy folk in a living room, playing classical guitar and looking through a very beautiful and extremely worn deck of Ryder Waite Tarot Cards. Now I’m here, on another living room, with cats and Thai curry. Outside is the sea, the sea. Last night I could hear it as I slept, smashing the rocks of Hastings all night as I dreamed. Tonight it’ll be here again somehow, this sea, just a bit further west crashing onto Brighton beach. The wind is up. The fog is down. It’s primal.

I have to be back in London on Saturday to do The Tempest, and I’ll have to go get the snake from Hampstead as well as my laptop. That obligation will likely propel me back into the vortex tomorrow, but it has been a healing thing to just get the fuck out of town for a bit.

This situation has brought out the worst in a lot of people. People are febrile and angry, driving aggressively, bristling at strangers. Yes we must be careful. But we can be careful without unpleasantness yesno? I’ve still got my industrial gas mask and I’ve lost layers of skin on my hands. It’s tricky of course. Everybody’s baseline is different.

For now I’m gonna take in the sea air, breathe and relax. Just for a little bit, London feels like an unpleasant memory of elbows and rage. I still love it there. But it’s never felt more like time to get the fuck out. The last two nights I’ve been in places with space and high ceilings. The things I love London for – the cultural vibrance, the happenings, the spontaneous community – everything is shut or fettered. Everybody is renegotiating connection like shell shocked trauma victims. The loudest voices are either telling us we have to live in bubbles forever or that it’s all made up by Mesopotamian demigods and we should be licking each other.

I can’t see an end to it yet, that’s the hell. So the bars are suddenly weirdly open and everybody is either packing themselves in and consuming as much as possible or standing well back in astonished horror waiting for a second wave. Theatres have no plan outside of a nice big bag of money which might be considered to be a plan but is unlikely to convert into gainful time use for the majority of people I know for the short term.

So I threw stones into the sea in a gale for ages without getting my feet wet. And I feel good for it. Calmer. A little bit more alive perhaps. Glad of a car. Glad of good people in my life. Glad of the sea. What’s next, life?

It’s gonna be ok, somehow. But right now it’s the mangle. Let’s stay kind and stay connected. Eventually this’ll just be a stone into the sea.

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Cable Street tomatoes

In October 1936 on Cable Street, there was a fight. On one side the people in London who defined themselves as being “fascists”, led by Oswald Moseley, protected by the police, going on one of those ignorance marches. “Who do we hate? People not like us! Why do we hate them? Lack of perspective!”

They were the “Blackshirts”, echoing Mussolini in Italy who made hatred of the constructed “other” look sexy with a potentially affordable slimming fashion choice. “All you need is a black shirt and you can hate like me and look sexy too!”

We are looking at a potentially very different take on the results of the second world war from the UK perspective if Oswald’s little hateypocket had started snowballing followers. Like most people following hateful ideologies they didn’t really think about who they hated and why. As ever they hated who they were told to hate by the people with actual personality – “it’s your choice to hate who I tell you to hate, and you’re smart if you do what I tell you!”. In trying to take their own power they just listened to these endless demagogues who gave no fucks about them and spewed polemic. So it has ever been. So it is now. “If you pass this test you are clever. Send me £30 and I will give you a clever certificate.”

Mosely hated Jews first and foremost, and after that anybody that didn’t look like him. Then after that I dunno – artists? That bloke? Your mum? Anybody but Oswald, despite perhaps being the most worthy vessel of such a sentiment. But there they were in their sexy black shirts, being angry together and thinking that those positive endorphins of shared indignation were enough to cancel out the desperate hateful unhelpful ignorance of their standpoint. It’s nice to breathe together. To think you’re part of something. To think you have special knowledge that everybody else is too unenlightened to fully understand. “You just don’t get it!”

On the other side in Cable Street in 1936 stood the varied and living people of East London, in large numbers, having no tolerance for such fuckery, coming out to stand against it, not being suckered in by the initially easy bait of hate.

It’s frequently down to individuals to police fascism. It was then too, in large numbers, with the officers of the law protecting the hate.

The people on both sides went on, three years later to fight and win an important war together against a cult of personality at the heart of a recovering German nation that took these comforting ideas about blame too far, so far, further still, that far. So far that ignorant and fearful people are already attempting to pretend the astonishing atrocities didn’t happen. Wouldn’t it be lovely if they hadn’t. But they did and that’s the logical end for these thoughts and beliefs. That’s where the simplistic stuff can lead. It can easily happen again and again and again as it has across the world over and over as we breathe from hate to love and back again.

It’s terrifying what darkness we humans are capable of through shared fear and outrage. It’s amazing how much basic unpleasantnesses we can justify perpetrating individually when our leader is broken. Everything trickles down from the head. Trump is a nasty fool, Boris a compulsive liar. Both entitled. Two nations that used to have meaning, crippled by their past and by present ignorance… Grrr

Anyway, I was talking about Cable Street. Why was I talking about Cable Street?

Because somebody threw tomatoes through my car window on Cable Street today, God Dammit. Vine tomatoes too. Little ones. Quite expensive. Still fresh. Pre-split for maximum splashage. One hit my cheek, the other hit the seat by my head and dropped down behind my back. If they were propelled by any kind of ideology I’m not aware of it. It’s more likely they were chucked at me thoughtlessly by kids. I didn’t know what had hit me at first. Came as a shock. I found it more funny than anything else but still phoned it in to the local cops just as I could’ve panicked and knocked over a bike or some such and it’s not smart to condone the waste of good vine tomatoes when nobody can fly anywhere to get more.

A hit in the face with a thrown tomato? That’s the closest I’ve had to contact with a stranger since a jogger shoved me out of his way in early march. I’ll take the jogger. It was weird. I always thought I’d be on stage the first time I got a tomato in the face.

Battle of Cable Street Mural

Driving lessons and fatigue

Lizzie and Dean got me back on the road pretty sharply but I was in no state to drive anywhere right away this morning.

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I ran the engine for a good fifteen minutes to charge the battery and then paid for four hours parking and went back to bed. Some sort of a malaise, I’m calling it. I was sapped of all energy and couldn’t do anything other than sleep. I could barely even think.

I was still pretty ropey when I hauled myself out of the flat and wandered down to move the car at lunchtime. Hopefully it’s one off, and likely it’s brought on by the fact that last night and the night before I haven’t been so careful about what I’ve been consuming. Clearly I need to stick with some of the changes I’ve been trying to make in terms of diet and consumption. Dammit I’m not 24 anymore. And the work in the woods needs to drip through into the day to day.

Today I was moonlighting as a driving instructor so I had to be reasonably clear headed. By the time I’d hauled the Nissan across town the cobwebs were blown though. It requires reasonably active driving, as the brake is as loose as the clutch and at low rev it sounds like it’s trying to throw the exhaust off.

It’s useful not caring about the car though, to teach in it. I wasn’t flinching when my pupil ground the clutch or repeatedly stalled it.

I’ve been taking Tristan through the basics, God help us all, much as my dad did with me forever ago in The Isle of Man. Stuff that it’s worth getting into your body before you’re paying some dude through the nose for it.

Observation. Start it. Move it. Stop it. Do it again. All without stalling. That’s the theory at least. Useful for me to break down something learnt and put into my body such a long time ago. Interesting to try and explain something almost totally instinctive in terms of the mechanics. I found myself second guessing myself about the order in which things should be done. And all of it strung together with necessary reminders to keep looking around and into your mirrors ostentatiously. Not being a dad won’t stop me doing the dad stuff, it seems. Knowing what the tree is, making bad jokes, not being able to drink as much as I used to and …  teaching the little fucker to drive. Only in this case the little fucker is only a few years younger than me and definitely not my son. With his aryan features people would be whispering behind my back.

You’re never too old to learn new tricks. It seems Tristan might be on the road eventually…

I’m in Richmond with him post driving lesson. It actually worked. I tried to teach a girlfriend to ski and it was a fucking disaster as I can’t remember not being able to do it. I can remember learning to drive, with dad being ultra patient, primarily because he loved cars. Those weird driving lessons in the driveway at Eyreton, and the endless hill starts on the back road heading up to Ballabrooie Drive when dad had less than a year to live… They have become powerful memories. He’s been dead for half my life now. But it seems I can be patient and calm when there’s a liability in the driving seat anyway, like he could.

Battery out near friends

Momentary blip yesterday. Perfectly understandable given the environment. And suddenly it seems that the government has pledged a whole harvest from the magic money tree in order to keep the arts afloat, and it’s enough to make me feel a little better.

I’m sure there’ll be conditions, and nuances. I’m concerned there’ll be other things put out to pasture.

But as a statement of intent it’s something unexpected from Oliver Dowden, the Fabulous Inflated Man.

We weren’t really aware of him until this, and we thought he’d overlooked the whole sector. Turns out old whey-face has managed to create a package that just might stop some of the institutions from collapsing. Good on him and his suet cheeks.

I’ve been back in Hampstead, chilling with the snake, wandering in ancient woodland. It’s a huge privilege to have both north and south London open to me. The car is a bit of a bind though, as the battery needs replacing and I can’t get a parking permit anywhere yet in this bollocks. I moved it around a bit until it wouldn’t let me kick the ignition because I sat there too long with the key in the slot. In an ideal world I’d switch the battery out for a good one. But it’s far from an ideal world.

Dean was in my year at drama school. This is his neck of the woods now, Hampstead. He trains dogs when he isn’t acting. He was talking with a client over the other side of the road from me as I sat in my car reading. I heard his voice – unmistakable. “Fuck me, hello Dean!” I ejaculated without thinking he’d be with a client. “I’d already clocked you, Al, hang on,” he responded peremptorily, before finishing with the client. His hourly rate is more than my daily rate for some jobs. It’s not necessarily the most helpful thing for him to have his sweary hairy friend shouting at him from a fucked up old Nissan while he’s talking to a client. But fuck it, we’re old mates. That counts for a lot these days. And fate keeps on swinging us together.

We grab a coffee. People keep slowing down in expensive cars to shout his name. He’s the guy that said to me a few weeks ago “Business is booming! Everybody is buying puppies!” I can really see it now, with so many people glad to see him in Hampstead. He’s made a manor for himself, and a living within that. And within that living he’s still made time for the acting. He went to NYC with Ferryman.

He’s agreed to swing by tomorrow at 9 with his wheels in order to help jump the car for me.

“I’ve not done it much,” he says and I’m laughing and crying internally at quite how frequently I’ve had to jump start my succession of hideous vehicles over the years. We’ll be fine. I know what I’m doing. Too well.

Dad was great at teaching me the basics. He was a proper petrolhead. I wish he’d lived a bit longer as I think I would have followed him.

I left the dead car for the night and went for a restorative walk on The Heath with Helen, and we remembered why we love each other. Yesterday I forgot about the huge network of friends I have. Today I remembered. And I feel supported again. And able to support.

 

Jamming socks into the cracks

The wind is hammering on the window here in Hampstead. I had to jam it shut with a sock. A friend just texted me about something I should’ve recorded by now for him – but it’s unpaid. My microphone is in Chelsea and without payment I’m never inclined to prioritise. My time is worth money. I don’t have any inclination to be front footed and generative right now with no guarantee of remuneration. I’ve bought my ability with time. I have no idea where the money might come from next. Everything I read bodes ill for the theatre part of my industry. What the fuck is going to happen? Filming might pick up, so that’s something. But God…

A year ago I hoped I’d get the audition for the perfect role in theatre somewhere that might transfer to the West End. I could get the part and then it could lead to the thing that led to the thing that eventually meant I could finally finally finally take a foot off the gas and … who knows – afford to fall in love? Even to have a kid? All these things I feel like I’ve pretty much burnt forever now in the struggle to just remain vaguely current.

Here I sit in the carcass of the dreams that propped me up, wondering what all the sacrifice was for.

What have I built? Fuck.

Friends. A fair few wonderful fragile powerful friends. Thank God.

Debt. Resilience. Perspective. Observation.

Outside of that? A web of unusual connections in an ailing industry with people who, with a few notable exceptions, don’t hate me.

I have been reasonably uncompromising. I’m kind and peaceable. But I speak my mind even as it changes, so people I’ve designated as hypocrites and people who refuse to be honest have not gone forward with my blessing and they know it.

I’ve also been visible but not in a shiny way – I write this shit every day and it’s full of the word “I”. I don’t share it widely or pepper it with hashtags. I tell you when I’m sad rather than colouring the cracks with meat. But if you wanna paint me as a narcissist you’ve got all the words, so long as you ignore the content – and that’s the nature of agendas. And I’m not doing the grinning and the dancing with tassles in my arse that apparently we are supposed to do as actors writing about our careers.

The more visible someone is the easier it is to dismiss them.

This blog is a fucking grind. It’s both my strength and my weakness. I hate it and I hate myself for forcing myself to do it no matter how I feel, over and over and over again. And I love it too. I love it for the messages you send. For the fact it helps people know they’re not the only ones. And for what I learn about myself by doing it.

I have to connect with myself and assess myself in this life where otherwise I might just divorce myself from who I am and from what I want and join the hordes who write endless saccharine content that goes for nothing and for nothing and for nothing.

Every day for 1270 days no matter what, mostly honest, mostly straightforward, frequently unedited. Minimum 500 words a day. Books and books worth of content, put out, hardly even shared, forgotten. For me? For you? Who knows anymore. For this.

I’ve learnt a lot in the process.

But I haven’t learnt to distribute it.

Maybe that should be the next lesson for these times where the theatre industry is mothballed, filming is stuttering and online shows look pointedly elsewhere. Time to bump up my numbers on the social meedjas. Time to be like the varnished turds who use words like “influencer” towards themselves. Time to make it harder for people to overlook me. Maybe accept that my unedited daily version of reality is more healthy than the curated dogshit people try to feed the world about themselves and our industry.

But … I’m leaky tonight. I’m popping sadness unexpectedly. The wind is banging on the window reminding me of a big wild world out there. Time to put a sock in it.

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Burning a noose of snakeskin

Hex likes to shed his skin and to poo at the same time. I found him this evening nonchalantly sitting under his rock having made a right mess of his terrarium. The skin he had shed though – it was remarkably neat. He made a perfect little noose, and then he went through it. I put him on my head, shiny and new, and I started cleaning up.

He immediately removed my glasses, and then settled against the warm bits and started snuffling in my ear innocently as he watched me sort out his mess.

This perfect noose of skin was surrounded by his stinky pellets. When I took the time to notice, it was as if he had made the perfect topical present, keying into so much of my work towards myself at the moment. Going all the way through nooses and shedding skin and basic snake imagery – these were all things that came up in the woods very clearly. I’m not one to overlook a chance for ceremony. So I made use of his old discarded skin.

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It’s full moon tonight, with the wind bringing in a cleansing rain. The pubs might be open but I’m not feeling it. I banked up a fire in the fire pit on Mel’s balcony. I wrote out a load of stuff I needed to burn for good – stuff I’d been carrying that there’s no room for any more.

I made a fire and burnt some writing, and I put the shed skin in the hottest part of the fire and sent it up with the rest of the crap. I did my usual thing of improvising a ritual. Closing off the changes from the woods with the Skinner. Literally mixing metaphors as I do.

Then I dumped rocks on the fire and sat in drizzle until I was happy it was extinguished and wasn’t going to burn down anybody’s Hampstead pied a terre. Practicality is still present alongside my improvised mysticism.

I went back into the flat stinking of acrid burnt snakeskin. I’m learning smells through Hex.

Snake is a very specific smell. Unmissssnakeable. I’ll be like Indiana Jones now. I’ll know if I’m in a snake pit by smell.

Mouse too, although it’s a bit less of a concern to be thrown into a mouse pit. I know the mouse smell from all the puppeting back when Hex wasn’t eating properly. And from opening the packet near his nose to waft the tempting yummy mousey smell…

Burnt snakeskin isn’t as unique a smell but it clings. It’s in the same world as burnt hair and nails. Familiar and sharp. You don’t want it in your face when you’re sleeping. It stuck to me as I came back into the flat.

I had a hot bath and moisturised. Yeah baby. Now I smell of coconut.

I’m tucked up in bed listening to the wind and rain outside. Sometimes that can be one of the most beautiful feelings in the world. To be safe and warm in a storm.

I’m right on the edge of the heath. Occasionally there’s a fox, yarking like it’s stuck on a fence, firing all the instincts of the idiot local dogs. “Gaaaark gaaaark!” once. “Rolf Rolf Rolf Rolf Rolf” for ages.

Occasionally there’s an owl too, staking territory for the hunt. “Screw youuuu, it’s myyyy shreeew!”

But right now it’s too rainy for foxes. It’s too windy for owls. No owl in its right mind is gonna trust big wings and hollow bones to these unpredictable gales. The shrews will be holed up for the night as well, snug in their little hole. And so am I.

Summer has taken a sabbatical. She’ll be back. Plenty of time left thank God, even though we’ve spent the best of it locked in our own homes, and the days are already getting shorter again. I’m going to enjoy this storm for now and let it blow away old terrors and unpleasantnesses.

Tiger king

I have a television. I forget this.

Not only do I have a television, but it’s a gargantuan television. And I rarely if ever switch it on. I did my best to chase the last film on Mubi for a while, but then the lure of paper pages suckered me back into the beautiful endless world of books. This evening though, having been an epic consumer of printed words, it seemed only right to lie back and let some words and pictures happen. I thought I’d go with something cultural. I put on Tiger King.

The Impostor. Making a Murderer. There’s something about the whole “Redneck Documentary” genre that draws me in. This one is about arrogance vs self righteousness. It’s about lack of perspective. Narcissism. Greed. It’s about big cats and about the broke idiots and the rich hypocrites that keep these creatures for their own self aggrandisement. And it’s about betrayal, lies and money.

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It’s a well put together little piece, and one that landed just as we all got shut into our own homes so it had a wide reach. I felt I ought to have a reference point, so I could make sense of the memes. I prefer to try to be loosely up to date with the shit that people use as reference, (except for the talent shows the fake reality and the competition guff).

There’s a lot to mull over in Tiger King. It’s full of cowards and criminals, liars and losers. It reinforces the warning that you should never make yourself too visible. It’s about cruelty and intrangisence. And it’s about hundreds of wonderful beasts living from birth to death in cages, almost completely overlooked by the self serving fuckwits who think of them as an income stream or a chance to be cute. It’s worth watching even if it’s depressing. The cats are constant. The central people – all of them – are manipulative, self satisfied, mean spirited and generally more appropriate as fodder than keeper.

Maybe this is why I stick to books. At least the fantastic “true” construct of Shantaram keeps leaving little gems of beautifully expressed morality scattered in with all the perfect coincidences. I go to bed smiling and feeling connected to the eponymous author as he hacks together his personality through liberal application of trust, through almost supernatural stoicism and through almost impossible synchronicity. Reading Shantaram I somehow find myself thinking “I could’ve gone that way,” apart from my conviction that I’d be enthusiastic but ultimately dead if I got into a street fight. I go to bed dreaming India.

Watching The Tiger King just leaves a sour taste in my mouth and I’ll probably dream shouting manface. Bunch of self serving bastards. Watching it we forget so quickly and completely the names and behaviours of any of the animals and instead dive into the thorny criminality and ultimately the weakness and changeability of the humans who are exploiting their connection with these vast beauties of nature. There’s no excuse for doing that to so many lovely beasts. Not fragile masculinity. Not money. Not the cult of personality. Not self righteousness. The way that it’s cut, it feels like none of the humans give two fucks about the animals they have in their custody. Smart though. Three years or more of filming with no guarantee of distribution let alone the traction it has gained. I wonder how many years have gone into similar things that ultimately went to nothing. But keeping predatory animals? There’s a story there. And they tell it very well.

I’ve got Hex. A single predator, looked after temporarily. I worry when I bring him into The Tempest. He needs to be happy and comfortable or its no go. He is just one snake and I worry about him loads and watch his well being. He’s already carrying burns from a previous keeper the poor wee beasty. He needs to be loved.

I have him with me for a few minutes of a piece of work. And I worry enough about his well being through that. I’m having to shoot up and down to Hampstead loads just to satisfy myself that he’s watered and hasn’t pooed and has had some gravity. Usually I get there and nothing needs to be done but a clamber. But he is just one extremely easy animal and he’s enough worry for me thanks. Over 200 tigers? Maniacs.

 

Mobile and thinking about flow

It seems this week is all about people asking for money. I get it. We need to move the stuff around I guess. Whatever it is.

The long and short of all the fuckery with the cops is that now there’s a red Nissan Micra parked outside my flat. I’ll be glad of it once my breathing gets back to normal. It means that I have basic freedom of movement, and for the price of petrol I can go and shout at friends through their windows in various parts of the country. Much less of a faff than the tube at the moment, and likely cheaper over time than taking those Ubers (if we don’t take into account the impending fine for the insurance fuck-up. )

Motivation has been slippery this week. I feel like I’ve been booting myself back into the world, back into my flat in Chelsea. Apart from all the energy I spent chasing cars I’ve just been reading my book and wandering around in the Physic Garden. The knowledge that I’m going to have to start finding income streams again is tempered by my iron trust in fate to work its magic. I’ll probably give it a helping hand by getting back on the eBay wagon and so forth. But something will come.

This time last year I had just started a run of work and flow that took me right into lockdown with The Tempest. It was such a beautiful rarity to know for months and months not only what my immediate work was but also what was coming next. It paid off the credit card that I’m about to start racking up again. A year ago I walked through the early morning to a last minute motorbike lesson for the test I (thankfully) failed. I was in digs in Oxford, marveling in the beauty of the world and revelling in all the meaty Shakespeare laid before me for the summer. It was a summer that was to take me all over the USA and help me ground deeper into the weight that I wanted – to facilitate my journey from jester to king, from air to earth. I’ve been floating so long I’d almost forgotten how to tether.

Now I haven’t a clue what’s going to happen. Very few of us do. There’s a Tempest on 11th July -(God love the Creation and Big Telly team)- but aside from that the old familiar actor’s fear : ” maybe I’ll never work again” is amplified by the little voice that says “because nobody will ah ha hahaa”.

Live art, historically, has burnt bright in times of crisis. But it needs to have an audience. The pubs open soon but I’m really not sure how I feel about it. Recently I’ve gained so much in terms of peace from being part of a society that goes to nature to relax.

Evenings have often found me striding barefoot through The crowded Heath, my familiar bag of little hand knitted prayer mats in my hand, smelly things, burny things and thinky things, enjoying the warm winds carrying with them the sound of laughter. Stinky crowded rooms pumping music too hard and selling drinks too dearly – the theory isn’t firing me up at the moment. I’d sooner spend my money watching people take charming risks and telling me a tale together on a stage, as I sit rapt elbow to elbow with a wriggling stranger.

I worry so much for these buildings – the rich and varied network of gorgeous theatres around this country. The masterpieces and quirky gems in small towns – with wide reach, giving needed jobs, honing the craft of the future industry leaders, sharing great skill and passion and beauty even if your aunty hasn’t heard of them at Christmas – Pitlochry, Keswick, Newcastle under Lyme, St Andrews, Mold, Leicester, Frinton, Dundee many many more, so many. The old tiny beautiful buildings kept alive by passion and the Christmas season – gems like Margate and Richmond Yorkshire. I cut my teeth touring. How many friends did I meet in those places watching or playing who are now making work that touches people all over the world?

Not to mention the networks and webs they cast in their areas, these buildings, giving people purpose and employment and joy.

The Globe! I love that building passionately, and it had such a journey to even get built.  It’s in a powerful place, visible and so crowded in season. You get the best view for a fiver and you feel like you’re part of something. Even that incredible building is under threat as much from uncertainty as anything else. You can’t start paying people to rehearse if there might not be a show…

Ugh. Better out than in. Something’s gotta shift. I am sick from hearing worrying news now…

Fallout of my own dumb behaviour

I can’t tell if I’m more angry with myself or with the system.

So I fucked up. I drove a car that was not yet insured. It was insured in my head because all I needed to do was click go. But crucially … I hadn’t clicked go. I’m in a bus heading masked to spring it from the pound now.

I went to the post office to sort tax. The counter clerk told me that I couldn’t get it taxed with just a photo of the new keeper supplement. I’d have to pay £25 for a new log book I was told. The photo is no good. The counter clerk was completely wrong, but thankfully I sensed they didn’t give a crap. I didn’t let them steamroll another £25 out of me. I sorted it online. I should’ve done it all along. Still, unhelpful fucker. Spots. Lots of annoying spots next Tuesday for them please.

Once it’s out of the pound I’ll probably have to live in it, because the parking permit money is going on the pound release so the car will be under threat from wardens between 8.30 to 6.30.

Meanwhile I was woken up by an automatic phone call from Thames Water. They want £50 more than the fine I’m about to get in the post and have clearly been picking their moment. I’m just going to bury my head for now.

I’m fully expecting somebody at the pound to tell me my treads aren’t legal or there’s a reason why I can’t drive it away or whatever other obstructive nonsense they decide to make up. I’ll likely have to push it through the gate anyway as I can’t imagine the coppers will jump start it for me. They’re not there to be helpful. But I’m going to try to get them to be. I’m attaching a happy face. I’ve done all the admin. Let them do their worst.

The weird thing is how different my anger is now to how it would’ve been ten years ago. Ten years ago would’ve been screaming incandescent rage. Five years ago would’ve been simmering weeping resentment. Right now? I’m getting on with it and meeting all the little resistances with a kind of exasperated silent activity. And writing about it here. I’m angry, yes.

But it’s done. Being angry won’t change it. The letters will say what the letters will say. Eventually everybody will get their money but me. All I need to do in the meantime is the basic work to pay that money, somehow, when the only acting role went elsewhere and the industry feels to be boiling on the edge of an irretrievable collapse, carrying with it the hopes and dreams of most of my favourite people.

About time I got resourceful again. No point just despairing for the future of my industries. Time to activate again somehow.

In times of change and advancement, tendrils of the past can cling on and try to stop us forging forward. In this fearful and judgemental and depressing time I’m trying to spread new wings. The whole of this city is mired in terror – the whole of the world is in shock. Nobody is supposed to be trying to fly. It’s almost an act of defiance to be happy. That’s why I’ll keep on flapping my arms around even if I hit myself a bit in the process. And that’s why I’ll beat every one of those coppers with smiling. (*Edit : They tried to keep obstructing with this thing they’ve made up about how your insurance policy needs to specifically cover collecting from a pound. They are utter scum. My insurance company was lenient thank God.)

I’ve got a fully paid off credit card. It’s a shame knowing that it’s swinging back into red. But what a privilege to even have the option.

This is just a momentary stumble. Two steps forward, one step back.

But generally it feels like dark dark times right now. I’ve never seen so much flat despair on my social media. I have to work hard to remind myself to keep positive, even in the face of my own incompetence and the reminder that the law is an ass.

Let’s look after each other actively. It’s getting dark out there. Hold hands.

Big fat fine

“You know what?” asks Sergeant Don companionably ; “I pulled this car over last time as well. Last July. What’s your friend’s name again? I remember him.”

£400 and six points it’ll cost me. Plus £150 to get it out of the pound. I reckon I can classify this as a massive fuck up. Although there’s a chance I’ll be able to take a course and make things a bit less expensive.

Oops.

It was in an underground car park. No internet. I was moving it having just taken possession of it temporarily as a favour. We had just jumped it back to life so I wanted to turn the engine over before stopping it long enough to do the admin. You know, insurance and all that?

Uninsured car. “Have you got the insurance documents?” “Oh no officer it’s not insured yet I’m doing that when I can find a place to pull over!”

I’m an idiot. The cops no doubt agree with me. I was trundling through the City of London, where there must be more cameras per square foot than any other part of the UK. The car I was driving was falling apart, number plate taped on the back, loud rattle in the undercarriage, unhappy and covered in dust, and full of random shit. I had a quote from the insurance company queued up and ready to go on my phone as soon as I found a place I could stop and do it. Then I was going to sort out tax etc and work out what needed to be done to make it happy. It was gonna be my project. Keep me occupied for a bit.

Now it’s a punch in the face before I even get home. It’s a load of money out the pocket, and a hard lesson learnt. At least if I’d been a baddie rather than an idiot I’d have been stopped just as effectively by those officers. And I’m sure you could tell me I’m a baddie. I don’t know what I was thinking really. It was just bumbling idiocy, and I’m not the prime minister so I can’t get away with that shit.

God help me, I actually quite liked the coppers too. I don’t think they usually deal with people quite so cheerfully incompetent as I proved to be this evening. It was all an exciting learning experience. God though. I’ll feel it as the months peel away. That’s the water bill. That’s lots and lots of food. And what is coming up? Ugh. Months and months more of nothing? And with six points how manageable does my driving income stream become? It’s another nail in the coffin of hope. But thankfully hope can sneak out through the cracks somehow, and it will…

Now I’m back home wondering why I’m not angry. It just felt inevitable. I’m sad. I’m heavy. I’m suddenly much broker. But it just feels like it’s the clinging on of the energy that has tried to block my freedom and happiness with shit like this for decades. And it still won’t work.

Perhaps though it’s because this is the end of an old frame. I don’t need to be jolting around in an old jalopy. If I’m going to be on the road maybe I should just put down the sort of money the coppers are taking in the first place and get a car that doesn’t scream “CRIMINAL!” I got myself out of debt just before lockdown. I kept the credit cards open knowing shit like this might try and pull me back in. Off we go again.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got a way I can make a few hundred quid, I’m game. So long as I don’t end up with the lovely bastard coppers again. It’s the sort of thing where one might consider crime just for the one payment, just to spite them. Agents of the letter of the law, inconsiderate to the spirit of it. It’s all just energy. Off it goes. By doing their job they’re negating their purpose and undermining themselves again, as they so often do. Protectors should protect. Not steal and niggle. No wonder so few people trust them.

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