The memory of cock

15 years ago I was at The Latchmere, a pub theatre in Battersea now called Theatre 503. As I was getting ready to go in, a man slapped me on the back. “I’ve seen your cock,” he said, enthusiastically. By the time I recovered, he was gone. I never got to ask him what he thought of it.

Shortly after leaving Guildhall I came upon a lovely piece of writing by Moira Buffini. The show was called Loveplay. Equal parts male and female without feeling arbitrary. A story about the changing nature of the process of looking for love. It was just before internet dating took over. The final scene would be very different nowadays. It was set in an old school dating agency.

I put the show on at The Finborough, and then for two nights at Soho. Flavia (blogs passim) co-produced it, and I assembled a fantastic cast including my best friend Minnie. One of the characters had to get their kit off. Because I couldn’t pay my actors, I felt I couldn’t ask them to do it, so I did it. At the time it never occurred to me that people would think “He’s the producer. He’s got his cock out. That’s why the show’s on.” But inevitably, some people did. Also I realised I can’t justify producing a show without paying my artists ever again. It’s not ethical. Even if they were my friends in this instance. It sets a bad precedent.

To be honest, it WAS liberating, getting stark naked on stage. It’s a very intimate theatre, The Finborough, so some people were uncomfortably close. Someone could’ve been blinded if I’d got aroused. I’m not in a hurry to strip again (although it did happen in an Odyssey at Wilderness Festival) but it served the scene and it helped me unpick fear very early on in my career.

This evening, I went to what I understand is the first play Moira Buffini’s ever wrote -Gabriel – performed at The Greenwich Theatre. It’s set in The Channel Islands during the German occupation. I lived in Jersey so I’m well versed in the stories of those times. Back when I lived in Jersey getting my cock out in public was a normal day. I was a very small child. Similar to the man in the theatre, people from those times would approach me well into my adult life, slap me on the back and say “I changed your shitty nappy.” We all get that.

It’s a good show. I couldn’t make it in time for the first half, but the second half was tight and considering it must have been written 20 years ago it’s great that it feels completely natural to have more female parts than male. It’s a ratio that’s still rare. Afterwards we went to the pub and sat with Paul McGann, who was in it playing a Nazi.

Paul is a true working actor. An actor’s actor. He’s brilliant, and has weathered storms. When I was at school he played “I” in the iconic movie “Withnail and I”. He played Doctor Who in the Who movie with my dear friend Emma as his companion. Emma was the reason I was there tonight. Moira Buffini was in the pub too. I understood the “Seen your cock” man better when presented with the chance to say to McGann “You’ve taken your clothes off in my bedroom”. I didn’t. But he has. He did “A Little Place off the Edgware Road” and the director was my old mate Tim. My flat was a location.

We had a lovely chat. Apparently his parents had a place in the seventies round the corner, before the prices went crazy. There were people queuing up in the pub with Withnail scripts for signing. Fuck that, it’s been 20 years! It’s funny how some parts stick in people’s minds. Thankfully nobody has slapped my back and said “I’ve seen your cock” for long enough for me to know I’m out of danger. Although I’m sure they still dream about it.

I didn’t have the opportunity to go up to Moira and talk to her. Maybe I could’ve said “Everyone saw my cock because of you.” Probably for the best that I didn’t. Although I would like to have said I admire her work. But so would eveyone. It was pleasant enough to see a lovely show with good friends and to meet a fellow practitioner whose work I admire. As ever I have no photo. I probably should post a cock shot:

COCK

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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