Camomile and piles of clothes

The clothes of mine that are not scattered all over my bedroom floor are either on the sofa in the living room, or on me. Everything is liberally dusted with cat hair be it clean or dirty. This is the reality when I’m busy daytimes and evenings too. If I were to meet someone tonight and sparks were to fly, I wouldn’t want her to come back here. I won’t meet anyone, thankfully, because time is not an abundant resource this week, plus I’m never looking. Hopefully I won’t get called on to dress smartly for an audition until after the weekend either. Although an audition is always nice.

I get home, throw food on while running a bath and writing this blog. 


Then I wash, put a hot water bottle in my bed, set my alarm and crash. But that’s day to day existence for a large chunk of the working population in this country, barring the ever present threat of dropping everything for an audition, the bath that takes 45 minutes to run, and the daily blog. I should get a cleaning lady but I’m kind to strangers. Plus I’m not exactly raking it in despite the hours.

I’m going to employ camomile tea as my sleepjuice tonight. It makes for a better sleep than twenty barrels of grog, and a better wake as well. I’m sure I could murder a firkin of ale, a Nebuchadnezzar of krug or even just a glass of plonk, but a cup of camomile tea with two bags (indulgence!) will help me survive the mindnumbing tedium of tomorrow’s day job.

Tomorrow I’m back invigilating exams. Students taking exams are marginally more interesting than drying paint, although there were times that I hankered for a good roller of Dulux Lunar Falls and a shaft of light. I forgot to bring in something to learn, which was a waste of six uneventful silent hours. Four 1.5 hour exams plus set up and turnaround. I’m a machine at it now.  It’ll never make me rich, but it makes the day money positive rather than money negative. I need as many days like that as I can to offset my social habits and bills and to keep me in camomile tea until Carol starts. Tomorrow will be long silent hours again but I’ll bring in Macbeth and arbitrarily learn one of the smaller characters, and one of the speeches I don’t know yet. That ought to at least keep me happy and let the time go by without me having to drop my eyes too much. I just have to remember not to say stuff out loud.

The beasties are pretty well squished despite the darkness. I just needed to bring them out in the open so I could see how stupid they look.

Now I want to sort my clothes out and make my flat what it can be. I want to instigate a thing whereby I try to make sure I make everything at home a little bit nicer by the end of the day than it is at the beginning. Otherwise it’s too easy to slip, and fall asleep, as I am about to, in a sea of hairy shirts.



Carol Press Launch

I’m in my top hat, heading home from the press launch of Christmas Carol. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Certainly in Broadgate, where they’ve built a Winter Forest out of Christmas trees and lights and bars and wood and those Christmas-yurts that we remember so well from our childhood. No reindeer though. In keeping with the times, they inform us with notes in the trees that for every tree used they are planting two. They also tell us how they’re using the woodchips once the the season is out – (they’re off to Whipsnade apparently). It’s very sustainably Christmassy. Although it all still feels a little early, to be honest.

I was on duty/not on duty this evening, essentially with no brief but the need to be present – be Scrooge at the press launch. The show is a two hander and Jack’s in Malaga. I solved it by giving out flyers in the guise of a concerned Ebenezer who has discovered that some dreadful vaudevillian is pantomiming him nearby, and that they need to burn out this charlatan- (pictured but not named) – and set the dogs on him. It mostly involved messing around in loose character based on who I was talking to, looking for ways to make them laugh, humbugging, freezing my tits off and wishing I was in Malaga. I had already established that I wouldn’t be prancing around in my nightie in this cold, but also that moment when I’m running around in my smalls is earned. I always run the risk of getting knifed or arrested, and without the context of a show it didn’t feel right. So it was unreformed Scrooge prancing around tonight, humbugging for warmth but still freezing.

The Winter Forest is at the back of Liverpool Street station, just by Broadgate Circus. It’s right in the heart of the City and it’s lovely. When I was at Guildhall we would walk around that area and it was a ghost town on the weekends. All these vast buildings with the lights on and nobody home. Empty desk after empty desk and then – just occasionally – one human in an empty office in some minor bank that you could spot through a window, lost amongst the desks, desperately trying to solve whatever problem they’d built before the endless microtasks and work-proofing kicks off again in the week.

I wonder how the Winter Forest will do on the weekends. We’ll bring some footfall. But not enough to fully fill that place with life. Maybe it’ll be just that one dissolutioned weekend worker who came in on a Saturday, commiserating with themself after rogue-trading another business into the dust, trying to decide if it’s worth popping down to the nearest bridge. Maybe the Christmas Carol audience will descend and be full of life and joy – as how can they be not? Maybe the trader will get swept up in their Christmas cheer and forget the fact that they contributed to ruining the economy by failing to understand the difference between a game and reality. Maybe. Or something. I don’t know. The power of stories etc. I keep doing this nonsense hoping people will be a little nicer in my wake.

I’ll be able to share a ticket link soon, to encourage my friends to come and play. I was going to do it now but they’re still getting all the stuff up and finalising their copy. Currently there’s still nothing online that mentions either Jack or I by name, so it’s pointless sharing. I’ll link you once that’s all fixed and we’re credited, so you can be secure it’s the right show, and I can be secure the reviewers actually know how to find out the cast.



It’s only when I stop for a little while that I remember why I drink in the first place. Humaning is painful stuff. I’ve been feeling the old sadness well up. The darkness falls. There’s less to see. The day is done. Outside it’s raining, inside it’s cold. All the little snickering beasties come crawling out of the cracks and point at me. “You can’t get the boiler fixed.” “Didn’t get that advert, did you?” “How’s your love-life?” “Wanna go skiing this year?” “Had any theatre auditions recently?”

The thing is, if I hadn’t been hammering myself and my bank account, these problems would be different. But there’d still be problems. The little pointing beasties would just have different shit to say. Because that’s the human condition. We can be restless souls. And we’re reared on stories, but we live in the actual world where stories don’t work. So some of us look for ways to take the edge off, or narrow the parameters. Things are simpler when you’re dumb. Magical dumb juice, magical dickhead powder, magical crazy pills, magical sleepy powder… There’s a roaring trade in this city for things that stop you being fully present. And I’ve been helping prop up the sales of that dumb-juice something chronic.


When I lose my voice, I never use anaesthetic drops or sprays – if you numb the pain you can start to tear your vocal folds and give yourself nodules. You have to work inside the parameters of your damage until you’re better. There’s always a voice to be found. I haven’t been numbing my voice, but the dumbing has been numbing my being. And likely damaging it acutely along the way.

It’s bloody hard to shut my head up though. I’m going to have to obsess about something or I’ll just go bananas. Yoga might be a good option, especially hot yoga at this time of year, as it involves using my body.

I’ll be busy for the next few months. The day-jobs are ticking over, and I’ve got two shows to think about so I’m not going to have much time to vanish up my own bum. But that also means I won’t have much time for the yoga. I’ll have to make time, and rinse a month’s cheap trial somewhere nearby, so that when I get to bed I’m exhausted. Right now I’ve got no sleep in me. I’m chewing my own arms off and drinking gallons of herbal tea despite knowing it won’t magically turn into a hot toddy. I’m fully aware that my alarm is set for six.

Thankfully this isn’t my first rodeo. I put the bath on when I started writing. I reckon that’ll do the trick. It’s ready now.

Beautiful crisp winter day today. I spent the morning with great hearts and good friends thinking about ambition and witches. First run of Macbeth since broken ribbed Banquo staggered about in Wales. It feels really exciting. Lots of new players, lovely to find a new perspective on the play. Great to see so many new friends and old stepping into the unknown and flying.

Rather than numb myself with stupid-juice, all I really need to do is show the beasties the stuff they can’t see from their little cracks. There’s so much in my life that’s fantastic. Remarkable fulfilling deep friendships, exciting challenging work, beautiful things to look at, comfortable place to sleep.

Stupid narrow minded little beasties. *squish squish squish*



Blue Planet 2

14347693-low_res-blue-planet-ii-b394c0a114620796.jpgIt’s quiet time for a few weeks. There’s been a bit too much party, and with Christmas Carol kicking off soon and December coming there’s a whole lot of party on the way. So the plan is to give my poor liver a break, eat well and get some exercise so I’m ready for a high energy show and post show every night without collapsing.

This evening I went home, refused all offers that involved going anywhere, cooked a two course meal for myself and lay on the sofa under a duvet with a cat on top for added warmth. I switched on iPlayer. Who needs a boiler? Cat heat is free. Time for Attenborough. Blue Planet 2.

David Attenborough is 91 years old now. Like the Queen, he has just … always been there. Unlike the Queen, he’s teaching us beautiful things and paying his taxes. I’m thrilled we still have him narrating these incredible documentaries. He must be thrilled to see how far technology has come since he first started making content like this in the 1950’s. His tones are all about wonder. It’s as if he’s just constantly astonished by life on earth, which I suspect is the case. It’s got him out of bed every morning for decades now, bringing images and thoughts about the diversity of nature right into our living rooms. You have to be made out of bricks not to be astonished by much of his content, and this latest show is a masterpiece. And I’m sure that his fully developed wide eyed sense of wonder is the thing that has kept him looking so alive and able to still talk to us from the prow of a boat.

War drives technology, yes. But profit drives technology too, and these shows sell, so they get a big budget to play with. They use it brilliantly, pushing the boundaries of submersible exploration and camera technology, boldly going where no-one has gone before, and bringing back videos.

In the course of two episodes I must have had my mind blown about 8 times. Bird-eating fish, transparent headed fish, fish at the bottom of the Mariana trench, surfing dolphins, walrus-fights, volcanic life generating stack things… It’s remarkable watching. Particularly if you just want to zone out and let that familiar voice carry you through endless wonders. Yes there’s also an environmental message, but as you’d expect from Attenborough it’s done gently. He just shows you things and tells you we’ve done it, and plays a bit of inauspicious sounding music.

He likes his comparisons. “Energy of ten thousand nuclear bombs”, “pressure equivalent of 50 jumbo jets.” But he’s 91. It’s better he’s making these eccentric comparisons than getting handsy with the intern.

What a remarkable life he must have led. After that double dose of wonder, I’m going to make a hot water bottle and curl up ahead of a ten a.m run through of Macbeth tomorrow. I expect I’ll dream of traveling round the world with Attenborough. Screw being The Queen. David Attenborough has the best job in the world.

Harrods doesn’t sell fireworks

Last night there was a big fireworks display in Battersea Park. It’s always beautiful, and my flat is a warm place from which to enjoy the light show. Usually. Right now it isn’t a warm place because the boiler’s fucked. But you still get a good view. I was looking forward to it until I got a call asking me to work a last minute shift. And since I can’t say no, I ended up working with a hangover, while the fireworks happened for other people in my flat. They even sent me photographs.

This evening I was determined – fireworks or bust. Turns out Flavia is going to be shooting things off her roof at six. Perfect. I can satisfy my pyromaniac tendencies and hang out with a good friend at the same time. So all I need is something to bring to the party…


Everywhere else in the country there are spots that are temporarily shut, and a shop pops up selling fireworks, befitting the landlord and the concession. There are lots of shut shops in Chelsea, mostly from businesses that can’t carry on because of the rent these arseholes think is appropriate. The landlords on the King’s Road, the same greedy bastards that destroyed the whole idea of the King’s Road by driving up prices until it’s only tenable if you’re a characterless chain store… there’s no way they’re letting a fireworks shop pop up. They even killed The Chelsea Kitchen. Fuckwits. They’ve neutered Chelsea. Idiots in suits murdered this borough 20 years ago. It won’t be cool again in my lifetime, despite the fact that I live here. It’ll take that long for the idiots to die. And all I want is a rocket…

As it turns out though, my neighbour is going to Harrods. He’s brilliant, successful, young and optimistic. But he’s labouring under a misapprehension. Harrods sells everything, surely? That’s why it’s Harrods. He certainly trusts it. What I wouldn’t give to be so uncomplicated.

We have a friendship now, me and this guy that thinks Harrods is a legitimate retail outlet. He’s going anyway to get cheeses so I join him in his black cab. A long time since I’ve taken a black cab. I like him. I want to find a rocket with him and both of us to feel like we’ve won.

We arrive at Harrods – the everything store. I’m there for fireworks. I know already that it’ll be absurdly expensive, but I ask the guard where the fireworks are. I just want a rocket. “We don’t have any fireworks.” Says the guard. Then he adds “Try Sainsbury’s.” and he manages to do it with the curve that implies somehow that Harrods wins the moral high ground by not having fireworks.


Harrods doesn’t stock fireworks??!! What is the point of marketing yourself as the everything store, charging 17 times the value for everything, making yourself a tourist destination, and not stocking bloody fireworks on the fifth of November in London??! Grrrrrr. A little more faith slips away… (The Sainsbury’s recommended by the dude didn’t have them either, but Harrods? Is the fantasy not that you can get anything?)

 I went to Flavia’s place empty of gunpowder. I had myself. That’s enough bang for anybody. We fired off some lovely things, we drank much wine, all was well. If I’d found a rocket, then we’d have had a rocket. But as it is we had companionship. And that was enough.

Mindblown brainstorm

Seriously people, don’t drink three pints of beer and then a whole bottle of red wine. If you do, for God’s sake don’t chase it with multiple strong gin and tonics. I have it on good authority that someone who did that on a Friday night would likely spend most of Saturday lying in different places making noises like a zombie, and openly wishing he was dead.

Things haven’t quite been working out today in terms of successfully being human. Brian cooked me the frozen pizza that’s been there for months because I just … I just couldn’t. It was rancid. I couldn’t eat it. I fed myself haribo instead because I needed sugar. That was my lunch. Then I put on my three piece. It’s really tight on me suddenly. Too much gin and haribo, not enough yoga. Concrete proof I need to get back to exercise or Christmas Carol is going to kill me. Depressing.

Popping buttons I dragged my vast corpulent frame down the stairs, pausing to wipe the sweat from my brow with a drenched handkerchief, panting like a dog. Vases rattled on the shelves at my footsteps. Gargling frogs I poured myself into my car and piloted the damn thing to Elephant and Castle. No amount of extra weight, no terrible zombie hangover, no lack of desire to do anything whatsoever – nothing was going to stop me meeting Mel, Shama and CJ to discuss what we want to make.

We are applying for a grant to make experimental theatre. It’s a strong group but we are all either busy or hungover or both which makes thinking a little harder. But I think we might have something cooking. I’m not sure what it is yet but it’ll probably involve sex, time, death and technology. There’ll be a story involved somewhere. It’ll be fun and mad.

While I waited for them to arrive, a man walked into the foyer wearing a t-shirt for The Odyssey that we did with The Factory five years ago at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford. Considering we were brainstorming experimental theatre I consider that to be hugely auspicious. It was an experiment in chutzpah. Mostly improvised but with short scenes that could be used as anchors, a physical language of tableaus, beautiful percussive and harmonic songs, simple storytelling complicated by having interference run on it in the form of tasks to make it a joyful nightmare to perform. Some moments of unrepeatable beauty and convergence. Some moments of jazzing a wrong note into a right note. Some flat out horrorshow moments. It’ll always be significant in my memory as the show that put all other pre-show nerve states into perspective. The utter unpredictability was terrifying but also like adrenaline-crack.

“Did you see it?” I asked him, thrilled. “Hell yeah, I fucking loved it. It’s why I bought the shirt. Did you?” “I was in it mate.” A moment. We take it where we can get it. I got his photo.


I didn’t get his permission. I probably should have. Hopefully he’ll be okay. Notice the obligatory hatstand. We were in Southwark Playhouse. Hatstands congregate in theatres.

If we can get this rushed first round application filled in and sent off by Monday I reckon the four of us between us have so much experience of joyful random nonsense over the years that – who knows, maybe in 5 years there’ll be another guy in another t-shirt from whatever show we end up making…

Meanwhile I have to sleep. Oh my head. God bless us, every one.

Word processing.

I’m sitting drinking a shit coffee in the sunshine. I can say the coffee is shit, but that doesn’t make the coffee shit for you. If I gave it to you, you might love this shit coffee. But by describing it repeatedly as shit and writing that down I have power over your perception of the coffee. If I then tell you it’s from “Al’s Coffee London” then you might object. “I love the coffee from Al’s Coffee London,” you might think. But you might not post it in the comments. Because the article holds more authority than the comments. If you do it just looks like trolling unless you can gain momentum with it. Even then – you might have seen the comments after virtually everything Trump tweets. And people still believe that shit. The proprietor of Al’s Coffee London might get stuck in. Their tone is likely to be propitiatory at first, trying to limit damage: “We are so sorry you find our shit coffee unsatisfying. Have you tried our new range of crap tea?” Why do they feel the need to go to that effort? All I’ve done is write an opinion in a frame. Why does that carry weight? Simply because I built it from nothing and here it is with a title and a photo? They’re making the stuff. I’m just consuming it.

In truth, I’m liking this coffee. I’m just thinking about creation vs consumption. I’m in the sunshine in London Bridge. But I’m not going to tell you who sold the coffee to me. With all that preamble you might still think it was shit.

People want control over how they are perceived, just as companies do, just as coffee makers do. I broke a rule last week and it got me into trouble. I usually check with people before I put photos of them up, or I try to. I put up a photo up without permission because it was late and I was tired and I thought it would be okay. I got hauled out multiple times. Because I was taking image-control away, which is unfair, particularly in an industry where image-control can directly affect our chances of work. We’re in an environment where someone with very little skill might be preferred for a job because they have millions of Instagram followers. Just because I’ve not given a crap about my face for too long doesn’t mean other people shouldn’t give a crap about theirs. The only other time I put a photo up that was unwelcome it was because of a misunderstanding. But that misunderstanding drove a wedge in a long established trust with an old friend. We care about how we are perceived, and people that make things with words can subtly alter our perceptions, as can a picture

Journalism is a good example of words bending perceptions. Look at the Daily Mail and the way their articles employ assumptions and adjectives. Like Donald Trump hammering the nail of “crooked Hilary” – (he may seem oafish but he’s a master at this) – these things can drip into our consciousness until, with repeated exposure, we can forget that it’s not fact. I am convinced that Paul Dacre (editor of The Daily Mail) had a hand in killing my mother, by dripping poison into her ear daily – she subscribed. “Everybody is on the make, nobody has altruistic motives, watch your back, they’re waiting for you to slip up.” She lost trust in the world and that contributed to her early exit. Bear in mind this is me, dripping poison about the Mail and Trump. Filter everything you consume, people. It’s rare there is no agenda. Even here, unless I’m hammered.

Ursula le Guin has it right when she teaches, in The Earthsea Trilogy, that to have power over something you must know its true name. I’m trying to discover the names of things as I go along. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I get it wrong. But in the same way I’d never paint a word picture of someone and deliberately misrepresent them, so I should not put a bad picture of someone up and say “This is exactly what they always look like.”

An image is not a true likeness. But it has power. For years after their death, I only pictured the sick versions of my parents. Now with time those images have been replaced by happier ones from happier times. But pictures, images and memories can stick around in your head for ages.

When we make something and put it out there, we run the risk of it being unwelcome. I might buy a coffee and then send it back because I don’t like it. I might take a picture and someone might object. But it’s still important to make more coffees and take more pictures. We are all consuming more than we generate, and yet we have so much choice in what we consume that we can say “this coffee is shit.” or “This blog is rambling and overlong.” And we must too, otherwise everything ends up shit or overlong or Starbucks or Daily Mailish.imag25101313724835.jpg

The things with the most power at the moment seem to be the things with the least depth. I don’t know how this happened but I want to believe that people are going to start noticing that they’re being drip fed crap and demand better coffee, better blogs, better journalism, better leaders. Or, better yet, people will start MAKING better coffee, WRITING better blogs and journalism and BECOMING better leaders. Roll on the next generation. Can’t be worse than these clowns.


Virtually every plumber that comes round my flat says “If you like I could take those old taps out. I could replace them with a nice shiny new mixer tap.” It’s because the taps in my bath are beautiful, and they’re greedy. “New lamps for old.” They usually change their minds when I say I know they’re worth a bit.


The water pressure is shitawful though, but I’m happy to wait 45 minutes for a bath to fill. And with brand new mixers it would be much the same in terms of pressure. I’m top floor in an old block.

I have to be careful when I’m staying somewhere with actual pressure as I could flood a small village in the time it takes to fill my tub. But hell, I can wait for a good soak.

There are 5.5 people sleeping in my flat tonight. 2 in the living room. 2 in Brian’s room. 1 and a half in my room. Despite this, I reckon I’m going to lie in here for a good 45 minutes until I’m a human raisin. I’ve checked with them. None of them have the runs. I’ve got four candles (“Fork ‘andles?, says Ronnie Corbett). I’ve got a glass of wine. I’m playing Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in E minor. It’s practice for my forthcoming career as a 1970’s Bond villain. It’s hard writing on a steamy phone, but I’ve written in stranger circumstances.

It’s not unusual for my flat to be full like this. Nor is it unusual for me to lie in my bath for bloody ages. I once conducted an exorcism on myself in this bath and flushed the fucking thing down the plughole. Now I just exorcise the day in it, stew and renew. I’ll try to sleep like a baby, but Pickle has taken to using me as a trampoline at about 4am so it’ll be literally like a baby – I’ll wake up shouting. I might have to lock her out, but then she turns up outside the door when I go for my morning pee and rebukes my toes with her claws. She knows I’m warm, there’s only one of me, and I’m a pushover. She just hates the toes – the toes that only go down the roads I’ve chosen. She’d bite them off and replace them if she could.

Speaking of toes, mine are a little less like bricks now I’ve been in here a while and the calluses have soaked through. I suppose I should go through the formality of rubbing some sort of abrasive substance all over myself. Technically that’s what baths are for.

I’ve got no soap or shower gel, of course. So it’s either sink-unblocker – which might be a little strong even for these toes, or shampoo – which is a perfectly serviceable body wash and leaves one smelling delightful. “SHAMPOO! Do you need washing? Is your hair so far receded as to make it almost comical to refer to it as hair?? Never fear, you can still BUY SHAMPOO so you too can do the washing that you do. Shampoo. Not just for hair, it’s for sluicing you too!” etc

What will I advertise tomorrow, kids? Stay tuned! It could be anything. “SNOT! Have you GOT SNOT? Or have you forgot? Get more snot. Or you’ll be filled with regrot! What?”

I keep switching the actual banner adverts attached to this blog on and off. There’s a setting now I’ve paid for the blog. What do you think of them? Do they piss you off, those adverts, or are they just part of life these days?

I’m planning on leaving them on for a clear month so I can report on the revenue they generate. Last time I looked it was up to 0.42p. I’m curious to see what it comes to in a month. I’ll let you know, and then probably switch them off again for good. Unless it’s loads. 🙂

Buy Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Now Now Now

I had plenty going on today, but I have no desire to blog. I’m not feeling it. There are two brilliant people staying in my flat who make websites. They’ve been showing me their work and discussing their worldview. Also I’ve gone into an audition and found a producer that I used to hang out with when I was at college. Small world. I spent time walking through the dying world, wishing I was in deeper countryside where I could appreciate it even better. I’ve had lots of thoughts and feelings, as we always do, every day, because we’re human.

I haven’t wanted to sit down and write about them though. It’s been tricky recently. This daily blog carries a penalty in time. I don’t want to frequently serve you a Cup-a-Soup. I want it to be good food, maybe thought provoking, possibly witty, certainly honest. In the last week or so I’ve had my content examined and I’ve thoughtlessly put up unwelcome photographs and had to change them and then not been able to adjust the Facebook preview. I haven’t been trolled yet, which surprises me, but I suspect Facebook’s algorithm is doing its annoying work to perpetuate these echo chambers we all live in. I don’t seek to be trolled, bear in mind, far from it, I’d hate it. I’m just surprised someone hasn’t found some reason to pile in, considering that seems to be the purpose of the internet for some people.

In my head this blog is only for a small group of people. And for me; to force me to do something daily, to make me accountable to those of you who read it – (thank you) – and to help me fine-tune my conversational prose so I can turn it into something more than just a regular daily thought-dump once this year is out. The fact that some people seem to enjoy it has occasionally made me consider reaching out to a wider audience, with the idea of a bit of extra cash. I suppose I could that do by sending some poor inundated editor some highlights or something. We’ll see. I’m not going to end up like lots of the blogs I read:

“Oh my God you guys, you wouldn’t believe this! I just bought some Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula and it totally changed my life!! I thought my skin was looking old and saggy but what happened next will just astonish you!!! It’ll make you reassess your whole evaluation of divinity!!!! I rubbed it on my skin and then I LITERALLY had sex with Aphrodite, right here in my bedroom full of clothes, with the cat watching. She emerged from a scallop shell and I felt her rich butter soften and smoothe and relieve my dry skin making me feel youthful and omnipotent. Now I’m toned and ready. Thanks Aphrodite, and thanks Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula. Although *jokey voice* Who’s going to clean up this giant scallop shell? *jokey voice off* *Speedy voice* Contains Behentrimonium Methosulfate, supernatural unions not guaranteed, Aphrodite’s decision is paramount,  always read the label.”


Sorry if you’re after cogent arguments and well constructed thoughts. Today is about filling half the blog with a fake advert for the first thing I see on my shelf.

As Brian pointed out when I said I didn’t feel like writing anything: “There are a lot of words in the world, Al. Just put some of them together.” Achieved.



It’s another liminal time, tonight and tomorrow. A corner of the year. Careful of portals. 

I’ve ended up starting it with a holiday into rush hour. That miserable morningtime where we are nothing but cattle, but cattle that don’t even moo. I’m packed into a carriage with everyone staring at a fixed point, up and to the left, trying not to bite their neighbour. I’m off to look at Shakespeare again.

This evening everyone will dress up as zombies and bloodsuckers and get drunk, immune to the irony that most of them are zombies or bloodsuckers all day anyway so it’s hardly a holiday. Particularly as most of them get drunk every night as well. I can’t help but think they’re missing the point with these safe ghoulies and ghosties. At least the Day of the Dead has got a better handle on what this festival should be about to my mind, although if I were to nod to that iconography I’d get hauled out for cultural appropriation.

But this is Samhain, and I can say that because I grew up in the Isle of Man. We are eliding with whatever other worlds are out there. The barrier is cobweb thin. It’s a time to remember and honour our loved dead and maybe set a place at table for them tonight. If there is a world of the dead, if there’s another place, then tonight it’s coterminous. We might slip across if we don’t anchor here, they might slip here, whatever they are, and they might be hungry. I guess that’s where the costumes come about. If the hungry dead are wandering around you should probably dress up like them or they’ll focus on you.

I made a place at table for my mother tonight, just in case.

We are examining Macbeth again today. We might have a show soon, building on the scratches at The Willow Globe this summer. Banquo has a place at table after his death, and since that’s my part it’s perhaps unsurprising that I’m thinking in these terms.

It’s a good time for doing Macbeth. Three witches. Maiden, Mother and Crone (not in our version, but…). Now the year goes to the crone until she’s reborn maiden in Spring. The cold is coming – it’s mostly here already. Time to start taking care of ourselves and keeping ourselves warm. I like these notional change points, these markers. And this one, in particular, is important to me. Life is definitely richer with the knowledge of mortality. We are all going to die. When and how are out of our hands, despite our attempts to influence it by eating Kale and going on the treadmill. What we CAN influence is what we do with our lives now, and how we affect the lives of others here. But here. Upon this bank and shoal of time. 

I used to think of myself as some sort of mortality nurse, having seen a lot of loved ones die earlier in my life than is considered standard. People would seek me for perspective. It’s valuable in grief to have someone who doesn’t just look a bit uncomfortable before telling you how sorry they are… Now people are catching up. Discussion is richer, which is depressing. I know full well that one of the next games is the one when suddenly all your mates start dying either before, during or after you do. But I reckon there’s a good few years of fun first, and babies and weddings, so I’m getting stuck into that whilst reminding myself and you (sorry) that it’s all just a flash in the pan and suddenly… Or not so suddenly… Splat.

Meantime we’ve got this ridiculously beautiful world where we can flaunt our virtually infinite capacity for inventiveness and joy, surrounded by casual beauty and vast technical creativity, and somehow blessed with this trick of consciousness that carries an understanding of mortality in one hand, and a capacity to seize the moment in the other. How did we happen? What strange chance allowed this awareness of self, and of time despite – mostly – being confined in both illusions?

I’m heading to sleep and to dreams, where we can spin free a little. It’ll be All Hallows tomorrow, so we’ll likely be flooded with xenophobic saints chasing the dead things off. For tonight though I’m happy that I’m protected from the dark, while missing the lost. My flat’s full of life, my room is thoroughly smudged, I’ve had a beer, and Pickle is keeping watch at the foot of my bed. Night all. Let’s enjoy the dark, and pray for the light’s return.Halloween-and-Samhain-Celebrating-the-Harvest-Honoring-the-Dead-Praying-for-Light_s-Return-featured-image