Last night I went to Flavia’s. She’s been a hugely positive force in my life for years. I first met her at a party when I was at Guildhall and she was very young. She wanted to be an actor. She was auditioning for drama schools. I helped her out by challenging her. In my experience that’s a good way of helping young artists, and artists generally. They either rise to the challenge, or take themselves out of the mix.

She tells me: “I’m auditioning for drama schools in two weeks.” “What speeches are you doing?” “No idea.” “If you come to Guildhall tomorrow evening with two speeches I can help you. If not I can’t. I’ll meet you out front at 7pm”

She showed up. She had some speeches. It’s a sad thing but monologues are still the backbone of the drama school acceptance process, despite being the least efficient way of getting a sense of an actor. I met Flavia after college and we snuck into a room and worked the ones she had chosen. It was lovely. She was hilarious and brave. I encouraged her to play and she played. She didn’t get into Guildhall dammit but she still went to a decent drama school and since then she’s been on a journey. She decided very quickly that she wasn’t an actor though.

Now she’s in theatre PR and has a brilliant bonkers son who has become a friend of mine. We play well together, Ivo and I. We always have. Back when he was a toddler we used to improvise games with each other and it seems that’ll never change. Yesterday the two of us spent a good long time improvising games. Here’s another photo of us, since I took none today. Ivo is in disguise as me. You might not be able to tell who is who.


It was beautiful to hang out with Flavia. Friendships only deepen with time. We’ve had lots of time.

I hung out with her and Ivo last night, and then got home to find my brother Jeremy. His son Campbell is on my sofa this week, but I didn’t expect Jeremy. He’s been in Egypt teaching art, and before that in Hong Kong. Now he’s back, and looking towards making a habitation out of some troglodytic caves that he inexplicably bought in the Loire Valley many years ago. By the time I was home I was already smashed and suddenly I was having to think practically about how my brother could live in a cave. Of course my go-to was unhelpful from his perspective. “Make it a massive party venue. If you do it right there’ll be people from all the nearby villages that are desperate for somewhere cool to go.”

I spent the morning with him, mostly motivating action. The caves he owns are huge and beautiful. There’s not much room for audience or I’d be thinking of them as a performance venue. They’re a venue for happenings though. But Jeremy is terrifically demotivated regarding them. They just sit there. With work they could be a living space or a performance space or – anything you care to make of a big empty cave. But it’s got to be better than what they are now. Right now they’re just big damp caves in France.

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.

One thought on “Caves”

  1. Al, I live in Pays de la Loire now. Let me know if you all do ever think of doing anything cool with caves – if I can help, I will x


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