Protectors in the chaff

I hadn’t noticed the police with semi-automatic rifles lumbering around outside TK Maxx on High Street Kensington before. I don’t know if they make me feel safer. I was just ambling to Argos to buy some wastepaper baskets and we crossed the road alongside each other. They were sporting huge great bulletproof vests and directional cameras on their helmets. Inevitable sunglasses to satisfy the childhood dreams instigated by Americana – the shiny TV shows that led to this being what they do on a working day. Trained to kill remotely with a ballistic tool made of metal, secretly hoping they just get to plod around and stop for chicken, wishing that cronuts would finally cross the ocean.

They wandered down a cobbled street marked with a “school” sign, scratching their arse. Like so many menacing things they were oblivious to their own menace. I took a photo when it occurred to me to do so. By that time they were miles away.

dav

I’m on call now for an events company. I’ve got that great big Honda. This morning I burnt up to Heathrow and picked up a producer. He’s been in Uganda. It seems no matter how many times he travels round the world he still finds surprise in the little things. “No way. Internet works on my phone!” “What the heck? Oh yeah you guys drive on the left. God save the Queen.”

Those tooled up coppers wouldn’t even register with him. In Uganda they get a guy with an AK assigned to their crew. “He offered to help me get people to sign the release forms. I figured that might send the wrong message. He was about 7 foot tall. I paid him with a big bag of money. He said he’d disseminate it.”

I’m glad to be working on this show. It’s going to be interesting. It’s also going to be pretty difficult to blog because I’ve signed a comprehensive Non Disclosure Agreement. So I’ll stick with stuff I’ve noticed on the street today. Which brings me to the woman on the Santander Cycle riding down the embankment just now. Earphones in. Back of neck at 45°. Phone in hand. Staring, clocking traffic only in her peripheral vision. She didn’t have a clue where she was. But it didn’t bother her. And I thought back to those two human tanks in High Street Kensington, walking slowly surrounded by people like that – hand in front, head down. A strange new zombie plague. And here I am, head 45°, swiping words with my thumb. And here you are, head 45° unless you’re in bed, on your phone. And no, I know you’re not on a phone, smuggyface. You’re bolt upright at your geriatric PC and good on you. But I reckon most of us are thoughtlessly sinking into these things more and more, the more that people around us give us permission by doing so too. And they suck our cash in tiny amounts repeated over ages. Drip drip drip. The Matrix again. We are batteries. Just not quite in the way it was envisaged. But perhaps we need these big burly guys because if there was a Tyrranosaur attack nobody would notice but them.

Or perhaps we need to think. To look around more. To know where the edges are and not walk off. To stop the kids who are running around in the field. To remind ourselves and each other what the sky looks like today. How lucky we are despite all the outrage that’s peddled to us daily.

I’m going to leave you with Holden. Don’t kill any musicians.

Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around–nobody big, I mean–except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.

Cars and flats.

I spent a large amount of time today just waiting for Enterprise to deliver a car to me. It felt like their office was on fire. Occasionally someone would ring me up and panic on the phone a bit and then hang up. I was expecting it in the morning. Eventually as evening fell, someone arrived in a Nissan X-Trail. It seats seven midgets. It’s black. It has lots of toys. My favourite toy is that you can Bluetooth connect it to your phone. I set it up so I can say “Ok Google, call Alexa” and it does it all automatically making me feel like an executive in some American movie. They wasted my whole day screwing me around. But they finally came up with what they were supposed to come up with. Bloody idiots. Five minutes after drop off they rang again freaking out and asking me for payment details. I told them that the events company was paying. They kept talking. I told them they’d work it out. No way they’re getting my card details.

I took the thing up to North London, playing with the toys as I went. My good friend is in New Orleans playing Lady Macbeth, and she has rented her Hampstead flat out on Airbnb. The guest arrives tomorrow. I might not be able to let her in because of unpredictable working hours so I got myself up there to hide the key somewhere in case I ended up stuck in Knightsbridge.

I did a quick hoover and dust. I got some milk and bread in, some orange juice and a bottle of red wine. Then I removed the rancid pack of Singapore noodles from the fridge and checked the bathroom. I left the noodles by the sink for a second, checked a few more bits and bobs – (I had a list that I had stuck on the fridge for future me. Clever. If a slightly odd list.)

dav

Then I plumped the pillows, switched off all the lights – (things I never do in my own home) – and walked out leaving the bloody rancid noodles by the bathroom sink… hopefully I’ll be able to get off work in time to let her in and dispose of the noodles. Otherwise that’ll be an odd review. Oops.

There’s an old fan she gave me in spring which I thought might be useful on a day like this, so I took it back with me. Tom, who is staying at the moment, is mortally afraid of flies so he closes the windows all the time. This way we get moving air. But my friend neglected to tell me the reason she gave me the fan. It makes a noise like a dying seagull. I eventually fixed it by jamming my Google Home device underneath the mechanism to support it. Millions of dollars in research. Not only can it talk to your phone, tv and fridge, but also it jams into your fan to stop it making a horrible noise. Now I’m about to cook steak before an early bed. I have to meet an early morning flight tomorrow coming in from Johannesburg. It’s 40 minutes late. I’m hoping they don’t make back the time…

Tired triple job stream of consciousness

YAnother odd day. The day after the solstice, the day before Sirius. The dog days are coming. Now more than ever we have to keep ourselves and each other safe. It’s a powerful time but it’s also a time for care.

I was dayjobbing, (here’s the only photo I took today)

IMG_20180622_094421

Then I helped Jitz the Romanian get a fridge into my block. I don’t massively need a new fridge. But I’ve got one. Someone wanted it out and there’s enough wrong with mine that I took an opportunity.

I was still loath to let the old one go. We stuck the seal on with superglue and it still doesn’t seal. It has had mice living in it in the past. The barriers that stop the milk from falling out when you open the door – they’re long gone. The handle? Dean pulled off the handle spectacularly one drunk night about 5 years ago and behaved like it was the fridge’s fault for not being able to cope with his strength. I switched in the freezer handle as a substitute, which means the freezer has been awkward to open for five years. Cometh the time, cometh the fridge. Thinking about it it does need replacing.

The replacement arrived just after 12, and we quickly discovered that it was just the right size to get in the lift on the ground floor, and just too big to get it out of the lift on my floor. So we lumped it up four increasingly narrow flights of stairs and then left it outside my fire escape, directly outside my new neighbour’s door. It was the only sensible place, because Jitz was done with it and I had to get smartly dressed and go to a meeting.

Then I got a call. “We need a superhero’s sidekick. Someone was doing it but he had a blood sample and passed out. Can you cover him this evening?” So once again I was unexpectedly doing street theatre in someone else’s sweaty spandex. I discovered that a woman took a video of us last time I covered and posted it on social media seeking us out. My friend CJ tagged me but my privacy settings kept it hidden from me. We were pretending to ride motorbikes in the video. She wants to employ us for a corporate event. Real superheros. Ones that make you happy.

Oh God. God. Is THIS going to be the one that sticks? God help us all. Me and a kazoo riding an invisible motorbike on the day that Brian had his bike stolen? I was just exorcising my own demons through clowning. The video looks like we know what we are doing. I guess I can gladly be a superhero for cashmoney. It’s fun, and once again it’s Clowning.

Clowning. I’ve always been interested in it. I do it anyway by mistake all the time anyhow. I’ve often considered throwing some money and time at sodding off to Paris and working with Gaulier, the ancient French clown who created a school for clowns. I know I’d get the money back, as it’s an augmenting name and until my career explodes (tomorrow) I’ll be doing a lot of this random stuff.

But then I frequently meet people who have gone to Gaulier and I run up against an out of place self regard about their “terribly important clowning” which is just fucked. Clowning is all about status and yet people who have supposedly trained in it can’t recalibrate it in themselves. It leaves me thinking that the alumni are mostly people who have spent lots of time / money and want to feel they’re better people for the time or money they’ve spent while pretending it was nothing to them. It makes me just want to trust my instincts and my time at the coal face when it comes to the discipline. But again, that’s why maybe it would be valuable to learn. I end up clowning all the time. Formal understanding could help make it tighter. I should go fund myself. Improve my French. Behave like a prat. Come back self important. Boom. Screw you. I earnt this red nose, peasant…

I’m feeling complicated, internally. Although all this clowning and random short stuff is essentially my bread and butter and although I love being your good friend or best shoulder to cry on I want a bit of consistency in work, and to be able to be targeted goodness in someone’s life where we can grow together. There’s lots I’m great at and there’s lots I’m atrocious at. I’m so shit at flirting I either do it invisibly or with a mallet. Meh.

I’m going to just let go of all thoughts of what I expect or need and stick with what I know. I know I’m alright. I have great home life. I get to do things related to my vocation almost every day, gainfully. I have the most amazingly supportive and positive agent who understands me, gets my place in the industry, and wants to break barriers. It has been forever since I’ve felt supported like that by someone connected and established in the industry. Since mum died and I forensically burnt everything I could possibly burn. The more I think about it, the luckier I realise I am. It’s just the dog days, barking. Woof.

 

Bike found

Brian’s bike turned up today. The police found it dumped in Wandsworth. By the feel of it it was used by someone screaming around taking phones until the fuel ran out and then they dumped it rather than refuelling on cctv. And they’d have smashed the wheel lock and not given a crap about it. I hope it’s not too damaged. Either way, having just come out of the workshop it’ll be going right back in. Which must be upsetting for Brian. But I’m convinced that all will come good in the end. And the solstice is an auspicious time for its return.

The police don’t recover for free of course. £150 for transport to the pound, and they didn’t take it to Lots Road pound which is in walking distance from the flat. They took it all the way to Perivale. Then they want £10 a day to keep it there. Rather than rush it out, he’s leaving it while he’s in Belgium and then he can get it out when he has time to fit a tracker and get it insured. Expensive storage, but it’s unlikely to be stolen from a police pound.

I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving it in that bay now, unless it was in a suit of bear armour with a full time guard and remote controlled laser drones. I’m glad it’s not lost for good like the other one though. Still. Arseholes. Causing misery so they can cause more misery. There are so many skills to learn that can lead to money. Why learn to steal?

I have been trying to coordinate some people with a van and very little English to move a fridge from Highgate to Chelsea. They can drive and they’re making money driving, and at the same time they’re not causing misery apart from when you try to get information out of them. They’re hard to communicate with. Especially when you’re simultaneously invigilating an exam where the computers were going haywire, and learning lines for an event this evening. It never rains but it pours. But difficult communication is better than ripping phones out of people’s hands and bikes out of people’s bays.

I have hit a moment of downtime, where I’m lying on a pile of costume waiting for my partner for the event tonight. We need to soundcheck in the next half an hour but basically now I can stop a bit. The fridge is still in Highgate. The students who took the exam all submitted successfully I think. And my friend just walked into the downstairs coffee bar at The Globe…


And I’m done for the day. An invigilatey, fridgey globey day. I make my money out of saying yes and getting stuck in. That’s a skill too. Now I’m on the bus home with my rather odd cossack costume. I threw some stuff on from the company costume store which is currently, basically, a big bag in my living room. My ringmaster coat is on loan so I was in a bright red military coat and trousers, and my flaming cowboy boots – all the way from Austin Texas. The New World. Sufficiently costume to be taken seriously by a load of lawyers.

mde

They were lovely.

Banquet

As we came in, the king was posing for photos. Rebecca and Katy got stuck in.

IMG-20180620-WA0003

The hoop acrobat was demonstrating almost preternatural core strength with ease and a smile on her face. By the bar, an acrobalancer casually juggled 4 clubs flawlessly. The dark lady and the maiden worked the room. The dark lady sat beside strangers, silent, terrifying sad and preoccupied in her mask. The maiden jolted shocks of acerbic wit as she observed the proceedings.

Someone has decided to justify dressing the table waiters in extremely high corsets. I have no idea how they avoid wardrobe malfunctions. I suspect they don’t. I admire their resilience. The tops of their boobs are spilling out like expanding foam through a cheese grater.

They are given a brief in which they encourage the diners to shout “wench” at them. In an office somewhere some years ago a slightly awkward man drenched in sweat most likely argued “Well it’s fun. And period appropriate.” Yeah but screw that. I won’t shout “wench” any more than I’ll shout “garçon”. Both behaviours are tantamount to shouting “I’m an asshole!” I had to make do with no service until I found out her name.

I’ve been at a medieval banquet by the way, not a standard dinner party in Chelsea. Even if I can see how you made that mistake. It’s part of the promo for Knights of the Rose, which is the new rock musical launching at The Arts Theatre very soon. Don’t get confused, I’m writing about the banquet not the show. They are very separate entities.

We got an early preview from the cast of Knights of the Rose, in the banquet hall. (More railway arches) They are astoundingly talented and one of them is married to a friend of mine. They were singing some of their numbers in amongst the tables, to an invited crowd of journalists, producers and muggins here in one of his new suits after an audition. This is gonna be a good show, Knights of the Rose at The Arts Theatre go see go see etc. It was probably lovely for all the actors as well, who in exchange for a couple of songs got a free medieval banquet.

I’m not so sold on the banquet though. Sure, they feed you. But the food is secondary to the atmosphere and it’s not the priority. They’ve done some clever stuff. You get all your plates laid out before you arrive – in a pile so they jiggle when you punch the table. They get you to punch the table to applaud, thus rattling them. “Yes it’s labour saving, but it makes a good effect.” Genius. God it cuts down on laying. Similarly you drink your soup out of the bowl. It saves on washing and polishing but it’s medieval.

Really you’d do just as well with a packed lunch when faced with these performers. The centrepiece of the evening is their work, which is rotating street-theatre style and they’re used to being underappreciated or just plain ignored.

The acrobats and singers and musicians are on point. They’re working hard and they’ve worked hard for years to get to this level of effortless effort. I didn’t dare ask what they’re being paid. “This is a licence to print money,” says the guy to my left. “Not if you’re paying these guys what they’re worth,” I respond, and he rolls his eyes and laughs the laugh that says “We both know that ain’t happening.”

But a lovely night for me, and good to be on the receiving end of a dining experience for a change.

 

 

Big small screen

Brian came home with a gargantuan television the other day. It’s a remarkable thing. Suddenly it’s like there’s a cinema in the house. We haven’t successfully rigged the sound to it but that’ll come. But meantime it’s important to remember that despite the tremendous black-hole suction power of this gargantuan “idiot’s lantern”, there is still a real world out there, accessible to us, that we can affect. Screens can slurp us in.

Sometimes I worry that I don’t watch enough telly, believe it or not. I feel it should be part of my job. Even when I was at Guildhall, I found Monday morning awkward. Everyone was talking actively before class about people they’d seen in talent shows or fashionable dramas on the box over the weekend. I would always sit silently, waiting for the class to begin, feeling like I both had missed out and that I really really hadn’t. I’d gone somewhere or seen something. I hadn’t thought to put the telly on.

I haven’t worked much small screen since those Guildhall days. I’ve worked big screen and theatre. The small screen has just eluded me, even in terms of meetings. I watch my friends, if I’m tuning in at all. I’ve watched plenty of Doctors over the years – more than my young professional demographic might suggest – checking out Ben and Simon and Tristan and Jack and Joanna and Alex and more and more and more – the endless line of friends sodding off to Brum to do random stuff with the beeb for a day or two or a year or two and complaining it’s not as well paid as it was but doing something delightful and random on screen for the pleasure of the aged. I watched some Holby, some Father Brown, also because friends were involved. I’ve frequently helped friends with auditions and then watched them smash the part. It’s all delightful and wonderfully random but somehow it’s still closed to me. I’d love to get involved. I have old mates going great guns now in BBC Comedy. Downton I often just thought that all I needed was the meeting. So much stuff being made. So many “posh” people needed. So much period drama. I can’t remember who told me, in my third year at drama school “You’re too dark for how you sound.” Maybe it was that. Or maybe my desire to dissociate myself from my upbringing in the early days. More likely the sheer arbitrary nature of chance. Who fucking cares? I’m here now. I want to work. I care about my work. And I’m good at it. Bring it.

I’ve always preferred to generate more than I consume. It’s part of the reason this bloggish outlet works for me. I can put it out there and then guiltlessly listen to some guy on YouTube with a strangled voice telling me about computer games. But yeah, I reckon it’s time to do some telly, and catch up with myself on that. Nowadays with streaming services, television head as the budget to tell some epic stories. And the constant pressure of a soap? Well, I pull this out of my ass every day and despite the occasional ranty pile of poo on the whole I’m not ashamed.

Let’s see what this year brings. I had a lovely evening with Flavia. We put Planet Earth on the behemoth and marvelled at the big world. Here she is. Dwarfed by nature. Dwarfed by tech.

dav

 

Kick

You might not have noticed, but the little known pursuit of kickball is enjoying an international spotlight right now. It’s hosted by the Russians, the international kickball derby, so the winners might not be the actual fair winners considering the location. These are the people that brought us Trump and Brexit. I put some money on them. Given their impunity they’ll probably cheat. Nerve gas or information war or something equally ingenious. This evening, though, I’m supporting England. The England team aren’t playing Russia so they’re safe. They’re playing Tunisia. I’m in a pub with some friends. They’re kicking the ball, the screen people. Apparently that shouldn’t have been a penalty. Naughty kickpeople.

dav

See them run! Some of them are millionaires. They still run lots. KICK IT! BALL! OFFSIDE! NEVER! WHOOOAH! YEAAAH! I’m good at kickball understandings.

But it’s important that we win this because fewer people in this country will attack their loved ones with their fists tonight if we do. Although that pain is just deferred, because it’s against the rules for England to win the tournament, so the punching will still take place. The team have an official job. To get through the group stage and then lose the first match. If they don’t do that they will be cheating. Although the rules might be different this year of course because it’s in Russia where usual rules don’t apply. So maybe cheating is allowed this year…


So we won. By the skin of our teeth. Despite even a rank amateur like me being able to tell that we are better than them at kicking. It all came down to “set pieces” in the end. I’m concerned that these kickballers can’t create chances outside of things they’ve practised beforehand. They did a very good job of killing the handsman of Tunisia Hotspur, but afterwards they couldn’t get anything past the reservey handsman. I think it’s because they were confused by uniform though. They are supposed to be wearing white, but the enemy was also in white so they had to dress in red which might have been confusing, but also useful because Russia is red and red is supposed to win in Russia. But hooray!


I’m done. After the match we all grabbed food. Then we went home. I’ve been trying to write this as I go but it’s been extremely difficult comparatively, because of the nature of the company I’ve been in and their need for attention. For a long time I was with strangers mixed with friends and I’d left the writing so late that it was hard to explain to some of the strangers why I was vanishing into my phone. In that context it would be easier to just carry a laptop, because it’s a familiar machine that says “work”. Writing in my phone looks like texting/leisure. In their existences, work time is work time and play time is play time. They don’t mix it. The saturnalic pattern of the weekdays still means something for them. They are unquestioning slaves to it.

So my attempts to do my due diligence by this blog were eminently interruptible and questionable. I was just trying to fucking write.

I’ve not missed a single day since I started this madness far too long ago. I won’t until I choose to stop. Way way too stubborn.

Uninterrupted, writing this takes about 40 minutes to an hour, daily. Constantly interrupted and questioned it takes fucking ages as I socially feel obliged to honour the conversation you are manufacturing to prove to me that conversation is more important than phone (Just shut up and let me finish if I ask!!! Until it’s done I’m always aware it’s not done.)

I’ve been rebounding off a perfectly pleasant man who wouldn’t let me get it done. Ideally if I’m interrupted I need to read what I’ve already written and pick up where I left off. Until you ask another “I’m interested in why you’re blogging” question. Aaaaagh. It’s easier to edit now though. Amazing wonderful Iona lent me her old phone.

But anyway I have no desire whatsoever to explain or justify why I’m writing this or what it means to me, despite this evening being full of those sickening conversations. I have absolutely no desire to justify myself to someone who lacks the basic understanding of creativity needed to give an empty space when asked for. Ugh. Nonsense. Nice guy. But…

Just kick it. We won the kickfoot which is good. We are on track to fulfil our purpose. The guy that kept interrupting me – I liked him. He liked me. We shared a massive steak. But guys: If someone asks for space give them space. Across the board. I would’ve liked him significantly more if he’d let me do what I needed and then come to him…

Meh. Night all. Be kind. Kick it.