It’s more or less exactly midnight. I’m in Crowborough, East Sussex. Hal, my Godson, is asleep upstairs. He’s 4. I’ve just had a beautiful evening with the parents.
When I was asked to be a formal Catholic Godfather I was surprised. I don’t have a great history with the Catholic faith, my mother being excommunicated and all. The priest at the ceremony made me renounce Satan and all of his works and all of his false promises. He was much more severe with me than the Godmother almost as if he was worried I wasn’t the renouncing type. He has been told I was an actor. Perhaps he thought I commune with spirits. Perhaps he’s right.
James, the father, said to me afterwards “I’ll do the God bit. Think of yourself as more of a worldfather.” That’s something I can understand. Still I have a responsibility. This is a smart boy. His parents were both actors. Good hearts in the industry too. Teachers now, and living in a beautiful house with two great kids. He likes dinosaurs. There’s no more money in paleontology than there is in acting, but I’m going to support him where I can.
I was at university with James, the dad. He played Christian when I was Cyrano de Bergerac. (That’s a part I need to revisit.) We made friends and subsequently both trained at good drama schools, and hit the industry. Then at one point he was on a summer tour of Twelfth Night with a young theatre company, and the director/producer had sacked their Malvolio. This was 7/7/2005. “You should call Al” he said. I got a call and I wasn’t comfortable in a London that had just been bombed. “Can you come to Eastbourne to play Malvolio tomorrow?” “Yes, sure, I know the lines from drama school. I might have to be guided around the stage a bit but let’s do it…”
The company still exists and I’m still friends with them. The stage manager recently lent me a cat carrier. We got rave reviews in Edinburgh, even if the press release still had the previous actor’s name. The company, Original Theatre Company still tours, and it wouldn’t surprise me if I ended up back in the fold one of these days. They build community within the industry and have their head screwed on. They’re goodies.
Partly because of them I get to hang out now with these two good hearts – James and Gemma. Our friendship was cemented on that tour. It has stood the test of time. When I was asked to be Godfather they were moving out of London. “This will bind you to us,” Gemma said. And it’s a fair point. I feel a duty of care as a Godfather. Peter Rittmaster, my version of a Godfather, rang me up shortly after my dad died and told me his duty was over because I was over 18. He said “Do you have anything left to say to me because this is the last time we ever speak.” I said “I hope that isn’t the case,” but it was. He stuck to it. His own issues, but upsetting. I’m going to try to be a good God/worldfather. As much as I’m able. But that involves going to bed, as i expect James will sic him on me early in the morning. I got him and his sister to sign a pact last night after I got tired of getting killed by them… Who knows what tomorrow will bring…