Gaming with old friends

A high proportion of my friends now have children. I’ve spent the day with two of those friends, plus one kid out of their two. It’s been lovely. Life takes on a different shape with kids. I always seem to get on with them. But then I have the special power of being unusual with most of the kids in my life. And I can send them back at the end of the day. They haven’t had enough exposure to get bored of me and I haven’t had enough to get exasperated by them. I can sometimes shut down crying episodes just by the magic power of being an unfamiliar human. But on the flip side “she’s not going to go to bed if you’re still here.” That was my cue tonight to say goodbye. BUNNY.

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It’s another way of socialising, this thing of home visiting and saying yes to small humans while catching up with the big ones. I just tend to stay relaxed and to understand if everyone suddenly disappears upstairs for half an hour. Occasionally I get called on to assist with nappy changes or bedtime stories and whatnot, but I’m just as happy to be installed somewhere with a glass of wine, waiting until the dust settles for my triumphant friends to arrive downstairs and break into conversations and wine as the monsters finally sleep.

Today I was in Elstree, right by the studio. I don’t think I’ve been back since I was seen for Holby the day before I opened a show. I hadn’t realised I’d been sent the sides in advance and probably sight-read them adequately but the director was having none of it as to his mind I hadn’t done the work. It was one of my early career mishaps. It is the meeting that taught me to check the email closely no matter how busy you are. We learn by our mistakes. It would’ve been nice to have pleased the casting director I guess, but life has so far served me a rich hand elsewhere and it might bring me back to Elstree in triumph one day.

Elstree studios is still a busy and fruitful place, and it has an extraordinary history in our industry. The new EastEnders set is coming up in my friend’s backyard. Who knows, in a year or so, once its made, I’ll be able to come to his fence and wave at his little girl while I’m on a break from filming. Right now I caught up alongside him.

Sometimes, on the weekend, Brian and I will watch each other play computer games, eat simple food, catch a movie and then say “That was a great day.” James and I caught a similar vibe. “You haven’t seen each other for ages,” said Bella at one point. “Don’t you want to catch up?” We were catching up, with snatched questions and answers over the course of a day as we played Red Dead Redemption, or snowboarding simulators. It was a lovely organic day and we both know a lot more about what’s going on internally with each other. We just used computer games as the maguffin.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is extraordinary. It’s beautiful and deep and full. Knowing what I do about working practices at the software house where it’s made, I found myself comparing it to the pyramids at Giza. But still. When I have a free month (ie never) I might treat myself to the fruits of that labour. And maybe use it as a chance to catch up with long lost friends…

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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