Van unpack

I got to know all the people in my little crescent today. I’ve known many of them in passing, and a few of them more closely. I’m pretty well known in my block, but I’m there on top, frequently sorting things out, and having a personality. I’ve made friends over the years. They’ve all moved out. Nicky who hated the management, Andrew the angry scotsman, Jamila the fashion blogger. I helped her break in to her own flat once with an hour of very conspicuous trying and a coathanger. It was bank holiday. She’d locked herself out smoking. “As soon as this works I want a photo of you in a frame or somesuch so I’m not an accessory to robbery.” She had one, thankfully. Then Morris. Poor Morris. In his beautiful clothes, never with a penny to rub together, scavenging from all of our bins but never selling his findings. Proud but down. “Never get old,” he would shout. I helped him in a few times when he was the worse for wear. He’s been put in a home now by a family he detested. He’s far gone enough for them to dismiss his humanity in favour of his assets. We miss him. Just today a woman spoke of how she didn’t mind when she realised she had to pay for Morris buying a round of drinks. Another guy asked how he was. I’m sad about it – I’d like to visit. But because wherever he is he’s still swearing about his family, they don’t want us to see him. So “he’s on holiday in Croatia having a lovely time” while he dies in a grey room in Staines.

By unloading the van outside my block I’ve got to know my current neighbours better. None as glamorous as Jamila. None as angry as Nicky or Andrew. But some interesting allies and friends. A super solid chap convalescing from something. An estate agent I’d met in the pub before with fast eyes. A punctilious and ordered fellow who works in small spaces internationally and cares about detail. A ducker and diver, filled with charm, inscrutable. The epitome of glamour pulled by a black labrador. My Biarritz ex model friend in the flat below me, who was off for free champagne with the Queen at The Flower Show. My new neighbor, who talked me into taking a large box. And a tired exhibitor, back once again for the show, paying extra to get an Airbnb in my block five minutes from the venue. She went for a power nap while the road was getting shut down for the queen and got back into the fray three hours later for the free champagne. “I can sleep while all that royal stuff is going on. But I’ll be back for the booze.”


I’ve been out the front of my house all day, you see, surrounded by books, records, scores and knick knacks. I’ve been emptying the van. It has finally gone back home. Phil has reclaimed it. Thank fuck. £30 a day parking. Done. I’m feeling both relieved and bereft. I’ve got work booked for most of June and July so it’s academic, but now I can no longer easily move large things. Also now the contents of my flat are static. I can add no more. I can only reduce things from now on. Considering my busy summer to come, this can only be a good thing. But now I have to ask myself if having a van is the thing I should do between jobs. It’s been extremely positive…

Cleaning day

A couple of hours of sweat with a screwdriver and my window opens again. Never underestimate the power of swearing. No way I’d have fixed it had I not been swearing like a trooper. Leverage with a screwdriver and sheer bloody mindedness helped, perhaps. But mostly it was the swearing. My sharp words shredded the paint. Hungover Al, banging a screwdriver through the side of the window, angry and inventive with invective. And suddenly, with a jolt, it snapped. Air in my room again. That moment when something stubborn breaks… It’s amazing. Like when the painkiller suddenly kicks in to the headache. Like when the spot bursts. Like when the sneeze finally comes. The window just gasped … moved. And immediately it was alright again. Parades of singing ten pound notes that were waving farewell in my imagination suddenly giggled and vanished into the air, no more than the bad expectations of someone who has occasionally been fucked over but has his own Goddamn flat in London full of Americans and light and life and warmth, and has nothing to complain about in the scheme of things. Nothing.

To celebrate, we cleaned and dusted and arranged every inch of my bedroom. Now I have a glorious fresh room with a window you can open and places for everything. Just as well really, as Phil is coming to get the van back tomorrow so I have to take everything else that is in it and get it up to my flat. Now I have places to put the boxes until I’ve made sense of the contents. Books mostly. I’ll want to keep them all. I won’t be able. I’m having to learn to be disciplined and discerning. Still, it’s likely that after a day of work making my room look nice we are going to have to spend another day filling it up with dusty boxes. Urgh. Still it was therapeutic to be so thorough. It’s a good starting point. And I might just have to make some quick decisions and take more stuff to the charity shop than I usually would allow myself to. At least I’ve had some company through this.

The flat’s full of Americans and Mel has been calling a lot of the shots today. I’m on the sofa again. Pickle is a bit pissed off as she can’t get into my room with Mel being allergic to cats. She hasn’t protest shat anywhere which might be progress. But Mel has been helping me work out the order in which to do stuff. Now everyone is in bed. Mel is locked into my clean bedroom, safe from the cat, free of the dust. Anna is in Brian’s room, kindly leaving the door open a crack in case Pickle wants to jump around on her while she’s sleeping. I’m about to turn in on the comfy sofa, sleepy and much more sober and better fed then I’d usually be on a Sunday evening thanks to Mel’s influence. Pickle is going to sleep directly on top of me again. Nothing I can do about that in here. She’s planning her route.


Much to do next week. Brian’s back on Thursday and there’s no way I’ll let him walk in and find the place worse than it was when he went to Namibia.


Thieves and windows

So I let eBay guy get away with it. “Hello, you manipulative fucker,” I said. “You will get away with your shit for now, but later on The Eater of Souls will take your name, and she will gently lick all the colour from your life, like a teenager discovering adulthood.”

I didn’t say that. But I should’ve. Lots of people have been following the idea of my existence lately and have had different opinions. “Tell him to fuck off” I had from many. “Don’t let him win.” I really didn’t want to. But as a seller I actually can’t give him bad feedback. He wants a discount. I eventually tell him I won’t refund him until he gets his shit together.

But guys. Seriously. Let me write my blog earlier. I ask my friends and you either get it or you make it really hard for me like tonight. Tristan gets it. Lyndon always got it. It’s his birthday today and I missed it because he owes me, but he at least knows what it is to have stuff to do. We geeked out about responsibility in LA back then. While I write my daily words I’ll not forget those powerful days. He was amazing at allowing me space when I asked it.

Tonight though I’ve put Mel in my room and I’m on my own sofa, just to make things easier. The guys up the block have painted all my windows shut. Turns out they were doing two layers of paint. Great if they’d told me. Now there’s no scaffolding up the block. My windows are fucked. They were always shit anyway, the fucking unbelievably motherfucking bastard thieves. Bulfords, they were called. Of course they dissolved after the botch job on my block. But how, when I left the windows openable, did they miss breaking the paint? I’m stuck now.

Bulfords replaced my windows originally by telling me they were unsafe. Suddenly for health and safety I had to change all my perfectly good windows. They did it in order to steal my window-weights plus make a bit of money in the process by taking good windows and replacing them with fucking horrible plywood shit. I wish nothing but vomit on the CEO of Bulfords. His behaviour is not incompetent. His behaviour is not even quite manipulative. He’s a baddie. Through and through

Having been the victim of a scam like that it’s tough for me to pin people down when they put scaffolding up the block. But I’ll have to find out how much it costs to get an abseiler to open my windows. Or ideally to replace the Bulfords balsa with windows that make me not want to kill people. Brian’s window is ok as that’s how they were ferrying tea. The rest are painted shut solidly. Despite me leaving them mobile and unlocked.

At some point I’d like to replace all my windows, sure. Try to go back towards what I had before Bulfords ripped me off. But I’ll need money. I have no idea if I can get the value back.  Now, less than a decade later, I can’t open any of my windows because of paint. I’m almost past rage. But there’s no point being angry with Dave and his lot. They weren’t thieves. They did a good job when they weren’t painting my window shut.


eBay fun guy

So the Meissen figurine I blogged about a few days ago is proving problematic. I listed it badly and almost took it down to relist it better, but I needed the cash quickly and the minimum was bid by this guy so I went through with the sale and thought I’d take the hit of it not selling as well as it might. After all, I’d put “damaged” in the actual title. The guy that first showed interest ended up winning it for cheap, although there were other bids. I had placed my minimum well. I’m getting better at this.

He had messaged me after I listed it asking if he could make an offer before bidding started, like all the dealers do. Even with offers switched off they circle like sharks. I refused his offer saying I was happy to let it go to term. He immediately bid the minimum, and set his ceiling high enough that the other dealers were outbid. So he wanted it. No buyers found the listing. It was badly titled so it was just resellers like him. I knew I had listed it badly. But so did he. In my world it was a market test : is eBay right for figurines? My mum collected them as did the mum of the guy whose storage I recently finished emptying, as did my dad. I have many of them, from many sources. I’ll hopefully list some more figurines on Sunday. But I cannot and will not go over them with a microscope searching for every tiny little flaw. In his world lack of knowledge equals permission to exploit superior knowledge. He’s gaming this transaction. He found some small flaws in places where they wouldn’t be visible if on display, and hence which I’d missed in my photos. Why he even thinks it’s a good idea to restore it is a mystery to me. It’s beautiful flawed, and tells more of a story. I actively want him to send it back to me. I want him to initiate a return. He hasn’t though. Why? Because he wants to keep it!

He’s just moaning. He wants some money back and to keep it. He doesn’t really think of me as being any more fleshy than the well priced figurine he bought off me. He’s got it for cheap and he’s seeing if he can get more.

I remember packaging it with a shrug. “Good on yer,” I thought. “I hope you turn a nice profit mate. I’ve learnt something about listing these things.” That’s what I sent him as I posted it. Unlike today when I tried to psychically send him norivirus.

Because he was the first and the last bidder he now is behaving like he was the only bidder and he feels entitled to try for more money from the guy that knows less than him. He wants me to help him towards his restoration costs – as if that’s a thing. The figure has damage, commensurate with age. I’ve made it perfectly clear it’s damaged. I’ve put it IN THE TITLE of the listing.

Restoration. He’s taken it to a restoration place and they’ve quoted him more than he expected so he’s turning it on me. He’s probably taken it to an official Meissen outlet and been shocked by their quote. No surprises there – they’ll eat you. I don’t understand why people want to try to erase the history of an item in that way, and he’s overlooking the fact that if that was a cost-effective solution I’d have already flown by EasyJet to Germany with all the pieces and thrown my money at them to turn magical porcelain into gold. Idiot. Damage is personality, or so I keep telling myself about myself. He evidently lacks both. I’ll have to wait a month to see where this lands but XXX: you’re being an asshole.

I did lots of other things today. But they say that “One bad apple spoils the barrel”.

PS “Are you not worried he’ll find this?” No. If he does then he’ll probably object, as I’ve assumed his motives and it’s very easy in the light of those assumptions to pretend you had other motives. And I’m not always right about why people behave weirdly. I’ve been hauled out before for getting it wrong when its been important to me – not necessarily always when I’ve been wrong, I forget that some people are just basic assholes. I don’t like to believe it to be the case so I ascribe all sorts of obscure guessed at motivations to their collateral causing negative behaviours.

I dunno. Let’s ask the figurine?

20190518_011412Yes, figurine. But who are you referring to? The writer of this blog? Or the guy in Germany?

Gong Bath

Everybody owes me money and nobody is paying. It’s like I’m a national debt. It’s ridiculous. If I hadn’t been turning over on eBay I wouldn’t be able to get on the tube. As it is I had to borrow money for cat food tonight. There’s plenty due. It will ALL come in on the 24th. Between now and then I’ll just have to tidy my bedroom and spend the “floor money” which I deliberately accumulate for just such a time. Typically the best pieces on eBay went out on the Global Shipping program, where they employ actual bears to unpack every item, before drunk chickens repack it in a box full of sharp rocks. It doesn’t matter how many fragile stickers you put. If it’s on the shipping program then “your men are already dead.” And you have to wait ages before you can even raise the concern that they fucked it. Although as soon as the buyer raises that concern they lock out your money for the refund until you can prove it was them. eBay global shipping = caveat vendor. They will destroy all your things. They will. And if they don’t they’ll lose them. And sit on your money while they try to absent themselves of responsibility.

This cashflow hole means that, as I continue to shuttlecock through existence, I have to ease off on the mayhem.

“Do you want to come for a gong bath? I’ll pay.” Well. Yes. Yes I do.

The last time I went to a gong bath it was run by a German, in a field in Oxfordshire. A festival for well-to-do people from the home counties to. A festival I love despite this.

The German guy running the tent had studied a manner that was pointedly alternative, deliberately challenging and a little wearing if you could see the joins. He ran a good room though, despite being camp as Bestival and very much wanting us to see his nipples and show him ours because he tediously thought it would help us in some way. Halfway through the gong bath a man randomly and finally stood up, shouted “This is why I voted leave!” and left very noisily, amid halfhearted left wing heckles and lots of giggling. I think I laughed for about a week about the whole shape of that moment. It was a beautifully placed deflation of perceived self importance, done with sincerity rather then artifice. None of the people working the tent engaged well with it. Sure it was a dick move. But you have to admire when it lands.

Those of us who love spiritual things have to be very careful not to appear sanctimonious. This stuff is only helpful if it’s helpful. If you start to pitch it like it’s magic then by default you are pitching yourself as the magician. Why tell people what to feel or think? People are instinctive and responsive enough to do that for themselves.

A gong bath. Lots of people taking it very seriously as they lie on their back for an hour in a room with a gong. It’s utterly completely totally incontrovertibly ridiculous. And I love it because it works if you let it, like all these ostensibly ridiculous things that are associated with the cultural set we call “spiritual” or “hippies” or “bullshit” depending on where we stand towards it.

I tend to use my time obsessively. Right now if I’m not acting I’m driving, if I’m not driving I’m researching antiques or learning lines or writing. The prospect of an hour lying on my back while someone banged a gong and I couldn’t even write was daunting. A whole hour of nothing? Fuck.

I needed it though. Good God. Tension melted away and that gong vibration… There really is something in it. I let it spin me into a sort of lucid dreaming state.

We all arrange ourselves into camps because it’s easier. “I don’t like football” is one of the camps I chose to be in at one point today. Plenty of times I’ve enjoyed watching football, or being with people who care about it. But my tribe is the Nonfootbalgenses tribe. For no reason other than to lazily identify myself as belonging in a camp and to arbitrarily paint out areas of interest I haven’t got time for. None of us can care about everything without going a little bit insane. Although I still think it might be worth a try…

So yeah. Gong baths. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. You might even find that it somehow validates your political decisions. I had a great lie down, did some helpful thinking, saw pretty fractals and then got a cup of licorice tea. Tomorrow I’ll have to work out where the short term cashflow is landing. But that’s tomorrow.

I’ll sleep well tonight. I want a gong.


Mic drop

I paid for the full four hours parking in the morning, 8.30 to 12.30 so I could sleep it off. Last night I literally passed out halfway through writing a sentence.

At 12.25 I was wandering up to the van still feeling awful when a traffic warden sprinted past me. It’s the Chelsea Flower Show at the moment so they’re out in droves, and evidently they’re competitive with each other. I watched him as he ran up to the van only to be disappointed by another warden already waiting by it. They stood together in silence watching the clock, armed with their machines, twitching like Samurai before a duel. There’s probably a thing where if you manage to start the process quicker than the other guy you get to issue the fine and the kids get to eat. I was almost sorry to disappoint the pair of them as I slouched up to move the thing and wished them a cheery “Good morning.” They looked crestfallen. Thank God I’d remembered to bring the key.

Now I’m back home running a bath and still feeling rancid. I’ve got about three hours now to go from grotbag to fabulous. It’s an award ceremony at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and I’m presenting it. I know I can switch it on but oh God I don’t want to have to. Can’t I just lie here and occasionally swear out loud?

Well. Adrenaline is a wonderful thing. Strode out of the hotel with head held high having had the client say in her closing speech that it was “the slickest award ceremony in London” and then caught me as I was leaving to ask me to do it next year. I forgot all about the fact that I wanted to die for most of the afternoon. Lord knows I’ll probably crash out spectacularly once it wears off, but right now I’m on the tube looking a million dollars and grinning from ear to ear, despite a niggling sensation that I might have run that whole award ceremony with my flies undone.

As much as anything else, it was the band. Bamboozle. They were bloody marvellous. Sat up on stage with me the whole time providing drumrolls for the sometimes interminable “short lists” and little funky riffs to underpin the bit where you have to wait as they come up to get their award. It’s nice not being on your own up there. There’s often a lovely complicity on stage between MC and band, and that was the case tonight. A somewhat niche award ceremony had four skillful craftspeople to make it look and feel sexy and fun. They’re playing now. The frontwoman pulled out a double bass. I kind of wanted to stay for their set but there’s a crash coming and I’ve got auditioning to do tomorrow again. It’s going well. Jobs are rolling in. I’m converting them. This summer is already looking good and I have an honest sense that it’s only going to get better. Cue the music.

Not tonight though. Once I finish processing all the crazy thyroid juice I’ve been sucking on like a crackhead I’m going to fall over. I reckon I’ve got about an hour left in me. Home, James, and don’t spare the horses.


Crash out

Oh dear. It’s turning into a very naughty week.

The builders in my block are finishing their detail work. Somewhere along the line the idea of pigeon spikes has been abandoned, thankfully, so we don’t have horrible plastic nonsense on our windowsills. They’ve been finishing the detail work, which is handy as they’re out the front. I took the van round. “If you see a traffic warden can you buzz my flat?” “Yeah no problem.” All those cups of tea paid off. I think that’s the end of their work here today. A family firm, and hard working. Next time there’s torrential rain I’ll know if it’s been worth the money we laid down. Hopefully…

What a glorious day. I’ve been rationalising the contents of the van, carrying busts upstairs, sifting through muck for brass. Towards the evening I got an audition for a commercial, and it was spot on. I went in expecting to be French, but there had been a last minute creative change to “very posh”. It might land, as I’m basically playing myself when I’m working at Royal Ascot. It’s a mask I know very well indeed. But commercials are always a shot in the dark, so I’ll write this and then hopefully forget about it.

Post audition, mumbling, I found myself briefly stumbling into some old friends – all three of us actors. We had those conversations you only start having in your forties. Cooking onions. It was a glorious serendipitous meet. Even if you don’t feel it at the time, the old auditions still give you a hard hit of adrenaline. I very much enjoyed a couple of pints and a middle aged chat in the last rays of the spectacular sun this evening.

Then it was all the way to Hampstead. Pub Quiz. Normally pub quizzes are won by the same team week in week out, but however those fell out we smashed it and then i fell asleep halfway through writing this blog…

Beer and fun

The audition is running late. It’s for a commercial so I shouldn’t be surprised about that. I’m up for “bald man”. The van is on a meter. “But you’re not bald,” says the assistant. “Maybe they want options? They’ve seen my photos.”

One actor shows up, takes stock of the backlog, takes himself off the list, and leaves immediately. I persist but a little bit of me envies him. There’s the risk of a parking fine growing ever larger. But these are good folk. I like them. It’s maybe worth walking into that room, I think. But the longer I wait the more my head leaves the room. By the time I go in I am already imaginatively at the van. They’re perfectly lovely in the room but it’s slow. I literally have one word to speak. “What.” That’s it. They roll the camera. They play the scene. I say it with my eyes not with my mouth, rush out of the room, and only realise halfway to my van that I didn’t say the one word I was supposed to say. In a flawless American accent. Ach. Life’s rich tapestry. I’ve got jobs landing all over the place. Someone else can fly to Mexico.

It’s Brian’s birthday drinks now, and we are on the South Bank with a constant trickle of lovely humans. Jack is here. Tom has just shown up, who made Christmas Carol. Nice to have the set.

I haven’t eaten and somewhere in my system is probably still that old weird adrenaline that pumps into your system even for a commercial casting. I didn’t get a parking fine. But if I’m not careful I AM going to get drunk.

So I’ve taken myself off into a little corner, also because I’m freezing cold, but ostensibly to get this down before I’m incomprehensible. I’m wearing very thin shoes and the cold has gone right into my heel bone. I should probably go and buy some chips. But I’ve never been very good at looking after myself and tonight is no time to start making exceptions. Brian is off to Namibia tomorrow for ages. In fact, I think that’s enough for now. I’ll attempt to finish this drunk. Back into the fray!!


A lovely fray to be in. People that make theatre are generally pretty cool people. I’ve had a lovely evening but oh God it’s a Monday night and I’m pretty far gone. Some of us ended up back at the flat plugging into the new VR for a game where whoever is wearing the headset has to defuse a bomb whilst all the drunk people attempt to make sense of a wilfully obscure and difficult bomb disposal manual.. It’s a clever use of this burgeoning technology. Only one person can see the bomb, so you have to communicate very clearly. They’ve named it on the nose – “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.”

Now I’m in bed. eBay global shipping program destroyed one of my expensive mugs from the first week of sales and I just found out when the guy lodged a complaint. I guess he doesn’t speak English so can’t talk. I have no idea how this will resolve as, if I refund him they don’t take the blame and it’s their fault… That’s for tomorrow…

Unexpected Siward

Another quiet weekend day. Definitely nothing to do in the evening. Just a nice day of gradually listing things on eBay and possibly attempting to put the VR headset on again. (I managed about 39 minutes and I literally spent the bulk of that time in the configuration trying to make it behave in a way that didn’t make me almost instantly sick.)

I suddenly got an email from eBay telling me that today is a special listing day, but it came after I’d written this weekend off for eBay so I had to click into gear. I had a few beers over the course of the day whilst listing things, which is fine considering I definitely had nothing to do in the evening. No shows to be in. Definitely not. Drinky drinky, listy listy.

At shortly after 5pm I opened my unused gmail account to see if that woman Sophie from Bonham’s had bothered getting back to me. She hadn’t. But I had another email from Scott at The Factory. “Just checking you got your casting on Sunday?” Sunday? Wait that’s today… Oh fuck. Hang on, yes I remember…

I’m three beers down. It’s 5.45pm in Chelsea and I have a show starting in Soho, at Gerry’s Club, in 45 minutes. I am playing Murderer 2 and Siward. Thank God it’s small parts. I’ve never played Siward before though. I must’ve told someone I knew it, knowing it’s small and knowing my brain.

Now I’ve got 45 minutes to learn the fucker and get there as well. Better than Malcolm I guess. I shell out for an Uber. As I arrive I tell Jack – who is playing Banquo tonight – that I kind of wish I had his job as I can wear Banquo like a glove. But The Factory isn’t The Factory without actors stylishly managing fear, with or without three pints of beer. Better for me to break comfort zone than to trot something out unthinking. “What wood is this before us?” “The wood of Burn’em.”

We are performing tonight in a little club in Soho. It’s the place you normally end up in at midnight when whichever old boozer you’ve been having a knees up in decides it has to stop, and an unusual person volunteers “I’ve got a place!” It’s downstairs, in the heart of Soho, very much not Groucho in that it’s a glass of wine, not a mortgage payment. It’s an old school actor’s bar – there are fewer every year. Signed photographs all over the walls with people you’ve never heard of unless you care in which case you’re probably too drunk to notice.

I get there in time, but normally I’d put my phone away in my coat and trust to memory. Not tonight. I am constantly having to check the script, as I know all the parts in the scene. Which bit do I actually say out loud though? It’s really hard to calibrate the small parts.

My phone is in my hand just before I go on. Fuck it. I switch it to camera and make it part of the scene. Naughty? Maybe. I can never do it again. But it worked. This evening, Siward was very good at social media, and Malcolm’s distaste for being filmed made it into something familiar and apposite.

I utterly love The Factory, and my work with them and my growth through that work. They are a powerful community in this industry that I’m thrilled to be part of. My work with them has changed everything in terms of my outlook, and it continues to challenge. Tonight I broke my lifelong rule, never to have alcohol before I go on stage. It’s fine. I forgot…

In what other company can an actor forget they have a show that night, and for it to be completely ok when he rocks up half cut just before the start not knowing his lines, and still get there before the guy playing Lady Macduff and Fleance? Literally everybody trusted that the company would pull together if we were short. Literally everyone was chilled, forward, and ready. Apart from me, but we are all expendable and by showing up I committed to try and bring the thunder. We do our utmost if we’re there. And we all did. And so did I. Phew. Thunder. Joy.

Now bed. Here’s a friend doing his thing. I suspect he won’t object. It’s the only photo I took today. The rest was video, taken in show. I promised I wouldn’t publish it.



Virtual reality

Brian bought a PlayStation Virtual Reality headset today while I was at work, and a copy of Skyrim for it – a sword and sorcery game, for those who don’t play computer games. Now we are both lying next to one another on the sofa, both a bit green in the face, both occasionly doing mini belches, both very happy that the screen is firmly switched off for the night. The only coherent sentences we are uttering are to ineloquently express to one another how terrible we feel. “My head hurts.” “I feel sick.” “Oh God.”

Earlier this evening I threw the headset off, staggered to my bedroom, hurled all my clothes onto the floor, snuck between the sheets and literally passed out for half an hour. Pickle woke me with concerned noises nuzzling my hand. I sat back up, got dressed again, went back to the living room, tagged in with a whey faced Brian who couldn’t carry on, tried another half an hour of playing, and had to switch it off again and lie facing a wall for a bit moaning.

It’s incredible. It’s horrible. It’s too much. It’s amazing.

What the hell have we created? People all over the world must be sitting alone in a dark room with a plastic device attached to their head, in the actual matrix. Although I have no idea if my brain will get used to it. Also you look ridiculous playing it. Helpless, clumsy, and dissociated. You have to be guided around the real world by hand as if there’s something seriously wrong with you. You could step on the cat, knock over a table, fall down stairs. But the ugly plastic bobbles in your hand look like a bow and arrow in the blinding screen that is located less than an inch in front of your eyes. This weird digital world is filled in and made complete by your brain, which then can’t work out why all the people look like they’ve been drawn, and it looks like you’re moving but it doesn’t feel like you’re moving. It decides that you’ve been poisoned with some form of aggressive hallucinogen, and starts trying to make you puke it up.

Perhaps as a first game we should’ve tried something a little less high octane, like a nice contemplative Tetris or Tsuro. Something beautiful and slow that doesn’t involve running around being chased by dragons and hitting things with axes and fire. There was a time in my late teens and early twenties when I could play games like this for hours on end and not feel weird, but now I can barely manage an hour on a normal screen, and it seems I can’t get close to half that on VR before I’m running perilously close to being sick.

Brian and I have both gone to bed now. It’s not yet eleven on a Saturday night. On the plus side I’ve had one beer all night. Motion sickness helps cut down booze, for sure. And I’ve barely been able to eat anything at all, so it’ll help me lose weight too…

Pickle doesn’t know what to make of it yet. I think she’s worried about us. She probably ought to be. Boys and toys. Dear God though, it’s incredible. But we both have work to do…