Medicine?

My friend is sick. Very sick. Norovirus we thought, but on someone who has literally no bodyweight. The way it’s been behaving it’s potentially something nastier. She’s been suffering at home for a few days, phoning 111 for advice and hoping it’ll pass. It hasn’t passed. It’s got worse. She ended up being taken to hospital at 3.30pm. She didn’t want to stay overnight – (who does?) – but they insisted. It might be something to do with her kidneys. It’s pretty scary, to be honest. I’ve been getting her news around prepping for the show.

I don’t know what time she arrived but she got a bed eight hours after I first heard her tell me she was there. It’s a bad time for space in hospitals. Central London. Christmas parties. The good news is that despite the wait she will still not have to sell everything in order to not die. Let’s see where that goes now the turkeys have voted for Christmas.

I’m going in to see her in the morning, early. I’m not looking forward to getting up, but it’s the right thing to do. She’s in the UCLH Euston. I went and saw my ex there a few years ago and despite it being extremely central it’s a pretty good hospital. The superbug chances are low. But I always worry. Mum was ok when she went in. Superbug. Jamie my half brother was overnighted just for testing, in Poitiers. He never came out. I caught him on his death bed after a crazy drive. Superbug. Fuck that.

Hospitals are death factories to my imagination. I fucking hate them. I’m sure they heal, but in my experience they kill.

I hate that she’s in one. I don’t like walking past the fucking places. Tomorrow I’ll be going in one, and then I’ll be going heavy on the hand cleansing gel, and hanging out with my friend, helping her out with stuff, getting her things from home, trying to make her stay as short and as comfortable as is humanly possible – all the while making sure that I don’t bring in or bring out anything horrible.

It’s already nearly 2am and I’m nowhere near sleep in my body. I’m thinking I might have to take some cough medicine just to send me down.

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I’m worrying about my friend. She’ll be fine though. The NHS is still just about working, despite the cuts, but that’s to do with the goodwill of the workforce – their sacrifice. I lived with nurses for too long not to understand how much work they choose to put in beyond what they must. They’re incredible. Surely this new government will provide more funding and not sell it off wholesale as we have been led to fear? Surely.

I’m going to try and get my head down. Get it down and switch it off. I’m pretty good at napping, and so I reckon tomorrow will be about that. There’s no Saturday matinee this week so I have more time than I’d usually have thank God. I was going to buy an oven. The best laid plans…

 

Election carol

A rainy and blustery evening in Chelsea. I diverted to the cricket pavilion on my way to work. It’s not the busiest polling station in the country, certainly not at 3.30pm. There was an old lady leaving as I arrived, and a brisk old fellow striding through the rain behind me as I came. I was only voter number 319. I made my cross in the box. Nobody exit polled me.

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Last election my constituency swung to Labour by a tiny increment – I think it was about 3 votes. It has always been thought of as a safe Tory seat, so it came as a surprise to me – and lots of other folks.

I have no idea what I expect from this election. I guess we will just have to wait and see. I’m glad I voted at least. I have a feeling there will be a strong turnout. People are extremely polarised and even among my friends there is quite an assortment of people making noises in both directions, and a few people making noises in third and fourth and fifth directions. I only had four candidates to choose from and went with the one I thought had policies that aligned best. What more can you do? I watched him in a political broadcast and thought he was an awkward enough man, but he’s not here to make videos. He can leave that to me if there’s funding.

Now I’m in the dressing room pre-show, suited and booted so I can hang out with my friends afterwards. I’m gonna warm up now. I snored all night in central heating last night so my voice is bloody.


Now I’m post show and feeling very very post show. We had some drinks and some revelations and frankly it all made me feel very small and very sick.

It’s interesting and annoying how quickly people can start to feel comparatively important. I think it’s at the heart of this election today, the human capacity for underserved self-importance. Boris thinks he’s deserving because he’s always been on that path, Jeremy thinks he’s deserving because he’s predicated his life to his personal form of morality. From the outside people warm to a sense of deserving. Confidence is easily mistaken for ability.

The electorate looks at one or two policies, or they think about what they love or what they hate. Mostly they are manipulated by the mainstream media and the people who shout the loudest because – (and I say this with a heavy heart) – because the bulk of people are too busy living their hard lives, and haven’t got time to find nuance in the arguments they hear. They do what they need and then realise territory has been grabbed by people with less to worry about. “Get it done” is a complete sentence in three syllables. Golden. “What are the ramifications?” is already way too long and you can’t get behind it in it same way. You can’t chant it.

I have no idea how it’ll fall tomorrow.

I’m just making a show with a friend. A good friend. Who won’t let me down.

The show I’m making is about togetherness. It’s about Christmas, and joy, and love and bringing disparate groups together for a meal. I’m so proud of it. You should come. And bring your family! No matter which way the vote goes tomorrow. Togetherness!

 

Park

Today I went for a walk in the park. Much better use of my time pre-show than getting prepped for an audition. I’ve been doing this shit for pushing 20 years. Some of my old mates are internationally famous. It’s weird.

I got asked if I could cope being in a scene with someone we’ve all heard of yesterday, and I guess it’s a legitimate concern and it makes sense to ask it.

The place where I auditioned had a poster up for a film I’d worked on many years ago. I’d forgotten it mostly, but it was a big learning job for me. Seeing the poster reminded me.

I was flown to Thailand for it. I encountered the evil “fraud prevention” woman at Thai Airlines check in Heathrow, who caused me to have to wake up the whole production crew in Bangkok in order to get the credit card details that the flight was booked on. She wouldn’t let me on the flight otherwise. Nowadays I’d have got my agent to sort it, but back then I tried to sort it myself which made it look like it was my fault.

I arrived in Thailand on the back foot and then was given no sides. I didn’t know who I’d be playing. I was working with a director I admired for his early work. He hadn’t told me who I was playing. He’d just booked me. The sides came under my door at 9pm the day before the shoot. Nowadays I think I’d have got onto the front foot, asked more questions, and got more of a sense of what the hell was going on. Back then I was perhaps even starstruck. It seems absurd now, knowing how the industry works. But I think I was.

I shot a flashback sequence where the two principal actors were cgi mapped with dots on their faces. The idea was that they would have their faces mapped into younger looking versions. When it came to the edit and the budget, the obvious money save was the cgi, so the whole sequence went out the window. I’ve still got the credit. But that’s it. Shame. The footage would’ve been golden for my showreel.

I got sent the footage of some German TV I did over the summer, which is lovely although I’m the only person speaking English. I’m feeling very ready to start cracking back into screen work in the New Year. I’ll go out in Germany at Christmas, but dubbed. The footage can help make a showreel that’s not as catastrophically out of date as my current one that still has a montage (Cardinal sin).

I’m trying not to think about the recent meeting. But I’m aware it would be a good continuation. Insh’Allah.

Walking in the park is a very good way of derailing noisy head. It’s also good for just moving the body and the mind. I don’t have dayjobs currently, so as long as I’m in Mayfair for 5pm I’ve got the rest of the day to explore the world sober. I’m still not adept at winding the show out without alcohol, but I’m open to daytime suggestions of pleasant things. Today was a lovely walk in Battersea Park…

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Heavy day

I woke up this morning, rolled over in bed and opened up my email to find out how long it would take to travel to my audition.

Panic!!!

This audition I’ve been building up to today, Tuesday afternoon … The email says it was on Monday afternoon.

I’ve missed the fucker. Cue a million misgivings and little insecurities about meetings missed and late for in the long distant past.

Cue arguments with myself about what might have been if I was more organised, old frustrations about my uncanny ability to self sabotage. “How could I have got it wrong?” I ask myself. On such an appropriate meeting for one of those jobs where even people in the industry have asked “how come you haven’t been in X ?” (Full disclosure – I didn’t get the time wrong. Stand down.)

Panic-Al is looking at options. Well, it’s at the production company offices rather than a rented space, I rationalise to myself. Someone’ll be there. The offers won’t be out yet.

I decide I’m just going to show up at the time I’ve got written down and try to charm my way into a meeting. If they haven’t got time to see me maybe I can still get away with going to Spotlight and paying them for fifteen minutes of self tape time, I decide. But still I’m disconsolate.

So I get up and mechanically shave my beard, wondering if there’s any reason to do so now. It’s cold…

I go back to bed a bit and lie there mumbling lines to myself. I haul myself up again and I select a suit and tie. Then back to bed where I brush up on my burr. I watch some videos in my little ball of misery. I prepare for war.

It doesn’t occur to me that the email I checked might have been an automatically generated one with an old time, which had been adjusted everywhere but there before my agent spoke to me. I’m running worst case scenarios in my head. I’m expecting to arrive and have the casting director actually set fire to me and throw me out the window. Then my agent, who has worked so hard to get this meeting for me, will release the wolves and I will have to flee.

Audition time.

No fire, no wolves.

In fact, nobody bats an eyelid at me arriving for my appointed time. I go in and do the tape. I’m sent away to return because they like me for another human-being in the story that, to my mind, might be even better casting for me.

I come back and the casting director takes her time with me and I leave happy after a respectful and enervating meeting that might lead to some changing work oh lord oh gods just bring it on nmhrk…

Then I preside over the IKEA Christmas party as Scrooge. Jack and I have the biggest and weirdest audience we’ve had in this venue. It’s entirely booked out by the one group. I make some reasonable jokes about flatpack furniture. I have a good chat with the IKEA sustainability manager who is glad we have a relationship with homeless charities. I notice that IKEA seems to be a good company with good ethics. I work harder than usual though, and now I’m in a bus trying to get home and spent spent spent so spent.

It’s been a good day, but a costly one. I was tired already. I’m more tired now. And this bus is determined to be as slow as possible…

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Bed

Oh God. An early bed tonight. In theory it was my day off but in practice I went to the London Welsh Centre and rolled around on the floor with likeminded people. It’s a research and development for a potentially hilarious gig, and as is often the case when it comes to making theatre, a large portion of the day was spent playing around. I think we had some discoveries. I’m feeling pretty stretched out physically though. I was tired going in. I’m more tired going out. And I’ve got a meeting tomorrow that I’ve got to be prepared for. And it’s late.

Yesterday I wrote about my breakfast drunk and late. Today I’m pretty much sober but it’s early. I’m in bed, on my back, having dosed up on Actifed for dry coughs. The fuse is lit. I’ll be sleeping like a baby in twenty minutes. No more.

I do love the randomness that fills so much of my ordinary daytime. The fact that today I was rolling around in my tracksuit, tomorrow I’ll be standing very still in a suit and then back to prancing around in my nightie.

Today I was in a room with people I haven’t been in a room with for years. It still felt like yesterday that we had played. The fellowship of the jobbiejobbie actortypes. We remember. Some of us will get to go to sexy places together in spring and do fun things. All of us will likely be in a room together one day. Lots of nice people being friendly. Fuck I’m tired.

Trying to write this in this state is a hiding to nothing. I need my beauty sleep. I’m even shaving my beard tomorrow. Commitment to looking clean and professional. I’d say I’ll miss it but the damn thing’ll be back in no time.

Goodnight darlings. Yes that’s a sporran on my bedroom door. You’ve got a sporran on your bedroom door too.

Humbug. Och.

Zzzz.

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Crackers

Oh rubbish.

There’s always something you forget. I forgot the blog.

It’s the Hartshorn Hook Christmas party. This is a company I care deeply about. Their party is in the building where we are doing Christmas Carol. Of all the nights.

I’ve got an R&D tomorrow for a different company, paid, for a job I’d totally love to do. Starting in the morning. Early.

There were friends I really wanted to spend time with. Humans that I’ve mingled with loads over many strange changes. I left early but I tried to make every second count. But I’ve just got home and realised that despite the need for an early bed I haven’t written to you lot.

Had I been a bit more together I’d have written about my breakfast ages ago. Although my breakfast was not particularly edifying today. It was Weetabix, with hot water and a splash of milk, coupled with enough espresso to cause a riot. Hot weetabix was the only thing I’d eat as a child, and my pre microwave mother taught me to have it with hot water from the kettle and a spot of cold milk to pretend it was hot milk. Her labour saving has become my habit. I’m very happy with it that way. I might sprinkle a bit of sugar on top. But only if dad isn’t watching.

Dad was a Scotsman, and was perhaps more tyrannical about porage than anything else. He would make a bowl and put it in front of me as I arrived at breakfast. He cooked it with salt. If I added milk, his attention would prick up. If I reached for any form of sugar his attention would EXPLODE. It used to make me retch, unmilked and unsweetened, that shitty scrutinised porage. But I would sit there under his scrutiny, and finish my salty oats because he was dad and he knew best. Maybe it would make me a man? Certainly it would teach me that you can eat all sorts of fucking horrible shit and pretend like you enjoy it. That’s a skill that’s done me well. Dad taught me a huge amount by being an angry and very particular irascibile beautiful bastard.

The fact he was a Scotsman living away from home, with his musicality and his burr – it has suddenly come home for me, as my agent has put me up for a role that is exactly that. A well known figure who speaks with the same burr that distinguished my father and my half brothers. My extended family are just plain Scottish. The burr is only relevant for people who live amongst the English and wish to be understood. I am the youngest. I never lived in Scotland. My natural accent has none of that character, but I know it.

It’s meant to be my day off tomorrow but I’m doing this R&D and then on Tuesday I’m going to need to be on point with my burr.

Meh. I’m off to sleep. My key is in a flowerpot outside. I’m hoping my friend Anna will find it.

Here’s a photo of lots of boxes of crackers. It’s the only photo I took today. I probably thought I’d write something about them. Ho hum. Good night.

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Getting ready for Christmas

I still haven’t got a Christmas Tree at home and thinking about it I’m gonna need a new oven. How does one replace an oven? Are the fittings standard? Is the hob part of it or separate? I’ve got a marble worktop with a hole in it. Any new hob needs to fit the hole. Is the hob part of the oven? I’ve only got a few weeks until Christmas, but I’m gonna need to be able to cook a lot. I’m not doing that with a fucked oven. Shit. Research time.

This is the sort of thing I think about as I come home from the show. Somehow I haven’t got sick yet even though I’ve shaken a lot of hands this season with audience members. The next few days will be busy in terms of working out Christmas stuff, prepping for a meeting, doing an R&D and the relentless march of the shows. But I reckon I’m going to have to learn about new ovens pretty quickly or there’ll be no turkey. Which reminds me, I’ll also need to order a bird. Ach. It begins. Not too late yet thankfully. But time to get on it.

Before the show, Jack and I eat a growing pile of pills. Omega oils, so our brains and bodies are functioning. Echinacea for the good old placebo effect. It must work if it costs so much. Vitamin C in the hopes that some of it gets into our immune system. Sucky gelatine sweets to taste nice I mean to coat our throats. I even find myself doing a vocal warm-up in our little gunpowder closet. Mostly sirening. There’s no room to roll around.

The room we change in was the gunpowder store when our building was a rifle club. If somebody wanted to they could bang us up in there when we were changing and we wouldn’t be found until somebody excavated us a million years from now. If the Christmas revelry in London turned into zombie apocalypse – and let’s be honest it’s always a genuine risk – we might be able to defend ourselves for a while in there. We have stuck advent calendars on the walls. We have done what we can to make it pleasant. Which is more than I can say for my home at the moment which is still woefully underchristmassed, not even taking into account the oven situation.

Rhys is selling trees up in Catford this season so I might go get one. Failing that I’m just going to have to throw baubles everywhere and work out which convenient place I put the lights in last year for easy finding. The last few years it has been achieved by drunk Al and Brian in one evening, alongside whoever else we can coerce. This year I’m thinking I’ll put a friend of mine to use who is staying over on Sunday night. They are, after all, a theatre designer. They understand the game of making a bad room good.

It’s going to be epic. It always is. But it’s time for me to start thinking about it now. And I’ve got all these interesting meetings running interference on my concentration…

And I’ve still got mice.

I also have a lovely accordion shaped decoration from Alice that I managed not to destroy despite having it in my pocket all day…

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