Recuperation

I told myself I needed to take care of my shoulder. That was my motivation for doing the square root of fuck all today. Truth be told, the shoulder is feeling a lot better for the rest so it was probably the right thing to do. But at twenty to seven I’ve started to feel extremely restless. I’m hardwired into showtime now. There’s no show tonight. But try telling that to my adrenal medulla. It’s started to pump me up ready for a fight.

So I went for a walk. Maybe there’ll be ninja assassins. It’s unseasonably warm and there’s no rain. The streets of Chelsea are empty at this time of year, as everybody has gone to one of their houses in The Cotswolds for New Year. I don’t blame them. I like to try to get as far from the centre of town as possible for midnight on New Year’s Eve. I’d quite like to do something more constructive than lie on my back groaning for the first day of the decade. And those loud parties tune all my instincts towards oblivion.

This year I’ll be doing a show in Mayfair, finishing at 10pm. It doesn’t leave me much time to escape. The easiest option will be stay in the venue…

I’ll have to fire myself out of the centre of town hard and fast. I’m not paying entry to a thumping building full of skin and sweat and shouting. Not this year. If my shoulder is no better I might just slink to my flat and go and burn stuff in the park at midnight. I’m not enjoying being in pain so I’m hoping my lazy day has allowed some genuine recovery to take place. I’ve only had two ibuprofen today so I can keep an eye on levels and it’s not seizing up as much as it has been so I’m optimistic that the worst is past. This is over 40, kids. Random inexplicable muscle pain in unexpected places for no good reason. I remember my dad telling me all about the joys of it. Now I get to experience the ride for myself.

My nephew Campbell is staying for a few days. He is bouncing around London on his skateboard taking in the sights and sounds. He went to an art exhibition today and came back declaring that now he knows what he doesn’t want to make. “It was some old guy making a load of self indulgent rubbish, and they wanted £20 on the door to look at it, plus I couldn’t bring in my skateboard. Who’s this shite for? It’s not for me, that’s for sure.”

Good lad. Having an opinion is so important. I think he’ll end up making some interesting stuff. I’ll help out with a roof in London whenever I can. It’s nice watching him whizz around while I’m nursing this broken wing. Fly, my pretty nephew, fly!

January beckons. I might do it healthy and dry. Give my liver a little bit of a breather. Eat vegetables. Wear a badge. Go on about it to people. Look constantly restless in public. Sign up for depressingly enthusiastic daily emails written by the 15 year old intern at Macmillan. We shall see.

For now I’ve stopped in Maze Grill, Gordon Ramsey’s steak house round the corner from me. I get half price food on Monday and the steak is to die for.

I should probably have drawn the line at 500ml of Carmenere, but what the heck, it’s my night off and it’s not January yet…

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Old friends and shoulders

Heading in to work this afternoon I met a very old friend. She was on the King’s Road shopping with her kids. She’s my age, the daughter of one of my father’s greatest friends. There was a time where we were both very aware of being set up by our parents in the way that parents do, looking for childhood crushes between their friends. “She’s great isn’t she?” And we did get on as children. We were friends. We made sense of stuff together.

It seems it’s still there in some form, that understanding, mostly through the magic of Facebook these days.

I always feel strange meeting friends from so long ago, but when I meet them and find them still young at heart and still forward moving it makes the meeting very positive. It was very good to see her, my old mate. Witnessing her ongoing vigorous attack on life has made me feel better about my version of that. We both have the notion of having a lot to do, and we both carry a lot to process as we do the things we feel we have to. We both get ourselves tangled up in the doing sometimes. I think that it’s likely we both get our endorphins from achievement and we are both curious about that in ourselves. I’m projecting on her here. I barely know her in truth. Maybe I’m only writing about myself.

I doubt either of us will ever sit down. We both have life occurring all over the place, and darkness tangled with the light. She has kids for goodness’ sake. I’ve avoided that. Maybe I’ve not met the right person at the right time. Maybe I just know that I couldn’t give them the time they need. Hey ho. Insh’Allah.

The way the dates have fallen, this has been a very light week of work. There are only two more shows in the run, and then Jack and I go our separate ways for a month or two. He’s off to be the Scottish king in Guildford, and I’m home and doing a spot of lovely filming because my agent is brilliant and totally gets how to market me. Plus I got the part for myself of course. But I can look back and sense the calls and the shifts and the persistence that got me one of the slots that led to the job. God bless the casting director and full on props to my agent for starting my decade with a job that elicited both celebration and the phrase “about fucking time” from me.

I’m done now. Bed. I’m going to try to get a massage tomorrow as my shoulder is causing me impossible pain and I really don’t like it. It’ll likely keep me up all night again. Jack and Tristan both gave me a gentle massage, but it seems the only thing that makes a difference right now is too much ibuprofen. Hopefully it’ll settle in the next few days. Shouldn’t have carried that oven. Team Know-how bastards.

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Sausage and beans

All the days are blurring into one in this little corner of the year. I genuinely thought I’d written the blog for today and then I couldn’t work out where it was and then I realised that I did that yesterday but today was much the same and I’d forgotten that today and yesterday weren’t the same day.

Today I had a first. A new experience. I sent two glasses of wine back in one night, which is a record. Whoever was working the bar at The Lucky Club before Christmas didn’t use the air pump very well, if at all. I found myself trying to drink two horrible things – one merlot and one cote de rhone. Both of them were hideous and yet being polite it was a while before I accepted – after a second opinion from Tristan – that actually I could just send them back. It was particularly hard the second time.

In both instances I got a second opinion before I went to the bar to complain. In both instances it had sat over Christmas and gone wrong. I’ve barely ever complained about anything in that frame, but tonight it was two different bottles and I did it for both. I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed.

Now I’m home and trying to consume the remaining leftover Christmas food.

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Today involved chipolatas with beans and Christmas veg. It’s the last of the Christmas veg in terms of lifetime. I reckon the cheese has one more day. The turkey casserole is finished.  There’s still a bit left, but mostly now we are back to normality.

So much to come.. There’s the joy. Rebecca, Brian, Jack and I are looking at potentially going international with Carol next year, not to mention all the delightful things we have been dreaming up in the process of this year’s show. There’s a possible feast for Beltane as well as this one for midwinter. We are looking towards marking the major festivals with a spot of one to one storytelling, as has been traditional for thousands of years before the big screen came and stole our communities. There’s so much potential.

Sam came tonight with Tom. She was our stage manager and third actor in Sheffield and York last year. She is amazing. So lovely and strange to have her in the audience after all we went through last year. I also had an old schoolfriend, who had booked without telling me. He is a vicar now, so understands even better than me what it means to be the hub of a community. Edmund. It was so good to see him. I also had my best friend’s parents in. I hope and trust that they had a lovely night. They ended up sat opposite a small group of people who were in the movie business. I’ve ended up with a delightful woman giving me her number with an eye to potential collaboration down the line. She’s not fucking around either. She’s directed movies you’ve heard of. Game on. This coming decade is going to be brilliant. But it won’t stop me occasionally cooking sausage and beans. Om nom nom.

Malcolm

Here we are in the confusing bit of the year. Everybody has a different name for it and everybody tries to make out like their name for it is universally understood and accepted by posting it on social media.

Twixtmas. The Between Times. The Perineum. Food Week. Cheese Days. The Witching Week  A small group of creative mates of mine from Yorkshire call it Malcolm. It’s too late for consensus now, so just like with politics everybody just thinks their idea is good and the rest is bullshit.

The light has started to return. The days are getting longer again.

It’s a time when we all connect with each other and lots of us wind the self-indulgence out of our system before one last hurrah at New Year followed by a month or two of dieting and abstinence and overcrowded yoga classes and early morning jogging in the rain and trimming hairs and buying clothes and going on that dating app and making salad and phoning your great aunty in Sweden and deleting that number from your phone and sitting in a circle with strangers giving significance to a cup of tea or writing a poem a day or taking up horse riding or wakeboarding or choral singing, or signing up for an online course in web design or crochet or politics or pilot season.

Then the light comes back, the air gets warmer, and we take our new body and new mind and smash it into a bottle somewhere in the sun as Christmas goes back on the shelves in spring and the pounds go back on our bellies and it’s hot and oh God here we go the party, the party, it’s starting all over again oh God oh hell oh joy.

For now let us be restful. Let us make those lists. Let us buy those diaries and bury those intentions in the loam. Tomorrow we will be better. We will be happier. We will be richer. We will make the thing. We will rise up and find ourselves waiting. Love will tear us apart again.


I’m back home eating meat and cheese and about to sit and do a bit of devotion. I’m reheating a mushroom pie and drinking a glass of red wine. Ylang ylang is burning on the altar and the flat is actually looking pretty bloody good. Campbell and I did the basics and we are back to a reasonable state after a bit more work this evening. There’s a lot to think about for this coming year in terms of what I do with this flat, and how I go about my basic existence going forward. A spot of telly might lead to a spot more telly. Work breeds work, they say, and it’s true. And there’s no more room for me to be a spectator in my own life. New decade. I’m going to run faster, go to yoga and one fine day…

Oh yes. I’ve just written undercutting that whole sentiment. But here is Jack and I, caught plotting and exposed into posing.

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There are big plans afoot. Bigger than that. Bigger still. That big. Oh yes, my precious. That big and bigly biggerer as the world goes to shit.

And so we beat on, ships against the tide.

Happy Malcolm.

 

Boxing Day rest

Sixteen souls and two dogs. I’m still reeling from the Christmas mayhem. But I have two consecutive days off, so it’s possible to recover in time for the show tomorrow.

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By the time I woke up the morning after, Nanki had already gone. “I knocked,” she tells me by WhatsApp. I heard nothing.

I wandered barefoot and stinking into the living room to find one of my guests rising from the sofa in her voluminous skirts and announcing that she was going to the pub. It was about 11am. “Do you want to come? I’ll get you a drink?”

I respectfully declined in the interests of my own continued existence, and got on with the pressing business of finishing the smoked salmon with some poached eggs and charcuterie. There are lots of leftovers.

In previous years I’ve gone out on Boxing Day and on many of the days thereafter, and eventually realised that the leftovers are not fit for human consumption and binned them. This year I’m trying to be as resourceful as possible in preventing waste, because I’m also shifting out of a consistent weekly wage into the more sporadic business of filming so it’s time to pull the drawstrings tighter, especially after Christmas oven and food splurge.

I made a leftover turkey casserole using one of my mother’s recipes. Shove it all in a pot with gravy and heat it up. I reckon the mushroom pie will make it until after the show tomorrow.

As for cleaning and tidying, yes we did a good amount as we went along. But we could certainly have done more. I took an executive decision to do the bare minimum today. I’ll blitz the rest of it tomorrow morning with Campbell and then see how nice I can make the flat for New Year and the end of the Christmas Carol run so I can fly full forward into the next decade.

Campbell is in the living room noodling on my ex girlfriend Anna’s guitar (she gave it to me over 20 years ago but I always think of her when I play it). The bath is running. The heating is working and I’m sitting in a warm room at about 11pm with a nightcap bottle of Estrella left over from the party. I’ll likely read for an hour and then wind to sleep, grateful for a quiet day. This little period between Christmas and New Year is a lovely time to recover and regroup in warm places. And I needed a good rest.

I’ve done something to my shoulder. For the last few weeks I can only sleep on my left side without pain. I got to the bottom of it. I was doing a repeated unnecessary and unsafe action as Scrooge. I’m aware that it’s not a very visible moment so I’m overextending to make it was visible as I possibly can. I don’t need to. So I’ve stopped. It’ll recover now. But I should’ve been paying more attention.

So many ideas and projects in the coming year. It’s going to be one hell of a decade. I’m winding back the spring to shoot myself forward.

Christmas Day

And we are done. It was a good game. A good day. Lots of people. Lots of win. Christmas. I’m exhausted.

Nanki is sleeping in the room next door. I met her this morning. She lives in Ruislip and is here from Delhi as a Master’s Student for one year. She doesn’t really know anyone and she took a leap of faith. She was nervous for a lot of the day and then I saw her laughing joyfully at a game that one of the guests had brought with her called Drawful. That moment alone was golden. In a room where I knew very little about very many of the people, I was a host and saw people who had all met this morning swept up in the moment with one another.

I did my usual drive around in the morning, this time with Max’s car, which was thankfully in better nick than the jag was last year, albeit barely. Chiswick to Turnpike Lane and a few other stops between. Brian had appeared at 8am on his bike and he ran the kitchen like an absolute total legend. The flat gradually kept filling throughout the day. There were more unfamiliar faces than familiar and that felt right.

What I love about the way it always seems to pan out is that people bring Christmas. Sometimes that’s food. Sometimes it’s a gesture. Sometimes it’s an act of selflessness. One guest came two years running and turned herself into a one woman clean up team leader. I was floundering in her memory this year, but we still managed to keep loosely on top of proceedings. I’ll be off to bed shortly happy that a lot of people had a joyous Christmas and so did I, and there’s nothing smashed, and thinking about it there’s not so much work to get things shipshape. I’ve been using the fire-escape as a bin fridge, so I’ll have to do a few trips up and down stairs before close of play tomorrow laden with bin bags, and then work out how to make space in my fridge. Or eat all the leftovers for breakfast.

Ahh Christmas.

It used to be a hard time for me emotionally. Now it’s filled with people and colour and strangers and life and light. This was a good one – a good party – a good slice of life. I’m lying here ready for a long and happy sleep. No show tomorrow so I can budget my energy however I choose. Tomorrow is going to be about me.

Community is at the heart of this day. Everybody got stuck in. Helping cook, making blinis, helping tidy, moving tables, ferrying food to the table, bringing games, telling stories.

Here I am in Christmas bed contemplating how much ground I’ve covered in one year and knowing that every step of it was hand in hand with my community of dear friends and family. If the year to come is half as joyful as today turned out to be, then bring it on!

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Christmas eve

Good God. Having moved that oven I understand why those bastards found any excuse not to do it. That was very much not my favourite Christmas Eve evening. Carrying something that could kill you if it fell on you and is covered in grease down four flights of stairs. Campbell and I are both intact. But I’m drenched in sweat. I feel like I’ve run a marathon.

Christmas eve show was intimate in the end. We had a bunch of no-shows. Fifteen full price tickets. No sign of them. That’s a huge amount of money down the pan for them. It left Jack and I with an unusually quiet house, but we were rested and we did it for each other as well as for them and enjoyed it. We even had long silent conversations using the peculiar brand of telepathy that we have developed over the years. “Shall we cut the song?” “I think it’ll hold but I won’t stop you.” “Fuck it let’s just sing it, it’s Christmas Eve.”

There was a fair amount of food left over so it’s all gone into tupperware to bolster the huge pile of food on my fire escape. I’m using the fire escape as a large outdoor fridge. There’s not room in my kitchen and Campbell and I had enough to do already making Christmas to try and sort logistics with shopping bags. I’m hoping it doesn’t pour with rain tonight.

Christmas is more or less made now, barring the food, and Brian is going to show up tomorrow like the hero this city needs and get everybody onto prep in the morning while I’m driving around picking people up. I’m pretty much out of energy after the oven carry so I’m running a bath and I’ll be in bed a good two hours before my habit, which can only be a good thing.

I’m hoping I haven’t forgotten anything. I ran to the shop last minute this evening for biscuits for the cheese. I ended up with fifteen chocolate oranges as well. I should never be allowed near a shop unaccompanied. I am not even going to look at my bank balance until this is all over. It’ll only enrage me.

Two days off. I could’ve spent it sleeping. Seems I don’t work like that. So it’s all aboard for the sleigh ride. I hope it’s a nice bunch tomorrow. It usually is. I’m tired.

Happy Christmas you lovely lot, wherever you may be. I hope Santa brings you lovely things and you have a good rest, or a good time with family and friends and booze and games and all the things that make Christmas christmassy. Anyone else who is stuck, message me. I am sure we can fit a couple more. I’ll be driving around London between about 10 and 2. Hopefully not so long, but last year was an epic journey around the city in my dying jaguar. I think this year will be calmer. So long as I’ve installed the oven correctly and that nobody comes up onto my fire escape fridge and loads up with all my Christmas shopping overnight.

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