It’s ten to midnight. I just took the bins out as they leave early tomorrow and I won’t be up. Then I methodically worked my way through an entire can of smoked oysters, with toast and copious amounts of hot sauce. I had already eaten supper, but I did it between shows and the nutrition was likely absorbed by adrenaline-speed metabolism in what is likely to prove the LAST lockdown Tempest, oh woe!

I’m zooming in to speak to some drama students about the process we found and the play in general on Wednesday. That’s the only external obligation I have. For now, even though it’s been down for the last ten days, I’m going to keep the living room studio up anyway. It makes it impossible to watch TV. But it’s useful to think about what can be made. In about ten minutes I’ll be calling an old friend and collaborator in New Zealand, who owns the snake. “Is there anything satisfying we can do with this sort of thing?” (Adding to the mix my drunk Amazon morph suit…)


This form is not about the technology or the kit though, as we’ve discovered in Tempest. You don’t need morph suits or flashy lights and a screen that is actually green to tell a story and  to make people feel connected to it. They all contribute to deepening the world of course. But the things that brings stupid joy in the watching and the playing is just when people at home who are there with us do honest things and we all get to see it. There’s a delight in catching a glimpse of someone like us who is lost in the story we are all telling. Someone who doesn’t have any investment in controlling and directing the narrative, but who is enjoying the cause and effect of flicking the actor to magically torment him, seeing him be flicked and keeping flicking despite being asked to have mercy.

It’s back to the old “shared experience”. It reminds me of the thing I used to think about with The Odyssey, where it is apparent that the Homeric bard whose one night version we have had taken down was responding live to the interests and desires of his audience. A story doesn’t exist without someone to tell it to. And a true bardic story shifts and morphs in the telling.

As a kid my brother and I used to tell each other stories when we stayed at our grandparent’s or our uncle’s after we were sent to bed. I still remember some of the shit that I made up, all of which was responding to the aspects of this work in progress that my brother showed interest in. We created worlds together, and populated them.

It’s important to remember that stories aren’t definitive. Fairy Tales have many different endings in different versions. Different resurrected Gods were killed and reborn for different purposes, or left dead. All myths have regional variations – even within the Greek and Roman and Norse pantheons that are still influential in our culture, different tales have different outcomes depending on the source. People still polarise over different angles on monotheistic deities or wise men or whether we should salute crows or magpies.

We tell things to the people we tell them to, live. We try to tailor it to be helpful or interesting in the moment. But stories should remain ephemeral and shifting, despite a culture that tries for the definitive (as if that’s possible). Stories are a sea of shifting waves and so they must be because we are too.

The Tempest variant that we all told together is gone now out into the wine dark sea of memory. Even recorded versions that exist will immediately lose their “now”. It’s why I love theatre. I can’t wait to get it back. But this form has been a wonderful discovery and something that will continue to interest me as we patch the world back together.

Meanwhile I’ve got a zoom call to make.

Everybody is out

Well here I am, sitting on the old bench again on what appears to be official London “Everybody leave the house” day. I didn’t get the memo but I’ve gone to sit on the bench anyway.

Looking over the river there are more people wandering around in Battersea Park than I’ve seen in two decades of living opposite. There are certainly more people strolling up and down the pavement than is customary on any normal weekend. I’m one of them so I can’t throw stones.


People who at this time of year would usually be lying on the sofa with the blinds down and crisps falling out the side of their mouths as they skip intro on yet another episode of “America’s next dull celebrity” are going to the park because they aren’t supposed to. Some of them have never been in a park before, reared on a lifetime of processed food, concrete and plastic they are frightened of mud.

“What’s this?” they ask, in fear and wonder, seeing a duck. One of them runs in mute terror from a syriphid. Should a sick mole come to ground there will be mass panic and casualties. “ALIENS!”

It’s the perfect London weather. Not yet hot enough to expose the complete lack of air conditioning in the UK. Not cold enough that we have to wear all the clothes in the wardrobe. The rain is staying away. The warm air is moving around. Halfway blue, halfway clouded. Perfect but for the fact that all the introduced plane trees are shitting out their neutered arrows of hell-pollen into my eyes and up my nose. They suck up pollution and drop it in our faces. I am weeping and my nose is running. It’s a pleasant enough evening that I don’t much care. But I won’t last long in it before I put my mask back on.

I bought antacid and now I wish I’d bought antihistamines. I too have been protected from nature enough that it can easily discombobulate me. And I spent my whole childhood with mud under my fingernails.

At least next time my body goes to war with me I’ll have something a bit better than milk and bread. I’m not a hedgehog, even if I’ve been hibernating.

Turns out the night I was up all night was a freaky moon night. I normally know the moon phases in advance and get all ritualistic on their asses but that one crept up on me. I barely know what day it is right now. But it’s comforting that I can retroactively brand my fucked up night as a form of spiritual warfare if I want to. It wasn’t. It was bad diet, lack of exercise and unfamiliar stagnation mixed with too much booze. It was my planet going retrograde and a supermoon in my mother’s birthsign pulling the bile out of me. Perhaps it was both.

I think a bit more walking while we still have the light. Then back home for a sensible bed. The Tempest is back on tomorrow for one last hurrah, so I’ll have to be rested and spend a bit of time working out the greenscreen now I’ve completely rearranged the living room…


Very different Bank Holiday

It’s a Friday night and a spring bank holiday. By all rights I should currently be in a crowded bar somewhere in Camden after a day catching the sun with friends and beer and then some lunch and maybe taking a chilly leap into the pond on Hampstead Heath. Sun and fun until the dark and then under cover of darkness off to town to do bad things.

By now we’d be venturing on the drunken trail of one of the many birthday parties. “How do you know so and so?” “We did a thing together years ago!” “Drink?”

As it is we all stayed at home. One guy in my block started playing the bagpipes in the morning. One of my neighbors played “We’ll meet again” at top volume three times back to back on the stereo, no doubt standing to attention and weeping over a glass of brandy.

I could frame things in terms of war and victory today. I had a hell of a night last night. Haven’t ever had one like it. Won the night but it was nasty.

Heart burn and acid reflux the like of which I’ve never experienced, coming on just as I was turning in. I made the decision to keep myself awake and upright until it abated which meant I was sitting cross legged on my bed reading until around 5.30am with a bucket next to the bed in case I suddenly jolted up a mouth full of fire. Belching like a child with wind for hours, band of fire around my chest, neck full of bubbling acid.

I felt that if I let myself sleep I was rolling the dice about whether I’d wake up in time to deal with a mouth full of alienblood. Rather no sleep than the long one, I rationalised. The brain gets busier at night in the dark. Mine is busy enough already so it really wouldn’t shut up about possibilities.

I finally drifted into something like sleep in the wee hours, still waking regularly, skipping over any true rest as I forced myself upright to sip water and belch at regular intervals. By the time proper morning came and Brian showed up outside on his trusty steed with a goodwill package of old school computer games I might never have time to play I was thrilled to thrust myself into waking life again, put clothes on, and leave that night behind me.

I can still feel the residue of it in my chest. There’s probably anxiety wrapped up in there too. I had a good run of work before all of this, but I’m going to have to start being really really careful now with money, as we all will if this madness is likely to keep us locked in for a few more months, or when the doors open I won’t be able to afford that sunny day with friends on Hampstead Heath, that filthy night in Camden or wherever with a bunch of actors and crazies.

I don’t even know who most of these people are. Bring it.

We’ve all become mildly agoraphobic.



Thoughts on a bench

There’s a dentist in the Isle of Man who bought a camera on eBay. He’s been making a movie for a decade. The concept is potentially interesting and he’s a lovely man. But I have a strong suspicion it’ll never be finished. It’s something he does between his other ventures. He’s got property out there. He’s got his practice. He’s got his community.

He’s a good man, if unusual. I didn’t know him at all, but he found me through a friend over a year ago. I got a phone call. I had stuff I needed to do on the island. It aligned.

He flew me to the island where I grew up. I had received some handwritten pages of script, photocopied. Inexplicably, surrounded by the sea and the wild, he has set it in London. He paid me a bit of cash to do some acting. He put me up in a nice hotel. I tried to do alright by him, but the other actor in the scene, a local – he didn’t show up. We only had the one day. I delivered my lines to nothing.

The crabbed photocopied handwriting on the script, the fact he’s not on any social media, the lack of a mobile phone or even email, the fact that when you call him back he doesn’t answer and you get an actual FAX MACHINE … All these things worried me a little bit, flying on my own from London to this small island.

But I’m at home in The Isle of Man. I’ve got friends there, history there. I feel safe there. He flew me back to my home island and I did him a favour. I felt a little worried when I realised quite how low budget he was. It crossed my mind that I might be involved in something weird. But I’m a big boy and I can take care of myself, I wasn’t in anything weird, and apart from the fact that the footage might end up on This Is Your Life there’s no harm done.

He has rung me periodically because he can’t find actors out there. He’s hoping I’ll help him.

If easyJet is running it’s pretty cheap to fly there these days from London – not like when I was a kid and Manx Airlines had the monopoly.  Back then we always traveled by boat from Heysham. But now there’s a regular plane. He’s happy to fly some actors over.

He means well but I’ve usually blocked him as I won’t send someone over to him on their own. It’ll be too unfamiliar even though he’s harmless. But he’s looking for a couple of parts once lockdown eases. I have a couple of mates who might fill them if we can go out there with another project in mind. We stay a week, film for him one day, and borrow his equipment to make a short over there. It’s beautiful and lends itself to filming. The Isle of Man film commission almost had a heyday but it was mired in bureaucratic incompetence and suspect behaviour. There is a lot of space and a lot of beauty there. Why not capture some of it.

I just had this idea today though. So now I need a story …

Meanwhile the ducks and the tide.




Evening bench

I’m sitting on a bench in the evening sun. Behind me the main road, busier than it has been so far. 6.20pm. Before me Thamesis, old father Thames, with maybe two more hours of ebb before slack water. The evening sun is behind and to my right, dappled through the plane trees, shining off the right hand frame of my glasses, warming me through the shoulder of my jumper. The breeze blows on my left cheek. Despite the main road at my back it is possible to be peaceful here.

I’ve just carried a bag of electronics to the recycling point and now I’m having a bottle of moretti and a peaceful sit down to write this and dose up on vitamin D.

My flat is in flux at the moment with all the jobs underway and I find if I write this there then the conflict of all the clutter affects my thinking and urges unhelpful thinking. I’m trying to move things on meaningfully up there, but one problem is that I’m not too good at endings. And there’s a lot of “past” up there, most of it not even mine.

I’ve thrown out lots of broken electronics that still have their stories. I’ve passed on the shirt I bought that day in Texas, the jumper I wore when I had that conversation. I don’t use them, but somebody might. These items need another life away from my stories and I need to keep paring back my stuff until it is less emotionally complicated to be in my own home. eBay tomorrow, for any old stuff, just to get back in the swing of it. I’ve kept lots of boxes so I can sell things that take up space. Wooden heads and big earthenware jugs and vases. When I find there’s a space up there that I’ve made, I breathe out into it. I keep looking at the little hard things that have improved and smiling. Plug sockets and light fittings mostly, and sorted piles. The work is enjoyable. But at this pace I’ll need another year of lockdown. But the more I do the more I feel I want to do it and the more I feel connected to the results.

The sky is perfect blue. I thought I’d never see that again after the eruption in Iceland. I remember saying that to someone at the time. “Look at the sky with no trails, no planes. We will never see that again.” Little did we know.

How will this fadge? At some point we have to come out, but what will change when we do? Will it be too early or too late? Will it be uncomfortable? What of the world? Has it really has the chance to breathe, knowing people are gearing up to sack it doublehard? What of the morning tube, elbow to nose, crushed together in each other’s sweat and each other’s mood? Will there be tales, in twenty years, of the old guy living in the woods who never came out of lockdown? “Every night, at midnight, you can hear the clicks as he orders something he doesn’t need on Amazon.”

I’m going back up to do more organising. That’s all we can do. Little things, every day. And we will know when we know.


Waitrose again and DIY but not much of it

Today was the fortnightly shop for the lovely Jacqueline who explained at length how she can’t work the internet until I told her it was fine. She only asked me for a small amount of wine in the initial list mentioning that she was worried about weight. I told her I wasn’t concerned about weight and she should order what she wanted. I ended up with 14 bottles in the trolley not counting the ones I had for myself.

Getting to the checkout wearing all my protective gear, two lads joined the queue behind me and seemed pretty restless and kept looking at me as everything was checked and bagged. I was going as fast as I could but had one transaction I needed to check as it went through, and then my own on a separate ticket. As it turns out their attention was to do with my safety gear. The industrial respirator is so heavy duty I at first thought I couldn’t get away with wearing it without making people feel weird but I’ve seen a fair few people using them now. It’s all I’ve got, but it attracts attention. “All this mask and lockdown stuff is bollocks mate,” I’m told as I’m heading for the door.

We are all so fed up with being shut in, and we are all dealing with it differently. I hit the booze yesterday on an empty stomach and regretted it today. I had the best part of a bottle of Penderyn that I bought for night-caps. I watched lovely zoom theatre – Operation Elsewhere – and didn’t pay attention to how much I was putting away. By the time I wrote my blog I was three sheets to the wind and angry. My first proper girlfriend once spelled out to me my physiology in front of my friends as we all got ready for a big night. We were living together back then and she had a good handle on me. We were very close.

“Don’t drink wine, it makes you drunk. Don’t drink whisky, you get angry. Don’t drink gin, you get sad. Stick to beer.”

She was right on all counts. Still is. And I was 23.

I’m running a bath and winding towards an early night. I need to step up my speed on the DIY so I don’t want to be slow in the morning. I changed one light fitting today and it took me way too long.


Still, I’m getting through it, but there’s just so much to do, and one of the shoddy old chipboard shelves in my bedroom gave way under a weight of books this morning as I was looking at it. I managed to get everything off it before it collapsed entirely but it’s a timely reminder that I need to finish electricity so I can move on to carpentry. And then maybe see if I can do something about the carpet… Much as I’m fed up of lockdown I’ve definitely got stuff to keep me going until the doors open. And that’s not even taking into account all the eBay selling…

Community NOW

I’ve just tuned out of a zoom meeting. Is this the new normal? I’ve got stuff I need to write. Aka this. But this cannot last much longer, surely?

This evening we were lucky enough to be featured on BBC Front Row with The Tempest. We only have one more day of shows scheduled. Inevitably it sold out immediately following the beeb spot. That is a wonderful celebration of the BBC, who while we are in reduced circumstances have turned the lens onto those of us who are making things despite the constraints. We only got about 4 minutes of exposure after lots of stuff about Elgar. But the four minutes we got were golden.

It’s nice to have been spotlit doing something “regional”. We need more respect and a louder voice in the regions, both for Big Telly out of Port Stewart, and Creation out of Oxford and many many more companies.

A man who calls himself a casting director and photographer took my expensive headshot once on my agent’s reccomendation, and immediately questioned and dismissed my credits with Sprite out of Ripley, through Liam who is now producing at Clwyd. He saw the parts I’d played and asked with a degree of smugness: “Is Sprite your company then?” expecting the answer YES.

“No. I had to audition.” I replied. But immediately I had seen through this photographer who was masquerading as a casting director as he used his limited worldview to dismiss my credits.

Halfway through the session, while I was shaving, by sheer happy coincidence I was phoned up and asked to do a bit of work for Scene and Heard. He earwigged the conversation, and uttered the immortal words “Scene and Heard? But they only use GOOD actors…” He had heard of them, you see. Limited worldview.

He suddenly started to care. He tried to make up for the fact he hadn’t given a toss for the whole of the first half of the shoot. By that stage he’d already fucked my faith in him though. I saw him for what he was and couldn’t be bothered with him and his posturing.

The second half of the shoot was considerably better than the first. He wasn’t talking to me like I was some idiot. So instead it was lots of shots of someone with “screw you, you arrogant bastard” in the eyes. I knew he had no real idea of an actor’s brain and based on what I’d seen, I disrespected him utterly.

They are lots of photos of me looking at this blocked fool with badly drawn lines of how competence works and received ideas about who is allowed to make art. I had no respect for him whatsoever by the end of the shoot because I could find no ground for it. Nevertheless he’ll do very well. This is not a meritocracy, dammit.

We all have to limit our circle I guess. We can’t think everybody is wonderful, as then we are seen to have no discernment.

He had chosen to actively dismiss the idea of me as an artist based on his assessment of my CV via his limited prism. And yet he had the hubris to make that obvious and then try to take calling card photos.

I, similarly, chose to dismiss him because of his value driven insincere behaviour. “If you’re not happy I offer a service where I can do another session.” Ha. No. Voucher for someone else and yes.

It’s hard if you’ve hit some luck to remember that good work done outside of London is still good work even if writeypeople are usually too lazy to go see it. That jumped up fucker evidently hit enough luck that he’s doing Spotlight meetings during lockdown as if his opinion matters. Actors are signing up hoping it’ll bring work rather than just stroke his ego and I fucking hope that the version of him I saw isn’t the only one. Maybe he’s great for people he likes. Although I don’t think he has a strong enough character.

Four minutes BBC for us is better than no minutes BBC, and of course four minutes sold us out. We cap at 100 so we can be sure people will feel included. It doesn’t take long to sell us out. Even though we are not based in London.

Everything is in flux at the moment.

Creation, who made this possible, also made possible The Odyssey in a co-pro with The Factory almost a decade ago. The Odyssey still stands as a truly unquestionably LIVE show, often sabotaged by fear and desire for control but always fighting in the right direction. My scientist brother revealed the other day how it was my nephew’s first ever bit of theatre and he loved it.

Right now we are making live theatre in lockdown. That’s all we are doing. Obedience photo-bloke could easily dismiss this credit too. Nobody is special.

But thank fuck somebody is making community as best as possible in this weird time.

I’m tuning into my witches. I’m tired of the sound of my own head. I don’t even know if this makes sense. I’m not going to check. We have another Tempest coming.

Meanwhile I put another Chandelier up, this time in my living room… Lucky bastard, me.






Electrics, busts and Wendy James

I’ve been looking over last year’s blogs written at this time. It was just after I’d brought in all the boxes full of smokey weird things that I’m still making sense of. I had been trying to work out how to clean the busts that I’ve only just worked out how to (kind of) clean.

“It’s local elections!” We said back then at 7.40pm “Shit I haven’t voted!”

Brian and I went out to vote. “Have you voted already?” we asked someone who was home with us. “Yeah I did it in the morning before I left.”

Brian and I wandered around confused, going from one potential polling station to the next, all dark, before the internet told us there was no election in our constituency – (or the constituency of the person who had voted that morning.)

We came back and we laughed at ourselves. We laughed at the one who pretended they’d voted. We didn’t know how lucky we were just to be casually moving around laughing at one another.

I miss that ease, when the flat had a saloon door, and people came and went so fluidly and constantly. The variance of the personalities. The different things they brought.

I would have been so thrilled and warmed over the weekend had I had someone to bounce thoughts off. Someone who I could listen to and respond to live. Someone who could hold the thing I’d otherwise hold in my mouth while I was trying to do stuff with both hands (THAT’S YOUR MIND NOT MY WRITING). Someone to wind down with and wind up with and bounce ideas off.

The grass is always greener.

Those of you locked in with lovers, great but we all need our space from time to time as well I know. After this long I’d be hankering to just explode myself and my stuff somewhere for a few days.

Those of you with kids – that’s got to be tough. Not that many distractions for the wee ones but the distractions you can provide. You’re likely on duty all the waking day. Maybe I’m lucky I’ve so far missed out on that.

Those of you alone like me, poking at the edges of the self-explosion – hi.

I’m keeping busy enough and there’s enough to do that I’m not stir crazy.

I took down the other chandelier today to clean. Likelihood is it’ll end up hanging in the living room until I get the other two down from the attic but I know how the things fit together now. I reckon it’s one more day on electrics, with what I bought so far. I’ll be buying more sockets now the proof of concept has worked. Whoever fitted the originals didn’t earth them fully, and even put some of them in upside down. One of the plugs that I changed today came out with two bits of broken metal jammed into the current. There was a junction upstairs that had been taped up with LX tape by a sparky friend one night. He got it working but didn’t have a nice junction box to put the wires into. Now, thanks to WhatsAppTristan, panic, and guesswork, after two attempts where switching the breakers on immediately tripped the local fuse, WhatsAppTristan and I tried a third time and the light went on constantly, no matter what the plug did. Eventually we worked out what Phil had done and rigged wires marked with positive to wires marked with neutral, after some baffled googling that taught about switches and how their wiring works. Scary but solid. It’s been like that for over a year and actually it makes sense if you know which is the switch and which is the power. Now it’s housed in a junction box and not in LX tape. Nothing has caught fire and nobody is dead yet. Stop worrying.


Here’s Havelock and some friends. They are mostly fucked. But they’re impressive. These were the equivalent of celebrities and football players in their day. They were the people who came into your living room, via Punch or the papers.

When people come round and sniff at the pomposity of these busts “Why are these people celebrated,” I’ll tell them I had friends with posters of Chesney Hawkes in their bedroom. Wendy James. Morton Harket. Amanda deCadenet. Matt and Luke Goss.

I’d sooner have a fire damaged scowling bust of Havelock to most of the people on that list, although Wendy James would be welcome to come help with the DIY because I put HER up on my wall in her denim after Transvision Vamp released Velveteen and I decided she was cool as fuck. I bet she still is now. But you never lose your teenage crush.

These busts are all of people with skills outside of being cool. Wonderful composers, philosophers, artists, writers. And many many statesmen and generals in an idiom that would make NO SENSE to anyone these days as the world has moved on. But nonetheless they were great in their day. Although I know little to nothing about Havelock other than that I assume he was part of Terry Pratchett’s inspiration for Lord Vetinari.

Nowadays horrorclownshow humans like the Hopkins and the Donald and the Kardashians – because they’ve been in our living rooms – they are the ones who would be made into busts with the new material if we were Victorians. 150 years from now people would be googling footballers and pop stars and, God help us, actors. We need to be mindful of who we decide are our heroes. People are people.

Passing time

I was supposed to be taking it easy today but the Soda Crystals did a lovely job on the Beethoven bust and I got curious.


Are many of them salvageable? I’ve got a few boxes of them, mostly smoke damaged, and I sidelined them when I thought there was no way I’d ever get the smoke out. Today I’ve been back and forth to the kitchen with marigolds and a toothbrush, and there’s a little collection of Victorian dignitaries clustered around my sink. Some of them look pretty fly, although they’ve been exposed to a hell of a temperature and then sprayed with fire hoses so there are plenty of cracks and some of the ones I unwrap have exploded.

I sat in front of the great big telly and watched blue planet with one eye while knuckling into the chandelier with brasso. I still have the ammoniacal smell in my nostrils, but I’ve rebuilt the thing and hung it nicely in the bathroom without getting electrocuted. Coming up soon is doors, once the basic electrics are done with, and you can’t say I’m not learning even if as soon as a professional comes round they’ll shake their heads and say “who the fuck put this in?” I’ll need a professional before too long but it’s useful for me to upskill myself and do all the things that I reckon I can do during this time. The days are pretty eventful as a result. New things slow down time. But in a good way.

I’ve also got the juicer set up in the kitchen for the first time in ages. The theory is that tomorrow and every day until they run out I’ll start the day with a load of juiced stuff. I have plenty of apples and oranges and carrots. We take our pleasure where we can. Dad used to juice all sorts of things. He existed on nothing but juice and supplements for the last few years of his time with us. I got used to putting green peppers and bags of kale and all sorts of weird not very juicy stuff through his huge machine. Then I had to get the pulp and put it through again twice. “The best stuff is in the third run,” he’d tell me. And I still often find myself doing that. Yesterday I was thinking of a moment with mum as I wrote. Now a moment with dad. They leapfrog through the years with us, these hearts and minds that made us.

If I’m going to be trapped in my flat with a snake I might as well take a leaf out of dad’s healthy eating book and be kind to myself and eat well. I’m even taking my vitamins and supplements even if I’m cancelling it out with booze again for the weekend.

I really need to start prioritising exercise though. That’s not even on the huge list I’ve made… I should put it there. Carrying boxes doesn’t cut it.

Work normally provides a lot of exercise by mistake but I’m down to my daily walk and I didn’t even leave the house today. It’s 8pm and I’m still in the stuff I slept in.

Claire teaches barre online and she’s fab. I’m going to go on Monday. “New things…” I think I’m just a little scared of barre. But what have I got to lose?

Received ideas and chandeliers

I remember being with mum in this flat over two decades ago at this time of year. Back then there was a chandelier in the living room. It was covered in muck and attracting flies. I was early twenties and still trusting received information over my instincts, “balancing” as we do. Kids have to receive information. The world is potentially hazardous to somebody with no experience. They don’t get how or why roads are dangerous. They get told. They understand it to be true from what they’re told and witness the fast cars and then get hit by a football and extrapolate unconsciously. “The football hurt and it was softer and slower. My parents are right. Cars are not good things to be hit by.”

After a while in some thoughts people stop questioning the information and running it against their experience. They just funnel their expectation towards what they’ve been told is the way it works. I’m pretty diligent at mining these thoughts, but nobody can catch them all.”

“The chandelier is filthy – I think it’s attracting those flies,” I told mum. “Oh but darling it’s so difficult to get them cleaned.” Apparently you have to get a specialist who comes over to take them down, and hand clean all the bits of crystal individually. They take loads of time and costs loads of cash.

By the time I moved in, the living room chandelier had been taken down by mum and put in the attic. But there was still one in the bathroom, filthy. “You should clean that chandelier,” said Kitcat a few months ago, and I imagined the expensive skinny man in small glasses coming into the flat with white gloves and a huge price tag. “Maybe,” I said, and changed the subject.

I suddenly examined my assumptions today. Mum had told me it was a load of hassle to “get it cleaned”. “I’m going to clean it,” I thought. My days are spent working through a list of tasks I made. Camino taught me that a big thing can be broken up into lots of little things. Dad always used to say “Mony a mickle maks a muckle,” but I didn’t really understand that or internalise it like the cleaning of the chandelier being hard and by someone else.

I took apart the chandelier. That involved a little bit of electrical safety but I’d already been switching the breakers on and off all day, with Tristan holding my hand on WhatsApp as I (or more specifically he as I was just a conduit) changed a plug socket, changed a light fitting installed a Nest Thermostat and started to comprehend the electrics in this flat.

The pieces of individual crystal were beautiful but utterly swarming in filth. The brass had lost all shine. I looked at the pieces closely. The fixtures were brass. Even the ones embedded in the crystal. I had about half an hour of fighting with myself. Toothbrush and hours?

Reader, I put the lot in the dishwasher. Not the brass – I’ll brasso that tomorro

“You can’t put the chandelier in the dishwasher,” said a cartoon version of mum in my head as I did exactly that.

And it came out beautifully.

It’s so worth challenging our assumptions, on inconsequential matters like washing chandeliers, all the way up to fundamentals like “What constitutes value in other people”. I’m still chasing my assumptions around and all sorts of stuff keeps coming up that surprises me. We can call these received and unquestioned ideas prejudice in others when they don’t align with ours. But an attack on the assumption never helps. If someone had said “AL YOU IDIOT, JUST WASH IT IN THE DISHWASHER,” I would likely have defended myself. “Do you have chandeliers?” (YES = Well this one’s different. NO = So you don’t know what I know.) Parental wisdom is a huge part of how we filter stimulus. But we are all different from our parents and have different things we find easy and different things we find hard. Mum wouldn’t have enjoyed deconstructing the thing, or seeing the face of the brass under the brasso. I do. I did. I will. And so this disease gradually makes my flat more pleasant to be in…