Jamming socks into the cracks

The wind is hammering on the window here in Hampstead. I had to jam it shut with a sock. A friend just texted me about something I should’ve recorded by now for him – but it’s unpaid. My microphone is in Chelsea and without payment I’m never inclined to prioritise. My time is worth money. I don’t have any inclination to be front footed and generative right now with no guarantee of remuneration. I’ve bought my ability with time. I have no idea where the money might come from next. Everything I read bodes ill for the theatre part of my industry. What the fuck is going to happen? Filming might pick up, so that’s something. But God…

A year ago I hoped I’d get the audition for the perfect role in theatre somewhere that might transfer to the West End. I could get the part and then it could lead to the thing that led to the thing that eventually meant I could finally finally finally take a foot off the gas and … who knows – afford to fall in love? Even to have a kid? All these things I feel like I’ve pretty much burnt forever now in the struggle to just remain vaguely current.

Here I sit in the carcass of the dreams that propped me up, wondering what all the sacrifice was for.

What have I built? Fuck.

Friends. A fair few wonderful fragile powerful friends. Thank God.

Debt. Resilience. Perspective. Observation.

Outside of that? A web of unusual connections in an ailing industry with people who, with a few notable exceptions, don’t hate me.

I have been reasonably uncompromising. I’m kind and peaceable. But I speak my mind even as it changes, so people I’ve designated as hypocrites and people who refuse to be honest have not gone forward with my blessing and they know it.

I’ve also been visible but not in a shiny way – I write this shit every day and it’s full of the word “I”. I don’t share it widely or pepper it with hashtags. I tell you when I’m sad rather than colouring the cracks with meat. But if you wanna paint me as a narcissist you’ve got all the words, so long as you ignore the content – and that’s the nature of agendas. And I’m not doing the grinning and the dancing with tassles in my arse that apparently we are supposed to do as actors writing about our careers.

The more visible someone is the easier it is to dismiss them.

This blog is a fucking grind. It’s both my strength and my weakness. I hate it and I hate myself for forcing myself to do it no matter how I feel, over and over and over again. And I love it too. I love it for the messages you send. For the fact it helps people know they’re not the only ones. And for what I learn about myself by doing it.

I have to connect with myself and assess myself in this life where otherwise I might just divorce myself from who I am and from what I want and join the hordes who write endless saccharine content that goes for nothing and for nothing and for nothing.

Every day for 1270 days no matter what, mostly honest, mostly straightforward, frequently unedited. Minimum 500 words a day. Books and books worth of content, put out, hardly even shared, forgotten. For me? For you? Who knows anymore. For this.

I’ve learnt a lot in the process.

But I haven’t learnt to distribute it.

Maybe that should be the next lesson for these times where the theatre industry is mothballed, filming is stuttering and online shows look pointedly elsewhere. Time to bump up my numbers on the social meedjas. Time to be like the varnished turds who use words like “influencer” towards themselves. Time to make it harder for people to overlook me. Maybe accept that my unedited daily version of reality is more healthy than the curated dogshit people try to feed the world about themselves and our industry.

But … I’m leaky tonight. I’m popping sadness unexpectedly. The wind is banging on the window reminding me of a big wild world out there. Time to put a sock in it.



Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

2 thoughts on “Jamming socks into the cracks”

  1. Mr Barclay! I’m so so sorry its a down day…such days can be necessary (cathartic..?)…but never ever fun…

    …just as necessary to pick oneself up…dust oneself off and look at whats before you (again!) with new eyes (again…again!) and a new take (again…again…f!@#ing again) and…ALL that jazz.

    I’m sending you love, best vibes and I hope much that the news of a bailout…proves buoying…

    Not THE answer maybe…but also not a kick in the teeth.YEY for ‘not a kick in the teeth’.


    1. Yey indeed. For a not kick in teeth.

      We have been conditioned to accept a baseline that is so cruel. Is this a bait and switch? “Oh but the money we had for the NHS went to the arts because of all your petitioning…”


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