Up and down with knives

Lou gave me a mushroom knife for my birthday. Good present! It’s a little curved wooden number, very sharp, locks itself, has a tiny brush on the end. “Careful,” says John. “That might not be legal. You don’t want to get in trouble.”

A blade that locks itself and is over three inches long is illegal in the UK. We carefully measured it. It’s 2.8 inches. I was relieved to find out my little mycological geektool is legal.

I didn’t have it with me as I loaded a 30 inch sword and a 22 inch stiletto into my car today and blithely drove across the country. Thankfully nobody stopped me. It could’ve been tricky if they had, as the car is never one to instil confidence in the stable mental state of the owner. The temporary cardboard numberplate hasn’t washed off yet, although raindrops have made it look like art department have distressed it for use in a horror movie. The heatshield rattle is back in low gear, and the spring bangs loudly if you turn the wheel more than 45 degrees. The engine still runs marvellously. It’s just everything else that’s fucked.

Add to that the fact that I now have a new toy… “That’s how we get you,” I was told with a smile. I was watching an automobilia auction a few weeks ago and I got giddy and bought myself a vintage Rolls Royce chauffeur’s hat. It’s bloody marvelous. It’ll live in whatever car I’m driving as a statement of intent that one day I’ll have a car that fits the hat.

Meantime I might do one more shuttle to Yorkshire if there’s time and the things, but right now the idea gives me the chills. I’m done with driving for now. Another fucking 14 hour 500 mile round trip over two days. It’s still beautiful in Yorkshire, but I’m not sure it’s the most practical solution to use Tennant’s, especially since half of the car today was filled with a table that will likely not even cover the price of petrol. Bums.

I’m in Brighton again now. Calm by the sea. Tasty food incoming through the magic of Lou. Time out. Gonna relax. Up at 6 tomorrow to get back to London in time for dental hijinks. Oh the joy.


The road to Yorkshire is thick with the past now, mostly built up over a decade of summer Shakespeare at Sprite. Parts of the A1 will always have colorful memories attached to colorful times.

Late night midsummer post show rushing to London for an audition and I’m breathalysed at 4 in the morning 7 months into a sober year. “When did you have your last drink, sir?” “December the twenty third, officer.” “Blow into this tube please.”

Many a meal in many an OK Diner and they were ok. That angry hitchhiker and he wasn’t. Phil and I convinced we wouldn’t get back in time for the show while playing Daft Punk and driving at 100mph every time he stopped looking at the speedometer. Quiz time with Jack. Guess the song with Phoebe as we sailed into London with the dawn. Fiercely competitive games of HORSE with Jo…

Now I’m yo-yoing up and down to Tennants trying to excavate my flat, accompanied brilliantly by Lou, sharing time and this part of the world with her.

This time the car is not overloaded. A table and some bits and bobs really. Nothing much compared to some trips.

I need to collect things and bring them back though, which is part of the deal. Some of my lots didn’t sell. Now I can keep them happily in the knowledge that they aren’t worth loads so it won’t matter when I kick the shelves down in the night by mistake. And until then, they’ll bring a smile to my face.

Meanwhile Lou and I get to experience the sleepy and not so sleepy towns between London and Leyburn.

Today we stopped in Northamptonshire and ate at a little pub by the canal – they were extending the eat out to help out scheme into September – and quite right as well considering I only got about 4 tortellini. Fifty percent of the food for fifty percent of the price. I can say with certainty that I won’t be going back there, because I can’t remember where the hell it was anyway and I only found it when I got hangry and shouted at my phone “show me good pubs to eat at near me”.

We arrived in Harrogate for evening, and as has become traditional, we went for dinner with our host. A fucking wonderful curry from Cardamom Black. If you’re anywhere near Harrogate it’s worth the drive. And I’m counting New Zealand in that. Yum.

I’m writing this in post prandial torpor, sitting on the floor of our little attic room. I have a feeling movement is about to get restricted again so I’m rushing this trip so I can keep up my side of the relationship with Tennant’s Auctioneers. I have a feeling this will continue to develop into a fruitful and long standing partnership. Plus it’s a good excuse to regularly get to Yorkshire. I do love it here.

Quick stop in Brighton

Aware that the rules are changing about movement every three and a half minutes, I’ve taken a risk anyway and packed up another car load to go to Yorkshire. Then, in a great illustration of my disordered brain and my atrocious geography, I’ve driven it all to Brighton so I can hang out with Lou. I’ve just arrived. She’s sewing a costume for an actor friend of mine to be gainfully employed whilst wearing it. It’s a bit more fiddly than she expected so I thought I’d write while she works.

The flat is empty of tenants at last – a situation that can’t last long, but one that’s considerably preferable to having a tenant with a flexible approach to payment. I’m trying to work out what I can usefully do with the room while it’s empty. There’s some work that has to be done by others, some work I can do myself and some work that can just be ignored for now. I need to be quick about deciding what’s what and about getting it all done so I can start to tick over again. Service charge has just been put up because everybody else in my block is a millionaire and thinks that a few hundred quid more per month is peanuts, plus they love scaffolding even though every fucking time they put it up I tell them my flat leaks and they tell me they’ll solve it and don’t.

Glad of a little bit of weird work from the artist, but I’m determined to try and get ahead of myself at last and stop this decades long flirtation with the sharp end of my overdraft limit.

So I’ll be up to Yorkshire again tomorrow so long as Dominic Cummings doesn’t decide that he’s the only person allowed to drive to Yorkshire these days. This time it’s larger items. Bits of furniture and so forth. And it’ll be slightly rushed as Lou has to be back in Brighton on Tuesday evening, and I’ve got to be doing random stuff in my greenscreen next week anyway.

This really hasn’t felt like a weekend. My days of the week are cancelled. I haven’t even got the habitual drunken Friday and Saturday leading to sleepy Sunday. Every day is … just another day trying to work out how the hell I’m going to keep butter on the parsnips. Decades of hard work, sacrifice and refining our skillsets has been designated “unskilled” by the chancellor because when he does acting he does it without skill. It’s like thinking a doctor has no skill because you can lance your partner’s boils, and you quite enjoy it when you do.

It’s very chilled out here though in this lovely familiar cluttery home by the sea. The sea always takes the weight off and brings me back to myself. This place makes me miss The Isle of Man. It might be time to go back there for a while soon. For now, though, it’s making sense of my uncharacteristically empty flat.

A weird job offer

It starts with an email. An old collaborator wants to meet me in a swanky address just opposite Claridges. She sends me a photo of well dressed people in rabbit heads for reference. It’s something to do with an artist.

Looking at the swanky location, I notice that it’s right behind Immersive LDN, which is Brian’s venue. In an access of huge efficiency, I grab the remaining bunch of unusual things that belong to him and I throw them in the back of the car and drive to Bond Street. £15 on congestion charge is about the same as an uber XL and there are three big plastic stills for brewing to take in.

Insider knowledge has me driving the Nissan into a huge room in central London to park it. Then I wander over to find out what the artist wants.

The things I’ve done for this one crazy woman over the years… I’ve herded giraffes, and been a robot learning how to be a human. I’ve been an enthusiastic superhero sidekick in tight spandex. I’ve paraded my monster as Doctor Frankenstein, and been the voice and ringmaster of “The dodgems of your mind”. I’ve sat in a caravan on Carnaby Street and in Canary Wharf and on The South Bank, reading tarot to strangers. I even slept in the thing for protection when it was overnighting in the shadow of Liberty. There have been more things, so crazy and so fleeting that I’ve forgotten them completely…

Now, at the height of this arsehole of a pandemic, she’s found an artist who wants to make people happy through me. That’s about the extent of it.

There’s a window and a balcony. There’s an inflatable dinosaur and some helium. There’s room full of strange random stuff that she’s accumulated. There’s a load of costume including a selection of weird heads. I’ll be mostly in the window, sometimes on the balcony. To a large extent I’ll be working out where the heck to go based on what the heck we decide will be the most joyful thing to do with the stuff we have. It’s taking place next weekend. None of us are under any illusions that footfall will be high. It’s just a weird happening. But it’s familiar enough to feel a bit more like the thing I do than the antique selling hat I’ve been wearing while the world drowns. It’s a well worn hat, the weird thing in hot costume hat.

I was once projected onto Oxford Street in a sort of hologram from a boiling studio in Selfridge’s, surrounded by cameras and lights and sweating Christmas buckets in a huge furry hot green Santa costume. I had a monitor so could talk to the passers by. I saw their wonder at the jolly talking hologram as I counted down to my water break. That must have been all of fifteen years ago. Another time I almost died of heat exposure was with a well known bear head on during a hot summer on the South Bank. I nearly cooked in the head while people shouted my bear name and hugged me. The outside face kept smiling as I microwaved inside it.

My habit of saying “yes” before I say “how?” or “how much?” has led to the development of a strange skillset about encountering strangers through a frequently very awkward costume, but joyfully. I’m looking forward to doing it again.

It looks like I’ll have three days of this weird cute employment – doing something so odd that I’ll think back to it in ten years time and wonder if it was nothing but a dream I had. We will have to make what we’re doing up as we go along. And we have the added constraint of Covid looming large over everything and stopping us from leaving the house. Hopefully there’ll be time for some joy.

Mornings are taking over

In a spectacular piece of hubris I have allowed myself to quietly believe for years that the cold waits until after my birthday.

Despite the fact it was already pretty cold on my birthday – a fact that I was determined to overlook and downplay – it’s brass monkeys today so I’m calling a win for my own false sense of cosmic significance. I wouldn’t want to be on the Heath tonight in this. I’ve spent the last half an hour reattaching my smart thermostat as I might treat myself to a little bit of central heating, humbug.

It was lovely this morning though up there on the Heath. Lou and I had a little stroll.

The lack of booze helped me remember that the days start swapping over now and mornings become all important. In summer it’s all about the evenings, the low light through the trees, the crickets, warmth. In winter it’s the mornings, then evening pools of artificial light spilling through windows into cold night. By noon the best of the day is gone, particularly when they add an hour and make the dark come at 3pm – and that’s only a month away. It’s time to shift my body clock.

Darkness is closing in, as is the global fist of this pandemic. Where can we go? There are only 8 countries without their borders closed in some way. I thought of going home to The Isle of Man, but there’s no way they’ll let me get on the ferry. I even considered going back to Jersey as there’s stuff I need to do there plus it’s the island of my birth and my longing. I’d have to quarantine for two weeks in both directions if I went there, which would be crap and expensive as I haven’t got a roof to put over my head anymore.

So I’ll stay here, in London, and keep my head down. I’ve got a pretty sweet situation living between two properties until I can vacate this one and turn it into money. I’m still waiting on Kitcat to finally leave Chelsea so I can properly rationalise all the remaining stuff in this flat and reduce reduce reduce and throw the doors wide open onto empty streets and another fucking lockdown and no tenants and no industry earnings to pay council tax and service charge and Rishi tanking us to 20% fuckkitt.

Kitcat thought she’d leave this morning but she’s changed her mind now. She’s leaving tomorrow at noon, allegedly. She won’t make it to Glasgow before late even if they try to onebomb it but I’m not her keeper. She can do what she likes. It’s not me behind the wheel anymore and I feel pretty relieved about that. I’ll help her pack the van. Then I can just flounce around the place naked tomorrow morning. Or maybe be in a sunny park watching the live Saturday morning auction at Tennant’s and hoping for good prices while soaking up the vitamin D from the winter sun. Fully clothed. Not that much vitamin D. I’m already in enough trouble with the rozzas from the insurance cock up.

I’m used to uncertainty. But it’s never easy not knowing what the hell’s going to happen next. I’m in a good position here with my choice of roof and my friendly Hampstead snake. The Nissan’s over any day now – I should check tax expiry to make sure I’m not pulled over again. That’s the last thing I need. I’m have to move it on.

It’s quite hard to think past kitcat leaving right now with every inch of space in the flat either filled with her stuff in boxes or with mine. Tomorrow is a brighter day. So long as I get up in the morning.

Enjoy the sunshine if you can find it, lovelies. This is Friday night sober Al checking into his camomile tea.

Calm birthday despite the pasmina police

I’m standing in doorway of The Freemason’s Arms in Hampstead. Wrapped around my face is my silk and pashmina scarf – natural fibers and filtering twice around my nose and mouth. “A scarf won’t do, sir,” says Hitler. “It has to be a proper mask.” I’ve forgotten my mask, but the pashmina is more effective anyway. Emma has to leave, so she takes off her disposable mask and gives it to me. I put it on in front of Hitler, still warm from Emma’s face. It’s made of polypropylene and polythene, almost as bad for me as for the planet. “Is that better?” It’s better for Hitler. It’s neither safer for me nor for anybody else. It just looks like a mask is supposed to look like.

This is a perfect example of letter vs spirit of the law. If it was about safety or logic then Hitler would have been happy with the pashmina. Silly old Hitler.

Still it was the end of a lovely day and it’s only a pub. Perhaps it’s illogical and scary in all the pubs. Hitler was constantly normalising her extreme neurosis, and telling us it was like this everywhere, and having nothing to compare it with I’ll take her word for it. But just because my pashmina doesn’t attach with elastic around my ears it’s no good? You’re a fucking idiot, Hitler.

Compliance. Tracking. Social Credit. Here we go, boys. The new normal. No wonder everybody is getting out their tinfoil hats. We might need them. I’m glad I’m not drinking anymore. If that’s pubs then I’m happier staying home.

I’m glad I came out for my birthday today though. A very small group of lovely brave souls in a sheltered spot on The Heath. Cold but companionable. Halloumi and strange booze free beverages and candles and good company. Five of us. Lou and I, John, Tanya and Emma.

I was perfectly happy to grow a bit older in such fine company, and Jono arrived and joined some of us at The CagedMasons. We never had more than four in a group and it was calm and kind and fun. Sure I like those birthday parties where you see how many humans you can fit in the room. But these are interesting times, like it or not, and there’s as much fear as there are pathogens, with both being equally toxic.

Much of the conversation was about second strings and “how have you been making money during lockdown.” We are all still trying to flex our hustlemuscles within the constraints we’ve been given. Nobody in our little group has been sitting on our arses.

I’ve got my first load of stuff going under the hammer on Saturday at Tennant’s. There has been a huge amount of cleaning and organising to get to this stage. I am better than I ever thought I’d be at soot removal, and I’ve got a good eye for porcelain now as well. Anybody curious to see what I’ve been up to, or interested in getting their hands on some unusual bits and bobs, here’s the link to the sale: https://bid.tennants.co.uk/m/view-auctions/catalog/id/881

It starts at 9.30am and they rattle through the lots – there are literally thousands. My lots are: 132 and 154 (shared with Max), 166, 169, 170, 171, 172, 315, 465, 471, 480. There are even a few more in the second half of the sale. Having watched a few of their auctions already it’s astonishing the speed and acuity with which they go about their work. They are turning over vast quantities, and they’ve spent good money on a website that just makes sense. It’s easy to watch their auctions online and far too easy to bid. In fact, if these items sell well, it’ll be hard for me to resist buying in a load of different antiques to replace the ones I’ve just moved on. I’ll manage it. I still have a lot to move on. Loads. Too much. But it’s fun. Not as fun as acting. But still fun, somehow.

Sad before birthday

This time last year I was lying by a pool in San Antonio thinking about the collapse of Thomas Cook and worrying about the UK economy with all the uncertainty around Brexit. Our merry little band of five were jaunting around the USA in a state of perpetual wonder, chasing the end of the summer before winter found us in Colorado Springs.

A year later and it seems like things have changed forever. Six months into this pandemic and it’s still as uncertain and haphazard as ever, with everybody policing themselves and policing each other. Back then we were having a ball. We were in a different state of the USA every week, going into rooms full of cadets and prisoners and old folk and students and kids to work them out about Shakespeare. Now we’re all at home.

I haven’t been following the news so I’m not sure of the specifics but things are feeling bleak. We are past the equinox now. The nights are longer than the days. Darkness is closing in. And it feels that way.

Lots of us feel sad. I’ve got that stomach thing where nebulous anxiety causes a knot in the base of the belly. The change of seasons is sad enough, but add to that the threat of martial law, the threat of a deadly surge of mutated virus, the threat of all of us shutting the doors again and dying of hate in a palace of loopaper, the threat of the economy collapsing totally, riots, burning, a new world order. The threat of getting older. That’s the big one.

It’s my fucking birthday again tomorrow. Today when you read this. Thursday. What’s a man to do? Birthdays in a time of Corona. Half the world has had one by now. It’s my turn and I remember being sure it would all be over by now back in summer.

Only six people at a time. I’ll be near Parliament Hill, no matter what the weather, naturing it up from noon until it’s too fucking cold. Lou has come up, thank God. That’s a comfort. She’s got her feet on my belly and it’s warm.

I’m feeling the weight of the encroaching dark. I really am. I always feel sad and slow before my birthday, and today is a particularly hard one as it feels like we are no further ahead than we were in June and now we have nothing but Christmas to bring light and warmth. You can bet all the fireworks displays are cancelled. I had a couple of self tapes, but nothing in the bag. Zip, zilch, nada. So little is being made, so little CAN be made with all the restrictions. It’s a sad sad situation and it’s getting more and more absurd.

We have to find light. If the darkness gets deeper we have to MAKE light.

Kitcat is going up to Scotland on Saturday. It’s been a year and a month since she moved in. She’s paid for a year. Despite the shortfall I’m sad as it’s an ending. It just adds to the sense of endings. The flat is ending too. It’s going to be different from now on. First the work, and then maybe a flatmate maybe not, maybe Airbnb, maybe lockdown. What the fuck is going to happen? Who knows. I feel totally swamped in it.

Anyway, it’s my birthday and I’m going to sober party. Noon I’m starting to hang in nature and I’ll borrow somebody’s zoom and do a Zoom thing late afternoon early evening just to see people’s faces. Probably about 5…? Oh I don’t know. I’m too tired sad and strung out to organise specifics. I just want to cocoon in a little warm ball under a rock like Hex, and come back out when it’s light and we are allowed to play again.


I woke up this morning dizzy. I keep veering off to the sides when I’m walking. It’s been a couple of months since I had any booze so it’s not that, although I totally feel like I’ve been Christmassing myself. I think it’s probably the diet. I haven’t really worked out how to be mostly vegan and still get iron in my diet. I went to Holland and Barrett and told her I was dizzy. Multivitamins for vegans with tons of iron in them were half price. She also sold me some CBD to drop under my tongue. “It’s helpful for people overcoming addictions,” she told me. But is it not addictive in and of itself? And it’s expensive enough even at half price frankly. She’s trying for a regular customer. Still I got out of that place for under fifteen quid which is nothing short of a miracle.

CBD really is the new Snake Oil. I’ve heard people tell me it’s good for everything. It’s like they cold read you and then try and tell you it’ll fix the thing they think you need to get fixed. But usually the thing I need to get fixed is my cashflow and CBD is very very bad for that unless you’re standing the other side of the counter selling it.

I bought some anyway. It hasn’t helped the dizziness. It’s cannabis for crying out loud, of course it hasn’t helped. It’s kind of amazing that she sold it on that basis, or that I bought it. But maybe it’ll help me turn into a kingfisher, or leap tall buildings in a single bound, or get a good price for the Halcyon Days.

I feel terrible about selling the Halcyon Days suddenly as I found an affectionate note from my doting grandmother. She put it in a Churchill related box, and told me she loved me. Her voice and her memory came crashing through the ages in a sharp reminder of her extremely memorable personality. Black Peg, the scourge of The Folkestone Wrens, going on to terrorise many a dinner party in Jersey before getting out that fucking fortune fish and telling everybody they were fickle. It’s partly her fault I’m an actor. I don’t hold it against her. But I won’t be able to sell that pot now. It’ll sit somewhere full of cufflinks until I go join her for tea and biscuits.

Which hopefully isn’t imminent despite the dizziness. If its not iron deficiency it’s more stored toxins leaving my body. The kambo did a good start, hard flushing all the easy stuff, but persistence is shifting some of the crap that’s buried deep after so many years of creative and joyful self abuse.

And so I took the foot off the gas a bit on the selling. Although the first big load of things will be selling at Tennant’s imminently. They’re all up on the website now, about fifteen different lots, without minimum value yet but that’s to come. I’m very much hoping that they’ll sell well enough – despite the market at the moment – for me to be relaxed about refurbishing this place properly. I’ve been lent a small amount as a starter but it’s not enough to get the full work done so it’s down to the sales this Saturday, augmented by the Halcyon Days – (if I can bear to shift any more of them after connecting with my doting grandma.)

Halcyon Days

Calm days.

Ceyx was the king of Thessaly in ancient times. This was back when the Gods walked among us more openly. Aeolus, the wind God was one of them – a minor deity blowing around sewing his wild oats. He fathered a few kids with mortals.

His daughter Alcyone fancied a bit of Ceyx and decided to marry him. She was very happy with Ceyx. She loved Ceyx. I can only assume he was well named.

These old stories about Ceyx and all that though – they never end well, and this was no exception. Ceyx drowned. Oh no!

Alcyone was distraught. “Without Ceyx I am nothing!” she likely howled, rending her clothes, tearing her hair, pausing a moment to pose for a pre-Raphaelite painter from the future, and hurling herself into the Aegean sea to drown with Ceyx.

Problem was her dad was a minor God. She didn’t drown. She transformed. Specifically, she turned into a kingfisher. She was then blown by her dad the wind to where her husband was flapping around having also turned into a kingfisher instead of drowning. This is not a regular occurrence in the Aegean Sea – or anywhere. If you want to be a kingfisher, this isn’t the way to do it. I’m not sure there is a way to do it anymore but it’s not drowning yourself. If anyone knows how to turn into a kingfisher let me know. So long as I can change back, it might be fun to occasionally be a kingfisher. Especially at the moment.

Alcyone the kingfisher was happy with kingfisherishness for sure. She had Ceyx again. Lots of Ceyx. Inevitably she made a nest and laid some eggs. This was around the 14th December. 7 days to lay and 7 days to hatch. 2 weeks in the run up to Christmas.

In perpetuity, her dad tries to go easy on the wind for a fortnight in December. Two weeks of calm for Alcyone. A good time to go fishing and stock up on food for a feast in the dead of winter. The Alcyone Days.

Folklore goes that if you hang up a kingfisher carcass it’ll predict the wind direction with its beak because of this ancient storylink between the bird and the wind. Don’t go killing kingfishers to find out. Folklore says a lot of stuff that just turns out to be a bit stinky and unpleasant. Why use a dead bird when there’s an app?

Of course you give a story to the oral tradition and it changes. People quickly forgot the time of year, and started noticing calm times and calling them Alcyone Days, then Chinese whispers made them Halcyon Days.

We could use some Halcyon Days right now with all the pandemic mad panic and the quiet simmering rage.

I’ve got some. But the ones I’ve got aren’t the ones we need. The ones I’ve got are just branded enamel boxes “by appointment to the Queen”, made to be collected by people who have retired. I’m listing them on eBay gradually over time. This is why I’ve been thinking about the phrase, its origin, and how nice it would be to be a kingfisher.


Last night was the first time I have ever found myself evangelising about being sober. I need to watch that. It was solicited on this occasion but it’s a slippery slope, that sort of thing. You can very quickly get very boring when you start to talk in detail about your lifestyle choices and the little thoughts and habits that imaginatively separate you from the rest of those other people over there.

“I’m sober.” “I believe in Jesus.” “I work out.” “I watch a particular TV show obsessively.” “I take drugs.” “I’m an actor.” “I’m a sex addict.” Your choices don’t define who you are. They’re just a part of the web.

With that in mind, I’m going to evangelise about being sober on my blog for a while and bore the shit out of you.

But it’s just saved me some money. It’s almost nine on a Sunday night and I’ve just realised I left my iPad and microphone in Hampstead and I’m filming tomorrow in Chelsea and need them. I’m not pissed though so I can drive over and get them. An uber is usually about £20. So that’s money saved.

Not to mention all the money I’m not spending on wine and beer. That’s the practical bit. I’ve already saved loads by not spending.

Fuck me I still miss a good glass of red though. But I’d have one glass of red and then neck the rest of the bottle, look for another bottle, have a whisky toddy to sleep with, finish it wide awake and have a second. Then I’d sprawl open mouthed until morning snoring my dreamless face off. Then I’d wake sore throated, dry and heavy with a nameless indignance at the very existence of the world and the fact I have to interact with it.

I reckon it’ll be a good year before I can fully reprogram my brain, and it might move to longer if I discover that I truly am powerless, like the AA lot are encouraged to admit. But I don’t like being powerless so I’m gonna see.

Right now I feel good and I’m making change. It’s slow but it’s happening. There’s much to do, sure. Kitcat is still very much in the flat so plans have been pushed back. She’s on track to be gone on the 26th which is only a fortnight after her extended deadline without a whisper of rent. It’s good that I’m saving my boozemoney. I’m looking forward to having the place to myself a while.

So yeah. For me it’s a strange magical adventure, sobriety. I’ve been mostly drunk in the evenings and weekends for the best part of two decades. Turns out I can still have fun when I let myself feel things. The first month is far and away the worst bit. Thankfully I had good influences. Lou and her joyful sobriety. Tristan putting himself through the booze free wringer too. And then there’s Covid making sure that all the tempting parties and press nights and shows where the audience buys you a drink are off the table.

On which subject, I’m having a birthday party on Thursday, but only if the weather is nice. Because it’ll be outside on Hampstead Heath. I’m gonna just show up there at about noon and bring my book and make little friends out of sticks and mud if nobody appears. I’ll stay until it’s too dark and cold. I’ll be hideously wonderfully sober, watching sticks or people booze and carouse safely in the outside world. I’ll join in the wassailing if there is wassailing. I’ll drop a pin on my Facebook and share it with anybody who fancies rolling up, and I won’t be incomprehensible by 8pm.

Somebody might even bring a frisbee.