I have to get rid of the Audi tomorrow, somehow. I’ve been trying to get it part exchanged for something half decent, but I’ve left off doing it until the last minute as usual. Chances are I’ll have to drop it off somewhere out of town, wait a week and then pick up the replacement. It’s all a bit logistical. My pocket seems to think it can cut through all the red tape…
My friend posted this on his Facebook. It is a Ford Ka being sold as “future classic” for many times the value. “Ha ha ha” I thought, when I opened the link in my eBay app. “Nobody’s gonna buy that,” I chuckled to myself as I put my smart phone into my pocket on a hot day.
Yesterday morning I woke up to a message. “Hi, please can you call me about the Ka you purchased.” With a phone number.
My fucking pocket. It somehow managed to commit to buy the car. For £2500. Thankfully it didn’t automatically pay for it as well.
I spoke to the guy on the phone twice. He told me he understood and he was relisting it. But he hasn’t cancelled it on eBay so I keep getting payment reminders. Coming at a time when I need new wheels it’s weird. My car karma is all over the place at the moment. And we need more transport to get to Wales this weekend, so it’s kind of typical that this looks like the first week in ages that I’ll have no vehicle. And I’m just hoping that I won’t have to fight this chancer not to have to pay him loads of money. Of all the things to pocket buy – an overpriced car? Damn you, pocket.
Around the practicalities of looking for new wheels and somebody to take the Audi, I’ve been cramming lines for Bottom. They’re going in, it seems. But it’s hard when you can’t be in the same room as the other actors. Speaking them in context is always going to be the best way to bed lines in. But I’m glad to have work for my brain again. Staving off the Alzheimer’s. Getting myself ready to look ace in that marvelous movie job that’s definitely just round the corner for me.
Meanwhile if you want me I’ll either be looking at pictures of cars, mumbling to myself, or both…
Oops. It’s twenty to two in the morning. I was asleep and woke up when a motorbike blitzed past my window. I’m sleeping on the sofa again with Tom in my bed. He’ll be up in a few hours for an interview and I need to be as well in order to do many things. Mainly right now it’s lines. I’ll be in front of a paying audience in times of covid giving my Bottom twice on Saturday and in the current state of my lines it’ll be mostly paraphrased with tremendous confidence.
This evening I jumped in the car and shot across to The Kirkaldy Testing Centre. It’s good I’m back in London for this sort of thing. A site visit. I have no idea what I’m going to be doing there, but it’ll be something that’s partly made by me and it’ll take the history of the building into account. It’s another of those weird secrets in London – a huge building in Southwark filled with gargantuan Victorian machines. Their purpose is to test things and see if they break. There are devices for breaking chains, for flattening things, for pounding and rolling and twisting whatever you put in them. Strange inevitable metal monsters equipped with dials and gages so they can give back readings as they destroy your thing. “Waterproof up to X foot”? There’s probably a pressure tank here somewhere…
Being in there is like being in a forgotten part of the past. These destructive machines, but housed in wood and displayed alongside poems and books in a mostly forgotten huge building on a busy London main road. They recently filmed something Sherlock Holmesian here, in the stinky corridor under the street. A damp handwritten script is still there, left perhaps by one of the actors that likes to scribble things down for memory still. I get that. I can’t learn lines off a screen very easily. My brain is used to paper. As I lie here on my sofa I’m surrounded by print-outs. I think it’ll be ok. But I’ll only be ok once I’ve made it ok, and this is one of those patches where I have loads of demands on my attention. Hence why I forgot to write anything until the scream of an engine woke me into guilty realisation.
It’s an interesting place, the kirkaldy – and I’m immediately thinking about all the ways it can translate into art. Testing things to destruction? It feels like this is what has been happening to most of us this last year. All of us, grabbed in the steel pincers of one of these horrible things, crunching and twisting us through all the ups and downs of this awful global mess that seems to be going on and on. I guess the destruction wrought by the machines gives knowledge of how to protect all the other things not put into the machine. Maybe those of us who properly went through the wringer will be able to help others…
There’s a lot of thought I can bring in about these breaky machines. Mixed with Victorian parlour games and so forth. Fun. Another thing to think about certainly. Bedtime.
I’ve been driving a lot recently. I always drive a lot, but this week perhaps more so than usual as I split my focus between London (work) and Brighton (creatures that want cuddles). I’m back in the smoke again with 0 cuddles and lots to do after getting down another self tape of my own and helping a friend with theirs. Quid Pro Quo, you might say, only my audition scene was two lines long and her audition was seven full scenes with 2 versions each. Nice if she gets it, sure, but another huge learn for absolutely nothing if she doesn’t. It took us much of the day but thankfully I enjoyed it. I just got my director muscles rippling and tried to give her notes that would be helpful in the playing.
The rain is here, breaking the heat and finding its way through my roof in order to come and say an unwelcome hello to me in my bathroom. I have had an array of receptacles including a giant beer stein catching the drops for maybe a decade now. Sometimes you start to think of unusual things as being commonplace, and when it rains my bathroom leaks. Thankfully so far it hasn’t come back into the bedroom. I had that fixed up at much expense in a flash of optimism that so far has not proven to be unwarranted.
I’ve spoken of the drips many times to my expensive leasehold company and they’ve come and put scaffolding up the block to paint my windows shut and noisily fail to fix the problem at vast expense. This is post Brexit England. If the tradesman can get away with doing less than the job, and coming home with a load of antique window weights in the van, they’ll do it. It’s a new leasehold company now. Maybe, just maybe, they will find somebody who can work it out…
I’m glad to be in my flat tonight despite the drips. Tom is in York so I’ve got the place to myself and I can enjoy being in my own space instead of living out of a bag in somebody else’s. With Jersey and then Brighton I’ve had very little opportunity to spend time in a room of my own. I’m loving being alone in here. I made naked tea earlier and perhaps I’ll have a lovely hot bath after I finish this blog. I’m burning some incense. I keep on expecting Mao to jump up onto the bed, but he’s still in Brighton being unbearably cute with Lou. I’ll miss him, but suddenly having 0 responsibilities? I’ll take that for an evening.
It’s looking likely that Mau will come and live with me in Hampstead for the heart of the summer, as that appears to be the right plan as soon as I’ve sold the Audi and gone to Wales to give my Bottom and sorted out my company and worked out Christmas and all the things so many things.
Bath. Then more chamomile. Then pass out. That’s the running order. Tasty.
Saturday night in Brighton and we wanted a meal out after an exhausting day lying on the beach. The restaurants are open again at full capacity which is wonderful. It’s so arbitrary what’s considered safe and what isn’t though. A drunk Saturday restaurant is considerably harder to manage than a full theatre audience. But there we were, two covers upstairs at Donatellos, watching the early drunk Saturday crowds. It’s lively there. Thankfully we weren’t expecting candles. It was a joyful bombardment of noise.
About twelve women with sashes were seated off to one side of us with inflatable plastic cocks and spray tans to match the bellend. The waiters were in fear for their lives as they threw down their drinks and improvised games, at one point breaking out all across the restaurant floor as they tried to throw cake down each other’s fronts. Who knows how long they’d been drinking for already – their volume would’ve easily carried to the back of a capacity crowd, even if their diction was sorely lacking. Their play was balanced by the play of real actual children, come with the family, running around between the tables whether or not their parents tried to stop them. Fun fun fun. We sat and watched as the beleaguered waiters brought us huge piles of tasty food through the warzone with unflinching positivity and professionality.
At the table next to us, drinking in the chaos with a mixture of nostalgia and relief, we met a young woman. She used to be a manager here. She worked the tables, she worked up to it through many jobs, front facing, and one day when she was managing one of her customers wrote an email to her boss because he liked her style – and fancied her. He was there with another woman when he noticed her. Facebook pages were checked out and his persistence paid off after he passed muster. She no longer works at the restaurant now, because she’s had two kids with the guy, and they live out of town together.
Conversation is easy with her, and it’s clear that she would’ve made a good manager. I like that she comes back to her old place of work on a Saturday night alone, and she has seafood risotto and tiramisu and engages the neighbouring table in easy conversation. I have tiramisu even though I can barely fit it in.
This is Brighton though. A place of easy communication with strangers. It’s lively here by the sea, and you will often just get swept up in a moment of somebody’s day. The weekend brings the crowds of course. Loads of those bloody Londoners coming for the sea air…
I’ll be back up to the smoke again tomorrow, but it feels like we’ve had all the things needed from a weekend in one day. It’s so calm here and the summer really is upon us.
There’s so much for me to do still. The relaxed energy of this town, the weekend and the season – it has decelerated me a little bit, but now I’m going to have to click back into gear and get on with the difficult bits of existence.
Just down the road from Lou’s place, across the border into Hove and to St Ann’s Garden – for some theatre! Lou has volunteered to help with Front of House for a one man show about Woodstock. She’s been working like a train all week and looking after 3 cats and an Al, so why she thinks that tearing tickets on the Brighton Fringe is the best way to wind down on a Friday night is anybody’s guess. But she gets a plus one. So I’m along for the ride. A busman’s holiday. I get to watch something. A rarity these days. Great!
I’m never sure what to expect of a one man show. “How long is it?” was my first question, and “two hours” had me worrying. You never know what you’re going to get, and if it’s not your bag it can be tricky to escape cleanly. “Who is the performer? Do you know anything about him?” I need to be more optimistic. Too many weird ones, I guess. “I think you’ll enjoy it!” she tells me.
I think I’ve seen more crazy and brilliant one person shows that have swept me up than ones where I’ve realised immediately that I’m going to struggle. I’ve seen people licking audience members on purpose, or forgetting their lines by mistake. I’ve seen people pissing into a bottle on purpose or sweating so much they slip on it by mistake. Anything goes in a one person show on the fringe, basically. I went expecting literally anything. What I got was good smart happening told with great charm on a shoestring. I was glad to be one of about 30 people to see somebody flying the flag for getting the show back on the road.
Jonathan Brown has made a 20ft scaffolding tower and dropped it into where the stoners like to hang out in Hove. The energies are right for what he’s doing. He’s improvised some simple delicate props – a big fake camera, a rocket, some very simple costume signifiers. He’s tricked out the tower with various details, to raise up moments here and there. And with this eclectic pottage of colourful things he’s chosen to tell the story of “The Spirit of Woodstock“. It’s a montage of events and characters written and played by him, taking us through Woodstock and the world happenings contextualising that huge and game-changing free festival right at the heart of The Summer of Love. He plays everybody, and sweeps us through submarines and helicopters and cars and assassinations as well as all sorts of points within the huge and joyful mess that was the largest gathering of people ever held. It can be excruciating when an actor is playing multiple roles and they forget to play towards the joy of it. Jonathan holds on to the joy throughout, reveling in the silly side of the craft of a solo story. His vibe is relaxed and safe, so his audience has permission to play with him. If he can be a bit loose and we enjoy watching him anyway, then we can be a bit loose when he asks us to do things, and thus have more fun. And he does ask us to do things. Simple things in the execution. We bomb a village in Vietnam, we protest and celebrate many things, we are a famous band, and in one wonderful and incredibly silly montage we help him reconstruct the global reaction to one of the most famous events of that era, as well as reconstructing the event with the help of three audience volunteers.
This is fun. This is a relaxed and charismatic performer enjoying himself alongside us and giving us a chance to examine an event that was crucially important to the social landscape going forward from the sixties.
The scaff tower is a clever set, and a good cheap way of being able to take a show wherever you can get a van. “Do you keep it in an expensive lockup?” “Thankfully I’ve got a large garden.”
This is not about an overarching narrative – it’s a happening. Sure you could tighten it up, cut some dead weight, make the transitions slicker, maybe lose half an hour – but the maker knows all that and he hasn’t because he’s not here to impress us with the bells and whistles.
It seems to be that this show – this happening – is here as a bit of shared joy, and as a call back to that powerful moment of defiant fun and love happening in the midst of huge global tension and strife, where Rockefeller nearly called out the national guard on a bunch of barefoot kids in a field. We need a Woodstock type event now to pull us back together after we have been blown apart, but festivals – like everything else – have been turned into moneymachines by the people who got into Woodstock for free. What to do, eh? More things like this.
A lovely gentle thoughtful reintroduction to the world of going to see other actors working for fun.
Johnmas is a feast day in the Catholic Tradition – among others. The forerunner to Jesus, John the Baptist was a miraculous birth, according to Luke, and one to be celebrated. It is celebrated on the 24th June – half a year away from Christmas Eve – the furthest possible point from Christmas Day. I drove up to London today to go to mass in Bethnal Green.
Those great big dark churches you get in London, with the pillars at the front where the homeless people sleep. I’ve done Factory shows in so many of them now that they all blend into one. “Don’t go up on the balcony!” Was I murdered in this church once by being pulled off my tricycle? Did somebody do a famous speech from the lectern?
The Church of St John in Bethnal Green is suitably odd. The crypt is full of weird art. The church itself is doing the thing that urban churches do – giving a degree of spiritual comfort to the ever dwindling faithful of Bethnal Green.
It’s so easy and so lazy to slag off the institution of the church. They believe in something unprovable. They were incredibly powerful for centuries and own huge swathes of land. But in my experience, the church is individuals trying to raise the vibrations of their communities, and I think it’s ok… The people at this building seem to be earnestly trying to provide a happy place psychologically and literally for the people in their area. I think it would be for our benefit for the institution of the church to have power over the state again – anything to bring Bojo and his cronies down a peg or two. We need the person that drops a dead bird in Boris’s path, or dances outside parliament with a golden sickle and a goose, or refuses to give communion to Michael Gove or tells Bojo he can’t get divorced or what have you. Religion is about symbols and symbols can be incredibly galvanising in the right context. We are getting more and more complacent. It needs shaking. “Beware the Ides of March!”
Anyway, I was at church to celebrate 20 years of my old schoolfriend being a man of the cloth. 20 years he’s been dressing up in silly clothes and very seriously doing silly things in front of an audience. We both have. He’s been doing it more predictably but he usually has had to deliver the same lines and the audience aren’t paying. He’s definitely learnt his lines by now. It was lovely to watch him work.
I might have gone the same way, and taken the cloth. There was a time when I closely considered it. My faith still exists but it is shattered into a million faiths now. Still, it’s a calling I understand – to make a ritual, to share it with anybody, to bring in as many senses as possible, to honour communication, to connect with the ancients, to bring strangers together.
We weren’t allowed to sing in the congregation. One brilliant unfortunate woman sang all the tunes for us at the front as the pianist tried to get it banged out and the drummer hit stuff. We couldn’t bellow along and listen to nobody but ourselves. We just stood there and watched and listened and very occasionally clapped in rhythm – (this ain’t high church). Group songs are not solo performance pieces and these more recent worship songs are exposed when sung solo. She did well but she must’ve felt exhausted. It was vulnerable work singing like that for ages. I had a great time though – I was singing along in my head. I ate my flesh-wafer – and was sad to miss the wine, but it’s the same on Camino – you have to watch the guy neck it for fear of contagion.
I’m absolved of all my sin now apart from what I’ve done since the wafer and it’s only been a few hours. That being the case, why is my bed full of spiders?
I had to roll myself along a blank white wall pretending to kiss somebody who wasn’t there, who then didn’t say anything because there was nobody either there or off camera or on zoom to read the words they were meant to say as I didn’t have time to organise it. I had to react to what they didn’t say as if they’d said it, and then I had to swear a bit. It’s one of those self tapes that you suspect won’t go your way before you send it. The part will go to somebody with an actress girlfriend who is then a bit miffed they didn’t get the girlfriend part. Hey ho. I had no choice but to do it like I did it. “You’d be better off kissing Mao”.
There’s only a few hours where the light can catch my face through the scaffolding outside the window here in Brighton. The camera shop was out of LEDs – “They come from China”. I had nobody to read opposite. I’m not the guy who likes turning tricks. I’m the guy who likes to react. I had nothing to react to. “Fuck it. Send it anyway.” That’s the way of the self tape. So I did.
On the plus side, I now have a decent tripod to keep in my car. That’s been a long time coming. Fifty quid it cost me, but no amount of gaffer was going to make it possible for me to record the thing with even a scrap of the shitty shape I eventually managed to hack together. I needed to get a full length tripod for my phone. I’m lucky in that I could finally afford the investment and get one.
They even wanted me to send a full length shot of me, head to toe. This is in Lou’s flat. It’s not a castle here, and it’s full of fabric and esoteric knick knacks. Now – thanks to the tripod – they have their full length recording of me standing there surrounded by her books and by her beautiful eclectic yogic posters and quotes, looking a bit discombobulated after doing the rest of the ident bent at a ridiculously obscure angle so I could step back straight into the full length shot they wanted.
I guess everybody is just trying to work out how to assess the shape of actors they don’t know without them being able to come into the room. Man this would be so much less faff if I was already universally recognised, dammit.
Last night I dreamt I was standing in a circle like the ones we grew used to at Guildhall, but instead of it being just my friends from back then, the circle was populated with allies of mine from throughout this long and strange career. Many of them have achieved some kind of international recognition for acting or writing or producing and some are too busy to have been able to hang with me lately. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up with them through work sometime. It was nice to see them all at once in a dream. It was an interrupted dream, hence remembered, and covering so many people with the speed that only dreams have. And it helped me remember how we are always just one job away, those of us that are left. There were friends from Guildhall, friends from university, friends from school, from drama school auditions, from shows in churches when we were kids, from early tours, from summer Shakespeare, Frost Fayre, Christmas shows, catering jobs, adverts, corporates, role plays, Coney, games, events, drunken joyful parties, sober ones, holidays… Hey you lot. All still in there. All still plugging. And now I think about it, there were some of you that got out of the industry successfully too. Well done. I could never do that.
Patience. Slowly. Slowly.
My audition today – at least the part had a name. Sometimes recently I’ve sent tapes for parts that are just job descriptions and numbers. This is not what I signed up for, and as often as not they prefer a personality bypass for the role anyway which means there’s no point my reading for it. But I’m always happy to be working. I love my work. It’s why I’ve tried so hard to sabotage it over the years. Some redundant idea that I should be suffering in my work, not just having a brilliant time every time they let me do it.
Frankly, I’m glad I’ve managed to stay happy in this broken game over decades. I’m looking forward to the work picking up again now. My beautiful agent is making it possible for me to send audition tapes at a time where there’s sod all going on and all the actors are starving. Bring it on.
Years ago I had a heated discussion with some guy in a pub. I had forgotten the discussion until today. I don’t remember the guy much. He was young. White. Scared. Insecurity dressed up as bravado. I could be snarky about his intelligence level. I could say he was basically a cabbage with legs. But to belittle and simplify him is never going to be helpful in trying to change his mind and the minds of those like him. I can say he was “misguided” though, in the purest sense of the word. He was seeking guidance. He had found guidance. The guidance had shrunk him. He had been to some sort of conference and it had galvanised him.
He was under threat, it seemed, and he wanted us all to understand how we were under threat too. People who didn’t look like him – they were the threat and we were all too complacent to see it. Parroting his simplified and fearful belief structure, he appeared to think most people saw the world in a certain way. He made a little straw man about how everybody but him thinks, and then poked holes in it, as you do with straw men. We’ve all experienced that: “This is what you think!” – that’s what we keep getting told.
I was drunk and garrulous so I started asking him questions, just mining this inherited bad thinking and trying not to be too oppositional so he didn’t put his guard up. I put on my “curious gentleman” mask. I was using sophistry, under the guise of being on his side, to reach conclusions with his logic that he could never say were his. I kind of just wished he’d go away but I realised that to tell him to go away would only further entrench him. I wanted to try and plant a few seeds of doubt. He had what was new knowledge to him. He had found it. When you think you’ve found something rare – a piece of furniture or some nugget of information – you hold onto the notion that it has value. Nobody likes it if they find out Granny’s “one thousand pound” sideboard is only worth £10. Nobody likes it if they realise that those secret videos that “they don’t want you to see” are just the product of some scared individual with a few ill founded opinions and a camera. I wanted to puncture him a little with the equivalent of saying “oh yes, I nearly bought a sideboard like that last week – isn’t it lovely. Yes it was in a charity shop but they wanted £30 for it – far too much!”
“You haven’t done your research,” is something I hear a lot when arguing with stupid, and I got a version of it from the guy in the pub when I suggested his sources were perhaps a little partisan. “I’ve been trying to stay open minded,” I assured him. “Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong places. You tell me where to look and then I’ll tell you where I’ve been looking.” I thought I’d see if I could guide him to something useful. But this is where he blindsided me.
“You seem the sort of guy that’ll appreciate this,” he said. And he pulled a few sheets of photocopied paper from his bag. Aristotle’s Politics. “This is what I’ve been studying today. Do you like that? Do you agree with Aristotle?”
Aristotle was the greatest of Plato’s disciples, twenty three centuries ago. A direct line to Socrates. The “mind of the Lyceum”. Perhaps the greatest ancient polymath. “He was not only well acquainted with every science, as his works abundantly evince, but he wrote on almost every subject which is comprehended in the circle of human knowledge, and this with matchless accuracy and skill.” A prolific thinker, trying to make sense of everything in the ancient world. Fascinating to study.
“Do you like that?” “Yes”, I told him, somewhat blindsided. “You’re considerably more curious than I thought you would be. You surprise me.”
“Do you agree with Aristotle?” “Well… I mean sometimes yes, sometimes no, but he was a philosopher – he was covering a lot of ground. That’s what he did… I haven’t read him all. It’s generally a mistake to go to books for answers. Books are for questions. We find the answers through the questions. Um.”
“I agree with Aristotle,” he told me, brandishing his print-outs. None of this made sense suddenly. This guy, waving Aristotle. I associated interest in the Greeks – particularly from those who haven’t had it through a classical education – with a very peculiar and delightfully geeky type of person. A curious person, who would probably be my friend. Not somebody likely to parrot a simplistic ideology. Somebody with that crucial skill of critical thinking: “This is what I’m receiving. This is the intention of this prose. To what extent do I agree with it? To what extent is it trying to recruit me? What is the actual situation?”
To what’s left of my memory, I just cut and ran when he started waving Aristotle. I got another beer. I went to another corner of the pub. I had nowhere to put it. So I forgot about him entirely for over a decade until I was driving through the Sussex Downs listening to the radio this morning, and the penny dropped and I remembered the conversation, and I understood it. And it left a bad taste in my mouth.
I don’t like bananas up my nose.
You could cut out the first four words of that sentence and use it to justify eating all the bananas. “You don’t like bananas. You said so in your blog!”
“I agree with Aristotle” the man said. But which tiny snippet? There’s the thing.
Aristotle wrote about everything, and he did it in a very specific thought context at the Lyceum, coming out of a particular world view, building on the Platonic School, working in a set of circumstances so far removed from ours as to be another world entirely. He’s interesting. Maybe he can be an authority in some things still. But really he’s just a preserved voice from another era having interesting scattergun thoughts about esoteric stuff.
Katherine Harloe did a great programme this morning called “Detoxifying the Classics” Have a listen.
This is what I was listening to through spotty reception up near Ditchling Beacon when that penny dropped. In it she touches on Aristotle’s Politics and his discourse on “natural slavery”. I had no idea. Aspects of this have been taken wildly out of context by some people to justify their mean spirited worldviews. People like whoever that guy had been foie-grasing himself with. He came to that pub brandishing his little bit of out of context Aristotle to try and lend weight to his views.
Dammit. How did I miss the teachings of the ancient world being shoehorned in as authorities to justify simplistic arguments? Aristotle would certainly have thought that the man in the pub was an oaf. I did and I’m not a patch on him.
It puts me in mind of the Leviticus tattoo meme.
I should’ve just shoved a banana up the guys nose.
It’s a peaceful night in Brighton. If I listen closely I can hear the waves breaking on the stones of the beach not far from me. The strange thing is that I’m here at Lou’s on my own. She’s down the road. I’ll be sleeping here. She’ll be sleeping down the road. It’s about pets and logistics. It’s funny being here without her.
Lou has a friend with two ragdolls – the same breed as Mao – but a little more particular than The Chairman. She is catsitting for a few weeks and there’s no way they’d allow this friendly fluffball to encroach on their territory. My friend Tom is very allergic to things, and he’s staying in my flat. His ladyfriend is even more allergic than he is and will be coming for press night. Rather than risk a double manslaughter by bringing Mao and his fluff back to Chelsea, I’ve come to Brighton so he isn’t alone at nights and he has cuddles and play and his water topped up. I’ll be here a while this time. Longer than the usual three days. I’ve brought my laptop and I probably get more done when I’m not at home than I do when I am at home, so it’ll likely be a productive time. Plus I’ll get to see more of Lou, which can only be a good thing.
Until the industry picks up there really is no need for me to be in London. I’ve got the Audi, so commuting is pretty easy from here if I need to. I might as well be by the sea for a few weeks in the summer time if I can. Not that it’s feeling particularly summery right now, at the corner of the year. The solstice. The longest day. I always feel slightly sad knowing that the light will start to fade now. But we have a long long way to go before the darkness closes in. And being here will bring opportunities for us to frolic in the waves, as well as for me to get more out of the long quest started in Jersey. The energies are good in this flat, I’ve got a little twitchy fluffy companion, and I’ve brought my latest tome, impulse bought off the internet, looking like a more schlocky Golden Bough or a less dense Joseph Campbell.
There are no footnotes but lots of diagrams. It’s full of interesting tasty things to consider. Ancient ways of thought and understanding that can shed light on how we think about things more than some rich kid in LA with hippy parents pontificating on YouTube. Still simplified and Americanised as only the Americans can do with mysticism. But done in the 1920’s before we all vanished quite so far up our own arseholes. I’ll report back.
Right now I’m going to sprawl out in pretty much the first double bed I’ve had to myself in over a month, listen to the sea, and hope that fluffy little monster won’t sniff me awake at dawn as he does with Lou. Happy Solstice.
Somebody posted a picture of my dad on Facebook today. In it he’s about the age I am now. His unruly hair is sticking out from behind his thick rimmed glasses. I look at him and I see my similarities with him. Some are clearly deliberate on some level, like my choice of eyewear, and the fact I like to wear a hat. Clothing. Others are less conscious, or just the result of genetics. The way I hold my arms. The sticky out hair. The cast of his countenance. His body shape. For all the similarities, there are the huge differences too. His face is pale. His eyes are blue. But there he is, looking through time at his youngest son and his youngest son is looking back at him.
I wonder what we’d make of each other if we met now. He was pretty much over the whole concept of children by the time I showed up. “I don’t really have any actor friends. Actors hate me,” he told me once when he was trying to advise me about my life choices. “They tolerate me if they play golf, but only because they suspect I’ll buy the drinks.” Well I barely play golf. Plus I’m off the booze.
I like fast cars though. And going fast in general. He taught me to ski well by telling me I had to always know where the edge of my ability was and then push just beyond it. Not too far. But never settle. As a result I found my edge and improved, rather than just pootling along. That’s good dad-style general life advice, from skiing to most things. Find the edge and push just beyond it. Too far too fast and you’ll wipe out in a rolling pile of sticks and snow. Too cautious and you’ll never improve. If you find and know the edge of your ability you can grow by stretching it. You might fall over occasionally but it’ll be a fall that teaches you.
But this is what I do with him, having lost him to the present moment so long ago. I sift my memories for things that have stuck, and then I develop them into my own versions of these lessons that were probably just intended for the moment they were given. It would never have occurred to him that I’d still be thinking about his advice regarding the edge of ability. He probably just wanted to make sure he didn’t have to wait at the bottom of the slope for me to catch up. But I’ve extrapolated that moment of advice into a whole philosophy.
He probably would’ve gotten a bottle of something out of me today. I wonder how old he would’ve been. Father’s Day. “And everybody’s wounded” as Leonard would have it. I miss him. I see Max getting presents from multiple sources and I ponder the series of choices and happenings that led to me to where I am now.
I’m wrestling with him now. I’m learning his world a bit by necessity. We are both addicted to that edge. I’ve put it mine into acting. He put his into numbers, which funded the speed. I’m going towards the numbers now to see if I can push an area of behaviour and thought that I have allowed to atrophy unused for decades, so it can fund my quest for other edges.