This little house in Belgravia is the first London building I ever slept in. The windows I’ve ringed – that’s where Max and I slept. We were there for maybe a week, with my parents, guests of my extreme Godfather. I had been very cosseted. This is 1980’s Belgravia so it’s not the jungle. But I very clearly remember, long after bedtime, Max and I watching the drunk people at the pub opposite.
The house is opposite The Antelope. Back then it wasn’t fucking around, that pub. It was welcoming big personalities and it was getting them drunk. The area adds to it, perhaps, because these drunk people have enough privilege to be fearless. Max and I watched grown men clambering onto the roof of parked cars and taking their shirts off. We witnessed eccentric fights and eloquent squabbles and people getting weird about TROLLEYS. It was summer, and people were getting really really very drunk, and expressive. I stayed up late and watched it as if it was a favourite drama.
It didn’t necessarily glamorise alcoholism for me, but that whole generation was swamped in that mistake. O’Toole and Reid and Harris were standing tall on top of a boozepyramid, flashing their handsome eyes and luring thousands to a nasty wet death. I certainly enjoyed watching the spectacle of the fun drunks from my little safe rich Belgravia window.
I had a meeting this evening about a show I’m about to start. We met at The Royal Court bar, but it’s underground and they want six quid for an Estrella. We decanted round the corner to a place with windows and without theatre prices, and I found myself opposite those windows in the picture. There I was, one of the grown ups at the first pub I ever watched. The Antelope.
It didn’t disappoint. I didn’t jump on top of a car or start shouting about TROLLEYS. But… There was a little quartet of people attempting four part harmonies with Prince songs with evident skill, and we got swept in to the start of something that might have developed. I trained at Guildhall. Music is often part of my lash. We’ve done the sweeping with that sort of thing before and it doesn’t always end well. We got roofied in Brick Lane one time after instigating a knees up, and one of us woke up in a gutter with a black eye from a (taxi driver?) I felt the edge approaching. The moment where I either have another drink and everything goes sideways, or I leave. I very nearly got that drink and put that mask on and vanished into Saturday London aargh. “I can still bend reality through boozeysubstance abuse and carry rooms with me,” I found myself thinking. But… The morning is bright. There are things to see and do. And my liver is not as fast as it used to be.
I left quite abruptly. Just as the party was about to start. And now I’m home eating bread and I’ll be in bed by 1am and I’m not circular thinking yet or inexplicably angry or sad. I had a moderate quantity of booze and then left before things got out of hand. WHO EVEN AM I? I’ll be up in the morning when it is actually still morning. And I have a lovely show to look forward to being in, all about the curious personalities that made up the codebreaking team at Bletchley Park. More about that anon I’m sure. For now, bed…