Busier and Calmer

I’ve been crashing around London again. Here there and everywhere. I woke up in Richmond, a little the worse for wear with a hangover. A cup of coffee and a croissant and a mixture of painkillers. Abdul showed up in a Prius to take me home. He was an accelerator. Swearing about all the other drivers but throwing me around like a bag of mince. I’ve lost my keys, so I had to break in. My head was swimming from hangover and painkillers and Abdul’s driving. It seemed perfectly logical to put my fingers down my throat first and then fall asleep for fifteen minutes. This is what I do when I have a free morning? Hmm.

Up and out again about half an hour after arriving, and I was driving across London in Bergman this time feeling surprisingly better for the empty and the nap. I was heading to Bethnal Green, where two very lovely individuals were waiting to help me make sense of a Vigenère Cypher. I have to know the cipher very well as I’m playing an expert on it in an improvised show with beats. For a while I felt like my brain was too full to process it and then suddenly the wheels clicked into place like the rotating discs on Turing’s machine and I understood. Now I get it, and I can teach my friends how to make one. It involves a chart and a shared secret phrase without which you will have the devil’s own job of cracking the thing. Anybody can make the chart… It’s a very old method – it’s essentially a chart of 26 Caesar ciphers which you navigate using your secret phrase in order to scramble your message irretrievably to anybody who doesn’t have the phrase with which to backwards engineer the message. Tricky stuff to explain. I’ll get better at it. A Caesar cipher you’ve heard of – that’s just an alphabet shift. We did that sort of thing at school… Or I did with my geeky friends. The letter A goes to D, B goes to E, C goes to F etc etc. Easy as pie. This is lots of them with complications.

Once my brain was full I hung around a short while being amenable with cables before sodding off to Brook Street for the launch of my friend’s installation. By this time I was starting to feel the flood again. I have to get this tape in by 9am tomorrow and I’m working from half 8. I don’t want to record it hungover and I haven’t got the time, so I’ve arranged a very dear friend to help me at some ungodly hour of the morning tomorrow. I needed the installation. It’s called “Calmer”. You lie down in a comfy white room full of dry ice and aroma, and friendly lights and music drift you into a dreamlike calm for six minutes or so. I did nothing for six minutes.

Then right back into the OCD hustle – trying to get into places with keys that don’t work and politely networking with lovely friendly humans. A brief moment to catch up with my excellent new friend and collaborator who has had to find out if it’s possible to get something fun written down by me about that testing works in South Bank. (Nothing yet but a blog which crystallises thoughts but is not a script). Then I drove to Wandsworth to see Max and get my spare key and now I’m lying on my back and it’s not quite ten and I’m going to roll over, switch the light off and sail away on a strange dream boat until something buzzes me up before 5am.

“It feels like we are back up to the level we were at before the pandemic, but without the stamina.” I’ve heard that sentiment a few times. Yep. I’m exhausted. Another varied one tomorrow. I’m glad of that six minute art break. Lou keeps telling me I should meditate. She’s right. I should.

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.

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