The lockup I have access to is just off Robert Street in Camden. I’ve been pretty careful about what I put there. Not because I expected to get robbed to be honest, but because I figure that there’s a strong chance the entire thing will be requisitioned by Camden Council at a moment’s notice. On Friday though, to make more room for car boot sale things, I temporarily stored my pair of DeWalt impact drivers there. They were the most valuable thing in there that I knew of. I just put them there to make room in my car.

It was a good padlock so they sawed through the bolt instead.

I had tidied it all up. I was all excited about using it as an extremely helpful halfway house, to sort through all the random things that come through my hands. Friday, with the doors wide open, I had been moving things in and out in the sunshine. I was optimistic about this useful space. I did an unusual thing for me and I organised it.

The thing with these lockups though, is that they all just sit unused, with somebody’s rotting car in it or somesuch. I’ve been using it so they saw it. I had tables outside it the other day with Siwan sorting clothes. We mentioned famous brandnames… And then I brought in those fucking tools. I made it visible.

“There are no tools kept in this van overnight”. Tools are a very easy nick and flog. I used to have lots of nice tools. Now someone has a few quid, and somebody else can do a job that they couldn’t normally do, and I need tools. My impact drivers… I wonder how many times I’ve written about them here. I loved them and they were so useful.

They have them now. They had enough to carry that they left the saw they had used to get through the lock. They just put it on the shelf and took the contents of the shelf. I don’t really know what they took, frankly. There were many boxes and bags. They emptied the lot all over the place. They made a fucking horrible mess in there. Everything was opened. Everything was emptied. It was dark when I got to it and I had to go to work. I’m not sure what sort of damage they did, what they took. Apart from my tools there was nothing I particularly cared about. But it still feels bad when some fucker steals from you. I feel violated. A place that was mine was invaded. It’s like when they smashed my car window to get a bag of fake money. But I’m less inclined to make a joke of it today. London. This financial environment. The need for money… Fuckers.

A locksmith has already fixed it. By the fact that it was neatly closed with the saw still inside it, it felt like we might have interrupted them before they came for a second load. “It’s most likely people with no fixed abode in the area,” the police posited, which would explain why tools instead of things that you can flog on eBay.

I don’t trust it now even though it has a new bolt and lock. I wish I could. It is an important part of the process of clearing for me, and until it gets repossessed by Camden it’ll be really really helpful. Having a space like that is so valuable and rare particularly when you’re sorting stuff like I am, but again I’ve remembered what happens when you become visible in this city. Poor bastards must have been desperate. I hope it didn’t just all go on drugs. If someone tries to sell you a pair of DeWalt impact drivers in Camden with “A” on them in sharpie (they’ll probably scrape that off though) buy ’em and I’ll pay you back …

London through painkillers

Here I am in Gipsy Hill. Sober for a change. Tired though.

This morning was a bludgeon. I woke up on my sofa to a cordial but painful conversation with Tom. He went to work, I went back to sleep, head throbbing. About half an hour before he came home, I staggered into the bathroom and unearthed an emergency Anadin Extra. Paracetamol and caffeine. I stood in my pants in front of the fridge eating grapes until I felt I had had enough, downed the pill, refilled my water and went back to semi sleep.

Tom came home early afternoon and I was just starting to feel human after the drugs. I ordered Five Guys. With an oreo milkshake. “Do you know it’s 23 degrees out there?” I nodded. I put the fat into my body. I drank more water.

3pm. I was moving at last. I had clothes on. “Where’s my torch?” Thankfully I had left it at Siwan’s. I wore my stovepipe hat and riding cape home in the uber. I grabbed them, put them on and ordered another damn Uber.

Parking ticket on my car. I wasn’t in the right sort of resident’s bay. I pay it immediately and leave it there to prevent another one. I go to Sam’s and clamber over mountains of dust and mouse shit to find the items that will go to Majorca – to make packing easier when I zoom out on Tuesday. Another house absolutely plugged up with crap. We can cling onto things our whole life with the idea they have value. Nothing is worth more than someone you can find will pay for it. If we want it to get a fraction of what granny paid for it we have to make it our full time job, and life is way too long and interesting to only do that stuff.

Then it was walkie time, and I wasn’t in the right place. Still hanging, sweaty from clambering and burgers. How the hell to be charming like this? Interesting bunch though, a bit less full on than last night. Friendly. Talkative. Drunk. Some good costumes. And it’s fine. I do this for a living

We trail through Hampstead Heath and the little streets. Stories are told and at some point I am handed a beer but just the one. Drinking it proves complicated. I leave it half finished. Sam gives me some bags of stuff to get rid of and I mission it to Gipsy Hill, stopping momentarily in Camberwell to see some old friends post show at The Golden Goose theatre.

Now I’m in bed. I’m gonna sleep the sleep I didn’t have last night.

Lots of autumn wine

Uber driver took me home through tired streets. Bergman parked in Hampstead for better or worse and did we successfully park it with the app? I don’t know. Post tour a game of chess in Siwan’s flat and I never had a chance but at least we played it through. Nathan would usually abandon it when losing. Now I’m here at home with the fishtank and only a couple more nights in London before the adventures unfold in a different direction once more.

Lou is in Copenhagen on an adventure of her own now. She’s the one treading the unfamiliar while I go over ground I’ve covered before. A very happy audience tonight though, plying me with red wine until the lack of food becomes far too apparent and yes I think I’ll put my finger down my throat. Oh dear. The relief is temporary and now I must sleep and drink water simultaneously as well as somehow make words again.

Unseasonably warm, this October. Pleasant for us, and continuing I am told, but as ever one wonders about the natural world. We don’t need to put the heating on though. That can only be a good thing.

My sofa is pleasant and welcoming. Tom leaves on Sunday and my bed becomes mine again, just in time for me to be away for ages. My plants are happy, the fish are full and clean. I need to pack for Uruguay as the turnaround is going to be tight from Majorca. Right now though I need to go to bed bed bed beddiebyes. Zzzz

And publish. That would’ve been a good idea. Too tired. Drunk? Well, yes. Perhaps.

Back from Stoke

It’s only about three hours to get home from Stoke. I did it in one shot. This might be a frequent journey going forward. A big American company have laid down some funding to encourage youth in Newcastle under Lyme to connect with the idea of being engineers. Facilitators like myself will mentor them over some two years. They will end up with skills. Quick skills. They will get ahead of the general. They’ll have a chance to change the world on their own terms.

It’s great work. You’re helping people grow, and at that age you really see it. These are smart young men and women and they are learning from themselves and from each other and from us. I like to mix up my day jobs. I do have to chase the money where it’s available, so I’ve turned down some life jobs on that basis. But if my time is adequately compensated I’m gonna try my hand at anything. It’s a balance. Life is important. Money is important. My daily fee for this work is almost twice what I get for Extreme-E, but this stuff happens in Stoke and I’m off to Uruguay next month. I know where I’d rather be working. Yeah, complicate that with the fact I’ll always be better off and happier filming than dayjobbing, but … that’s too unpredictable to plan around. And theatre pays in magic beans, which I tried to live off for ages and would again if the right offer came, but somehow I’m not in the frame and I’m not gonna sit at home waiting for the phone to ring.

I’m home now though, waiting for the bath to run, happy and chilled. I fancy an early bed. Tom cooked sausage and mash, ready for when I got in, which was incredible after a long day and a long drive. Tomorrow will be easier but I have to start booking ferries etc so I can do this crazy Majorca drive I’ve agreed to.

I adore my existence. It is full on. Thank God Lou exists. Hopefully we will get to go on a road trip. If not, December Holiday Fun!!!!

A spaghetti marshmallow church


My second night in a plastic bed in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Ben and I have known each other for so long now. He was at Rose Bruford Drama School with Jo, my erstwhile emergency friend. Jo saved my life many times. She helped me piece things together. Hanging out with Ben helps me remember the haphazard nuance of that brilliant gobshite friendship. I miss Jo. She’s still around, but she’s got a daughter so we don’t call every night after midnight and break down the day…

This evening though we ended up in the pub breaking down our particular day. Ben and Katrina and I put the world to rights.

I’m up here in Stoke on Trent, helping to give confidence to a coming generation of engineers. Yep. It’s back to that. Shortly before cracking off with Extreme-E again, I’m trying to build a generation of engineers who think about solutions.

It’s half term today. These young men and women are in the final year at school and they are so totally brilliant that their half term is consciously being spent making elastic band powered boats with us… They have chosen to spend half term doing engineering, and they also seem to be making deep friendships. This is a wonderful thing, frankly. Even in a day I’ve seen people grow. This sort of thing at this age is golden. Shared experience. Shared making. Wherever they want to go, this is a foundation.

I’ll be off back into the desert soon. I can be a social wildcard, like so many of these engineering humans today. I’m so looking forward to fitting in to a strange team like a glove, as I seem to somehow do with Extreme-E. The Uruguay race will be much like Sardinia in terms of distances. I’ll be close to the site in digs. I’m looking forward to once again learning a new place. Bring it. You have to be flexible…

I may be wrong but I think this is an early version of the winner. It was always about the elastic motor though…

Sunflowers 2: The destruction of art

I’ve been thinking about my angry blog the other day regarding the Sunflower stunt. I didn’t know it was glassed. The picture itself was unharmed and I’m told that this was the thinking – to encourage people like me to be immediately angry about a work of art being disrespected as if we aren’t already more angry about the fact that we are destroying the world with convenience. They wanted to highlight bad priorities. I thought they had destroyed the picture, hence my reaction. They hadn’t destroyed it. Allegedly they wanted to provoke the very reaction they provoked in me, but to provoke it in people who are not already deeply engaged with the horror of how our desire to have everything NOW is truncating the natural world at a rate that most life will be unsustainable in a few generations.

I switched on the television in my digs just now and randomly watched a show where Jimmy Carr took a vote about whether Rolf Harris or Eric Gill were worse humans. They ended up dramatically taking flamethrowers to the Eric Gill.

The show is still playing. It’s a show trying to provoke outrage. It’s a show that is further normalising the destruction of art.

Just Stop Oil apparently knew that the Van Gogh was glassed. They wanted the discussion they provoked. Problem is, they’ve put art in the firing line. And shows like this bollocks with Carr are adding to it. This arrogance that our “now” thing is more important than the eternal – that’s getting compounded. “This helps us understand where our audience stands on offensive imagery,” says the narrator as they gear up to fuck up another artist’s work because of subjectivity.

Marcus Harvey’s Myra Hindley has just been shot through by paintgun.

“It feels like these are very dark times,” says someone on the programme. And yes. Yes. Based on this.

Back to Just Stop Oil. Absolutely we have to stop our reliance on oil. We have to break the relationship. We are so so lazy. We are making the world uninhabitable by being lazy. But, to Stop Oil immediately is not a just. Infrastructure would fall apart. “Stop Oil” is a call to revolution, and yeah we need revolution. But revolution is not a “just” thing. It’s bigger than “just”. And now, if we had that “simple” revolution, art is in the firing line. So who would emerge afterwards? People who don’t give a fuck about history? Is art is somehow part of the problem? This doesn’t fill me with confidence.

What are we fighting for? This home-made great extinction will eventually make convenience culture impossible, and going the way it’s going, once things finally snap there’ll be a generation that angrily starves to death waiting for a delivery. But art is something that raises us from beasts. It’s not at war with nature.

Nature will survive. Nature survives. It’s just another great extinction that we’ve catalysed. Even humanity might survive without The Amazon and without Amazon. Not in the same lazy form, but in some form. But … if we put art in the firing line, it’s only a matter of time before people stop caring about whether there’s glass in front of the art. And without art we shift back to just meeting our needs. Copycats who are angry about their small things will start wrecking beautiful “art” things to highlight their axegrind. And even now we find it informative when we find Neolithic cave art. “They were eating animals!!! Baddies! Smash it!”

Animals can learn how to play and we are filled with wonder and joy, but only we make art. Not even octopi or corvids or pigs make art. Watch now though, as people with no creativity but to justify something they believe in start to ruin beautiful things to highlight their whateverness.

Come the revolution, the galleries will burn now. They’re in the firing line because of this relative value stuff. It’s so narrow minded. We will lose generations of wisdom and beauty in exchange for trying to make everybody as angry as you are.

If we are fighting for families that can’t heat their soup though, surely we are fighting for humanity… and if we are fighting for humanity we surely are fighting for the humanities? For art, whose message complicates and changes over years. For the fact that we cannot believe what they believed when they made that beautiful thing, but the thing is still beautiful.

But … we start to put value on belief. The Anglicans destroyed so much Catholic art with the dissolution of the monasteries because Henry VIII forced the idea that Anglican was better than Catholic as an idea. Short termism. It’s everywhere. The internet has made it a blight. Causes are rallied behind and things with time behind them fall victim to flashes in the pan. Time is always ticking and all the things that matter to you now will be dust. The library of Alexandria burnt because, apparently, the only book we need is the Qur’an. Short-termism is so unutterably boring and self centred. Me me me. And so now, to save the something, we will shortly be butchering beauty.

Now, on TV, Jimmy Carr is chopping up a Hitler painting with chainsaws. Ok yeah so I think Hitler was a baddie too so apparently I’m part of the club. These paintings though, don’t they help us remember he was a human too? He tried to paint, the fucker. And he instigated genocide. We are close to such horrors happening again and if we only look at how we frame the past, we are fools. We have to learn. We won’t. But again, this TV show is just putting art into the frame for destruction. And so we get smaller and smaller and smaller.

We make people into monsters, we chop up the monster’s paintings cos monsters have no nuance. These nasty assholes lived and loved. With Hitler we all know where it ended up, but circumstances and unexamined prejudices allowed him to follow a line where it never would have occurred to him that he was being literally evil and his outcome would be detested for a generation before dumb people started trying to pretend it hadn’t happened. We can all get sucked into being terrible. Isn’t it better to be aware that “the monster” liked to paint? Especially when we are literally going that way again. If I’m playing a baddie I want to make them relatable, not just a two dimensional being. It’s why I play them so often. Success is about making the right people think “I’m like that… Am I a baddie?”

Anyhow. Bedtime. Zzzzz

Christmas is coming

So many people I know right now are right on the edge of drowning in stuff. You know about my struggles with the accumulation. I’m in a stuff-out phase of necessity because stuff-in right now is barely possible. Any chance for me to give you a thing, I’ll take it. “You like it! Have it! Sure. No problems.”

Christmas Carol is cancelled. Kirkaldy is delayed. Suddenly I’ve gone from knowing what is happening until the end of the year to knowing that I’m gonna run off the edge of the cliff with my legs still going. The solution? Chipping away at the stuffmountain.

Things I haven’t done: Sorted out the spare room. Sorted the costumes properly. Got all the ridiculous knickknackerie gone and gone and gone from my home never to return. Organised my life. Made a proper list. Worked out what to prioritise. Stopped for a moment. More.

Brain and I are doing our pick-up Christmas again, in my flat. Something for me to build towards.

This is meant to be a solution. I used to be lonely at Christmas. I used to feel it was an imposition to join a family unit that wasn’t mine, and my family unit was mostly dead or self-determined. I would go to friends and it would be lovely but it sometimes felt like I was the charity case. So I decided to try to make a world where there was a great big party and you were invited and you were the one bringing Christmas. My friends have been my extended family for decades.

You weren’t coming to my curated Christmas back then, as now. You weren’t being served last and being watched when you reached for the bottle. The rules of the day were yours not mine, as were the timings. And it was lovely and it was mad and people fucking flew over from America! Tasmania! And then Brian happened and it got bigger and brighter and foodier. Now it might be a huge party and it might just be a few people, but as ever we are gonna try to welcome those who are stuck without options and who don’t want to inconvenience anyone or be the fifth wheel. Brian and I want to welcome you. We usually ask that you bring something that means Christmas for you. But yeah, if you’re stuck or know someone who might be, drop us a line. We’ve made good friends over the years from this. It can be a bit of light in the darkness. And God love Brian… I think I’d have been too tired to do it some years and he is a burning candle.

For it to work I need to move an ocean of stuff from my flat to the world between now and then. I have the will. I have the car. Bring it.

Today it was three loads of Bergman, up three flights of stairs in Dalston. I’m knackered. I’ll be walking like an old man tomorrow. I’m gonna go get horizonal.

Lucky with the rain. Pubs and money.

I’m knackered.

The weather Gods are kind though.

I was working outside all afternoon and I arrived in an absolute rainstorm. Somehow it all stopped and sunshine happened for a tiny patch. Then back undercover in time for the storm.

I was driving from home up to Hampstead when the heavens opened. Lightning storms so active I was very happy that I have big tyres on Bergman. I’ve driven through many storms, and many that are worse than the storm tonight. But usually I’m not about to take a bunch of people out onto the heath. I worried tonight when I couldn’t see the road markings.

I got as far as The Freemasons, and ordered myself a trio roast which I then tried to persuade Chris to eat some of from the other side of the plate. Time was ticking on. And somehow the rain eased off.

We gathered all the seekers. The dark was closing in. We broke out into the night. We crossed the heath. It was just a little group, and they stayed together well. We had fun. We made stupid delightful things. I’m trying to persuade Siwan to release ten more tickets a night, as we’ve been sold out and we have never had a crowd we can’t handle. Might as well push the limits until we know… More people get to come, more money for us… Too many people is never fun, sure, but we’ve never come close to that in my opinion. Tonight the loo was flooded at The Old White Bear, and they still sustained themselves as our midpoint. All the performers are … performers. The more the merrier I say.

I worry about finishing at the King William IV, because I love the pub but I currently get people to clap us for the end of the walk directly outside the flats of the joyless humans who tried to shut the pub down to raise the price of their property. They are likely gathering evidence to have another go at making money by shutting down the pub. Pigs. I wanted everyone who came on the tour to sign a petition, but the pub internalised their struggle instead of externalising it. Maybe we are too wacky to be helpful allies. Either way, it’s a good pub, but for the fact that they decided to make a Crêperie ten foot from the original Hampstead Crêperie. It won’t last long I hope. It’s a stupid and aggressive thing to do. I suspect the King Willy just has a short term managerial issue going on somewhere high up. Whoever it is will leave or get sacked before long, one would hope. It’s a very actorish pub with a good kitchen. I’d hate to see it lost.

Also, if you love pubs, go see Choir of Man at The Arts. It’s a great and well priced West End show. I’ve been driving instruments around for it, they were featured on This Morning, and it’s just a beauty of a singsong piece about masculinity and pubs and life and stuff. Why not?

My Son’s a Queer

Another full day. Lou and I rose early and up we went to London. There’s a show on at The Garrick Theatre called “My Son’s a Queer (but what can you do?)”. Lou had made some costumes for it and wanted to see it after an Edinburgh Festival that was triumphant enough to have it programmed in the heart of Soho. I’m always happy to see things.

The trend for the “show about me” still rides high, and often as I watch them I understand why. If people get them right, the performer can make everybody watching key into their own personal story. We are all so different, but we all have similar keys.

This was about a young human growing up queer in the town where Lou was born, to a brilliant family that worked out quickly how to support them. With a male name they were getting bullied for being Cinderella. The mum got a job a dinner lady to keep an eye. The whole tale is stitched together with exhaustive home videos taken by the parents. Our performer Robert is only 26. Rob has never not been YouTube generation. Rob has likely never not been fabulous. In many ways, watching them as a straight white (Hispanic?) downwardly mobile upper class middle aged male I might not have expected to have found so many points of contact. I found many.

I found myself swamped in memories of the things Max and I performed as children. Max was always the consistent character, I played everybody else. I was both parts of couples, where the husband would go off for a drink and then talk loudly to the wife offstage I was changing before coming back on in one of my mum’s dresses. We worked hard on the stories. We made them really as another form of playtime, but I quickly started to cleave to the performative life, and occasionally forcing my parent’s friends to watch us was golden.

Sadly for me it was not an easy win to get my parents let me perform. The stage is no profession to the world I grew up in. Many of my childhood friends are literally actual plants that can talk. The morals and behaviours of actors are base and to be shunned, they have been conditioned to believe. And lest they “go off the rails” too, they treat us like we are dangerous.

“Go into any other profession,” my father told me. “Go be a long distance truck driver. You’ll make more money and see more of the world.” He was wrong on the seeing the world thing, which is just as well as that is my chief delight. Money can go twiddle. The single most interesting job I have ever heard of being advertised in my life – the one job I always wish I had at least had an audition for – was the Globe to Globe Hamlet that went to every country in the world. Fucking hell. The only reason I’m glad I didn’t get that meeting and that job is because then my bucket list would be ticked with short ticks. I would love it… I could’ve gone window shopping then returned. Still, I’ve seen loads of world. I will see more.

Regarding the show today though, I fell in love with the performer’s family. So supportive. So full of love. My family had love for me too of course – so much. They would have hated a performance life themselves. They thought that love was to discourage me from that life. Of course it just cemented it. Oops. I put myself through drama school after dad died. Shortly after I finished my three year course, mum was dead from a sustained period of alcoholism.

It was wonderful to see the videos of Rob’s family being brilliant. Rob didn’t have the space to put a stage in the back garden, or build a theatre in the basement. Rob did it in a crowded living room with a supportive mum and dad. And now they’re sharing it with a wide and delighted audience. Good old them. All of them. It takes a tribe. I wonder…

Oh and we joined a protest to get there. Fastest way through London.

Quick run to windy Brighton

Huge wind in from the sea. The distant electronic thumping of beats from one of the local clubs. Low cloud and light pollution but the air is not so cold that I can’t sit here a moment, at the top of the Madeira Lift. It’s a Victorian elevator, closed for COVID but have they reopened it yet? These benches around the side are convenient on sunny days for sitting and boozing. If it was still tonight I might have had some energetic company incoherent company. As is it’s almost too windy and too cold for me to be here. Almost. But not quite.

And as I write three local kids have made it clear that this is where they want to light their spliff. They have a bluetooth speaker and are trying to stand facing into the corner and shielded in order for the fire to take. It’s so windy, and through their eyes I’m the weird beardy guy with his hood up. I’m cold anyway. I’ll go sit in Bergman.

I just got here to Brighton from London post ghost walk. It’s a habit I need to get back into. It’s twenty past eleven and we finished about two hours ago. Lovely audience and I just blitzed up afterwards. Sea air and good company. She’ll be asleep when I get up there, but it’s still worth the effort to go up and sleep warm with her. Lone sleep is a different sleep from the sleep we have in proximity to others. It’s good to have a bit of both. It’s good to know we aren’t alone, even if it’s just being banged into or grunted at at 3 in the morning.

I will barely see Brighton this time. Back up to London tomorrow morning and another walk Saturday evening. Just for now though, at the turning into darkness, I can be outside in the wind here and admire the huge sea without getting so cold I can’t think. Oh God winter is coming. The clocks will steal the light soon. Hex is still lost in the bones of an underfloor, my body is behaving strangely and Christmas Carol is cancelled. This has been a shit week. This is another reason I’m in Brighton. With all the shitshow at home I wanted to connect to her as a beacon in my life. She’s working her fingers to the bone up there making costumes for Christmas shows, but we have allocated tomorrow. I wanted a sleep as well as a day. A bit more time. A bit more connection. Humanity.

And on that note, that’s enough with the writing. I’m gonna head up to the seaside home of om and fluffy cats. Enough wind. Enough Friday night Brighton. Peacetime.