Self tape club this evening, across town near Camden. I drove home afterwards and only realised as I was about to crash that I neglected to do my musings. A near miss.
The room where we used to do the tapes is now occupied with a lodger. It used to be a huge empty space. Turns out we don’t need it. We can build a little studio in a small space, and we did. Two lights, a reflector, a background and a tripod for the camera. Similar kit in cupboards across town. I’ve got one too, but the comforting habit takes me to hers, and occasionally – like this evening – I get a tasty goats cheese tart out of it when we are done.
We manage to roughly alternate who gets to do the acting. This time the focus was on me and she was doing the reading in and foley. “The tone of this one is reasonably serious,” I tell her. She understands what I mean. We have come to like doing this with one another. It’s a form of playfulness. Just occasionally one of us – always the one reading in – busts out a silly voice almost by mistake and bins the take.
Three scenes, none too long, none too complicated. It’s a fresh learn, so not as fluent as I like it. Mostly that was my morning. I woke up, ordered a Deliveroo breakfast which is exactly what I’ve been saying I’ll stop doing, and I spent a large portion of the day in bed playing sound files and talking back to them. This thing I have of eschewing the autocue … it cost me a day of February sunshine, but there’s a joy in learning things. I always say it’s a muscle. If I put my mind to it I can learn a lot in a short time, and I’m sure that that is partly due to me pushing poems into my head on long evenings at school. I don’t even really know why I did it. I had lofty fantasies that, after dinner, the host of the party would say “And now, my beautiful guests, it is time for us all to share a poem each!” I would not be caught out in such a circumstance. Problem is it only ever happened at youthful Burns Night parties where I was the host and half the guests were dreading it. Perhaps now COVID has lifted I should start having salons for the last few months in my Chelsea abode and boring everybody with my poetry like Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz… “Oh freddled gruntbuggly…”
The new flatmate surprised me in that we had briefly met before the millennium turned. Ralph Fiennes of all people came and did a workshop with Lost Theatre, and at the time I was part of their Hamlet so I got to be part of the workshop. The flatmate was a friend of the company back then and sat and watched it cos he was just hitting the big time and the PR guys wanted a kinda “back to his roots” type angle. I remember it being helpful and insightful – none of us had trained so the insights of a crafty actor were golden to us.
I ask flatmate: “Did Cecil do one of his weird sculptures of you?” “Yes… I thought it was normal…” There were some oddities but it was a lovely community of people. It was before Fulham Broadway was homogenised so there was a good old pub where Jan and Ang cooked Thai food. An almost forgotten period now, buried by the experiences that were to come. Life is long. We didn’t have time for a proper deep dive into mutual friends but I expect there’s many intersections. He went off to the RADA. There are plenty of actors in London, but actually not all that many. You can tell that by the regularity with which the same faces pop up. Still there’s room for hopefulness. Things change fast. I’m rather hoping my face will pop up a bit more in the next year or so, as I’m pretty ready right now. Perhaps this tape will help…