Opening Magic Cards


Aged something like ten, mum and I went to Jurby Junk. They were famous in The Isle of Man. “WASH YOUR HANDS”, mum would always say after we had been, with such unfamiliar fervency that I was convinced it must have been a place of plague. And yet still we went, and being me, even then I went deep.

I only had a very small amount of pocket money. Mum had vast distaste for children who had large amounts. As far as I remember it was 10p a week. Back then that was a Beano and two penny sweets, but I wasn’t set on the Beano every week. I might have saved almost 20p by the time I went to Jurby Junk. I wasn’t given the shiny coins – (although I would occasionally find them). I had to store up.

Mum was always in a hurry when we were there. She would come, look at one section, and immediately want to leave. I suspect it was clothes she was after and she usually knew quickly when there was nothing. “Come on boys,” we would get, having literally just arrived in this treasure trove of interesting things. “One second, mummy!” I had found a bucket full of knock-off Star Wars stickers. I was trying to find one of each. I couldn’t afford one of each though so I had to leave the ones I didn’t like – Luke Skywalker yawn etc.

I spent 14p on Star Wars stickers. That was all the money I had.

I just found them, mixed in with a load of childhood junk. They aren’t worth much even now, even though they were made by FasCal (Fun Products Intl) in 1977 and “Darth Vadar” and “Millenium Falcon” are spelt wrong. I could probably get about fifty quid for the lot though, which is in keeping with inflation. I’m not gonna sell them though. Some of them might go on the back of future laptops. They don’t take up enough space to be problematic to store.

That was ten year old me. I haven’t changed. The stakes have gone up, but the instinct to buy paper with all the money I’ve got still sits strong, more’s the pity.

I was in Uruguay with Extreme-E, feeling like I had genuinely made myself a part of the team. The next season had just been announced. I felt a relief fall over me. Guaranteed work, I thought, and part time. Wonderful work. A valued member of a good team making something important. Work that resonates with my values, in a team that gets me and values and understands what I do. Ha.

Magic the Gathering were celebrating their 30th Anniversary. That’s a trading card game I used to play as a young man. I still occasionally play online these days but I long ago sold all my valuable cards. Still, I got sent a link to a YouTube channel because the internet knows I still dabble. Jake and Joel are Magic. It was an eloquent critique of a product I hadn’t heard of, critiqued by someone who HATED it. A musjudged Magic 30th anniversary celebration product. It had an absurdly high price tag. £1000 for 4 booster packs. Random selection inside. No other option. £1000 in the UK after tax. $1000 in the US, in the same way that digital products always gouge UK buyers. No guarantee of value. You are opening RANDOM packs.

You could easily spend £1000 for £100 worth of product. Each booster contains one in 113 possible rare cards. Of those rare cards, only 9 are actually worth enough to justify the investment, and many are absolutely worthless considering the price of the booster. A Purelace from one of somebody’s four £250 boosters just sold on eBay for £22.48.

“The Power Nine”. That is all anyone is looking for out of those 113 cards. The rest is gravy. You want one of these: Time Walk, Ancestral Recall, Time Vault, one of the 5 coloured Moxes, and, of course, the unique and famous Black Lotus, the most valuable trading card ever. Find one of them from Alpha or Beta in your uncle’s attic, and you’ll never need to work again. One in good condition sold for over $800k at auction. By weight I suspect that an Alpha Black Lotus in pristine condition will be the most expensive thing in the world.

These £1000 packs are just proxies though. They aren’t tournament legal. “We have to vote with our wallet,” he said on YouTube. “We have to show HASBRO this isn’t the way forward.” But… what if nobody buys these? What might the Lotus be worth to collectors if most of the set gets pulped? Is it worth rolling the dice? Value is only by consensus, and HASBRO, who recently purchased Magic, have given no sense that they are going to do anything other than run something lovely into the ground through greed. The price tag on this set is symptomatic of that greed. I really hope they listen and go another way with it. Anyone trying to keep up is already stretched to breaking. But maybe… maybe they restricted the print run here? Despite my purchase…

My father was a contrarian. “If everybody says one thing, do the opposite,” he taught me that lesson early and I’ve lived by it for better or worse. I checked the comments on all the videos about it. Everybody hated the product. Hundreds of people were actively flaming it. I looked at other videos. Nobody wanted this thing to succeed. Nobody was gonna buy it. So… well I had to, even though it was a lot for me… More now I see that the work I was confident would repeat hasn’t repeated – short sighted… it’ll cost them. But they have to discover that themselves.

On a lunch break, I logged in. I put £1000 on my credit card, bought the most unpopular product in MTG history, and waited for the randomly selected boosters to come.

A bit later, Jake and Joel ran a video showing that the sale had been taken down before everything sold. Apparently only two people (!) had bought to the UK market. Likely a nonsense statistic, but it got my hopes up if I was just one of two. You’d need to spend something like $110k to give yourself a good chance of a Lotus. Nobody is crazy like that, but we all hope for luck. And if nobody bought it the scarcity rises.

What I knew for sure is that I had laid down serious money on a massive gamble with a controversial product.

It arrived last month. I sat on it for ages. Didn’t dare look. It was just in my bedroom looking at me. I ordered white gloves on the internet and watched some opening videos. I finally opened it under a camera on a red velvet cushion the other day and made a video. In retrospect I’m very glad I made the video considering what I opened.

I won’t keep you in suspense. The very first pack I opened yielded the fucking holy grail of magic cards. I never ever thought I would open a Black Lotus. I opened one. “You are playing it cool in the video, but your hands start shaking,” observed Rhys and Brian.

Yes I’m playing it cool. It’s just a proxy. It’s not tournament legal. But this is a very very scarce product. I have opened something rare. And when a booster goes for £250 then I’ve opened something valuable however you look at it. In a way, the mistake HASBRO made was in giving this product for free to lots of vocal YouTube commentators. In doing that relatively freely, they made it look much less exclusive than it is.

I sent the Lotus off to Florida today to get encapsulated and authenticated. “Wasn’t this Magic 30th thing a really… expensive product?” asks the mild guy at the CGC UK Headquarters. “Yes. I was told not to buy it. So I bought it.”

It’s a collectable not a playable so I’m paying to have it graded and boxed. It was momentarily handled by me in white gloves on video and now it is in a plastic sheath. It’ll get a very very high grade. Then I have to decide whether to sit on it or flog it, which is to do with HASBRO and the secondary market. I valued it at £7200 for insurance. It could go up, it could go down. But someone sold one for that many dollars, and this product costs the same in pounds as dollars. But… crikey. For a bit of cardboard…

I kept that fucker QUIET. Only a select few of my geek friends. The product is SO controversial that I might even end up getting flak online for this blog. I haven’t put the video on YouTube or any of my other rares up for sale yet. And, for those of you in the know, I was incredibly lucky. Thank God. As well as the Lotus, a Tropical Island, Birds of Paradise, Word of Command, a retro frame Blaze of Glory and two Sol Rings, one common and one uncommon. I could sell everything but the Lotus and still make back my stake. Cardboard. It’s the new gold.

Geek OUT.

Having a moment

Life is such a strange thing to navigate. We desperately seek patterns. For most of us, there was a period of relative stability when we were children. The world had edges and we were mostly kept away from them. It’s partly why flat earth is a tempting parable for the limited thinkers. There is a myth of safety, a myth of meaning, a myth of predictability. But … there are cracks in the sky. There’s a waterfall into oblivion.

Different people see the cracks at different points. Sent off to boarding school across a sea at 8, I still managed to sell myself an optimistic vision. This was to be the best for “my education”. *I will endure this nonsense and all the arbitrary rules*. I solved it by breaking those rules. No mobile phones existed and no phones allowed. We wrote letters. I once snuck into my headmaster’s office aged ten and rang home from his office phone at about 8pm when they were all having a party in the library. A slightly tipsy mum answered. Rather than having the fun and illicit conversation I expected I had my mum immediately asking me where I was and worrying I’d get into trouble. I was whispering into the phone. I was enjoying the mischief and asking my mum to join it. I was ten for fucks sake. I remember saying “Let me worry about what I’m allowed to do. Nobody’s going to catch me. I took the risk to call cos I wanted to see how you are.” Mum got me off the phone in short order and was so worried that she dobbed me in.

But… this solving it by breaking the rules thing … that prep school is the same one that nurtured our erstwhile Prime Monster, mister Johnson. You’ve taken the hit on family life, and you know your parents are paying money. In some sort of fucked logic, you can cast yourself as lucky privilege person. You DESERVE. And if you start to break the rules and get away with it then that can be a platform for life as it was with him. “Cheaper household bills if you back Brexit!” Lies lies lies lies lies and today British Gas joined in with the posting record profits malarkey as we all freeze.

My first true world-crack came at 12 when THE DIVORCE was announced and I realised that the safe little bubble I had lived in was a construct. The idea of safe family life *crack*. I was about to go to Harrow which I thought would be a haven for intelligent and thoughtful humans but instead, in my house, turned out to largely be a bucketful of yobs. Another crack in the idea of meritocracy. The cracks deepened and very soon I had no means of holding my sense of a fair and reasonable world together apart from a faith I clung to, which splintered too leaving just the interesting beautiful shards of spiritual practice and acceptance. Both parents dying before I hit thirty pushed the trust beyond endurance. The world became a cruel and arbitrary mess and rather than try and ride it I let it ride my awhile. I did a pretty good job of obliterating myself for about a decade before I noticed that that was what I was supposed to be doing and turned on my own shadow on the open sea.

I came back with this blog partly. Around that time. This daily practice as a means of staving off the drive to oblivion. California heat and light and bullshit at this time of year helping me see the nature of framing reality. Crossing water and finding changes, reframing my own strange shape. Overcoming the gebbeth. Even a daily practice as pedestrian as this tapestry of words is still a daily practice. And life is about the daily repetition of small things.

One thing I’ve never really done is gone back on this blog. There’s so much of it now, all written raw in a day, of the day in which it is written. It might be helpful now for me to look at it, to see the patterns. There’s enough now that I would be very curious to feed it all into an AI and see what it comes up with, but also I would never want to teach an AI like that. I suspect I’ll have to feed it into an Al instead.

Today I’m lost in thought. There’s a melancholia in me and a sense of time and loss. The people I might have known longer, the things I might have seen, the things I might have done. But… an email came today from my agent. A casting director that knew me when I was in the wilderness breaking things has reached out with an olive branch after a decade to this new and perhaps more stable rearrangement of cells that I find myself in. A minor redemption opportunity. And maybe some work at the end of it. Joy.

Life will continue to be strange and arbitrary, but navigation gets easier with time, perhaps.

Michael Beint

Tristan had an audition this morning and showed up near mine afterwards. Sometimes it can be very helpful to decompress after an audition. He would be well cast in this one – it’s one of the classics. They aren’t on so much these days so it’s always a delicious opportunity to be in something wonderful, old and familiar. Yes we must look forward. But there is also room to look back.

He and I were on a very different energetic ticket as he arrived. Just past noon and really I was still in email land. The sunlight had previously pulled me into Battersea Park for a morning stroll and I was just thinking about how best to make use of my time when he rang to say he was near. We went to Grumbles in Pimlico for the lunch menu. Moules frites and tomato soup. Very seventies. The chips were mostly fat. I managed about four. We have eaten there before though in similar circumstances, post audition. Tristan found it through his grandfather. “He’s still going, you know. Outlasted the lot of them. No idea how.”

I love Tristan’s grandfather. Michael Beint. He’s 98. He’s an actor, although he has taken himself off active roster, feeling too old to work. But he had a wonderful career for many years.

When I last went to Swindon he showed me his shed where he was making beautiful paintings. Then we sat and geeked out about Shakespeare – something he likes to initiate with me. He knows I’ve worked with the text a great deal. He likes to talk about poetry and esoteric things and doesn’t walk in circles where that’s possible these days. He reads quietly but voraciously – something else we have in common perhaps. One christmas many years ago I drove to Wales after the Christmas Eve Carol show, and spent the next day with the family. Digs in York would’ve been awkward and someone was renting my bedroom. There’s a great photo of the two of us sparked out on the sofa after Christmas food. I can’t find it, but will pop it here if I can remember.

I think of him as a friend, although he lives in Swindon and mostly gets my love sent to him second hand. In terms of the history of this profession, in terms of continuity, I am proud to know him. There’s a joy in knowing you’re part of an ongoing line of thoughtful hopeful unusual people working over decades in this hopeful and arbitrary profession. He’s 98 and he’s still bright eyed.

I was delightfully introduced to John Mills on my first film set. Wheelchaired around but still shining with mischief. One shot and he nailed it. He had been on over 100 sets by then. I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael did as many, just having one line here and one line there. Something to aspire to. A jobber, part of the early National Theatre, showing up in major movies long before I was born, doing the work. My wonderful agent remembers him. She too has been around forever. I’m sure that’s wrapped up in why I love her and feel she’s the right voice for me in the industry. I aspire to be going for as long as I can.

There’s a camaraderie that I’m finding just with those of us from my age group who are left in the industry now. The Factory. Various close friends that share things with me. Even the voices on my social media, all coming together to build a feeling of community and shared joys and hardships.

Me and my friends are less than halfway to Michael’s age though. I’m impressed with the pals I’ve got who are still in the room. Michael? He’s still going – almost played Prospero at Sprite ten years ago, but decided it would be too much. Still, he’s getting up in the morning and reading and thinking about poetry and language and meaning expressed through words. If I was a Tarantino I’d find a way to get him into my movie for the sheer weight of life he brings. A wonderful man. I should get myself to Swindon before he gets his hundred.

Tristan and I went back to my flat and threw ideas around. I burnt some oud I bought in Saudi in ritual honour of the work I did out there and the possibility of more work like that, but also to remember that I’m here in this odd life to ply my craft, not react to the needs of everybody on an event. Like Michael… He was an “actor” all his working life. Different times of course. And I like to be occupied which has sent me all over the place doing responsive things. But he’s strong in my mind tonight, and his approach to the poetry of language. 98! Remarkable. Here’s to the next twenty years!!

Around the conversation, Tristan and I managed to fit in some games of Backgammon on dad’s amazing board. It’s the only photo I took, when I suddenly remembered I’d need one for the daily musing…

Up to the smoke despite Valentine’s

A clear crisp day. In the morning we were down to the beach. Sun on skin. Endorphins and vitamin D. Crucial at this time of year, and the banjo groyne is a good bit of seaside. Getting to know Brighton and the environs has been a lovely bonus extra to getting to know Lou.

I’ve eaten a lot of breakfasts out recently, and spent a lot on coffee. Definitely worth addressing those habits considering I’m pretty concerned about cashflow at the mo. I have that Aeropress. If I bring it and a bag of coffee to Brighton I’ll save myself about six quid a day. Like oil and pizza we all kept paying while the price of coffee crept up and now it’s too much but the business still works as it is addictive and has crept into culture. I was watching His Dark Materials with Lou the other night and one episode set in Oxford almost comes across as an advert for coffee. It’s brilliant and lavish telly, that one. The best of the beeb. Some great casting and interesting acting choices telling those books that influenced so many people in a gorgeous manner. Mostly built in Cardiff, it is lit and dressed to perfection. And occasionally an old friend pops up.

I’m very much hoping for a spot of filming in March, just as the thing I thought I would be doing isn’t happening. I’m gonna keep myself flexible despite the imperative to make lots of money. For a while at least I’ve got my credit cards…

Valentine’s Day. It’s just another day of course, and I ended up back in London as Lou had lots of work to do and I wanted to get back in time for The Factory. Now I need to justify being here for the rest of the week even though the diary is empty. There’s stuff I have to make for Southwark Council, plus of course the flat …

Bedtime now. Hot bath and electric blanket. Home comforts. My wake-up clock is earlier than usual after a good long time with Lou, and lovely Tessy who nibbles me if I’m still asleep past seven.

Noises on the wind

Beach Box Sauna in the morning. Monday is the actor’s day off after all. Events day off as well, so Lou was sharing some of her Brit Awards lucre. Scaffolding going up near hers so hammering and shouting. We sat in a horse box until it was too hot to be there anymore. Then walked to the sea and immersed, before returning to the horse box. Repeat until they came in with oranges and it was time to stop. Glorious.

It’s half term of course. The sauna was full of mums taking a moment to escape.

Brunch at Café Rust and we moved tables immediately to escape a cloud of sound around people droning on about their property investments.

We ended up in the woods at Stanmer and in the distance, all around us, carried on the wind, we could hear the mindless howling of other people’s children. Oh hell. For this week, they walk among us.

We managed to keep to the high ground, and avoided the worst of it. Returning to the car though we encountered a pack of the damn things trying to pull the branch off an ancient cedar tree while chanting atrocious nonsense. “I’m gonna say something,” says Lou. “It’ll only make them defensive,” I worry. Lou does it and does it well. Tries to keep it mild. The parent takes umbrage with her questioning the behaviour of these absolute shitheads she has bred. We carry on with our day as she closes ranks against us. The children redouble their vigor pulling at the branch, knowing they have the sanction of their moronic parent. “Don’t just pull it harder because she said you shouldn’t,” says the grandmother pitched for us to hear as we walk off. She’s old enough to still think of nature as something to be afforded a smidgen of thought from time to time, and maybe knows a little more about kindness than her daughter. At least they’re out in nature, even if they think it’s something to be torn apart by children shouting about poo.

We drive to Ditchling and drop a mannequin at Lou’s workshop. Returning home I impulsively swing into the Ditchling Beacon car park. The fog is low over the South Downs. The sun is a bright orange fireball rolling into the earth for the night. As we stand there admiring the peace, two men duck in front of us and walk a short distance. A piper and his clarinettist friend. The piper starts to play – to practice. They need a drum but even without they are making ancient sounds here on this hilltop in the fog and sunset, even if its hard to keep time. Lucky timing for us to have stopped to catch this moment. The skirl and drone replaces the memory of those mindless future estate agents attacking the natural world, and Lou and I stand transfixed. They aren’t doing it for us but music flows and twists up here from such a mood-setting thing as the pipes – it makes for the perfect end to a varied and delightful day off for the pair of us. We go home no longer so sad at the state of the world. For every stupid family popping out brats like nineties Hong Kong nightclub girls with ping pong balls, there’s a few people making beauty for no-one in particular. “Let’s go up to Ditching Beacon and see if we can work a duet out with pipe and clarinet at sunset.” Two accomplished musicians, surrounded by nature, adding to nature, sound and spirit mixing with the birdsong and transforming space.

Even in half term, not all of the human noises on the wind are the scaffolding bangs, the drones of dull conversation, the screams of play. We have this incredible propensity to take all these horrible noises we can make and turn them into something beautiful with timing and thought. The bang of the hammer to keep rythm. The drone of the investments to ground the tune. The animalistic scream of the youth to soar as melody. Drum, pipe and clarinet. Music. The Piper at the Gates of Dusk, lightning eyed and cloven hoofed, here on the Beacon where the larks rise in the summer mornings and you hear them all day impossibly high in the blue.


It’s a miracle I’ve had this hat as long as I have.

I left it under the chair again, but it was still there when I went back.

This one was my uncle’s. Peter. It’s by Lock and co. They are the world’s oldest hat company. They’ve been selling hats since 1676.

A number of Lock and co hats have passed through my hands over the years. One blew into the underground line at Kentish Town. One was taken off my head in a dancing crowd at a festival and vanished quickly, I got it back. Drunk people like to try and steal hats. They tried to bully me off it but I got it and then about two months later left it on a plane.

I’m thinking it’s time I went to Lock and bought my own hat though. I could put a homing chip into it. I rarely buy my own hat, knowing that hats find their way to me, and that I can be forgetful. I have a large wide selection of millinery at home, but this one is definitely the best for daily use. Top Hats, Bowler Hats, Stovies and Tricorns all abound at home alongside baseball caps and flat caps and deerstalkers and all sorts of other occasional hats. The last hat I bought was a Panama hat from Uruguay. I’m getting good use from it when it’s hot. But… to have my very own monogrammed Lock and co hat… that’d feel like a step forward. I might take that step soon.

Peter’s is getting a bit tatty. I’ve had it a long time now. I’m ok with looking a bit threadbare, but I have to occasionally remind myself that I’m in a cosmetic industry and should probably present myself better in case other people have different value systems. “The apparel oft proclaims the man…” Proclamation: “A stained and slightly wonky human being approacheth!” I mean… it’s accurate. But maybe a different proclamation would help me enter stronger.

We all used to wear hats. Seeing old footage it’s remarkable to see that the uncovered head is the exception. Seas of commuters in bowlers. The hipsters have helped bring them back a little bit from the austere times in the early noughties where we few male hat wearers were assumed to be just upset about going bald. Then it was perfectly acceptable to mock us. Now you do start to see them more often. They are great things. They keep in the warmth and make being out in the rain without an umbrella considerably less unpleasant.

We made a piece of weird live art in Jersey as part of the Arthouse Residency one day – we made it about this particular bashed up hat and I was proud of it. But next time I book a great big job where they pay me enough to make up for me losing one of my lifelines, I might pop to Lock and hang this one up for good.

Today though I’m very happy to have gone back and found it where I left it. We had Sunday lunch in the St George Inn in Kemptown. A wonderful calm quiet day by the sea the sea the sea!!


I’m back at the 02. Oh hell.

Stationary traffic all the way to the dome. I’m in the unofficial taxi queue. Ubers in front, Ubers behind. I’m inside a line of cones. No camera that I can see… I’m gonna stay here if I can. I’ve sent Lou a pin.

The Brit Awards are over and now everybody wants to get the heck away from here. Right now the coppers are too busy with crowd control to tell us to move. I’m hoping that Lou will successfully extricate herself and find her way here to my pin with her sewing machine before the rush finishes and the guys in Hi-Vis have the headspace to come and tell us all that we aren’t allowed to be here. This is very much as close as I’m likely to easily be able to get and once I’m back in the flow of traffic it’ll be a lottery with no way to control pick-up location. I should have brought my chauffeur hat. Makes me look more authentic.

It’s 11pm. Two hours drive to Brighton. I’m already pretty tired although I let myself have late coffee and today was not particularly strenuous. I went to Hampstead and looked at a mattress. I decided it was too heavy to take without help. I went for a little walk and then drove home again. And scene.

Writing this now is a break with tradition but I have a feeling I’ll be exhausted by the time I get to Brighton and the other option is to sit here fretting about getting fined and listening to Ash Sarkar getting angry about capitalism on Radio 4. It was an interesting programme, but in the end I just started getting pissed off about the fact that I’m still in a position where two day’s work cold calling is something I say yes to.

I’m still waiting on the confirmation deposit for the Majorca drive later this month. Something I can’t afford to look forward to until I’m certain. There has been a great deal of disappointment recently. I’m learning to hold my hopes lightly.

Five past eleven and Lou just messaged… Hopefully soon. I’m gonna get my head back into driving mode. I am hungry. Should’ve thought of that…

O2 suffocation

I finished work at lunchtime in Barking. Lou was at the O2 doing wardrobe for The Brits so I figured I’d chance it and drive over there in case she got a lunch break. Down through the Blackwall Tunnel and up through the roadworks and barriers, past the angry looking men in hard hats, to the vast dead alien maggot with its little spiky yellow legs. The roof blew off when someone coughed last winter but they’ve stuck it back on with sellotape. It’s all still functional. Six pounds in the car park for two hours and it’ll take you that long to find the pedestrian exit. Then you get to walk hours through flattened concrete bullshit. On your left a faceless and characterless commercial establishment. On your right a faceless and characterless commercial establishment.

I went to Wagamama’s which is basically Macdonald’s for noodles. Lou was chained to the sewing machine which I half expected, so I ordered a ginger chicken udon and gyoza on my own. I put them into my face with chopsticks while looking out over that concrete hellscape at all the sad looking people stumping through the gray. I felt like the woman with the egg sandwich at the start of Withnail and I. For a while I contemplated staying in the area until she finished work, but then I remembered that we are only alive for a limited amount of time. Added to that, the car park continues to charge you for being there. Honestly, they should pay us by the minute to be there. I decided to pour no more of my precious life into that hole.

I got in the car and gave them money to let me go. All the car exits had been secured with chains though and blocked with bollards. Once you’re in there they don’t want you to leave. Something of the millennium that perhaps should have been left there, like Robbie. It is still desperate. “We’re praying it’s not too late, but we know we’ve fallen from grace”. The Millennium Dome. Just over the cable car from the Olympic Park and all the things that are definitely working brilliantly and well worth the investment. Eventually I found a barrier that was functioning and would allow me to get out with my car. I escaped onto the terrible boulevards of North Greenwich, and from thence an hour through that spiky South East London traffic. To home. I put the heating back on. We are up to £55 now this week. I watched crap telly and ate meat.

Lou didn’t get home until late. Tomorrow she’ll finish even later and I’ll have to go back there and pick her up as we are both gonna sleep in Brighton. It’s the whole Brits ceremony tomorrow. I haven’t got a ticket. All the dancers. All the showbiz. All the personality. I’ll likely get to that awful car park at about ten pm and eventually we will all bundle into Bergman and hightail it to the seaside. Maybe by then she’ll have made friends with Harry Styles.

Awful place.

Boxes from interesting place to interesting place

“You can start with those boxes. None of them are heavy. Apart from the one with HEAVY written on it.”

I’m out of town. It’s late morning. In the driveway of this beautiful home is my rented Luton van, still cooling down from a long journey, loaded up already with dead insects from Braintree.

I go to pick up a box. In front of my nose, easy to shift, is a shelf full of ceramics. Small pieces, mostly. My eye goes immediately to a saucer in a similar handdrawn design as some very early Chinese porcelain that passed through my hands a while back. “That’s old,” I observe and I track down the line with my eyes and yep there’s some really really old stuff there. Is that Ming? Yep I think it is. I think I can spot a replica. Oh fuck. I shiver a little and handle the box I’m picking up more carefully. “No banging THIS shelving unit,” I think to myself, and turn round. My eyes are switched on now. Idols. Gorgeous statuaries. A collection of weapons and head dresses that would make the Wellcome Trust replace their whole website with an apology for at least a week and cause all their tour guides to become shivering nervous wrecks. Beautiful ancient things cross culturally collected from hither and yon and all likely to be going to various museums now, or shortly, to sadly sit in furious basements for a generation or two. Such beauty and history in private hands. The only true horror would be if someone got the builders in and all that heritage ended up in a skip, as has happened over and over and over again the world around, taking chunk after chunk from preserved histories and understanding of ancient religions and cultures. Better for it to be apologetically mothballed until we are all a bit more evolved at making sense of the damage of history regarding culture, and enough generations have passed that we don’t strongly identify as having been on any particular side of the cultural disgraces of history.

There art there too! Surely that can’t be an original Dali sketch? Is that Degas? STOP LOOKING AT THE SIGNATURES. Be respectful. This is a home.

I love old things. You know that. If I could I would live in my own stately home where everything was beautifully laid out, the heating was always on full and the doors wide open and people were trusted to come and go as they please, making parts of it their home and parts of it their workshop or performance space or whatever and life and possibility and artistry and hopefully plant and animal husbandry and response to nature and headspace and sanity. I loved that old couple for the fact I was part of a team collecting things to go to a public sector museum. They are trying, where so few try. This incredible stuff won’t be wasted.

We load the van. It’s hard work and there’ll be another trip. I drive it all back to London and we haul it all into quarantine. “Where shall I put his box?” “Anywhere but on top of the legs.” The only other thing in quarantine at the moment is a collection of Victorian race horse legs just … bagged up and awaiting sorting. Like you do. Granddad’s horseleg collection? Oh yeah we donated it.

Flooded with weird I drop the van off and go home. I put the heating on. Tom is on the sofa, Lou is in my bed. Too many people to be freezing our asses off. So far about £25 and I’m ok with it. Warmth.

I’ve just tried to absorb my day jobbery for tomorrow. It looks like a headfuck, but it’s well paid. Oh the schizophrenia. It’s ten past eleven. I had steak pie. Lou put it in the oven when I dropped off the van so it was READY when I got home. In my stately home there would always be food ready in the aga for all the residents.

I’m going to bed in my stately flat so Tom can get his head down and I don’t feel muzzy tomorrow teaching this ill-thought through adjustment to something that was working perfectly well without being adjusted. Yep it’s those people in offices again!!

Night night. Fuck I have to remember to take photos from time to time when I’m not with Lou. I either thought it was an imposition or I was too tired.

Rushed blog so I can go to sleep

I’m tempted to put the heat back on.

It’s so incredibly hard to swallow when we read in the news almost daily how the different energy giants are all posting record profits and most of us literally can’t afford to put the heating on, even the privileged toffos like me. The prices went up for the energy companies so yeah they put the prices up for the customers plus a bit more cos hey that’s business. The boneless Westminster adultchildren can’t even countenance taxing them properly because John Maynard Keynes had that fucking idea back at Cambridge that doesn’t work. And all the people who were rich a generation ago get richer and warmer and happier and emptier.

I’m too cold to use more than the little bit of my flat that is covered in soft material and underheated. “Buy Lakeland heated throws,” the internet tells me because apparently the solution always has to be spending money. I’m really starting to think that the solution might be fire. Burn them all! We can warm up while we do it.

Lou is here. “Can we go to bed now, I’ve realised I’m exhausted just from trying to keep warm,” she said after her second cup of chamomile tea. It’s lovely having her in London but I want to be able to host her properly here. I just don’t like the cold. Surely Spring soon now? They’ve started selling daffodils in Marks and Spencers. That’s a sign. Spring and two months of rain and then there’ll be a day and a half of sun in August and everybody will be too busy working to notice.

I stood in a huge great big hall in Walworth and pumped out energy like a great big mushroom pumping spores. About 100 young adults all had something different for a couple of hours and I lost my voice a bit but it was good and positive and often funny and I’m ok about that and I was warm while I was working. I was talking about sustainable energy and getting them to talk about electric vehicles and I was enthusing about Extreme-e and getting them enthused about that and I finished work and just wanted to jump in the Thames but instead I went and got Lou and we cooked a lovely meal. She’s on the clock, being paid well, not needed yet. Tomorrow she will likely be working late in North London and I’ll be driving all over the place. All will be well. I’m not that pissed off I’m just writing raw and in a rush so I can put this down and get on with the business of not having the light on.

It’ll warm up. And Majorca is about to confirm and it’ll be warm there. All is well. Bedtime.