Corporate acting

A very lovely woman was having her sixtieth birthday party this evening and she had booked out The Balcony Room at The Swan, the restaurant arm of The Globe. I often come into play in such situations. There is an ancient ruling that the corporate actors can’t perform in Elizabethan costume. It is to do with certain people in certain departments who don’t want the “corporate” actors to be associated with the ones on the main stage. I showed up with Ffion. We were both in sexy smart clothes.

Minnie and Maz were on the mainstage tonight as Bottom and Titania. Apart from having agents with a little bit more reach I would argue that there isn’t much to choose between them and Ffion with whom I was working. But yeah, that’s been the deal for years. I usually just show up in a suit and I have to make it clear I’m not one of the “proper” actors because heaven forbid.

My job isn’t to be made of magic fairy dust. It is to entertain the VIP diners. It is, of course, a slightly different aspect of the acting skillset to that which is being displayed on the mainstage. But the wedge is driven. Minnie once introduced me to an artistic director at the space, and then said that I do the corporate stuff. I watched the man’s smile curdle. I know one human being who has worked all three departments. Rigid fucker and one of my closest friends. He keeps it quiet though. Here I am writing about it.

“It’s not work if you aren’t drenched in sweat,” I had been told a few hours earlier when I made up part of a three man team taking the heaviest printer you can imagine down a long flight of stairs. The three of us found ourselves living in each others puddles. It was my last day helping this endless office move.

Building and deconstructing furniture, lugging heavy boxes. Organising things, connecting things and disconnecting them. I’ve been so involved in the office break I’ve barely remembered anything else. Two days of stoppage coming up. Then back to the grind for too long. In many ways, this evening was a break into happy work.

The wonderful client wanted us to mingle with the guests beforehand so it was more of a surprise when we showed up and did some acting. That meant we kinda had to have champagne just to fit in. So we did, and we mingled. Then we did our thing, customised for the client, charming assured work with Shakespearean text. Like the guy that hits the thing with a hammer and then says “yes it looked easy, I’ve taken twenty years to learn where to hit it,” Ffion and I are deft at this work now and we aren’t bothered by the confidence issues you get at the start of your career.

Seaside now. Yeah I guess if the machine won’t give me the work that will be seen by many, I have to be the machine. I know enough now to make large scale. I’ve got the contacts. Maybe it’s time to McBurney it. Something to think about.

Mirrors round the sun?

That turned out to be an entertaining and fun morning in the Docklands. I ended up in involved conversations about how feasible it might be to create a Dyson Sphere. Not in our lifetime, I concluded. But who knows, the speed at which things move. We also talked about plasma and this wonderful impossible dream where they think they might have got marginally more power than they put in from an artificial sun in America. They suspend plasma with magnets and pump power into it to superheat it while trying to pull off the energy it creates. It’s the sort of thing that will scare the fuck out of you if you aren’t confident in all the things that have led us to believe it is controllable. The large hadron collider was supposed to cause a singularity somewhere in the Indian Ocean that would quickly suck all matter in the solar system into it. It didn’t. It just got a few boffins excited about Higgs Boson activity and so on.

Eventually our hubris will destroy us, yes sure. But it’ll be slow. The exponentially rising carbon and all the lazy ignoramuses farting about ice ages being part of the natural cycle because they literally just don’t understand science. We will burn and freeze because we want it all now. Likely we will all be dead by the time we make things uninhabitable, so it’s just a lovely present for our great grandchildren while we still do whatever the fuck we please.

Still, a fun morning and very sparky youth. I was happy to have the chance to meet them.

And then I immediately became part of the problem. I had to go to IKEA for my friends and load up with plastic boxes. £300 worth of crap for their office, all made in Vietnam, and I had myself a plate of smoked salmon and the inevitable meatballs. Then I drove to Chelsea and deconstructed/reconstructed a desk, carried a load of stuff and generally did the things.

Home now and too tired to really remember the details. Another day without stopping – but for the meatballs. If i wasn’t exhausted I would get stuck into something distracting on telly, but I’ve got no head left. A hot bath and a warm bed.

I remember when I used to be able to think of things. There’ll be none of that for weeks yet. I’m about to plug back into the races and the run-up to it all looks far from relaxing. Ugh.

If they crack the Dyson Sphere, hopefully they can make things a bit warmer round here thankyouplease.

and a daim cake

Tired and fed up

I’m up way too early tomorrow morning. Something like an hour and a half to get across town to this technical college in East London where they keep moving the goalposts about what they want tomorrow. I’ll need to be awake and prepared, and from experience it is a very tricky area in terms of the behavioural demographic. Frequently there’s a very low English comprehension mixed with a lot of very angry young men and women. I’ll have to be alert and ready, and then switched on.

Trying to wind down tonight and running a bath, and struggling to relax. Thinking about my finances when I just want to eat chips. Plus it’s still cold and raining and I’m… I’m just done with today thanks. Can I get off?

I dunno if I’ll be able to sleep even. I am not feeling it. Maybe if I get reading…

First though I’ve got to boot up my laptop and download the correct workshop to my flashdrive as the one I brought with me last time won’t do for the time slot I’ve been allocated tomorrow. It’ll need to be something else and I’ll have to be learning and editing on the fly and I’m honestly just fed up of saying “yes” to everything all the time forever. I want to book a month or two in my diary where I attend to the things in my life that I’m kicking down the road. Problem is I’ll need to be able to afford it.

What the fuck happened to the acting? I was helping Tristan with a self-tape. “Do you think they just give us the tapes as a placebo so we don’t kill ourselves?” “We promise to view every submission,” the bumpf said. Which clarifies what I’ve suspected for a long time, that 90% of the stuff I do on self tape doesn’t even get watched. Eew.

I’m not going down that road tonight. Got to wind down, not up.

It’s already quarter past eight. I’m starving. Bed. I’ve got a bit of relaxation booked with Lou soon thank God. A chance to drop it all and not have to think about difficult things for two days. A joy to come. But for now, two more days of constant.


I’m stuck in the dump. There’s a metaphor in all this somewhere.

The woman in the Volkswagen in front of me just got out and came to my window. “Are we gonna be here all night?” “We are definitely gonna be here for hours,” I tell her. “Unless the local police get involved and direct it. The traffic was stationary all the way to Wandsworth bridge when I arrived. Now all the people trying to get into the dump are blocking all the people trying to get out of the dump.”

I’ve been throwing out all those lever arch files. Unwieldy heavy things, plasticated so they can’t be recycled. Relics of a bygone age. Well put together though. I spent ages trying to tear out the mechanism of just one of them in order to throw it into “scrap metal”. In the end I gave up and lobbed it all into the general rubbish skip. Thinking about it now with this traffic situation I could have taken my time and done it a bit better. We are all gonna still be here at Christmas. At least there’s plenty of wood for a fire.

I had done two workshops before eleven today. Another cold room but this time I got up in plenty of time and put layers on so it wasn’t so bad. Loads of young women from Isleworth and me in the middle blithering on about energy use and personal responsibility.

Now post dump I’m almost ready to fall asleep and it’s only half two. I’ve moved less than ten foot since I started writing this. Stuck in this filthy place on an unseasonably cold grey day and knackered and I remember with a smile that I might have to fly to Jersey at crack of dawn tomorrow to kick old man finance. I haven’t booked as he is as slippery as an eel and I’ve gone over before and had him avoid me. Not gonna waste the money.

God I’m tired though. Occasionally I need to sleep until eleven and I haven’t had that luxury for too long. The deficit is catching up. Plus maybe the fumes of sitting here in an endless queue of traffic trying to escape this land of the filth-buckets.

Well, the advantage of the traffic jam is I’ve got this blog done bright and early. I just wanna have a little kip. Can’t though. Off to help a friend with a self-tape. Oh the joys.


8.28 am. I am currently working out the purpose of this hat. All the strange chopping devices in perpetual motion suspended around it like antenna. It appears to be for cutting the boundaries between entities. Perhaps if I hug this security guard… Ah yes I have become him. I know the middle name he is embarrassed to tell his brother. I shall sit down and look at this beautiful view down the valley while contemplating my next move. Oh, is that my phone ringing?

8.30 am. Fuck. My alarm didn’t go off. I’m supposed to be at work. Exam starts at 9. “Hi it’s Aynan. Are you near?” “Hi Simon, I’m ten minutes away.” *Simon? Who is Simon?*

8.32 am. A large wooden door opens on a Chelsea street. A man emerges. His hair is sticking up. He wears the clothes he was wearing yesterday. He gets into a large blue SUV. The engine guns.

For eight minutes, nobody is safe in Chelsea. The squealing of rubber. Last minute turn decisions based on the road ahead. Twenty years worth of rat runs. This car is bullying even the black cabs.

8.40 am and there’s a parking spot right near the college. I’m into it.

8.42 am and I’m in the room before the students. I even had time to run into a loo and throw water on my hair. One of the exam team has had to set the room up. It’s not a good look for me. But saved by proximity. Only 6 candidates – extra timers. That’s fortunate. Yesterday I had hundreds. I wouldn’t have gotten away with it yesterday. Stupid vivid dreams. Stupid warm toasty bed. Stupid alarm.

The exam room has a fault with the aircon. Fans are on full cold. It is almost unbearably cold and I am mostly still in that room for two and a half hours. By the time the exam is over I am so cold I can barely think.

Lemongrass chicken broth at Pret, and a Chai Latte and then I’m driving to the dump again.

I unload. And then straight to the office to load up with lever arch files.

Then I seal up a load of envelopes, dismantle some desks, carry a load of heavy things downstairs.

Then home. Cook a quick sweet and sour chicken. Find a USB card and download tomorrow’s workshop onto it. Look through the PowerPoint as normally I run this over two hours for year ten but tomorrow they want it in like 40 minutes for year 9. It’s a good school though in Twickenham. I’ve been there before.

Bath. Blog. Bed.

I’ve switched on the blanket and I’m having a can of San Miguel just to try to dewire myself. My ears are howling tinnitus. I think I’m gonna have two spoonfuls of Actifed dry cough. It guarantees a good sleep and a good early wake, even when I’m still adrenalised.

Apart from the bath I didn’t stop. Oh tomorrow. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

More exams

I’m back invigilating exams today. There were meant to be nine of us, but three potatoes didn’t show up so I was leading a team mostly potato free, which actually makes it easier in the long run. The ones who came into work were mostly functional human beings with common sense and huge lives outside the room we are in. “I just have to call the hospital,” says one of them. “Apparently I’ve got lung cancer now.” I react with suppressed shock and she reaches out to touch my arm, comforting me. (!) “Oh don’t worry. I’ve had cancer before.” She shrugs. I don’t know what she’s retired from but she’s brilliant. Many of them are, but I rarely get to work with the good ones as we get made leaders and often have to preside over a room of potatoes, if they show up.

The workforce in this gig is split between actors and people who have retired for various reasons and then current highly academically intelligent students making an extra buck and then cheap people from somewhere who often don’t show… It’s a weird dynamic.

Today one of the Multiple Choice answer sheets got lost at the end of the exam. The one person who had put it somewhere stupid was the only person to leave early. We all had to spend ages digging through things just to correct that person’s mistake. I don’t think they’re paid very well. But … you get your moneys worth, as often as not.

Miserable rainy April. I really want summer now. I’m just done with the cold and the muck. I’m not gonna have much headspace in the next month or so. It’s better than it was, but getting out of bed still involves that temperature plummet and the sooner that stops the happier I’ll be.

For now though, into bed and head down. Early start again tomorrow.

Tired at the end of a long Sunday

Today I ended up working for my office moving friend, and had a friend round my flat doing things I need to do in my flat for the same rate. Round and round we go. A neutral day, although I’ve ended up with some excellent clothes rails that were being thrown out and might help with the business of storing the huge amounts of costume I’ve got. One of them now belongs to my friend and the rest are in the lockup. I needed her eye to see they were good. All I could see was a big pile of metal. But actually they will be useful, even just for car boot sales, and the season is approaching.

“I start work at 4.30am,” my friend tells me. She’s living in a flat smaller than mine with three male children. “I have to have that time before they wake up.”

My mobile phone has this habit of randomly deciding that the charger wire is wet. It usually happens when it is cold. When it happens I just unplug it and bang the screen and buttons until it stops.

Today, my phone made that noise. I cancelled it immediately and made it go away, but there were other phones in the room doing the same thing. It seems everyone knew about this but me.

The government want to be able to shout at us though our phones. Today was a test, and they likely sent out word through whatever channels they assume we are all following. I just had my phone go crazy suddenly, and I was happy I wasn’t driving. You can be sure that there were some car crashes today, all for what?

Healthcare. Emergency response.

Day nurse has been recalled. Actifed. Night Nurse.

The whole way we look at health and safety is being gradually and stealthily shifted. The deals the Tories made with Trump are still moving. Medicines that don’t fit the US model are being pushed out so they can be replaced by the big US brands. Of course my Barclay namesake is stalling the talks – he wants to tell a story about how our wonderful system is failing. Post Brexit, we are being forced to be a new state, and these cheeseheads in government are too busy looking at their bank balance to look at the future. They won’t divert funds to the NHS. They have been trying to kill it for YEARS. And it clings on, just, because of the incredible humans who have given their lives to it.

But the roads slow down to twenty to make room for the failed electric self driving car idea. And we are all being primed to live in fear. Our phone could go off whenever these short-necked Westminster thieves want it to, warning us about whatever they think is important. Missing girl. Severe weather. Someone protesting. Pickpockets. Can’t embezzle. Murderers.

I’m knackered. My flat is full of cables. All will be well.

eBay day

I’ve got lots of things to list and sell on eBay this weekend. I’ve been doing my best, but my friends haven’t been helping me. There’s loads of technology. All the wires have been pulled out and put in bin bags. All the screens and devices are in boxes with no wires. One box contains a dozen Google Nest smoke detectors, likely with another three years on the warranty. New they’d be over a grand worth of kit, but they no longer have the lithium rechargeable batteries. Likely they were taken out too. It leaves me with a conundrum. Second hand on eBay they still command a reasonable price, but I’ll likely have to order the batteries to get a decent price for them. And the batteries aren’t cheap. I’ve been mumbling to myself about it. There’s an incredibly involved home security kit. Motion sensing cameras and bullet cams with a central hub. And NO WIRES. Once again, new it’s about three grand, but I can’t really list it on my eBay until I know it works and I know HOW it works. I have my reputation to uphold on that site. I either fuck the listing by having to say in the description that I don’t know if it works or not and there are no wires, or I find the wires and work out how it works. I’m on the clock with this so it’s not taking the piss. But, kids – if you want to sell your tech, don’t separate all the wires from all the devices.

I’ll need my flat back before long, so I’m not gonna be too thorough with this. I’m already choosing my battles, and the IKEA bulb vases are going to the dump on Sunday evening along with loads of other things that will only sell for a quid and then have to be mailed.

The process of eBay selling is pretty methodical if you want to get more than nothing. First of all, identify the thing. Find other examples that have sold. Work out of there are lots of them going unsold. Determine if there is demand. Think about postage. How will you package it? CAN you package it? Where will you be the day after the listing ends? Can you post it on time? How much does it weigh? What should you charge for postage? Does it need to be collection only? Will you be able to supervise collection?

You know what the thing is now. How do you photograph it well? How do you check for things that might be wrong with it? How do you describe it well and thoroughly so that nobody can catch you out. Buyers have a favourite trick: “You didn’t mention X” If you don’t mention something wrong with it, the buyer holds the power on eBay. Rating is paramount. I’ve given a fair few full refunds through my teeth because I didn’t notice some damage.

Now you need to think of minimum bid. Nowadays, eBay has adverts saying “Buy gold for the price of silver”. With that culture and auction sniping apps, nothing gets bidded on until the last second as the expectation is that you’ll get a bargain. Adverts like that really suck from a seller’s point of view. When I saw that it put me off the site. If I’m selling gold, I want it to go for the price of gold.

Watchers are no indication of value, as most of them just have something like it and are curious to see how it goes. I watch things all the time when I think they are overpriced or I know I’ve got one to sell. The snipers all put in low blows and the thing that you put on for a quid thinking it’ll go for a tenner sells for a quid with twenty four watchers. Maybe 8 snipers put in minimum bid and the first one got it. And then you have to be polite to someone who fucks you around with collection time etc and then tells you that the bulb is broken or whatever and you end up logging in and authorising a one pound refund after losing hours making sure you’re at home for collection. So unless you know exactly how you’re gonna post it and have the packaging already, don’t bother with £1 starting items as you’ll end up working and losing an item for fuck all. I have some packaging boxes at home and if something crap fits in one I’ll list it low as I’ll need to get rid of them. Yeah you’ll get more interest at a low starting price, but these days nobody will bid it up and you’ll end up selling for a quid to one of the AI apps that trawl eBay for random bargains.

But yeah that’s been my day. Thinking again about the second hand market. Dispassionately evaluating someone else’s second hand stuff. Determining whether or not it’s worth buying batteries to sell smoke alarms. I think I will as they go well. The bigger stuff though – that just needs to go go go. TVs without remote or cabling. Ugh.


A rare pleasure to have unexpected London Lou. She usually exists by the seaside and I get to come play with her. The tyranny of the fluffy animal creature.

This evening though “Rumours of Fleetwood Mac” were playing at Cadogan Hall. Her mate has been on the tour bus with them for a year, and wanted us to see what it was like, so we got a pair of guest list freebies.

A packed out hall, usually reserved for Thomas Tallis concerts. We all sat down to watch a gig. I’m not used to that. Too many festivals. I’m used to being able to jiggle around and stick my chin up like your dad. Maybe take a step to the left, step to the right. Do a little shuffle. Check my pockets. Have a sip of beer. Make a comment to the person next to me.

We sat in serried ranks. They came out.

It’s all sanctioned by the band members. A bit of audio plays – a recorded intro by Mick Fleetwood. Last night I said to Tristan: “I just don’t get the whole thing of playing someone else’s songs when you’re a good musician…” “Money,” he replied. “And a guaranteed audience.”

They are excellent musicians, and he’s right. The place was packed. I don’t know how much tickets are, and how the money is cut. There are plenty of people involved in this so they aren’t necessarily printing money, but they are evidently saving a fair amount by not emulating the lifestyle as well as the music. The original band were true rockers, fucking fighting and feuding. The songs run the gamut from ballads to psychedelic strangeness to hard rock. The original band and the tribute were immensely talented. The drum beat on Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecilia” was the result of a botched attempt to imitate what Mick Fleetwood does on Tusk. Over it all the beautiful harmonics of the English and American female vocalists Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks. McVie died last year. Nicks is still going, somehow, aged 74. The quantity of narcotics that they must have put away in their heyday boggles belief.

“It’s like Fleetwood Mac without the edge,” says Lou. And yeah – you feel safe. You aren’t expecting one of them to start choking someone or collapse. They play with competence and skill. “They never have an off night,” my friend observes. The original band must have had plenty, I muse. But it’s a good gig. Some of them are really channeling. I find myself imagining the Stevie Nicks (Jess Harwood) singing along to her CD collection growing up, perfecting the distinctive vocal fry. She’s got it down, and the gestural world she’s in feels authentic. It’s a mixture of imitation and channeling. Across the board it is regimented. Tight. Polished.

I wonder if they write their own songs and practice them while they’re on tour or if perfecting the imitation gives them the artistic satisfaction we all crave. It was a good night, and I wasn’t around to see the original band so it’s the best I’ll get. Lovely to have Lou in town too, even if only briefly.

Fridge Out

There was a great big American fridge freezer sitting broken in my friend’s office. I use the term broken advisedly as I’ve seen this friend replace a perfectly functional TV through lack of an £8.95 cable. But I understand it to be broken. And it certainly can’t stay there as she’s moving office.

She’s already been scammed over removal. They called up some fellow and didn’t give him context about it being two floors up and huge. It happens. It happened to me with this “cupboard” and I never heard the end of damaging the feet on it moving it on my own. Whoever this guy was, he came into an office with the load of very young humans who work there, he took one look at the fridge and he realised he couldn’t move it on his own. Unlike me, wrestling the cupboard into my car, he then insisted he was paid in full and left without doing anything. I think that’s a dick move , but the young’uns were intimidated by him. £250 he took which is too much for the job anyway. My friend who runs the business wasn’t in the office at the time. Of course she was furious, but now she was also £250 down, so the thing became a mental block. She didn’t want to spend any more money getting the thing out.

I found some guys online who seemed legit. They only wanted £124. It still took her some persuading. It’s a lot of money, but it’s a business… Whoever this guy is, he fixes fridges and charges a bomb to do it. He will take your bad fridge away and charge you to do it too, and then he’ll plunder it for parts or if it’s great he’ll resell it. Smart to get paid both ends.

The lads were excellent. Just two of them. They fought it down the stairs and were connected enough that they only rarely needed me to spot them or hold a door. This is not their first fridge.

Adam and Johnny. Strong work from them both. One very big fridge gone and another problem solved. My friend is running to a very tight deadline and I don’t think she realises quite how tight it is. She’s only got me a little bit in all this. I hope she gets the hard stuff done.