Kick

You might not have noticed, but the little known pursuit of kickball is enjoying an international spotlight right now. It’s hosted by the Russians, the international kickball derby, so the winners might not be the actual fair winners considering the location. These are the people that brought us Trump and Brexit. I put some money on them. Given their impunity they’ll probably cheat. Nerve gas or information war or something equally ingenious. This evening, though, I’m supporting England. The England team aren’t playing Russia so they’re safe. They’re playing Tunisia. I’m in a pub with some friends. They’re kicking the ball, the screen people. Apparently that shouldn’t have been a penalty. Naughty kickpeople.

dav

See them run! Some of them are millionaires. They still run lots. KICK IT! BALL! OFFSIDE! NEVER! WHOOOAH! YEAAAH! I’m good at kickball understandings.

But it’s important that we win this because fewer people in this country will attack their loved ones with their fists tonight if we do. Although that pain is just deferred, because it’s against the rules for England to win the tournament, so the punching will still take place. The team have an official job. To get through the group stage and then lose the first match. If they don’t do that they will be cheating. Although the rules might be different this year of course because it’s in Russia where usual rules don’t apply. So maybe cheating is allowed this year…


So we won. By the skin of our teeth. Despite even a rank amateur like me being able to tell that we are better than them at kicking. It all came down to “set pieces” in the end. I’m concerned that these kickballers can’t create chances outside of things they’ve practised beforehand. They did a very good job of killing the handsman of Tunisia Hotspur, but afterwards they couldn’t get anything past the reservey handsman. I think it’s because they were confused by uniform though. They are supposed to be wearing white, but the enemy was also in white so they had to dress in red which might have been confusing, but also useful because Russia is red and red is supposed to win in Russia. But hooray!


I’m done. After the match we all grabbed food. Then we went home. I’ve been trying to write this as I go but it’s been extremely difficult comparatively, because of the nature of the company I’ve been in and their need for attention. For a long time I was with strangers mixed with friends and I’d left the writing so late that it was hard to explain to some of the strangers why I was vanishing into my phone. In that context it would be easier to just carry a laptop, because it’s a familiar machine that says “work”. Writing in my phone looks like texting/leisure. In their existences, work time is work time and play time is play time. They don’t mix it. The saturnalic pattern of the weekdays still means something for them. They are unquestioning slaves to it.

So my attempts to do my due diligence by this blog were eminently interruptible and questionable. I was just trying to fucking write.

I’ve not missed a single day since I started this madness far too long ago. I won’t until I choose to stop. Way way too stubborn.

Uninterrupted, writing this takes about 40 minutes to an hour, daily. Constantly interrupted and questioned it takes fucking ages as I socially feel obliged to honour the conversation you are manufacturing to prove to me that conversation is more important than phone (Just shut up and let me finish if I ask!!! Until it’s done I’m always aware it’s not done.)

I’ve been rebounding off a perfectly pleasant man who wouldn’t let me get it done. Ideally if I’m interrupted I need to read what I’ve already written and pick up where I left off. Until you ask another “I’m interested in why you’re blogging” question. Aaaaagh. It’s easier to edit now though. Amazing wonderful Iona lent me her old phone.

But anyway I have no desire whatsoever to explain or justify why I’m writing this or what it means to me, despite this evening being full of those sickening conversations. I have absolutely no desire to justify myself to someone who lacks the basic understanding of creativity needed to give an empty space when asked for. Ugh. Nonsense. Nice guy. But…

Just kick it. We won the kickfoot which is good. We are on track to fulfil our purpose. The guy that kept interrupting me – I liked him. He liked me. We shared a massive steak. But guys: If someone asks for space give them space. Across the board. I would’ve liked him significantly more if he’d let me do what I needed and then come to him…

Meh. Night all. Be kind. Kick it.

Fathers and sons

I was the youngest of five boys that we know about from dad. Occasionally there was the possibility mooted that two more exist in Japan from when he was a young man out there at the end of WW2. He always explained his baldness with the fact that he was reasonably near Hiroshima when the bomb landed. Some say he had a wife.

I was a kid still when my ridiculous adventurer sportsman businessman hilarious angry beautiful bastard father fell out the picture. I knew enough to admire his humour and fortitude. I’d like to have stuck around and picked up some more of his business acumen. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve started to get a handle on my dangerously impulsive nature regarding fiscal matters. Still got a way to go in that regard.

This father’s day is the last day of the Crouch End Festival. The last of this run of Macbeth shows. It’s been an absolute blast. But it has been expensive. Beers afterwards. Travel after beers when it makes drunk sense to get a taxi. Food after travel after beer when it makes drunk sense to get a takeaway. Endless coffee to counteract all the beer.

Thankfully dayjob work has been reasonably fruitful. And I’m willing to work for nothing for The Factory (and only them) – they pay back with a deeper understanding of craft and a community that is nurturing and committed. I’m more skilled, more confident and more connected because of my work for that lot. I’d love it if there was cold hard cash on the table too. But with that company alone, I’ll do it for the stripes and the giggles. For anyone else I wouldn’t get out of bed.

This evening we’re in a great big assembly room in Hornsey Town Hall. I have no idea how it’s all going to fit together but that’s the point. I’m just going to show up and say yes, and play a lot of people’s sons. It looks like another reasonably low responsibility show tonight. Which is fine because I’m knackered and looking forward to an evening off.

But yeah I’m thinking about dad. It’s inevitable today. I wonder what he’d make of this existence I’ve carved out. He probably wouldn’t approve of me working harder in the evening than I do in the day, but then only being paid for the daytime work. Still, loads of driving coming up, I’m feeling valued and grounded in my acting work. Something is coming regarding that. I know it in a way I can’t quite understand. I’ve put the hours in, and kept my heart open. The cobwebs are clearing. Bring it universe. Bring it, dad’s ghost.

Meanwhile, one last show of the week in this cavernous possible space. We’ve got this. I’m looking forward to finding out how we end the week…

dav

The only thing we are not insured to do in here is stand on the actual stage… Ridiculous and brilliant… Here we go.

Carrying drunk

After the show last night I went back to an old friend’s for gin.

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After a couple of pints I thought it was reasonable to get an uber with her from Crouch End, which is basically Finland. She lives in a lovely house in Waterloo. We sat in her kitchen reminiscing and trying to ignore the screaming from the street next door. It’s London. It’s a Friday night. There’s usually someone screaming something. Tonight it’s “get up!” which is reasonably innocuous by comparison. On the weekend everyone in this jumpy metropolis obliterates themselves with cheap hooch in an attempt to numb the pain, and some people seem to find it therapeutic to shout once they’ve had enough booze to be able to retrojustify it as drunkenness. Shouting is great therapy.

We listened to her. We tried to catch up with her with our Lidl gin. But after 5 minutes, we figured it might be worth checking if everything was ok. Her screaming was getting worse. We went out.

One woman was screaming. Another was catatonic with booze. There were already people there, politely trying to help. “Don’t you fucking touch my mum. I can handle this,” shouts the screaming daughter. She clearly can’t handle this. But I get it immediately. She’s young. Her mum is collapsed. It’s a strange shift, to have to mother your mother. She wanted to be able to handle it but she was at war with herself and ashamed about it too. And practically she couldn’t move her mum. Plus she hated that her loud panic had drawn a crowd.

The mum is semi responsive. She’s not totally unconscious but she’s very drunk. Not completely out but incapable of self motivation. There’s a lot of attention now from passers by, which is upsetting the daughter even more. “Now you’ve got something to talk about over your fucking Sunday roast,” she shouts at us. “This is how the people in the council estates live! You can sit in your big house and laugh at us.”

There’s a lot going on in this anger. I spend some time talking to her. I tell her we just want to help. There is a small group of persistent strangers who can tell she’s in distress.

She eventually lets us help her and we carry her mum in off the street. She’s messed herself. I end up with the bulk of her weight. We roll her onto a bed. I try to make sure she’s on her side. She’s not well. I don’t want her to puke and drown. I try to speak to the daughter but she has retreated into a quiet angry hopelessness. We are not welcome, but I don’t want her mum drowning. I’m trying to normalise and make sure the mum gets water and the daughter understands that this is just a moment, and stops panicking, without wanting to trigger her by mansplaining or sounding patronising.

In retrospect it’s upsetting that the bulk of her concern was social. We told her we were from the street we were from. It’s a posh street full of great big houses. She was more openly concerned about our judgement than anything else. Also in retrospect perhaps it might’ve been wiser and safer to have got an ambulance involved. I wasn’t thinking beyond the moment. I’m no stranger to carrying people who are blind drunk upstairs, and I dislike seeing people in distress, so my instinct kicked in.

Once we walked away, one of our little temporary group said “Well, that’s my first night in London.” She’s from Chicago. Staying at a hostel. Self-identifies as a travel writer. Is here for a few months. Well then, Lonely Planet. Let’s see what you say about Waterloo in your next edition…

Motorbike theft

A few months ago, Brian had his motorbike nicked from outside the flat. It came as a shock, but it was a very visible bike and it had sat there for ages. The police couldn’t find it. It most likely got shipped out of the country and south. It had a tracker in it, but he had switched it off because he wasn’t riding much and it drained the battery. At the time I was shocked and angry. Snatched so quickly from outside this supposedly safe home in Chelsea, and with me probably sleeping upstairs, while two guys loaded it into a van twenty foot from my head.

It was insured. He got a replacement. His Benelli Tornado. Only six of them on the road in the UK. Robin had it up in his workshop for ages. Stripped it down, got it tip top. Changed the exhaust. Tooled it up. Didn’t install a tracker. He knows every inch of it. Hell even I got my hands oily. Wire brushing the chain. Taking off the bloody air box. Last weekend Robin triumphantly rode it to London. Brian has been busy, and he didn’t insure it immediately as he wasn’t riding it. I expect he’d have phoned around on Saturday morning when he had breathing room and taken it for a spin. Meantime it was just there, in the bay, twenty foot from my head.

I bet it was the same guys that nicked it. I can’t quite get my head around how quickly it went. Brian had bought a 300 quid tracker. He was going to fit it on Saturday…

“That’s the end of motorbikes and me in this city,” says Brian and I don’t blame him. That’s a very expensive unique piece of kit currently being loaded into a container at Tilbury, and not something he could afford to lose just suddenly like that. The little fuckers.

Who can you blame? Years of austerity in an overpriced city driven by consumerism? Those little shits have found some way to justify it to themselves. But Brian works hard every day to make work for other people. He’s driven by it. Yeah in theory it’s a motorbike from some rich dick in Chelsea but in practice you’ve just stolen from the captain of Team Kind. I’m fucking livid with you.

It’s no way to make your living, taking things from other people. And seeing it happen like that, so quickly, on this big open street in Chelsea… It’s really shocking. I rarely wish ill on anyone. But you can have some, motorbike thief. I hope it’s the time you fuck it up. I hope you end up in prison and big Geoffrey drops the soap.

More than that though, I hope it shows up. Sometimes they just get used for a load of phone thefts and then get dumped. Some kids smashed a load of shop fronts last weekend in Chelsea on a stolen bike trying to grab what they could. One shop assistant, shocked, told me: “And they were kids. Like proper actual kids.” Kids are angry right now, and broke. You can justify all sorts of crap if you’re angry and broke. And they blame the sort of people that can afford nice motorbikes for bringing about this economic clusterfuck by voting hard for selfish.

If I was a superhero today I’d get the bike back using my amazing powers. But I’m just the sidekick.

dav

 

Fugue to fine

Yesterday evening I momentarily went into some sort of fugue state. It was really odd. And no I wasn’t cooking meth in the desert. I got the train back and wrote most of yesterday’s blog. Then the train got into Euston and I lost track of myself for a bit. I haven’t had something like that for a while. I walked towards The Arts because Brian is there. He came out and hugged me. He bought me a coffee at Monmouth and understood completely when I repudiated all his attempts to hold a normal conversation. The hug helped me remember my name a bit. But I just wanted to walk.

I eventually got myself home. Having just earned a few hundred I allowed myself to get hot curry with all the spinach on Just Eat. And then I lay there on the sofa groaning like a beached whale until it arrived. I inhaled it, and went to bed at 9. Then I slept until about 4.30, responded to a few messages, and went back to sleep. Basically I slept for about 15 hours, with a brief interlude at half 4. And I feel great for it. I think I needed to drop out for a second, and I had the window. Weird unpredictable shows in the evening, unusual or pressurised day-jobs in the daytime.

This evening 16 actors played Macbeth to 20 audience, in a tiny tiny little church tower in Hornsey. Tiny. We could only use the ground floor.

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I love that we have a company that can play fucking Macbeth with that ratio of actor to audience, where the tickets are a tenner and yet everyone is just getting on with it and enjoying it. This huge community of friendly geeks, learning things for the sake of learning. Playing for the sake of playing. And supported by audience who understand that they’re coming to something unusual, and are behind it. Our twenty people tonight were very playful. We deliberately played the bulk of the show in a tiny room with some medieval angels and a trapdoor. I had very little responsibility which was refreshing after my unusual downtime. I didn’t speak a word for the first half, got murdered as one of Macduff’s kids, came back as Menteith, who basically brings some information and is then absorbed into the force that is approaching from without led on by Malcolm, and spent the rest of the time as a slightly more physical minister than usual. My minister liked death.

This is mostly incomprehensible though unless you’ve seen it. It’s lovely and strange, and very well cut. Tomorrow (Friday) I know I’m playing Banquo so I’ll speak more than six lines. But I’m not really bothered if you see it and I’m in small parts. It’s not about that. It’s about the show. It’s about this wonderful community of skilled actors who are still giving up their time because it’s bloody brilliant fun, it’s challenging, and it’s our community. Two of the company were pregnant. One of them very very pregnant.

Three more shows in this mini run. Then a regular pop-up where we can find space. And despite my rather unusual emotional exhaustion thing yesterday, I love it.

Birmingham

I’m in a £55 train smashing through the countryside back to London. I was nervous about today. Despite all the weird stuff I do, not knowing still puts a little kernel of sick in my heart. Although maybe that’s a hangover.

Last night, as you might have gleaned oh constant reader, I had perhaps one too many glasses of red wine after the show. Then I wrote a ramble piece with my eyes half shut, and passed out with 198,000 alarms set for 7am. 6 seconds later, I pulled on my face, wandered into my suit, fell out of the house and slowly … inevitably … missed my train. I didn’t even swear about it. I just fumbled another ticket at Euston. I always leave too early and this is why. I still arrived early.

Virgin Trains took me to Birmingham. Some areas of Birmingham are no go areas, because they’re ruled over by gangs of Fox News reporters stabbing each other. I was in the bit of Birmingham that is filled with lovely positive friendly people who aren’t immediately terrified if you don’t look like them. I went to a school.

“What were you doing, Al?” I hear you cry. Well, my darling, as it happens *deep breath* I was facilitating a mentorship programme for volunteer employees of a major international pharmaceutical company. Yep. That. They were working one on one with year 9 kids helping them draw up a personal statement for the first time and doing mock interviews. In theory it was fucking terrifying. In practice I just looked smart, talked clear, let them get on with it and came out smiling. The kids had a marvellous experience, and grew. The teachers were thrilled seeing them grow. They really cared, these teachers – every one of them. I loved them for it.

They laid on a lovely spread for us. But I had no appetite whatsoever. None. I looked at all the strawberry tarts and wept internally. I can’t eat before I do hard things. And this was hard in theory. I still feel a bit sick now. But perhaps that’s because I KNEW I SHOULDN’T HAVE HAD THAT LAST BIG GLASS OF RED LAST NIGHT. Or perhaps it’s because I don’t do things by halves. I still threw all my energy at this. I’m exhausted.

One of the teachers walked me back to reception. “Do you want to grab some cakes to go?” “No mate. I can’t think about food yet. I’m still decompressing. I don’t often work with kids. I felt the responsibility.” That prompted a response that floored me. He really wanted to tell me nice things about myself. He’d enjoyed my delivery, and he’d seen the kids change. Apparently I’m great with kids. He assumed all sorts of things. “You’re not conceited.” Ha. Yeah. I’m the most not conceited person I know, actually. Ya. Fuck those conceited people. I’m better than all of those chumps with their stupid conceity faces.

Maybe I helped the kids. I had a good frame to do so. I could do it again now without losing so much time to nerves. And perhaps I could’ve gone home earlier last night, but fun.

At some point soon I need to eat though. That’s the only thing I know for certain. When I was rushing for the train this morning I stopped at Burger King. I bought some sort of abomination called a croissandwich. In theory the stuff in it is animal product. Mouthful. Gag reflex. Swallow. Pause. Repeat. I almost got it all down before I started sweating too much and had to stop.

Now the train is pulling back into London. I might see if I can persuade one of you to come to dinner. I’m a hungry boy now, and I’ve consumed nothing but sweaty cardboard animal all day.


I went home and ordered curry. Then I felt sad for no reason. Now it’s 9pm and I’m going to sleep. It’s still light outside. Mmmmm night.

dav

Someone’s home

This evening we did Macbeth in someone’s house. The people who created the Crouch End Festival. They live in your average fantasy house. Beautiful window boxes. Loads of space. Wonderfully maintained garden. Interesting books. Clean creative happy comfortable space, in London, over multiple floors, where almost nobody can live comfortably without giving over their immortal soul. These humans have kept their soul, and gone one step further and organised an arts festival. There’s definitely someone who is paid to clean their house. It was immaculate. But also it was a beautiful home to give us an intimate frame.

I didn’t know who I was playing tonight. I ended up in a toss for Banquo, where I chose an audience champion to play scissors paper stone for the part. My little girl won, Banquo it was again. Although part of me was longing for the sergeant.

As it happens, the bulk of Banquo was cut by mistake, so in terms of responsibility I had very little to do. In terms of story it was a little harder as essentially the audience had to understand that the witches had sent the “Your children shall be kings” information directly to Banquo and Macbeth’s brain. I noticed how great the writer (that old git from Stratford) is in that he reinforces and reminds us constantly if it’s important. I expect the audience assumed they’d missed something but caught up.

Trivial Pursuit became a big part of Banquo’s anguish tonight post murder. His ghost can loosely interact with the world, and even if he has no words he can catalyse words. We must have totally messed up our host’s set, with me lying on my belly throwing cards at Maddy. Starved of words I tried to teach Macbeth my pain through questions and answers. Maddy responded beautifully. This project is growing and growing and the squad is growing I’m trust and headspace. I think we should spend a bit of time now being pedantic about words though. Myself included, everyone was lax. We have such a huge freedom in our action that we have no excuse to be anything other than word perfect and completely on it with the verse. We are not doing this show to have fun. That’s a by-product. We are trying to make a Macbeth that fits our taste. And we do.

After the show I ended up with a jetlagged friend trying out Steve Irvin’s glorious bar just down the road from Earl Haig. Steve employs Bobbie, a fellow Scotsman, because Bob is an actor. He lives employing actors  I like him for that.

But I’m done. I should’ve been in bed hours ago. It’s all I can do to write this and I’m on an early train tomorrow doing difficult shit.

Here I am writing about the people I spent time with tonight..That’s all that really matters. My community is so darn solid. And tonight we told Macbeth beautifully in someone’s house. And that being done, I’m turning in, posting this without edit, and attaching the most recent photo my friend who watched it sent me. Because it’s me, audience, and random people in tights…

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