Home Fire

It’s very bright in my flat – in direct contrast to how it is in the world. Over the years loads of candles have found their way into here. I always load up whenever I go to Ikea, tons of them tend to just miraculously appear here after Christmas Carol runs are over, and they are generally one of the things that my magpie instinct latches onto. TK Maxx is another repository of waxy columns.

I’ve started to think of my rooms as elementally themed and the living room is certainly fire tonight. I’ve put them everywhere and I’m basking in their glow. I even put them into some antique glass things that look like they’re supposed to hold candles but that explode from heat when the flame gets close to the bottom. Dammit.

They’re terrifically atmospheric as well – like the best budget world-build you can possibly get. Despite what they put on the risk assessment, it’s pretty hard to burn the house down with candles in proper candle holders. I was sad when we weren’t allowed them last time we did Christmas Carol because somebody was frightened of their potential for havok. There’s always a potential for havok in theatre. It just depends which head you put on.

We forget history. They’ve been around for as long as they have because they’re less likely to set fire to the theatre than a birdie with a gel on it is. But you have to have a bucket of sand and all sorts of shenanigans. Usually we do, but last year we had to choose our battles. Even The Globe, when it burnt down it was because of a bit of wadding from a cannon blast getting into the thatch. Using pyrotechnics to wake up the audience during Henry VIII – a pageant. Very much not Shakespeare at his finest.

They get away with candles at the Sam Wanamaker playhouse. (That’s the indoor arm of The Globe). Tickets are like gold dust and so they should be. I’ve only ever managed to get a restricted view seat. Inside the place is swimming in tallow, a true testament to artisanal passion and a faith in old ways. It’s astonishing in there, and they do good work.

God I can’t wait for the theatres to open. Fuck I’d literally chew your arm off for the chance to do a run in that woodysmelling space with all the candles lit.

For now though, I’ll just have to pretend to be other people in my flat, for the fish.

The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. Essential trades in an earlier society. Little portable localised flames that don’t poison you and aren’t likely to torch the house. We are clever little monkeys, making such things.

I’ve always been drawn to fire. It’s a human instinct, perhaps. We are the firekeepers. It’s a remarkable thing how we are the only animal that understands it and harnesses it for warmth, for cooking, for light. Sure occasionally we do stupid crap like blow up a load of gunpowder in the dry season for a momentary effect that ends up killing loads of people and wiping out huge portions of ancient woodland. But we are also the only species that thinks we’re clever when we aren’t. It’s fascinating as well as dangerous, this thing that Prometheus stole for us. I can spend hours just staring at it…

As a kid I probably spent more time gazing at sparks as they went up the chimney than I did goggling at the telly. My parents caught on and made it my job to lay and light the fire so the morning room was warm before they woke up. And yes, we had a morning room. I loved that fireplace. I want one in my home. Not a woodburner. An open fire.

It’s joys like that which help make this period bearable, as we work our way through these wintry feardays that I hope will be remembered with a kind of mystified incomprehension a decade from now. “Oh fuck yeah, you remember lockdown…?”

An online festival, and a self tape

I knew grandpa’s dress uniform would come in handy before long. This was today’s self-tape look – but with the hair in a ponytail to keep it out of view. I was reading for an army major, so it’s all wrong if you’re a purist. I’m in a higher ranking naval uniform… But it made me look right, and more importantly it made me feel right which is all that matters for these things. It’s a scratch at the door.

It’s technically work, auditioning, and I couldn’t do it alone so I drove to Tristan’s. He wore a mask bless him and kept his distance. We got it nailed down and sent off in short order. There’s a lovely fellowship to the self-tape. We’ve both given lots of time for each other over the years. Investing in the knowledge the investment will pay off. We both get generous when we feel flush, and we both try to give the energy we received when we’re helping each other on these home-auditions, so it goes round and round in a lovely karmic circle.

Meanwhile, on the interwebnet, I’m performing in a dramatic monologue – audio only. There’s a digital / online theatre festival. Very much grassroots stuff and some interesting and weird things will be there I have no doubt. The Festival is called The Living Record Festival and it’s live up until the 22nd February, with an opportunity for people to browse and drop in to anything they fancy. My corner of the festival is called Covert Firmament, and my specific piece is called “Read to Me” – here’s the direct link if you have fifteen quid to spare and a little over 12 minutes in the bag. It’s a strange piece and I like it. It was done in my little portable studio through the iPad, microphone on a suitcase covered in towels while sitting facing into a wardrobe in Hampstead on a hot summer’s day. I’ve got pretty good at organising my sound environment so it sounds good even if it looks weird. It was a comfortable recording session, all in one sitting for consistency, and I’m happy with how it all came out. They’ve scored it beautifully, and of course … well I’m marvelous, darling, I always am aren’t I oh dear me yes.

I haven’t really worked out how the festival all works. I’m going to go in tomorrow and virtually stroll around and see what I can find. I reckon it’ll be like Vault Festival but online. Lots of good stuff, lots of weird stuff, lots of stuff stuff. But they got people like The Guardian and The Financial Times to review it, which is testament to how different everything is under Covid. Usually it would have been passed down the list until it dropped off the bottom. But it’s a little ray of light. A little chance for me and mine to put something out into the world again and do that storytelling thing that we’ve decided is the thing we do for money life and joy.

So yeah, an auspicious Sunday. The beginnings of things again. The niggling feeling that perhaps … just perhaps … things are starting to happen again in the world.

Funk

Considering the soundtrack for the last few hours has been Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Leonard Cohen I guess I’ve only got myself to blame if I feel sad. I’m kicking around my lovely flat full of piles of things listening to melancholy music, frequently with a snake on my head. Me and Hex. Solving crimes.

In today’s episode, Hex and Al try to work out who stole the warmth from the world. Hex’s special power is sleeping. Mine is getting distracted. Hardly a dynamic duo. Nothing happens in the episode. The end.

I’m supposed to be recording a self tape so I can go on set and do some lovely filming next month – possibly in North Africa – but today I didn’t have the get up and go to even shave down to a moustache for it. I’ve gone over the lines a few times out of reflex. That’s it. I’ll get it on tape somehow tomorrow because I have to, with beautifully shaved tache and everything. I might even try to persuade a brave friend to help, as it involves a fecking action sequence. Despite this, motivation in the dark has proven elusive. I’m glad of this beautiful flat, I’m surrounded by all sorts of wonderful things, I have lots of devices that provide different forms of distraction in exchange for money. I miss some of the people I’ve lived with over the years who provide me with distraction for free. Company would be nice, even though I’m also relieved that it’s just me in here. I can be antisocial. I can listen to my sad music, burn my stinky incense, and spread my weird cornucopia of junk hither and yon without consequences. I can walk around naked with a snake.

But yeah I’m sad. We all are.

The decision to keep the Christmas decorations up until Candlemas at least means it’s trying to be cheerful here, but I’m still sad. Part of it is circumstance. Lots of my grandparent’s furniture sold at auction this morning for fuckedynothing this morning and I’m as little put out. Better we aren’t paying to store it, sure. But some lovely things sold for absolutely bobbins and it’s sad to think that after charges, grandpa’s bed will yield about £6.50 which I’ll have to split with my brother. It deserved better. I miss him as well. I miss them all in this dark. The buck stops here now… I still don’t like it.

So I’m running a bath, and I cooked up a storm. Teriyaki Salmon with crispy kale quinoa and savoy cabbage. Easily enough for two people, and before you applaud me for my culinary expertise it’s cooking by numbers courtesy of Mindful Chef, the lazy recipe in a bag people. Simple enough to cook even in this funk. Healthy enough that, no matter how demotivated I am, I still get my five a day.

I really want the world back now. And the summer. The summery world. I would like to travel immediately to a hot place and do fuck all there instead. Closest I’m gonna get is this filming. Best work out how I’m going to record the scene I guess. That’s the way out.

Scalded arse

This is the fifth anniversary of my blog. Five years ago yesterday I was on the wrong side of the tracks and decided to start sharing the madness of my existence. I didn’t really think it would develop into this, but it has. The unusual and the pedestrian, all mulched together. A record. I like to think it helps make me accountable to myself. I also find it useful for my tax return. And the world needs to know what has happened in the life of everybody’s favourite haphazard antique moving dancing driving falling over spiritual geeky friendly actor. Doesn’t it? Well here goes.

I did a self tape and then I scalded myself on the bum. There you go.

Self tape involved rolling up the bed in the spare room and making a little office boardroom out of a blank wall and a swivel chair.



Then I had to attach my iPad to a tripod and mic it up, and wait for a gap in the drilling opposite. They just wanted a reaction shot, but I bulked it up with words because in an empty room it would’ve felt totally cavernous to just react to somebody who isn’t there. Also as it’s the first tape I’ve sent for some time I didn’t want to turn it in too cheaply. I didn’t cut my hair for it though. It’s long enough to make a greasy little rat tail but last time I tried to trim my own hair I shaved a strip up the middle by mistake. I was on tour. It worked fine for the part to be bald so I got Chris to shave my head on the fire escape. He did a good job despite the laughing.

I sent it off, it went to the client, and immediately another one came in. Are things finally waking up? I really hope so.

Celebrating a good day with a nice boiling pot of chamomile tea, I got Hex out for some exercise / company. I sat down with him twined around my left arm, accidentally dropped the teacup on my lap, shot up in shock trying to take my hot trousers off with a snake on my arm, lost my balance, couldn’t use my arm to stop myself falling over because it had a snake on it, knocked the teapot over with my bum and got more hot tea all over my arse which I was unable to escape from quickly owing to the curious and completely useless cold blooded animal that I had to keep safe from the boiling water. Shortly afterwards I had my scalded bum stuck in a cold stream of water with oblivious Hex happily drooling on my neck. He’s company. Useless company, but company nonetheless. Him and the fish. Some people don’t have any company at all in this. But he’s not great in a crisis, our Hex. And neither are the fish. Better than nothing I guess.

Now I’ve got to learn some actual lines for the other tape. Something to do that isn’t antiques. Oh what a delight. And I’ve got a whole load of furniture that’ll be (hopefully) selling in the morning at Tennants – (and the illuminated manuscript I wrote about). It’s the van load I took up, and at the time I didn’t expect that nobody would be able to go in and actually look at it… Still, it had to go out of the storage, and hopefully it’ll get a price. I often experience seller’s regret the day before a sale, and I’m worrying it’ll all go for nothing. It won’t. All will be well… Even my bum. But it hurts right now.

Final Fantasy Seven Remake

I was still living with my mother when they released “Final Fantasy VII”. It’s a computer game where you play a traumatised and taciturn ex soldier turned mercenary. I endured endless ribbing from mum. The name alone is fair game. It sounds like soft porn. The picture on the box is of a man with a sword as big as he is. “Very Freudian,” was the inevitable comment. “I dread to think what his other six fantasies are.”

I won’t spoil it. But you start the game basically as an eco-terrorist, blowing up a power station. The antagonist is the militarised “SHINRA Corporation” putting profit over everything including the survival of the planet. In that sense it was very prescient. But mum set her boyfriends on me to make sure I wasn’t being radicalised. The Daily Mail and other such organs were still grinding an axe about this unfamiliar new medium of computer games. Same sort of message they still croak at anybody who will listen: “Your children will become monsters buy more papers FEAR FEAR FEAR!” The boyfriends needed to make sure I wasn’t going to go rogue as a result of all the swordfighting. Plus I think some of them were genuinely curious.

The game was surprisingly good, as I remember. Restricted and sometimes a little repetitive, but it spanned four CDs which was huge, and as a result it looked amazing and there was plenty of depth. Even though the plot is mostly pretty rudimentary, it’s excellent for a game of that era and it carries a moment that I can still sharply remember to this day. Perhaps it did slightly radicalise me, in that I’m very wary of the real life SHINRA equivalents as they plunder planetary resources to the full extent of laws they’ve bent out of all proportion. So greedy. So blind to consequence. Maybe we need a guy with a sword as big as he is to protect us from them. Although there’s an irony – the games industry is worth billions of pounds annually, the machines we play on are full of plundered planetary resources that will mostly end up in landfill, and many of the companies making them are now at least as bad as SHINRA.

One of the companies is completely remaking Final Fantasy Seven with up to date technology. It can’t just be a cynical cash grab – it needs to be okay in order to sell. So they’ve worked on it. They’ve expanded it, split it into at least two completely different releases, and want something like £70 for each one brand new, which is terrifyingly expensive, but there’s a market. The first one came out in April. Now you can get it for £30. I treated myself. I’ve got this huge telly. Might as well use it. It’s expensive, but we’re in lockdown.

And that was the evening. It’s just gone midnight. I’m in bed now after a long evening blowing up power stations clutching my great big hard sword. It’s a loving remake. Some modern games are so vast and open world that I give up in despair of ever being able to finish them. This feels manageable, and they have gone deeper with some of the secondary characters, so there’s more human interest. It’s all voice acted, and mostly quite well, although still with the inevitable context mistakes. They always annoy me.

It’s under a third of the original game’s story, which means I might end up locked into buying the next two or three if I want to finish the story again. But I barely make time for games these days. This one is timed well. Maybe it’ll do. Although I miss having mum say “Get off that stupid thing now – we’re going out.” There’s no going anywhere in the world right now. I might as well go to Midgar. Or to bed.

Erosion

Two tills in my local Tesco Metro have been replaced with automated robot tills. Fewer staff in there now to be paid, and they can say it’s for our safety. And so it continues.

Hardly anybody is flying anywhere from the UK but when we try you can bet it’ll be hard work. Right now you pay for a test, then you pay for another on the other end. You usually pay for a hotel too where you have to isolate for weeks. But even take Corona out of the equation, it’s gonna be harder to do things now. Visas and documents galore, and you can bet there’ll be a fee. There’s no short term EU touring visa so it’ll be easier for me to take my work to America than to go on an EU tour. There’ll be fees for all of that as well though – you can bet. Fees fees fees. Tests and certificates and forms, oh my. All the infrastructure, all coming in to bleed us dry if we want a sense of freedom.

Meanwhile the internet is falling. Given to us for free by Tim Berners-Lee, other people have made it into a horrible place where we mostly go to get radicalised or to buy stuff. AI algorithms are pushing us into little intolerant clumps where we pat each other on the back in tiny circles, and defend ourselves against outsiders – we are basically splitting into tribes with no view to geography. The language and rhetoric of war is slipping in where ideas are concerned: “Whose side are you on?” “It’s treason!” “It’s a revolution!” Also the language and methods of religion are getting applied to random world-views. Zealots with no theoretical basis and no hard first hand evidence attack anything they think of as faithlessness or complacency or heresy against their prophets either behind a lectern on national TV, or in front of a flag on YouTube.

It’s all fine for all the megarich colonists of the internet. So long as people keep watching the YouTube clips and clicking the adverts it doesn’t matter what they are getting excited about – just that they are getting excited. So they let the algorithms keep on polarising.

It’s an easy formula. “You have an unexamined belief. That unexamined belief is provably incorrect. Therefore everything you believe is wrong and should be replaced with what I want you to believe.” My first crack was dad’s death. I drove my own wedge. “You thought your dad will last forever. He’s dead. What about your other assumptions? That your mum is immortal too? That you’re immortal? That you’re even important? That you can make change in the world? What about the people that you believed on TV? Nothing can be trusted! Examine everything! Question everything!” I hit depression for a long time and then came out of the long rabbit hole wide angled as a kind of chaos-positive radiator. But I was lucky. Lots of us were. Nobody took advantage of our cracks when they happened. We took ourselves through our long processes and came back stronger and stranger with slightly harder eyes. Others weren’t so lucky.

Catch ’em at the right time. Find the crack. Drive the wedge. Welcome to the fold, soldier.

And yet there’s something in all this frothing at the mouth we’re seeing, even if some of the mouthpieces are idiots, extremists or zealots. The erosion of personal freedoms, once a gradual chipping process, has turned into a landslide. Nobody could miss it.

It’s nine years since ID cards were scrapped in the UK after public outcry. Not even a decade. Since then, the vast majority of people including myself have clicked agreements for the sake of convenience which make your phone into much more of an ID card than anything we fought against in 2011. And now the machines are moving in properly. This disease has caused a lot of us to get used to just living on handouts, to constantly obeying and enforcing tiny rules, to walking in smaller and smaller circles, to switching off personal ambition. Rushed laws are put through that have unpleasant consequences long after this disease is understood and controlled. The people shouting about it the loudest also posted something last week saying that Donkeys Are Actually Aliens, or The Pyramids Were Built By A Giant Octopus Cat. But even a stopped clock tells the time twice a day.

Tim Berners-Lee is making a new internet it seems. That’s the advantage of having him still alive. Get stuck in! Fascinating. Internet mark 2. And why not start again? Early days but interesting stuff. I’m regretting giving so much of my information away, and you’re hearing that from the dude who has written about his life daily for over four years now. I’m in.

Raggedstone rugged rascal

One of my old friends is driving for Amazon now – when he isn’t making movies. He’s the one I know about. I bet loads of people are doing it these days. It’s one of the only jobs in town. We are still allowed to deliver things.

With that in mind I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground for little driving gigs, and I found one today. Specialist delivery service, undercutting the big name couriers while paying myself better than they pay their drivers and charging the client less. It amounted to me buzzing west in an Audi full of cushions. We got the job done. The job was a laundry bag full of dead butterflies, going from London to Leominster. I resisted the temptation to peek into the bag and check they were ok on arrival. I expect they were though. I certainly hope so. The only bumps I encountered were on the driveway to the stately home for the drop off. A beautiful building, far from the road and surrounded by empty land – gargoyles, great big pipes and a huge studded wooden door. All I need is a Euromillions win. Unfortunately I couldn’t go in. I left the delivery in the porch, despite desperately needing the loo. These are cruel times. There’s no stopping for butties or to sit in a warm pub for a hot chocolate, or for a coffee by the river, or even for a wee. Half the public loos are closed and the other half have barbed wire.

Rather than go straight home, I broke my journey for a walk – and maybe to inspect a tree. It’s not the shortest drive, London to Hereford, and it was dark and I was tired. With the enforced inhospitality, I hadn’t had a chance to shake off the journey there before I started on the journey back. I needed a hit of cold air and a bit of a walk to make sure I didn’t drive into an oak. So I went to Ledbury and hiked in the dark to the top of Raggedstone Hill.

Raggedstone Hill has a curse, so it’s probably best avoided in the light anyway. A horny monk called John got busted and refused to divest the name of his lover. He was made to crawl up and down the hill every day until he repented and dobbed her in. He refused to tell, and eventually died of infected wounds one November. As he was dying he called up a cursed mist that brings untimely death to those caught in its shadow. In the dark there are no shadows, and it’s the wrong time of year anyway. Plus it’s bollocks.

Even in the dark it’s a heck of a view up there, that’s for sure. Gloucester, Exeter, Cheltenham all splayed out twinkling in the night.

A ragged stone. And a view.

Behind me as I took this photo lay the pitch black of rural Hereford melting into Wales. No light that way. It’s a powerful old part of the country though. I like it out there, towards The Willow Globe, which even the vicar said was “a thin place”.

I’ll be out to Hereford again I’m sure, in kinder times – for walks and maybe even for company. I have friends in Ledbury, but we can’t sit round the fire and talk crap until we know we aren’t going to kill each other or get arrested or both.

Cold wind in my bones

Long walkies.

By the beach at Lancing, The Perch is still selling breakfast butties to people in the outside world. Very welcome they were too in this godawful freezing cold. We had to sit in the car to eat them because of the wind. But the fact they existed at all in this environment is a blessing. The sunshine hasn’t stuck around and the wind is up. We walked around and looked at things as I got progressively colder and colder.

Arundel Cathedral was open and empty. I lit a candle for the world, and another for my mother – likely still in purgatory somewhere if I judge things by her belief structure. Every candle helps if she is. I lit another candle for the world. Mother earth. And all the creeping things like us. We need all the help we can get. A candle, technically, is not helping. But it’s the thought that counts.

Oh it’s very nice in Arundel isn’t it darling, just so awfully pleasant. Empty streets and terribly expensive houses, and isn’t that an attractive priory and gracious me such a big castle and well of course we’ll have to have a cathedral to make it a proper city darling. It seems as if every shop is a shop that sells antiques. “I’ve got something like that,” I was saying, or “How the hell can they justify a price tag of £420 for that Edward VII silver gravy boat!”

They’re all shut, of course. Everything is shut. We peered in through the windows like dusty Victorian children. Maybe we shouldn’t have been in Arundel at all, but we were. And It helped. I’ve been going slowly insane on my own in the cold and dark. We all have. I chose to break out and to prioritise my mental health. Going for walks helps stop the crazy spiral.

We found a quiet beach at Climping. A sandy beach covered in ruined breakwaters and abandoned works and rocks with strange graffiti. By now the sun was falling, and the wind – constant all day – was cutting to our bones. Determined to remain outside for as long as possible we picked our way through the boulders and abandoned structures, banking a kind of joyful hypothermia for later. But for it wind it would’ve been glorious.

Now back at Lou’s, here I lie on sheepskin directly in front of a radiator refusing to go more than three foot away from the heat, the heat, the heat. I’m going to have a hot bath, a hot curry and a warm bed. A holiday in the sun would really hit the spot right now, but it’s just not possible. I wish it were. The world is so much less wonderful when it’s less possible. And all these short sighted blocks on travel from the UK that are triggering nothing because nothing is happening right now – they’re going to make everything much much worse when this is all over.

We are climbing back towards the warmth and the light though. There’s a way to go.

Our boots were covered in mud, and I was frozen right to my marrow despite activity, cashmere and walking. I’d much sooner have been walking in Greece…

Bright-on

Grey London in the morning. Freezing fog rolling over the Thames. Angry people with hoods and masks stumping down the Embankment solo like weird dwarves in a 1980’s alternate reality comic. My doorbell rings, earlier than I could’ve hoped.

Mindful Chef. I ordered myself some expensive vegan self-cook meal boxes with BRITISH produce from BRITISH BRITAIN – things of which they appear to be inordinately proud. After the box was paid for I decided to go to British Brighton into my bubble, so I had to wait until they dropped it off so I could take some of it with me and fridge the rest.

Out of London, grey all the way – South, ever South and all the trees are dusted frost at noon. No sun to be seen going south. None in the home counties. Stumpy dwarves give way to disconsolate dog walkers as people psychically try to loosen the bowels of their favourite hounds. I can almost hear their thoughts: “I’m cold. Go poo. Poo quickly, dammit!”

Grey grey grey, and freezing fog. The car is registering minus 2 as I pass the sign that says “Brighton and Hove”. I haven’t seen the sky all day and it’s afternoon. Just a carpet of wet sharp cold smoke like the opposite of a house fire. Branches stand bare, clad in delicate flakes. The grass is white. Everything is frozen and glistening.

Suddenly, just as I approach the sea, a snap of change and a shock of warmth and there it is, the sun, over the sea! A total change into unrecognisable weather. But for the bite it might be summer.

We go walkies, my bubble and me. We go to the undercliff, feeling the sun on our faces. We lie on the pebbles of the beach and somehow we contrive to be comfortable – to be warm.

“Two degrees warmer in the winter, two degrees colder in the summer,” was my dad’s assessment of The Isle of Man. Perhaps it’s something to do with the sea, that I could find the sun here. We watch a shocking sunset from the warmth of her flat. I break out the Mindful Chef recipe. Vegan butterbean pie with sun-dried tomatoes and chestnuts and kale and enough food for an army. I AM an army but it defeated me. It’s only half five in the evening. We’ve walked and cooked and I’ve eaten so much I’m dozy.

This’ll be me for the next few days. Early to bed, early to rise. I could use all three of the things promised by that rhyme.

Plates vs Cresta Run

“Are you still sorting plates and things?”

This is my friend Emma. She’s got a load of stuff and she’s working from home. She would prefer to have the space, but all the charity shops are shut for the foreseeable future. “Fuck it, why not,” I think, and drive over.

This day has been shocking in its beauty. I bet you last year there were days like this, but I didn’t notice. I was running around helping organise race shows and literally not stopping. It was terrific fun but all consuming. I rather like having too much to do, as it helps me shut my brain off. The shouting starts when it’s quiet. But today I was busy enough for no shouting, and calm enough to see the sky.

I noticed the weather. It made me happy. I was in memories of the times and the places of the past – those endless winters in St Moritz when dad was training and I was pelting down the mountainside in the sharp morning air, or trying to stop my legs shaking before I threw myself at 70 down an ice chute on a tea tray with runners. The bright winter sun and the sharp cold air. Alpine weather. It isn’t quite so welcome when it doesn’t come with the thought “Best get an early run in, the ice’ll be good and hard. I could beat my best time.” One day soon I’ll go back to those mountains and fling a heavier and perhaps more cautious version of myself down that ice chute again. They’ve built it once more, despite Covid. Not this year I think. But next year? I’m gonna start planning. Dad is in a plot up there, near Suvretta House. It’s time I visited.

Yesterday The Gallant Captain died – a powerful figure from my memories of those swiss days – a fixture at the Cresta. We were friendly. Gods. It seems like another life. I’m sad I’ll never see him again. Another fixture lost. Another figure of my youth. Time is cruel.

Much of my childhood and my first job was in Switzerland working for a tobogganing club. Essentially luge but with cut corners. I got very good at it. I haven’t been for a decade. It’s in season now. Dammit. I want to be there. I wish we still had a flat

Instead of hurtling head first on hard ice, I opened a box of plates. Scotts of Stow, hand painted chicken plates. A few bob. No more. I’m counting them and daydreaming of going very fast on the edge of control when I get a message from another friend. Marie. It’s a picture of another plate. “What’s this?” Oof.

My plate karma is definitely more active than my speedsports karma right now. The problem is, as I get better at plates I have to do it more frequently.

It’s a 1960’s – 1970’s Soviet era Konakovo (Zik) plate. Maybe £15 if you wait. Fiver to get rid of it. Plates, plates, plates. I enjoy learning things. But if only there was a plate I could sit on that would just … float me way way over the seas and fields and mountains to that little pocket of winter sun nestled in the Graubünden at 6000 feet. I’d like to find that plate. I could try not to break my neck, have barley soup and raclette and Rivella and a bullshot and go fast fast so fast in the shocking cold sunshine.

The run is open. I could be doing junction practice. Grrr

Back to the plates. Look – a chicken! Screw you, Covid.