Corgi Dinky bits

Now it’s toys. I’m learning about toys. While the blacklight torch and the special polish arrive in the post I’ve turned my curiosity, the internet and my Worthpoint subscription to Uncle Peter’s fucked collection of Corgi and Dinky toys from the sixties. Playtime with Peter appears to have involved a vice and a crowbar judging by the state of some of them. I’d be surprised if I picked up much value here, but it’s something to do when I’m not doing all the other things.

I also found – with the help of Max – some potentially very useful pieces of paper. It’s yet another plate to start spinning, and I’m up for it.

Up until recently, the bulk of the things I’ve been sifting through haven’t had any personal connection to me so it was easy. Now I’m handling the childhood toys of my poor departed uncle. It’s sobering – quite literally when you contemplate the means by which he made his exit.

You wear many hats as an actor. My antique dealer hat is getting more and more comfortable. I’m not yet at the level where I can walk into a room full of stuff and go “that one,” I still can’t identify bakelite as I’ve never knowingly handled it. I’m as useless as ever at furniture. But piece by piece my understanding of the different markets is growing. I think it’s the hunger to learn. If I’m playing an astronaut, I’ll geek for weeks about astronaut things. I love researching characters and background and making it live. But the hand of Covid on my industry has shifted my practice into one of the only potentially lucrative roles that were available to me – picker through boxes of random stuff.

This Sunday I’ll list a load of Halcyon Days eggy box type things and whatever I can salvage from this mangled pile of 1960’s metal vehicles that are currently on the bed in Hampstead. Then I’ll go home and make more space in the flat so I can rent it to anybody that wants to come live in central London right now when the world is teetering.

With unnervingly bad timing, service charge has gone up. Now I’m paying the equivalent of a healthy rent payment monthly in service and council tax just to stand still before bills – and with theatre in the bin, it’s completely untenable.

But it’s my birthday soon, and beforehand I get to pick through all these lovely strange goodies. And we keep finding nice little things that neither of us remember. And the only time I’ll ever regret this is when I move into a huge house in the country and realise I haven’t got enough stuff for the space. But when that time comes I know enough now that I can just nip to the auction houses and snap up a few lovely pieces and bish bash bosh.

I even put up a chandelier today. Cor blimey.

Accordion practice

After many years of hacking sounds out of my little squeeze box, I’ve gone on the internet and bought myself a book. It’s time. I want to know which buttons correspond to the numbers people like to shout out while playing music. Music is about spirit and sound and joy and connection, but it’s also about mathematics and practice. I’ve got the abandon bit of it sewn up and in these new careful times it’s probably worthwhile to see what it means to look towards the mathematics. If I can write this every day, I can practice every day as well. I think I’ll earmark the morning and see how it goes, and not consider it broken if I miss a bit. I might even start taking grades so I can put things on my CV for when we emerge from the ruins of our industry in our blasted motley and painted smiles to tell mournful stories to the ones who still have souls.

Right now it’s painfully slow. I’m going through the beginner exercises and practices and having revelations about how quickly the dots on the bar can transfer through the brain to an impulse to move the correct finger. Slowly, piece by piece, this old dog is going to learn an old trick properly. Hell, at least I’ll have something to work towards if we go back into lockdown. And as the owner of two accordions – one for travel and one for stage – it would be a waste to continue to be as clueless as I am about it. Besides, the medicine told me to play. At Medicine Festival, loads of the practitioners brought music into their ceremonies, and later in Glastonbury there was music at the heart of the night we spent awake in the circle. It’s one thing to be a folk musician and play by ear, but I want to be more reliable in my music than that so I can safely play tender pieces without jamming into a complete discord because my fingers are in the wrong place. If we somehow manage to put Christmas Carol on again I want to be able to talk and play at the same time without my eyes rolling backwards in my head. Time for some facility with it.

Although I’m juggling too many plates as it is right now. I’ve got dinner plates to sort out and maybe sell, I’ve got this flat to turn around, hex to take care of, all the random bits and bobs in the world to move around and rehouse and sort and catalogue, plus lines to be easy with for the 21st. Plus I’ve got Kitcat who is clinging like a limpet to London and yet has already paid rent to somebody else in Glasgow. She says she can’t pay me now. I’ll likely have to run her up as a swansong for the old Nissan just to get the room back, although frankly she should just get a Megabus and have done with it. It’ll be like an adventure for her, so long as nobody is throwing up.

All that plus my birthday coming on the 24th. I’m hoping it’s going to be good weather as I’m planning on dropping a pin on Hampstead Heath and then sitting there with a rug and seeing who shows up. It’s outdoors, and it’s lovely on the Heath and there’s enough space that people can sit miles away from each other and shout things.

With all this to do you’d think I’d be motivated, but today I’ve been pretty low energy. I’m confused and a little upset at Kitcat being so willfully oblivious to my needs over her own. I went to the Chelsea Physic Garden and sat on benches in the sunshine under arbours enjoying the heat and distracting myself from the frustrations. There’s so much to do… I have learnt by now that big things get smaller by chipping away, but for today I retreated a little in contemplation of the size of it.

You learn an instrument by playing scales regularly. You solve a mountain of stuff by doing little things often. I’ve been effective this month. Time to switch back.

Back into the fray

Kitcat was supposed to move out on the first of September. I extended it to the 12th as she’s been freaking out a bit.

I got back today wondering if she’d managed to do some packing. I had gone away for the weekend allowing her to spread out and get stuff done. Nothing – or at best very little. I have a feeling this will be a longer process than I desired.

But I’m back in town. I’ll help as much as I’m able. The car is not well though which limits my help.

It’s my birthday on the 24th and I’m filming on the 21st so I don’t fancy making a return trip to Scotland right now especially with the dying car so full of her stuff that I can’t take another load to Tennant’s. I have a suspicion that a laden trip to Glasgow will finish the car off, and I’m pretty much certain I won’t be compensated for my time.

I’m not feeling like being stuck in the lake District broke with a fucked car full of clothes and a sick Kitcat. It’s safer she makes her own way, with her stuff. But it’s gonna need prompting. So I’ll prompt her.

I didn’t do all this cleansing and rebalancing work to immediately get myself tangled up and stressed with other people’s shit so I’m trying to keep an eye on the situation without getting swallowed up in it. I can still continue to work without her unpaid presence being too much of an issue, even though every day that room isn’t monetised is money wasted.

Tomorrow I’m going to suggest she pays another month and then I can just extend my deadline for the works a little. I factored on having the space she’s filling to do stuff in. It’s hard enough moving towards this change anyway, and harder still if she’s not helping me do it.

Still, I feel great apart from that one little issue.

It’s astonishing how effective we can be at ignoring all the good things that are happening and looking at the one thing that isn’t working as if it’s the only thing. Things are good right now. It makes such a difference for me, having a vehicle.

The rattly old Nissan is a perfectly decent workhorse until the MOT falls due next month, even if the numberplate fell off on the way back home, even if the exhaust is attached with bulldog clips, even if the heatshield is rattling again, it hates going into third gear and reverse, one of the tyres has a slow puncture and it makes a horrible banging noise when you turn the wheel. It’s not decent enough to go to Scotland, but it got me to the Tor and back, it’s taught Tristan a fair amount about basic driving skill and it’s made a lot possible despite the initial 6 points and big fine fiasco. The weather is glorious. It’s my birth month. Life is pretty good.

Today I sent off all the junk I sold on eBay and gave my brother his cut minus fees. I’m only selling junk on eBay until there’s a maximum one pound selling fee weekend. But I’m beginning to get to the stage where I’ve moved enough that I can see the end of it.

Long may this Indian summer continue.

I’m gonna have a bath and wind down. I sleep early these days!

Glasto to London

We woke up and watched the dawn at Glastonbury, rosy fingered, light creeping across the ancient hills. The ground was soft and lush as we stomped through long grass in boots and spotted some huge agaric mushrooms in a vast clump in the field like abandoned white balls from a distance, beautiful from close up. We took two for further analysis and possible munching. Not going to take more. Not until there’s a beyond positive ID and even then I’m unlikely to break my “three certainties before I eat it” rule. I am so glad we spent another night in those hills, staying in a hut and dug out of the side of a hill by a lovely man with no neck who makes hydroelectric dams when the world is working, and whose family seems to have left him a good chunk of the best part of Somerset. I’m glad he’s turning the land into places where hippy twats like myself can feel like we are connecting with nature as we trample the fields and rip up mushrooms with mobile phone in hand.

Then we drove back to Brighton, braving the horror of the BP garages in the North Downs where they shout at you if your door is open at the pump. Static electricity igniting the gas apparently. It happened over 170 times across the world in the last decade, although the bulk of those statistics are likely to have been in lightning storms. Nonetheless they shouted at three people in the course of the ten minutes we were there. Safety first.

As sunset was approaching we stopped and slogged up the hill to Chanctonbury Fell, to sit on a bank and connect with another glorious ancient bit of land. I still had half an eye out for mushrooms, but no luck. A beautiful stand of trees on top of a hill though. It’s so good to have wheels again, and be able to safely move around to different outdoor spaces. And to have like-minded company suddenly.

Now we are back at Lou’s. We are both exhausted. Loads of walking and for me, the drive as well. Who knows how I thought I’d do it yesterday. I’m thrilled that there was such a beautiful Airbnb available at short notice last night, and tonight it’s a familiar place and a takeaway curry. There’s road noise out the window but it feels like a homecoming. Tomorrow back to London and to the grind of the plates and antiques and preparing the flat for rental and sending stuff that sold on Ebay and life, but this has been a beautiful and powerful extended weekend. I’m ready to plug in again. But first one more lovely sleep by the sea.

Kambo

I thought I’d be driving three and a half hours to Brighton. We wouldn’t have arrived there yet if we’d done it, but I was in no fit state so I changed plans and booked this amazing Glastonbury Airbnb instead. Why was I in no fit state? Well, Kambo had something to do with it.

Kambo was given to Amazonian warriors before they went to battle, so you’d think I’d be good for a drive afterwards. But I wasn’t. If someone started throwing spears at me the best I’d have managed today is to climb a small tree.

Last night I spent about 8 hours in dialogue with medicine before going out into the open air and seeing the stars. At about 4am I fell asleep in a bivouac on a trampoline under a universe spread wide. To those few of you who haven’t slept on a trampoline in a bivouac, it comes highly recommended. The creepy crawlies aren’t interested so you’re much less likely to wake up within spiders in your ears. The only real issue is condensation and the fact it’s bouncy when you wake up suddenly wondering why the hell you fell asleep on a trampoline.

After my bouncy dreamtime, the frog had to happen, despite my dread. Kambo. I blogged about it before at length with science! Knowing what I’d experienced last time I can’t say I was looking forward to it. But since 2017 I’ve been heavily ingesting toxins, and I’ve always been an exponent of ordeal medicine. Might as well try and wring out the old liver now I’m staring down the barrel of a long time sober still.

I was first in the circle, and thankfully had the forward thinking to remind the practitioner how I passed out last time – in 2017. Nothing has changed. I was out like a light almost immediately but this time we were ready for it and I had that forever lost time in darkness before I switched back home to my body and to somebody saying “You’re back with us”. He was right. Somebody else was gently holding me upright. It was probably only a few seconds of nothing but it could have been infinity. I woke up to a very strong awareness that my belly and my cells and my gall bladder and my liver were fighting with each other to propel their unwanted stuff into my unwanted stuff up through my mouth into the white bucket I was cradling like a pedigree cat.

I pretty much filled that bucket. I was gulping down water in the brief respite moments so I had something to bring back up in the next wave of extreme nausea. It lasted quite a long time. The well being afterwards and the sense of grounding and clarity about my next move – all of that was there, sure. I feel great. But given the choice I wasn’t going to drive back to London. I could barely get through a gate.

So I’ve booked a lovely luxury last minute Airbnb cabin, and I’m writing this in front of the log burner. There’s a bed that isn’t a trampoline, a hot shower, and cooking facilities. It’s marvellous and I’m thrilled.

I’ll likely blog in more detail about all this when I’m not knackered. But for now, beddiebyes.

My dots are now in a cross – (ish). Or will be when they heal. Mixing my metaphors again.

Gearing up for the Tor

Despite it adding a good half an hour to the drive precisely because of people like me, I took the road past Stonehenge to Glastonbury. I always like to catch a glimpse of those ancient stones as I head this way. The edge of an ancient and powerful part of our land, buoyed up by coastline close on both sides, and plenty of tin.

I’m back on top of the Tor, looking out over Somerset in a relatively gentle wind. No ants today. Last time I was here, but to breathe was to have a mouthful of flying ants. Now it’s just the sheep. They’re oblivious to the vista of Somerset spread out below them, head buried in the same old grass. Stupid sheep.

Lou is beside me stuffing her face with baked enchilada with garlic potatoes and a green salad with tamari and ginger dressing. It smells amazing. I’m fasting. I can’t even eat flying ants, which is just as well as I’m hungry enough to yawn a bit of protein in if there were any.

The weather is perfect again, although at 3pm it feels like evening. You get a great perspective from up here on the omphalos but fuck me it’s crowded.

A sunny Saturday.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Snippets of conversation drift on the air. “Is that the sea?” “Are you gay?” “Hush your moaning.”

I’m moving energy around again. I’ve let go of a huge amount of old energetic weight and immediately got an extremely positive text message from one of the many plates I’ve got spinning. Plates can’t send text messages, of course. The plate is a person. I’m using metaphors again.

Considering the state of the world things feel astonishingly positive in my life at the moment. The last few times I’ve sought advice from Grandma it’s been darker days for me. Now it’s dark days for my industry and the world in general and I feel surprisingly upbeat. There’s my healthy contrarian side in full swing as ever.

This time going to the grandmother I just have certainty that she wants to tell me something, so I’ve come here to listen. Not my real grandmother. My grandmother is a plant. My actual grandmother isn’t a plant. Well, in some senses she is now I expect.

This is getting too complicated. Just ignore me, shrug and mumble the words “Fecking hippy”. That’ll cover most bases when I go rambling off again.

I’m going to spend the night in a tent again so I’m glad it’s warm at least. This was something of an impulse, brought on by the fact that I’m starting to shift things in my life and my flat that have been stagnant for far too long. I just felt called to it. Tonight I might feel differently. Tomorrow morning when I’m yarking into a bucket after somebody burns my arm and puts frog poison into the burn I might think differently. But right now this feels like the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. Aho. It’s gonna be a long night.

Circus? And self denial.

THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN! There’s a marquee on Hampstead Heath, just down the road from Mel’s. They appear to be giving plastic swords to children in a transparent bid to send them home begging their parents “can we go to the circus can we can we can we!” Clowns and trapeze artists! Sideshows and lights! Candy floss and loads loads of people all together in a really small space watching a stage legally hey wait a second…

If we can have the circus, I want to go to the theatre please thankyou please. Or be in a fecking show! Or at the very least not to be wondering which old building is going to be turned into a pub or flats next. For crying out loud. Grrrr aaargh. Tents! We all need to be making shows in tents. Huge tents with fires. I’m doing it. I’ve just got to be able to afford the tent… Child’s play.

My biology and mood are both all over the place at the moment. No caffeine. No booze. No sugar. Hard Vegan. No spice. No oil for cooking even. No salt. I’m mostly just eating fruit, rice and roasted veg with no oil. I’m experimentally roasting an artichoke with no foil as there is no foil and no steamer in Hampstead. I was having marmite on toast without butter for a few days but now I’m restricting fermented foods and cutting wheat too, so that takes out that plan – plus no more kombucha. I’m allowing turmeric and cacao in the morning. I’m up to my usual tricks, making life difficult for myself with the hope of learning something.

It’s all pointing to tomorrow evening.

It’s useful to be abstemious sometimes. I have something of the monk in me anyway. This diet appeals to the ascetic side of me. But I’ll likely keep some elements of it for a long time to come. It’s got to the stage in my decadence where it’s much more unusual and interesting for me to have brown rice and vegetables than it is to have tomahawk Steak with languostine and truffles.

It’s Friday night, the circus is in town, and I’m getting kicks from self denial.

We had a long walk and I found my first definite Beefsteak Mushroom. As ever I never eat my first positive, but I know where they were so I’ll be back next year if we’re all still alive, to risk poisoning myself in the name of free food and geekiness.

I’m not going to go to the circus tonight. I’m not going to try and win a prize by hooking ducks, or go on the dodgems, or get a toffee apple. I’m going to sit here at home and have camomile tea and an early bed. My legs hurt still from jumping. I need to do more exercise going forward. It’s my birthday coming up soon and I feel every single one of my heavy weight of my … ahem … my 29 years.

The next year is going to be better. I always feel at home in my birth month, and I like to start adventures at this time of year. This year’s adventure looks like it’ll be an adventure into being a bit less irresponsible and a bit more focused. Because why the hell not, I haven’t tried that one yet…

A pool of light

Summer is still hanging on by the skin of its teeth, it seems. We are in Hampstead. I needed to see some nature.

Yesterday had the blinds down all morning and me in a suit jumping and shouting. Today I recorded a load of weird bits in the studio for advert self tapes – it seems the world is waking.

Once the tapes were sent it was boxes dust and metal. Lou arrived and we took down the studio. Plates went to Davies Street. They’ll be in the corridor of death for no more than a fortnight whilst I get stacking catering boxes for the ones I want to keep, and identify and auction the ones I don’t want to keep that have actual value. I needed to get them out of the car though, as loads of things are going to Glastonbury on the weekend. It’s moving moving moving. But yeah, I needed to get outside under the sky and touch that nature thing we’ve all heard so much about.

There was music on the wind. No beats. The sort of thing they play at the secret last night festival parties once the Sunday night noise regulations are in place. A lone trumpet noodling along with it. We were drawn like moths. Well – I was.

A pool of light. Poi spinners and hula hoops. Movement across the lake, along with the sound of the trumpet. Around the edges of the lake people stand transfixed. We keep moving. Past the stationary dog section car. Into the light.

Yar Yar is playing next to a sign that says “The Fairytale”.

A few people sit in the shadows on throws. “I like the vibe here,” I say. “What, lots of bored people?” – That’s Yar Yar. He’s the trumpeter. Yar Yar is fed up of everything. Sardonic. Brusque. But secretly shining bright. We geek out over accordions. He’s fab.

I’m in a suit, clean shaven. I don’t look like hippy is part of my vibe. It’s not part of his. He’s just bored so he’s playing.

He’s Israeli, he tells us. A musician and multi instrumentalist. He’s down on actors. “Most actors will never know who they are,” he tells me, with a challenge. “I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on that now,” I tell him. Lou doesn’t laugh so my confidence might not be misplaced. “And they’re stupid,” he continues, and I like him. He’s right as well. It’s important to be stupid a lot of the time in your work because if you’re clever things come out overcooked. It also helps to be clever sometimes, so you can make sense of text. But he’s not being confrontational, he’s just speaking his truth because he’s bored. And he wants a debate, which I don’t really have time or inclination for as it’s cold. “It’s part of the Israeli character,” Lou says afterwards, as we walk away content.

Yaryar and The Fairytale have made a lovely patch of light to burn with the end of summer. These brief weeks before the cold sets in are precious.

Let’s all try and make sure we connect with nature and each other in case we get shut into our rooms again.

Greeeeen screeeeen

My legs hurt.

I was tired this morning anyway after all the heavy lifting yesterday. Today I had to pause the plate job in order to shift into home studio mode, but this time it was home studio times 11.

Green screen underfoot. Green screen on the ceiling. Green screen all over the fucking place. A concealed ladder with greenscreen on it. Edges and corners and shadows.

And no decent tape. I had some parcel tape and I was trying to attach green cloth to my ceiling with it but the tape wouldn’t stick on the cloth. I’ve run out of gaffer! How can a man run out of gaffer? Call the cops.

PINS! A pin through the tape holds the tape to the cloth, usually for a few hours at a time. The tape holds itself to the ceiling.

I was filming in my living room for HOURS though so the cloth kept falling down with the heat from the lights. My brain filled up before I had even finished working out how to hang the green screen. I was stressed, angry and overheating. It was the least Zen pre-shoot warm up I’ve ever done. Then we started rehearsing and my body slowly filled with pain. I’m not as young as I used to be, darling. I felt old by the end of it.

I’ve done so many squats and sit-ups today in the name of contorting myself for the common good that I feel like I’ve been at boot camp. The blinds have been closed and I’ve been lit just by my two big hot Raleno studio lights so I’ve seen no natural light all day. I love my work, I love the chance to do my work, but this was about the extent of my good will towards myself in it. It’s times like this that I look at the minus symbol in front of my bank balance and consider my life choices. But then I remember that I love it, and I count my blessings that I’ve been given a chance now to pick up a new skill in a new medium – particularly as we appear to be tumbling inevitably towards a very different wintery kind of lockdown, Gods forbid.

So I’ve come to sit on my bench in the dying light. The sunset is rose behind the lights of Albert Bridge. The river is high and there’s not too much traffic. I’m exhausted and my bed is covered in boxes. The living room is CARNAGE after I focussed the entire space on an expanse of green against one wall. I’ll have to move boxes before I can rest, but these boxes are a good thing. They indicate a successful sort out. The attic is emptier than it has ever been. Ideally by the end of the month I’ll have dealt with the last few bags, but they are not hugely interesting being mostly my teenage junk.

I’m just going to sit here in my natty three piece suit, and watch the sky go to grey. Then I’ll have a hot bath and sleep like I’ve been punched.

A day of plates

When we loaded the plates into the warehouse in January there was such a small amount of room left that we just had to put them anywhere that there was space. It hadn’t occurred to me that they might be used as something to stand on by future people carrying heavy things.

The warehouse is vast and packed to the gills with flats and dressing that have had their time in the light for now. We picked our way to the boxes. We tried to move the boxes. We couldn’t move the boxes.

Jack and I had got them in with a trolley but there’s no trolley now, and no room for one.

Tristan and I somehow manage to wrestle the lighter one out. Then to the heavier one. Oh God. We can’t drop them either because they contain lots of lovely rare plates…

Although most of the plates on the side leading deeper into the warehouse had been pulverised beyond recognition. I’m trying not to be annoyed about it. Easy come easy go, and there’s no way I could have got them into my flat.

We took the shards out to make it marginally lighter but I still feel like I’ve been fighting cows after wrestling that box free. I haven’t stopped all day until just now – doggie and I left the house at 8.30am to pick up dogmum from Gatwick, and now it’s just gone 10pm.

The mercy is that Tristan and I could share the driving. He’s competent enough that he only occasionally scares the shit out of me nowadays. What have I created? Something that allows me to check my email and indignantly respond to little snipes from old family friends who still think I’m the bastard I was when I was 16. It’s nice on these jobs not to be the only driver it seems. It means you can double up and do bits of life admin when you’re going from A to B.

Now I’d like to stop but I’ve got lines to learn. Tomorrow my alarm is set for way too early as I’ve got to clear some space in the living room and put greenscreen down all over the place plus make myself look sexy and smart and competent and ensure I have a handle on what I’m doing…