Treadmills

I’m back in my armour. I’ll be sad when this three-piece finally wears through which it will considering the amount of use it gets. Putting it on today has made me understand practically that I’ve been eating too many pies. Or perhaps drinking too many tasty sugary drinks. A couple of months ago there was a bit of flex in here. Now I’m stuffed into this waistcoat like sausage meat. I think I might have to turn my legendary stubbornness into an exercise regime and tie it to the blog. Obviously I won’t be smashing myself on a treadmill, but It’s around this time last year that I started my daily yoga routine, and I loved it. Admittedly that was in LA where doing yoga is like having milk in the fridge. Over here they make it much more expensive and those lovely sunny walks with my yoga mat to airy talkative spacious classes are replaced by slogging through squalls to a soggy reeking cupboard full of people that won’t make eye-contact in the changing room.

One of my friends has started an exercise regime recently. It’s inspiring. It’s tempting to copy her. I want to focus on making myself mister employable and that’ll help. Might help me feel more eligible too and to get off my arse about dating. But right now, because I’m mister not-freezing-my-tits-off-at-home, I haven’t the filthy lucre for classes or dates. And Gods I detest running.

It’s ridiculous how much people pay for gym memberships, especially considering that the majority of them tick over month by month virtually unused. It’s a huge scam. They often don’t even list the prices so that some jumped up chunk in a T-shirt can use his limited empathy to try and determine what you’re worth and then ask for a little bit more than you can easily spare. Tip: Never get excited about anything when they show you round. If you’re in a job you hate that pays a regular salary you might just sign up to that monthly pound of flesh for the fantasy of a new you that looks like the model in the photo and doesn’t have to input numbers in a cell for 8 hours a day while an angry sociopath bellows at you about productivity.

A good thing happened to me today that will help keep me from those sociopaths a bit longer and might mean I don’t find gym prices quite so offensive a couple of years from now. I’m thrilled about it, but I’m going to do that annoying thing that people do on social media where they intimate that something lovely has happened but then go all coy about the details. I’ve got to do some groundwork before I can throw this news out widely. But apparently nice things can happen to bearded fools. I’ve been grinning all evening. It’s good timing too, just after my blogiversary and shortly after the turning of the year. All this combined has catalysed these thoughts about rendering out the bearded adonis version of Al Barclay so I can swagger into auditions, flex my rippling chinceps and shatter the lens with the dazzling smile of a happy man. Here’s to 2018.

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Year One:┬áDay 2 – Checking my privilege in a beautiful place

Year 2, Day 1. Here we go again.

It’s a year ago today that I landed in LA and wrote the Facebook post that kicked off this blog. I didn’t think at the time that I’d do it for a year, but sometimes we take ourselves by surprise. I’ve written 244,413 words. That’s a couple of novels-worth. And I didn’t miss a day. Which is remarkable considering both how drunk and how distracted I’m capable of getting.

Now I’ve got a habit, fully formed. Around 7pm if I haven’t blown out some kind of wordthing I get anxious – distracted. Like in a bar when you’re not drinking. I start trying to manipulate a bit of downtime. If it gets to midnight and it’s not written I extract myself temporarily from whatever company I’m in to get it done. Occasionally I’ve got swept up and then I guiltily write multiple consecutive loosely linked sentences in bed at 3am while the screen swims in my vision. Then I click “publish” if my finger can find it, and then I instantaneously pass out as if I’ve been tasered.

It’s 11pm right now. I’m sitting on a sofa with a cat. This writing habit might perhaps be put to better use than a blog. But I needed to engender the habit first. I’ve been skimming over my last year and it’s a helpful thing to be able to quantify the difference between last year and now. The days go by and we learn things. People (and animals) come to the front or momentarily retreat into the shadows. What is life but the day to day? I’ve had a changing year since I’ve been living in your face. Even though it’s been the usual disjointed rollercoaster, a lot has happened and most of it has been conducive to better quality aliveness. I met a cat, got a tan and a manager, saw myself on screen at BAFTA, discovered my heart still works, trained kids, played broken artists, was a broken artist, played a llama enthusiast, William Burroughs, King Mark, Scrooge, a green monster, the fool. I’ve been to LA on a crazy jaunt and Amsterdam and Milan for work. I’ve done Cosmic Trigger, worked with the KLF exactly 23 years after they burnt the money, eaten some mushrooms, worked on Dodgems and filmed at Dreamland. I’ve volunteered at Grenfell, got my motorbike certificate, and received gohonzon. I’ve consumed remarkable steaks, months of vegan food, powerful psychedelics, great theatre, too much wine. All these things have stuck to me in little ways, now they’ve been filed in the “done” box. I might not constantly think of them, but every little action effects our journey. And still I’m living every day present, although perhaps with a little bit more of an eye to the future than I was managing this time last year.

On which subject, for now I’m going to keep this blog up. Year 2. Let’s see how quickly I get bored of myself. But it’s useful to keep the pressure on to be accountable to you – oh constant reader.

Thank you those of you who have been dipping in and out of my journey – and any of you bonkers enough to have read the lot. It often surprises and pleases me to find that people I rarely see have a handle on my existence, my preoccupations and all the conflicting interior monologues. Relative strangers have expressed relief that I “finally got that boiler fixed.” Friends are pleased when they meet Pickle at last.

I hope for a changing, positive, interesting and challenging year. There’s already some auspices in place. But let’s see what time brings.

Last year I wandered the streets of a bad area, and stumbled into a church. This year, I walked a dog. Woof.

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14th January 2017