Another bloody minor hospital procedure

*EDITED* I took the names out, and also, looking over this, it was written kneejerk on leaving the hospital. I am totally freaked out by hospitals. I fucking hate them. It made me say ruder things than I meant in memory of my last time in one as patient.

Back into a hospital.

I’m not a healthcare worker. I have very little experience of hospitals. Usually in my experience they are a processing unit. They take in healthy people and process them dead. That’s my experience of what they do. I checked in my mum after she begged me: “I’m in so much pain!” MRSA happened quickly, totally unrelated to her actual condition, and killed her at 55. The doctor put what she was signed in for on her death certificate, not what killed her. She was the rarest blood type. Exceptionally harvestable organs. He was literally a monster, that doctor. He actually hated her and I felt it.

I went into the building and did all the hand sanitising etc etc and tried not to be too freaked out. Eventually a young woman sat with me and gave me a prognosis. No fibre in my diet until Sunday, and after a period of fasting they are going to put a camera up my asshole. I’ll be sure to go into great detail if I can, although my hope is that I’ll be full of morphine.

Last time I had an operation it was general anaesthetic and I was terrified. I quit booze for a year in the lead-up. I asked my friend to be there when I awoke from death. She never showed up, and then got weird with me for almost being late for her wedding. I remember being awkwardly woken and restored to myself by the surgeon who knew nothing about me. It is a scary thing, to go from the nothing of general anesthetic to the everything of world. I have subsequently been ticked off for the near miss with the wedding and we have never bothered to properly explode that casual betrayal of my existence. Even the doctor seemed disappointed and pissed off. He had better places to be, but I woke from nothing to him apologising about how my friend hadn’t bothered to show up. The doctor, by way of helping me remember who I was, laboriously gave me the details of her excuse for not being there. I absorbed it totally without judgement. Our friendship didn’t falter. Later I felt judgment for being *almost* late for her wedding, at which point I felt desperately sad. I was at her wedding in time but I was still made to feel bad for almost being late. I was made to sing the song I had prepared with a small group from my seat opposite the choir of singers. “Just go to your seat,” says one woman. “Oh so we do it from our seats?” “Just go to your seat”. I stood and gave it my all anyway, disconnected, from my seat whilst that damn woman and all the cool kids stood in a pack opposite me. Just a few weeks beforehand I had been zeroed and I had been brought back to life. My first face was not my friend but the actual surgeon, who was angry with me and with her for not being there. He knew that someone had to be there and I know why. It was a terrifying jolt back to reality, I remember it so closely and I try to forget that I was so shocked and upset that my friend basically pulled a casual “no” on the most feared day of my adult life. It was hard to come back to myself. I had to fight for a hospital discharge on my own. They wanted to keep me in overnight as I had noone to get me. It was a hard lesson for me about friends. Our friendship was very deep but it hasn’t survived it properly.

I’m thinking about that ancient unspoken friendship drop because the roots of it happened again today and I got flashbacks. I was asked by the nurse to give details of someone who would pick me up and I immediately went cold, thinking how the person I honestly thought would be there for me last time just scarily wasn’t.

This time I’m not being especially completely wiped out and then resurrected with a general. It’s not as big a deal as the one my friend dropped. But… I’m going to be wobbly afterwards for sure.

I’ve asked Tristan. I taught the bastard how to drive. He can drive me home now he’s got a car, dammit.

Back in a very special fellowship

Sixteen of us, standing in a circle. Colin speaks up: “This is like one of those movies where the football team gets together years later for one last match after they almost won the thing,” he says. “We’re all feeling a bit fat and middle aged. But we know we’re gonna have to get fit FAST.”

We need a montage. Tristan’s there. “It’s almost ten years since I did Shakespeare,” he confides. Leila and Steve both got the train from Brighton. Simon is there. Dean and Scott, both of whom I first met over twenty years ago now, fresh faced on the first day of Guildhall. Jono who toured with Twelfth Night, and who has become a dear friend over many Factory years. Caroline who I met filming a biopic about Princess Margaret back in the day. Odyssey faces back in the room. Nell and Jay. Nigel from Sprite days. Fitzrovia Radio Hour representing through Alix. Milly and oh dear I’ve started to try and list them all which is a hiding to nothing as it was all something of a blur for me too, coming into this warm evening room in Marylebone and contemplating making a collective piece of theatre. I’ll stop before I get through everybody but one and then they get sent a link to this. I don’t normally name names – people are very fragile. But many of these people in this room have inadvertently become part of the history of my strange existence. Without this creative fellowship I don’t think I would have the degree of ease in my work that I’ve developed. It didn’t come easy, that ease. Most of us are trauma bonded from the beautiful early days where we had the patronage of the delightful malcontent Tim Carroll, who wouldn’t let us get away with tricks, and ran an incredible fertile but painful rehearsal room with many of these people over the course of years.

It’s a hell of a fellowship, The Factory, and I’m glad we are back in the room, albeit a gentler room. Louie Scheeder (May he rest in peace, good soul) He was a gentle force for many of us when we could afford to fly him over from New York, and Reuben carries some of the same habits – an enabler and a thoughtful head in a mischievous room full of dedicated and extremely hard working carnage-magicians.

We are gonna learn a certain play very quickly. Has it been announced? Am I allowed to say? Maybe not so I won’t. But yeah we are gonna try collectively to go from zero to forty in no time at all. Bing bang bong. It took two years to get Hamlet to performance. This will be quicker. We are too long in the tooth to take forever. A flowing company, multiple actors knowing multiple parts, able to bring it to multiple venues most likely on a Sunday evening. It has been part of the web of my joy, to have these people and many more come together and make ridiculous fun things to the best of our ability. We’ve done it for decades.

Bring in some new members, they say, but with a high focus on good people who in some way help expand our understanding. We are very white and cis and middle aged, I’ll go right ahead and say it. Most of our demographically interesting members are constantly working at way too high a level to come back. The contents of that room – every one of us could have “persistent and resilient in the face of adversity” as a special skill on spotlight. We grow from new voices in this collaborative process, so we need to find people who challenge us. But the process and the work isn’t to everybody’s taste. We’ve always had a high turnover of actors. Learning all those lines with no promise of playing the part. I learnt Claudius for Hamlet. Didn’t play him until years later. Didn’t mind.

It’s about the work. A focus and a fellowship. Until one of these self-tapes lands, I can think of this as my actors gym. That’s what it is really, with the performance as a necessary part of the training. Right now, as Colin said, we are slow and heavy. The big match isn’t far away. Cue the eighties music.

Dayjob a bit ranty me me me

There’s a workshop I’ve been delivering for ages, on and off. It’s actually pretty good. When I was learning it, the day before my first one, I drove up to watch someone deliver it somewhere in the Black Country. He did a good job – made something quite bland very palatable – and afterwards I gave him a lift to the station and picked his brain.

“The layout in the PowerPoint they send you isn’t helpful,” he says to me. “I just rearranged it until it made sense to deliver.” He was speaking from experience. This guy does workshops pretty much as a full time job so he knows it. Me? I’m just moonlighting. But yes, useful. I find that based on the reality of the room I’m in and what’s available, the time I have and the type of people taking the workshop, I tailor the content. They like to surprise me with weird timings or mixed ages. I’ll often skip sections or dwell longer on more practical parts if I think the room will hold focus. There are some long videos they have if you really need filler but I prefer to avoid them as for the most part they involve catastrophically boring people telling you that something dull they do is “exciting”. My job is to inspire these people and the videos don’t help in that regard. We are working towards Net-Zero. These workshops are part my platform to do some of the little environment rants you occasionally see popping out of me here on my limited platform when I’m tired. It’s all part of trying to make the world a better place and trying to help people easily be more considerate.

It was with some trepidation that I opened the latest pile of emails after work today. The people in the office have been having meetings. These are humans with no idea how it is to actually run the damn workshops, but they are very involved in the content. The whole event opens with a very sketchy video of an actor who hasn’t learnt their lines delivering words in the idiom of an older generation. The next five minutes after I’ve played it usually involve me having to claw back the interest of a room that has just been slightly discouraged. You need to start strong, dammit.

“Have they changed the starting video at last?” No. No they haven’t. Urgh. “New content “. They’ve just rearranged some slides again and had an idea about another thing to add that, as far as I’m concerned is not hugely interesting for anybody but the people who came up with it. I avoid offices but I get the sense that over 50% of the work done in them is just people having to do something instead of doing nothing even though nothing really needs to be done. Nobody asked us what needed changing or even if it needed changing…

This morning I got up at 6, had breakfast and drove to Middlesex. I was finished by eleven and home at noon. I was really proud of how it went. Totally won the room, lots of interest, great engagement. Smashed it. Then all these emails. It’ll be fine and really this job is only a few times a month, but it might start being more now I’ve got that big electricity bill. I guess if it does fill more of my time I just need to suck it in. I already lost one great day job on the boats by being too visible. It’s the office people who pay me. I’ll honour what they want from it and keep my head down. But… well I’ve never been very good at sucking it in or pleasing office people. Respectful thoughtful and practical disobedience is my happy place, (and wide open spaces under the sun.)

I’ll have to restrain myself from writing an honest email if it ever occurs to them to ask the people who deliver it for feedback on the new content… I could maybe break my habit and be tactful if they do. Onwards for now.

Friends auditioning for summer tours

I bought a chicken. It’s something I understand. I can make a chicken last a long time. Initial meal, then sandwiches, then casserole and stock the bones and vegetable soup. I might skip the stock though as it involves the gas hob so it isn’t an economy option anymore.

Frank came round and helped me eat it. He has an audition tomorrow for a company that I first became aware of advertised on the wall of a stately home somewhere. I immediately got a massive hit of nostalgia when I saw the posters. A hankering for those summers on the road, building Shakespeare out of vans, staying in incredible rooms one night and shoddy fleapits the next, playing the hat game with a tight knit company, seeing strange parts of the country. Learning the van load as well as your lines. Fellowship. Touring theatre. It’s gorgeous, romantic and fun. You’ll come home with new friends and exactly the same amount of money as you had when you left. But it is part of how we grow in this job. Obliquely, if I hadn’t done Private Lives on the estate of Lord Cholmondely in Norfolk, I would never have played Scrooge in Christmas Carol. Work breeds work. And before long if I can’t nail something down I’m gonna be eating my own arms.

I looked at his audition speeches and tried to say helpful things. He was good, and he has three instruments. He’s mercurial and versatile. Oh to be 25 again. I had a moment thinking I should email the company in case they are looking for an “older” member, but then I examined it and knew that I almost certainly don’t want to be on the road all summer even though I might have a blast. Gotta stay available for that elusive big job. The producers would look at my age and genuinely have discussions like “Oh but he’s in his forties, do you think he is still capable of walking?” I miss the Sprite summers, particularly now when it is so cold and dark. But things like that come once in a lifetime. Nevertheless, I’m up for a summer Shakespeare. Considering they are casting now, maybe I’m gonna have to make one myself. So many of the staples of small scale touring have collapsed now. It’s getting harder and harder to find low status joyful work – the work that builds confidence and experience for the makers who go on to be national treasures. No matter what your politics might be, and not even taking into account the NHS, if you love The Arts and understand how they work then please for the love of God we have to get these snakes out of Westminster.

Anyway, I hope his audition went well. Here he is noodling.

Yes my fishtank needs topping up. It’s full of loaches though and they like it brackish.

Big bad bill

“Surely that’s wrong,” I thought, as I looked at my bill from Bulb. Yeah I know the narrative is all about how we need to switch everything off and it’s still going to be more expensive than ever before. I get it, oil company execs need to make all the money now before it runs out. But over £300 in just a month? Christ that’s a whopper.

Thankfully I had a huge balance on the Bulb account which I’ve been thinking of claiming back. They take your money in advance and build up credit. I always thought that was a bit dodgy. Multiply by all their customers and it’s a wonder they went into administration. But that credit is welcome now. “I’ll spend it eventually,” I thought when I decided not to claim it and oops yep now it’s gone. A month of a constantly warm flat and loads of hot baths. That’ll do it. Lovely not to be freezing my butt off at home, but for the rest of the month I’m gonna be hoping it warms up outside as it’s me and the electric blanket and as little gas as I can get away with.

The best way to get people to change their habits is to hit them in the wallet. I gave up smoking when I didn’t have enough for fags and food at the same time. I was working in some pub theatre thinking it would bring me “exposure”. I made the right choice that time, didn’t buy cigarettes and … something in my head shifted and I didn’t take a free one off Eddie at lunch. Haven’t smoked since and that was decades ago.

A bill like that, despite this rather odd £60 monthly subsidy, is a very good way to make a man with sporadic income and expensive tastes stop and think about what he leaves on and when, and his expensive habits.

And that’s across the country right now on these cold days. The government is making videos about it that autoplay on social media. We are all having to find ways to cut costs. If you’ve got kids, hard to make them ok with being freezing cold though so I’m glad that’s not part of my to do list.

I grew up in a cold house. Dad was frugal. Mony a mickle maks a muckle. I can go back to selective warmth for a while. Cranking up the heating is my teenage expression of being independent, that’s all. I have very little guaranteed income when I project forward the next few months. Gotta be careful careful careful and another month with a bill like that and I’m gonna be eating rice until June and doing no driving. This is across the country in the last days of this rollercoaster of clowns. It sucks but at least we’re all broke together! We can share tips about how to cook cardboard.

I’m back in the smoke. Dayjobbish work things are gently shifting and I have to plug into them. Time to try and step it up. Wouldn’t it be lovely to just pay that bill without even noticing… Gotta keep rolling the dice, sending the emails, shifting the energy. Good things somewhere. Just have to find them…

Wildlife photos and beach strolls

Evening by the sea again and back up to London tomorrow already. A great midweek weekend. A joyful couple of days switching the power down. Not that we sat around. We walked even longer today than we did yesterday despite not even leaving town the whole day. Bergman got a day pass so we could leave him. Sometimes our plans are built around the fact he has to be moved every four hours outside Lou’s flat, and parking ain’t cheap. The clear reality of that catalyses our venturing out to curious and ancient parts of The Downs. We would do it anyway, but it helps if you have to. Today though he sat under the pigeon-poo-tree. Tomorrow I’ll clean his windscreen and go home.

We went to The Ivy for breakfast. Lou’s treat to me and her surprise. It’s gorgeous in there and right when we were getting to know each other we sat at the bar one evening and Lou watched me work through two large red wines without writing me off. We sat at the front and it was perfect. No wine but tasty breakfast. I could use a job in the West End so I can get breakfast in the London one half price with friends… But that’s probably not the most pressing reason why I fancy a West End job…

Afterwards we decamped to Brighton museum. They have a very eclectic and strangely organised collection of … things. Egyptian mummies and modern art and Victorian pottery and somebody’s clothes and pictures of old Brighton. In the upstairs room, temporarily, one of the exhibitions I love to connect with every year. I’ve had the diary every year for years. The BBC Wildlife Photography of the Year exhibition.

These are snapshots of a changing world. Great beauty and character and movement mixed with images that will haunt you – miniatures exploding the thoughtless rapacity of our species when we group together. Dead fish, algal blooms, jellyfish swarms, ghost nets. We mostly understand in theory how we are collectively murdering everything including ourselves. We want to have it and we could have it in the past. If we can’t have it now then we think that’s bad. Camel milk on the shelf at ASDA. New Zealand wine in Bedfordshire. Sprouts from Peru. Bluefin tuna at Nobu (with a lipservice message asking diners to choose something else). The idiots are loud as they parrot messages borne from the richest in the world trying to make us dismiss our individual responsibility. Problem is it’s one of the biggest markets, Stupid. No serious ambitious business owner would want to alienate customers from the Stupid market.

All you really need to do is basic maths mixed with knowledge – and maybe stop listening to messages funded by greed. Animals don’t appear fully grown in gaps. They have life cycles. Markets are huge for various animals now now now. More and more creatures are ceasing to exist because we ate them, and when we punch enough holes in the ecosystem it’ll collapse and (hopefully) take the system we have with it.

For now though it’s nice to look at pretty pictures of wrens listening for insects, jaguars trying to get pigs, leopards hunting goats, black bears, flamingoes, whales… This rich and beautiful and colourful and happy world we are burning. It’s a true wonder. The colour, the diversity, the character! All so fragile as we wrench those tasty strips to shove into our jowls. But pretty pictures, look at the pretty pictures awww.

The sun was up today again, eliciting hyperbole from the locals: “It’s like Jamaica!” We walked home as we walked in, down the beach. I had another disposable cup of coffee, adding to my lazy hypocrisy – oh yes, I OWN a disposable cup, your honour. I just don’t wash it. Doesn’t mean I can’t be annoyed at myself and everybody else when they don’t give any fucks whatsoever.

We soaked up lovely Vitamin D. Good food, culture and nature and a long walk. All the things all together in that window we all have before the darkness crashes in. Two bright Brighton days and I feel the batteries are recharged. Lou is a wonder.

I’ll be driving back home in my fossil fueled car tomorrow. Back to the weird work grind… The only photo I took today…

Was trying to work out what they were doing on the Banjo Groyne. Turns out they were filming.

Wilmington pie

I’m always happy to go to Wilmington, in Polegate, even on a cold cold day. We visited my favourite yew tree, chained outside the church and so old now. I often write about it.

Just up the road, carved into the hillside out of chalk, frequently unremarked and easy to miss: The Long Man of Wilmington. A chalk figure rivalling that of the giant at Cerne Abbas.

Abbas has his great club and priapic member. Wilmington has no vast thrusting member, but… he has two long sticks to make up for it.

Maybe he’s ancient, maybe early modern. There’s arguments for both, although certainly he wouldn’t still be in evidence without extensive sustained curation. That very curation over time could have wiped his history, but he stands there on a slope betraying a knowledge of perspective by his makers. Is he the gatekeeper to the fae realm as Gaiman would have it, or is he the expression of some pissed off Tudor? We don’t know. We won’t know. As with so many things with any true age, we can only really speculate about origin, and as ever I prefer the more interesting and esoteric solution so long as it’s still on the table.

Sun in my face. It’s a TREASURE HUNT. Zoom in above the bowl and you’ll find him

We didn’t find the gateway to faerie today sadly. We went and hung out with an old tree and then we stumped around freezing our asses off but loving the bright sunshine and the light on the downs. We stopped in Alfriston and looked at the church. We happened on some delightfully middle class graffiti:

“Monksy Woz ‘ere”

Lunch took us back to The Sussex Ox and bloody great big pie.

Days like this bring hope. We are past the solstice now so the light is pushing against the darkness once more. It’s a way away to equinox but again it is possible to look out the window of a heated car at the bright sharp light and to think “Summer happened here once, and perhaps it will do again one fine day.” And then as soon as you get out of the car there’s ice all over the place and your hands fall off and you start trying to remember why you had this idea in the first place and quickly decide that it’s worth blowing £16 on a steak pie. It was a hell of a pie. I’m still feeling my gut working through it. The farmer bought a pub. Family run and well sourced fresh food along with the best wine list for miles. I had none though. Ginger beer. Too early, not a weekend, driving, with Lou. All the reasons for restraint.

Late evening took us into the lanes though for a quick catch up with a friend down from London. I see her in the smoke all the time, so a treat to see her here, and I got my lunchtime wine craving out of the system with a good glass of rioja. Now it’s bed, again much earlier than I’m used to. That can only be healthy. A happy day in the bright winter sun. It falls so early that it makes sense to flip the day as much as possible if you’re a night owl. Get the heck out into the morning light and then somehow work out how to do that sleep thing earlier than you have for decades. Lou is a patient teacher of such helpful techniques. I’m trying. I still take a long time to wake up. But one thing at a time.

Hungover sauna is good

Damn I slept through my alarm. Not that I had to work, thankfully. I wouldn’t have opened the third bottle last night after the self tape if I had had to work. No work. Thankfully. Much nicer than work in the long run even though I’m gonna need money soon. Beach Box Sauna in Brighton.

Bergman was laden with boxes of books though. I didn’t want to drive them all the way to Lou’s. Lou didn’t want me to drive them all the way to hers either. Essentially, if I had arrived with the car still packed I would have been in the doghouse and I woke up with a jolt at half eight and no time to get to the lockup and unload in time for the sauna.

It’s not the best solution really. Big Yellow Self Storage Kingston. A hell of a big business those guys, printing money out of people’s desire to forget but still have the things. In the end they’ve got a property empire. Right now though it’s those mazes of padlocked doors, and who knows what wonders and what horrors lurk within. The staff seem strangely happy for people working for such a big company. “They look after their family,” I am told, and I can’t see programming.

They make you write a novel when you sign up though, honestly. It was endless. I have no clue what I agreed to but I filled in all the damn forms while sleepy Tristan emptied out the car onto trolleys, bless his heart, with both of us newly awake and hanging out of our arse. We loaded up the unit with no time left. Satnav said I’d land in Brighton ten minutes before the sauna slot and I had to get Tristan home from Kingston first. Reader, I floored it. And he let me shoot him out at a junction a short walk from his place.

Then it was just two litres of mineral water flying down my throat as Bergman flew down the roads of Surrey and Sussex to a hot patch of beach.

Beach Box is something of a treat, but you all know by now that I’m allergic to the cold so it’s one that makes sense for my needs and tastes. We were going to go a month ago but the wind was so intense they closed. Today was perfect. Winter sun over the beach and not much wind.

We were in the one on the right.

Horse boxes tricked up with felt. Wellness. It’s all very Brighton. At one point someone came into the sauna to deposit a ball of lemongrass infused ice, and wave a great big fan at us all. Six of us were in there for just 45 minutes. Lou and I sat opposite a pair of ladies in their sixties one of which kept running down to plunge in the blooming sea and run back. Wonderful madness. I made do with a cold shower for the shortest time possible before going straight back in the box and throwing more water on for steam. HEAT ME. At the end I stood in the sun for a bit in my shorts with the heat steaming off me like I was on fire. Then I put as many layers as I could on top of myself and we sat by the sea and drank a hot flask of cacao.

It’s nothing if not varied, as ever. I can sense that there are more adventures afoot, and I just don’t know what they are yet. So the next few days I’m having a midweek weekend and with an empty diary I’m taking pressure off myself to do do do so I can be be be. doobeedoobee.

Post sauna, we have just been snuggled up with the cat watching Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Gorgeous movie. Lots of well known skillful people having fun with their town, and buried under that mischief there’s a sad heart beating.


Today, something mystic happened.

I was in simultaneous connection with hundreds of actors – possibly thousands but let’s not get too exercised about that idea. Tens of actors YA who have had decades of similar absolute “why was I so certain?” hardship. It’s an American piece of work. It is silent. It’s an advert.

We all looked at an email of things that we had to do. We all re-read it. Some of us called our agents. It came in after working hours yesterday. It is due before working hours tomorrow. Four scenes, painstakingly drawn out. We all variously called our teams together. We all worked a full day to send what was required.

It’s done and I sent a good tape. Oh… wouldn’t it be lovely. But we have to send and forget, send and forget. I cannot be other than what I am. They just got a short film that we made in a day with no budget and no prep. Hey ho. I give no info. I never will. NDA is very familiar to me, and maybe doubly so because I write a daily blog no matter what. I know the lines and observe them. Anyone who worries that’s not possible should look to themselves and have everyone around them look to them.

My team… My God, I am very dear friends with the exact perfect human being for the story I’m supposed to be telling. They only want us to film 4 scenes out of… 5 …. so we don’t have to approximate the whole story…? As the world gets colder and colder and the heating is not something we can take for granted these days, Tristan and I got stuck in. He’s usually scandalised by the notion of junior producers wanting a full feature length audition tape at a minute’s notice, with scant regard for money, time, and the actuality of being an actor/human being. I thought I probably wouldn’t be able to persuade him to help with this one, but I went in hard as he’s a good friend. Turns out he needed me for a short self tape too. Phew. He bought in. He got stuck in. We made a thing. I learnt some very very useful software for self tape on Android. I’m much better now at editing than I was was when I woke up. The clever software engineer people have been making video editing things for the TikTok lot, so you can be completely and utterly useless and thick as shit and the software still makes sense.

Tristan helped me out and he was managing the ill fated St John Chinatown a decade ago when Wes Anderson was regularly eating there with Ralph Fiennes. Anyone who has seen Grand Budapest Hotel and knows Tristan will wonder about the correlation. He would not want me to point it out… but maybe Fiennes is “doing” Tristan in the way that I am known for being good at “doing” him. He was almost certainly the character study. Sad really. Acting right now: A big personality. Encapsulated by the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person the same person etc etc and so on because only a few actors matter etc etc and what the hell about the rest of us? Aaaaaaa you FOOLS

It’s a lottery. Whereby we butterfly our souls across a celluloid and somehow one of us is chosen. We are not chosen to do anything, we are chosen to BE. But we come and we go and we breathe and we grow. There are humans who I love who are absurdly famous and fame happened just as a consequence of what they were interested in and so it immediately became awkward. I’m not interested in attaching. I’m this guy. This… whatever the hell you think of it … this is what I do. It might be attached to sustainable racing, but even that is in balance right now. Humans often need help to know what’s good for them.

I’m off to bed. All will be well. Despite the fools.

So many of us, over the world, told a silly story today. Ting.

Blue Monday

Blue Monday…

If you go on the internet you’ll likely find some hoopla about “Cliff Arnall” coining the phrase based on some calculation when he was working for some arsehole Murdoch travel company. It is astonishingly prevalent if you search the origins of Blue Monday on Google in yet another very good illustration of how completely pointless it is to try and research ANYTHING on the internet anymore. But here’s the problem… we have come to aimlessly assume that whichever digital presence we allow ourselves to trust is THE FOUNT OF ALL KNOWLEDGE. Be it “Super true Q news useset” or “Fox” or “The Guardian”. Even something as pointless as Blue Monday has been co-opted. Sky Travel coined Blue Monday in 2004 my fat arse. Even this Cliff Arnall character makes it his business to fly in the face of the Blue Monday stasis on Twitter. He has a hashtag. #StopBlueMonday. And he didn’t start it. Perhaps he did some ostentatious maths to connect the phrase to this third January Monday.

It’s an excuse to do fuck all. Some of us have ADHD. We need that externally imposed excuse to stop.

Was it not New Order, in 1983, with the absolute ANTHEM of post Joy Division new wave synth pop “Blue Monday” that coined it? It’s a track that moves, and its about a melancholy state. It’s a track that transcends the lyrics. It flies and crashes at the same time. Life in winter. Power corruption and lies. So yeah it doesn’t specifically do Arnall stoopid maths formulas to tell us why it is dark and cold and we don’t want to have to go to work. It isn’t some pen pusher in a travel agent. It was New Order.

No it wasn’t. Was it not Kurt Vonnegut though in his stupid knockabout book written before I was born and titled for the Wheaties ad “Breakfast of Champions” but given a “What You Will” style alternative title “Goodbye Blue Monday”? Sentimental stupid funny prolific teachy Vonnegut. Known but not known Kurt, who will never be on the syllabus but will frequently be quoted in big font on some picture of a sunset or wheat fields and posted on some vapid Instagram feed. “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” “Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” If you’re not familiar with the man’s work and you are bookish, grab one one. Or even get one online. He’s a nice voice. A mischief. A humanist. He even coined the old joke below (or did he?) 🙂

To be is to do – Socrates
To do is to be – Sartre
Do Be Do Be Do – Sinatra

So Kurt Vonnegut coined Blue Monday.

No it wasn’t him. Was it not Cat Stevens in his song of the same name in 2001?

“Blue Monday, how I hate blue Monday
Got me workin’ like a dog all day
Here comes Tuesday, oh hard Tuesday
I’m so tired, I’ve got no time to play …”

*hang on sorry I’ve got a call coming through*

Oh ok yes 2001 is after 1973 yes I know but actually, I was going to surprise them and tell them that Cat Stevens was covering Buddy Holly’s Blue Monday which was released long before Vonnegut screw you clever clogs.

So yeah, Cat Stevens was actually covering a much earlier song released by Buddy Holly in 1956, so Buddy Holly coined…

*hang on another call*

AHH ok so it was Fats Domino? In 1954? And you’re sure of that? Because Buddy’s people say it was written by Dave Bartholomew and his orchestra and Buddy sang it first? … I see … a collaboration … but the Holly money went to Dave … hmmm … I see … and Fats sung it first? God the music industry is even worse than the acting industry.

So it was Antoine Dominique ‘Fats’ Domino Junior the inspired and prolific French Creole early rocker in New Orleans who coined Blue Monday. ” ’cause Monday is a mess”.

*hang on another call*

SMILEY LEWIS? Who the fuck is … … I see … … with Dave Bartholomew’s Orchestra in 1953. Fats was a bigger name … Fuck I hate the music industry. Thanks.

Ok so it was Smiley Lewis… Surely there was nothing before 1953?

But no. Because … you can keep tracking back and back and back. Especially now we have this unreliable fact engine in our pockets. The buck only really stops when you stop looking.

It says here that in the Maryland Baltimore sun published 20th November 1849 the phrase is used. “We are enveloped in dull gray blanket-like clouds, which are slowly distilling their watery contents upon all Gotham, rendering this the commencement of a truly blue Monday. The first snow storm of the season may soon be expected if the clerk of the season does not give us a fresh instalment of Indian summer.” I got that off the internet so it MUST be true. And the article says that’s the first?

But no because we are forgetting travel, and bilingual people translating idioms. The Germans have had “Blauer Montag” on record since the 1700’s. It’s not just about the English speaking world, chum. A Monday where you do not wish to have to work. People felt they had to beat their workers to get them back to the grindstone. This dark cold Monday was the day you got bruises because you didn’t want to go back to work. You were happy and torpid after a nice boozy weekend. Your circadian rhythm was to rest, to rest, to rest. But … here’s some angry Joe in a suit with a cudgel and oh fuck it I’m pushing this wheel around again.

Blue for bruises. Blue for sadness. Blue.

Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di

Blue Monday.

Something in the church calendar in Germany? Why? When?

We could kick it back to long the invention of the weekend. The moon day comes after the sun day, which is one day after the saturnalia. If you have done your saturnalia correctly then you will need your sun day to recover before you force yourself or have to be forced back into the thing you are doing on the moon day.

Chaucer maybe used blue for sad – he wrote “Wyth teres blewe and with a wounded herte”. Some academics would bite you if you said he meant sad there though.

The color adjective blew as used of lovers’ tears in Chaucer’s Complaint of Mars is traced through Old French to a little-studied Gallo-Romance color word, bloi, originating in the Gaulish substrate (blaros) and suggestive of wan, pale tones. Reading teres blewe as an early instance of blue as “melancholy” is premature.” Owch. ok, academic objecting to the oversimplification of things. I hear you. I note you.

Ships with lost captains would fly blue flags. Blue has carried connotations of sadness in many cultures since long before the loss of the oral tradition with the invention of the printing press. Days of the week were largely hammered out by the Romans and in particular Constantine in like AD 320? So we could easily have had the idea of Blue Monday 1000 years ago and really so long as there were seasons, feelings and some days when we need to work and other days when we can rest, then this dark day could have had a name. It’s the furthest week start from the celebration of midwinter that we call Christmas and the days where it starts getting less shit and lighter.

I stayed in bed mostly. Tom cooked pasta. I got back into rereading a brilliant discontinued obscure time travel book from the 1980’s. Then I fell into this thoughthole just before bed and shared it with you all. Blue Monday. Blauer Montag. Who the hell knows? The only charlatan is the one who insists they have the correct answer on it.