Brothers

I’m the youngest of five boys from my dad. Max is the only other one from my mother. I was brought up to call and think of my half brothers as “brothers.” Jamie, Rupert and Jeremy-Norman. Joan, their mum, is still alive and living in France. My mum was only a few years older than them, which must’ve been really weird for them growing up.

It was around this time last year that I understood that Jamie, my eldest half brother, was not going to live another month. He had been suffering with Parkinson’s, and with his weakened system he got MRSA during an overnight stay in hospital. His wife sent me photos of the drips he was on. I sent them to my friend Tara, a nurse, who confirmed they were end of life palliatives. My best friend and I jumped in a car, and drove to the south of France to say goodbye to him. We missioned it through the day and into the night, and caught him in his hospital room near Poitiers the next morning. On his back, flat out on morphine. It was desperate. The passage of time is so cruel and inevitable. We stayed a couple of days, and then, as we boarded the ferry to return, the phone call came. Another person that I had childishly assumed would always be there, taken. Just a year previously he had been vital and happy. I had given him my grandfather’s stamp album in a garden on a beautiful summer’s day. We had told stories and laughed.

I saw another brother, Jeremy, this evening, the middle brother of the five of us. He’s a dreamer like me. He’s been in Hong Kong for the last few years, but has just taken a job in Cairo teaching art. Like my father before him he has multiple broods of children. He was there with his youngest, Campbell, who is off to art college himself in Aberdeen in September. Jeremy is looking forward to Cairo – “At least it has culture”, he says. To be honest, I’m looking forward to him being there too. I might take the opportunity to go!

But it’s been ages since I’ve seen Jeremy. About 2 years. He’s been out in Hong Kong, so it’s not been easy. But I bet I could’ve found a way to see more of him and his kids. Family is important. Jamie was sick for years in the south of France. Not that far – it took a day by car when he was dying. I could’ve come and helped out a lot more before he got sick. We can get so swept up in our own lives that we leave other people behind, and you only get one family. I remember when mum died I felt terrible about the fact that her period of sickness had been over my final year at drama school and then the filming for my first movie. I beat myself up over what I considered to be prioritising my career over her existence. It took me years to forgive myself. I still find myself habitually deprioritising my needs over those of others all the time to compensate from some imagined neglect I did her by caring about my own shit too much.

I want to see more of my family, more of my old friends, more of my new friends. There’s nothing to be gained from rolling through the same groove day in day out. Hopefully I’ll get the part I auditioned for today. It’ll be 12 grand for 2 day’s work (!) so I’ll be able to fly to Montreal and Cairo and Scotland and America and Australia and see all the lovely people I never get to see. Look after your family, and your old friends. But I guess it’s worth remembering that your oldest friend is yourself. And they need looking after too, with a mixture of nurture, forgiveness and tough love.

I’m not going to post a picture as the only pic I have of Jamie is him dressed as Madonna. Plus this feels a bit maudlin and if I don’t put a picture it doesn’t get so many hits. 🙂

X

 

Paid. Pride.

Today we finally got paid for the geegees. Considering the hours we worked and the care we put in it’s almost criminal how long it took. But it’s in today. Myself, Tristan, Will and Gillian all met up in Soho and went to The 10 Cases on Endell Street. Expensive but you can get very good wine. And having lived on toast and charity for the last few weeks I’m very happy to be in a position to pay my way for a change.

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We got a seat outside, as the sun was setting. We watched the world go by. We enjoyed good wine. And good company. Four friends who had been in a hospitality warzone. We bought a lot of expensive wine in the sunset. As we were talking, various people stopped at our table to ask for money. We politely rebuffed them. One guy stopped twice and we heard him out twice before saying we wouldn’t help. It’s noticeable how many people there are these days begging in Central London. This guy’s English was good, and he had the air of an addict. I’m not an expert and I have no idea of his circumstances. But when he came to us a third time I made the mistake of cutting him off as soon as he said “Excuse me,”. I said “I’m sorry, we won’t help you.” I looked him in the eye as I said it and spoke without aggression or tension. But I clearly judged it wrong. Perhaps he didn’t know it was the third time. He very quickly became aggressive. Which made him drool. Whatever he was lacking, he definitely needed it. But I was enjoying an evening with friends, not selling whatever he needed. So I couldn’t really help. I had to stand and calmly reiterate that I wasn’t being aggressive, that I had nothing against him personally. His response was that we were sitting in his chair and drinking his wine and this was his town. As he was starting to tell me this a long drool almost landed in Gillian’s wine, which made me stand up so as to move him somewhere he would only drool on me, himself and the pavement. But of course it looked like I was squaring up to him, and I’m a head and a half taller than him. So all the waiting staff came running out : “I’m sorry sir, he’s becoming a problem.” ; “I’m not going to punch him, I just don’t want him drooling in my friend’s drink.” Meanwhile I’m trying to tell the guy obliquely that I understand he’s a human being and I only cut him off because it was the third time I’d heard his spiel. I didn’t even critique the spiel. In the past I’ve slightly dickishly given people advice on the colour or layout of their sugarblood, or how they are directing my eyes to it, or the evidently bad detail of their story sometimes to very bad reception and occasionally to very good. Elements of the discipline I practice. With him I was just trying to undo the bad blood I’d caused by dismissing him before he’d started. Pride is huge, even in addicts who can’t stop drooling. Nobody wants to be dismissed before they’re heard, even if their short term memory is such that they can’t recall being dismissed twice before in the same night. We want to be heard. To feel like we are not just shouting “I EXIST” into the void.

I have no conclusion. No pat way of turning this. If I was minted I’d probably give everyone the benefit of the doubt plus change, and not be minted for long. I feel bad about not being patient with him, but also it’s interesting how the thing that triggered his rage was his feeling of dismissal. I struggle with being dismissed in my craft. I worry that my TV CV (or more specifically lack of it) causes me to be dismissed before I’m considered. Which concerns me as I see how television has unexpectedly become the home of the long term story arc. I want to get a piece of that pie. But drooling into people’s wine, and shouting with mad eyes – that isn’t going to get me the changing job I need. I’m not sure what is, but I’m going with sheer optimism and bloody mindedness, just because that’s what I’ve got left…

Swindon birthday

I enjoy driving. My dad used to drive long distance frequently. We’d often rush from The Isle of Man to Switzerland or various parts of France in a crammed Citroen. I got very used to being stuffed in a car going at terrifying speeds down long straight roads. As an adult I have periodically played with the idea of getting a private hire licence and driving an uber between acting jobs. So far, basic caution has prevailed. It would be an expensive venture monthly in terms of car and insurance and if I ended up doing a small scale tour for tuppence halfpenny a week I’d end up haemorrhaging money on an unused car. My insurance is already criminally expensive because I’m too honest and they know I’m an actor. The hoik up to cab drivers insurance would likely be excruciating.

I do find driving relaxing though, and I’m happy to talk to strangers so it might be a good solution for income top up if I could put in the hours. Although I still live in hope that that sort of thing will become less and less necessary as I start to book more and more work. Eternal idiot optimist.

Right now I’m glad of my bashed up little Suzuki. It cost me nothing really, apart from those hideous insurance premiums,and it goes like the clappers. And since I’m not working today I’ve agreed to chauffeur Tristan to Swindon for his grandfather Michael’s 92nd birthday. 92 and still going strong.

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I’d like to think I’ll pull that off. I suspect I might have to ease down on cake and up on kale. And perhaps exercise more and drink less. Although red wine doesn’t seem to have slowed Michael down. And this evening it’s steak for me. I’ll start the diet tomorrow, guv.

It’s not so bad, steaming out to Swindon, there in an hour and a half, steaming back full of meat and coffee in the dark. Tristan has an audition tomorrow morning or we might have stayed the night with Michael and Doreen, although it’s a little much to put on them. Steak and good company, and the petrol was covered. That’ll do. I drove like a maniac all the way home so I might have picked up a few letters from the cameras. But so far I’ve always been lucky despite inheriting my father’s ways behind the wheel. I think it’s because when I learnt to drive they were always there. Those yellow buggers, and the little lines in the road – they were always something on my radar. With apps like Waze existing now, it allows you to drive even more safely despite them. Before they existed I reckon over half of my focus whilst driving was on the sides of the roads, scanning for them. I always point them out as a passenger. Now I have something on my phone that even warns me about police cars hiding on bridges. It’s a brave new world. I can focus on the cars around me, and perhaps get taxed less frequently if I do end up behind the wheel of a BMW full of paying passengers in the near future.

Tanya

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“Margaret, she’s smoking!” …  “Maybe she’s nervous.” That’s my friend Tanya’s mum and dad, when they came to our University production of Little Shop of Horrors. She was playing a prostitute on Skid Row and there was a pre-show where she smoked. Her parents had no reality conflict with the way she was dressed, but did with the smoking. Tanya had no desire to be an actor. She mostly got roped in, in this case by Mark Williams. Mark was very actively and comfortably fighting for a better understanding of gay rights on campus. But was still happy to persuade Tanya to dress as a pro. He went shopping with her, and helped baby oil her rubber skirt. He made the musicals for our drama society. I made the Shakespeares. We had a tense friendship. Looking back, it was remarkable what we had to play with.

Through sheer front, over a few years, we managed to build the biggest society on campus in terms of membership, so we could demand big budgets. Also the return on the budget was good. We would guarantee big audiences. We even stopped Chumbawamba from playing the union once, for Little Shop.

We got a huge budget from the union. Partly through hitting Freshers fair hard. Partly through visibility. We’d build summer Shakespeare stages in massively public parts of campus, and rehearse knowing we were going to get bombed by nudists, drunks, lads, and anyone else. We’d then, in the last week, close off the area with a scaff circle and drapes, seats, point a load of lights and make it lovely. Whiteknights Open Air Theatre. Beautiful bullshit. People paid. They’d jumped on stage when we were rehearsing. They felt part of it. They sat and watched us murder the classics.

I still look back and wonder how I did it, as President. I think I did it by just asking. And that’s certainly why Tanya got on stage, when she hated the idea of it. I just asked her. And she was my friend, and kind enough to say yes. I got her to be a mother superior. Trust the musical theatre guy to get her to be a pro… but asking… I was fucking great at it back then. Guildhall taught me humility. I needed that lesson. But now it’s time to ask again.

Right now I’m enjoying a beautiful evening with Tanya, and thinking how the years that have passed mean nothing and that I’m glad I persuaded her to get involved in my endeavours for the simple reason that I enjoyed her company. There are very few people from those days that I see regularly. I feel that I have changed almost entirely from the guy I was back then. But then perhaps we all like to think that of ourselves. I still feel like that kid that loved making stuff, that wanted to make things with people, that loved that feeling of seeing groups of diverse people come together and communally make things of which they could share ownership. More of that.

Wedding Sonnets

IMAG1599If getting married is the sort of thing you like, you could do a lot worse than to do it in The Balcony Room at Shakespeare’s Globe. Particularly on an evening like this. The river is at the height of a full flood, and St. Paul’s is radiant in the light of the falling sun. Happy tourists flood the pavements below, tipsily holding hands. The puttering of boat engines mixes with the laughter on the streets and filters up through the balcony to where Beatrice and Avery celebrate their union with a few close friends. It’s idyllic.

I’m in disguise as a wedding guest, sitting by the river as the real guests eat, enjoying the evening sun. I’m technically at work so I can’t take one of the tempting champagne flutes at the reception. Myself and Ffion are getting to do beautiful things for money on their special day. So far we’ve shared some sonnets, delivered simply to happy people, and a Shakespearean call to dinner. In half an hour we’ll do some Beatrice and Benedick and then have a squabble, and then we’ll fall in love, finish with a shared Marriage of True Minds, toast the bride and groom and eat a burger. Nobody will be watching us eat the burger, I hope, but they’ll be there for the rest. It’s a delightful way to spend an evening and earn a crust and we’ve been doing it together here for long enough to have peace about it and focus on nuance and making it fun.

I hope we make their day more pleasant. A hell of a thing to do, getting married. It’s so far from my experience it seems another world. In my 20s and early 30s I was in long term relationships and that sort of thing seemed possible, but now it’s been so long since I’ve shared my existence with anyone but my friends.

I bet it’s going by in a blur for them both. I wonder what they’ll be able to remember tomorrow. They’ll be pumped to the gills with endorphins so probably very little. We haven’t finished yet, so one of us might make it more memorable by exploding or dropping dead, but most likely we will just be a little more colour in a colourful day.

They are hoovering up their dinner, bless them. Eating like hungry piggies. The faster they eat the sooner I get my burger. I’ve been on again already. One more scene to go. I just did a load of Benedick, which is really just an opportunity to flirt with the guests. It speaks to me, now, Benedick’s character journey. I’ve done Much Ado thrice, first as Don John, then Borachio and then Don Pedro. I’d like a crack at Benedick. I’m curious to find out if I fall in love again some time. I think I can now. I took my heart out of its box a while ago and I’m trying to remember how it used to work. Right now it’s flapping around on the table and occasionally barking. But I’ll work it out. “May I be so converted and see with these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not: I will not
be sworn, but love may transform me to an oyster…”

Ha ha geek

Desperate to sleep. Friday night in the West End. It’s ridiculous. Thousands of people shouting. Desperate constant grunting. I’m walking through it and nobody makes sense. Everyone is too cold. Very few of the people who are talking are using it to do something other than complain about the temperature. I decide to get an uber pool.

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My Prius arrives. It’s always a prius. And suddenly it’s Kiss 100 and a shitawful cover of “Let’s talk about sex” and people sharing an uber pool. I prefer to take pool because you have to share with randoms. I like sharing with randoms. It tends to make things more convivial. But not for this evening.

 

 

This evening I had a chance to explore the depth of my geekiness. I like to think that I’m a low level geek. I believe that I can go about my daily business and not sabotage myself because I don’t prioritise my geek. But today I learnt something. I met up with people who I geeked out with at school. I spent hours seeking their geek. As a result I have a good understanding of the various geeknesses.

L

I went to Star Wars Identities. It’s an exhibition at 02 containing many of the original props, models and costumes from Star Wars movies. I grew up with that stuff. Joseph Campbell’s work as script supervisor on the original trilogy fits with my fascination with the hero’s journey, and the basic mythological tropes that Lucas was curious about in his work. He created a playground, a frame for our pretend. In a lovely way, George Lucas shared his childish imagination with a generation of children and we owe him for that.

 

The exhibition is essentially a piece of sociology. You get to decide the strange details of your existence. You learn about peer pressure, self Identities, time. I’m glad that I created a character that comes close to what I think is important. We can all do that! He was checking the bank balance. Double Zzzz. We need to get computers to each other. Night. Yay. Zzzz z

 

West expe

Friday night in the West End. It’s ridiculous. Thousands of people shouting. Desperate constant grunting. I’m walking through it and nobody makes sense. Everyone is too cold. Very few of the people who are talking are using it to do something other than complain about the temperature. I decide to get an uber pool.

 

My Prius arrives. It’s always a prius. And suddenly it’s Kiss 100 and a shitawful cover of “Let’s talk about sex” and people sharing an uber pool. I prefer to take pool because you have to share with randoms. I like sharing with randoms. It tends to make things more convivial. But not for this evening.

 

This evening I had a chance to explore the depth of my geekiness. I like to think that I’m a low level geek. I believe that I can go about my daily business and not sabotage myself because I don’t prioritise my geek. But today I learnt something. I met up with people who I geeked out with at school. I spent hours seeking their geek. As a result I have a good understanding of the various geeknesses.

 

I went to Star Wars Identities. It’s an exhibition at 02 containing many of the original props, models and costumes from Star Wars movies. I grew up with that stuff. Joseph Campbell’s work as script supervisor on the original trilogy fits with my fascination with the hero’s journey, and the basic mythological tropes that Lucas was curious about in his work. He created a playground, a frame for our pretend. In a lovely way, George Lucas shared his childish imagination with a generation of children and we owe him for that.

 

The exhibition is essentially a piece of sociology. You get to decide the strange details of your existence. You learn about peer pressure, self Identities, time. I’m glad that I created a character that comes close to what I think is important.

 

Pandemic

IMAG1582In a nostalgic throwback to my schooldays, I am playing an incomprehensible game which takes ages. I’m with Dan, who has been living in Canada forever, and John, who lives near me but somehow I never see him unless Dan’s in town. We were uncomprehending children many years ago, thrust into a horrible smush of entitlement and ego and told we had to grow up and find friends. We didn’t grow up but we found each other and kicked along being marginally odd but pleasant for a few years in each others company. We played a lot of almost incomprehensible games, but took the time to comprehend them.

With us is Ros, who is considering getting an uber (she’s got a kid), Jules who has been reading articles on her phone, and Mayumi, who is filling up everyone’s Sake. Apparently some of us understand this game. I certainly don’t. It involves stopping the world from being swept up in a pandemic. It mostly seems to do with little bits of jelly spreading over a rudimentary map such as you’d be offered by a cheap travel agent for a round the world ticket. “There are only 3 cities in Africa, mate.”

The problem is that as we get longer in the tooth our capacity to invest hours and hours in inconsequential fuckery is waning. I remember when I’d gladly stay up until 4am trying to work out how to get past the “Herbert Droid”, and think nothing of getting up at crack of dawn to go to school.

Dan and Jules make fuckery now for a living. They design build and produce computerised versions of what we are doing. Playing games for them is similar to me going to the theatre. They have a maker’s perspective, but they still love it. It’s good to see them, and I feel that in common. But for tonight I think the world is going to be consumed by jelly diseases because none of us have the awakeness to hold out to the end. This Americanocentric world that only has a few major population centres is doomed. It feels a little like the news according to Twitter right now, while Captain Dickneedle hovers his little fingers over the big red button. So big. So red.

Yeah, we just gave it up. No surprises really – the outbreak team is simultaneously entirely clueless and totally blazé, and everyone has had way too much Sake apart from John who has never drunk in his life (and still incomprehensibly contrives to be one of my oldest friends.)

I’m in an uber home. We abandoned the world to the cubes of jelly, but it was great to hang out with people I’ve known for so long. There’s a shorthand that develops with long acquaintance. Strangely, though, I met Jules this evening for the first time in the flesh. And she easily became part of that shorthand. But we have many people in common, and loved people at that. And we both chant. We probably should have known each other for a while. We will see more of each other tomorrow. A new friend, I think.

Around all of this I’ve been back on the email train. Trying to make things happen for myself. Perhaps another reason I’m so glad to decompress with friends.

Now in this uber pool, someone gets in. “How you doing brother, where you from I know you’re from Africa somewhere,” he says to the guy driving. “Oh yeah, how’s that?” Says the driver. “From your name,” he says after hesitation. “What – Raoul?” Says Raoul, who is driving. “Oh uh yeah so that’s Spanish…” says my boy. There’s a pause. I think about suggesting one of the three places in Africa suggested by the game I’ve been playing. I decide that I prefer to sit back and watch sleepy London through the window. After about half an hour, Raoul lets him off the hook. “Yeah. I’m from Congo.” I don’t tell him it’s not on the map as far as tonight is concerned. The rest of the trip home is silent.

 

Expectations Vs Reality

IMAG1560A commercial casting, today. All I know about it from my agent is the location, time, product and “dress like a nice dad.” I dress in the brand colours. I learnt that long ago, the client likes actors to be on brand. I don’t shave my beard though. And I don’t know the casting director’s name.

They get me into the room on time, which is rare. There’s a boy in there already. He is meant to be my son. He’s already cast, and he looks just like I did when I was his age. This is why I’ve got the meeting. A trick of genetics. But I didn’t know this going in so I’ve still got a beard. “Do you have any clean shaven headshots?” asks the casting director immediately. “Yes, I’ll get one sent to you. I just kept my beard on the basis that it’s quicker to shave than it is to grow.” “They might decide that you look more like him clean shaven,” says the Casting Director with a beautiful featherlight shiver of detail. Contained in that innocuous comment is the rebuke “You idiot. You’re supposed to look like this child. How can you possibly think a beard will help you.” I refrain from saying I had no idea I had to look like anyone, and thought that “nice dad” might be slightly fluffy. Sure a dad has kids that look nothing like him. But for this story, perhaps, resemblance is paramount. I just suck it up.

There’s a cultural thing where actors are expected to be morons and are treated as such by default. Like we are all idiot narcissists desperate to be looked at and adored and that can be the only reason we do this. Certainly at the level of this casting I am used to being treated like I’m remedial. This particular casting director was pleasant enough to the idiot, but at the end of the meeting I go to shake her hand and get, baldly, as her body spasms backwards: “I won’t shake your hand.” One of my friends in Los Angeles once got “Oh I’m a waver, not a shaker.” in similar circumstances. Not only do we get treated like morons, people also don’t want to touch us. After all, who knows where we’ve been. She clocks my shock. “I’ve got a cold,” she tries. “I wouldn’t want to give it to you.” I don’t believe her but I let it slide. “Oh ugh I wouldn’t want to catch that from you,” I say, playing the game because I want the job, adding more layers to this conversation-onion.

It’s shit that I want the job. I don’t even know what it pays or when it shoots but I’ve already been told it’s essentially walk-on rates. But I’m very happy to be associated with this particular brand. The meeting involved sitting in a chair pretending to watch TV. We only did one take and she wouldn’t touch me. I left the meeting feeling slightly soiled. In the Japanese caste system, actors come below “rogues and vagabonds”. That’s where I felt I had been put. I’ll still be writing her an email thanking her if I get the job. Because jobs like that give us more liberty to make beautiful things and do more theatre.

I learnt long ago that there is no correlation between your experience in the audition room and your chances of getting the job. Years ago I met Luc Besson for a movie, and the third round was him in person in a little room in Notting Hill. Halfway through the meet I said something innocuous and his face went dark. He looked at me with rage and stormed out of the room. I heard a heated discussion with the casting director. He then came back in and curtly dismissed me. I phoned my agent; “I don’t know what I said but he went weird on me.” Three months later I was flown to Bangkok and filmed with David Thewlis and Michelle Yeoh. I thought I’d fucked it up. But the thing that had enraged him helped secure me the job. I had mentioned Aung San Suu Chi, who I was reading about at the time. The film was about her, and it was under NDA. I wasn’t supposed to know, I didn’t know, but he thought I’d found out, and he’s got a temper on him.

I went out to Thailand. I didn’t tell anyone about the job because of the NDA. I just went to Bangkok. They were filming The Lady, about Burma, in Thailand, anti the Burmese junta. Information lockdown in case the Thai government decided to shut the set down in solidarity with the junta. The flashback sequence I was in was cut entirely from the final edit for budgetary reasons. It was Michael Aris meeting Aung for the first time, and David and Michelle both worked with dots stuck all over their faces, to map CGI younger versions of their faces on in post-production. Of course it was the first thing to go – expensive and time consuming. It went, and with it all of my work. I watched the film in growing horror and realisation. All I got was a credit. At least I got that. I’ll never see the footage as it will never have been graded but a credit is a footprint.

Now seven years or so later I’m fretting about whether or not someone refusing to touch me in a commercial casting will have any effect on whether I get to sell a little bit more of my integrity for lovely shiny pots of cash. Ugh. This is such a strange existence I’ve fought for for so long…

Some hours later my agent calls to tell me it’s a heavy pencil for tomorrow or Friday. Which means I’ve a good chance of getting it. Perhaps she was lovely and didn’t want me to catch her cold. What does that say about the inside of my head? What does that say about my expectations?

I took no photos. Here’s one of pickle. After all it was International Cat Day.

 

Slow payments

One of the major downsides of being self employed is the speed at which you get paid (or not). It seems to be slowing down year on year. I’m still owed £150 by the Heritage Lottery Fund from about 7 years ago for dressing up as Dracula under supervision of my friend Roland. I expect I’ll never see that and I have no idea who to contact about it now. Roland left between the job and the invoice coming to term.

So these jobs that I do between the acting jobs – I don’t even know for certain if I’ll ever get paid, and how many hoops I’ll have to jump through before the money comes in. And when it comes to well paid work that I haven’t particularly enjoyed it’s even more egregious when the money comes slowly.

There are a lot of people shouting at a WhatsApp group in order to try to persuade a man in Turkmenistan to release pay for us from the horse races. He is responding with details about his internet capabilities and information pertaining to administrative issues that sound depressingly like the fallout of someone who would prefer to pay us slowly than to make too much of a fuss. Meanwhile mortgage deposits, nursery fees and, for me, the ability to tax my car and get a parking permit are deferred by another day and another day. He says “It’ll be in soon.” We say the same to whoever is down the chain. But if it isn’t soon then everyone down the chain feels it.

I’ve been sat in my car all day, driving around or sitting there with the hazard lights on as I am now. Occasionally I’ll feed a meter and get a coffee, or go to a charity shop and buy some CDs for 50p each. (Right now I’m on Stoosh by Skunk Anansie. 0.49p to Cancer Research.) Every few minutes I optimistically check my bank account. Today was given as the day it would definitely come in which is why I have been keeping my car here. Nothing. Tomorrow I’ll probably take it outside regulated parking and leave it for a few days. I was hoping to be able to avoid that. For tonight I’ve only got half an hour left before it’s off meter, so I can leave it round the corner from my place and feed the cat and have dinner.

The advantage of being confined to my car is that I can go visiting my friends who aren’t working. I dug out my friend Tanya, who is training as a Pilates instructor and has time in the days.

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She lives close to a Waitrose where I can park for two hours for £2.50. The rest of the day was spent emailing on my phone, trying to sort stuff out. Thank God for smartphones. I get so much use out of mine. If only my employer, Neil, was able to use his more in Turkmenistan on our behalf to chase the payment.