My good friend Helen suggested I meet her this morning in order to go to a Buddhist meeting about nuclear disarmament and abolition. My initial reaction was to consider it a singularly pointless exercise. Nukes, I decided, are here to stay. The fact that that was my first thought was enough to make me realise I should go to the meeting. I hadn’t thought about it before and immediately I assumed it was too big to fix.

Nukes are fucking terrifying. Those relatively tiny bombs that fell on Japan before most of us were born – the human cost was astronomical. The cultural shift they provoked was unprecedented. Little Boy and Fat Man, the bombs were called. They killed hundreds of thousands in a second. Thank God nothing of that size has been detonated since. But the warheads we have now are thousands of times bigger. Thousands of times! It’s impossible to contemplate. If just one of them blew up in a city the death toll would be unimaginable. There is no humanitarian aid organisation that could cope with the survivors from the edges of the blast, radioactive people, sloughing their burnt skin, cradling their own eyeballs, cooking in their own bodies. Most of the people from Grenfell haven’t been rehoused adequately. Multiply that by thousands and add deformities, radioactivity, constant extreme pain. Then there’s the environmental cost. Chernobyl contaminated sheep as far away as North Wales from The Ukraine. Fukushima is still contaminating the Pacific, and it seems there’s nothing we can do to get into the basement and contain that reactor. We’ve made something bigger than our ability to control it.

Right now there’s a little fat boy man in North Korea who is starving his whole country in order to be seen to throw these horrible toys around. If he is as full of hubris as he appears to be he could start something atrocious. Around the world, countries are bristling with these monstrous creations. One wrong move could provoke a chain reaction that could wipe out the world as we know it. We don’t have the power to actually destroy the earth, but we do have the power to destroy ourselves on the earth. And we are convinced enough of our own immortality that someone might just do it. Particularly when you look at some of the personalities involved.

So where does the idea that we can dismantle all of these bastards fit in, where mutually assured destruction is the only deterrent we’ve had for decades? It was interesting to contemplate it today. It’s a man made problem, so surely it’s in our power to stop it. We stopped slavery in North America after over 200 years. These things have only existed for a single lifetime. And they’re expensive to maintain. The problem is that nobody trusts anybody else. How can someone go first? How can we trust one another to honestly disarm? How would we even go about it?

Of course these questions feel impossible. But change starts from the ground up. The literal very least I can do is change my attitude from this morning’s “there is nothing anyone can ever do.” Perhaps there’s something. It might not be my mind that finds it, or in my lifetime. But these warheads have a limited lifespan. They’re disgustingly expensive to produce, as is the paraphernalia connected to delivering them. Japan has none despite having the capacity to build them, and they haven’t been wiped out yet. Although North Korea could do something terrible.

I sat in a secular Buddhist Centre in Brixton and thought about all of this while making paper cranes. I have no solutions but my thoughts have shifted a little, from resignation towards curiosity as to how change might be effected. Often we need a hard example to catalyse a big change. There’s so much horrible shit happening worldwide in the name of territory and religion, and the natural world is busily demonstrating how tiny our posturing is compared to its power. I don’t want to see the hard example that would catalyse nuclear disarmament. I dread to think what form it might take. Can we start to disarm without anyone being nuked? This morning I’d have said “No way.” Now I’ve graduated to “just maybe”. Maybe the right person at the right time. Maybe a groundswell of belief and positivity. Who knows what. But maybe.

I went home and had pie, watched Rick and Morty and now I’m going to help an actress with a self-tape in my kitchen. Hopefully when I wake up tomorrow morning all the cities in the world will still be there. I made paper cranes to send to the peace park in Hiroshima. Maybe they’ll be the ones that stop us doing that crazy shit to each other. It’s a gesture. Nothing more. But a nuclear blast is a large number of very small reactions strung together into something huge. If we all make very small gestures maybe we’ll make some sort of peace bomb? Who knows. It’s worth a try.


Hot Dub Time Machine

I had a morning free so I helped a friend move house. Everybody seems to be moving house all the time at the moment. I don’t know how I’d manage to do that with all the accumulated years worth of utter crap I have here. I could probably throw away three quarters of what I own and miss none of it. There’s clothes and books and random bits of fluff that never see the light of day. Sometimes I imagine it all pulling at my energy, anchoring me into this flat, wanting me to drag it around. No surprise I like to live out of a suitcase, and go on tour. Maybe I should have a jumble sale and ditch some of it that way. Or just take it to a charity shop while I’ve got my car. I find it hard to throw things away.

I’m still feeling positive and forward after last week’s vomit-fest. The kambo dots on my arm feel like visible reminders not to slip into old habits. It’s been a great week for meetings and recalls. There’s more to come next week, too. I need to keep my head. I’ve been keeping the diet as well, as best I can. Although Brian, right now, is cooking cheese and pork and wheat and he’s just told me he’s putting red bull in the onions, which makes it one of the least Al friendly meals possible. Great of him to cook but I think I’ll pass and just get some fruit.

The red bull onions are in anticipation of the fact that Brian and Mel I are going dancing. We’re off to Hot Dub Time Machine in Brixton. It doesn’t even start until 9 so I’m getting this written before I go out in the anticipation of being crosseyed later. I’m loading up with glowsticks. I was supposed to be at Bestival this evening so it’s only right I go some way towards duplicating the experience I’d have had there. In fact I’ll let myself finish this in whatever state I happen to find myself in at 3am or whenever I roll in.

I’m now standing in Brixton waiting for an uber, covered in glitter. Even my moustache is full of glitter. God knows how I’ll audition for a doctor on Monday. Hot Dub Time Machine involves dancing consistently to hits from 1957 to present. Turns out the year I was born had some banging tunes. I’ve just been dancing. That’s as much as I’ve had the headspace for. There were six of us there, and we exchanged about three words all night. One thing I’ve discovered is that music since 2010 has been pretty shoddy and generic. Either that or hindsight hasn’t kicked in with enough context to bring out the diamonds that stand the test of time. Certainly the last half an hour of the set was the weakest. Which I thought was just me being old until Brian reflected my thoughts, and he’s 29. All said, a great night, and that guy that runs the time machine – he must be totally minted after cutting together a load of videos and stitching up a timeshift DJ set. Good work that man.



George Harrison first brought the Sitar into popular music with Norwegian Wood back in 1965. The sound speaks of the “eastern” mysticism that led him to Hare Khrisna. To my ear it is a sound redolent of that era, and thus psychedelics. The soaring twisting high notes. The low building undertones and rhythms. *ploing ploing na na na ploing ploing* It’s a very evocative soundscape. More so than I can evoke by writing random syllables. You’d be surprised. *boingggg*

Shama Rahman and I met on a job a long time ago. She has a PhD in neuroscience, was a film star in Bangladesh, and now lives in the UK making science theatre and playing folk-punk sitar. She’s a true polymath, and great fun with it. We met because she needed to replace an actor at short notice in a show that was touring festivals. I wanted to tour those particular festivals and it aligned. The show was about Transhumanism, designer babies, modification versus humanity, art versus science. On tour alongside us were some neuroscientists from well respected institutions, giving lectures. Family men who cooked their own highs, electrocuted themselves in the brain on purpose and made notes, and would’ve cut bits out of their own hippocampus if they’d known it’d grow back. Obsessive, beautiful crazy people. Like my brother Max. True scientists. I grew up with them. I get them.

Five days after Shama and I first met we were in a field in Oxfordshire, at Wilderness Festival, and she got word that one of these strange voyagers had voyaged into a car crash and was too bashed up to do the lecture. We found out about half an hour before it was scheduled. A crowd was building. “I’ll do it.”

Almost immediately I’m standing in front of hundreds of people, and I’m talking about the history of performance enhancing drugs and their chemical effects on the brain, clutching a print out still hot from the printer, pretending to be the guy. I was sight reading, thus discovering and learning as I went along. There were slides, and bits where the text said “If you look at this part of the brain, you’ll see a much higher density of polypoly flammicitic groks.” I had to use my common sense on a live appraisal of the photo, to point at the groks. I learnt a lot by delivering that lecture – (despite the terminology not sticking). But I learnt something about neuroscience and more about sheer bloody front. At the end of the lecture it said “Any questions?” That’s where I drew the line. Much as I rock at improvising, that’s a bridge too far. “How do you ensure that the Crog Naglatisatch levels as per the Matthew Arnold Adelaide Research Tribunal are correctly swaggled?” I’m not going near that.

Shama and I decided we needed to stay in touch, and since then we’ve covered a lot of festivals together in different capacities. I was meant to be her driver for Bestival, where she’s playing tonight, but things got too positive and unpredictable workwise so I couldn’t risk three nights in a tent outside London right now. Which is why I went to support her pre-Bestival single launch at The Slaughtered Lamb.

Among other instruments she plays the Sitar beautifully, and sings in bangla and in English. Her set involves long periods of joyful improvisation with the musicians, like a proper jazz set. She’s channeling that period in the sixties when George shifted to mystic. She’s also just honestly playing her music. Her expression of her reality. Possibility and positivity aligning with music and spoken word. It’s powerful stuff, beauifully packaged and delivered, and Shama is a true artist.

Here she is tuning and checking that beautiful and strange beast of an instrument before the evening got beautiful and strange.




I didn’t really want to come back to the city this morning. Last night was spent with James and Gemma, their daughter Hester and Hal, my godson. He’s just making sense of language. He understands everything but can’t quite make the words yet. It’s a fascinating thing to encounter – someone who understands everything but has no eloquence. He has to resort to repetition and volume to put across relative importance in his content, much like the US President. Unlike that though, he’s a good kid. I’m happy he’s in my life. He’ll be two soon.

James is a Catholic. When Hal was baptised I went to a huge stone edifice of a church. In the cold quiet gloom I was called on to renounce Satan, and all of his works, and all of his false promises. I did my best to do so while the priest glared at me through a fog of incense. He scared the badness out of me. He knew I was an actor. Who knows what he would make of my shamano-buddhist proclivities. But his ritual was like a spiritual version of kambo. I spiritually sicked up all the bad thoughts. There’s something in all of these things. I walked around feeling lighter for days.

My stated job was never to be the God bit in the godfather though. James has got that covered. I’m more the worldfather. When he’s 18 I can fly him on the jet to my place in Malibu and take him to my Oscars party, and then we can take the helicopter to my island where I’ll teach him to waterski. Or we can go down the pub and play darts, get in a fight and then go be sick off the pier. Or anything in between really. I’ve got a few years to hammer out what I’ll be capable of bringing to him but it’ll be something.

It’s pleasant to spend time with happily married kidded up people who don’t dwell on the “When are you going to settle down” question. It came up briefly and I realised the answer as I gave it. “I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin, and happy in my ways. I tend to be drawn to people who are similar. Neither of us are codependent, so neither of us put in the effort.” Maybe there’s some truth in that. As with any statement that someone says about themselves it’s more likely to be bullshit than true. I reckon the ratio is about 80% bullshit 20% truth. But is that bullshit? Roll the dice, because I don’t know anymore.

They’re both teachers and ex actors, James and Gemma. Being me I haven’t seen them for the whole of the endless summer break. Nope. I waited until the second day of term and then I come crashing round with a hat full of mushrooms, providing an excuse to crack open the good stuff. I hope James did alright at school today. We made another fire, in his garden, and foraged blackberries. It was a lovely evening, as this changeable summer limps to a close. There was much whisky.

When I got back into town I reeked of woodsmoke, and checking my messages I realised I had an hour left to get to a recall for one of the Christmas ads. Thankfully woodsmoke is a Christmassy smell. Maybe they thought it was on purpose.

I smashed the recall but then I’m supposed to be in my fifties for the part. One of the other guys was exactly the guy I’d pictured. Grey haired and wholesome. He’s up against moustache cavalier. Who will win? Who knows? Who cares! Someone will have Christmas sorted. I want it to be me.



Last night I slept out under the sky. Thankfully it didn’t rain. It was glorious.

My friend Jethro has access to 40 acres of woodland. I drove down to spend time with him. By the time I arrived he had already foraged loads of Hedgehog Mushrooms, Chanterelles, Bay Boletes and Tawny Grisettes.


A few years ago I started trying to make sense of mushroom identification. I wandered around the grounds of Ripley castle clutching a book and trying to positively identify everything I could see. I found loads of stuff that could kill you. Very little you could eat. I got discouraged and put the whole thing on the back burner. I love the idea of finding my own tasty food on the ground, but the consequences of not getting it right can involve your liver exploding. On balance I think I need my liver. So it was with some trepidation that I partook of the mushroom breakfast, and then only after looking at each one myself and checking against Jethro’s field book. Particularly the Tawny Grisettes, as they are Amanita which, as a genus, want us dead in horrible ways. Death Cap and Destroying Angel are both Amanita and they just don’t like us. Never invite them to dinner parties. Cook a sliver of them into your sauce and you’ll likely take out a guest, possibly all of them. After careful inspection of his trophies I was satisfied. And I’m glad because it was a brilliant breakfast. The breakfast of champignons.

The major constituent was Hedgehog Mushroom, which is the ultimate breakfast fungus. The Chinese, I have read, conducted a test on mice with them. They fed some mice with powdered Hedgehog Mushrooms and some other mice with normal mouse type food. Then they dropped them all in a tank of water and timed how long it took for each of them to drown. Turns out Hedgehog Mushroom fed mice drown much slower. Which is conclusive proof that the majority of scientists are psychopaths.

After breakfast we went foraging and Jethro taught me loads. I’ve now got a better handle on lots of toadstool species, and there are two or three edibles – like hedgehog – that I would be able to get right every time. With the others, I still wouldn’t feel very comfortable looking for them on my own and then eating the findings. Death is a high price for a free breakfast. But it’s a pleasant way to spend a few hours, and an excuse for a walk in the woods.

When we were walking we found some more Hedgehogs. I carried them in my hat. On my way home I stopped in Crowborough where my 2 year old godson lives. Trusting my recognition utterly, I offered them to his parents and we had a lovely pasta with them in the sauce.

My first real contemplation of mortality as a child, long before all the shit went down, was Babar the Elephant’s dad:


For some reason that freaked me out more than his mum being shot by hunters. I think it was the speed of it. “Yum yum tasty mushroom eek I’m green.” It looks like a Fly Agaric, the one that killed Babar’s dad and scared me with a first thought of death. If you boil them twice and throw away the water, or dry them, then the poison is gone. But the idea of instant death from a mushroom, coupled with the fact that there were puffballs in abundance near my childhood home, with people saying they were good eating. I think it explains why I’m fascinated. It’s just an area that requires certainty and the stakes are high. I’m happy to improvise but not in that context. If I lived in the countryside I’d have my patches marked out. My walks. As it is I know where there’s a puffball mycology near me in Chelsea but the last few years some fucker has always beaten me to it. Perhaps I should live in the country. Perhaps I’d be poisoned if I did…


Happy Christmas, everyone!

Today has been all about that festive time of year. How the hell? I’m reading loads of scripts about Turkey and Mince Pies and Vegetarian Christmas dinners. I went to Primark hoping to pick up a disgraceful jumper to help fool the people I’m meeting that I’m ten years older than I am and entirely ordinary. They didn’t have any yet. My industry is ahead of Primark. They’re still doing back to school there. It’s loads of Harry Potter merchandise. I didn’t buy a Griffindor dressing gown. I definitely didn’t. Nope. Not me. No way.

I am going to have to squeeze on my £4 festive blood red jumper hand stitched by weeping children in Bangladesh, and smile in a wholesome manner as I mime carving a mime turkey with a mime carving knife on a mime table. Sometimes I wonder if the person who gets the job takes one look at the REAL props and panics. “But… but I got the job for my awesome mime skillz!! I can’t hold concrete things!”

Nonetheless I’ll be smiling under my moustache. Because all you need is one Christmas ad and you can do interesting fringe theatre for the rest of the year, or keep free for those last minute telly jobs and a shot at gaining some momentum. Maybe they’ll take one look at me and think “Just the unassuming 50 year old we were looking for. Bury him in money.” If so the drinks are on me.

My business partner and I are back in business with Brian. He’s making it happen again. The utter legend. We’ve got a new space for our Christmas Carol, with a new set of questions. It’s going to be amazing fun essentially reimagining that show which has been an integral part of my Christmas for the last four years. You’ll be hearing a lot about that in a couple of months, as it’s definitely going ahead – even if I have to pull out because Spielberg begs me, someone will Scrooge it. I want it to be me. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a joy and a surefire way of kicking yourself into Christmas gear. It’ll be most of December and it’ll sell out so mark your diaries! If there’s a discount code I’ll list it here nearer the time.

But God, not for a few months. It all feels too early. I’m only just coming to terms with the possibility summer might be drawing to a close soon. Fuck Christmas. Why do I have to think about that crap now. What is Christmas but a time for paying bills without money? A time for finding yourself a year older but not an hour richer? A time for balancing your books and finding every item in them through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? Merry Christmas? If I could work my will, every idiot that goes about with “Merry Christmas” on their lips should be boiled in their own pudding, and baked with a stake of holly through their heart. Humbug.

I hate being cold. I’m already starting to think about building towards LA again in January, with more notice so more time to put things in place. Especially if I can get this Christmas ad. But this evening I’m off into the woods and I don’t know if there’ll be reception so I’m getting this scheduled early. Then I can just relax.


Just came out of the meeting and the director liked me for it specifically because of the moustache. Plus he gave me a real actual knife. “Thanks for giving me a real knife,” I tell him at the end. “Yeah I bought it this morning. We tried it without a knife but it just didn’t work.” No shit, Sherlock.

The wave is still rushing. Christmas might be happy. This thing might be attached to my face for longer than I anticipated. I might have to get some photos of it. I’m good with putting up with all the Borat/Dali crap if it puts turkey on the table.


I’m not very good at post audition breakdowns. We’ve already established that. Last week I auditioned for an Iranian hotel manager. I phoned my manager with the usual “they hated me” reaction. Today I recalled in front of the director, who is well known and had flown over from LA. I’m in with a good shot at it. And I genuinely thought it was screwed at the first meeting. Uncharacteristically I had two wildly different meetings today, and I didn’t feel shit after either of them. I’m putting that down to the firm resolution I made on this crazy weekend to be positive towards myself as well as everything else.

I woke up and drove to Baker Street to be positive to someone else though, because I still do that too. I helped them move house. Humping boxes, stuffing the car chock full, lugging bedframes and Hoovers and bags. It seemed like a good first use of my cleansed state. People who move a lot have managed to streamline their stuff so well, though. I found myself envying her for being able to fit her life into a few car loads. I would need a fleet of juggernauts. As quickly as I throw stuff away I accumulate more. It’s pathological. I’m not a proper hoarder, thank God. I’ve seen what that looks like. But I find it hard to let go of stuff. I need Marie Kondo to come into my home and shout at me for a week.

After that it was change into tailcoat and leer at the camera, and then off to Westbourne Park to change into a suit and be creepy in a real-world environment in front of another camera. Something has to land before long. A lot of these meetings have been crap shoots, for commercials etc, but I’ve landed them before, and I’ll do it again. Even my agent got me through a door tomorrow, for a Christmas commercial in the part of “unassuming man in his fifties.” I think I know what that man looks like, and it ain’t me. But glad to be rolling the dice, and maybe they’ll dig the ‘tache, which I have to keep for the possibility of the hotel manager – it’s the most legit job of them all. Commercials pay beautifully, but are not valued terrifically highly. A bit of narrative helps so much. And I’d love it for my showreel.

I also pitched for some voice work through a friend of mine who’s making games in Canada. He’s doing brilliantly and hopefully before the year is out I’ll get to visit him. The game work will be a great use of my new home studio. It could work out very well.

So essentially I’ve been zooming around like I’ve got a rocket up my ass and I feel unfettered by past experience or future unknowns. I am laying this squarely at the feet of the kambo, and am going to keep surfing this wave of positivity for as long as I can. Good to have a strong reset button, even if it does involve huge amounts of puke.

Around all of these meetings, I also had brilliant news from multiple friends. I think I might have inadvertently gone through one of those portals into a reality where stuff goes well for me and for the people I love. I’m planning on staying here as long as I can.

I didn’t think to take any photos again. Here is the kambo-tache combo. “Unassuming man in his fifties…” Ha!



I’ve been detoxifying recently. Doing some work on myself. Trying to make myself feel good. Making sure I’ve got the energy to keep swinging until the job lands. I’m doing it by drinking lots of water, consuming carefully, poisoning myself, exercising more, eating plenty of fruit and vomiting copiously into a bucket.

When I was in the Amazon some years ago my guide pointed at a small green tree frog. “Sacred frog,” he told me. At the time I internally called bullshit. Trying to persuade the idiot tourist that there are sacred frogs – pull the other one, it detaches.

Turns out it was a phyllomedusa bicolour. Turns out it was, essentially, a sacred frog.


Some of the phyllomedusinae have a convenient means of stopping themselves from drying out when they’re up a tree. They secrete a sticky waxy substance onto themselves from glands in their legs. This substance has the added advantage of being poisonous, so they can just hang out on the branches knowing that thousands of years of natural selection has weeded out all predators.

Somebody in the mists of prehistory decided to experiment with their poison and somehow established that the one from  P.bicolour has healing properties if used correctly. How the hell they did that is anybody’s guess. Time, trial and error and lots of deaths. They call it “kambo”.

For thousands of years kambo has been used to make warriors faster. Analysis has shown it’s full of bioactive peptides – amino acid chains that bind to human tissue. Their effects range from releasing tension, decreasing blood pressure, temporarily making the blood-brain barrier more permeable, stimulating the adrenal cortex and pituitary gland and much more besides. The ancient practitioners wouldn’t have known that in so many words but they observed the effect and passed it down orally. They just realised that if the frog was a little bit bothered it would secrete the stuff, and they managed to find a use for it. It hugely detoxifies and is known to be extremely effective in breaking addictions. So far, so positive. What’s the catch?

This morning I sat cross legged with a completely empty stomach, watching people go one by one to the practitioner. I was a bit nervous. When it was close to my turn, I opened a two litre bottle of water and drank almost all of it. Having a stomach full of water makes things less uncomfortable. The practitioner had a bit of bark with some glistening wax stuck to it, and an incense stick. When it came to my turn, he burnt a circular hole in my upper arm. Then he applied a single dot of the secretion. Some people – regulars – had as many as 7. I started with one. To assess my tolerance. (They put it in a burn in order that it goes directly into your lymphatic system. As a result it takes hold extremely quickly.) About a minute after application, “How are you feeling, Alex” was answered with “Extremely dizzy and a bit hot.” Everything was swimming. My face and lips had swollen up. Then he added two more burns and drops and suddenly I’m on my side and I don’t know how I got there and he is asking “Do you know where you are, Alex?” “Yes. I went somewhere else for a bit.” (Apparently I’d passed out for six seconds.) Nobody else had passed out. Dammit. My pride is up for a second. “Sit back up.” he says, and I do, attempting to pretend that I hadn’t collapsed in the first place which is comical. I look at the 3 blobs clinging to my upper arm. My face is hot. I’m not really capable of coherent thought. I feel beyond terrible. There’s no room for pride here. There is, however, a bucket between my legs. Hallelujah.

I begin to liquid shout into the bucket. There is nothing else I can do. The next half hour is mostly spent garking out fantastic amounts of horrible crap, refilling my belly when I’m dry-retching, and then bodysnatchering it all back out into the bucket with more horrible stuff attached. The bucket is brimming with foul toxic water by the time I’m capable of moving away from it. And suddenly I’m feeling strong.

Unlike some other natural Amazonian medicines, kambo is legal as it has no psychotropic properties, so nobody could argue that people do it for fun. If you did it for shits and giggles you’d get one of the two and it wouldn’t be the giggles. I’ve seen it described as an “ordeal medicine.” I’d agree with that. It’s not pleasant. But on balance I think it’s worth it. I’d be surprised if I didn’t go back some time, once the memory has loosened. Although I won’t look forward to it. So yeah. That was my day. I just had a big vegetable stew so it seems things are back to normal…


Anyone that thinks this is for them I’ve got permission from the practitioner to link to his website here.


As a child I had night terrors. My parents were worried sick. I’d wake up screaming most nights. My dreams were long and involved and red and rythmic. I was told by ponderous grown ups looming over me trying to help that I had to “do something” about my “overactive imagination”. Nothing worked. At night I would be lost, surrounded by vast cages where voracious buzzing flickering giant things were hungrily sending tendrils my way. Huge upright toothed slugs would trap me and start to absorb me into their bodies for digestion. Sleep was not a pleasant place to be. Even happy dreams would turn on me. “Oh what a lovely park. What pretty birds as they sing in the trees. What? No! They’re pecking my eyes out! THEY’RE PECKING MY EYES OUT!”

My grandmother solved it with a story. She bought me a huge fluffy lion. It was bigger than me. “If you’re having a bad dream, all you have to do is look for the lion. He’ll come into your dream and whatever it is he’ll fight it and win.” The next night I had night terrors the same as ever. “Did you look for the lion?” she asked the next day. I hadn’t. “How can I when I’m in the dream?” “You have to remember as you’re falling asleep. The lion is always there but if you don’t look for him he can’t come.”

Over time it started to work. The lion would appear, like a Patronus, and it would fight whatever dark shifting horrors I had invented for myself. The nightmares eased and eventually stopped all together as I began to realise the full extent of what my grandmother had given me. So many years later, with time and practice, I dream lucidly. Thanks to Dandy Lion. Dandy himself rarely shows up these days, but I always have a hand on the tiller and if there is horror I shatter the world into light. My dreams still are strange bright arbitrary journeys, but my expectations are positive and the journeys are fun. I can’t go to bed and set out to dream about Michelle Pfeiffer, but if Michelle Pfeiffer turns into a million mosquitoes and starts trying to envelop me then I can switch on the wind tunnel that we were in all the time and they’ll all get blown into a giant frog that was always there too. That’ll teach you, mosquito Michelle!

People love to tell you their dreams, and yet dreams are usually highly personal. Other people’s dreams rarely have much for us, outside of interpretable symbols. We’ve all politely waited for someone to finish telling us their dream. But how extraordinary that everybody spends time every night telling themselves these mad stories over which they have no real control. Some are stories that are so outlandish to the mind of the dreamer that they want to share them to make sense of them. Some are stories that teach the dreamer about themselves. Some are stories that vanish immediately on waking, ephemeral beautiful dreams that are written on the wind.

I’ve often wondered about the connection between my lucidity in dream and my vocation. I’ve been an active part of my own nightly stories for so long I feel called to be an active part of more universal stories with other people. I love the way theatre binds the audience and actors into a single breathing organism. Good theatre is a dream that everyone can talk about afterwards. Bad theatre is a nightmare that everyone can break down into component parts and forensically disempower.

I’m off into a different kind of dream space tonight, so I’m cheating by getting this written in the morning as I won’t manage at the usual time. I have high expectations of today, of tonight. I think I’ll walk in a park for a bit beforehand and see a form of nature. Hopefully the pigeons won’t go for my eyes.

I’ll see you on the other side. Or more likely on the other side of the other side. Which is here. I’ll see you here. Or there. Wherever I end up. Maybe I’ll find the lion.



My cousin-outlaw Charlotte once said that my flat is the only London flat she can think of where the door is constantly revolving. People are always staying over for a few nights. I wish I had a spare room. Or six. There’d be constant delight. They bring what they bring, the motley crowd of people who stay here. Some bring music, some bring food, some bring money, some just bring their company. The latest guest has left for Paris but I still don’t get to sleep in my bed because now I have that same cousin-outlaw staying, with her daughter, and Alfie the dog. All three of them slept in my room last night, to the discombobulation of Pickle, who spent most of the morning hiding behind things and glaring at Alfie, and most of the previous night trying to burrow through me as I slept on the sofa.

Cousin outlaw? Well she married my cousin while I was in a painfully awkward teenage phase. Georgia was born, but now they’re divorced. So we’ve settled on cousin outlaw as a descriptor. I stay with her when I’m in Manchester, and she’s always welcome here. She’s the only family I’ve got in my industry. It’s good to have someone to share the struggle with that’s related to me, however loosely. 

She’s a playwright, and her first play went global and was a terrifically changing piece of writing in the mid eighties. When I was that awkward teenager I didn’t get it at all. It was about women and the North. I was living in London and at an all boys school. The first time we met, I opened with: “I read your play. It didn’t do anything for me.” Twat. It’s a miracle we’re still friends, let alone that we get on so well. But I’ve been on a journey. I look back on that boy and don’t really remember how I was him. I still have his diaries though, and it seems I was thinking similarly. I was just riddled with insecurity and a social misfit. I’m still a social misfit, but I’m cool with that as I have loads of social misfit friends and we hang out and it’s normal.

Anyway, since that big play she’s written a load of gorgeous lavish poetic epic plays and far too few of them have been produced. Before long one of them will fly. But for now she’s just writing, living, consuming, loving and pushing forwards. She’s great, and a hugely positive part of my world.

We went to see Road tonight at The Royal Court. Jim Cartwright’s masterpiece. It first played that stage 3 years before Charlotte’s debut there in the 80’s. It’s the second show I’ve been to in two nights where the actors have been in a fishtank. I was happy to get the chance to see it finally, having been aware of it for ages. I’ve seen sections of it being beaten to death in small studios by hopeful young people trying to get a place at drama school. I’ve seen cut versions of scenes at showcases. I’ve never seen the whole show by a consistent company. It’s another very thought provoking piece, and a hymn to resilience in desperate circumstances.

I barely knew the eighties but it felt very much like an eighties I could believe. Despite my saying about Yerma that I was glad of the modernisation, I was equally glad to see Road in context. Clearly I just find something to like and then justify the reasons I like it later. On that basis I probably should never review theatre. I’d be like The Stage in the early 2000’s, where virtually every review was “yay theatre I love theatre it’s great 5 stars!!!”

It’s coming up to 2am, they’re asleep in my room. Time for me to turn in, so the cat can try to burrow into me again as I sleep. Here she is simultaneously hiding from and glaring at the hound.