RIP Maureen and Sadie

Fish are absolute bastards.

Maybe you remember Maureen and Sadie? The angelfish. When I picked up the tank I had to drain it and bag up all the fish. The previous owner advised me as to who would share a bag and who could be on their own. Maureen and Sadie went in a bag together. “They’re inseparable,” he told me. “But they’re very very old for angelfish. They might not survive the journey.”

They survived. For ten months they floated around at the front of the tank, providing a serenity that the other busy fish did not bring. They were aging but calm. They were the focus for the tank, really.

When I got back from Jersey, they weren’t there. Vanished. The other fish were all accounted for. There was food in the feeder. But the two most obvious and visible fish? Vanished.

I have a cleaner. Maria. She comes occasionally and stops me getting buried in shit. My immediate thought was that she might have quietly disposed of the bodies and not told me. But no. She knew nothing of it.

I googled “my angelfish vanished” or somesuch. I wanted to see if what I feared was a frequent occurrence. They are peaceful fish by nature, angelfish, and fragile. Some of my loaches are fucking mental.

Lots of people have put similar things up. It seems it doesn’t take long for a fishy corpse to be munched.

So yeah. The angelfish were old. Very old for fish of that kind. I’d like to think that maybe they both just died naturally at exactly the same time, bound together in death as in life. It’s nice to think that, as another option is that one of them died and became food, and consequently the other one was thought of as food. And the third option was that they both just got ganged up on.

The websites I found were pretty clear on it. If your fish has vanished, it’s either jumped out and is on the floor dead near the tank, or it has been frenzied. “Look for little bones hidden under things in the tank.”

I looked. I found the little bones. Oh dear. There’s not much left of Maureen and Sadie now.

I named them after an old couple in Jersey who used to babysit for me when I was five or six. They were fun. They were my first experience of a same sex couple. And they were the first people I knew who died. I knew the fishy namesakes would go earlier than the other fish. I thought that perhaps I’d be able to honour their passing this time. To bid the fish farewell in a way I never could with the humans, and thereby thank them both for their small contributions to my upbringing. But no. Maureen and Sadie from the fish tank were cannibalised by their neighbors. No matter what you might expect about how inbred it all is in Jersey, I’m pretty sure their progenitors were spared a similar fate.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Maybe I’ll get some more angelfish. But I’m kind of worried that the loaches have got a taste for angelfish meat now… I’ll have to do some research. The tank is poorer without them, even if I’m impressed they lived as long as they did.

Early morning self tape

A night of fitful sleep. My agent is going great guns at the moment. Even though my passport expires imminently, they are getting me through the door for interesting and apposite roles.

Problem is I’m very busy. My head is full. I had three scenes due self taped at ten this morning. Normally I’d find a time to do them before bed, but today I had to take the whole process right to the wire. I set my alarm for 6am.

When I know I have an earlier start than usual I think I sleep even worse than I usually do. I woke up muzzy. No coffee in the house. And I had to set up my home studio.

I need a better system. In order to access the clean wall for backdrop, I had to unscrew the clip frame for the four Mucha prints. They all fell out while I was doing it, as you can’t unscrew it without opening it. Then I had to move my mirror, push the chaise into the corner, take everything off the desk and put it in the corridor. Then it’s assembling all the tripods and building the two lights. Screwing in the huge bulbs and covering. Then arranging it all so there’s not too much shadow. By the time I had it all set up it was gone 8.

Squeeze into a vintage suit. Contact lenses. Water in the hair. Shave – but keep the tache as I’m penciled for the advert. Thankfully it works for my guy this morning.

Scene One was just my character, so – very quickly shot and into scene two. It was during scene two that I woke up though. It was another monologue but I hadn’t had all the time I needed for the lines to sink in so I needed to focus. Somehow I’ve run out of coffee with no time to buy it so the easy wakey juice wasn’t in my system. Adrenaline started to do the job. By half eight I was done with the first two but scenes. Then I realised that other people had to speak in the third one. I was on my own.

I ended up recording the other people’s lines with gaps on my iPad and then pushing play on the audio mid-scene and hoping that the gaps I left were roughly the right length. By nine I had finished, an hour before the deadline, despite my phone running out of juice and largely having to pick up the lines on the fly. Then I had to watch myself (yuk) and rename the decent takes and decide what to send. By about quarter past nine I had decided that whatever the hell I was doing in the first scene when I was still asleep it was nothing to do with the character and delivery style I hit on later. The guy’s a barrister. He has his ways. So I reshot. Then review, rename, finalise, WeTransfer to my agent. The transfer landed in their inbox at precisely 10am. Then I had to deconstruct all the lights and tripods, move all the furniture back and try to put the fecking picture back up.

I failed. I’ve given up. I haven’t the energy for putting the picture back. I’ll need to take it off the wall completely, lie it flat and force it to behave. That’s what you get for buying the cheapest frame possible.

And that was the day really, finished at ten. With all the audition adrenaline going slowly stale in my system from then on, I wasn’t in a practical headspace. Plus I had to do lots of reading ghost stories out loud to myself for a thing on Monday. But it whizzed by.

Another prospect. Another possibility of an interesting direction for a while. It’s sent.

And now my split second decision to keep the tache before meeting for the waiter – it’s starting to get me into one of those spirals where I’ll end up having a moustache for months because there’s always something in the can with it waiting on a final decision and it’ll keep rolling over.

Still. It kinda suits me. Or so I tell myself.

Omen

Well, my stress levels are a little lower now as it looks like I won’t have to click back into top gear right away for a Shakespearean MC at The Globe. That’s a throwback to pre-pandemic days, and we pitched at the usual price for a bar mitzvah on Saturday, but the client has gone silent after trying to haggle us down. Better to stand firm if you know you offer a confident and skillful product. There’s always somebody who will offer to take the bottom out. The important thing is to make sure it isn’t you. Chances are they have somebody perfectly serviceable. Just not me. Sad really as I would have liked to have stepped back into that joyful helpful work. It’s playing to my skillset and my joy. But the absence of it gives me huge amounts of headspace that I had budgeted for building an evening around their needs at short notice.

I remember now – the fine art of headspace budgeting. That was my life pre-pandemic. I can only really focus on one thing at a time. Right now there are many things that require my attention. I’ve got to get a self tape into my agent by ten tomorrow morning. We rehearsed Halloween this evening. Mao’s owner is used to having what she wants quickly and is struggling to work with my timings regarding driving him from Brighton to Oxford, which I’m finding stressful as I don’t want to rush him off – for his own good and for ours. And the Hampstead flat hit deadline today. My focus was on that. That flat and the heath gave me a beautiful haven when Kitcat was straightening out in Chelsea over that hot hot summer of the first lockdown. It’s only fair that I smooth things for my friend now she’s lost the tenancy.

Today was a traditional London day. One of the times when the fact there are so many of us squished into a tiny space feels like an advantage. Emma and John are both North London locals, and both know my friend. With very little notice they are both on hand to help start the process of moving things out of Hampstead. It’s going to be slow. But knowing that there are friends to help occasionally will make this work considerably better. Work never really feels like work when the conversation is good. On this unseasonably sunny October day we hauled around some of my friends possessions until I was so low on fuel that I started worrying. The downstairs neighbours, who usually just complain and twitch curtains, heard the banging and came out. I ended up putting one of their numbers in my phone. She gave me some parking permits. “Your friend,” she said. “I’ve seen him on the telly I think…” “Yes. He’s an actor. We all are. He was at RADA with your upstairs neighbour who has been unceremoniously kicked out.”

I stopped and bought my friends late lunch. Tasty dated burger at BOB’S. Then I had to switch my head into the Halloween ghost tour as I had a rehearsal this evening. As I parked an almost completely empty Bergman outside Mel’s, worrying about the rest of her stuff, worrying about the ghost tour, worrying about getting petrol, worrying about Lou, a short brightly dressed woman of about my age with sharp red hair and tiny glasses suddenly and strangely sought my attention. “Excuse me,” she said as I got out of the car. “I’d never normally do this to a stranger, but look up – have you ever seen anything like that before?”

I looked up. The sky was smiling. All this stuff we’re worrying about. All the little details as the world picks back up and we remember how it all fits together… We can get swept up in our own shit so much that it takes a kind stranger to remind us to stop.

Look up. Beauty is often there if you look for it. So many people in Hampstead for that glorious moment were banging through their worries oblivious to the omen in the sky.

It’s going to be ok. Somehow it’s all going to be ok.

Too much to do

There’s a little shop in South End Green that sells groceries. When I was living here over the glorious summer of lockdown I would get my booze substitutes from them. Ginger beers and kombucha and non-alcoholic beers. Anything bitter with a kick. I haven’t been here for ages but he recognised me – even without the beard. “You haven’t been here for months!” “Likely this will be one of the last times I see you,” I tell him. “My friend is losing her flat. By the way, you have excellent facial recognition.” He chuckles, and points to his colleague rearranging the drinks in the fridge. “I don’t need that. I have him,” he tells me cryptically, and the man at the fridge turns towards me. It’s not that he looks just like me. But there’s something. We study each other knowing that there’s something in the aspect. There was me being flattered that he’d remembered me from all that time ago. But it was because I look a bit like his mate, and back then we had precious little to stimulate us so that sort of thing sticks. “Hey look, it’s your weird cousin buying sugar again. You should get a hat like that “

We’ve all had a hell of a year, haven’t we? Dear God. I’m so busy I feel a bit panicky, but in 2019 I’d have been looking for even more to do. Then it all stopped. We had that summer. And I think we’ve all changed through it, and at the same time we’ve built stronger relationships with the people who work in our local store. For a while that guy behind the perspex screen was the only human I spoke to in a normal day.

Now it’s ghost tours and ghost stories, it’s castings and pencils. It’s splitting my time between London and Brighton. It’s getting Mao back to where he belongs. And it’s Hampstead.

Mao’s owner and her daughter are back in Oxford and they are desperate to see him. I know why as well. He’s a softie, and a wise old soul even though he’s feeling older now. I’ll be so sad to return him and I know Lou will be devastated as well. But he was only ever passing through our lives. A gift of soft company for the end of the lockdown period. He joined the snake and the guy in the shop as the things I could be with that moved of their own volition. And it was a good time. But as the seasons change it feels like a time of shift. Nothing lasts forever. We need to get the old man back to his family while he’s still healthy, and say farewell, and thank him for his boundless patience.

And Hampstead. I’m here again. Deadline is tomorrow. The sheets aren’t dry yet so I’ve put the heating on and slung them on the radiator. Tomorrow will be to do with moving what boxes we can, packing ones we can find and starting to ferry somebody else’s life to storage. I don’t like it. But I’m not sure what else to do really. She’s still in New Zealand.

I’m going to get an early bed, for me. It’s eight now. As soon as these sheets are dry I’m putting them on and I’m tucking up. I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring. I have to do a self tape and another walkthrough of the ghost tour. But I am kind of caught in the middle with this flat and I need to try to help the situation out…

I feel fried. Sleep is the answer. I think I’ve mostly learnt my lines for the tape… Will this be my last night here? Who knows. I’ll miss the view.

Meddling landlady

I’m waiting for the washing machine in Hampstead. I’m cleaning the sheets. This place is not what it used to be when I was house-sitting for my friend. It still has all her books and her games. It has her curious boxes full of interesting things. All the unusual things are here, but her landlady has been thundering through here like an elephant. When my job was to maintain the equilibrium, and the landlady wasn’t involved, it was easy. I could go in occasionally and i could make sure things were well kept.

The neighbors are not friendly. One time, when I was leaving, I explained to some pointedly baffled downstairs residents that I was “checking up on X’s flat”. That language got back to the landlady, who sat me down formally and told me I should refer to it as her flat, not X’s.

Shortly thereafter, a chair was put in the bath. The light fitting had disintegrated above the bath. It’s the sort of thing I could fix easily. But suddenly I’m not sure where I stand here. If the landlady puts the chair into the bath, am I allowed to reverse it? Should I fix the light? Clearly the landlady is aware of it, or she wouldn’t have put the chair in the bath. But she hasn’t fixed it.. But the chair is in the bath which looks like a statement of intent to fix it. It started on her watch. She put the chair in the bath. Then she did fuck all. I have left that chair in the bath for months now, knowing that she’s in and out the whole time, hoping that she might make good on her territorial promise.

Similarly there’s an upside down table in the bedroom that was brought in off the fire escape. There’s a barbeque in the front room…

This flat is not large, and its run down, and even though it’s full of my friend’s possessions and she’s been living there for what – twenty years? Even despite this, in Covid, while she’s been stuck in New Zealand, the landlady has been letting herself in whenever she wants to to just… Doing random shit that I don’t feel I’m allowed to reverse. Pile of kindling in the corner? Ok. Bunch of dirty sheets from a changed bed in the bedroom corner? Yeah fine, but does that mean she slept here? The washing liquid is empty. All the looppaper was gone until I replenished it. A wall covering looked like it had been torn down to see if the wall was damaged behind it. (It wasn’t. I put it back up)

I’m standing here and I’m sad. There was life here once, but with the way in which things have been flung, it feels inhospitable here now. The rent was low, but one of the walls is utterly trashed with a leak that was ignored for decades. There’s a horrible carpet in the bathroom. The place worked for my friend, but it wouldn’t work at all for the market. The whole flat needs to be gutted and rethought.

Despite that, I can remember many many magical crazy nights here. She lived here from when she was training at RADA until now. I met her her when she was an actor straight out of her training. She and I were both plugged into the community of alternative makers. She’s a director now. She’s brilliant and weird. Her time is now. And she’s lost this flat. I hate that. But it feels like she might thrive in New Zealand.

The sheets are clean now and I’ve hung them up. It’s close to midnight. I washed the sheets so I wouldn’t get lazy and sleep here. I’m gonna get a bus home. There’s still lots to do at home too.

Fuck it. I paid fifteen quid and got an Uber.

Home at last

Chilling in Brighton has been delightful but I found myself unconsciously singing “Sloop John B” this morning. Time to go home. I won’t need long here to recharge. Just a night. Which is just as well as tomorrow I’m going to have to go to Hampstead and deal with the fact that my friend’s eviction extension runs out on the 6th October and right now she’s unwell in New Zealand and all her stuff is still in there. I might be needing some help if anybody is free, just to package up stuff and find a place to put it in the next few days. I have lots of boot space in my car and I’m anticipating lots of sad trips somewhere… So hard for her, and I’m not sure I’m qualified to sort her things but I’ll try. She’s essentially losing her home. In New Zealand she’s itinerant…

I came here today because I needed a touch of home, and I’m so glad it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be pulled out from under me. For many years I felt like an impostor in this flat and in this city. But now, just as I’m on the edge of leaving, I’m aware that it has an energy about it that is helpful for me. This is my familiar place. I have things here that I find healing. My eclectic altar and gohonzon. My familiar mattress. My memories, stitched in over more than a decade in these rooms. Even all the strange piles of unsorted antiques, and the costumes currently taking up too much space but even so showing their worth…

I’ve got to dress up as a waiter tomorrow for a casting and that huge haul of free costumes yielded the perfect shiny black jacket and suit. Although as I write I’m thinking that that might be more restaurant manager than waiter. Maybe I’ll just show up in a waistcoat. Still, I’ve got the options here and it’s not until 3pm. In person, which is a delight. I won’t be writing any more about it as it’s the sort of thing that comes with an NDA. But I’m really looking forward to actually going into a room to meet real live people and talk to them with my mouth and my body language. I much prefer the truth of an in person casting to the intensely curatable zoom or self tape. And even with travel to the studio it frequently takes up less time than the self tapes.

I went to a Turkish Barber this afternoon in Kemptown. I thought I’d get the grooming out of the way today so I wasn’t fretting about it tomorrow morning. I got a hot towel shave. “Take the whole beard off please.” “And the moustache as well?” “Come to think of it, no. Leave that.”

I’ve got a furry lip slug. I’m thinking it speaks to the idea of waiter. I might shave it off tomorrow in a fit of second guessing, but right now I quite like the idea of sporting a tache for a while…

I’m lucky that facial hair is all I’ve got to worry about. My poor Hampstead friend… Hopefully I’ll be able to help navigate a kind route through these rapids…

Unavoidably Autumn

Constant rain. Constant wind over the sea and hitting the windows here at Lou’s.

It looked like the sea might get wholly lifted by a gust and flung into the window entirely, waves and all. Great big wet salty drops were flying upwards after hitting the wall, defying gravity. Mao was in frequent need of gentle reassurance and snuggles which were available in abundance as I haven’t seen him for a couple of weeks. Weather, weather, primal autumnal weather. We aren’t in summer anymore, and I’m still not home. Lou has this haven and it’s absolutely packed with sheepskin and natural fibres and goodness, and I’m bridging the gap between Jersey and London here. We have been wonderfully lazy and cozy all day.

There was one expedition. I’m still packed for what I thought was going to be just a warm week in Jersey which has now extended into this blustery week all over the place. I had to wear one of Lou’s vintage raincoats. We ventured into the storm. My target: Coffee. Lou’s: Vegetables.

First to the tiny co-op. Then there’s a bakery in Kemptown that still only lets two people in at a time. You stand at the other side of a big counter and bellow your order. They ask you to repeat it, and the guy standing in the doorway waiting to come in glowers at your back so hard that your hackles go up. There’s almost always a queue. Everybody in the queue is almost always angry. It wouldn’t be worth the wait if the coffee wasn’t beautiful magical liquid gold. This is why everybody waiting is so impatient. They put crack in the coffee.

There are no facilities for making the stuff at Lou’s though. I needed my hit and I was happy to stand in the rain and put up with the palpable discontent of the old man behind me while it was being made. I left with my little paper cup. Sweet sweet caffeine, and back up all the stairs to the flat. Mao met us at the door even though we’d only been gone quarter of an hour. SNUGGLE ME! We gave him dreamies.

We made lentil shepherd’s pie with enough mash to feed an army. We covered it with cheese and then we scoffed it and watched movies.

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. The original. I’ve never seen it before. Mao joined us for most of it but we turned down the volume on the helicopters. He was still a little spooked from the wind.

Encounters is one on those movies that everybody had seen when I was growing up and I never had anybody to watch it with as they mostly didn’t want to see it again. I think they’ve remade it with a modern cast as they tend to do with movies that made bank the first time round. But frankly I was very happy with the lo-fi solutions in this slice of seventies Spielberg sci-fi. My watching habit is not strong. I like to watch things with other people, but get very distracted when I’m trying to do it alone and often pause it to do something else for a bit and never return. Which is odd as when I’m in company I can watch multiple movies back to back.

Jumping on the mood and the atrocious weather, we did that and wolfed down Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mister Fox as well. Lou enjoys the way Fox goes from being charming to eating like a monster. She tells me it reminds her of me…

Such a wonderfully lazy day. Now I’m in bed listening to the crashing of breakers on stone. I think tomorrow night might find me in London, beardless and cozy in my own bed. For now I’m gonna listen to the sea and pass out.

Screaming children

“I feel I’ve just got out of outer Mongolia,” says one lady on her phone as I’m writing. “I’m knackered and all it was was a train to Littlehampton. I’ve just lost the will to live.”

It’s been a baptism of fire for sure, coming from the sleepy Island of Jersey and into the day I’ve just had. That last train was all of the people from loads of trains at the end of the school day in Havant. They all bundled in on top of one another howling and screaming. I suspect she’s thinking about the hordes of Genghis Khan, but all they were stealing was signs and nobody hit me with an axe. One of them even put a little apology note for stealing the sign. I was last off the train so I snapped it.

At least he spelt “sign” right.

Kids are exhausting in large numbers. And those kids on the train were still expressing the fact they were allowed to be in proximity to one another again. They were all buoyed up on each others excitement to fever pitch. It was a chaos of conflicting noises… Who the hell wants to be a teacher? Urrgh.

I’ve been managing loads of the dreaded youth today with some workshops. Once every few months is enough for me. My fantasy of a lovely calm sunlit trip through dappled woodlands and bright English seascapes was severely upset by the fact that I lived inside a shouting teenagers armpit for about half an hour. I’ve escaped now though. I can think enough to write this. There’s green out the window. The sun is low and it’s lighting everything well and it looks pretty.

I’m off to see Lou! Oh phew. Oh lordy. I’m knackered already and it’s only half past five, and we are being thrown all over the place and I wish that people hadn’t been panic buying fecking petrol because normally I’d just have driven this whole damn journey and this is why I hate trains hate trains hate trains. I’m honestly happier on the Megabus as the cost matches the experience. Trains you pay too much and then everything gets cancelled and you have a horrible time and they were all shouting and I left a room full of shouting kids only to sit in a TINY CARRIAGE full of them and aaargh.

So I’m gonna go for dinner with Lou and she’s gonna tell me I’m talking too quickly and I’m gonna want a glass of wine and it’ll be really lovely so lovely to see her. I’ve missed her calm. I’ve been storm in Jersey. Heading to the sea. Two nights here and then finally London. I’m gonna sit here, and breathe and look at green things out of the window.

Immediately after I scheduled this, the worst busker in Sussex stood directly behind me to shout “Get rhythm when you get the blues”. Oh please just get me to the seaside.

Andy and his “Ghost” story

Andy has been out on the town. His favourite haunt in Havant. The Parchment Makers. JD Wetherspoons. Cheap beer, nice old property, literally owned by Satan. He’s pissed, our boy. He holds it well. But he’s had a good six pints I reckon and he’s forgotten he’s not with his mates anymore, so we continue the conversation. He’s big. He can hold it. But his eyes can’t.

He’s mostly engaged in today’s big horrible UK story. He’s going home to North End and we are the only two people at the bus stop. I’m going ten stops. I realise I’m going to be on this bus with him for a while. “This is why I think they should bring back public execution,” says Andy, still on the story. “Televise it. You can pay extra for ringside seats…” He says this exact sentence twice in about a minute, and both times he fresh mints it. Young actors could learn from the way he coins the thoughts. The story is depressing enough though without having to get even more covered in it. Poor poor woman. Poor family. Just the worst story to think about. The fucker is in prison now. Likely he won’t last 3 years. The police have got a mountain to climb.

I try to discourage Andy away from the story though. I don’t want to wade in it. All I had on the train was the evening standard and all that was doing was filling me with it and the feelings connected to it.

I ask him if he’s ever been to Jersey. It’s a clear subject change but he’s drunk so he’s not seeking linear conversation. The ferry leaves from his home town so I’m thinking it might be more likely. And sure enough he has.

Andy’s mother in law was from Jersey. They went over on the ferry, just once. His missus is sadly no longer with us. There’s something tragic in Andy’s past and I see a flash of it when he says that, pauses, and then regroups. Then he’s into another story. It’s another of Andy’s well told well rolled stories. This is Andy coping with life. Andy must be the guy who tells the stories in his peer group. Maybe they all do, in rounds, never listening.

He was on the ferry to Jersey – Andy and his wife. He was off to see the mother in law. Everybody was watching Ghost in the cinema on the boat. It was a rough crossing and you know that bit in Ghost, right, where he jumps from one train to another? Well he did that, and 98% of the people watching got up and ran off to be sick. The story involves a little jumping motion. Over just ten stops on the bus, Andy tells the story twice. Once again it’s identical both times and feels like he’s just remembering it for the first time. He’s a big lad so I’m not gonna tell him he’s repeating, and it’s fascinating. I try to remint my reactions in honour. The second time round I regale him with my own ferry story. This is how it works with him. Story for story. He settles back. On that same bilious boat, last time I traveled that way, and of the poor woman who was sick in front of me and forgot she had her mask on. We both agree that that boat, from Portsmouth down around Cherbourg to Guernsey and Jersey – nobody wants to be on that boat.

He’s happy drunk now I’ve got him into memories and away from that news story. “What was your favourite thing in Jersey,” yielded a moment of addled thought and then, randomly, “A diamond factory! But honestly we didn’t do anything or go anywhere. It was just with the family. They drink a lot over there…”

Chat remains constant until my stop where he sees me off with a fist bump and I see how huge his hand is compared to mine. He’s got a few years on me, this slow sad and catastrophically drunk man. But I wouldn’t want to get in a fight with him.

From the bus stop it’s fifteen minutes down rainy suburban streets. A fox crosses ahead of me as I turn into a little housing estate. I’m in the spare bedroom here. Airbnb. Super cheap. Right by my work tomorrow. The sixth different bed I’ve slept in since I was home. Back from Jersey. Back in the mix. And it seems that things are happening again. Andy is going out on the Thursday lash. Al is going to random towns around the UK to do random jobby things. Game on.

Passport back again

Years ago my passport fell out of my pocket on a National Express bus overnight from Newcastle to London. I had a gig in Amsterdam with the flight booked 24 hours after I realised it was no longer with me. “So few people know what to do with a stolen passport,” said my best friend. “It’s much more likely that it’ll show up, but you need to make yourself easy to find.” I left a message on an answerphone at the National Express bus depot in Portsmouth or wherever that particular bus finished its journey – I forget. I got a call from a cleaner at about 7am. She gave it to a driver in an envelope, and I picked it up at 11am at Victoria Coach Station. My flight was at 4pm. I made it, made the gig, made some money. Phew.

My best friend’s wisdom was my guide this time around. Nobody knows what to do with the fucking thing. I kind of knew it had to be somewhere.

I had tried every single place I had been to or even walked past in St Brelade. It’s pretty easy. There’s fuck all in St Brelade. I made myself a right pain for the staff at the posh hotel there – it was the most likely candidate. The only place I couldn’t try yesterday was The Crab Shack. It was shut when I went round.

This morning I tried the coffee shop in St Helier. I tried the bus depot. I went to both the main Jersey police station and to the St Brelade parish hall, inexplicably located in St Aubin. Nothing. I was not going to be deterred. Thank the lord I had given myself all this time.

Once again I walked down the St Brelade strip. One by one I stopped everywhere, even places I had not been into. You’d remember if a passport had been handed in. Nobody remembered.

Finally, The Crab Shack. I go in there thinking to myself that if this is fruitless then I’m honestly completely out of possibilities.

“Excuse me, do you have a lost property / department or…”

” / we’ve got it. It’s safe. You came. Yes. Your passport. I recognise you.”

Ten years ago. No beard. Still got it.

He had my passport. They ran out of the place to try and find me after I left but I was too quick.

“We rang the number you gave when you filled in your form. It was a dead number.”

“I never fill those forms in correctly.”

Nobody stole my passport. Minnie was right again. It HAD to be somewhere and likely there was a person who wanted to return it. And it was somewhere. And it was returned. And now I can get back to the UK and renew the damn thing in peace.

Thank you for your prayers and chants and positive energy. Maybe this time I’ll learn to stop walking around with my damn passport in my pocket. Particularly not if I’m going to a beachfront cafe at 8pm in order to consume a carafe of wine and six oysters.