Bird

A bird that I think is a variety of pigeon got into our conservatory this morning. The poor thing panicked and flew full tilt into the windows repeatedly as it tried to escape. It must have cracked its skull before we got it out. Since then it has staggered in the autumn leaves outside, occasionally hopping around, seeking height, catastrophically insane. We tried to give it water and food, but it still understands that humans are danger so it is using the last of its energy to get away from us. It’s dying. There’s not a great deal we can do. When we get too close its movement sends up a cloud of flies that are probably already bedding eggs into its feathers. Its instincts are more finely honed to avoid humans than they are to shrug off flies. I suspect that it avoids us for preference because we are big, clumsy and obvious. Not because we are a destructive plague to nature. But perhaps it’s a combination of the two. Maybe the insanity has given it perspective.

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8 artists who live in London relaxing in the countryside. There are donkeys next door, flies everywhere, loads of birds, bats, bugs and bloodsuckers. I’m trying not to kill anything, which makes it hard with the mosquitoes, but thankfully they are infinitely more interested in the pale skinned members of the group. I never really get bitten if there are alternative food sources. Brian and Rebecca are dish of the day. I’m emergency rations.

I had to spend ages getting this Hindi self-tape down, which became antisocial. I tried not to let it eat the whole day, so I familiarised myself and sight-read it while filming myself in the sunshine as that pigeon glared at me. “Look at you, messing around while I’m dying.” I could hear it think. Everyone else was off having fun. I was filming myself talking to myself in a language I didn’t understand while that mad skullcracked pigeon reflected me back to myself through its little dark eyes.

Brian had tried to give it water earlier. I tried again. It still feared humans too much though. So I sat in the conservatory and it came and stared at me through the glass as I tried to upload videos of myself to the internet. Slow slow upload. So slow. I couldn’t stand the avian scrutiny. I went for a drive, leaving my phone at home to work.

We rely on technology so much. I got in the car and realised I didn’t know my address. I had no map. I know nobody’s number. If I got lost I would get very lost. But I found a wood and walked in it. I found porcini mushrooms, but didn’t have my phone with me to confirm so I left them. Even if I’d been certain I probably wouldn’t have brought them to the table as I don’t want to kill my friends from idiocy. But all my habits revolve around grabbing this phone. I write my blog on it. I play my music on it. I navigate, film self tapes, upload movies. This morning I spoke to a man in India on it. He was on a bus and he taught me how to pronounce some phrases. It’s amazing what these things can do. Impossible. Wonderful. I took a photo of a dying pigeon covered in flies on it. Here it is. It just looked at me. Four foot was its boundary for me.

Self tape is uploaded. Time to get stuck into the last night prosecco and enjoy the fact that people have come home now and the pigeon has slunk round a corner. We’re making too much noise.

I suspect I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and it’ll be sitting at the end of my bed. As I rub my eyes in disbelief it’ll keel over and die. Meantime I’m going to help cook dinner. And drink more prosecco.

 

Barbecue

Today has been wonderfully relaxing. The quality of the produce round here is so high. I’ve been eating mozzarella and salads, tomatoes and beautiful cuts of meat, baked camembert and probably far too much prosecco because it’s €2.99 a bottle.

After driving to Como yesterday it felt justifiable to lounge in the villa all day today. We’ve been ambling around barefoot to a varied but excellent soundtrack. We wrote a murder mystery for ourselves just because it might be fun. That’ll happen this evening and either be a car crash or an entertainment.

Rebecca is convinced we’re all going to get murdered here, so it makes sense to create towards the fantasy. She’s running off classic horror movie tropes. 8 varied personalities having a lovely time in a villa in Italy. Friday 13th. Lots of weird stuff on the walls. Straps and cast iron pokers and so forth. It IS pretty odd here. There’s an antique sewing machine in every room. Old keys and irons are displayed prominently in the communal areas. There’s an autonomous mower that wanders around and tries to eat the things you leave. It hacked into a pool noodle yesterday and I ended up scolding it like you would a bad child. Then I tried to adjust his settings and ended up inadvertently shutting him down. I miss him. He’s just sitting there on the lawn, inert. We had given him a name. I hope he’s not angry with me for accidentally shutting him off.

The power to the villa cut off randomly in the middle of the afternoon. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen once it’s dark. It’s beautiful here but having written this murder mystery it would be weird to suddenly be plunged into darkness. Especially considering how the temperature plunges at night.

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We are having a barbecue now, and I picked up my phone to write this and intercepted an email from my agent wanting a self tape for tomorrow in English and Hindi. They know I don’t speak Hindi but that doesn’t seem to have bothered them. It’s a very strange existence I’ve chosen. I have no idea how I’m going to pull that off, considering my Hindi speaking friends are all in London and I’m lounging around in a villa in Como. Still, I can certainly hack something out. But tonight it’s barbeque and the rest of this prosecco.

My dear old friend is also messaging me with phrases that he wants read into a microphone for a computer game pitch that he’s assembling. It’s already feeling a little like the random work world is trying to suck me back in immediately, as soon as I allow myself to take my foot off the gas and chill out.

To the extent that actually fuck it I’m going to put my phone back down for the rest of the night and just enjoy the good company and tasty barbeque without disappearing into this Hindi script. If they will contact me when I’m on holiday, with less than 24 hours notice and no mention of how much I’ll be paid, then they’ll get what they’re given…


Murder mystery was ridiculous fun. It was mostly cross gender and I ended up as Bianca Castafiore and also the murderer. I poisoned one of my biggest fans, stabbed the arsonist kid in the back, clubbed the Mafia Don to death and ran away, and gave a heavy overdose to the young woman that sang me a song. Then I managed to frame the chef and got away with it. All those times I’ve played werewolf paid off…

Here we all are…

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Como

“What’s your blog going to be about today?”, asks Mel as Marco jags the convertible Opel Cascada round a headland and Lake Como spreads itself out beneath us, spiked with evening sun. I feel like a 1960’s model. I trust Marco not to force me to give him a blowjob too. So I can just enjoy the ride as the sun goes down. Mel’s question isn’t rhetorical either. It’s been a full day.

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It’s not summer any more. In fact it’s freezing once the sun is gone. That won’t stop us keeping the top off this ridiculous car as the night closes in. We are heading back to the villa now, for spaghetti puttanesca, way too much red wine and… well you never know, if Marco plays his cards right maybe it’ll happen naturally. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be a first for both of us. But this place is full of surprises. And I’ve said the word Rimula a great deal lately so things like that are close the surface.
We’ve finished the thing that we were doing. I won’t say we’ve finished working because it was barely classifiable as work. Rimula job firmly rimmed. Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Oil is lubricating trucks in the world, but the future holds even lower viscosity oils, and even tighter fuel efficiency. Hooray etc. 

Half of the team are already back in the UK. The rest of us have gone to Como. And Marco upgraded his rental car to the hilarious convertible which has just been described by Mel as a “pussywagon.” Armed with such an egregious set of wheels, what choice do we have but to spin through the sunset roads by the lake?

This is the first uncomplicated holiday I’ve allowed myself for a while. I’m having a few days to switch off and recalibrate. Although having said that my manager just got off the phone, and I’m likely to have to send a self tape to her tomorrow. But for the most part I want to eat good food, catch the last of the Mediterranean sun, and stop banging my head against the wall for a second.

Last time I went on holiday in Italy, I came home and immediately shot a WW1 reconstruction. This was ten years ago, and I wasn’t able to get emails abroad. I learnt the soldier I had auditioned for. Then I arrived on set to discover that I was cast as a different soldier who also spoke a lot. I had to learn it during hair and makeup, while trying to make out like I wasn’t fazed and was totally prepared. I had to stash a load of bottles of pretend alcohol in my coat and then come and be terribly terribly posh in the trenches in a telling of the famous Christmas armistice. I wished the alcohol was real. It was not a pleasant shoot, internally. Went fine on the outside. I can’t imagine making that mistake now. My skin crawls thinking about it.  That job still pays me though. Every December I get money for usage. Every year it gets smaller. Last year it was down to 42p, efficiently paid direct to me by BACS just before Christmas by my old agent.

It still looks likely I’ll be shooting just after I get back from this holiday. I’ll be learning the right part this time round though… Fingers crossed.