Wednesday, 14 June 2017

TEN OF THE MOST part 1: 2007 - 2011ish

Happy tenth birthday, you bastard blog! Yes, ten years ago I carved myself a bit of myspace and fired by the example of others began filling it with the shit and whimsy I'd previously reserved for notebooks. To celebrate this millstone milestone I thought I'd go back through each year and repost the most popular entry, but the original blog's been wiped from myspace now it appears, and so I've no idea who was reading what for those first five years before I moved everything here to blogspot. Fine. That's as it should be. Here's my favourites instead:

2007 - I now had a big new room in the house-share in Brixton to store all the old crap my parents had left me when they moved to France earlier that year. The beginning of this blog coincided with that earliest work's unboxing...

Monday, 3 September 2007

First Recorded Symptom of Not Getting Angels

In late and happy conversation with my sister on Saturday night I hit upon a neat idea of what I need: "lessons and homework". It hasn't changed since I was four. Lessons and homework. And a girl who smiles back.

I've moved my chair round. It faces the bookcase now so I can sit and write without staring at my bed and my desk feels more like a nest. But the slope in the floor's a lot more more pronounced this side of it. I'm sort of leaning to the left. Swings and roundabouts. I had to move boxes to do this. It's good they've moved. And here's another drawing from when I was eight.

It illustrates: Joseph of Arimathaea's request to entomb the body of Jesus... Pilate's provision of a guard for the tomb... and Mary Magdalen's encounter with an angel on Easter morning. (In the Gospel according to Mark it's a "young man arrayed in a white robe". In Luke it's "two men in dazzling apparel". In Matthew it's an angel and an earthquake, which may be why my guard has fallen over. Or he's swooned.)
Tick. Tick. Tick. See? Is your favorite bit the fact that my understanding of angels as beings of absolute goodness means I have to make him apologize for his own existence? Mine too. 

2008 - The year of the Crunch. Like childhood these first twelve months of the blog still feels like a third to a half of the whole undertaking. I was posting a lot, thinking a lot, and there was so much to record. I'd just started writing comedy, I had the London Dungeon and the Shunt Lounge. I was also feeling a lot it seems, 2008 posts are even fuller of feels and accounts of weeping in front of Animalympics on youtube than 2007. But I'll spare you all that "Emotional Dev"and choose instead a fun fave from the beginning of the year about dying alone...

Friday, 4 January 2008


Ahhhhh, "Credit Squeeze" says the radio, and as a "sup-prime" I skirt blithely like a coyote in a batsuit around my overdraft limit of whatever it is and look around me to see what I might sign up to next. Inspired perhaps by the jumper my parents have bought me for Christmas I investigate the Campaign for Real Ale and a copy of the "London Drinker" that I picked up in an pub in High Barnet. I don't really know anything about CAMRA to be honest, but I do know that any organization so clearly estranged from the insidious influence of marketing and homogenised thought as to produce an advert as impenetrable as this...

... is clearly onto something. Or rather not. Which is the point. Surely these cosy, beardy, sedentary men who drink "Santa's Wobble" are more like the kind of guys I should be hanging out with than the shiny-eyed zeitgeist pilots I find myself drinking with at Shunt.

But then I come across the obituaries. 

There are two, and while they're both written with obvious affection for their subjects, they also contain quite substantial cause for qualm. I'm reprinting here only those details that led me to reconsider which is of course grossly unfair to the dead men in question, but... sorry: 

Andrew Cifton, I never knew you. It says here that you were found dead in your home "aged just 56 years and 5 months". It says you "had a heart of gold and will be sadly missed." It says you were "the bane of present and past CAMRA national chairmen, given to heckling at meetings whenever a perceived injustice frustrated him, often culminating in a theatrical storming-out, with a tirade of invective, and occasionally having to return to collect a jacket (or cuddly toy) that he had left behind!" It says "Unwelcome questions that he didn't wish to answer were often fielded with a shrug of the shoulders, while if he was unhappy about something, he would mutter away about it under his breath."

And "'Arry" Hart... It says here that many stories were shared about you in the Sultan in Tooting after your funeral on 22 October. It says many precious memories were shared by "Sue". It says you were "a very private person whom few would have known closely, except when riled, as he could be." It says "When things were promised and those promises broken, he would become quite vocal after a few beers. The spelling lesson in Dudley when he was refused orders after 2am will live in everyone's memory. I remember Sue had to take him back to the room quickly. On another occasion he flew into a righteous lather on the Isle of wight when told he could not redeem tokens he'd been promised were redeemable."

A deep, dark mirror... 

So now I'm thinking of joining these guys instead:

2009 - Already?! I associate so much of this blog with single life in the house before the fire, but we're here already, in a grandiose gated community in Clapham with the formatting all over the place, everything boxed again, and rehearsals begun for what would become one of my absolute favourite shows despite the qualms expressed below: Money. None of the links seem to work now though, I know, but the "steroid-induced psychotic episode" mentioned can be found here...

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

New Big Spaces

I'm well, thank you for asking.

In fact I think I'm all well. I would go for walks on Hampstead Heath and check on my hand to see how my body was doing like I used to in hospital then see that it was glowing and have to find a bench, but that was back in February.

And well now, how to get from there to here? Am I just going to write everything? Maybe I should start by making my excuses:

1. The lease ran out on my photoshop, which is half the fun of these posts for me (so these images are bigger and duller than I'd like).

2. I *was* of course going to write about my steroid-induced psychotic episode next (so very Christian Bale, so very topical back in February) but thought better of that until I'd found somewhere to live... which now I set it down in print strikes me as incredibly paranoid. Or is it? I don't know. Ah. No but if I were vetting potential flat-mates I'd probably google them to see if they'd, say, started any fights in hospital with a club-footed Maori. Then again, to paraphrase Lenny Bruce, I'd google mud.

Hmm, these paragraphs are more widely spaced than I remember, Yup, big spaces... Anyway I moved out of Susy's at the end of March into a long, uncarpeted, white-washed room in a large, airy, joss-sticky flat in Gipsy Hill and I lasted there a month. The land-lady didn't like my hours, and who can blame her? The floor-boards creaked, her room was right outside the bathroom, she slept with her door open so actually yes I for one can blame her, but a home's a home and that was hers and I'm not even sure I want one right now.

Time passes, shut up! as Dylan Thomas once wrote, and I've found a room now with a carpet and a coffee table three storeys up a tower-block in Clapham Junction with gardens, pool, sauna, jacuzzi and loudly wuthering heights. I'm holed up across from the busiest station in Europe, I've found a Complete Works of Shakespeare for a pound and Dr. Thompson's incomparable "Great Shark Hunt" for three, I'm pretending I'm on tour or a scatty writer assigned to LA, my stuff - the charred and the saved - stays in storage until I can face it, and the big money's been coming in fine from Shunt whose new show's more physical aspects can here be seen under construction.


In fact they're still under construction. And with nowhere to work and the director up in Scotland we have this week off. It's okay though, it's all fine, I'm just in it for the company and the money that's what I've got to keep telling myself. I mean, it's great! I'm better! I can do winch-work and wrestling and I've got a pool and a sofa! And I've got work, biggish commissions for both LaurenceandGus' and MitchellandWebb's new radio shows, and it's work I can actually do (new stuff got laughed at)! AND the insults  Charlotte Hesketh and I have been throwing back and forth across f*c*b**k for the past month now number a hundred, so I can finally leave that! And here we are rehearsing: Hey Spacey, copy THIS!

 Whatsamadda Kevin Spacey, you chicken?! Oh yeh, you all "I'm going to get a railway arch and put art in and shit" and we all "Let's drop this flowerpot on the director's head a number of times before he leaves" and you all "Good luck with that then" and we all "Ow, uh...." Yes well lots to catch up on then. Hello again, thanks for sticking around. A post every other day as promised, once. Join me tomorrow for those hundred insults then. I'm better. This is easy.

(Oh yeah, 3:10 AM. I remember. Hmm... still big spaces.)
2010 - And speaking of big spaces...
The election sent a clear message out across the country: Take The Money And Run. Pictured above, London Bridge... 2017. Pictured below, London Bridge... 
There is a cabaret tonight at Shunt, starting at 6. You are all invited. Only Shunt is now at Bermondsey Street. All of it. So if you're lucky you might even be able to pick up a cheap chair. They're good, I've bought two, carried them off like a bailiff following the father's downfall in a Perrault. In other fairy-tale news: that small door on Joiner Street leads nowhere now, because of course the Lounge beneath London Bridge has - as I may have hinted at - after months of happy and open communication between all parties keen to prove the viable compatibility of artistic and commercial concerns, been suddenly thrown out on its arse by a shower of useless pricks. 

No news is good news, and that's the news. I'm not really sure even now, some three or four weeks after its last night, how much I'm allowed to say or what the plan is, which is a bit why this blog - in which the Lounge featured so centrally - has been so quiet recently... that and just the abominable anger and sadness of how's it all transpired. Anyway here, belatedly, are some stills from that last night, the 26th of June:

Of course we'd already had a last night back in November, with the place stripped and old changing-rooms re-revealed, and the recognition that this wasn't just the Lounge we were saying goodbye to, but the spaces of "Tropicana" and "Amalto Saltone", and that was a nice night with seeing old friends and looking ahead and we knew where we stood. This night was different, of course.

(I don't know what's going on here, but four hours later there was an egg and spoon race.) 

And naturally the Shard asked Shunt to "leave the place as they found it", but while we're not short of volunteers, none were found willing to rip out the toilets, plumbing and electricity, replant the sawn-off steel or smear shit back onto the walls, so sorry about that.

Two nights ago someone called Hilary came to see "Money". She had programmed what turned out to be the Lounge's penultimate week, and had hung from piercings in her shoulder while singing Verdi, something she can only do once a month but that's not the point, the point is on Friday she lit up as she told me something I had found for myself whenever I came to put on work at the Lounge, but have probably never acknowledged here: that there was nowhere as helpful, as generous, as responsible, as unquestioningly encouraging or as just plain big and playable-in as those vaults, let alone for free.

 Hillary told me she had made exactly what she wanted to make there. And everyone had come, and nobody known what to expect. (And then I walked home with a chair on my head.) So all I'm saying is, when I used to describe the Lounge in terms of a mini-Edinburgh-Fringe reprogrammed weekly, impressive as that sounds I actually did it an enormous disservice: it was far easier than that. Art got made there even by accident. Not good art necessarily, of course not, but how are you going to know until you put it in front of strangers?

 And there was no flyering, no feedback forms, no mentoring schemes, nothing except anything you wanted. Half a panzer coming through a wall? George would build it. A live seven-foot wide video link to New York above the bar, or the running of a fake lift for your own promenade? Andrea would rig it up and get two volunteers to stand either side with a cue sheet and pneumatic forklift. And on and on. That was the Lounge. Something like one hundred people on that payroll, three of them paid for by the Arts Council. No really, just three. And now what? The Foundry gone this past month too. And East 10. But it's the Eighties Revival, non? "Always be closing."

 "Oh well, it keeps you honest!" said an old acquaintance. God, I hate poets. Okay then, back to the ghetto. And while fifty per cent of the world's cranes stand idle in Dubai, the Great Work of transforming London from a temperamental network of human-scale cultures into a collection of incredibly large, fucking stupid objects best viewed from twenty storeys high proudly changes up a gear.

 P.S. With not quite the numb pang that accompanies the deleting of a dead friend's number from your phone, I have removed the Lounge's video from my homepage and placed it below. It's more of an advert than a tribute I know, but what are you going to do? Oh yeah, you're going to come to the cabaret! Tonight, quick! Here.


2011 - I didn't post anything in 2011. 
Maybe my slackness couldn't keep up with what seemed like the daily outrages of the Coalition, but I also remember feeling genuinely frightened which may again sound paranoid but the Paul Chambers case had proven that the wrong joke could indeed get you prosecuted, and while I didn't know Paul Chambers I did know people jailed for being present at the Fortnum and Mason demonstration in March: Boz for example, who was there recording sound for an afternoon play for Radio 4 and was first held outside the jail in the rain for ten hours because the 24 hours you're allowed to detain someone only officially starts once you're inside, and then celled and asked every 45 minutes if he needed anything. He would ask for a glass of water. He was never brought the water though, and as this happened every 45 minutes throughout the night he was never allowed to sleep either. Anything beautiful that happened in 2011 - and there was good news too - I remember feeling I had no right to record either against this unrecorded ugliness, so here instead is what greeted you if you visited the blog at all during that lacuna...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Isabella Rossellini Discombobulates a Duck's Phallus

That's what SHE said. Ha! Oh.


This is research by the way, for the sci-fi sitcom I am now literally writing for a read-through in Mid-November. And working on the floor of the London Dungeons has turned out to be a surprisingly fertile writing location: you're physically active, you're uninhibitedly improvising, and it's dark. Your mind is absolutely primed, it's perfect, except there's just nothing to write with. Here I realised that extra-terrestrial life's attitude towards sex would probably resemble "green porno" a lot more than the icy butlers and headmistresses we're normally shown. Ah, it's so good to see she's still making these...
To be continued...


  1. Happy blogversary! Nice 'best of' thing you've got going on here, looking forward to part two.

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