Tuesday, December 27, 2005

How to set up a Treo 600 on o2 Pay As You Go...

Go to Home > Prefs > Network

Make Service: O2 Mobile Web GPRS Copy
Make Connection GPRS
Make Password: password
Make APN address: payandgo.o2.co.uk

Click [Details]

Make Fallback: None

Click [Advanced...]

Make IP address: Automatic
Uncheck Query DNS [_]
Make Primary DNS:
Make Primary DNS:

[OK] [OK]

Click the Home Button

Go to Web then select Options

Make Home Page: http://payandgo.o2.co.uk

Click [Advanced] Click [Set Proxy] Check Use Proxy[_]

Make Proxy Server:

Make Port: 8080

[OK] [OK] [OK]

Make sure you write this all down and keep it somewhere safe - like on your Blog.

Switch off the expensive Christmas present - then switch it back on. Hurray!!!!!!!! The web in my pocket - or at least a cut down streamlined version of it...

Guess what I have just spent the best part of 2 days doing... A lot of head banging frustration and phone calls to nice chaps in India and poking and prying on the web and I finally got it sorted.

Oh, final thing. Remember to have more than 60p in credit on the phone... That last bit took me about 3 hours to work out. It's been a long day.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

Just taking a moments break from the Christmassy doings to wish the world a Merry Christmas!

We a currently trimming the artificial Christmas tree Merriol bought the other day - apparently my 2 foot tall brown artificial Christmas tree is just “horrible” and was once likened to a collection of badly wired together used toilet brushes - so after 9 years living with it Merriol has finally put her foot down and bought a new one. The new one is six foot, cerise and the gayest damn thing you ever saw. It was instantly christened Pricilla Queen of the Forest.

Christmas  eve

Merry Christmas, World.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

One of the unconcidered joys of having Holly at two nursery schools is that we get to go to two Christmas concerts.

On Tuesday we got to see our little darling singing in Gaelic and today she was the "Fairy" Gabriel in the nativity play. She made a good Fairy Gabriel. Needs a few lessons in stage craft - I mean facing the audience at some point would have been a good idea - but she was right in onto the stage, on cue (with a helpful shove from one of the teachers), and said her lines good and loud. I sttod there the whole time feeling dead proud and videoed the whole thing. I love being a dad.

Rotted what's left of my brain last night by watching a TERRIBLE 1951 movie called Unknown World. And I still can't work out why I do this. Why do I watch this drek?

Answers on a postcard please. I really would like to know.

Monday, December 19, 2005

OK... Nearly Resumed

I didn't get the job. It was a fun day though; I don't suppose all professional auditions are like that, but it was a good intro. Basicaly we played some games, did some improv, did a bit of singing... (now I wonder WHY I didn't get the job...?) and they were good enough to tell us on the spot who got it. I could see why they chose the people they did, the three who were chosen (there were 8 of us at the audition) worked well together - and they could all sing.

It would have been nice to have got the job but at least I won't be running around the country when Phoebe and Tyler are over in the spring.

The last few days have been trying to beat the mess moster that is our house into submission and doing Christmas shopping. The highlight of which happened yesterday in Oban. We were in Ottakar's bookshop when Holly spotted a book about the Nativity. She is playing "The Fairy Gabriel" in her nursery nativity play this week so all we have heard for the past week or two is "Baby Jesus this and Baby Jesus that...". So she sat down with this book and became engrossed in the pictures then suddenly she started singing Away in a Manger. When she finished a couple of people applauded! It was a... I don't know quite how to put it.. it was one of those moments that if I had seen it in a movie I would have reached for the sick bag, but because it was real and because it was my child it made me so proud.

I'm so glad I have kids.

Other stuff:

I'm thinking of becoming a school govenor. The Primary school here has an elected board of Parent Govenors - exept it doesn't because no one stood to be elected this year. So they've had to call another election and I 've stuck my head up and said that if no one else wants to do it then I will. I'm not sure what I'm letting myself in for, but if someone else stands then I will run away and let them do it.

I hate joining things.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Recent dialogue between Holly and me:

(pointing at the tabletop next to her computer)
Holly, where's the credit card that was there?

I haven't seen it ...


... it's in there.

And this is how I discovered that credit cards are just under 3.5 inches long. Just wide enough to fit sideways into the floppy drive of a PC ...

I have an audition tomorrow.

I have to have an audition piece.

I have just picked it up and am starting to learn it ...

I am an idiot.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Do sexually frustrated Flower Fairies get the bluebells?

This "joke" will not be appearing in next year's panto

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Normal Service is Resumed

Normal service is resumed. Thank you for your patience.

The Panto went well despite all the forgivings and qualms. All four shows were well attended. The biggest disappointment for me was that Holly burst into tears as soon as I came on stage and was inconsolable. She insisted on going home and missed all of it. Next time we do one (in two years), I guess she might be old enough to join in the fun. I hope so.

The other highlight of the week for me was realising one night, just before I went on as King Rat for the first time, that half my costume was in the wings over on the other side of the stage where I had left it the night before.

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Ballachulish village hall was not really built as a theatre. It is more of a Badminton court with this square hole in the wall at one end. There is no way to get from one side of the stage to the other as in a real theatre unless you build a set you can crawl behind. If you exit stage left, you have to stay there, lurking in the tiny wings, in the cramped space between scenery stored over that side and the other three actors who walked off with you, until the end of the scene. We did not have a set I could crawl behind. I did not have a costume. I did have about 45 seconds to improvise something from whatever was lying around in the dressing rooms.

I improvised. Wrapped a chunk of material round my neck and went on. No one noticed. Apart from Kath who was in the dressing room as I burst in shouting “OmiFuck! Mycostumeisontheothersideofthe fuckingstagewhatamignnado????”

Oh yeah, there was also that moment when I had just struggled into the Fat Elvis suit for the start of act 2 when Bill came into the dressing room and said:

”You’re on!”

I looked at him. I looked at the stage monitor (a baby alarm gaffer-taped to the wall) I looked at him again.

“On?” I said.

He looked at me. We both looked at the baby alarm (why we looked at something that was only relaying sound I have no idea but we did).

“Yes,” he said, “at the end of this song.”

“Oh FUCK!!!!”

You have never seen anyone change from a Fat Elvis costume into a Rat King costume in as short a time as I did it. (Actually, you’ve never seen anyone change from a Fat Elvis costume into a Rat King costume at all, have you?) I got into the wings just as they were delivering the 2 lines of dialogue that follow the song:

“Oh Dick”
“Oh Rose”
Enter King Rat

I never want to be that close again.

Spent Sunday tidying the place up and hoovering the 15 pounds of glitter Merriol scattered around the place and then my body said:

“MY turn now, remember that cold you have deliberately not being having for the past 2 weeks? Well guess what... ?” at which point something turned a tap on inside my sinuses and something else whacked me one in all the major joints of my body with a baseball bat.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ok, Ok, maybe I was a wee bitty hasty with the billboard sized ARGH! yesterday.

We had another rehearsal tonight and worked on Act 2. It's coming together. We did a run from start to finish with only the occasional break for techie stuff and it ran well. I think the thing is actually going to work. Towards the end of the evening I was beginning to enjoy myself and starting to have fun, trying to do some acting as opposed to merely doing 'Remembering Of Words' which is what I was desperately failing to do yesterday. I wish we had a few more days. But we don't; tomorrow is it.

There is an old theatrical tradition I just made up that says that the greatness of a first night is in direct inverse proprtion to the crapness of a dress rehearsal. If this holds true then judging by this evening's dress rehearsal we are going to be up for Tonies, Baftas, Oliviers, Ralphs, Freds and induction into the Panto Hall of Fame...

There is only one word in English that can sum up this evening. It's 34 letters long and consists of the letters A R G and H in variable quantities. (Though to get the true flavour of the evening reading it in 12 foot high lettering would just about do it.)

I blanked on stage not once - but twice! Total and utter 'what the fuck do I say now?' blank. I know the lines. They are in my head. I wrote the damn things! It's just that we have had so little real rehearsal time on this show spread over such a long time that, yes I know my lines when I'm sitting down or lying in bed, but stand me up and have people standing around me in places different to where I imagined them standing and I'm utterly lost. We have all day tomorrow to bash this thing into my head- and a great deal of Thursday.

And now the last few paragraphs rewritten for the ticket buying population of Lochaber and any potential employers who may be reading:

The Rehearsal went swimmingly. Everyone was on top form. There were a couple of easily solved technical glitches but we ad-libbed out of them brilliantly. We had a few post rehearsal drinkipos in the Eau De Nile Room (I think 'The Green Room' sounds so common, don't you?) and I said to Sir Ralph. "Jolly little number isn't it?" Unfortunatly he thought I was talking about Pinky Warburton who was had just passed the door. As Sir Ralph and he had had a bit of a spat the day before Sir Ralph though I was making a 'certain kind of remark' and dashed his Pimms into my face before bursting into tears. We laughed about it afterwards but I could tell he was upset.

Oh God where is this going? No idea. Bed sounds like an idea. I usually find that's a good place to go when I start typing rubbish.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

There is something fundamentaly weird with my life at the moment - or even fundaweirdly mental.

I spent most of this evening glueing the words to Donald Where's your Troosers onto the back of a roll of wallpaper. (It's a Panto thing.)

Not a long entry tonight. I'm just switching off the pooter and going to bed having set the mouse traps for the night. It's freezing here and that always heralds a sudden influx of the little buggers. Merriol and Sue bought some (useless) 'humane' traps while I was away - and didn't catch a sodding thing.

Now I'm back the real traps have come out. The ones that kill the little shits, then post their heads back to their grieving relatives with a stiff note.

Grrrr! I get all Rambo and macho when it comes to rodents in my house. I'm normaly a pretty placid and gentle soul but rodents chewing my wiring and pooing on my worksurfaces? Out comes the Bambi hunter in me. Current bait is slices of Twix Bars, it comes highly recomended as a bait by a fellow mousehunter. I will let you know how it works... that reminds me, I need to file down the trigger mechanism on the number 2 trap it's just not sensative enough...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

6 hour rehearsal / costume fittings / photo shoot for local newspapers and radio etc. today. Not total chaos but edging on it from time to time. We have 3 days to get this thing together. I feel like Mickey Rooney putting on a show in the barn - Oh Christ no! Not Mickey Rooney! If I have to feel like someone putting on a show in a hurry, let it be James Cagney as Chester Kent in Footlight Parade!

Charlie Bowers:
Is there, is there anything I can do?

Chester Kent:
Yeah. See that window over there?

Charlie Bowers:

Chester Kent:
Take a running jump and I think you can make it.

Footlight Parade is, in my humble opinion, one of the best movies of the 20th century. The final reels are just pure cinema. 3 enormously lavish Busby Berkeley numbers bang bang bang one after the other. It's just the best musical ever. Stop reading this and go watch it. It conveys the sort of desperate panic I'm feeling about all of this a lot better than I can. (Great editing too)

How did I get onto this?

I dunno. I'm tired. 3 days to go and we have only just started on the scenery...

After the rehearsal I asked Ilona (director/producer/half of comedy double-act and remover of most of the obvious knob jokes from the script) how she thought it was going.

"On a scale from 'O mi god' to 'We are so utterly screwed'", I said "Where exactly are we?"
"We're fine." She said,"It's always like this; don't you remember the last time?"

No I don't. I don't remember it being this close to the wire at all.

And I do want whatever medication she is on because it is obviously working...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

How Are We Going To Stop Daddy Singing?

I have an audition for the TIE job in March.

I have to sing.

I forgot to put a stamp on the application letter.

I am not going to get the job.

Dikke Whittingtone, A Historical Overview.

(An extract from a conversation on the South Bank Show between Hieronymus Fartwrangler, Emeritus Professor of Medeaval Post-modernist Irony at the University of the Highlands in Onich, and Melvyn Bragg )

Prof. Fartwrangler:
"Class is part of the rubicon of reality," says Lyotard Cameron suggesting, without any meaning, that the works of Baldwin, Pitt et al are postmodern. It could be said therefore that if dialectic precapitalist theory holds, we have to choose between Lyotardist narrative and constructive capitalism which states, like Satre:"Consciousness is fundamentally a legal fiction," However, according to Prinn, it is not so much consciousness that is fundamentally a legal fiction, but rather the defining characteristic, and some would say the futility, of consciousness. The example of Batailleist `powerful communication' depicted in Ballachulish's Dick Whittington is also evident in the act of tying one's own shoe laces in a public place, although in a more mytho-poetical sense. And, in a sense, It leads to the implication that we have to choose between cultural capitalism and precapitalist desituationism."

Melvyn Bragg:
Oh No it isn't!

Prof. Fartwrangler:
Oh yes it is!

Melvyn Bragg:
Oh No it isn't!

Prof. Fartwrangler:
Oh yes it is! And Neo-cartusian pre-raphelistism says I'm right!

Melvyn Bragg:
Well, we don't believe you, do we boys and girls?

Germain Greer, Mark Lawson, and Brian Sewell:
No! Booo! I don't like him, he's nasty! etc.

Melvyn Bragg:
Thank you Professor Fartwrangler - it's nice to see
our ALL our tax money isn't being wasted... Goodnight.

That's it! I'm off to bed; my brain just can't cope with any more of this ...

Prof. Fartwrangler gratefully acknowledges the help of Elswhere.org's Postmodernist Generator in formulating some of his theories.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I sang.

Today I called round to Paul's and recorded the songs for the Panto. I had tried to convince the powers that be (Ilona) to let me mime the things as I am such a shite singer. We agreed on this compromise: I can sing along with my pre-recorded self.

This evening was spent trying to get everyone's surnames correct on the programme before I mail it off to Debs who has (foolish woman) agreed to do all the layout and typography and that.

Done that.


I'm running out of displacement activities.

If I don't find any more very soon I'm going to have to learn my lines.

Only a week to go!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

It's Hard To Belly Dance On One Leg

This time in two weeks time the Panto will be over and done with. This is a scary thought as we have no scenery, only a few finished costumes, and hardly anyone knows all their lines yet. Even worse - I now have to sing...

How does this happen?

Every year I say:

"I'm not singing. I refuse to sing. There is no way on God's green earth are you going to get me to sing..."

Every time I end up singing.

This time I get to murder four Elvis songs in cold blood in front of witnesses. Sorry Elvis.

This morning I took a long look at the arse end of a Renault Megane regarded by most people as the ugliest arse end of a car of this, or any other century. The megane is almost passable from the front but walk round the back of it and looks like someone did origami with the original drawings before they went into production. It's awful. Ugly Ugly Ugly.

As I was looking at this thing (the one I was looking at had a strange angular two-tone paint job which made it look even more awful than the one in this picture) it occurred to me that the recent riots and unrest in Paris were nothing to do with social deprevation. What was the major target for the rioters? Cars, that's what. They firebombed every vehicle they could find - and if they were all Meganes I don't blame them.

"To 'ell wiz ze social deprevation it eez ze ugly ferking cars we canno stand no more! A bas les voitures de merde Francais*!"

  • Current Listening to Random Breakbeat streaming from here

*Berlingos not included.

I'm home! I'm home! I'm home!

At long last the tour is finished and I can get on with something aproaching real life. If dressing up as a Giant Rat and Fat Elvis counts as real life - but more of that later.

The last few days of the tour was a bit of a bore. The whole thing was a week too long and ended up with me mooching around Inverness, kicking my heels, trying not to spend money. The last show was in Grantown on Spey. Nice little town about an hour and a half from here.

It took me 5 hours to get back home.

First we had to take the hire car back to Inverness (which was, naturaly enough, in the other direction) then I had a long wait for my bus in Inverness, a long trip down the Great Glen, then another long wait for the next bus - which was late etc etc. All of this on the coldest night of the year so far. I was not a happy bunny when I got home.

A very cold, not very happy bunny.

I got to the panto rehearsal about 2 hours after everyone else and didn't get to do a lot but I did try on the Fat Elvis costume Ilona bought for the act 2 opening. It's a cheap, thin nylon, white jump suit with bits of gold trim and a rubber forehead/wig thing. It doesn't look like a lot for what we paid for it. There aren't any mirrors in the hall so I didn't get to see the full effect but, judging from everyone's reaction when I walked into the room, the suit may just turn out to have been worth the money.

I have never had people laughing so hard they are literaly rolling around on the floor just by walking into a room before.

(Actually, now I come to think of it, I haven't really had people rolling around on the floor for real by doing anything before. Not really rolling around on the floor, not lying on the floor in uncontrolable, tears and snot everywhere, laugh till it hurts type rolling around on the floor I mean. People happily text and type LOL and ROTF* when they mean they found something slightly amusing so it was a bit alarming to see people ROTFing in the flesh. I just hope I never see anyone "piss themselves laughing".)

It is now gone 2am and I am going to phone Pheobe and wish her a Happy Birthday and go to bed.

Most of this evening having been spent trying to find the piece of paper I last saw two weeks ago, over there somewhere ------> It's got all the details of who has done what and when and whyfor the Panto. I need it for the program. When I wasn't digging through huge heaps of bills and things that need urgent attention 3 weeks ago I was fixing Firefox after I broke it by crashing the pooter immediatly after telling it it wasn't Firefox at all but that it was Internet Explorer 6 (I forget why). After that it didn't launch at all. A lot of twatting about later it came down to editing one line in a .js file in a folder I'd never seen before. (Doesn't it always?)

  • Currently Listening to: Random CD purchaces from the last 2 weeks of mooching around charity shops with nothing to do. Including 1940s Texas Swing music, Japanese drumming and various Q magazine coverdiscs

  • Currently Reading: The Blind Assasin by Margaret Atwood

* Laughing Out Loud and Rolling On The Floor (as if I really needed to explain...)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Argh! That Tree is Looking at Me!

Too pooped to Blog.

Up till late last night at Nicky and Phil’s wedding dance in the Fort, a long rehearsal for the Panto this afternoon / evening followed by another attempt to apply for another job…

Off on the last leg of the tour tomorrow, so more next week.

  • Currently Listening to: Non-Stop Streaming Techno Trance Tosh from Epitonic.com

  • Currently Reading: Some Collection of Ancient Awful SF (the name of which escapes me for the moment). “Eat Ray! You Beatelgusian pond slime!” snarled square jawed Dirk, his nostril quivering with righteous anger, as he blasted the hideous slug-thing to atoms. ‘
Just a couple of photos of Bonfire Night:


One-woman, ground-based, aeronautical display team Morag Calder does impressive fly-by with smoke

Darwin Award attempt...

Me whacking the base of a 12 year out of date, 15,000 candlepower signal flare just to see what happened. (What happened was Merriol took this picture with a flash the exact moment the hammer hit and scared the crap out of me.)

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Back in the bosom (and other bits) of my family at last. I am getting so bored with sitting in bus stations, and on buses and in bus stations again…

It is late I’m tired, so not a huge long entry. Highlights of the week included arriving in Gairloch. A town a long way from anywhere (apart from a few other, equally remote-from-anywherelse, villages).

It’s a long way to Gairloch from wherever the hell we were were during the day. (My short-term memory is shot to hell; I have no idea where I was yesterday, let alone the day before that. It has all become one great long blur, get up, do the show, drive to another school, do the show, drive to another town, find the B&B, get some sleep, get up, do the show…etc.) So, after a long night time drive along windy single-track roads that meandered all over the place through a landscape houching with suicidal deer just waiting to wander across the road as we hurtled towards them. We finally arrived at the Highland Lodge (or whatever it was called) only to find the place was shut. A couple of lights on a couple of cars outside but everything was locked and bolted. We pounded we hollered we walked round and found other doors and pounded and hollered at them. Nothing. Before long someone mentioned The Shining and that was it. We were off. We got back in the car and drove towards the only lights we could see. Suddenly the whole episode started looking more and more like the opening sequence of every other cheap bad Horror film you have ever seen. We eventually found our way after a few false turns and backing down dark tree lined dirt tracks to find an inn. As we drew up our headlights picked out a shape, a tall blurry outline off in the near distance. A motionless figure beneath a tree.
“Is that a person?” someone asked.
“No, it’s dummy!”
“No, it’s a real person!”

The figure moved.

All four of us screamed like 12-year-old girls.

The hotel chef flicked his cigarette end into the dark and went back into the inn.

This afternoon, being Friday, things got extremely stupid.

There is a part of the workshop in which Emma plays a girl who has “Unrealistic” ambitions to be a vet. I play her Dad. Then, in a sort of bastardised forum theatre, the kids make suggestions as to how she should change her behaviour and attitude so her plans become more “realistic”. This afternoon the kids were full of TFIF and Chris ended up sadistically lumbering Emma with “Becoming a Jedi Knight” as a possible way to becoming a vet.
She entered going doing light sabre noises, and I came in on my knees doing the worst Yoda Impression the world has ever seen. For the next few minutes, Emma and I tried not to fall into giggling heaps but, as usual, I lost.

I am just so crap at Improv. I laugh at my own jokes and just lose the plot.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Yet again I am sitting in Inverness Library trying to resist the temptation to smash the keyboard into a million pieces. I mean what is the f*cking point of having a public access internet system that doesn't allow you to access even your own email without putting up pissy little "forbidden" pages all over the place. Surely there should be some way of having an "I am an adult I promise not to be offended by words like bugger and bollocks let me in you bunch of censoring c*nts!"

The asterixes are there because it won't even allow you to send naughty words. Jesus! Grow up people!

OK Rant over.

Another week of fun and games over, and another 2 hour wait in Inverness before the bus. The wind is howling around scarily. There are things banging and crashing about on the library roof. Doesn't sound very safe. The ride over is going to be wild.

More when I get home, whenever that will be cos it looks like I’ll have to sit around in Ft William for an hour waiting for the next bus.

Oh an actor's life for me...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Ok I give up, I can't find it.

I'm still working on the CV and a couple of years ago I did a bit on a kid's TV show. The one and only time I have been paid to act on British television. I need a few details and I've been searching Google for the last hour or so and I can't find what the show was called or who produced it! This is so annoying.

If I don't find it soon I will just have to go downstairs and watch the bloody thing!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Displacement Behaviour

Displacement Behaviour.

I am supposed to be working on my CV (resume). There is a job I want apply for, another TIE acting job and they want a CV. Never done a CV before and, well, I’m not really doing it now either…

After the big firework display in the quarry on Friday, our display in the schoolyard was less than impressive. A few months ago, I got given a whole pile of stuff from someone who was moving out of the village and was fully aware of my inability to say “No!” when asked the question:

“I am throwing this out. Do you want it?”

So, in addition to all the tools and weird chunks of “this may come in useful one day” stuff, I found a carrier bag with a bundle of Smoke Bombs, Signal Flares, and Distress Flares which had come off his boat.
“Yipee!” said Morag. “Let’s set them off now!” (Which made me wonder is this the sort of thing you really want to hear from your doctor? “Cool! Out of date explosives. Let’s set them off!”).

Anyway, we decided that Saturday night was going to be the best night to do this given that the sky was going to be full of fireworks anyway and the chances of us accidentally sparking off an air sea rescue with a 15,000 candlepower parachute flare were therefore at a minimum. Even then, I succumbed to an attack of the wussiness and phoned the police to warn them to ignore any reports of boats in distress. Especially if these boats in distress were reported to be inland, or in the middle of the village…

So there we were reading the instructions for these things by torchlight… “Aha! I see… Pull this off!...Then twist that… Line up the arrows and strike the base firmly… “
(How the hell anyone was supposed to work out how to do all that in the dark, on a sinking ship, at sea is beyond me - but I guess you learn fast under such circumstances)

Nothing happened.

“What was that last bit again?”
“Strike the base firmly…”
“I wonder how firmly ‘firmly’ is?... I’ll go get a hammer…”

I am delivering the third mighty whack to the base of this thing (I am holding it in my left hand and hitting the bottom of it with a hammer) when it occurs to me that I am heading towards a potential Darwin Award at speed. Anyway, nothing happened and it didn’t stop me doing exactly the same thing with 3 others. None of the flares went off but we did have great fun with the smoke.

  • Current listening: Philip Glass’ Dancepieces and the 90mph winds ripping the leaves and smaller branches off the trees outside…

  • Current Reading: Still reading Kinflicks. I manage about 3 pages then fall asleep. It’s not boring, I’m just knackered.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Another week on the road out of the way.

Monday was a day of re-rehearsal. Trying to remember what the hell it was we were doing 3 weeks ago. We got there pretty quickly. Then, it was back out to the schools...

The low point of the week for me was on Wednesday (I think it was Wednesday, I should write all this down as I go along not try to remember it days later). During one of the shows Emma and I both woke up in the middle of a scene knowing that one of us had just said something and one of us should now say something else but neither of us knew what the hell it was supposed to be.

When I say "woke up" I don't mean that literally but after 4 weeks of doing the show we sometimes, inevitably, slip into autopilot and forget to do any acting. It's a weird experience doing a performance and not really being aware that you are doing it. What's even weirder is when someone says "You were good" when you have just sleepwalked your way through it. (Brian Eno famously decided it was time to quit Roxy Music when he realised he was thinking about his laundry halfway through a show) but (as normal) I am digressing...

Where was I?

Oh yes,

Emma and I were stood there staring at each other doing our now world famous Educationally Challenged Goldfish impersonations while time went all weird and slow around us. The eighty or so people staring at us ceased to exist. The room we were standing in ceased to exist. All thoughts of anything other than "What do I do?????" ceased to exist. All I could see was Emma's face looking at me with well-disguised terror on her face. The same, I hope well-disguised, terror that I was feeling.

One of us had to do something but what?

If I was making a film of that moment - he said digressing yet again, I would have used a "Push in Zoom out" shot (aka the "Jaws Shot") at this point. It's the shot that gets that strange distended background thing going on. It's usualy used, as in Jaws, for a moment of horrified realisation. A character sits or slumps, his eyes widen, a look of sudden revelation spreads across his face and suddenly the background behind him does this THING, it moves outwards from his head in a very unatural way - you can't quite work out what just happened, but you know it is very unsettling.

Anyway, after about 20 of so minutes of helpless piscatorial gasping Emma had the wit to grab the front of my shirt and drag me off the stage. This was how the scene is supposed to end. We had lost a couple of good jokes but at least we knew where we were. Thanks Emma.

Talking to Lorna and Chris afterwards it turned out that the whole time-dilated 20 minutes actually only lasted about 2 seconds in real time.

I'm spending a lot of time in strange toilets around the country at the moment. (I think I should rephrase that last sentence but it's late so I won't.)

In a pub in Inverness I saw a notice on the door to the men's toilet:

Please Do Not Write on the Walls

This is a Family Pub

Children Can Read!

Inside the toilet of this children-friendly family pub is a vending machine selling (and I kid you not) not only condoms in various flavours but vibrators, inflatable sheep "with orifice" (This is Scotland after all) and handcuffs - amongst other delights.

Some not very joined-up thinking going on there I think.

I got off the bus in Ballachulish just in time to meet the entire family walking down to the local fireworks display held, for the first time, in the quarry. It was terrific. Loved it. Holly was dressed up, and wrapped up, and had a balaclava, and earmuffs. The first time she saw a fireworks display she screamed and shook and was terrified. She is still is very wary of them and doesn't like the bangs at all so all the wrapping up and padding was more of a comfort and security thing that any pretection against what is a reletivly mild night.

Daisy, on the other hand, gurgled pointed and clapped all the way through it. She loved every second of it. This was her first firework display. I still can't figure out how they are so different.

When we got home Holly had a lolly for being so brave and good at the display. Daisy saw the lolly and wanted it too - but instead of screaming and shouting, or trying to grab it she carefully and deliberatly dressed herself up in Holly's, now discarded, street clothes and, I guess, became Holly and was therefore entitled to have the lolly. Only when she had Holly's coat and boots on did she try to get the lolly off her big sister (who by then, just to confuse things, was wearing Daisy's cast off outer coat and was "Being Daisy") .

We dug out another lolly.

18 months old and she's into method acting...

And so to bed...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A quick post.

I'm off on my travels again tonight doing the last couple of weeks of the tour. Merriol Morag Sue and about 7 million children are making an unholy mess downsatirs (literaly unholy as they are making Haloweendecorations) so I'm grabbing a few seconds between acts of random packing to say 'see you in a week or so...'

Junk Monkey Has Left the Building...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Unrequited Glove

I took this photo of a glove lying in a puddle on the Isle of Mull in about 1996.

Yesterday I thought of a caption for it...

The wheels of my brain are slow but they do get there eventually.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pootering around doing nothing kind of day that saw me get a bit more of the workshop floor exposed to the light of day for the first time in years. I have just been throwing things in there for so long now it's hard moving in there let alone do any work.

I did make a wee trunk for the kids to keep their hats and oudoor stuff in out of an old Tea Box yesterday. It was the first thing I have made for ages and it was nice to get my hands dirty again. It's not the greatest piece of furniture in the world but I do like old stuff that is made in this way and I like to think that in 50 or 100 years someone will still be looking at this and thinking: "What a piece of shoddy shit!"

It will look better once I have sanded the top and stained the new wood to match the old. Honest!

I flopped in front of the box this afternoon as Daisy had her nap and caught the end of The Indestructable Man a truly god-awful film starring Lon Chaney Jr. Here's most of what I posted to IMDB about it:

Many films rely on characters doing stupid things and putting themselves in unnecessary danger. There would be very few films made if characters didn't do this sort of thing! The Indistructable Man though, has a real corker of a stupid people doing stupid things just to keep the movie going moment.

Here's the situation. On a steep street in LA there are 3 characters. A wants to murder B. C wants to warn B that A is waiting at the top of the hill to kill him. The potential victim (A) is at the bottom of the hill. On one side of the street is a Funky Little Trolley-bus Thing on rails. On the other side of the street are about 32 bezillion steps. Flight after flight of steep steep steps. C sees the potential victim arrive at the bottom of the funky little Trolley-bus side of the hill.

The potential victim is on crutches.

Does the potential victim:

1. Get on board the (free?) public transport?

2. Cross the street and laboriously struggle up the 32 bezillion steps?

It's 2, of course it's 2! Given a choice in crap movies like this they always take the stupid option.

From her vantage point C sees the victim climbing up all those steps.

She now has a choice. She needs to get to him before he reaches the top of the hill.

So, she can either go all the way down the hill in the FLT-B Thing, cross the street, and then start to climb the bezillion stairs herself, or she can cross the street where she is and walk DOWN the steps to meet him.

Guess what she does...

The title of this film is a stupid lie too. If it had been called the "Nearly Indestructible Man with Indestructible Clothing" it would have been nearer the mark. After wading through sewers, being blasted by a bazooka (and why wasn't everyone deafened when that thing went off in such an enclosed space?) and toasted by a flame thrower, Lon Chaney's shirt and trousers should have vaporised, or at least a little singed round the edges... but no, like the Incredible Hulk's underpants they seem to keep hanging on in there...

This brief moment of Shite Film has done nothing to satisfy my urge to watch bad Italian SF, so Goodnight! I'm off to watch a ropey, badly-dubbed piece of shite called Battle of the Ultra Barbies - or something.

Emma has started her Blog! It's here so soon you'll be able to read her version of the last few weeks of the tour and my version side by side.

Hmmm, I wonder...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Currently Listening

  • Currently Listening to: The Staple singer Greatest Hits and leaping about and dancing like a background extra from Fame. If a car drew up at an intersection next to me, I would be dancing on its roof and do you know what? The driver wouldn’t mind! Because of the crazy infectious music, everyone would be happy, and godammit life is good!
(I take back some of the rude things I said about the 70s though, as Sue just pointed out, I would be wearing flared Lycra and leg-warmers if I was.... what a horrible thought.)

I am not convinced by the Word Plug-in. The type is coming out too small and the formatting is buggered every time I post with it... hmmmm.

That One's Asleep But They Are All Awake

A simple day of playing with the kids, assembling Ikea flatpack furniture and cooking. A simple, knackering day of… etc. etc.

I was going switch my head off to flop in front of the box tonight and watch a bad SF movie - I hadn’t decided which one but the urge is slowly growing in me to wallow in bad movies again - but I never got round to it, and now it’s too late, and moan moan whine winge whimper… I must give up this habit. If I can give up drinking and (almost) give up smoking, I can bloody well stop watching Attack of the Space Bimbos type movies. I can. I can.

I have had this tune going around and around and around my head all day. I didn’t see why I had to suffer alone so I sent it to Phoebe Then I thought “why should we have to suffer together alone” (to paraphrase Dory Previn*) so I uploaded it to here:

The track comes from an Album called Dandruff by Ivor Cutler who I once saw live when I was a kid. I came across the album in Fopp in Glasgow - weirdl, and mysteriously in the World Music section. OK, Ivor lives in the world (though at times I suspect not quite this one) but the man was born in and grew up in Glasgow!

“My Name is Liam Baldwin and it is six months since I last watched a bad Italian SF Movie…”

  • Currently Listening To: Downloaded Ivor Cutler MP3s
  • Currently Reading : Still on Kinflicks

*Argh! my age is showing! Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Monday, October 24, 2005

My favorite advert...


  • Currently Reading :  

  • Currently Listening:

This is a test 2

This is the SECOND a test of the new Blogger Plug-in for word the first version having arrived but not showing up. (Does that make sense?)

Neologism of the Day: Utopiary n. A perfect system of Government with really nice hedges.

  • Currently reading :  This page (duh!)

  • Currently listening: Holly having her bed time stories
We are back from the great steaming metropolis of Glasgow! Two days of shopping, more shopping with a bit of shopping thrown in to add variety. I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy just mooching about looking at things.

Between shopping bouts we lounged around in our HUGE hotel room, played with all the knobs and buttons in the shower, or tried to sleep. I say "tried" because I had forgotten how bloody noisy cities can be; especially on a Friday night.
It seemed like every drunk person for 300 miles had come to Glasgow to shout at each other just outside our hotel. When they got bored with shouting at each other (or singing) and quietened down a bit the police would drive around with their sirens blaring till everyone got fired up and back into the shouting mood. It went on like that for hours.

Saturday night was quieter.

Another of the forgotten joys of wandering around Big Cities with nothing much to do is the chance to overhear little snippets of total stanger's conversations. Like reading random pages of a blog I guess but with no way of putting them into any kind of context.

I overheard this this piece of conversation in a bookshop in Sauchiehall Street. A middle-aged couple were looking at a glossy well llustrated book about Historic Houses

It's a book about houses

(Pointing at an illustration in the book)
We went to that house didn't we?
Didn't stay long. Just looked at the garden.

Should we buy it for Dave? He likes houses.


He's got a lot of books.

I bought him a book once.

Did he read it?


Was it a very thick book?



I didn't buy it here though. I bought it at Border's

At which point they moved on. I don't know why but I find that sort of thing endlessly funny.

Last night (again on Sauchiehall Street) we were passing a Burger King and a teenage girl came rushing out and up to her girlfriend who was standing on the street.

Girl One:(Frantic)
The toilets are for customers only!

Girl Two:
Want me to come in and buy something?

Girl One:(Very Frantic)

They both rushed back inside.

What a great friend.

  • Current reading: Lisa Alther - Kinflicks
  • Current Listening: Goldfrapp - Black Cherry

Thursday, October 20, 2005

We are off to the Fleshpots of Glasgow in the morning! - Ok, we are off to Ikea and Fopp, and a few other not very fleshpotty but dead exciting if you live in the middle of nowhere like we do type places.

Without the Kids!

Holly and Daisy are staying home in the TLC of three grandparents and we are going to have a weekend alone, in a Hotel, in the middle of a city. I have forgotten what that is like. What will we do with all the time? Will we be able to cope without two weans underfoot? What if we like it? This is kind of scary...

Yesterday we went to the Caledonian Hotel in Oban and had a slap-up feed (using one of Merriol’s free slap-up feed vouchers) and where Holly was wonderful. She ordered garlic bread and Penne pasta with melted cheese. The garlic bread was fine (though Daisy ended up eating it) but the pasta wasn’t Penne! it was Rigatoni. Holly prodded it with her fork suspiciously then announced in a very loud voice:
”This isn’t Penne! This is Macaroni Cheese!”
How am I going to spend two days without her?
She's three and a half and a food critic already!

(And at the risk of turning this Blog into a restaurant review my venison medallion was fine though I have never tasted Haggis with Corned Beef in it before. Haggis for white people.)

So a couple of days flopping about in our suite and some frantic shopping ahead to recharge our batteries.

  • Current listening: Weird shit from here

  • Current Reading: White Fang Goes Dingo by Thomas M Disch (I was wrong.)
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    Fun and games with the kids in the Fort today. We bought Daisy her first pair of shoes. 24 Pounds for a pair of shoes she will grow out of in 6 or so weeks!

    Convert £24 to your favourite currency here:
    XE.com Currency Converter

    Then off to a meeting with Dan and loads of Dan’s carers and support people who used words like “evidenced” and confused the hell out of both of us. I’ve never been much good at meetings so I just sat there listened and tried not to make too many inappropriate jokes (hard though that was). The upshot of all the blethers was that Dan is doing OK and, with a bit of jiggering about, support services will be able to continue for another 18 months or so before some funding or other runs out.

    Tomorrow we are off to the fleshpots of Oban to find Holly a new winter coat that hasn't got Barbie (c) or Action Man (c) all over it. And then to the Sea Life Center (or "The Fishy Place" as it is known in our house) to look at lots of... er... fish.

    Meanwhile research into the book "Eat Your Way to Hetrosexuality"
    is coming on apace. The chapter on Tomato Ketchup deprivation should make interesting reading...

  • Current listening:The Grim Fandango Soundtrack

  • Current Reading:White Fang Goes Dingo by Thomas M Disch

  • (any collection of stories that includes something called The Invasion of the Giant Stupid Dinosaurs has got to be worth a look.)

    Saturday, October 15, 2005

    I Wish My Brain Had An 'Off' Switch Sometimes

    It's in the papers, and all over the news that the Avian Flu that has just arrived in Europe from the far east is, as feared, the "Deadly Killer" strain.

    More alarmingly, I learned this week that the the UK's chief veterinary is called Dr. Debby Reynolds. The thought that the person standing between me and a global pandemic of Evil Killer Flu sounds like she once starred opposite Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain scares me a lot more than a few sneezing geese...

    Well, the lie-in didn't really happen.

    Daisy was up hollering at 6.30 am.

    Holly got up (Daisying?) about half an hour later.

    After a long, unspoken and unexpressed battle of wills between Merriol and I, I gave in, got up, and got the kids dressed, fed, and watered. Then Len and Sue came in. Then Merriol got up and Holly started being incredibly cute and doing strange dances. Before we knew it it was 10 am and I had drunk too much coffee to fall back into bed with any real enjoyment.

    It's 10.30 pm and everyone else has buggered off to the pub.


    Friday, October 14, 2005

    Secret Custard

    I have to get a grip. For weeks now I have been prodding myself around the midriff with growing despair and promising to “do something about this” as I watch the ripples - and yet this afternoon I found myself whipping a pint of Double Cream (what the Americans call Heavy Cream - which I think is a much better name) and layering it with cake soaked in coffee and hazelnut syrup (A bastard remix of several Tiramisu recipes found on the web). About 957 K Calories a spoonful and I ate a LOT of it. I have no willpower whatsoever.

    OK - next week I will start with the lettuce leaves and the guilt.

    Most of today was spent playing with the kids and tidying up the house. I need less stuff, more time of tidier kids. I am doing my back in bending over all the time picking stuff up and putting it away.

    Len and Sue arrived tonight (and ate vast quantities of Tiramisu -ish - or ‘Cake 9’ as it to be known from now on despite similar “doing something about it” promises). We haven’t told Holly that Granny and Granddad were coming so it is going to be a big surprise in the morning. Len and Sue will take both kids out to the swing park for a while.

    A lie-in!

    Both of us get to have a lie-in!


    Incredible. Not getting out of bed for an hour is now a luxury beyond my wildest dreams. I mean I used to take this sort of thing for granted now I have to import people from a neighbouring country before I get one!

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    Had my faith in Human Nature restored today when I had a phone call from a total stranger.

    He'd found my mobile phone where I had dropped it a couple of hours earlier in the swing park and had had the wit to scroll through my address book and phone the entry that said "Home".

    Then he kindly dropped it off at my house! Thank you Mr Whoeveryouare.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Midnight and I have just spent the last couple of hours re-writing a scene for the Panto with a very loud Live Kraftwerk CD pummmeling my ears flat. I seem to write better when the abnormally small part of my brain that does the thinking is switched off by repetitive electronica.

    I was a bit reluctant to do this re write but Ilona was insistant and, damn her, she was right.

    I suppose I was reluctant to touch it because it was one of the first bits that got writen and I thought it was pretty funny but, in the cold light of day, it does nothing for the show. It's funny but nothing happens. People talk but it contributes nothing at all to the story .

    Plan A for the rewrite was to transpose the whole thing from onboard a ship to onboard a Tardis for the sole reason that we did a ship scene in the last panto we did two years ago. Mike and I were both dead set against that because... well, just because... and we were preparing to dig our heels in and get stroppy and all Prima Donna-ish about it when it suddenly, after the reheasal on Sunday, it became obvious that we just had to junk the whole bloody scene and start again.

    So we have.

    Plan B involves lots more lines for Merriol. I may live to regret this.

    I have managed to recycle two of the best short gags from the origonal into the new version but no doubt they will get chopped later.

    Why do I do this?

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    What a great day!

    I've played with the kids, cooked lunch for Merriol when she came home from work, played with the kids some more and got some housework done. I have slipped back into Mom Mode so easily.

    And I love it...

    Holly! Stop spitting!

    I'm not spitting. I'm just testing my Mouth!

    Sunday, October 09, 2005

    Breakfast Conversation

    (Picking at a bowl of cereal)
    I'm not eating the nuts.

    Why not?

    Because they're talking!

    (To me)
    She has this thing that nuts can talk at the moment.

    Not all nuts talk. Just the breakfast ones...

    What do they say?

    They say "Don't Eat Me!"

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    It's 9.30 pm. It's Friday night. Merriol is off in the Fort having drinks with everyone from the practice and I am thinking about going to bed.

    Oh God! what ever happened to me? I have got even more boring than I used to be. I mean I never was one for going out and getting bladdered till the early hours then crawling home - well no more than anyone else of my generation. But somewhere along the line I got fed up with all that. I got old I guess. That and and swearing off the booze - there's not a lot of fun watching lots of other people drinking themselves into complete twats. Been there, done that, got bored with it.

    So far this week the highlight of my life has been the superdooper new hyper efficient German washing machine. Which arrived on time, was easy to plumb in and is so QUIET! It's incredible You can hardly hear the thing when you are in the same room as it. All previous washing machines I have owned have vibrated scarily (but have been interesting to sit on) but this one just hums a bit and efficiently cleans stuff. I am in love. I will post a a picture of it soon... What the hell am I saying? I will post a picture of my washing machine???? Oh Jesus! I DO need to get out more...

    Other highlight of the week was spending fifty quid on a coat in T K Maxx. May not sound like a lot but it is more than I have ever spent on a single piece of clothing in my life before.

    Saturday, October 01, 2005

    Smell My Face!

    First blogging for a couple of days. Days which have been chock-a-block with tiny, trivial day to day tedious meaningless inconsiquential and therefore infinately forgetable, but at the time incredibly important, stuff.

    Which I will not bore the world with.

    But then I would have nothing to fill this screen with...

    OK - I talked myself into it.

    Thursday: I didn't have the kids. Merriol had already booked both of them into nursery for the day before my tour dates got screwed up and I got home 2 days early. Too late to cancel. All of which meant that for the first time in a couple of months I was alone in the house. For a whole day. It was a bit scary. I mean this is what great chunks of my life were like for years on end before we had the kids, sitting around in a big empty house wondering what to do with myself - how did I used to fill the time? I can't remember.
    So I played music very loudly and tidied up upstairs, hung a couple of insanely camp pictures Merriol hates. They have been hidden away for a few months - I did some work on the wall where they used to hang and they went into storage. I read the start of Emma's script and wrote her a long mail explaining why she needed to do a lot more work on it. She hasn't replied. I'm now afraid that I've pissed her off.

    Friday: Quite a few people came for the MacMillan coffee morning thing in the... erm... morning. And then, after everyone had gone, came the second, or third, most embaracing moment of my life, which I will not tell you about. (I'm not going to tell you about the first two either because neither of them was very funny - even years after the event and even after extensive rewriting and editing. Boring embaracing moments. How typical of my life is that?)

    Saturday: There was a street market in The Fort. Merriol dragged me and Morag along and all 7 of us (3 adults 4 kids) wandered up and down the High Street surrounded by a bunch of itinerent continental traders selling real cheese and lumpy sausages that contain REAL MEAT! not the rendered tits and nostrils floor sweepings that the average British sausage contains, and strange exotic cakes, and great chunks of dry cured Ham and... and... and it smelt great and we saw loads of people we knew, and we bought loads of stuff - and it made me want to cry. Why isn't it like this all the time? Why are British markets so tediously boring and full of the same old shit and shoved into corners away from the center of town? We spent hours in town; had a long picnic in the railway station (it has a roof, it was raining) then came home and ate more exotic goodies. Our fridge now smells foreign!

    Thursday, September 29, 2005

    I've finished for the week. The shortest week's work I have ever done for a full week's wages.

    3 hours

    I spent more time travelling to work than performing. The gigs were Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning which left me all day Tuesday to wander around Inverness doing Gay Best Friend Shopping with Emma with me as a sort of scruffy male Carry Bradshaw. I didn't buy a vast amount, but for a sartorialy conservative cheapskate like me two pairs of trousers, two shirts, and a pair of new shoes is a total splurge.
    I think Merriol is a bit jealous that after years of trying to get me to start not looking like a total fashion disaster Emma gets all the fun of seeing me spend the money. And, dammit, I did enjoy myself. Shoppping for me (and I suspect most men) is usualy:
    1. Decide what you want.
    2. Enter shop.
    3. Buy it.
    4. Leave shop.
    (Obviously this rule does not apply in bookshops, record shops, or any establishment selling anything with motors in.)

    On Tuesday, for the first time that I can remember, I actually enjoyed browsing clothes shops and trying things on.

    Later, having bought all this stuff I was struck low with good old Post Judeo-Christian, Work Ethic Guilt, rushed into Lush and bought glittery stuff for Merriol.

    I think she now thinks I'm having an affair.

    That's twice in the last month I've bought her nice smellies - and I've started looking after my appearence (I went and got a haircut on Tuesday as well - the first time I have been in a barber's for years; I usually make do with shaving my head every two years).

    These are classic symptoms ; straight off any Agony Aunt page over the last 157 years. I mean, if I looked at it objectivly, I would suspect myself if I didn't know that I wasn't having this affair I'm not having with a 17 year old lesbian with a Heinz Tomato Ketchup addiction and a big thing for Angelina Jolie - as yet unrequited.

    Angelina, if you ever read this - she's a really nice girl. You'd like her. Mail me and I'll pass on your address...

    Sunday, September 25, 2005

    I've got a Special Thing to to see your Wobbly Teeth

    or Rock and Roll Lifestyle Lite 2 - on the road with Theater in Education.

    The second week of the tour was better than the first - apart from the car breaking down and having to go to Wick.

    Kingston upon Hull was, a couple of years ago, awarded the dubious accolade of being the shittiest place to live in Britain Having lived in Hull for 10 years before I moved up to Scotland. I can honestly say that the only thing I would go back for would be a Skelton's Eccles cake which were the best and stickiest Eccles cakes in the history of everything. Hull is in my mind (and obviously that of many others) a total shithole.

    But then I had never been to Wick.

    Wick is in the North of Scotland about a hell of a long way from anywhere. It is, apparently (and totally bewilderingly), the first place bombed by the German Air Force in WW2. I'm sure once it was once a beautiful and prosperous town - some of the older buildings are pretty impressive - but these days it is a depressing dump which seems to be populated by Neanderthals - if the school population is anything to go by. During our 4 hours in the school we saw 2 fights between pupils - one of which one of us broke up - and during the workshop the ONLY responce we got to the question "what are you wanting to do when you leave school?" was "Join the Army and Kill Iraqis". Everyone else just sat there with thin lines of drool trickling from corners of their mouths.
    I have not been so glad to get out of a school since the last time I was in Wick last year.

    Wick was also the site of the shittiest B&B of the tour so far. I knew we were in trouble the moment I saw the "The family that prays together" bumper sticker on the owner's car. Said owners were Seventh Day Mormons or some other bunch of weirdnesses and their beds were thin, lumpy, and creaky. Probably very good for the soul, but bloody awful to sleep on. Every slight move was the cause of a long series of groans, creaks, and twangs from within the bed. At 4am, woken up again by the simple act of moving in my sleep I nearly got out of thee damn thing and rearranged the furniture so I could put the matress on the floor. Unfortunately I was sharing the room with Chris and re arranging the furniture would have woken him up and he would have wanted to get his matress on the floor as well - his bed being even noisier than mine, if that was possible. The thought of piling furniture on topof other furniture at that time in the morning was too much so I read a book for a while and tried not to breath to heavily.
    Breakfast was shared with a bloody awful, chocolate box painting of Jesus staring down at us from the dining room wall - actually he was looking away to some distant horizon, which was probably even worse. I mean being stared at by Jesus first thing in the morning is bad enough - being stared at by the back of his head is just plain weird.

    On the journey south down th A9 the car threw a wobbly. Displayed a huge warning light on the dashboard and decided the Accelerator pedal was for ornimental use only. Putting your foot down actualy made the car go slower. We phoned the hire company and they've replaced it. The new car doesn't have a CD player, only a cassette player. Being the sad old fart that I am, I am probably the only one of the group who owns any cassette tapes.

    Poor buggers.

    In contrast to the Pergatory B&B in Wick the next night we stayed in the best place we have landed up in so far: The Granite Villa in Golspie. If you're ever travelling in that part of the world and need a B&B you would have to go a long way to find a better place to spend the night. Friendly warm and everything you hope a B&B to be. Damn good coffee too. All 4 of us just sat around in front of a wonderful open fire drinking, talking & playing silly word games till late into the night.

    A good night.

    Drove the new tour car home and dropped Emma the actress off on the way and stopped to see John, Julia and baby Emma in Aviemore. Got massivly broody again as soon as I held her. She is 2 months old now. I want more babies! I am going to have to get that vasectomy! Oh God I need my head examined!

    Tonight Merriol and I were supposed to be shopping on the web for a new washing machine but due to Merriol going out to a primary school social evening last night and then not returning till some unknown hour of this morning (she doesn't remember coming home) and feeling a wee bit delicate all day we haven't got round to it.


    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    On The Road - Rock and Roll Lifestyle Lite

    Week one of the tour is over. A week that involved a lot of Ferry trips, two flights in Otters, a visit to a Glasgow Gay Club, and an awful lot of rescuing each other, on stage, out of huge acting Black Holes.

    Well we survived, though only just. Quite how, after two whole weeks of rehearsal and one week on the road, the most experienced of the four actors in this show still doesn't know her lines is a mystery to me. I am so glad that I am not involved in the scene she REALLY doesn't know at all, Chris is the lucky guy who has to share the stage with her then. The scene is only 2 pages long but can just go looping around and around in small circles for ages as she searches for a way to get to the end of it. Chris (who knows the script upside down and back to front) tries to steer her through it but it is obviously very hard work for him.
    There is nothing quiet so scary as standing up in front of a huge bunch of people expecting, knowing that the person you are acting with is about to screw up in some new, and totally unexpected manner.

    For example.

    Last show this week, half way through a scene which has run faultlessly for over a week, she just stopped and stared at me - for ages. It was her line next. She had to say:
    "If only you had been there, you could have helped"
    She stared at me.
    I stared back.
    She opened her mouth.
    She shut it again.
    I raised my eyebrows in a vain attempt to communicate the fact that I was waiting for her to say something.
    She opened her mouth again and said something.
    What she said was my opening line for the next scene.
    I thought "Oh fuck it!" and said:
    "If only I had been there I could have helped!"
    And marched into my next position.

    I doubt if the audience noticed. In real, outside observer, time it was probably only a couple of seconds and went past in the blink of an eye but to both of us stood there, knowing that something had gone very wrong, it seemed like an agonising age.
    All week, all 3 of us have been propping her up like that. I hope she gets her fucking act together, because if she doesn't, after another couple of months of this I will be ready to commit murder.

    We had a night in Glasgow on Wednesday, and, after a huge nonstop chinese buffet meal (in which Emma proved it was possible to eat Jelly with chopsticks) we headed into town to find a bar called Moda for no other reason than Franz Ferdinand used to drink there.
    It turns out that Moda is a pretty cool Gay establishment and after bumping into some people we ended up going to another bar then another. I ended up trailing along after a huge bunch of people and three pissed tourists to a Gay Night Club.
    One of my pissed tourists then made total embarrasing arsehole of himself - like only a straight person pretending to be Gay in a Gay Club can. I should have left them to it and gone back to the car and waited for them. But we had a flight to catch in the morning and as not getting fired is still pretty high on my wish list I stuck with them.
    Sometimes I am so tempted to start drinking again. Five hours sitting around in various Gay and Gayish Bars watching people getting drunker and drunker and making twats of themselves while stone cold sober is not fun. More than anything though, I think I am totally and utterly pissed off that no one tried to hit on me all evening.
    No one!
    Not a sausage!
    Not only am I sober but apparently I'm fucking ugly as well!

    High on my all time bad nights out list that one. (Ingrid, if you ever read this, I apologise for not seeing where the evening was going and getting them back to the hotel.)

    The Last show of the week was on Tiree is a small island which sits like a cow pat in the middle of the Atlantic. There is bugger-all there. A couple of nice beaches, lots of very isolated farms, No hills and about three stunted trees. There are cattle grids on the roads around the 'Airport' to keep the livestock from wandering onto the runways. There are enough people up there having sex (not a lot else to do on the long winter evenings I guess) to fill up a school with kids but even so we did the show to a total audience of about twelve. The day before there had been 130 bums on seats.

    During the workshop after the show we ask the kids "What are you prepared to give up in order to get a good job?". We get all the sensible answers you would expect: "Time", "Going out with my friends", "Lie-ins in the morning" etc. and some weird and surreal ones too: "Kevin's Mum" being the oddest so far.

    On Tiree nearly all of the kids immediatly said they would give up living on the island without a moments hesitation. I fully sympathise. It is an utterly God-forsaken place (I suspect the Devil gave up on the place pretty quickly as well; probably took one look and said "Fuck this for a game of soldiers" and went off to pervert somewhere warmer with fewer Presbyterians).

    The flights were fun. We travelled in something closely resembling an aeroplane called a Twin Otter. The Twin Otter is, I'm sure, a well-constructed, reliable, robust and supremely safe flying machine but to me it looks like a slightly streamlined cornflakes packet with wings. It's unpressurised, cold and drafty. It rattles and bangs and shakes like 15 badly loaded washing machines all strapped together and stuck on the spin cycle. For a unfrequent flyer like me it looks like a scary way to die with wheels on.

    The highlight of the trip for me was looking up to see, through the open door between the passenger compartment and the the pilot's seats, that the co-pilot was sitting reading a newspaper.
    It wouldn't have been so bad if he had been reading something small like a a tabloid paper, at least then he could have seen the windscreen of the plane but he was reading The Telegraph, a huge broadsheet. It must have filled his entire field of vision! Everytime he turned a page he had to stretch his arms way out wide. I was scared that he would clout the pilot, who I couldn't see from where I was sitting, on the side of the head and (assuming he wasn't doing a So Duko or something) make the plane crash into the vast, but very pretty, stretches of open water we were crossing.

    I am not a good flyer.

    In Tiree School Staff toilets there is a notice that reads:
    Please do not remove toilet materials from toilets for classroom use
    If you require this facility please contact the janitor
    I'm so glad I never went to that school. It is now my Birthday and I am going to bed. Happy 46th to me!

    Sunday, September 11, 2005

    I'm back for the weekend. The washing machine has died again - this time is is making nasty burning smells and grinding noises and I'm shitting bricks about the show.

    I really am shitting bricks. There are 4 of us in this thing: Chris has an impacted wisdom tooth which peridicaly gives him the extreme agonies, Lorna has been flattened by the flu, Emma is 17, and I have an awful tendency to say thing like "There's more to being a vet than just fisting cows you know!" during the improvisation scene. Not the sort of thing you can say before an audience of school kids trying to plan their futures. (Not if you want to stay employed for long anyway).

    I feel we are so under-rehearsed. We have had 2 weeks to rehearse a 1 hour show. Sheer luxury! I feel we haven't done enough work.

    I drove the car we hired for the tour around the block yesterday. It seems rediculously low and wee after the Berlingo. I couldn't see the front of the bonnet of the thing.

    I like the Berlingo. It may look like a housebrick on wheels but at least you can see the damn road in front of you, and if you do hit something at speed and are thrown through the windscreen, you stand a chance of flying right over the top of whatever you hit and landing in a bush or something. Oh God I don't want to do this. This is why I avoided driving for so long. I don't want the responsibility! At least the tour car is a deisel. I'm used to deisels. I woke up in the middle of the night a few days ago (?) in a cold sweat having dreamt that I had filled up the tour car with deisel when it really had a petrol engine.

    Coming home last night was wonderful. I just sat looking out of the bus window as we came down Loch Lihnne. The sun had just set and there was a clear pink and yellow sky. No stars were showing but a huge yellow half moon sat low on the horizon. It was unreal. I know the moon isn't really bigger when it is low down, I know that it's just an optical illusion, but trust me, last night the moon was enormous; it was easily three or four times its normal size. The whole scene looked totally unreal. The sky, the mountains, the moon. It all looked so overblown and fake, like the cover of some vastly overlong Fantasy novel. All that was missing was a lone rider clad in light armour with an unfeasibly long sword strapped to his back. I suppose if I had taken a step backwards I could have put myself in the picture:

    Liam Rides Home on the Bus
    Volume one of a stunning new Fantasy Trilogy!

    Maybe not.

    I got so fed up with getting comments along the lines of: "Great Blog dude! Wanna buy some cheap aluminum siding? I got shitloads - come see my site ShitloadsofCheapAluminumsiding.com" . I got even more fed up with then having to delete them so I have just turned on the word verification anti-spam thingy on in my settings.

    My apologies.

    What is "Aluminum siding" anyway?

    Wednesday, September 07, 2005

    Now I'm Not Sure If I'm Confused Or Not...

    Well, we did the show for the people who paid for it today (Careers Scotland) and they didn't throw things, or fire us all which is a good thing. (Any day when I don't get fired is a good day). We have two more days of rehersal to get the show and the workshop tighter and then we are on the road. Whoopee! Still not sure what all the tour dates are yet and it looks like we may have the odd long weekend and day off in the middle of the week.

    The workshop which comes after the play needs most work. I spent a chunk of this afternoon improvising a scene in which my pretend daughter had unrealistic ambitions to be a lama farmer (as opposed to normal perfectly reasonable ambitions to be a lama farmer) which left both of us floundering around on stage like freshly caught fish with the hysterical giggles - this in front of the people who are paying. As I said any day I don't get fired from this job is a bonus. I really feel like I'm here under false pretences. I just can't act. I don't know why people think I can. But they seem to able to convince themselves I can so I get away with it.

    I've just snuck into the office here to read my mail - I just can't face the insanely complex cueing system in the library again - and it turns out I can't get to my mail because Wanadoo (the people who run my Freeserve address) have "improved" the web access to mail to such a point that poor cash-strapped susbsidised theater company's Windows 98 running clockwork computers can't read the damn thing any more.

    So, Ilona, if you are reading this - I can't work on the Panto script (which Mike probably hasn't even mailed to me yet) because I can't read it! I promise to be hillariously fruitful and batter out 20 odd pages of Good Clean Family Fun (with the odd knob joke) on Saturday night ready for the rehersal on Sunday. Unless something shiny happens to distract me first - ooooooooooooo! shiny......

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    BackinInvernessforthesecondweek'srehersal. andwonderingwhythe space bar on this soddinglibrary computerisn't workingvery well.* but time is of the essence here and I don't have much timeso I'll pound on andifit doesn't workevery now and then, you'll have to pick it out your self.

    I still can't get the drunk scenein my head. I'm supposed to be draggedoff to bed (ior towards bed) by Emma who is 17 and supoposed to be completely smashed and lurching against me and tryingto get into my pants - somehow the lines I know off byheart just seem to vanish from my headwhen we are on stage.

    Soanother fun filled night for me eating bread and cheesein the cupboard and muttering out loud to myselfas Igooverthescript forthe seventyfifth bejillion time. I feelsorry for anyone in the nextroom as me

    Ok there's my " you are aboutto run outoftime alert - bye!

    *I guess becauseit has been pounded flat bymillionsof touristical typists. I'll mention iton theway out.

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    Let's Have the Coconut And Watch TV!

    I am a sad git.

    Presented with a rare few minutes in which to to do nothing today, what do I do? I go look at the counter on the blog. That's what I do. This is Grade A sad behaviour. Sad Sad Sad.

    Curiously though after my wee wafflings about the "Other" continents the other day I notice that Atlantis, or Lumuria, or Mu, or wherever it was has sunk again because the "others" listed on the pie chart have vanished - taking Africa along with it...

    Today has been an orgy of having fun with the kids, shopping, finding out that fresh cocoanuts aren't as nice as we remember them, shopping - fed up with Holly climbing into her duvet cover all the time we gave in and bought her a sleeping bag - a pink sleeping bag, with a picture of a fairy on it. My daughters are being turned into girls! My whole life is turning pink. I bought some pencils when I was in Inverness to make notes and keep track of the blocking and script changes and t was only when remarks were made that I noticed that I had bought nice pink pencils with pretty little flowers on. OK, they were the cheapest ones in the shop but I honestly hadn't noticed how bloody girly they were.

    I've missed the kids. Holly seems so grown up only after a week away. I think the happiest moment of the day for me was walking around Tesco's in Oban with Daisy. I am not normally at my happiest in Tesco's (or for that matter any other supermarket) but this afternoon with Daisy holding onto my index finger and walking me from one interesting bright thing to another it was, for a few moments, the greatest most wonderful place on earth.

    Long soaky bath tonight. I have been dreaming of a bath all week. Everytime I stepped into the Broom Cupboard that I have been sleeping in's shower cubicle I thought "I want a bath!!!!!!" So I had a bath.

    Several times during the week I also thought "I never want to read another sentence that Patricia Cornwell wrote" but I always resisted. Backstory: somehow,in a fit of insomnia, I managed to read the 400 page SF book that was going to keep me company all week on the first night away and the only other book I could find in the B&B was Trace one of her Kay Scarpetta novels. It is and without doubt one of thew worst pieces of writing I have read for years. It was crap. So awful I just had to keep reading it to wallow in the sheer misery of the experience. I was going to wite down some of the choicer bits of agony to share but my brain imploded somewhere around chapter 12.


    Friday, September 02, 2005

    Jiggidy Jig!

    Home again, Home Again! for the weekend... This is what I tried to send to the blog yesterday from Inverness Library but due to me still not being able to read my own typing and mistaking a . for a _ has vanished into the aether.

    Libraries are f**king great - apart from not letting you send out mails with the word f**king in them). Free internet access! I'm sitting here surrounded by baffled tourists acceseing Chaudmail (El Poste-Caliente!) and the like hunting and pecking mails to their best beloveds on, to them, weirdly laid out keyboards totally lacking all the useful umlauts and accents that they need to write properly.

    It's day 4 of the rehersals and, apart from my room in the B&B being the size of a large wardrobe with no windows, everything is starting to come together. The play is slightly less pants than it looked on the page. Partialy due to us chopping great chunks out and rewriting other great chunks and hamming otherbits up like crazy. I guess I've got half of it memorised by now but it is a bugger. It would have been easier if there had been an actual story. But we can't have everything.

    It's been great getting a full nights sleep without having to get up in the middle of the night to see to Daisy. I don't know how Merriol is coping without me but I guess I'm on duty ALL weekend. I miss the kids. I'm missing Daisy learning to walk and talk. But we need the money!. I've been very good in that I have only bought 3 books this week and NO CDs. This is some kind of record.

    Bugger my 30 minutes are up....

    To be continued after I have done all that "I'm home!" stuff...

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    just emaild an gripping instalment to the blog and it's vanished. Bugger!

    Saturday, August 27, 2005

    A few days a go a book I bought from someone in the USA on eBay arrived. It was nicely and neatly packaged in a padded envelope and had a home made, but professional looking, label on the front.

    I'm glad the contents were enclosed. Maybe I'm missing something here but I thought that was the whole point of envelopes. Still, it's better than having an envelope that tells me the contents aren't enclosed, or even one that tells me that what ever is in it are not its contents. I'm baffled as to what he was trying to say.

    Mind you I'm still puzzling over a piece of paper I picked up in the street some 30 years ago (and still have somewhere) that is totally blank apart from the words:

    "Please destroy this blank page"

    Apart from the paradoxical non-blankness of the page in question. (The words describing its blankess negate the very blankness they attempt to describe*) I still haven't worked out why anyone would go to the trouble of making a page, the sole purpose of which was to be destroyed.

    Actually someone did come up with a perfectly logical and satisfactory answer to this question a few years ago, a feat which so annoyed me (because it destroyed the nice cosy corner of mystery I had wrapped around the idea) that I have forgotten both the explanation and who gave it to me.

    When I was in LA there was someone putting up notices on power poles and fences that just said
    "Ignore this Notice"
    I never worked that one out either.

    * I'm sure there is a dead posh philosphical or philological word to describe this but I'm buggered if I know what it is. I leave that sort of thing to people who know what 'philology' actually is and can spell it correctly without using a dictionary to look it up like I just had to.

    Friday, August 26, 2005

    coldplay test

    Missing CD? Contact vendor

    Free CD
    Please take care
    in removing from cover.

    Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

    (this copyright notice stolen from http://jonnybillericay.blogspot.com/)

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