Sunday, October 29, 2006

Too Pooped to Blog

Not enough time free this weekend to do anything other that apologize for the lack of gripping installment this week.

And what a gripping installment it would have been too.

... trapped by landslides and fallen trees in a small one street highland town with nothing to do but read (I was paid to sit about and read all day. How brilliant is that?)

... drove for hundreds of miles and endure long ferry trips, to take the kids to Tobermorey, a town famous for being the location of a favourite kid's TV show, Ballamorey, and which smelled like a seaside bus station; that strange damp mixture of fish offal and diesel which you only find in fishing ports.

... endured the most awful bit of 'table wetting' ever in the history of crap service in the UK catering industry.

... sat in the pub for hours at the pub quiz and discovered the third unforeseen consequence of the smoking ban. Until this year all pub tables had ash trays. Now they don't. There is no where for anyone to dump the crumpled up bus tickets, chewing gum wrappers, old toothpicks etc etc.

... deleted twenty three million spam and got my email working again.

If I get a chance I will expand on all these and more next week.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Stand-up From Porlock

It is a fact universally recognised that ripping off Jane Austen is a rotten way to start a blog entry but it is also true that within most people there is a frustrated artist trying to get out. Even only if that inner artist manages to escape when the host body is utterly blootered, and turns out only to be interested in expressing themselves through the medium of Kareoke, there is an urge to create within all of us. My inner daemon is a frustrated stand-up comic. Every now and then he just pops up from nowhere, grabs my internal brain stage's mike, and starts riffing.

And he's brilliant.

He's Lenny Bruce and Bill Bailey and Dylan Moran all rolled into one, and funnier than the lot of them. (He sounds a bit like Dylan Moran too.) Trouble is that, on the rare occasions when he does turn up, he won't stop talking. I just have to listen to him because he is so funny. By the time he's finished I'm simultaneously wetting myself with laughter and hugging myself with glee because this is the funniest thing EVER and it CAME OUT OF MY HEAD and it's mine!
Jesus, I'm so fucking funny! Two minutes later when I try to write any of it down - I can't remember a fucking word. Nothing. Not a sausage. It's gone; he's gone, and he won't come back and do it again. He does his whole act and then just fucks off leaving me with the memory of a great gig but none of the specifics.

It's really frustrating.

He turned up tonight while I was soaking in the bath. All I can remember is a long rant about wind turbines. Fucking wind farms. Everyone complaining about them ruining the scenery. His solution? Put them underground.

It made me laugh.

I think you had to be there.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I've Got a New Smile to Show You!

Tomorrow I pick up the car again to go back on the road with the play on Monday. Tomorrow I must pack for a week away in sunny B&B land and pick up my copy of the script and see if I still remember it.

Went to the pub last night. First time I have been for a very long time. In fact the first time all six of us Andy, Ilona, Eilene, Chaz, Merriol and myself have been in the boozer together since the last village panto ten months ago. Of the six of us, two are on the wagon, one is pregnant, one is on medication that precludes the imbibing of alcohol. I'm still trying to work out why we went to the pub.
Scotland has a total ban on smoking indoors, in any kind of workplaces and that includes pubs. Ireland beat us too it, and England are following relectantly behind. One of the more pleasant effects of this ban has been that you can now sit in a pub all night (not drinking and not smoking) and come home without having to strip off and shower because you reek like an ashtray.
Today was spent wandering the street of Fort William and another side effect became apparent. Scottish cafes have started putting out tables and chairs on the pavements (for the smokers) just like every other country in the world has been doing since drinking coffee and having a blether was invented. It was really nice just sitting at a pavement cafe watching the world go by. Oooh. Dead continental.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Naked Yoghurt

First of all the tedious length of today's blogging is because today is...


...and I'm going to post this there too. Though having got half way down the filling out the required details form and finding the pulldown "Where are you from" menu lists every county in England and Wales but just lumps the whole of Scotland as 'Scotland' I'm tempted to forget it. Fucking Southerno-centric bias. This is supposed to be the British Library after all.

My typical day by Liam aged 47, husband of Merriol, thirty-ahem!, and father to Holly, four, and Daisy two.

9 a.m. Breakfast of coffee (Lidl's finest brewed to a chewable consistency) and a handful of soggy Salt and Vinegar Pringles - I wanted to throw the tube away. Tea for Merriol, Tesco's ultra-cheapo. The kids have already raided the fridge and made themselves breakfast. Hate to think what, but there is cheese missing.

Started the washing machine going with the load I forgot to start last night, loaded the dishwasher, took a phone call with details of a tour date change. Opened the gates for Merriol to take Daisy to the Doctor's about the rash on her legs, brought in the milk (two pints full fat) . Started to drink the coffee and tidy up the kitchen. Merriol and Daisy returned from the doc's with a tube of 3 times a day steroidal gunk.

10 o'clock got the kids ready and trolled up the hill to playgroup while Merriol went off to work. 5 kids & 3 adults at playgroup.

Came home at mid day to find a female blackbird trapped in the hallway and a robin flying around in the living room. Finished my morning cup of coffee which was now three hours old and stone cold (there was no way I was going to let that much caffeine escape me) and eventually persuaded the birds to leave by managing to steer them through the open windows they were missing by inches. The kids meanwhile watched Yo-Ho Ahoy!

The Post arrived. 2 bits of junk mail, one computer cable bought on eBay, and a book from Amazon.

Lunch was Pasta a la Fridgese. Which today was tomatoes, palma ham, olives, and red pepper fried in olive oil.

Listened to You and Yours on Radio 4 while I cooked and said "wanker" a lot. I must stop shouting at the radio even if it is populated by smug southern gits.

1.20 p.m. Finished lunch and loaded dishwasher. Emptied washing machine. Holly helped (though for some reason best known to Holly we had to pretend to be policemen and communicate by Walky Talky as we did it). Hung laundry in the driving room . How can three people wear so much underwear in one week?

Holly played on her computer and Daisy dressed up as whatever Daisy thinks she is dressing up as when she rifles the dressing-up box. I nipped upstairs to check my mail. Deleted over 100 hundred Spam encouraging me to enlargen my penis, have multiple orgasms and "shoot my load" over 50 feet. (why?). Freeserve's spam filters have obviously gone on strike again.

Changed Daisy's nappy.

Got the kids all dressed up and into the big double pram to take them down to the library van in the village square. Stood there for ages. Library van did not arrive. Pushed them all the way back up the hill and called in on my parents with the loaf of bread my mum had asked me to buy. Daisy fell asleep on the way up so I left her sleeping in the push chair as I stayed for a cup of coffee and Holly danced the alphabet.

Home again. Put Daisy to bed. Not like her to sleep so long in the afternoon, but she was up at one a.m. and again at six. Continued the Sisyphean task of tidying the kitchen. Paused to brush Holly's hair (merely Herculean) and contemplated tea.

Tea evolved into corn on the cob followed by sausages (Morrison's best herby somethings) spuds, broccoli and salad. The girls, suspecting I would be writing this blog, ate the broccoli before the sausages! I sometimes wonder if they are really my kids.

6.30 went to lay down for half an hour and read a chapter of Larklight, Philip Reeve's latest Ripping Yarn. Jolly good it is too.

7 pm - 8 pm Bathtime and stories. Both kids went down like I had thrown a switch.

8 pm - 9 Blogging, Chuntering in forums (fora?) and trying to get Merriol's phone to talk to the computer via the new cable. (I finally admitted defeat and will have to read the manual).

9 pm-ish Watch some crap movie with space ships, large-breasted women, and explosions.

10.30 pm Wake Holly for a pee.

Somewhere between then and 3 am I will go to bed depends on how distracted I get by the web.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Driving back from Oban this afternoon. Holly and Daisy were in the back pretending they were alarm clocks. I had to pretend to be asleep (while driving) and every few minutes, when they got fed up with saying "tick tock", they would make alarm noises and I would have to pretend to wake up.

After about the twentieth time of this, Merriol tried to head the game off into slightly less annoyingly repetitive territory.

Merriol:
Hurray! We're awake.
What's for breakfast?

Holly:
You tell me. I'm an alarm
clock not a fortune teller!


I wish I made this stuff up.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Unicorn Poo

Holly woke us up the other morning demanding she have a bath because a unicorn had pooed on her during the night.

"They are very small animals but do very big poos." she said.

We asked her why the unicorn had pooed on her and not in the toilet.

"Because it didn't want to disturb Daisy. Unicorns are the worst tip-toers in the whole world."



Merriol is going across country tomorrow to have a full day's pampering in a beauty spa place. A workmate of hers has a new boyfriend, firmly set on Impress Mode, who has stupid amounts of money to throw around. He bought her, "and a friend", a whole day's slap-up beauty workout in a posh slap-up beauty workout place.

Merriol is the friend.

He paid two hundred quid for EACH of them for the day.

Cough! Splutter!

That's some serious impressing going on there.

Merriol will be away all day and I get to play with the kids, feel vaguely inadequate, and practicing saying:

You look wonderful!

YOU look wonderful!

You LOOK wonderful...

...for when she comes back.

She's Gone Blind In The Ears And Can't Hear Very Well

Poking about in the counter again tonight (I'm supposed to be setting questions for the Playgroup's Pub Quiz but get distracted easily) I find that someone recently bumped into the blog while searching for 'mwahahahaha'. Why the hell would anyone be searching the web for 'mwahahahaha'only to find this? There are some very strange people out there. And I seem to be one of them.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Three weeks of the tour done and I'm home for the next two weeks before buggering off on the road for another three. The schools are on holiday for a fortnight and I am being paid a £100 retainer not to take a job in the meantime. Like the National Theatre is just HOUNDING me!

The tour has been a lot more fun that previous ones. A lot easier. I get on with the others and we seem to laugh at the same things but even so, after three weeks on the road this is a welcome break. I miss my kids. Daisy seems so much older, even after only a week away from her.

We spent the last week doing the schools in Morayshire We stayed the whole week in one Bed and Breakfast and drove to the gigs each day, returning to the B&B each night. The upside of this was we didn't have to pack up each morning and drive to a new place and get settled in again and find somewhere to eat etc. On the down side, Bob and I were sleeping in a windowless box. The owners of the B&B (the Willowbank in Elgin if anyone is interested) had obviouslyy measured their car and then measured the garage and thought: "We can get another room in that gap at the end". So they did. Walled off the end of the garage, knocked a hole through to the main house and called it a bedroom. It was appalling. No window, damp, cold. The roof was low and sloped. The bathroom was tiny and must have been plumbed in by a midget. (The shower head was about nipple height with no way of adjusting it any higher - you either had to sit on the floor, or shower one-handed. Not a skill I possess). We spent a lot of time staying out of the room.

The girls' room was OK but the place is no longer on the Theatre's approved list, not after Bob and I had our four pennies worth.

The shows have been fun too (especially the bit where Sarah wraps herself around me and tries to drag me off to bed - I quite enjoyed that bit) but the show has been getting longer and longer. As we have learned what works and what doesn't, and how to milk a laugh out of situations, it's grown about eight or so minutes. One of the things I have really learned this time is that sometimes audiences need time to settle into a joke. There's one line towards the end which always used to get a laugh last year but not a titter this time. It took me a good week or so to notice the joke was falling flat and a few days to work out what was killing it. It was just as simple as Claire coming in too fast with the next line. It made sense for her to come in quickly. It is how her character would react but by coming in so fast she didn't give the audience time to get the joke and laugh before their brains were being fed more information. All this may seem amazingly obvious but when you are doing it, franticly trying to remember your lines and which exit you are coming off next, thoughts like that tend to take some days to be completed. They are half-realized when the situation presents itself, then forgotten a moment later as a new problem turns up, half-realized again during the next show - and so on.

It really is a very strange process this acting lark. You stand there talking to another actor in front of a hundred or so people, saying these things that you have learned, thinking all the time about how you are saying them, making yourself believe you are saying them for the first time ever, and trying to think about what it is you are saying, and trying to make it real, while at the same time part of your brain is going:
Now what was that thing she does with her hand in the next bit? You meant to mention it to her after the show all last week butbutt forgot.. Ah, right! that was it! I must mention that to her afterwards... wait a minute! I've usually got the drink in my hand by now, why am I still standing here when I should be over there. He forgot that line again never mind turn around and walk off that way... I wonder where we'll get lunch today? I can'trememberr what the next scene is. Crap! I haven't got a clue! Fuck! Wait a minute! if I'm standing here... and Bob's over there... wearing the hat... then.... OK !I know what my first line is when I walk back on. Haven't got a clue what's after that but that's enough. It'll come back to me...

Anyway we seem to have added eight minutes of silence to a forty-five minute show and made it funnier as well. It does mean we have less time to do the workshop afterwards but that's hardly a tragedy. That never was much fun.

I jus hope I can rememberr ANY of it when we go back out in two weeks time.
Aha! This is genius! The best idea I've had since I attempted to make a solar-powered barbecue out of an old Sky satellite dish and some baco-foil. At least once a week I lose at least one of the remote controls required to drive the Telly/DVD/Skybox combo (the VHS remote died years ago and we just get on our hands and knees and try and remember what the buttons on the front used to do before the logos wore off. Luckily it is old enough to have buttons on the front). Last night I would have watched a movie that was playing on Film 4 but for the fact we had lost the TV remote and the set was jammed on the 4:3 aspect ratio while the film was being broadcast in 16:9. I can't stand watching films like that, with everyone squished up. When I go to the cinema it takes me at least three goes to get the right seat. Dead center with eye level in the centre of the screen if poss. Merriol just waits in the aisle till I have finished fannying around and have found the right spot. Then she joins me. The only way I could have watched the movie last night was to have stood on a stepladder and peered down at the screen from above. Not comfortable.

So tonight's genius idea. Everyone I know has at least three old mobile phones that they don't know what to do with. And when you misplace your mobile phone the simplest way to find it is to phone it from another phone and follow your ears. So...





Next time you can't find the remote, dial the outdated phone you have taped to it and there you are!

Gad! I'm so brilliant I scare myself sometimes.

Merriol just muttered the words 'sad git' and went to bed.

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