Saturday, 31 December 2005

My Top Albums of 2005

This is something of a tradition for me so please bear with me if you hate music...scratch that, if you hate music then you are sub-human scum and have no place here.

2005 has been a very poor year, especially for guitar based tunes, although with the likes of The Artic Monkeys and Plan B on the 2006 horizon it does bode slightly better. Having said that I heard a preview of The Strokes new album and it was a pile of horseshit.

Their was surprisingly few re-issue highlights in 2005 but the one stand out is a truly exceptional record: Pearl by Janis Joplin. It came out all repackaged and with a bonus disc of live wailing and is a must for anyone wishing to hear the greatest white female voice in Rock and Roll.

Before I lay on you my Top Three Albums of 2005 I have some honourary mentions to make, starting with the last addition to my epic CD collection in 2005: 29 by Ryan Adams, where (in a year of quantity over quality) he hits his stride in a beautiful, understated record. He seems to be in his Dylan phase and the longer he stays there the better.

Speaking of a Dylan phase, Bright Eyes and I'm Awake and it's Morning is another acoustic based winner with wicked lyrics and a sense of political urgency; while Tom Vek's We Have Sound plugs in to the thin, mercury noise of mid-period Dylan and throws in some looped beats and interesting sounds to meld a startling piece of original music.

As for the big hitters, Coldplay (X&Y), Franz Ferdinand (You Could Have it so Much Better) and The White Stripes (Get Behind Me Satan) don't disappoint, maintaining high musical standards in their search for uber-band status; although the samey nature of these albums stops them from being truly great releases; they seem to have stayed within their boundaries somewhat.

Two final shout-outs go to the excellent Mitchell Brothers and A Breath Of Fresh Attire, which although far from perfect is a wonderful slice of London life in an accessible Grime/Hip-Hop format and holds perhaps my favourite song of this year: Alone With The TV and the GLC, who have managed to produce a comedy album as funny as the first and the joke isn't even wearing thin yet: SAFE AS FUCK.

So my Top Three Albums of 2005 are (in no particular order):

  • Kano: Home Sweet Home. Takes the best bits of Grime, the best bits of Hip-Hop, the best bits of just about every other pop music genre and makes an album that should have launched him to worldwide stardom and his flow is fast, furious and beautiful. The fact he is still only slightly famous shows how morally bankrupt the music business is.
  • System of a Down: Mezmerize. Clever heavy metal that draws on a bewildering array of influences and world music styles and leaves SOD as the leading light in heavy metal by a royal mile and the lyrics take on the political issues of the US to boot. Metallica could never make a racket like these guys. Pity Hypnotize wasn't as good...
  • Antony and the Johnsons: I Am A Bird Now. The voice of an angel, mixed with some of the most jaw-dropping lyrics and sweeping, epic soundscapes creates the finest album of 2005.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Friday, 30 December 2005

Humanist vs Catastrophic

The Humanist Theatre:
We all really agree.
When we laugh together.
Art must be understood.
Wit greases the message.
The actor is a man/woman not unlike the author.
The production must be clear.
We celebrate our unity.
The critic is already on our side.
The message is important.
The audience is educated and goes home happy or fortified.

The Catastrophic Theatre:
We only sometimes agree.
Laughter conceals fear.
Art is a problem of understanding.
There is no message.
The actor is different in kind.
The audience cannot grasp everything; nor did the author.
We quarrel to love.
The critic must suffer like everyone else.
The play is important.
The audience is divided and goes home disturbed or amazed.

Howard Barker. First published in 'Theatre en Europe', 1989. Reproduced in Arguments for a Theatre, Manchester University Press

Guess which side I'm on?

Thursday, 29 December 2005

A Dog Finds Jesus


Christians are my favourite comedians.

Click here to follow the story of Bones, a Redbone Coonhound, and how he met his best friend Jesus and what his new best friend did for him.

I've decided it's been a while since I committed a crime so I'm publishing a memo below which the UK Government are trying to suppress, with the threat of prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. It details our use of intelligence extracted by torture and legal advice the Foreign Office received on the subject.

I could go to prison for this, so if anyone else wants a copy please feel free to copy it and add it to your website.

Wednesday, 28 December 2005

Our Style is Legendary: The End


I've been writing a play about growing up in Nottingham for some time, the first seeds were sown back in 1999, the idea from way before then and the funding came in 2001 but it kinda ground out to a halt after all that. Loss of faith from others a painful inability by me to spill my blood on the keyboard.

December has been spent trying to finish it thanks to a kind nudge from Keith Hukin at Reform Theatre. Now I have to try and get it put on somewhere, find an agent and email it to my friends to read.

It's been a labour of love, a true story that needs to be told, here is the end of the play...

DANNY

He said God needed him there and that it was his time to go. He said that his time was done on this earth and he was needed by Jesus in his kingdom of eternal peace and it may seem early in his life but God's calling comes to us all at different times and let us be grateful for the time that we he had with him…

MICHAEL

Grafteful? Fuckin’ grateful for what?

DANNY

…And remember all the good times and fond memories and let us cherish the thought of him deep in our hearts and he played his favourite song and it wasn’t even his favourite fuckin’ song. But he's not sitting with the angels in heaven is he? He blew his fuckin’ brains out. He blew his fuckin’ brains out all over the Rec and he did it cuz he was so fuckin’ sad, so fuckin’ sad and empty and angry and broken and lost and everything…

MICHAEL

They don't let his sort into God's kingdom Danny, that’s why the vicar had to lie and keep it all a secret.

DANNY

They’re liars.

MICHAEL

Stone wouldn't want to be in God's kingdom anyway.

DANNY

Cut me up seeing Stone’s mum, seeing her sit there, being so brave while everybody else cracked up around her.

MICHAEL

All those tears rolling down people’s faces, all that noisy crying, it did my head in.

DANNY

That noise she made, when the coffin disappeared behind the curtains, it cut me in half. I stuck my nails into my palms, I bit my tongue.

MICHAEL

This is doing my head in.

DANNY

I was alright until she touched me, until she hugged me and I could feel her shake with the pain.

Tuesday, 27 December 2005

Lubricating the Wheels of Idiocy Again

"They're cowards. Why don't they step up and fight like men?"

Anonymous Special Forces Captain, based in Afgahnistan.

Apparently, he had not considered how he might fight if he had no armour, no radio, an ancient rifle and the sure knowledge that if he 'fought like a man', he would be obliterated in minutes.

Saturday, 24 December 2005

Lubricating the Wheels of Idiocy


Blowback: when your actions lead to unintended consequences.

In 2003 the number of terrorist incidents jumped to their highest number in 20 years, in 2004 that figure tripled, figures for 2005 are on their way. Don't hold your breath. Today's insurgents in Iraq are tomorrow's terrorists? Maybe, parallels with Afghanistan can be drawn but the only comparison many people seem to be making is Vietnam.

I've just finshed reading an interesting essay by Melvin R. Laird, Secretary of Defense under Nixon from 69-73 who orchestrated the US army withdrawl from Vietnam and the empowerment of South Vietnam troops; the kind of thing that Rumsfield hopes to be doing. I'd like to share a few of his thoughts with you, they prove to be quite stimulating on the matter of American foreign policy and it's demand for futile, short-term solutions rather than a long-term investment.

"The resulting legacy [of Vietnam]...has left the United States timourous about war, deeply averse to intervening in even a just cause and dubious of its ability to get out of a war once it is in one. [The Vietnam War] is used as thier bully pulpit to mold an isolationist American foreign policy...Those who wallow in such Vietnam angst would have us be not only reticent to help the rest of the world but ashamed of our ability to do so and doubtful of the value of spreading democracy and of the superirity of freedom itself."

One of his most intriguing statements relates to the politicians role within a time of war: "I cannot speak for the dead or the angry. My voice is that of a policymaker, one who once decided which causes were worth fighting for, how long the fight should last and when it was time to go home." Another on the impact of war reporting on the people back home: "Had the mothers and fathers of US soldiers serving in World War II seen a real-time CNN report of D-day in the style of Saving Private Ryan, they might not have thought Europe was worth saving."

Some food for thought before we gorge ourselves...

Friday, 23 December 2005

New York Observations

It may surprise some of my readers but I love America, not in a flag waving way but in an honest and brutal way, call it tough love, that's why I moan so much about it; I expect only the highest standards.

This trip with Marie was my third time to New York, somethings had changed (like the security levels at just about every tourist attraction, although why it was stricter at an iconic landmark like the Statue of Liberty rather than the more practically damaging Empire State Building I'll never know and can you believe that all you get to do at the Statue is to go to the top of the base? In my dad's day you could go up the arm to the top of the torch if you asked nicely!) somethings remained the same (awful customer service, great food but rubbish chocolate, brilliant beer, very tall buildings).
Although the transit strike slowed us down a little at the end of our holiday, we covered most of what we wanted to see, only missing out on the Lower East Side, East Village, some shops and a few museums we didn't have time for. We even explored the Bronx (brilliant zoo with some lovely monkeys) and Brooklyn!

I'm not going to bore you with an itinerary and needless to say we had an amazing time, New York is so dense with sights and sounds, with famous and important places that you kinda stumble from one wonder to another. Yes, the people are rude and mostly customer service consists of individuals who don't speak English scowling at you as you order food but that's the joy of New York!

Some thoughts...

  • Why are Americans so behind when it comes to mobile phones? Instead of hands-free they just shout into them when they're on speakerphone
  • Why is the New York subway ticket system so rubbish and why are there no staff at stations? And while we're at it, there's no suicide pit if people do decide to jump in
  • Men dress very practically which is good, as in the UK men will insist on wearing as few clothes as they can get away with. In the UK a scarf is an accessory not a nessicity
  • Dogs in coats and jumpers, shops like Trixie and Peanut
  • Coke not only comes in millions of great flavours but it is also in bigger bottles. Awesome
  • Water and bread at every restaurant is just the best thing ever and should be made compulsory in the UK, rather than having to feel like a cheapskate when you ask for tap water
  • Cheap food that tastes awesome
  • The Gramercy Tavern is not only a damn fine restaurant but also gave us muffins to take home for breakfast

Marie and I may think of more but for now that's it.

We miss New York already...

Thursday, 22 December 2005

Brief New York Missive


We are back.

It was great.

I proposed to Marie.

She said yes.

Joy all round and more facts to follow when I have unpacked and had a sleep.

Peace.

Thursday, 15 December 2005

And to New York

So very little time and so much packing to do!

Marie and I are off to New York at an un-Godly hour very soon indeed. We shall be gone for many days and we will have great fun and many surprises shall occur...

See you after I've been New Yorked.

Peace.

Wednesday, 14 December 2005

Happy Birthday Marie!


I love you with all my heart, my sweet and perfect angel. I am blessed to have you in my life, I am forever your Daniel.

Tuesday, 13 December 2005

I AM A MASTER OF THE ARTS!

I graduated today from the Central School of Speech and Drama with a Masters Degree.

Does that mean that when I'm unemployed I get more benefit?

Today gave me a chance to dress up in my Dior suit and look smart, wear my new Vivienne Westwood tie and see people who I shared an adventure with and whom I miss a great deal.

I also got to see those individuals that I'm ambivalent about.

I spent a great deal of time talking to a teacher who inspired me and gave me a framework for my rage and anger at the ineffectual manifestations of the majority of theatre and stopped me from re-inventing the wheel. Focusing my attention and powers on a just cause, on stories that need to be told.

He bestowed on me giddying, fine words of praise; he embraced me and clasped my hands with tears welling in his eyes as we shared, shared personal truths.

He may have been drunk. Who cares. Some people may disregard his words as addled prose from a fleeting mind but he is a man who no longer takes himself at all seriously, who sees through the posturing of all consuming intensity and rigteousness and who understands that you do not dilute the strength of your convictions if you deliver them with a smile.
Sir, I salute you. May our paths cross again.

Monday, 12 December 2005

Everyone Carries Around His Own Monsters

Richard Pryor said that, he also said "what the fuck am I doing here" and the motherfucker has at last passed away. Bless him, he was, for me, the greatest stand-up comedian of all time; many of his performances are more like jazzy, theatrical monologues that are as dark as they are funny. His angry nigger style not only cut lose a whole raft of black comedians but also liberated the whole medium of stand-up and raised the bar. No one can touch him but it's good to die trying.

One final quote of his that I love: "I live in racist America and I'm uneducated, yet a lot of people love me and like what I do and I can make a living from it. You can't do much better than that." Indeed you can't you crazy diamond.

Sunday was post less because I was in bed with a hangover after too much port at a great party and then Marie's family came to hang out and then I went to the Prince Edward theatre to see Jon Stewart of The Daily Show fame.

He was reading excerpts from his book and then doing a quick Q&A and being very funny indeed, whilst ripping America and its government to shreds. Needless to say, we the audience lapped it up and I had a fantastic night. But...

I can't help but think he's preaching to the converted and that all of us liberals can satisfy ourselves by thinking we're actually doing something about the situation by going to see his show or watching the tele. I'm bored with all the same Bush jokes, they have to stop and be replaced by coherent policies put together about what the American people want for their future and more importantly the apathy felt towards the political processes of both the US and the UK by it's voters. 99% of us should be voting, not 46%, that's disgusting! We need to win back politics from the politicians and empower ourselves through decision making. But I suppose that's not very funny...

I'll leave you with some Jon Stewart quotes:

"If the events of September 11, 2001, have proven anything, it's that the terrorists can attack us, but they can't take away what makes us American: our freedom, our liberty, our civil rights. No, only Attorney General John Ashcroft can do that."

"We begin tonight with a simple, indisputable fact: as a young man, President George W. Bush benefited from family connections to get a place in the Texas Air National Guard, thus avoiding service in Vietnam. As you would guess, this has led to calls for the resignation of Dan Rather."

Saturday, 10 December 2005

Each Post is a Small Death

Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize for literature and his acceptance speech was a blustering attack upon Tony Blair and George Bush (surprise, surprise) which has some wonderful moments but I can't help but get the feeling that Pinter is a little politically naive and firing off in the wrong direction and in some cases totally wrong in his evaluation of the United States.

I wanted to print these excerpts from his full speech earlier but I was in the middle of being called anti-American (again) so I was a little brow-beaten but here are my favourite bits:

"As every single person here knows, the justification for the invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein possessed a highly dangerous body of weapons of mass destruction, some of which could be fired in 45 minutes, bringing about appalling devastation. We were assured that was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq had a relationship with Al Quaeda and shared responsibility for the atrocity in New York of September 11th 2001. We were assured that this was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq threatened the security of the world. We were assured it was true. It was not true."

"I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, 'the American people', as in the sentence, 'I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.' It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US."

"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading - as a last resort - all other justifications having failed to justify themselves - as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people."

The best bit is where he pretends to be George Bush, or at least his speech writer:

"God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it."

It's a damn fine speech but one that totally negates the voices of dissent in the US and seems to ride roughshod over the majority of people in America who can't abide the war and the reasons behind it.

You may have noticed a new link, it is the blog of the quite marvellous Mohamed A. Hassan, who is based in Egypt, who will bring his powerful and unique perspective to many of you I hope.

Friday, 9 December 2005

Search Party

To ease the self-induced fug I've been in of late, I decided to go and see some theatre and a show my good friend (and talented actor, we trained together at Central) Pete Phillips is in. The show and his company (with partner Jodie Hawkes) are called Search Party and the venue was the The Space on the Isle of Dogs in London.

From the outset is was clear that this was going to be no ordinary night at the theatre, this was a performance event in two parts with tonight's section reflecting the fact that all the creators were living and working in different parts of the UK; attempting to create a performance together but never in the same place and what we the audience saw tonight was the first time this work has ever existed as a whole.

So in theory it should have been a bloody shambles.

And it was but in a nice way, that not only touched me but left me with much to ponder as my balloon floated up into the cold London air...but more on that later. The premise was that we the audience were at a party and we were supposed to be having fun; enjoying ourselves. Party food, soft drinks, balloons, party poppers and party hats had been laid on for our enjoyment and we were encouraged to get into the swing of things but in rather a dead-pan and cold fashion that made you wonder if it was all about to teeter into an altogether darker celebration.

The structures in place to hold this together were in reality a little flimsy: a series of tragedies, fresh starts and new beginnings but at times this conjured some wonderful, performative set pieces: such as when we sang Happy Birthday or showered the 'Birthday Girl' in confetti for her surprise-party-that-was-never-a-surprise party and the attempted conversation between and angel and a girl on a tin can telephone. The dialogue was excellent, when it wasn't being discarded by the actors and was able to stand above any other noise that was being made. It told tragi-comic tales of Trevor and girls with half-finished tatoos.

It was intriguing that Search Party wanted this performance event to bring artists, work and audience together; via the premise of being lost and having fun and them arriving somewhere but seemed to forget that to do that they much reach out to us, connect with us and truly welcome us; rather than utilising a seemingly cold, sinister and indifferent, slightly arch exterior.

However, it is the end of a play that you usually take away with you and Search Party provided a magical ending. On the back of our chairs were tied helium filled balloons, we were asked to write our names and something we are searching for onto cards attached to the balloons and then actors and audience went outside of the theatre and together, released our wishes into the night sky.

I stared up, watching the multi-coloured balloons disappear into the sky I couldn't help but feel deeply touched.

I wrote that I was looking to forget.

Thursday, 8 December 2005

My Dead Best Friend


Ever since Michael died, aged 16 in 1992 about a year ago today, I've been dragging my past around with me, my dead brother over my shoulder and we're trying to make it back to safety after our mission went so horribly wrong.

And I keep talking to him as if he's still alive but he's been dead forever and sometimes I forget he's dead and I get angry when he doesn't respond to my incessant, stupid chatter. And then I remember. And I still lug his heavy corpse on my back, trying to get him home safe, because that's what best friends do for each other.

13 years now brother

It never gets any easier

I miss you

You were beautiful

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Kidz

This post was set on its way by Jessica and Plan B, thanks to both.

Between the ages of 12 and 16 I did some terrible things to myself and to other people. I am still haunted by those struggles, still haunted by the ghosts of dead best friends and text messages from people I used to know saying another brother is inside for holding up a supermarket, or another brother has took his life; leaving behind a family; the blues of a life trapped in drugs and violence: a pure fucking fury that puts the gun in your mouth. I'm still haunted by the punishment I administrated to my head: flash backs, panic attacks, everything falls apart now and then.

This is not a complaint. This is my punishment for the crimes I committed.
When you feel you've nothing to lose you can do anything.

One of the ways I tried to pay penance for my past was to work with the hardest, the toughest, the hardest to help young people in Nottingham. Versions of me, scuffed up humans with hard hearts and scarred fists; with habits and issues and no trust and no love for themselves or anyone else. Taking out the punishment meted out to them by railing against the whole fucking world. Attention and love needy little adults, heading on a pre-determined path to failure, a path well trodden, a path some of us fell off, jumped off or died on before it could be fulfilled.

And don't give me that shit that we're in control of our lives and we can be whatever we want to be and if you try hard enough you can reach the stars. Some of us start from a place that's so dark we ain't ever seen the stars, we don't know what control is because no one took the time to teach us and the constant dull ache of failure and rejection has sucked the life out of our hearts; that's why we can do the things we do.

Smashing up someone's body is easy when it means nothing to you, when these extremes are all you can ever feel.

It breaks my heart.

So I did the best I could and I did it for them. Giving all I could, even last sinew strained to help, getting them to trust me, showing them respect, going the extra mile because you have to, because you can never give up; you have to show them you're different from all the other bullshit adults that cross their path full of judgments and lies and vagueness. Put your heart on the line and they'll follow but sometimes they'll stab you in the heart when you're at your most vulnerable. You have to hold the hand that hurt you and show them there's plenty more blood where that came from.

It exhausted me. Even worse I got cynical. I became like every other grown up. I knew my time was over.

When I look back on the years I spent supporting young people, being part of lives changing, I think of all the people who moved on, who went on to realise that the stars are on the ground not up in the air and of those that never could. At least they had someone to hold their hand now and then, someone who believed in them, even if it was for a short while.

Monday, 5 December 2005

You Could Have it so Much Better!

I'm horse from silent screaming

Trying to get through the screen of my PC with feral vitriol

Helpful feral vitriol

Sounds like a fuel, maybe it is?

Environmentally friendly fuel with a tendency to get mad at you if you

Fuck up

Or maybe it's a health drink for fitness fags

I meant so say fitness freaks

I was distracted by all my anger

Hey!

Henry Rollins posted me his latest book today, he'd written in the front:

"Daniel, thanks, Henry Rollins"

Thanks for what? For buying your book? Or being

Inspired

By

Your

Words

(I think he meant thanks for taking the time to read his book).

My friend John van der Put writes such good stuff on his blog but the bastard doesn't want people commenting on what he writes, so when I read it and something cuts me down with its profundity I feel so impotent and restless, like an old man with a tiny, shriveled penis surrounded by young beauties asking to be lusted up.

Here is a picture of John doing a really good impression of a monkey:

That is all.

Saturday, 3 December 2005

I Turn My Insides Out

I break down over the ironing board

What a stupid thing to do

I talk in funny sentences about being

Humiliated

Before the night is over

I'll be silently crying next to you

Wanting your touch

"Why did you tell me that?"

I don't fucking know

Friday, 2 December 2005

Heavy Metal Mouth

My last post drained me.

If you left any comments I've responded best I can but for fear of labouring the point I'll make it clear.

  • We'll always agree on saving starving Africans because that makes us feel good but the solution is military intervention which no one will sign up because there is nothing of worth in Sudan, apart from the people and as we know people are worth shit compared with oil.
  • Why any of you believe the destruction of al-Jazeera is a good thing is beyond me, killing voices of dissent is the act of a fascist.
  • The US will cut and run because it's administration and it's people are too weak to stick it out and do the right thing. They went in there and messed it up (under the false pretense of pre-emptive self-defence, which is in itself is a disgusting concept befitting of a bully not a dignified nation) and won't stick around to fix it.

Having read this story I wonder if they'll let me into New York when Marie and I come visiting on the 16th December? It could lead to an interesting debate with the notoriously self-important and aggressive US immigration staff.

Big Daddy Merk is doing some fund raising for a asylum seeker support group in Oxford by selling off a lovely treat, the story is here and the eBay link is here so bid if you fancy; all the money is going to a very good cause indeed.

Finally here is a caption competition that I want you to contribute to because you're all such funny people.

Thank you and goodnight.

Tuesday, 29 November 2005

Don't Bomb Us

Following up on my brief mention of the Bush administration wanting to destroy all dissenting voices and bomb the life out of the al-Jazeera news channel, we have further facts on the matter here, here and here. More importantly, some staff members at al-Jazeera have set up a blog, go read it to stay up to date and get a wonderful insight into life at the news agency (you may have to sift through the hateful comments left by idiots). If you want to support the cause please steal the following buttons for your own blog...



Now, onto even more pressing matters and no, I don't mean Iraq, in fact I'm tired of the Iraq obsession. I would like you to spend a wee bit of your time worrying about two other places where we should be saving lives. First up is Sudan, where, to quote Unicef (anything in bold and big letters is my emphasis):

"The conflict in Darfur is described by the UN as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, affecting around 2.9 million people. Fighting between rebel groups, security forces and the janjaweed militia continues LARGELY UNRESTRAINED. Entire villages have been wiped out and thousands of lives have been lost. Persistent low intensity conflict and continued widespread displacement characterise the crisis, which started in FEBRUARY 2003. Around 1.8 million people are internally displaced, 1.4 MILLION OF THESE ARE CHILDREN."

If you want to learn about the effect upon the children read this article, then ask yourself what are we doing? If there was ever a nation in need of some regime change, of some allied forces wading in and saving millions of lives and averting a genocide the like of which we've not seen since the last time the world stood aside and let 250,000 people die in a month in Rwanda, then this is it. And we're doing fuck all. The US has withdrawn it's troops and cut peacekeeping spending, no doubt to cover the costs of a costly intervention in Iraq and the oil wells need protecting after all. Everyone else is just sending humanitarian aid, to quote the brilliant Get Your War On: "Well that's a relief, you hate to see people gang raped on an empty stomach".

And for all of you people who think that the best thing the Allied forces can do in Iraq is 'cut and run' I've one word for you: Afghanistan. Remember that place? Where we beat the Taliban? I don't expect you to remember as it's kinda dropped off the radar. Well, surprise surprise but Iraq has drained resources from that as well, Afghanistan has had in the region of $1.3 billion thrown at it with Iraq expecting some $30 billion, schools and other important building are un-finished or poorly built (this was done in a rush to be ready for the 2004 elections...ringing any bells here?) so regime change is on hold and guess what? Taliban forces (that's right the ones we beat by leveling mountains and dropping cluster bombs that are still removing the limbs of innocents) are increasing their attacks.

Have a good day. I'm off to see what I can do about it.

Belated Thanksgiving Message

Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts

Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison

Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger

Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot

Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes

Thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through

Thanks for the KKK, for nigger killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers

Thanks for laboratory AIDS

Thanks for prohibition and the War Against Drugs (and the War Against Terror)

Thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business

Thanks for a nation of finks

Yes, thanks for all the memories... all right, let's see your arms... you always were a headache and you always were a bore

Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

And I'd like to thank Sisypharama for turning me on to this prayer by William S. Burroughs.

Monday, 28 November 2005

Sunday, 27 November 2005

For Billy

Last night I went to see my very good friend Mark Whiteley (the same Mark Whiteley that co-starred with me in Thick As Thieves) in pantomime at the Nottingham Playhouse, the panto in question was Jack and the Beanstalk and Mark was brilliant as the giant and the *cough* back end of a cow...If you get the chance, please do and see it as it is possibly the best panto in the UK.

I also saw lots of old friends that I hadn't seen for some time, friends from a very different time in my life, some of whom I miss terribly, some I'm glad we went our separate ways. In such moments, horrendous personal truths can leak out, mixed with alcohol and vague memories of companionship; we hope the truths are left in the fug of the drink and heady atmosphere of party but mostly they linger at the back of the mind. Saved like bullets, or trinkets, or both.

Today, I met Mark's new baby son, the beautiful Billy who has the bluest eyes and the cheekiest cheeks. His mother, Jess, is perhaps one of the most genuinely lovely people you could possibly hope to meet, she is so kind, so open. Billy obviously liked Marie a lot, as he sicked up on her, which can only be a good thing. It made me want babies even more. I do get nervous around them though, these little people make me feel even bigger, even more clumsy, I don't want my big hands to expose their fragility.

I should hear about the results of the audition this week, even if the news is bad I will of course be honest and write about here, so for now please keep me in your thoughts.

Thursday, 24 November 2005

This Will All Be Someone Else's Dream

I very rarely quote Take That (I am a closet fan) but tonight seems apt.

Today I had a very important audition, it was important because of what it'll do for my career, important because the venue is close to my heart, important because the play deals with a story that moves me utterly. I want this job more than I want my lungs to function.

I'll find out in a few days. Think of me.

I'd like to say thanks to Keith, Marie and Kirky for their inspiring, supportive and kind words. I hope I didn't let you down.

Two random things for you:
  1. There should be more jokes about cancer. It's a comedy minefield waiting to explode.
  2. The girl keeps staring at her reflection in the train window, sometimes she pouts, sometimes she scours her face for imperfection, sometimes she lets the tears roll down her cheeks, sometimes she looks at me.

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Forever in Our Hearts


Did some teaching today, working with little people on why you shouldn't be mean to each other, using drama and acting to develop empathy with victims of bullying, trying to start getting little people to stop being bystanders and making there voices heard.

It was hard work but fun and I love little people, sometimes they take my breath away with their words and their ways. There was a boy who suffered from real anger problems but was calmed by touch, so whenever he was about to lose his temper his classmates reached out and stroked him. How beautiful is that?

On a less beautiful note it seems that President Bush ordered al-Jazeera to be destroyed and it's staff killed. Thankfully Blair dissuaded him, reports on the story can be found here, here, here, here and here. All dissenting voices will be destroyed.

Occasionally the internet has the ability to profoundly shock me and you'll be shocked if you put forever in our hearts into Google. It brings up a disturbing horde of very personal memorial sites that are rather like gawping at a car crash, deeply unpleasant but hard to tear yourself away from as the grief and injuries leak from your screen.

Please be warned, the following links may upset some people so please don't click unless you're ready to have your heart bust on the rocks.

There are sites for babies who came too early, teenagers who took their own lives, murdered children and dead Shetland sheepdogs.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Bush Beaten by a Door (No Exit Strategy)


I'm starting to feel sorry for this bastard.

A locked door thwarted his quick exit from a news conference in Beijing on Sunday, after he answered just six questions from a group of US reporters he strode confidently towards the door that was clearly not with him but against him. President Bush tugged manfully at both handles on the double doors before admitting: "I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work."


He then made his way out of the backdoor. How appropriate is that? The BBC has the story here with the added bonus of video. Go watch, go laugh and then remember he is the most powerful man in the world.


On a personal note, this week brings a couple of days teaching little people about how you shouldn't be mean to others and the most important audition of my life on Thursday. Be more of that later...

Monday, 21 November 2005

Bouncers is Over


I am now unemployed.

I can't believe that an adventure that started on the 22nd August is now over, last night was the last show of a tour that began on the 31st August. It's strange reading the early posts on the show, especially the one where I got the job. How flippant was I?

The last week of the tour was magic, with the final show (a ladies night special for all those bitches out there!) ending in a strip being performed by the cast, so you all missed me in my pants doing a rude dance in front a horde of screaming females. You'll be glad to know that no sex wee escaped but we did leave the full monty to a professionally trained stripper and his massive cock.

Anyone need an actor?

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Paid To Cry

And so we enter the final week of Bouncers, the beginning of the end was last night at the Chelmsford Civic Theatre where we played to a full house of 500 people (with more of the same tonight, as we're doing a second night there).

500 people.

That's the biggest audience I've ever played I reckon, a sea of faces flooding out into the blackness, what a wonderful feeling to perform to and entertain that volume of people. They even gave us a standing ovation, yet it's still so hard to savour these moments until they are passed. I shall try my best tonight to bask in it, like a human shaped seal with a smack habit; gorging myself on applause until I pass out.

I ended up getting the train back to London with most of the audience which was weird, I felt quite famous as they furtively glanced at me, whispering; 'It's that bloke from the play...Are you sure it's him?'. One girl has the courage to approach me and ask me questions, I did my best to be nice. Most people just smiled and gave me the thumbs up. This time next week it'll be all over...

Jessica's comment in this post really hit a poetic nerve: paid to cry. She's right, although in the case of Bouncers it's paid to be funny and act hard. The past informs your range as an actor, where you can go inside yourself and everytime the tears have to flow you conjure those times you were smashed into the rocks and left for dead; re-living the moment again and again but this time without the blood.

Not so much crocodile tears but the scar tissue of a pain that never goes away, picking at the damaged flesh that has sealed over; dry humping your emotional exhaustion.

See you on the other side.

Monday, 14 November 2005

These Things Make Us

I lived my early life under the terrified possibility of random acts of violence, a world where people didn't cry, even the women. A life spent trying to stare death out and see who would blink first.

When you've nothing to lose you can leap for the sky and not care if the fall kills you.

In the words of Bob Marley: "Hit me from the top you crazy motherfuck"

Sunday, 13 November 2005

Warrington Beauty

What a bloody good week that was after the boiling point of Bedford.

To pick up from where I left off in Pocklington (where the show went really well and is perhaps the best place we've been in terms of a venue staffed by lovely, kind people), we played The Met in Bury and aside from the free panini they supplied us with and bottled water, it was another cracking gig; even the drunken people in the front row couldn't spoil it for the attentive and sensitive audience. But all this was knocked into a cocked hat thanks to Warrington...

I have no hesitation in naming this the biggest night of the tour so far, in terms of audience response it was massive: a lengthy standing ovation, endless clapping and laughing until bent double. Perhaps I am slightly bias, as the front row was also full of some very beautiful young ladies out for their friend's birthday. It helped that they loved it and laughed the loudest and thankfully they hung around in the bar after so I got to flirt a bit before bidding them a sad farewell as they disappeared into the Warrington night. Gone but not forgotten!

We ended the week in the architecturally stunning Chester and two back to back shows that again went down so very well. People keep saying that it's the best version of Bouncers they've ever seen, even better than Hull Truck, which is a rich compliment indeed.

So we enter the last week, with thousands of people entertained and happy, we have a few more people to spread the Reform Theatre Company's Bouncers gospel to before we retire.

ONWARD!

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Bedazzled

Imagine, if you will, going to see a man, let's say he's called Andrew Grisewood, starring at your local theatre in a show called: Bedazzled. This show you're about to see features him arranging flowers for 2 hours. Please re-read that bit again. Arranging flowers for 2 hours.

When I walked into today's venue in Pocklington (where, rather marvelously, they not only have free internet access but also provide food, cold beers and cans of coke for the artistes) a poster for the aforementioned show greeted me and it looked a bit like this...

This is Andrew Grisewood in all his glory, please note the shiny nature of his lips and the French manicure on his nails. I have a feeling he may be camp and quite possibly gay but who knows and frankly who cares, because this man (who believes that "flowers are nature's jewels") is the Liberace of floral art! Bloody brilliant!

His show Bedazzled is, allegedly, an evening of spectacular floral art with the emphasis on glamour, gossip and floral genius. Speaking about his show, Andrew said: "I have traveled the country gathering unusual artifacts and Swarkovski crystals that will form the basis of breath-taking floral displays which my audience will see for the first time ever"

Andrew Grisewood's flamboyant performance is guaranteed to entertain lovers of floral art as well as the uninitiated, as he discloses the secrets of the various bejewelled arrangements he has created for society weddings and charity dinners, with his inimitable style and high camp humour that provides audiences with a glimpse into the glamorous world of Andrew Grisewood and his showbiz friends.

I can barely contain my joy, bemusement and slight unease at this fantastic show and I only wish I could get to see it.

Before I explore Pocklington, which looks to be one of the prettiest places we've been to, a brief mention about last nights show in Ormskirk, where we had two great shows with a fantastic audience response (slightly spoiled during the evening show where a few people failed to grasp the seriousness of Lucky Eric's speeches and laughed through them) that has been bettered in very few places we've played in.

Monday, 7 November 2005

It Does Not Move...but it Moves!

It's Monday. It's the beginning of the penultimate week of Bouncers, which includes (deep breath): Ormskirk, Pocklington, Bury, Warrington and Chester. Before a few days and rest and the final week...

In all my anger yesterday I forgot to mention that on Saturday night Marie and I went out for my dear friend Luke's birthday. We drank excellent cocktails in the marvelous Nordic bar and hung out with some very lovely people.

Gemma (bloody good writer, pity she's from Derby) was there, as was perhaps the most brilliant chap you'll ever meet, John van der Put who is having a rough time at the moment with an infernal illness, so any blog love you could send him would be much appreciated. And I don't mean comments as he won't let you comment but perhaps go read him for a good half hour and wish your own blog was that good.

Together, John and I mused on the nature of clinging on for dear life with a gaping void awaiting you if you lose your grip but a constant pain in your claws if you do manage to hold on...I love hanging out with John.

The birthday boy was in fine form and when Bouncers is over, he, along with Gemma and John will be around my gaff for a spot of grub. Luke trained as an actor at Lecoq, perhaps one of the greatest drama schools in the world, before becoming a director and so for Luke here is the following sentence...

WESTMINSTER ABBEY! IT DOES NOT MOVE...BUT IT MOVES!

Sunday, 6 November 2005

You People Are Gonna' Respect Me if it Kills You


Milton Keynes is a roundabout infested hellhole but it is the home of Sally who saw Bouncers and wrote a lovely blog entry on it here. It was good to see Sal again and the gig turned out to be a good one even though it was full of young people.

Young people were a brand of human I used to really quite like but performing shows for them (alas, Bouncers is a play studied by kids) has sucked me dry of all my sympathy and now I just want to rend them limb from limb. But more of that in a bit...

Somehow we ended up performing in a castle last week, Tamworth Castle to be precise. Needless to say, a play set in an 80s nightclub is not ideally suited to a medieval banqueting hall surrounded by suits of armour and bastard swords. If I'm coming across as a bit po-faced it's because I am because the mother of all nights was coming. Fucking Bedford.

We had been sold out here ages in advance. Why? Young people. Young people in their droves were coming to see us do Bouncers. The anticipation of the horror to come was offset by the theatre giving us orange juice and snacks. But then the show began...

Fuck knows where all the teachers where, no doubt in the bar or grumbling about a lack of overtime? The kids behaved awfully, first off incessant chatter, then fiddling with mobile phones to telling Lucky Eric to 'fuck off'. I could feel the hate and rage build up inside me. I can't stand being dis-respected while I'm busting my balls on stage, working hard to do the best I can for the audience. You are so vulnerable up there, muted by the character you're playing, relying on an unspoken contract between you and the spectator to show each other some respect.

If they were gonna' break the contract so was I. We get to the end of the play and Richard is about to deliver the final speech and a mobile phone goes off. So do I: "Turn that fucking mobile phone off" I shout. There is silence, the phone still makes an annoying trill. "I said, turn that fucking phone off or we won't finish the fucking show" The phone is subdued, the silence is pregnant, I hear someone about to speak so I beat them to it: "You fucking prick". I stare into the blackness that the audience hide in and all is quiet, Richard does his speech and the audience give us a standing ovation.

You people are gonna' respect me if it kills you.

Tuesday, 1 November 2005

Regrets, I've Had a Few

The Balloon Pirate tagged me on his new blog yesterday and when the BP tags you, you respond.

But I'm afraid I'll disappoint you because even though I've done plenty of bad things in my life, I can't bring myself to regret anything. I've learnt more from all the stupid things I've done than any positive experience. Take all the bad stuff away and I'd be a shadow of who I am (or so I like to think). So I'm copping out, je regret rein. I also have to break the rules and not pass this on. I hate memes.

Tour winds back into action today, we are now into the last 3 weeks of Bouncers. Hopefully should be seeing Sally tonight in Milton Keynes, before enjoying the delights of Hexham, Tamworth and Bedford. Not exactly the theatrical heartlands of Britain but there you go.

If you're bored while I'm gone why not have a stab at this caption competition, or perhaps play stick cricket.

Monday, 31 October 2005

I Spite Myself to Spite Her

My heart hurts.

It really hurts. I feel vulnerable and lonely, angry and desperate. So I bare my claws in the most feeble way possible. I neutered myself a long time ago after all the damage I did. All I can do is self-harm, to throw myself on the damn rocks and hope my pain registers with her, to see if it'll wake her out of this fug she's in.

I give my all for you, I pour everything I have into you. Why isn't it enough now? I'm humiliated, I became this because of you.

I beg for trinkets of affection, the loose change of love and I get the scraps. I am in shock. I am over reacting because I've known nothing like it.

Where have you gone my love? I miss you. Come back soon. I will be waiting for you my love.

I will be waiting.

The American Empire

The United States of America is an empire.

That is not a bad thing.

It has always had imperial pretensions, from the expansionism through the North American continent (Louisiana, Florida, Oregon, Texas etc), to the gradual build up in dabbling outside its borders (Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, Panama etc) and then the post World War II phase that included West Germany, Japan and South Korea (to date the greatest success of the US empire). The failures that followed received more coverage: Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Haiti, Afghanistan and now, of course, Iraq.

The United States at the end of World War II inherited the mantle of the world's leading empire from the fading United Kingdom, after waiting in the wings for some time and engaged in a battle for hegemony with the Soviet Union...and we know who blinked first in that clash of the titans.

Since the collapse of the USSR the United States has become, by unspoken desire and pre-determined default the worlds imperial power; following on from the great empires that have littered mankind's social progress. The European Union, the only entity that could possibly challenge this authority, is too busy dividing and falling.

Empire is not a bad thing, the trouble is to be a true empire you have to embrace the concept and in the US we have an empire in denial, as Niall Ferguson describes it: "Consuming on credit, reluctant to go to the front line, inclined to lose interest in protracted undertakings...America as a sedentary colossus...a strategic couch potato."

Iraq is no better example of this negation of power, the US occupies a strategically important area to build its empire but the troops can't stay too long otherwise the people back home get twitchy; therefore the occupation will fail in its hamfisted swiftness. Nothing can be achieved in a rush, just look at the length of time the US stayed in West Germany and Japan (10 and 7 years respectively) to rebuild those nations; indeed they still keep troops in both countries to this day; the rewards of imperialism.

An empire that doesn't want to be an empire is a genuine danger to the world, I believe the US needs to embrace its status as the leading power in the world and relish this role, rather than fall painfully between two stools as it attempts to flex its imperial muscle constrained by a lack of faith in its actions. Currently though, we have a US foreign policy paradox of dictating democracy, enforcing freedom and exhorting emancipation.

The United States has another weakness, it is an empire built on debt and a debt that is mostly in the hands of foreign (Asian) banks. America is the world's biggest borrower and chief IMF economist Ken Rogoff said he would be "pretty concerned about a developing country that had gaping current account deficits year after year, as far as the eye can see, of five percent or more, with budget ink spinning from black to red, with the likely deficit on GDP ratio for general government exceeding five percent this year and open ended security costs."

In short hand that means 8 trillion dollars worth of debt in foreign hands.

Much of the financial malaise comes from Bush's misguided economic policy but much of the hard edge of the imperial behaviour also stems from his policy. In a sense the US needs a leader who has sounder fiscal sense but can see through the concept of a liberal empire and make it a reality.

Sunday, 30 October 2005

Spent in Selby


I arrived in Selby, did the show then scarpered, getting back to London this afternoon. Selby now joins the endless blur of British towns that have been at the receiving end of Bouncers. Needless to say that people who live in the arse end of nowhere (to be fair Selby wasn't as bad as Goole or Gainsborough and they had a cool fish and chip shop) turn up en masse to the gig and bloody love it.

And bloody love it they did, they were one of the most responsive and adoring crowds we've had in a long while; which leaves me feeling all the more sheepish for the unshakable gnawing in my gut which finds it all a bit disappointing.

Typical actor, you get a job, get the money and you should be bloody grateful. Maybe but why should that stop a questioning mind? I just can't help but think that Bouncers is such a success because the writer, John Godber, 'sold-out' and pitched it as an overtly comedic piece rather than what could have been a show that challenged the spectator to the core.

I could see it in the audience, Lucky Eric (played well by Richard) is the play's heart and soul, the serious voice in the mire of obvious comedy but at any given opportunity (and encouraged by the script, perhaps by our interpretation of it) they use laughter to escape the difficult realities of what Lucky Eric is saying. That escape route doesn't have to be there but it is because Godber didn't want the audience hectored but he went too far. He neutered his own work so it would sell more.

I can feel this welling up inside me and I am taking my character, Judd, darker and darker in an effort to battle against the audience's wishes. Perhaps it's a good thing we only have 3 weeks to go and perhaps I am a selfish, stupid bastard and perhaps I am an ungrateful sod who thinks too much.

Maybe.

Saturday, 29 October 2005

Onward! To Selby!

Brief post as playing Selby tonight with Bouncers so got to catch my train.

So brief in fact that all I want to say is that I'm linking to a new blog called Sisypharama which belongs to yet another London based actor who shares my political beliefs and writes in a very intelligent manner indeed.

When I return I shall be spending some time blogging on the idea of an American Empire and not just because I've read Colossus.

Peace out.

Friday, 28 October 2005

Harriet Miers

Poor old Bush. He has been humiliated yet again.

HA HA HA!

He thought that he had enough shove amongst his own party to force through close friend, sycophant, personal lawyer and White House counsel (read: crony), Harriet Miers into the Supreme Court.

But because she has no track record of voting in an extremely right-wing manner (ie: abortions/gays/poor people = bad), indeed she believes that emotive moral issues are best dealt with through 'self-determination', she was forced to withdraw in the face of overwhelming resistance from within Bush's own party. Especially that moral majority that want to see an anti-abortion coalition formed in the Supreme Court.

This was in spite of, or maybe because of, an endless raft of personal endorsements from Bush. Oh the embarrassment! It seems the party is turning against its puppet leader and in good time because things could get a lot worse.

Today, a special prosecutor is expected to conclude a 22-month investigation into a White House intelligence leak. Mr Bush's political strategist, Karl Rove, and the vice-president's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, have been implicated in the leak and risk indictment.

HA HA HA!

This is all too good to be true.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, 27 October 2005

How We Living?


Marie and I were supposed to be off to see Kano tonight but the gig ended up being cancelled due to police thinking it would end up in a gunfight/riot/lots of uppity niggers going and shooting each other.

Real shame, Kano is one of the leading exponents of UK hip-hop and I was looking forward to seeing him in the flesh laying down 16 bars here, there and everywhere.

Following on from yesterdays post I was doing some Vietnam War research and staggered upon some interesting numbers. The US army numbered some 8 million troops during the conflict (compared to just under 3 million now) with a total casualty figure of 211,471 in 90 months of war. Thats 526 KIA each month. To provide some further contrast we've just reached 2,000 casualties in Gulf War 2.0. I just hope we don't reach Vietnam levels of loss of life...

How we living people?

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

One Shot. That's What it's all About. One Shot

Christ, I've been gone for a long time but back in the LDN and ready to fill you in on what's been going down before I make Marie some tea. By the way, how much is your blog worth?


My blog is worth $22,581.60.
How much is your blog worth?


As always most of the shows were sold out or bloody busy, Wednesday was nice because playing Newark meant some Nottingham mates could come and see me in action and that included the lovely Barnze and his missus as well as the legend that is Kirky. It was also rumored that Doogie Talons was there of the fantastic Lunch Break but I can't deny or confirm that...

And then it all went very dark indeed as we did 5 shows in the space of 3 days with very little rest between; which pushed voice and body to the limit. We did 2 back to back shows in Rotherham, got to bed at 12.30am before getting up at 4am to go to fucking Thames Ditton for an 11am start before driving back to Sheffield, which due to the bastard nature of the M25 and M1 on a Friday at rush hour meant that we didn't get home until 7.45pm...

Before I passed out from exhaustion I treated myself to a viewing of Mean Streets which is one of my favourite films of all time with the lead performances (esp. De Niro) blowing me away and inspired me as a young actor to go out there and do it.


After a brief sleep we then did 2 back to back shows in Derby before I got to bed on Saturday night. I then spent a lot of Sunday night in tears as I made the mistake of watching The Deer Hunter in a fatigued and restless condition. What a brilliant film, a film I've seen so many times but watched it only to be reminded of the sheer force of the film and the horror of the effect of warfare on the soldiers that fight it.

It also reminded me of the great injustice of the Vietnam War: the dis-respectful treatment of the veterans that returned; the attempt to sweep that 'unfashionable' conflict under the carpet; to place the generational hatred for the war on the shoulders of the men that fought it rather than the politicians that caused it with the flawed idea that: "Not one domino shall fall".

Remember this: when the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial was opened in Washington DC in 1982 no one came. The bleachers stood empty as the veterans marched, no one came to remember the dead from an 'embarrassing' war. A disgrace. A humiliation to proud men that I hope does not welcome the dead and veterans from Gulf War II.

"IN HONOR OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES WHO SERVED IN THE VIETNAM WAR. THE NAMES OF THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES AND OF THOSE WHO REMAIN MISSING ARE INSCRIBED IN THE ORDER THEY WERE TAKEN FROM US."

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

A Quick One While I'm In Hereford

And I mean quick!

I am not dead but the tour has been very consuming and I have not been back to London yet.

There is a serious lack of internet cafes in the UK.

I will be back tomorrow and blogging to full effect.

You will be fully briefed on events and thoughts.

I will also include some pictures of weird things.

Thanks for your comments and support.

Peace.

Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Chesterfield Equals Benidorm

One thing struck me as we spent a few days at the lovely Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield playing to full houses and that was how amazingly packed the city centre got every night of the week with young, scantily clad revellers. It was bizarre how a small town in the East Midlands managed to generate enough people to sustain a lively beer and sex scene.

Honest to God it was like Benidorm. So if you're short of a few bob but need a holiday, Chesterfield may not have any sun but it does have a crooked spire and a wealth of boys and girls stumbling around blind drunk and desperate to cop off with anything going.

This week Bouncers arrives in Burnley, Newark (where Barnze and some other pals will be in attendance so looking forward to this one), two back to back in Rotherham because its sold out, Esher and Derby (again and also back to back sold out madness); before two nights in Hereford.

And then I get some time off.

See you in a week and a bit!

Monday, 17 October 2005

The Men Who Stare at Goats

I've been meaning to read the aforementioned book for some time, eventually with the persuasion of Old Man Rich and being bored out of my arse in Cambridge, I splashed out and read it in a day. It is a very good book indeed, essential reading if you want to gain some kind of insight into the twisted psyche of the inner sanctum of the US military. So go buy it.

Part of its brilliance is that it manages to connect such outlandish theories as trying to walk through walls and staring goats to death (as well as levitation) to the depraved acts of torture that occurred at Abu Ghraib and sees them for what they are; connected, desperate concepts in the efforts to win the war on terror. Indeed, the book makes it very clear that 'physic warriors' are being deployed in Iraq to try and kill leading figures in the resistance movement by staring them to death...from a safe distance of course and no doubt heavily camouflaged.

One part of the book struck me profoundly and was so laden with truth that i felt I had to share it:

"America fundamentally wants to think of itself as being good and that we're fundamentally right in what we're doing and we have a very compelling responsibility for the free world. And looking at some of these issues is troubling, because if America does have a darker side it threatens your hold on your view of America and it's kind of like: 'Gee, if I pull out this one underpinning of the American consciousness, is this a house of cards? Does it really threaten the fundamental nature of America?' "

Monday, 10 October 2005

Sick in a Bin


As I'm only back in London for one night I decided to take Marie for a meal to make the one night we had together before I went away again, special. That was last night and I took her to Reflections off Oxford Street and it was lovely, not amazing but still a nice place to enjoy some food and each others company.

However, the evening took a turn for the worse when Marie proceeded to throw up the meal into a bin outside Tottenham Court Road tube station (the bin in question is circled below in green):

No, she wasn't poisoned and no she wasn't having a panic attack but yes, Marie seemed to have managed to over eat to such a degree that her body rejected the food and hurled it back out of her body and into the cool night air of one of London's main thoroughfares. Naturally, I was on hand with the tissues but she smelt of sick all the way home.

Oh the romance!

As for last weeks touring shenanigans, I've found a place to compete with shitty Goole that's even shitter: Gainsborough; which is a pissing hellhole full of young mothers and ugly people in caps and trainers. Last week was also marked out by the volume of arguing we did between the five of us in the company.

This week brings the joy of a three night run in Cambridge, which should be good (and we get to stay in a Travelodge) and a three night run in Chesterfield, where Marie's parents will be seeing the show. Hurrah!

Onwards and upwards!

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

A History of Violence


Marie and I went to see David Cronenberg's latest movie last night, title felt appropriate in the face of my last post and it proved to be stimulating viewing.

I am intrigued by the idea that if someone who did terrible things in the past wants to change their life for the better, to start again, to repent but who does not want to be punished; deserves that chance?

Humans like to punish each other, modern humans like the idea of 'bad people' getting better after punishment. That's why people who show no sign of remorse or seem incapable of stopping their 'evil' behaviour appall our sensibilities so much.

The reason I am so intrigued by the concepts in the film is that (on a smaller scale) I made the same move as the protagonist in 'A History of Violence'. That is changed a life of violence and crime for one of respectability and making something of myself. Occasionally the past comes back and pays a visit but most of my enemies are dead or inside, the visits I get now are from ghosts or hearing on the grapevine of another brother dead. More on that later I think but for now go and click on the pig.

Monday, 3 October 2005

US Troops Trade Images of Dead Iraqis for Porn

You've read that right folks, maybe read it again and again. If in doubt sources are here, here, here and here. Enjoy. I hope you fucking choke. And if you want to see the pictures they are all up and online here with more being added every day. I love being on the same side as the good guys.

And it's not done yet. Unless you've had your head up your ass and you're more worried about what's going to happen in the next episode of 'Desperate Housewives' you'll know that clearance was given by a judge for yet more disgusting images of prisoner torture in Abu Ghraib to be released; much to the US government's chagrin.

The man we have to thank is U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein who rejected crass US government arguments that: "the images would provoke terrorists and incite violence against U.S. troops in Iraq". What rubbish, the troops are doing that themselves. Judge Hellerstein said: "terrorists do not need pretexts for their barbarism...our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command" Of course Hellerstein's ruling was appealed by the US government, which could delay release for months but they will come out and we will once again shake our heads in disbelief at all the hypocrisy of this futile war.

Now don't get me wrong, to me war is war and having fucking rules and Geneva conventions is pure fantasy; who an earth fights fair? We live in a world built on corruption, greed and taking advantage of others for the advancement of oneself; so why an earth shouldn't troops on any side torture one another and take pics of dead civilians blown to bits? What fucks me off is the hypocrisy, the idea that there are still good guys and bad guys, that war can be 'clean' and decent, that the good guys never do anything wrong apart from shoot the baddies and have a cold beer after.

Spread the word.

Sunday, 2 October 2005

William Shatner School of Acting


If only I'd been there. I mean seriously, how cool would it be to have trained there? I think I'm gonna' write to the man and get him to start an acting school up, where he can pass all his talk-singing techniques on to the next generation.

Back in the real world I am home once again for two nights before off to Stafford and Christ, Goole was depressing. The shows were pretty crummy too. The first night there was spoilt by some youth workers bringing in 15 eleven year olds who did well to control their utter boredom as the play escaped the feeble grasp of their young minds. The second night was vandalised by some pissed up degenerates who were out on a fancy dress booze up and who sat on the front row heckling and twatting about through the entire thing. We couldn't get out of Goole quick enough...

Next week also brings Derby (where bizarrely we've sold out all three shows there), Gainsborough and Wisbech before a three night run in Cambridge.

If anyone out there wants to help me sell some pottery please make a bid on this item I have for sale on ebay. BUMP ME UP BITCHES!

Friday, 30 September 2005

Hate The North

In yet another grim internet cafe in yet another grim Northern town in the UK, this time Goole but to be honest, they are all starting to look the same with their depressive harshness; one size fits all highstreets and oppressive air of poverty.

And as I sat here typing I heard the owner of the internet cafe tell his mate that: "I've got to drive the wife down to Scunthorpe to have a termination, she's a bit upset about it." Fucking hell...

Thanks to Merk, Stav, Rich, Fulla, Bob and Stone Cold Steve Austin for turning out for the performance of Bouncers in Telford, it was lovely to meet them all face to face and enjoy the wonders of the Crown.

Or a cheerful note, disgusting images have come out of atrocities committed by US troops in Iraq as they pose with remains of Iraqi people. There is set to be even more images hitting our screens soon as the deluge of war crimes builds against the occupying army in Iraq.

So just be grateful you don't live there...or Goole.

Wednesday, 28 September 2005

When There's No More Room in Hell the Dead Will Walk the Earth


No, I'm not talking about Telford where we are playing tonight (and where the adjoining library has free internet access, so I can cram in another post while I wait to perform. HURRAH!) but the tagline to George Romero's greatest zombie movie that I stayed up late to watch last night: 'Dawn of the Dead'.

For all my concerns about Grantham as the home of the terrible face of uber-conservatism the audience were well up for a good night at the theatre and seemed to really enjoy themselves. The journeys in the people carrier to the venues are also providing some entertainment as everyone else in the car seems to have really bad music taste. That's not quite fair but when you're having to argue the merits of ground breaking bands like 'The Beatles' and 'The Stooges' you're on to a loser. Nevermind the fact they (excluding Kev) are musical bigots with a knee jerk reaction to dismissing all hip-hop as 'noise' and/or rubbish. They are however in their late 30s so maybe the old men should be forgiven?

We also keep debating 'Bouncers' from a critical performance perspective which exposes some of its latent elements of homophobia and sexism. I love de-constructing theatre, breaking it down past it's component parts and tearing into the institutionalised attitudes that underpin it.

Some sad news before I go and warm-up, Jessica has seemingly decided to close her blog 4zillion which is a real shame as she offered an intelligent and compassionate voice as a woman raising her beautiful daughter. You and your words will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

Thatcher's Home Town


In about 9 hours I'll be on stage in Grantham, which for those of you that don't know is the town that gave us Margaret Thatcher, everyone's favourite pantomime political villain...apart from Nixon and Hitler that is.

I was a child of the 80s (well I was born in 1976 but that hag oversaw much of my early life) and Thatcher was a larger than life figure in those days; an Orwellian matriarch locked into some sexless, flirty relationship with the founding father of neo-conservatism Ronald Reagan.

On Wednesday I also get to meet Merk and Old Man Rich at a theatre in Telford which will be cool and off for a pint in the Crown Pub. The week ends in Goole of all places and the chance to meet John Godber again, the author of Bouncers and hopefully have a more in depth chat about the show.

And before you know it I'll be back in sunny Loughton and on that note may I draw your attention to a new link, the blog of fellow Loughton resident Darren Lock which is a very good read indeed.