Sunday, 31 August 2008

Zero

Blogging will once again be light for the next few months as I have been cast in Theatre Absolute's new show, Zero and rehearsals start tomorrow.

I am fucking over the moon.

I've known for a while but have kept it a secret as, to be honest, it seemed too good to be true and I didn't want to jinx it by running my mouth off on my blog.

Theatre Absolute are a British theatre company that I've been writing to for a long time, seeing if they'd give me a job and the years of letters have paid off.

The work they offer is of the highest quality, they are one of the finest theatre companies in the UK and Zero promises to be an amazing show because it is a show about something, something important and a play that will hopefully be a piece to instigate change in the audience.

Zero is about the ethics of torture and the curse of censorship. Zero is about what is done in our name and what should be done in the face of an unknown and relentless enemy. Set twenty years from now, in the face of unabated nihilism, hundreds of torture camps have been created to extract information, at any cost, from those who aim to blow apart a world that is wealthy beyond its dreams.

They’re outside. They’re waiting for me to open the door.
You should see them, devils in their shadows.
Even if you write down what I tell you and you get the world to read the book,
I don’t think they’ll be bothered.
They’re not frightened of the truth.
What hope have we got?
Tour dates are as follows and your support would be very much appreciated (seriously, would be lovely to see some people there):

September/October
29th Sept – 4th Oct Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry (PREMIERE)
7th – 8th Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham
10th - 11th Theatre Royal, York
14th Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
16th – 17th The North Wall, Oxford
21st – 22nd Contact Theatre, Manchester
23rd Corn Exchange, Newbury
28th – 29th Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, Lincoln
31st Brewhouse, Taunton

November
1st Lawrence Hill Church, Barton Hill, Bristol
4th Arena, Wolverhampton
6th – 8th Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
11th – 29th Nov Tristan Bates Theatre, London

I'll do my best to update my blog with the progress of rehearsals and how the shows go, check out the writer's musing here and wish me luck as I'm consumed by the world of Zero...

Saturday, 30 August 2008

BLK JKS LIVE TONIGHT SOLD OUT!


BLK JKS are my new favourite band from Eva-Jane's homeland of South Africa and tonight we're going to see them kick out the jams at Cargo in London town.

Fucking ace!

Check out their intense prog-punk afro beat ramblings below...

Friday, 29 August 2008

Jailed For Being Raped

Operation Enduring Freedom is not bringing much freedom, nearly 1000 coalition troops are dead, 580 of them American, never mind the unknown volume of dead civilians, with figures somewhere in the region of 8,000-10,000 and Afghanistan is still a backwater for human rights and civil liberties.

Take the story I've linked to above. In Afghanistan, prisons are full with young women who have been raped or have ran away from their husbands, believe it or not, this is a crime and leaves you facing 10-20 years in jail. To quote the Afghanistan law system: "In Afghanistan whether it is forced or not forced it (being raped) is a crime because the Islamic rules say that it is." And if you have children, you take them into the prison with you! Re-read that last paragraph again and ask yourself why the hell this is still going on some 7 years after freedom was supposed to be enduring in Afghanistan?

These distressing statistics shed more light on the story: 87% of women complain of domestic abuse and half of it is sexual. More than 60% of marriages are forced and 57% of brides are under 16. Many of these girls are offered as restitution for a crime or as debt settlement...in other words, women are used as objects of barter. Not surprisingly, Afghanistan is the only country in the world with a higher suicide rate among women than men.


Is it just me, or do we seem to get absolutely nothing right when it comes to that fucking war on terror?

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Julie Moult is an Idiot

Journalist Julie Moult thinks she knows how the Internets and the Googles works.

She also writes ridiculous stories about Nazi raccoons.

She is very wrong indeed...on both counts.

This is how the online universe works.

And may the Nazi raccoon teach you a good, damn lesson by shitting all over your dreams Julie Moult...

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

HONKYS WHO WANT OBAMA DEAD MAY BE INBRED RETARDS SHOCKER!!!

Take a good long look at the crackers who were caught shooting their mouth off about killing Obama with a car full of bullet-proof vests and some rifles and you're staring straight into the meth abusing face of America's untermensch. Thank baby Jesus that it is this kind of thick-headed asshat, who has sex with their cousin, that make-up the ridiculous white supremacist movement in the US.

Speaking of photos that speak volumes, here is one sent to me by the legend that is Kirky of the the one man paedo-apocalypse that is Gary fucking Glitter...
Horrible but very bloody funny indeed.

And speaking of horrible but managing to tie all the threads together of this post, (children, the harming thereof, asshats, bigots, backward thinking yahoos and comedy gold) I was doing one of those 'What Breed of Liberal Are You?' (doesn't breed make liberals sound like dogs?)online quizzes and one of the questions suggests the following for a bumper sticker:

MAY THE FETUS YOU SAVE BE GAY

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Back From Poland!

I am now back from my epic adventure in Poland, an extended research trip for my next show with Mark and Hard Graft called Poles Apart.

We had a bloody great time, even if job hunting as an economic migrant in Warsaw was terrifying, upsetting and embarrassing. Anyone that turns up in a foreign country and tries to get work is not only brave but has my eternal respect.

I'm not going to give it away regarding whether Mark and I managed to secure work, you'll have to come and see the bloody show but we were certainly exposed to the full range of Polish society during our job hunt. From the modern skyscrapers and fine architecture of the old town to the communist era concrete monoliths and crumbling facades that remind you of Poland's difficult past.

The gap between the rich and poor is also striking, for all the suits strolling around and people making a decent living, there were plenty of people (mostly elderly) living in poverty, who set up tiny market stalls on the corner of streets selling an eclectic array of goods: shoes, pepper spray and tinned food being one example. These were not for tourists but for local people to pick up cheap stuff and for the seller in question to make some money.

Mark and I ate far too much meat whilst we were there, as their diet is heavily meat based (that and potatoes) and the special fried lard they put on bread was not to my liking but pretty much everything tasted great when washed down with the excellent Polish ale.

One thing that really struck me was how much we in Britain have been lied to regarding Poland's part in World War 2. I always remember thinking that we went to war for them but in reality we didn't lift a bloody finger to help as they struggled valiantly against not only the Nazi boys but also the Communist hordes from the Soviet Union.

In fact, Polish history is littered with instances of either the Germans or Russians (or both) trying to wipe them from the map and Polish people doing a fair job of fighting these two giants and keeping them at bay.

Back to the 'Western Betrayal' of the Second World War...Not only did we not help the Poles when the Germans, then Russians invaded, we also didn't support the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, or the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and during Yalta in 1945 let Poland come under the control of the Soviet Union; who, don't forget, had done their best to erase Poland from the map.

I must confess I was ignorant to the fact that Hitler considered Poles to be as sub-human as the Jews and attempted to destroy them, their culture and anything that was connected to Poland. It was Poland that suffered the greatest amount of civilian casualities in Europe, some 22% of its population eradicated, it was Poland that carried out the greatest internal resistance to the occupying forces; not France and it was Poland that never surrended, never capitulated and never gave up in its fight against oppression.

Although I have learnt much on 21st century economic immigration that will provide rich material for 'Poles Apart', I have also been educated on Polish history and their position within the world's political journey of the last few hundred years and I have nothing but admiration and respect for them.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Poles Apart: Off to Poland

At some Godforsaken hour tomorrow morning I'm off to Poland for while.

The trip is the first and most important piece of research for a new piece of theatre I'm making in partnership with Mark Whiteley and Hard Graft Theatre Company (the UK's finest comedy double-act may I add, that has brought you such hits as Thick as Thieves and The Big Adventure and Coast to Coast).

The show is called Poles Apart and in a nutshell promises to be an evening of Polish culture, customs and comedy. The idea came about because the UK is currently going through a bit of an anti-immigration phase and the main recipients of this negative feeling is our extensive Polish community, mainly because they are very large and also because they work bloody hard and bring skilled labour to our shores. They have started to become a whipping boy for all kinds of ignorant, economic migrant fears and because they are white, they are, I would argue, a safe target for the venting spleen of middle England.

So, Mark and I are going to reverse the trend and try to get work in Poland, Warsaw to be precise and our adventure will make up the show Poles Apart. The play will also be a look at the long relationship between British and Polish people, a story of two nations who have fought together, worked together and now live together. It will also touch on the very real plight of people arriving in a foreign land looking for work. Indeed, Mark and I are very nervous at turning up in Poland with badly written letters of introduction and very, very basic Polish and attempting to get work, but our struggles will make for good theatre.

The real aim though is to get our audiences (and we have that already, with extensive bookings through February and March 2009) to re-consider their thoughts and feelings on immigration and perhaps to reflect upon what it feels like to be an immigrant; assess their own personal family roots which, in a bastard isle like Britain, are rich and diverse enough to make it clear we are all the children of immigrants and to treat those we class as being from elsewhere with the respect they deserve.

To be honest, I've spent quite a while doing extensive research that I'm looking forward to gettting my head out of books and into another culture.

Ku przodom wobec Polska! Do widzenia! Na zdrowie!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Fire Drill Email

Dear all,
Today as usual we are testing the fire alarm at 10.30
Please do not leave the building unless you see Yuland or myself distressed fighting the flames with a fire blanket and smoke all over the office.
Or if someone is actually on fire.
Regards,

Monday, 18 August 2008

The South African Midlands


In my constant quest to improve my knowledge of my Eva-Jane's country of birth and to gain a better understanding of one the most complicated political landscapes in the world, I spend a great deal of time consuming books, periodicals and other sources of information on South Africa.

The latest book I have read has been a real eye-opener, it's called Midlands and is written by the excellent Jonny Steinberg (who also inspired my post on The Number) and details a facet of South African life many of us may not be familiar with.

Midlands deals with the complex issue of white farmers being murdered and 'chased off' their land by black people who used to (and in some cases still do) work on the farm itself, or have homes that are based on the farmer's land. This is something that is usually associated with the regime of Mugabe in Zimbabwe and the farm attacks and forced land-reclamation, rather than the self-proclaimed "Rainbow Nation" and the terms I have used already will have alienated some readers; terms such as 'their land' and 'the farmer's land'. But the fact that this 'war' has not made the headlines in Western media, as the farm attacks in Zimbabwe have, says much about the complex nature of them as well as the representative hope that South Africa stands for in the eyes of many.

To be clear, there is a big difference between what is happening in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe's regime has made clear that as part of the lengthy changeover from white autocracy to black democracy, more land should be in the hands of black people, rather than white farmers. The fact that this has enfeebled the Zimbabwean economy, along with other factors and that it was a desperate measure to keep the people on his side as he steered his country into terrible economic and political waters, matters little in the rhetoric of black empowerment over the colonial forces of oppression.

In South Africa, there is no real directorate from the government that more land should be in the hands of black people. I say no real directorate, because there has been much rhetoric and broken promises that black people would be empowered by land ownership but that has been balanced by the very real need of the South African government to not 'do a Zimbabwe' and not only alienate the white community but also build the 25th strongest economy in the world; some achievement in sub-Saharan Africa.

So while the South African political machine carefully walks the line of reversing the damaging policies of apartheid and maintaining certain elements of the countries infrastructure to continue its economic development, the poorest members of their society see a government dragging it's heels and who want to take matters into their own hands.

This in turn leads to the intimidation, sabotage and ultimately violence towards white farmers, their families, land and livestock. The farmers then arm themselves, hire security, employ less people from the local communities, develop a 'them and us' attitude which to be fair, hardly needed any encouragement and you have communities pitched in out right battle. On top of all of this you have the complex cultural history that some white farmers cling to as a familiar structure but which many of the black people are trying to destroy completely and rightly so.

From my brief time in South Africa (and certainly, I hope to be there far more often) I learnt that to repair the crippling human rights injustice that was aparthied, is a complex and difficult business and that political change cannot possibly move at the speed that the people demand. The only hope is that in the wait for change, action taken by the people doesn't imitate the oppressors of old.

"Because these cultural questions are so delicate, so explosive. Innocent words and gestures can lead to such terrible misunderstandings."

Friday, 15 August 2008

I've Got a Black Flag Tattoo

Fuck yeah!

In spite of all the many warnings, I had it done yesterday on my lower left arm.

Why?

Well firstly, after much thought, it won't interfere with my acting career because there is a brilliant invention called 'sleeves' and also something called 'make-up'.

Secondly, having a Black Flag tattoo has been an aim of mine since I was 18, because not only do I feel that their music saved my life but it also got my head and personal beliefs in the right place.

Black Flag is not just music though, it is a movement, a way of living, that has carried me through so much of my life and will continue to do so.

Have a fucking good weekend, I'll leave you with a video of the mighty Black Flag in action.

RISE ABOVE!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Rollins Still "Keeping it Real"

Tuesday's spoken word gig by Henry Rollins at the IndigO2 was the third time in twelve months Eva-Jane and I had shared an evening with the legend that is Rollins and once again, we were not disappointed.

Over three hours Henry took us on yet another epic adventure, which included repeated and brutal assaults on Bush, wonderful story telling on Burma, South Africa, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Laos, the killing fields of Cambodia and plenty of background on the current conflict in Georgia (such as Stalin was born in Georgia, Gori in fact, which the Russian's have bombed to bits) thrown in for good measure. All delivered in his trade mark style that mixes moments of high comedy, self-effacing humour and heart on sleeve, passionate delivery that urges you to do something about it.

In fact, soon as we got home, we donated some money to the United Nations World Food Programme and I urge you guys to do the same. That's the joy of Mr. Rollins, it's not a whinge-fest but an uplifting call to arms, to get up off your fat ass and change things for the better. I must say one of the most distressing parts of the show was near the end, when he talked about New Orleans as it stands now and the terrible stories that still haunt the city as it tries to rebuild.

I know that after he's done in Europe he's back over in the US so I urge all of my readers to check out the tour dates here and if you've a few spare bucks, to go see him in action and have an invigorating night of spoken word. I'll leave you with some words from the great man...

“If I lose the light of the sun, I will write by candlelight, moonlight, no light. If I lose paper and ink, I will write in blood on forgotten walls. I will write always. I will capture nights all over the world and bring them to you.”

"Don't do anything by half. If you love someone, love them with all your soul. When you go to work, work your ass off. When you hate someone, hate them until it hurts.”

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Homage Hair for Henry Rollins

As you can see, I've had a trim: a punk rock hair-do by my punk rock girlfriend for a punk rock legend.

Eva-Jane and I are off tonight to see Henry Rollins do a spoken word gig at The O2 (Millennium Dome redux) and we are very excited indeed. We've seen Henry a few times now (and I've seen him loads) and he never fails to disappoint as he regales the audience with great stories, both funny and moving.

Henry Rollins is something of an icon to me, a key figure in my life, even though I've never really met him. But his music, both in Black Flag and then the Rollins Band, as well as his excellent writing; as acted as a touchstone to my personal development and I count Rollins as a serious influence upon not only my artistic attitude and output but my life.

Better get going to the gig, full review will be with you tomorrow...

Monday, 11 August 2008

Russia's Mission Creep

One of the dire consequences of America and it's allies response to the terrorist attacks of 11/9, aside from all the dead Iraqi civilians, thousands of service men and women injured and killed, the knock-on effect of increased global terrorism and the ostracisation of an entire faith; is the fact that the moral high ground has been lost (and even then, it was made of quicksand and the blood of dead children).

In other words, as Russia overshoots the mark horribly in South Ossetia and Georgia, the rest of the world can do little to pull them back into line and why should we?

Well, purely from a humanitarian point of the view, the continued aggression by Russia is disproportionate and their bombing attacks are creeping ever closer to the Georgian capital (never mind Georgian sovereignty being undermined), the loss of life and impact upon Georgia is already past the mark but the world seems, for now anyway, helpless.

Not that the Georgian's are blameless, they waded in to South Ossetia with massive overkill and have paid a stark price but the issue of small enclaves of Russians in other nations in the region is an issue that could have stark implications for peace in the Cauccasus and also the re-awaking of the Russian Bear in all it's military might...


Friday, 8 August 2008

A Transsexual for the Weekend?

I think this is a very funny image and a grand example of a tart card that works on so many levels (stolen from Tim).

Have a great weekend ya'll...

Thursday, 7 August 2008

lolcats

I have only just stumbled upon the joy of lolcats and I am embracing them fully. What follows is selection of some of my favourites, some are cats, some are anteaters and some are President Bush...












Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The Asshat on the Front Row

It was Eva-Jane and I's anniversary yesterday and for a treat we went to see Louis CK at the Soho Theatre after knocking back some seriously good curry, topped off with milkshakes for dessert; we made our way for an evening of laughs.

Before I wade into the subhuman cunt who tried his best to spoil the fun for everyone else, can I just describe the joys of the curry I had, which was lamb based, very creamy with spaghetti in it and an omelette on top...

IT WAS PERHAPS THE BEST THING I'VE EVER EATEN!

Moving on swiftly...

Louis CK, for those that don't know, if an American comedian of the first order (I'm not sure what that means but if US funny people have an order, Louis is in it and it is of the first order kind of order) and he had me and Eva in stitches all night with his awesome routine. My personal favourite bits were a nice section on sweating (I feel his pain, being a pro-sweater since birth) and mini-people coming out of your vagina and shitting all over your dreams.

However, sat next to Eva-Jane, on the front row that is, was a man who was not only Australian but also seemingly high and drunk, who had completely lost his personal space parameters. Before the show started, I warned him to watch himself and make sure he gave Eva room, job done I thought, twat dealt with, now bring on the laughs.

Unfortunately, once the show began his sprawling body, foot stomping, ostentatious clapping, semi-passing out on Eva's knee, wandering hands and general asshat behaviour meant that he did the best job he could of ruining the night of all the people around him who were digging the work of Louis.

I was in a conumdrum, do I...
  1. Beat him to shit in front of a theatre of people and spoil the show
  2. Swap places with Eva and hope that our shifting on the front row doesn't distract from the show and inflame the mong-bat any further as he rubs up against me
  3. Sit there and fume, trapped between wanting to do something and not wanting mess up everyone's night

I did number 3.

Shame on me.

I hope that horrible little man gets diabetes and his feet drop off from poor circulation.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Phil Jew

I now know a man called Phil Jew.

His name made me laugh, is that because I'm a Zionist or an anti-Semite?

Either way, his name reminded me of one of my favourite Roman Emperors, Philip the Arab, who funnily enough was perhaps the first Christian Roman Emperor.

What's in a name?

I might have my name changed to Jonny Muslim or Charles Mormon.

Any thoughts?

Friday, 1 August 2008

The North London Patriot

This morning, as I left the house, I noticed a political pamphlet had been stuffed through my letterbox. It was from the BNP, the self-styled 'voice of the silent majority' and made for both amusing and highly disturbing reading.

On the front is a picture of an old, frail lady; a bit like this one...

With the headline: "IF ONLY I COULD SEEK ASYLUM". It goes on to rant (emphasis is mine, to highlight the madness of these bastards)...

"Like millions of other British pensioners, Margaret paid taxes all her working
life. She's a widow now, because Jack survived his ship being torpedoed during
the war only to die of an industrial disease. The days, she gets by on a
pathetic pension and faces a long wait for hospital treatment. The council flat
she lives in hasn't had any money spent on it for years. Each winter she has to
choose between keeping a single bar of the electric fire on or getting enough to eat. It's a pity for Margaret that she can't claim asylum. Just look at some of what she'd get if she'd just travelled a dozen safe countries to get to Soft Touch Britain..."

It then lists a whole bunch of fictional things which people seeking asylum in the UK most definitely do not get, or do get (to a degree) but for a very good reason.
  • All bills being paid - considering asylum seekers aren't allowed to work, basic bills are covered by the taxpayer, otherwise what else would they do?

  • Sent to the front of the housing queue - not true at all, housing is allocated on a points system in the UK and asylum seekers are put anywhere there is space, with no points allotted and without choice

  • Replace the cooker and put in full central heating - I kid you not, utter rubbish, asylum seekers are put in accommodation that has basic facilities, the government will only buy them a cooker if they have no means to make food

  • Given a brand new TV and have the licence fee paid - lies beyond belief, luxuries are not handed out to asylum seekers

  • Government pays to have their windows cleaned every 12 weeks - I'm sure that's what people seeking asylum are the keenest on and the whole reason they come to the UK to escape persecution, is to get their windows cleaned every 12 weeks
Fuck these daft bloody racists! And I don't know what's worse, that people try and peddle this stuff as politics, rather than as the hate speech it is; or that some people swallow it hook, line and sinker.

Stop the BNP here.