A crescent moon was still glowing behind misty clouds when I left the house this morning. It is a deeply surreal experience to be up before the birds, particularly on a Sunday, when it can feel like you're alone in the universe. I imagined the stories attached to the few cars and busses whizzing along the Archway Road. How many bus passengers were staggering back from a night on the tiles? Were they lolling in and out of sleep, desperate for their beds? Were the car drivers making an early start? Heading off to see relatives? Going on holiday? Going to work and wishing they weren't on the soddin' Sunday rota?
Of course, when I arrived at Highgate tube it hadn't yet opened. For the record it opens at 7am on a Sunday... And here was me thinking we were about to (or already had) 24 hour tubes on the Northern Line.
I stood outside the station watching the coffee man diligently setting up his truck. First the little metal chairs and tables came out and were placed evenly against the fence, then the sign with the prices on it was displayed, and then all the little cakes and pastries were proudly placed on the counter. I can't imagine he makes any money at 7am on a Sunday morning in the winter, although I have seen people sitting on his chairs and tables very early in the summer months, happily sipping espressos whilst reading the morning papers. It's all rather continental, cultured and al fresco down there.
Everything began to unwind when I realised the first train left Highgate at 7.08am and that it was the wrong one to get me anywhere useful. I had to be at Paddington at 7.30, which is a hopeless station to get to.
I eventually found my way onto a tube full of rather strange people. One man was in football kit, another was in a pristine suit - both sartorial choices felt slightly unusual for that time in the morning. I had a cup of tea, which was spilt all over me by a very rude man rushing through the carriage. I shouted at him. He refused to acknowledge responsibility until the man opposite me confirmed that he'd caused the mayhem, at which point he apologised sarcastically.
I took the tube to Warren Street and decided to dive out and get a taxi. There were no taxis. I got on a bus instead. I made the decision that it would move fairly swiftly along the early morning empty roads. I wanted to talk to the driver to see if I could get him excited enough about my predicament to step on the gas - you know, like they do on the movies, but I assumed he'd merely turn the engine off and tell me to get off the bus. Night bus drivers very rarely have a sense of humour! I eventually reached the station huffing and panting at 7.45am. My train to Bristol left five minutes later.
The journey took forever, and we had to change trains somewhere. Who knows where. It was wet and grey.
It was raining horribly when we arrived at Temple Meads: Great big splotches of shite dropping from the sky. Just getting into a taxi made us wet through.
Today's auditions happened at Bristol Old Vic drama school, where they display an enormous board of former students they're particularly proud of. I learned today that Christopher Biggins and Brian Blessed are both alumni of the school and that my old mates Gyuri and Richard are both considered worthy of display.
The standard of the kids today was pretty good. Bristol is probably the least likely place to generate actors for Brass. Many of the auditionees, when asked, didn't seem to even know what a Yorkshire accent sounded like! Mind you, many also said they couldn't do a West Country accent, which was considerably less excusable.
I hope the young people I worked with had fun and that they picked up some useful hints even if they're not recalled for a show this year.
We got a bit giggly at certain points. When I'm running auditions, pretty much anything will set me off. It's a bit like the urge I used to get to laugh in assembly!
Auditions ended at 5.30pm and our train back to London left at 7pm. The homeward journey felt like an abnormally long one. I swear the trains to Bristol at weekends take longer than it would normally take to drive.
I reached Highgate just before 10pm feeling like I'd been wiped out by a comet. But it's a good tiredness. I like these audition days.