Friday, 7 October 2016

A mushy wet mess

I was that bloke today. You know the one: He drifts and ambles along the street, not really knowing what he's doing, typing into his mobile phone, being utterly indecisive. I've felt clumsy and utterly disengaged from the world. I could hear people around me sighing and huffing when I got in their way. I went off a curb at one point, much to the great amusement of a passing stranger. Perhaps there was something in the air. The lady in Costa gave me a jug with no milk in it. When I took it back to the counter, she laughed like a maniac.

I went to the Royal Court Theatre today and was immediately bombarded by a flood of memories. I'm ashamed that say that the last time I saw something in that particular theatre - the jewel in the crown of new writing - was 15 years ago, on September 11th, 2001. It was the evening of 911, and we thought the world was coming to an end. There was a line in the play that night where someone said "I don't know why we don't just get a bomb and blow them all up" - or words to that effect. There was an audible gasp from the audience. Little did we know then how the ripples of that particular event would reverberate through history...

My first job was working as an usher at the Royal Court Theatre. I worked there in 1996 for a few months before the theatre closed down for refurbishment and we moved to a temporary home in the West End at the New Ambassadors Theatre, where I worked for another three years. I stood in the auditorium today looking at the back wall. The last time I'd seen that wall was in a production of a play called The Lights, which was the last play they performed in the theatre before it closed down in 1996. Ian Rickson directed, and they turned the theatre upside down and inside out for the show. The audience sat on the stage and all the action took place in the stalls of the theatre, where the seating had been removed. As a result of all of this, front of house was back stage and the audiences were forced to enter the auditorium via the stage door. As a result, we got to know the actors on that show really well. Emily Mortimer was in the cast. She was so charming. There was a sequence in the play where the actors went to the back wall with sledge hammers and genuinely knocked great big holes in it. I don't know how they got away with that particular coup de theatre from a health and safety perspective. Different times. One day I'll write about the "installation" out on Sloane Square which the ushers of the theatre oversaw for a bit of extra cash. The installation involved a huge sandpit, a tonne of feathers and a tidal wave of water which smashed out of the paddling pool, drenching the audience in water. At that point someone screamed, "there's live wires everywhere. Run!!" And with that, the entire audience ran for their lives, leaving a mushy wet mess of sand, polythene and chicken feathers. That's art with a capital F.

I was at the theatre today to discuss Sir Arnold Wesker's "life celebration" which happens there on Sunday.

I came into town and had lunch with Nathan. I could barely string a decent sentence together. He asked if I had a brain tumour.

Young Harry met us, just as we finished eating, so we walked into Soho and had a second lunch. Well, I ate a pudding and had a lovely cup of tea. It was genuinely great to see Harry. He's conducting a concert version of Brass in Birmingham in February, so if you're a Midlander and didn't make it down to the show this summer, I urge you to go and see it. It ought to be a stupendous night.

I went to the gym very late tonight after learning that it closes these days at 11pm. It felt very peculiar to be there so late at night. There's a very different breed of people who hang out there at that time. The experience gave me a whole new lease of life, and I came home and took myself into the loft where I wrote music for another hour whilst Nathan knitted a hat shaped like a pumpkin.

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