Sunday, 18 August 2013

One Wedding

I attended the first wedding of my life. It was emotional. It was Quaker.

There were friends and family (lots of family) and two people who looked like their nerves had flown off with their hearts. We sat in a room in silence for 45 minutes, but people spoke, like the sturdy father stood up and read something from the Bible (1 Corinthians chapter 13:1-13). As he spoke his tenor voice tremorred until tears were being wiped away off his elderly cheek, and I looked at Claire and cried myself. The silence made everything more intense and more surprisingly truthful. I am used to showmanship and bravado but here was naked truth, and it moved me to tears. A woman stood and sang an old Irish song with the clarity of an unearthly being. The brother recited a poem and turned to the bride, his sister, and said shyly 


The two said their vows which began with "I take my friend Claire/Paul..." and they both had tears and tissues at hand. Later on in the evening, at the reception everything was less sobered and by the end kids and oldies were fist pumping to We Built This City, plus the food was classic. I shared a rolled cigarette with an aunt. We ambled up Castle Acre, a ruin of a Norman fortress dating back from over a thousand years ago. Everyone looked wonderful and I raised my heart and ambitions to Claire and Paul. The happy couple.

(I Corinthians)

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Sometimes there are too many things to unravel and so there be no point in trying to make sense of it all. Just let it slide.

A friend from Santa Barbara is making her way to my boat right now. She is a hapless traveller and therefore got stuck crossing the River Thames – don't we all. She’s a friend from the blazer days. A double entendre because that’s a metaphor for when I was a serious Masters student reading the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas; and the second meaning less intelligent.

My first love was fired from his job in the media. I invited him to discuss and recoup on the boat, we smoked cigs and drank Tyskies and made wishes that everything would be fine. Everything is going to be all right.

Tomorrow I attend a wedding of two great friends. Claire, the bride, is my age and beautiful and an artist. Her speciality is print-making. Paul Scattergood, groom to be is a tall stringy fellow with a dash of golden hair and blue eyes you'd find in a Narnia adventure. The two kids are becoming adults and there’s a ceremony to mark their transition with the added element of eternal love! Can you get more fantastical than that? Some dragons maybe.

The job is there hanging like Damocles’ sword. Can’t wait for yet another curve ball, that’s all I’m divulging.

Sang in a tribute band (badly) on Tuesday.

Last week I spent fifteen minutes in Edinburgh. Probably the most futile task I had to accomplish but hell I did it. The moral of the story is (spending those 15 stressful minutes jumping off from one train arriving at Edinburgh Waverley and then jumping on to the return train back to London King’s Cross): It’s not where you go that matters, it’s all about the journey.

Sometimes Don’t Think. Just let it slide.

Monday, 12 August 2013

The Boat Weekend

It’s weird for the front space of my boat to be empty now. The weather stayed bright and summery for the whole weekend. People lounged about and swung their legs over the sides, we lay on the roof and others stood tall upon it to gaze over the waters. We encountered a family of ducklings, six of them plus mother, and another duck family made up of only two, one mother and one newborn paddling with all its fluffy might to keep up with her in the shallows as mama glided by. At one point there were eight friends and myself at the front of the boat and it filled me with joy. ‘Joy is the kind of happiness that does not depend on what happens’, said a monk one point in time. And I agree and that’s what I felt for the whole weekend, surrounded by friends and family. ‘Thank you for the days’, as the Kinks also once said. And so, with phrases heard and hence remembered, memories made, we float on by with the ups and downs of the tides.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Two Tramps, Unknown

There is a park in Paddington that is inhabited by three tramps. One named Harold, another named Barry and the third is unknown. Two of them now sit on a bench over looking the grass sharing a can of bitter; they overlook Barry who is sleeping on the grass at the foot of a tree trunk. One of them gets up and arthritically stamps towards Barry, standing above him he loudly asks,

Harold: Are you going to give us a song Barry?

Harold: Are you going to give us a song today, Barry?


(sharply interrupted)

Barry: You kicked me and I won’t give you no song no.

After a moment

Harold: I didn’t kick ya

Barry: You fuckin did.

Harold: Ah’ch

Harold waves his hand, indignant, and wanders back to the bench. As he is about to sit down for the tenth time today, back to the bench where he always sits with the other, drinking can after can bought with the little change he finds, Harold turns and looks at Barry in disgust. That miserable wretch curled up in sodden red blankets on a dried out lawn in mid-September. How can he live with himself? How can a man with any sense of decency make proper conversation with such a wretched old pile of rags. How can he think?

Harold: You sleep all of day there and the coppers’ll come and nick you again Barry.

Duly ignored, perhaps he doesn’t hear well

Harold: Bet you don’t suspect a thing but I know I know I know what’s in stall for you. They’ll think you been doing drugs and nick ya and take you away, then you won’t have the sun anymore, and you won't want to sing in the daytime just want to cry in the night. For fuck’s sake Barry - are you gonna give us a song - dammit?

Barry pulls himself together and gathers the blankets up around himself, and leans his scabby back against the tree trunk and belches a little. Then he sings

The pigeon flaps his wings around
But ain’t no fucking sound abound
What we want is light and air
But no one wants us here
and no body knows us here
“JOIN IN – it’s a bloody chorus!”
No body wants us here
Oh, no body wants us here

Sirens ring through the city air and Barry and the unknown one claps.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Sylvan Post

After the regular Tuesday night pub quiz in Forest Hill, I decided to hand deliver a letter to a friend of mine who isn’t well. A Get Well Soon card.

Walking the ascent up a South East London path I peered through suburban windows and was stared down by a well-fed tom cat. And you think, we shoot off e-mails, hundreds of them daily, and text people, and if you can be bothered make a phone call or two, but how rare is it to be a physical messenger?

Carrying a message in-hand to a person, even if you don’t meet them in person; such as simply popping it through their letter-box still feels more intimate. And you get to see where the letter goes and what space that person inhabits. It’s a gesture. But as actions speak louder than words, and like parents who can rest assured only when they’ve seen the house their offspring move in to, it felt good to post that letter through the flap. It felt like actually caring.

A Day In The Life (of Marmaduke)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Edinburgh continued...

I saw shows over the time I was in Edinburgh. Here is a list of them in the order I saw them and spread across three days at the Fringe:

Yahoo! Comedy Gala, The Comedy Zone, Tim Vine, Daniel Simonsen, The Horne Section feat. Slightly Fat Features & David O’Doherty, Helen O’brien, Grainne Maguire, Phil Wang, James Acaster*, Eva in Kaffa, Nick Helm, We, Object by Figs in Wigs.

*the best one I saw

It’s a feat, I really think it is, to do Edinburgh as a stand-up comedian. Everyone is scrambling on top of one another to get noticed, to get (well) reviewed, to sell-out their shows, in the hope of what? To become the best comedian ever? No, I don’t think that’s the aim. To make money? Hell no, although that would be nice. I think the aim is to get a laugh. A big life-affirming laugh that reassures you that you're funny.

And that’s the point isn’t it, to be funny, if you’re a comedian.

Laughter is the result of a successful experiment. People walking out of your show are unwanted by-products of the experiment. If laughter is what comedians want then why are so many of them wrecks, dick-heads or unhappy company? I ponder... it’s not surprising if the aim of your life is to remain the classroom clown forever then... you might fall in to one of these three categories... once a grown adult. (Note: I say may, not all comedians fall into the three categories above. Some are downright nice people, exemplar Timothy Vine.) The classroom in the end is upgraded to become society, but still a classroom nonetheless because classroom clowns win over the trust of the teacher and the class they're in. If the classroom clown were to practise his clowning in a totally different school then they might be suspicious or sceptical of him, and people wouldn’t laugh they'd punish: detention, etc.

Comedy practices an interesting relationship with society. It’s a dangerous relationship sometimes sordid and always flirtatious, because it mocks the status quo. Comedians are the Fools in Shakespearian plays, or the jesters that bring to light the injustices of court, of law and order, of the King. They tell us what's wrong with the world but rather than striving to change it they just note it and we laugh. They’re not politicians. Imagine us taking a Fool seriously, god what would the state of the world be in then? The Fool can never be King and that’s why we don’t worry. That’s why we can laugh. Like flirting can’t be mistaken for love, but it can lead to confusing feelings.

(The rules we have to abide by the Fool doesn’t have to. Jesting is his trade so we can’t blame him for mocking us, even if at times it cuts close to the bone - but don’t kick him out of court because he makes interesting points and thinks outside the box. And when he cracks those jokes and we laugh, society gains relief from the trappings of this goddam box. But for fuck’s sake Rimi, it’s a comedy, it’s a bloody laugh, so loosen up, don’t overthink and enjoy it you prick.)

Why was James Acaster’s show Lawnmower my favourite? The best out of my ((too)short)list? Because it’s bloody meticulous and well-crafted and superbly delivered. Acaster has his timing down. He knows when to pause, when to look up and how to deliver to an audience he plays like a musical instrument. He makes a solid and effortless call-back to every one of his jokes in the hour set, he uses props that are integral to the piece rather than cheap distraction, and he knows exactly where he is in his show. As in, he doesn’t get lost. He can see a clear path of creation and has fun walking it and leading us down it. His imagination is overflowing with ideas that are so farfetched in conception but completely reasonable when told, that this is clever comedy at it’s best and that’s why I liked the show. It may not be to everyone’s taste but that's comedy isn’t it?

‘That bloke who’s in all the photos with his eyes shut. I hate that guy.’

(James Acaster, Lawnmower. 2013)

On my last night I went out to a rowdy fun pub (one that you can dance in and not just drink and shout in) called Biddy Mulligans on Grassmarket, with people from my company and some clients/comedians/convivial fellows. The walk to the pub was probably the second funniest thing I saw in Edinburgh after Acaster’s show. Because Saturday nights in Edinburgh en route through the city centre are impressive.

‘A minute ago, I was at the Fringe. Now, I’m in Scotland!’

(Co. Director. 2013)

It was like a scene out of Limmy’s Show. There were drunk broads shouting obscenities at their men, folk looking sick with head in hands and hair over faces, lots of trashy music and bad lights, and police ambling down the street thinking to themselves ‘where to start?’ We had to walk down the middle of the road sadly because the pavements were taken up by sleeping tramps. Tris and I almost stopped bent over laughing but had to hurry on down the street [safety first!], when we saw a bunch of lads playing football with a book. Playing football with a book. A book.

It smells of rain and tastes of encroaching pollution. I’m getting nearer to London King’s Cross station, and then home to the boat. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Annina Lehmann for lending me her Barbour jacket. It’s a stellar jacket with many practical pockets and good waterproof qualities, and feels cool to wear. Thank you for making my part possible at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013.


Sunday, 4 August 2013


On the train back from Edinburgh, the scenery flying past me backwards through the window of the train, and I think ‘what the hell even happened in Edinburgh?’ I know I was there to do a job, but seriously what even happened? There was a lot of running around, jumping in to shows and out of rain, running under shelter and wolfing down pizza, catching Zs and big bang fireworks, men dressed as women and laughter, laughter, laughter. I arrived on the Wednesday to work on the Yahoo! Comedy Gala. It was held at The Stand III and a builder actually helped me carry the boxes of heavy flyers around the construction site that was blocking off the venue from the road. He, an Edinburgh builder called Dean, was the epitome of gallant and god the people outside of London are nice.

‘Tickets sir, tickets, tickets ma’am-‘
‘Ticket to London’

We went out that first night. I went to the Comedy Zone (which this year is of a high calibre) with Sophia and the Street Team plus others from my company. You’ve got Lucy Beaumont a rising star, who has won over the hearts of radio listeners with her Hull accent and odd sense of humour. She has a USP, as my boss told me on the walk back from the Gala in the rain.

‘What’s a USP?’
‘Unique Selling Point’

He’s a brilliant marketeer with silver hair – not grey - and a little stout. I also think he looks distinctly South African, which I have mentioned to him and he has confirmed that his grandparents lived in Drakensburg. If readers want to imagine my boss in Zorro-style mask wielding a foil then go for it. Tris (Digital), Sophia (Sales) and Chris (The Boss) up in Edinburgh representing the Marketing Dept. living it up as the Three Marketeers. On guard!
N.B. It is nothing like this.

We went to the Brooks Bar after seeing the Zone, which is sort of an exclusive bar on top of one of the larger venues called the Pleasance Dome. Brooks is open to anyone who works for or at the Pleasance, but there’s nothing particularly anything about it, just a warm vibe. Saw people I recognised and drank drinks with Company until a friend made the truly irate statement that he needed to go home.

‘It’s 3 AM! And I have to take care of myself!’

I conceded and we called it a night and walked back through the meadows to the shared accommodation we were to inhabit for the next few days. Edinburgh is and always will be a beautiful city.

10 AM every day of the festival The Company have a morning meeting. Managers discuss concerns over particular acts, Sophia expounds sales figures whilst the twelve Street Team murmurs, and the Head of Live stands behind a makeshift lectern dishing out orders. The Big Dogs just nod and look silently at one another. Press are always quietly and sternly smiling. I help out here and there, my main aim to encourage morale in the Street Team. They’re me last year. They’re working because this is an opportunity to gain a foothold in the Entertainment Industry; it’s a hard one to enter and even harder to fathom why you’d want to work in it once you’re in, but it is in the end alluring. Being in the Street Team is a boot camp. Yet stories are often quoted and passed down like legend through the ranks that Managers and even Company Directors started out as Street Team. So dream big. Or, quit early if you don’t have the mustard.

I paid my dues and said hello to a few comedians and friends of the company too, making a conscious attempt to remain professional yet friendly, containing any desperate desires to leap at those who I’m a fan of and tackling them to the ground with explicit questions about their gags. I didn’t do that to Tony Law or Gemma Wheelan or Lucy Beaumont. There was a hairy moment however at the Yahoo! Comedy Gala where I almost had a verbal fight with a Scottish woman outside, who had showed up late to the record and I wouldn’t let in because the audience was already full and Production were ready to start. After multiple shouts and excuses thrown from her side and me not backing down,

‘I was in a car crash! And I haven’t seen my son in over one year!’
‘I’m sorry but that’s irrelevant. I still can’t let you in.’

She tells me she is in fact the Producer’s mother. Fuuuuuck. I scramble about and get some bar stools and shove them at the side of the audience and let them in.