Thursday, September 29, 2005

I've finished for the week. The shortest week's work I have ever done for a full week's wages.

3 hours

I spent more time travelling to work than performing. The gigs were Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning which left me all day Tuesday to wander around Inverness doing Gay Best Friend Shopping with Emma with me as a sort of scruffy male Carry Bradshaw. I didn't buy a vast amount, but for a sartorialy conservative cheapskate like me two pairs of trousers, two shirts, and a pair of new shoes is a total splurge.
I think Merriol is a bit jealous that after years of trying to get me to start not looking like a total fashion disaster Emma gets all the fun of seeing me spend the money. And, dammit, I did enjoy myself. Shoppping for me (and I suspect most men) is usualy:
1. Decide what you want.
2. Enter shop.
3. Buy it.
4. Leave shop.
(Obviously this rule does not apply in bookshops, record shops, or any establishment selling anything with motors in.)

On Tuesday, for the first time that I can remember, I actually enjoyed browsing clothes shops and trying things on.

Later, having bought all this stuff I was struck low with good old Post Judeo-Christian, Work Ethic Guilt, rushed into Lush and bought glittery stuff for Merriol.

I think she now thinks I'm having an affair.

That's twice in the last month I've bought her nice smellies - and I've started looking after my appearence (I went and got a haircut on Tuesday as well - the first time I have been in a barber's for years; I usually make do with shaving my head every two years).

These are classic symptoms ; straight off any Agony Aunt page over the last 157 years. I mean, if I looked at it objectivly, I would suspect myself if I didn't know that I wasn't having this affair I'm not having with a 17 year old lesbian with a Heinz Tomato Ketchup addiction and a big thing for Angelina Jolie - as yet unrequited.

Angelina, if you ever read this - she's a really nice girl. You'd like her. Mail me and I'll pass on your address...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I've got a Special Thing to to see your Wobbly Teeth

or Rock and Roll Lifestyle Lite 2 - on the road with Theater in Education.

The second week of the tour was better than the first - apart from the car breaking down and having to go to Wick.

Kingston upon Hull was, a couple of years ago, awarded the dubious accolade of being the shittiest place to live in Britain Having lived in Hull for 10 years before I moved up to Scotland. I can honestly say that the only thing I would go back for would be a Skelton's Eccles cake which were the best and stickiest Eccles cakes in the history of everything. Hull is in my mind (and obviously that of many others) a total shithole.

But then I had never been to Wick.

Wick is in the North of Scotland about a hell of a long way from anywhere. It is, apparently (and totally bewilderingly), the first place bombed by the German Air Force in WW2. I'm sure once it was once a beautiful and prosperous town - some of the older buildings are pretty impressive - but these days it is a depressing dump which seems to be populated by Neanderthals - if the school population is anything to go by. During our 4 hours in the school we saw 2 fights between pupils - one of which one of us broke up - and during the workshop the ONLY responce we got to the question "what are you wanting to do when you leave school?" was "Join the Army and Kill Iraqis". Everyone else just sat there with thin lines of drool trickling from corners of their mouths.
I have not been so glad to get out of a school since the last time I was in Wick last year.

Wick was also the site of the shittiest B&B of the tour so far. I knew we were in trouble the moment I saw the "The family that prays together" bumper sticker on the owner's car. Said owners were Seventh Day Mormons or some other bunch of weirdnesses and their beds were thin, lumpy, and creaky. Probably very good for the soul, but bloody awful to sleep on. Every slight move was the cause of a long series of groans, creaks, and twangs from within the bed. At 4am, woken up again by the simple act of moving in my sleep I nearly got out of thee damn thing and rearranged the furniture so I could put the matress on the floor. Unfortunately I was sharing the room with Chris and re arranging the furniture would have woken him up and he would have wanted to get his matress on the floor as well - his bed being even noisier than mine, if that was possible. The thought of piling furniture on topof other furniture at that time in the morning was too much so I read a book for a while and tried not to breath to heavily.
Breakfast was shared with a bloody awful, chocolate box painting of Jesus staring down at us from the dining room wall - actually he was looking away to some distant horizon, which was probably even worse. I mean being stared at by Jesus first thing in the morning is bad enough - being stared at by the back of his head is just plain weird.

On the journey south down th A9 the car threw a wobbly. Displayed a huge warning light on the dashboard and decided the Accelerator pedal was for ornimental use only. Putting your foot down actualy made the car go slower. We phoned the hire company and they've replaced it. The new car doesn't have a CD player, only a cassette player. Being the sad old fart that I am, I am probably the only one of the group who owns any cassette tapes.

Poor buggers.

In contrast to the Pergatory B&B in Wick the next night we stayed in the best place we have landed up in so far: The Granite Villa in Golspie. If you're ever travelling in that part of the world and need a B&B you would have to go a long way to find a better place to spend the night. Friendly warm and everything you hope a B&B to be. Damn good coffee too. All 4 of us just sat around in front of a wonderful open fire drinking, talking & playing silly word games till late into the night.

A good night.

Drove the new tour car home and dropped Emma the actress off on the way and stopped to see John, Julia and baby Emma in Aviemore. Got massivly broody again as soon as I held her. She is 2 months old now. I want more babies! I am going to have to get that vasectomy! Oh God I need my head examined!

Tonight Merriol and I were supposed to be shopping on the web for a new washing machine but due to Merriol going out to a primary school social evening last night and then not returning till some unknown hour of this morning (she doesn't remember coming home) and feeling a wee bit delicate all day we haven't got round to it.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

On The Road - Rock and Roll Lifestyle Lite

Week one of the tour is over. A week that involved a lot of Ferry trips, two flights in Otters, a visit to a Glasgow Gay Club, and an awful lot of rescuing each other, on stage, out of huge acting Black Holes.

Well we survived, though only just. Quite how, after two whole weeks of rehearsal and one week on the road, the most experienced of the four actors in this show still doesn't know her lines is a mystery to me. I am so glad that I am not involved in the scene she REALLY doesn't know at all, Chris is the lucky guy who has to share the stage with her then. The scene is only 2 pages long but can just go looping around and around in small circles for ages as she searches for a way to get to the end of it. Chris (who knows the script upside down and back to front) tries to steer her through it but it is obviously very hard work for him.
There is nothing quiet so scary as standing up in front of a huge bunch of people expecting, knowing that the person you are acting with is about to screw up in some new, and totally unexpected manner.

For example.

Last show this week, half way through a scene which has run faultlessly for over a week, she just stopped and stared at me - for ages. It was her line next. She had to say:
"If only you had been there, you could have helped"
She stared at me.
I stared back.
She opened her mouth.
She shut it again.
I raised my eyebrows in a vain attempt to communicate the fact that I was waiting for her to say something.
She opened her mouth again and said something.
What she said was my opening line for the next scene.
I thought "Oh fuck it!" and said:
"If only I had been there I could have helped!"
And marched into my next position.

I doubt if the audience noticed. In real, outside observer, time it was probably only a couple of seconds and went past in the blink of an eye but to both of us stood there, knowing that something had gone very wrong, it seemed like an agonising age.
All week, all 3 of us have been propping her up like that. I hope she gets her fucking act together, because if she doesn't, after another couple of months of this I will be ready to commit murder.

We had a night in Glasgow on Wednesday, and, after a huge nonstop chinese buffet meal (in which Emma proved it was possible to eat Jelly with chopsticks) we headed into town to find a bar called Moda for no other reason than Franz Ferdinand used to drink there.
It turns out that Moda is a pretty cool Gay establishment and after bumping into some people we ended up going to another bar then another. I ended up trailing along after a huge bunch of people and three pissed tourists to a Gay Night Club.
One of my pissed tourists then made total embarrasing arsehole of himself - like only a straight person pretending to be Gay in a Gay Club can. I should have left them to it and gone back to the car and waited for them. But we had a flight to catch in the morning and as not getting fired is still pretty high on my wish list I stuck with them.
Sometimes I am so tempted to start drinking again. Five hours sitting around in various Gay and Gayish Bars watching people getting drunker and drunker and making twats of themselves while stone cold sober is not fun. More than anything though, I think I am totally and utterly pissed off that no one tried to hit on me all evening.
No one!
Not a sausage!
Not only am I sober but apparently I'm fucking ugly as well!

High on my all time bad nights out list that one. (Ingrid, if you ever read this, I apologise for not seeing where the evening was going and getting them back to the hotel.)

The Last show of the week was on Tiree is a small island which sits like a cow pat in the middle of the Atlantic. There is bugger-all there. A couple of nice beaches, lots of very isolated farms, No hills and about three stunted trees. There are cattle grids on the roads around the 'Airport' to keep the livestock from wandering onto the runways. There are enough people up there having sex (not a lot else to do on the long winter evenings I guess) to fill up a school with kids but even so we did the show to a total audience of about twelve. The day before there had been 130 bums on seats.

During the workshop after the show we ask the kids "What are you prepared to give up in order to get a good job?". We get all the sensible answers you would expect: "Time", "Going out with my friends", "Lie-ins in the morning" etc. and some weird and surreal ones too: "Kevin's Mum" being the oddest so far.

On Tiree nearly all of the kids immediatly said they would give up living on the island without a moments hesitation. I fully sympathise. It is an utterly God-forsaken place (I suspect the Devil gave up on the place pretty quickly as well; probably took one look and said "Fuck this for a game of soldiers" and went off to pervert somewhere warmer with fewer Presbyterians).

The flights were fun. We travelled in something closely resembling an aeroplane called a Twin Otter. The Twin Otter is, I'm sure, a well-constructed, reliable, robust and supremely safe flying machine but to me it looks like a slightly streamlined cornflakes packet with wings. It's unpressurised, cold and drafty. It rattles and bangs and shakes like 15 badly loaded washing machines all strapped together and stuck on the spin cycle. For a unfrequent flyer like me it looks like a scary way to die with wheels on.

The highlight of the trip for me was looking up to see, through the open door between the passenger compartment and the the pilot's seats, that the co-pilot was sitting reading a newspaper.
It wouldn't have been so bad if he had been reading something small like a a tabloid paper, at least then he could have seen the windscreen of the plane but he was reading The Telegraph, a huge broadsheet. It must have filled his entire field of vision! Everytime he turned a page he had to stretch his arms way out wide. I was scared that he would clout the pilot, who I couldn't see from where I was sitting, on the side of the head and (assuming he wasn't doing a So Duko or something) make the plane crash into the vast, but very pretty, stretches of open water we were crossing.

I am not a good flyer.

In Tiree School Staff toilets there is a notice that reads:
Please do not remove toilet materials from toilets for classroom use
If you require this facility please contact the janitor
I'm so glad I never went to that school. It is now my Birthday and I am going to bed. Happy 46th to me!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I'm back for the weekend. The washing machine has died again - this time is is making nasty burning smells and grinding noises and I'm shitting bricks about the show.

I really am shitting bricks. There are 4 of us in this thing: Chris has an impacted wisdom tooth which peridicaly gives him the extreme agonies, Lorna has been flattened by the flu, Emma is 17, and I have an awful tendency to say thing like "There's more to being a vet than just fisting cows you know!" during the improvisation scene. Not the sort of thing you can say before an audience of school kids trying to plan their futures. (Not if you want to stay employed for long anyway).

I feel we are so under-rehearsed. We have had 2 weeks to rehearse a 1 hour show. Sheer luxury! I feel we haven't done enough work.

I drove the car we hired for the tour around the block yesterday. It seems rediculously low and wee after the Berlingo. I couldn't see the front of the bonnet of the thing.

I like the Berlingo. It may look like a housebrick on wheels but at least you can see the damn road in front of you, and if you do hit something at speed and are thrown through the windscreen, you stand a chance of flying right over the top of whatever you hit and landing in a bush or something. Oh God I don't want to do this. This is why I avoided driving for so long. I don't want the responsibility! At least the tour car is a deisel. I'm used to deisels. I woke up in the middle of the night a few days ago (?) in a cold sweat having dreamt that I had filled up the tour car with deisel when it really had a petrol engine.

Coming home last night was wonderful. I just sat looking out of the bus window as we came down Loch Lihnne. The sun had just set and there was a clear pink and yellow sky. No stars were showing but a huge yellow half moon sat low on the horizon. It was unreal. I know the moon isn't really bigger when it is low down, I know that it's just an optical illusion, but trust me, last night the moon was enormous; it was easily three or four times its normal size. The whole scene looked totally unreal. The sky, the mountains, the moon. It all looked so overblown and fake, like the cover of some vastly overlong Fantasy novel. All that was missing was a lone rider clad in light armour with an unfeasibly long sword strapped to his back. I suppose if I had taken a step backwards I could have put myself in the picture:

Liam Rides Home on the Bus
Volume one of a stunning new Fantasy Trilogy!

Maybe not.

I got so fed up with getting comments along the lines of: "Great Blog dude! Wanna buy some cheap aluminum siding? I got shitloads - come see my site" . I got even more fed up with then having to delete them so I have just turned on the word verification anti-spam thingy on in my settings.

My apologies.

What is "Aluminum siding" anyway?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Now I'm Not Sure If I'm Confused Or Not...

Well, we did the show for the people who paid for it today (Careers Scotland) and they didn't throw things, or fire us all which is a good thing. (Any day when I don't get fired is a good day). We have two more days of rehersal to get the show and the workshop tighter and then we are on the road. Whoopee! Still not sure what all the tour dates are yet and it looks like we may have the odd long weekend and day off in the middle of the week.

The workshop which comes after the play needs most work. I spent a chunk of this afternoon improvising a scene in which my pretend daughter had unrealistic ambitions to be a lama farmer (as opposed to normal perfectly reasonable ambitions to be a lama farmer) which left both of us floundering around on stage like freshly caught fish with the hysterical giggles - this in front of the people who are paying. As I said any day I don't get fired from this job is a bonus. I really feel like I'm here under false pretences. I just can't act. I don't know why people think I can. But they seem to able to convince themselves I can so I get away with it.

I've just snuck into the office here to read my mail - I just can't face the insanely complex cueing system in the library again - and it turns out I can't get to my mail because Wanadoo (the people who run my Freeserve address) have "improved" the web access to mail to such a point that poor cash-strapped susbsidised theater company's Windows 98 running clockwork computers can't read the damn thing any more.

So, Ilona, if you are reading this - I can't work on the Panto script (which Mike probably hasn't even mailed to me yet) because I can't read it! I promise to be hillariously fruitful and batter out 20 odd pages of Good Clean Family Fun (with the odd knob joke) on Saturday night ready for the rehersal on Sunday. Unless something shiny happens to distract me first - ooooooooooooo! shiny......

Monday, September 05, 2005

BackinInvernessforthesecondweek'srehersal. andwonderingwhythe space bar on this soddinglibrary computerisn't workingvery well.* but time is of the essence here and I don't have much timeso I'll pound on andifit doesn't workevery now and then, you'll have to pick it out your self.

I still can't get the drunk scenein my head. I'm supposed to be draggedoff to bed (ior towards bed) by Emma who is 17 and supoposed to be completely smashed and lurching against me and tryingto get into my pants - somehow the lines I know off byheart just seem to vanish from my headwhen we are on stage.

Soanother fun filled night for me eating bread and cheesein the cupboard and muttering out loud to myselfas Igooverthescript forthe seventyfifth bejillion time. I feelsorry for anyone in the nextroom as me

Ok there's my " you are aboutto run outoftime alert - bye!

*I guess becauseit has been pounded flat bymillionsof touristical typists. I'll mention iton theway out.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Let's Have the Coconut And Watch TV!

I am a sad git.

Presented with a rare few minutes in which to to do nothing today, what do I do? I go look at the counter on the blog. That's what I do. This is Grade A sad behaviour. Sad Sad Sad.

Curiously though after my wee wafflings about the "Other" continents the other day I notice that Atlantis, or Lumuria, or Mu, or wherever it was has sunk again because the "others" listed on the pie chart have vanished - taking Africa along with it...

Today has been an orgy of having fun with the kids, shopping, finding out that fresh cocoanuts aren't as nice as we remember them, shopping - fed up with Holly climbing into her duvet cover all the time we gave in and bought her a sleeping bag - a pink sleeping bag, with a picture of a fairy on it. My daughters are being turned into girls! My whole life is turning pink. I bought some pencils when I was in Inverness to make notes and keep track of the blocking and script changes and t was only when remarks were made that I noticed that I had bought nice pink pencils with pretty little flowers on. OK, they were the cheapest ones in the shop but I honestly hadn't noticed how bloody girly they were.

I've missed the kids. Holly seems so grown up only after a week away. I think the happiest moment of the day for me was walking around Tesco's in Oban with Daisy. I am not normally at my happiest in Tesco's (or for that matter any other supermarket) but this afternoon with Daisy holding onto my index finger and walking me from one interesting bright thing to another it was, for a few moments, the greatest most wonderful place on earth.

Long soaky bath tonight. I have been dreaming of a bath all week. Everytime I stepped into the Broom Cupboard that I have been sleeping in's shower cubicle I thought "I want a bath!!!!!!" So I had a bath.

Several times during the week I also thought "I never want to read another sentence that Patricia Cornwell wrote" but I always resisted. Backstory: somehow,in a fit of insomnia, I managed to read the 400 page SF book that was going to keep me company all week on the first night away and the only other book I could find in the B&B was Trace one of her Kay Scarpetta novels. It is and without doubt one of thew worst pieces of writing I have read for years. It was crap. So awful I just had to keep reading it to wallow in the sheer misery of the experience. I was going to wite down some of the choicer bits of agony to share but my brain imploded somewhere around chapter 12.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Jiggidy Jig!

Home again, Home Again! for the weekend... This is what I tried to send to the blog yesterday from Inverness Library but due to me still not being able to read my own typing and mistaking a . for a _ has vanished into the aether.

Libraries are f**king great - apart from not letting you send out mails with the word f**king in them). Free internet access! I'm sitting here surrounded by baffled tourists acceseing Chaudmail (El Poste-Caliente!) and the like hunting and pecking mails to their best beloveds on, to them, weirdly laid out keyboards totally lacking all the useful umlauts and accents that they need to write properly.

It's day 4 of the rehersals and, apart from my room in the B&B being the size of a large wardrobe with no windows, everything is starting to come together. The play is slightly less pants than it looked on the page. Partialy due to us chopping great chunks out and rewriting other great chunks and hamming otherbits up like crazy. I guess I've got half of it memorised by now but it is a bugger. It would have been easier if there had been an actual story. But we can't have everything.

It's been great getting a full nights sleep without having to get up in the middle of the night to see to Daisy. I don't know how Merriol is coping without me but I guess I'm on duty ALL weekend. I miss the kids. I'm missing Daisy learning to walk and talk. But we need the money!. I've been very good in that I have only bought 3 books this week and NO CDs. This is some kind of record.

Bugger my 30 minutes are up....

To be continued after I have done all that "I'm home!" stuff...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

just emaild an gripping instalment to the blog and it's vanished. Bugger!

Missing CD? Contact vendor

Free CD
Please take care
in removing from cover.

Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

(this copyright notice stolen from

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