Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday. Sarah is on her way up from Glasgow. We meet up and then drive to Fort William to pick up Bob, then rendez-vous with Claire 'somewhere on the A 96'. Then we drive for 2 hours through the more pictureque (though invisible in the dark) bits of the Highlands and arrive at our B&B at about Midnight. We do the show in Aberlour first thing in the morning, all 90 odd minutes of it - then drive all the way back again.

At least I get to sleep in my own bed 2 nights this week.

Chips are not Salad

Well that's week one done and dusted.

Dornoch, Kinlochbervie, Thurso, Wick and Golspie out of the way. 7 shows down fourtysomething to go.

One of the things I rediscover while touring is that, after a few days, I start to look at this place I live in like a total stranger. I become a tourist in my own country. And a very strange place it is too. For instance, I find the bizarre practice of table wetting really weird. It seems to happen in every place you sit down to eat these days (well any place that hasn't got tablecloths - and itinerant TIE actors can't afford to eat in places with fripperies like that). You walk, in sit down at the only available table, move the two empty cups and a plate with a half-eaten meal, left by the previous occupants, to the edge where the harrased staff can most easily get at it. You start perusing the menu. Don't care. As long as the coffee is OK anything with chips will do me.

Everyone has just about made up their mind what they want when one of the harrased staff comes and removes the dirty crockery, disappears without taking the order, then returns a few seconds later with a damp cloth. Everyone at the table picks up their newspapers, mobile phones or whatevers and the the harrased staffer wets the table. Just wipes the wet cloth over the table and disappears again. If you are unlucky they have a spray of noxious table steralising gunge that they sray on the table first which leaves a punge that lingers well into your meal and makes everything taste of hospital. And no one says a fucking thing. We just sit there and let them do it. Every time. Over the last week I have stared at more damp formica waiting for it to get dry enough to put my elbows back down than I think is good for any man. So fuck it. Next time I'm going to say 'No'. I don't want my table wetting. I don't mind having a few crumbs and a thin smear of, what I hope is, tomato ketchup on the table. Just go get me food.

Ballachulish is a wonderful place. I love it to bits but sometimes I regret not having moved somewhere more remote. Then I go there and change my mind. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure Kinlochbervie is a great place to live but I don't think I could handle the remoteness. I don't understand Kinlochbervie. It's a small cove in the middle of nowhere with a HUGE quay lined with sheds and vast numbers of refridgerated lorries outside. I guess they land fish there. The only other building is the brand spanking new High School (2nd worst acoustics of the tour) and that's it apart from a small hotel, a local shop for local people, and about 3 houses. Where do all the kids come from? Maybe they live in the sheds, or comute in by trawler, I don't know. The Fisherman's Mission does a good fish and chips though.

From there it was a 3 hour drive to Thurso along the worst A Road in Britain. 95% of it is single track with passing places and ocassional flocks of sheep and carloads of oncoming tourists. The sheep were usually smarter. Then onto Wick.

Wick wasn't as bad as last year but is still a depressing dump, and, after been stung by a wasp in the only pub in town that doesn't go quiet when strangers walk in or make you think of An American Werewolf In London and The Wicker Man, I was in my bed at 8pm sipping a cup of tea made on one of those stupidly small, 3 watt kettles that British hotels laughingly describe as 'tea making facilities' I lay there in a damp bed, half-reading trying not to listening to the boy racers mowing down pedestrians outside. Bob meanwhile watched some cop show on a 4" TV bolted to the far wall of our room with the sound down and the subtitles on. Life on the road is just great.

Next day Bob got stung by a (different) wasp during the show.

The weather was nice though.

Came home to find it had been bucketing down all week and there had been a huge landslide in the hill behind our house. So much rain that part of our neighbour's garden went for a walk.

More next week.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

It's my birthday. Happy birthday me.


As of two and a half hours ago I'm forty-seven.

When he was my age Mozart had been dead for twelve years.

I need to start writing.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Did the show for the money this afternoon. Everyone was a little nervous. Energy levels were good during the performances but the wheels came right off the show at one point. Claire and I stood there doing goldfish impressions in front of the people who were paying. Somehow 10 minutes into the performance Claire had timewarped us forward 30 minutes to the end of the show - and neither of us could figure out how to get back to the scene we should have been in. Sarah whispered the line Claire was flailing for from offstage and we were back on track but it was a horrible few moments. Came home knackered. We still have some serious work to do on this thing. And we have tomorrow to do it in.

Got home to find Merriol had had a rotten day; including the news that the company that took over the hotels a few months ago (ie her employers) have just gone into 'Administration'. I have no idea what 'Administration' means in this context but the fact that it was reported on the national news doesn't bode well. She went to a staff meeting this evening where various grades of managers told everyone not to panic and stop stealing whatever wasn't nailed down.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Have You Got A Round Thing I Can Put A Stick Through?

Last couple of days of rehearsal. We are off tomorrow up to Inverness to let the people who are paying for all of this see the show and work with us on the workshop that follows it. We did a couple of good runs at it this morning and spent the afternoon tweaking bits that needed tweaking (IE adding more acting.)

Now with added acting!

Even having done the show last year I feel terribly under-prepared. I suppose one of the advantages of being stuck in a strange town with no compny but the script, as I was last year, is that I got time to learn the bugger. This year I was initialy very happy to be rehearsing close to home but it's turned out to be a bit of a hinderance. I just don't get any time to sit with the script and get the thing bashed into my head. Yesterday for example, Dan had some sort of seisure/spasm/fit in the afternoon and ended up being taken into A&E. He was gaving a session with his speach therepist when he "felt a bit funny - and woke up in the ambulance". Mum got a call to say he was in the hospital and since my Dad had had a couple of beers and couldn't drive, I took her in. By the time we had seen him (he seemed fine when we got there, sitting up in bed having a coffee and a slice of chocolate cake), been round to his house to check everything was switched off and locked up (it was), and phoned his home helps to tell them what had happened (they already knew, and had done the locking up and switching off) it was gone 10 and I was knackered. Last thing I wanted to do (could have done) do was sit and memorise lines. I just wanted to go to bed. I went to bed.

I got made 'Team Leader', despite trying to hide under the table when the decision was being made. This means I have the final word on what happens when the inevitable fuck-ups happen ("I say we swim for the shore and alert the Coastguard!") I hate responsibility. I wonder how much I can deligate?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Day four of rehearsalising. Blocked the end of the show and then had a run through. Just to finish off the day, we did a line run which very quickly collapsed into a 'Let's see who can make their lines sound as smutty as possible and put everyone else off' session. Oh we had fun. It took weeks last year before we were at this level of stupidity. It's almost like the sort of cabin fever mentality that sets in towards the end of a long tour and I can't quite work out what is going on. We are either going to get on like a house on fire and just have a great great time with this, or they will find all our dismemebered bodies strewn around an abandoned car in the middle of the moors. The last surviving member of the team clutching a bloody tyre lever and babbling incoherently. Could go either way.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First day of rehearsals. I arrived early to find the hall we were supposed to using full of high school kids doing some kind of drama workshop with the National Theater of Scotland. Ilona arived and after much consulting of diaries it turned out the hall had been double booked for the whole day. We retired to a smaller room and started a read through. The door opened and an elderly lady poked her head in. "Oh!" she said and left the room. She poked her head back in again bridling with wrinkley indignation "Are you going to be long? Because we've got an art tutor!" she snapped.

Having no arguement against that kind of logic we scarpered to Ilona's house for the rest of the morning.

The evening was spent down at the village hall listening to The Scottish Ensemble, a 12 piece string group playing pieces by Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, and Mendelsohn. Audience of 50 or so. Realy nice evening. I forgot how much I like seeing music performed live. Sound apart, and there is nothing quite like feeling cellos and bases resonating in the same room, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed watching the interplay between the players. The little nods and smiles that pass between them. And the joy. There were some players really enjoying themselves last night, you could see it on their faces. It was infectious. loved it. A great evening. The only bum moment came when one of the audience, sitting off to my right, started to fumble in his pocket for something during a very quiet passage. I'm not sure what it was in there but it sounded like a paper bag full of dessicated hedgehogs. The music got quieter and quieter and he didn't stop, just tried to get whatever it was by being even more careful which just stretched out the agony and made it worse. Twat.

Second Day of reheasalising. Having my usual. 'What the fuck am I doing thinking I can act?' thoughts again. We had a lot of fun today played around with things, threw things in, took things out messed about, tried to see what worked and what didn't. The others are still working out who their characters are and I'm trying to make Steve less of the boring sanctimonious little goodie goodie two shoes than he is on the page (and as I played him last year). A good idea. Unfortunatly this involves making him a little more complex and means I might actually have do some acting. Dammit!

It will all work out in the long run but at the moment I'm just happy that we all seem to be getting on well. There's a lot of giggling and silliness. We're going to be stuck with each other on tour for weeks. So far so good.

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