Mulling this and that on the long lovely drive back from Leicester to Newcastle, from the city of heroin and Richard III to the Toon, ah the A1 of inspiration, the M1 of maudlin ruminations …

Acting. Remembering the stresses of trying to get the play on at Morley. The paddling about with extra work. The no-shows of paid work up here. Two waste-of-space agents. All the ferago on and drama off stage and who said what and the gossip at the Certain’s – shame that – and then the new twist with the Northern Stage showing how the circles venn … old egos and children pretending they know what feelings are, children pretending they understand … even on the good days you’re spending more time hanging around, neurotically, and the minority of the actual time you spend working you’re pretending to be someone else – and no bloody wonder! What a shitty job!

Some lovely people though, the trick is to do it for the love of it and do it with people you love.

One thing of note was a vast plume of smoke coming up from what I thought was Darlington on fire, which is no bad thing in itself, and probably an insurance job knowing Darlo, just an insurance job the size of the whole town, but it kept going as the miles went by, and at the services I texted the wife who reported back that actually it was Eaglescliff chemical plant, which would partly explain why it wasn’t going down as it’d suggest a larger, more complex effort by the fire brigade to deal with it – if in fact they could get close enough … although leaving Darlo to burn would also make sense. Then it struck me it’d maybe if not likely require an evacuation of the area, people moved out en masse to a rest centre somewhere, just like what we’d practised helping deal with! Gold Command … cordon zones, coordination of services, contingency plans one hopes are long embedded … exciting! Then consider the particular kinds of stresses and injuries to deal with, ach, burns, inhalations, chemical burns, chemical burns to the lungs … from which someone might never recover and die in agony in 10 years time. Ach that’s not fun. Maybe deaths.

Fortunately none of the above … but I think I might be heading in the right direction of interest. That’s a worthwhile thing to do.


Then wondering at 40 what to make of someone getting in touch after 20 years, and how much one wonders what one would say and finally it comes to it … and you think, ‘well what? We’ve caught up. Exchanged notes. Things seem good for us both. Is there much more to say? By the appalling medium of social media? What now?’ The timing as well was extraordinary … extraordinarily good timing for me really. My survival instincts had already kicked in in August, then a stroke of luck meant November’s message was missed until March. I’d thought before, ‘I bet it happens now, when I don’t care.’ And thank F it did.

As for the talk down in Lezzy-C. It was lovely, very nice to see Jim again, very nice to meet Robert who’s full of beans and all, a great audience and generous hosts – spending hours talking about something you know something about to people who are genuinely interested in what you’re saying, then having a lovely meal with a bevy of such bright things, all putting the world to rights over wine, put up in a very nice hotel for free … in many ways it doesn’t get much better than this.


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