Monday, 9 October 2017

Overheard on my Walk

  There's a sign, where you get off the abandoned railway line path and into the forest. No Right For Horses.
  Two people today were puzzling over the sign today.  Looking both ways on the path, one said, 'But surely it depends from which direction the horse is approaching if that's a right turn or left?'

Friday, 29 September 2017

Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Parable of the Ugly Cheese - excerpts from my forthcoming book about creating and touring a one-man show

  A one-man show can mean anything from a reading of MR James ghost stories, through a biopic of Mata Hari to the wondrous spectaculars of Derren Brown.


  Someone has proved that, from his behaviour in the Old Testament, God is gay, bi-polar and addicted to bric-a-brac. There have been one-man Beowulf's, Tom Jones's and Under Milk Woods. Monologues on Lully's conducting accident, Beethoven's chamber pot spillage and I was Mr Squirrel First for Benjamin Britten, in Noyes' Fludde.
  Historical re-enactments by one of the Stonehenge masons, Michelangelo winch-hanging under the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the unmaking of Tracy Emin's bed.
  With no one word answers allowed audiences have played Twenty Questions, Clumps and Analogies to guess the identities of Bathsheba, Moll Flanders and Miss Marple. Mark Anthony, Van Gogh and Liberace. The Mad Hatter, Shivah and Hitler.

  So how to decide on yours.  There are, give or take, two ways.  Evolving or planned.  Let me clarify with my Parable of the Ugly Cheese.

  On Radio 4's Food Programme some time in the noughties, a Maitre Fromagier said of an English cheese, 'Today, it does not have a story, but given time in the future it will.  Yes, its look is definitely not pleasing to the eye.  But the taste! The English must not be afraid to make this type of modern, ugly cheese.  It really is one of the best cheeses here this year.'

  The ‘here’ referred to being a cheese festival in the Dordogne.  Next on the programme came two festival exhibitors; the first being he who had foisted on us said plug-ugly bugger of a cheese.

  'It was all I ever dreamed of, making cheese,' he said in a gentle Lancashire accent. 'And I know that sounds daft to say, but it was. Cheese making wasn't in my family or anything, either - my father was an accountant.’

  And one day there came on the market the only dairy he would ever be able to afford.  He talked his wife into selling up in Bolton and moving down to Somerset. 

  ‘And for a while, I have to say, things didn't turn out well.  I had a recipe that I followed, but it failed to make a cheese we could sell, let alone that was going to excite anyone.  Everything we'd put into the business, and all!  I could see it going down the pan.  Then one very late night in the middle of this getting worse and worse time I was so tired, I made a mistake with the amounts in the mix; and against all the odds, the result was outstanding.  I remember the look on my wife's face when she tried it; and friends were all telling me how they loved it; then it proved really popular at market.   So that decided me to give it a try over here, where they really know.'  

  Next up, a woman from (she insisted) the more upcoming part of Pimlico.

  'My portfolio already included a number of UK catering outlets anyway.  And my business partner and I had a look around Neale's Yard to see what gaps there were potentially in the cheese marketplace - and we decided that there was a need for a tangy Brie-like soft cheese, with a strong cabbage aftertaste.  We went into production and here we are in the Dordogne with it.  So pleased.'

  Said the Maitre Fromagier, 'Frankly, there is just too much of this trite, prettified, imitation French cheese around today.'
  Next time, we'll discuss how being school of the Ugly Cheeseist, I fell into drag ballet. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Wilderness Festival - Sleepless With Stoicism

  I've just done my first festival proper with My Tutu Went AWOL. Wilderness.  I sold a book to Tom 'The Idler' Hodgkinson, who I revere.  As for the festival itself, wandering around I overheard one of the security guards say, 'The only thing posher would be a cheese and wine party...'
  Except when you borrow a tent sight unseen from a mate and it turns out to be a mountain tent of tininess.
  Luckily, I went to the festival with Grace Barry-Tait, the superb singer and host.  She knows the festival build team.  A buggy arrived at the Yellow Area, driven by Liselle, who toted Grace and me with our stuff to Crew Camping. Liselle peered at my tent from under her vast curls. 'It's very small.  But I'm sure you'll get into it, don't worry.  Let's...' Grab a rubber mallet, ignore the instructions, and get on with it. 'There.  Except...we'll wait for Jack to give his opinion.  He's in the shower.'
  Jackson James Purcell emerged from the shower, wearing a towel. A face-swap of the young Brando and the young Sinatra, tall, with a boxer's build and gait, he took one look at the tent. 'It's a nylon cat's coffin.  Anything else you need to know?  Right.  How are you with stoicism?'

  Sleepless, apparently.

  Got home to a letter about Tutu.  ​'In spite of itself, your book has soul...'

  Here we are performing with Jackson...

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Motivation Monster

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