Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I couldn't take Monday off work to recover, as I need my day off for next Saturday, to go to a backgammon tournament in Somerset.

I was really hanging by the end of the day, and shortly after getting home and having a glass of wine I fell asleep, and slept most of the night...

A bit stiff today, but at least I am rested. I guess I still throw myself into this stuff.

Talking to a hundred strangers (in French!) is quite a a strain on the brain, and keeping one's spirits up during long boring periods, when no-one wants to talk to you, uses energy as well. Generally I pour energy into the show biz thing - when I used to do my 40 minute solo show it felt afterwards as though I had done the 100 metres in 10 seconds, or a five minute mile (or is that sex, I forget...)

Anyway - I had to get into a high energy state. And it was the same for the 15 minute street show - I used to psyche myself right up so as to be able to grab people's attention and hold it amidst all the distractions of a public space.

Anyway - I will slowly recover, no doubt, even at my age.

I don't have any further plans for conventions, so the bubble may have burst, but I have enjoyed them all so far.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Wow, I am tired today. I had a great time in Belgium. The trade fair was an interesting space (who knew people collected Smurfs? and who knew Smurfs were called Schtroumpfs in France? Or is that their name in Germany - ah no, that's Schlumpfe). even if Charleroi seems to have some of the dirtiest air I have ever smelled.

It was great to see Ailsa and Yvonne again, and good to talk to Gerald Home, who I was obviously working alongside more than once back then in the glory days, but we none of us have been in touch since.

Aurelien and I had a very funny time - and our nonsense eventually began to affect Gerald, too. I am not sure that Michael Sheard and Bear were quite so amused by our antics. hey ho.

My shy side couldn't possibly do a gig like that (talking to strangers, talking in French, etc) so my clown tends to take over the reins...and he isn't dangerous but he is a little bit loud and carefree...and when you give him a couple of hospitality beers it gets even worse (I didn't used to let him drink, back then when I was a professional juggler and acrobatic clown!)

Friday, September 26, 2003

I am just packing to go to Belgium. Getting nervous (as ever) because it is still show biz, and that's what show biz runs on - nerves.

Of course, being a street urchin, I am more nervous about being looked up and down by the posh hotel we are staying at. They always know that I don't belong in that world. It's not just my unironed clothes, my homemade haircut or the tendency to treat staff as equals, but the aura of 'street' that comes off me.

W.C.Fields said the same, long after he was a star of Broadway and Hollywood - he said people's dogs still snarled at him, because they could smell the poverty and desperation of his earlier years.....

I immediately think I should go put clean trousers on...just at the thought...rather than my comfortable 'travel' ones that I have been wearing for two days already!

Sad, isn't it? I guess so. But I will never get to feel like a star. I don't even feel like part of the middle classes. I certainly never felt like the white male oppressor! I mostly feel like I am playing at being a grown-up, and always expect to get caught out.

Look at me! In my Twenties hitching and bumming about; in my Thirties wandering about with a suitcase full of juggling and magic, doing street shows; a brief spell in the movies (which is what this is all about); into my Forties on the dole, running away to join the circus and finally, in my Fifties, a 'steady job' in a humble profession (libraries) which has led to being a computer person (improbably at my age).

But I am still sure they are going to catch me out....and spot the kid dressing up and putting on a show....

Be Seeing You!

Monday, September 22, 2003

I somehow managed to miss out on writing up my visit to Recklinghausen to the Dark Side Convention.

Too busy.

Too fatigued.

Too many impressions.

So I'll just say I had a wonderful time - met some great people - laughed a lot - and just enjoyed a great adventure....I'll try to get around to it eventually, but meanwhile...

Thanks to Britta and Volker for the hospitality (and to Volker's mother for the vodka drink! - It is still maturing on the shelf....I don't know if it will last until Christmas...) and to Volker's father for the lifts. Thanks to Dave for the games and learning how to count up to six in German. Big thanks to Nicole for patiently and fluently translating for both me and John Coppinger (nice to see our John) and for the great singing with Volker.

And thanks to everyone else who made it such a fun weekend..... Danke!

Enjoy yourselves at Echo Base, I'll be down the road at Charleroi.
What a week! I won't bore you with what is now my everyday work - suffice to say the network was down, and it wasn't my fault, and I had no control over it, but everyone comes to me to find out what is occurring................

I spent my day off messing with pictures, just for the heaven of it (?)

Then I listened to a bit of George Carlin. But please don't follow my link if you are easily shocked. You can't say you weren't warned. Just think Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks, and if you like that sort of stuff - go visit. And don't go to those other links, either, if you are not sure...............

Friday, September 19, 2003

Well, we had beautiful weather on Tuesday, and Judith and Abi came over the water from Somerset on a calm clear day. Julie picked us up from the front at Penarth, and we all went to St Fagan's - a rather delightful 'theme park' of Welsh Life, which contains buildings from all periods of Welsh history, moved from their original locations stone by stone, and rebuilt in amongst tall trees. There are mills, and churches, and farm houses; a reconstructed Celtic village and late 19th Century shops. We finished the day with an excellent Italian meal on the front at Penarth (I highly recommend that place if you ever find yourself there - it's the second time we have eaten there, and both times was superb).

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Otis B. Driftwood: It's all right, tha-that's in every contract. Tha-that's what they call a sanity clause.
Fiorello: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ... you can't fool me. There ain't no sanity clause.

A Night at the Opera 1935

I have been back a few days now. I have finally got a good night's sleep. The last few weeks has been a blur: started with a camping holiday in West Wales, which was lovely in spite of the strange mist (low cloud) which occasionally enveloped the camp site, and the reminder that a man of 57 doesn't sleep on the ground as comfortably as the man of 52 did (back there in the circus touring days - as I was the one without a caravan - you can't have a carvan if you won't drive - so I used to sleep in the Big Top).

This was followed almost immediately by a holiday trip to Frankfurt (which was fun, but involved quite a few late nights, and drinking) - then a return to the UK to squeeze in a couple of days work (my boss was right, I should have used them as 'days of rest') and then back to Germany for the Dark Side Convention which was small, very friendly and involved (you've guessed it) long days, and then nights of drinking and talking). Is there a pattern here?

I then came back via Stanstead Airport, so that was a 9 hour journey (if you included the clock change) only to go to bed late and exhausted to get up and go to work all this week. I really must learn to build in some days off - using Days Off to extend 'holiday time' doesn't really work, especially when holidays are more strenuous than working.

Anyway, if a certain rueful tone is sneaking in here, it is because I have just finished reading Tony Hawk's "Round Ireland with a Fridge" a book recommended to me by someone in Germany - possibly relating it to how bizarre my life must sound - living serially as a juggler, film puppeteer, circus teacher, road crew and now computer network operator. And before you ask, no I didn't plan it, and yes it all surprised me too.

But now I have had my two hours of 'day off' in the sun with a book, and have to get on with the 'real world' - ie tidying up, house-cleaning, sorting out the plumbing and other delights of home-owning (not me personally, but I get involved. The joys of renting was always that landlords had to worry about this stuff. Although, if they didn't worry enough it was, I suppose, me who put up with it until they got round to fixing it. I used to put up with it by sitting out in the sun..........)

The library was attacked by a virus on September 11th (no, nobody came up with that theory), so public Internet access was down; and DVDs are being stolen systematically, so we are having trouble trying to check what should be there, and what isn't, etc. It's all pretty tiring.

I always knew show business was a soft option - even when standing in the wings in terror of 'dying' in public, or hanging around for weeks with no money waiting for the phone to ring.

Still, my friend Judith has found out about a boat that will bring her from Somerset to Cardiff next week. It's a one-day wonder, I am afraid, as car culture killed the ferry business years ago - so now everyone has to drive all the way around over the Severn Bridge - instead of crossing the channel in a straight line. On a clear day we can see each other on the beach (well, almost)...

And I have another crazy adventure to go on at the end of the month - off to Belgium. No doubt there is still some fun to be had before the winter sets in, and we all have to do our christmas shopping. I am sorry if that is the first time you heard it mentioned - I have already seen the word and the pictures, and it's still only September - and anyone who knows me knows that I hate that season with a will - which always causes grief with the people who still believe in Tooth Fairies and Santa Claus, when we Marx Brothers fans can't be fooled, we know "there ain't no sanity clause!"Shall I sit in the sun, or try to fix the plumbing leak? You can guess what I'd like to, and you know what I ought to, be doing.

No doubt duty will win out over self-indulgence. I have had enough fun......

Hey Ho.

Friday, September 12, 2003

At DSC Ken Colley was very interesting on the subject of big cats, especially with his tigers' tales.

When I got home I stepped on the tail of a tiger, got into a fight and lost, so I am still feeling a bit rough.

Still, Belgium is coming up, and another little adventure out into the big wide world to meet people who want to meet me - so it's not all bad - to quote the song "I can't complain but sometimes I still do "

I have a mansion
Forget the price
Ain't never been there
They tell me it's nice
I live in hotels
Tear out the walls
I have accountants
Pay for it all
They say I'm crazy but I have a good time
I'm just looking for clues at the scene of the crime
Life's been good to me so far

My Maserati
Does one eighty-five
I lost my license
Now I don't drive

I have a limo
Ride in the back
I lock the doors
In case I'm attacked

I'm making records
My fans they can't wait
They write me letters
Tell me I'm great

So I got me an office
Gold records on the wall
just leave a message
Maybe I'll call

Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through
Everybody says I'm cool (He's cool)
I can't complain but sometimes I still do
Life's been good to me so far

I go to parties
Sometimes until four
It's hard to leave
When you can't find the door

It's tough to handle
This fortune and fame
Everybody's so different
I haven't changed

They say I'm lazy but it takes all my time
Everybody says Oh yeah (Oh yeah)
I keep on going guess I'll never know why
Life's been good to me so far

"Life's Been Good"
written by Joe Walsh

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Hooray for the Optimists! I finally managed to watch my DVD of Robert Anton Wilson (Maybe Logic) - I received my advanced copy a few weeks ago, and I have been putting it off, while dealing with 'the real world'...

As well as Bob, I may be one of the few survivors of the The Sixties who are 'just as angry and just as optimistic' and if you think he's my guru - well, screw you too, he's just one of the people who has kept the faith (fnord) that we can do the Golden Age in the future not in the past - that we can all be going there, not missing out on it, and yes, I've just drunk a bottle of red wine because it eased the pain of my current reality, which I am about to go and work on (I'd much prefer Alice B Toklas cookies, but they're illegal and hard to come by)

Over but not yet Down and Out! Bye, good luck and may your god go with you.

Hi Harvey! Don't take it so personal...................
Hi Keili

I miss you loads, and I have put a separate post up in 'Spooking The Herd'.
It was fun at the Dark Side Con in Recklinghausen. I stayed with some really wonderful people (rather than in a hotel) and got to hang out with an old friend (for a beer or three) as well.

It was quite a small event, and turnout was probably disappointing, but it was still more fun than just going to a trading fair. People were in a variety of fantasy costumes (not only Star Wars), and I got to judge a costume competition (once I had worked out the scoring system. I also heard Volker and Nicole singing a wonderful duet (I heard a rehearsal in the small hours first, then saw/heard it on stage). The hypnotist show brought down the roof with stomping and cheering and whooping from the very enthusiastic crowd.

A specially commissioned Darth Vader costume was given to Dave Prowse, who put it on for photos (it was the first time he had been in the costume for over 20 years.) This was a rare moment to witness - even if he was off (immediately afterwards) on his neverending tour of the world selling autographs. I signed a few pictures and posters and such, but Jabba isn't such a pull, really, so I am hardly going to give up the day job. Still, I got a free trip to Germany, and you can't argue with that.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I am back from a small but very enjoyable convention in Recklinghausen this weekend. I will post more about this later. My web counter says I have been visited by people using these languages...averaging 4 per day....

English 102
Danish 14
French 13
German 6
Unknown 3
Spanish 2
Dutch 2
Malay 1
Hungarian 1
Chinese 1

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

I got to Stansted airport a little early, so I am trying one of these internet booths. I like the big silver rolling ball, but I hate the indestructible keyboard.

Reading 'Breaking the Head', a shamanistic adventure story which I am enjoying.

I had a couple of days back at work, but now I am off to another festival/carnival.

More soon - perhaps on a more fluent keyboard!
I am getting very tired of listening to the news. Recently it seems that people dying is mostly what it is about. Wars, of course; dramatic accidents; murders; suicides (including those who take other people with them); illness, etc.

It is uncanny. Is that all we are interested in - ways to die?

Why don't we go the whole way - not just picking out plane crashes, but listing the ten people a day who regularly die on the roads in the UK (figures are even higher in France, I believe).

Let's list them all, and the mundane way they were suddenly interrupted. Let's count all the 'uninteresting' people who die of hunger, thirst, poverty and neglect - not just those heroic soliders, or those being horribly tortured. Let's list them all, and be done with it - just like the weather forecast. At that level we would realise how steady the figures are (something insurance firms know - the law of large numbers which level out statistically). Get a perspective.

152,078 people die every day, according to this site of World Vital Events - and, for what it's worth, they reckon 352,764 new people are born every day....aren't they news? That's 245 per minute, with only 106 dying, so the population is growing by 139 per minute, and has been for a long time.

If you prefer something a bit more vivid, look at the counter on this UN site.

So don't tell me about a suicidal politician or terrorist, or a multiple car pile up, or any freak accident that makes us think death is just 'bad luck'. Why not tell us about some positive stuff - intelligence at work; lucky breaks; positive outcomes....

Monday, September 01, 2003

As Julie has decided to go the Mac route I am going to have to work on networking the household with PCs and Macs combined.

Oh what fun.

I will continue to report on this, when it all kicks in, and any help will be gratefully accepted - since I weighed it all up years ago, and decided that (for all Microsoft's faults) I was going to go down the route of (effectively) speaking English (the world language)...rather than isolate myself in a side group. I wanted transferrable skills to get me through my old age...

If I was a real geek I would be learning to use Linux, but instead I am trying to learn enough German to not feel completely stupid next week. Hmmm.

And if you don't understand this, don't worry, I am a bit confused myself, and (like I said) this is an online diary, not a publication, so it is mostly notes to myself.

I just do it in public, as I originally put my life on the line by determining to be a street performer, and threw myself on the mercy of my fellow human beings to find a way through this life without a boss.
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