Monday, 31 August 2009
It's been a while and I was due one, it had been building up inside me. And then I fell.
Lately, I have been under a lot of stress, swiftly followed by incredible relaxation, then stress again. Changes of pace like this affect my brain. It's kind of like flicking the light on and off lots of times in short succession, eventually the bulb will go.
I started a new job working for a charity. It is a lovely office and I enjoy working there, but I have a short time to learn the ropes as the boss is leaving soon and I have been pushing myself hard. This combined with the fact that none of the computers seem to communicate with each other, or other hardware, makes even simple jobs difficult. I have made it my mission to sort the office out so that anyone can use it, no mean feat even in a small office like this one.
I'm also moving house. House moving is supposed to be one of the most stressful things in the world. Above war, divorce and kidnap apparently. Which is why I was pleased to find a 3 bedroom flat for 500 pounds within a couple of days of looking.
I felt amazing, I had somewhere to live with my brother, a new job, lots of gigs lined up, a festival to prepare for and I had finished the first draft of Dirtbox. I was happy.
It was about this point that the unravelling began. I was in Witney, about to perform at Fat Lils, when the arm fell off my glasses. Some people would see this as an omen, a portent of things to come but not me. Largely because that's balls. I needed new glasses was the thought in my head. I stole some gaffer tape from a nearby drumkit and did a quick patch job and noone was any the wiser. The perfect crime.
The next day I was packed and ready to go the Green Man festival. I had my big tent(two bedrooms) which I was sharing with my friend, rabbitinahat, and I will tell that full tale at a later date. Needless to say, I had a great time. I was totally relaxed. However, just before leaving to go there I recieved a phone call from MEad property services informing me that despite paying a bond on the flat, despite signing the papers, the landlord had rented it to someone else. I now had just over a week to find a new place to live.As I was going to be in the middle of a field for 4 days, the window was closing quickly. But I had a great time nonetheless. I totally destressed.
This may have been an error.
Remember the light bulb analogy I mentioned earlier? This is where it starts coming into play. I unwound hugely and every iota of stress left my body and mind. I then returned to work, where the printer stopped working while I was the only one in the office and my main job was to get 500 letters printed and sent out. I was also trying to find a new place to live and getting no reply from Mead.
My stress levels were rising swiftly, like some one had removed a brick from a damn and it was pushing its fellow bricks out of the way.
It's okay, I thought, tonight I'm going to Carls house and he's going to cook me a meal. That'll remove all stress.
It was a lovely night. But then the morning came again. A late night followed by an early morning is one of the things that is most likely to cause seizures. I know that, but I had to go to work anyway.
So I got up. My dressing gown was on, my glasses perched on my head and then
Not a verbal stutter, a physical stutter. A repetitive twitch that precedes the main event.When that happens, I know what is to come.It's an uncomfortable feeling that is hard to even talk about. To think it, is to feel the same helplessness i feel when i'm having it. The worst thing is that every time I feel I can stop myself. My mind still awake, filled with false hope that I can control myself, that this won't happen.
My teeth clench, my body tensed
My muscles TENSE and r e l a x as I head downwards, able to see the corner of the bed looming upwards before I black ou...
I awake soon after, confused and clumsy with no memory of the events. Conversations could have been had, food eaten and I can't remember anything.
All I remember is the place I awaken, often my bed, occasionally a hospital, sometimes a corridor, under a desk, on a road.
Every muscles aches after their pavement workout and I know what has happened. I am bruised, exhausted and groggy so I generally sleep.
I can usually feel whether I chewed on my tongue. Sometimes there is blood, often bruising and then, within a few days, the wounds open, my tongue screams in pain and eating is kept to a minimum. I grain of salt stabs into the nerves, immobilising me with pain.
Conversation is perfunctory and blunt, only when necessary.
But I heal. I always heal and carry on as normal.
Friday, 28 August 2009
I've been looking for a place to move in to with my brother and (occasionally)my niece.
We were lucky in so much as we found a cheap, cheerful flat with 3 bedrooms for only 500 pounds. We paid the deposit and were looking forward to the move.
But it was not to be.
Three weeks later on the 20th August, as I was about to leave the house for the Green Man Festival, I recieved a phone call that had the potential to ruin everything.
"Hello,this is Mead Property management, is that Mr Bulbous?"
"Yes it is."
"It's about the flat on Cowbridge road."
"The one we put the deposit on 3 weeks ago?"
"Yes. The landlord's already rented it out."
"So, you took my 500 quid and then tell me I haven't got a place to live when I have to move out of this place in one week?"
"so you're saying essentially that I am homeless because of your incompetence?"
"Ur.....we can arrange some other viewings for you..."
"I'm going away to the Green Man Festival for 4 days and will not be able to look at anything"
I gave them the benefit of the doubt and on Tuesday I called them. I left a message and got no response. I was fuming. They'd fucked me over and then failed to call me back. Then I discovered a friend had two spare rooms, in a much nicer place(with a garden) which was cheaper and an all round better place to live and I was familiar with as I had stayed there many times before. All round win.
The next day, when Mead finally called, I had great pleasure in telling them that I wanted my deposit back IN CASH, because I had found somewhere despite their incompetence. That was another win.
So, while it was massively stressful, it's alright now. Ish.
The Green Man blog will be published soon, as soon as I remember it.
Sunday, 16 August 2009
Obviously, as a comedian, I have to write things down. Joke writing can be a labourious task, writing infinite punchlines for the same joke before settling on the one you first thought of;"Your mother"
But writing a few gags is an easy enough affair as noone expects you to write a whole set in one go. You can pick away by trying out new jokes gradually, and before long you have a brand new set.
So it is rare for me to write anything more than a few minutes of material at a time. Occassionally, however, I become inspired. An idea will pop into my head and take root, refusing to leave until it's dealt with good and proper.
It happened once before when I first started doing stand up. I had very few gigs under my belt but decided to do my own show, for one night only, in Carmarthen.
I wanted it to be different, so I decided on a murder mystery. It was to be called 'Who Killed Gary Lovely?' A local minor celebrity, Gary Lovely, had been killed. I played all of the suspects as well as playing myself interviewing the suspects.
How you ask? well, this was the thing. I used a projector. I had filmed various sketches, containing clues, about Gary's life. I also interviewed myself as the other characters, giving further clues, all projected on the wall beside me. In the second half, all the suspects were brought on one by one to be grilled by the public. What I was expecting was a few family and friends but the hall was filled to capacity by people lured by the thought of murder, comedy ..and free peanuts.
It almost worked. The audience loved it, but the production values were a bit shoddy and I could immediately see how it could have been improved.
But it cost me nothing to make and made me 500 quid so all in all it was a good thing. I may even dig it out some day for a remake.
It happened once again with an ill fated attempt at writing a book. I had a great idea, but not the perseverance to see it through. That's still on the back burner for later.
Recently, though I have started a new show and I have learned from my mistakes. While I am writing most of the show myself, I am not doing it alone. I have invited friends and like minded people to assist. I have actors, comedians, musicians, costume designers, film makers, photographers and writers all ready to give their skills up for nothing.
And when you have a team of people who are ready to give up their time for free, you make sure you don't waste it. Because wasted free time is the worst kind of wasted time, unless you're wasted (that sounds like it might be a song lyric but I don't recognise it)
So the fact that I have people to help, has in turn helped me write. I have been bashing the idea around for long enough with scrappy ideas and half filled pages. So I wrote. I wrote like I've never written before. I used every technique I could to writhe out of it. Endless cups of tea, shopping for a particular brand of apple I'm particularly found of, watching something that is about to disappear from iplayer because 'it'll be gone in two days and I might get busy.
But I kept chipping away until it just started to flow. And once it started to flow I barely left my room for three days except to buy fried chicken.
And then today, it was done. I finished the first draft. It's a bit ugly, there are probably glaring plot holes and inconsistencies. It hasn't quite as many jokes as I'd like and the characters aren't all fully developed. It may be overcomplicated and impossible to do but I'm going to try my damndest. Because its mine. It's in its infancy and is not without its charm. There are certain things about it that make me fell proud and giggly at the same time.
So now it begins proper. Stay with me because it could be ahell of a ride.
Saturday, 8 August 2009
I didn't think I was until recently but when 3 people have been offended by my material, I decided to do some soul searching and find out why.
And what I found shocked me to my very core. The reason people think I'm bigotted is because I have had the wrong definition of racism. I always believed that racism was a belief that peoples traits and abilities were determined by their race and that certain races were genetically superior. I thought that to be a bigot you had treat people differently because of where they come from, the colour of their skin, their religous beliefs or even their sexuality.
I was wrong.
The first time I was accused of racism was when I was 13. Clayton, a boy in my year in school who happened to be black, spat on me. Naturally my reaction was revenge. I didn't want to beat him up, I just wanted to scare the shit out of him. So I chased after him.He was faster than (not a sterotype, I just wasn't built for speed)and he ran into the sixth form annex and told the sixth formers that I wanted to beat him up because I was a racist.
I was livid, because
1)I didn't want to beat him up
2)If I had wanted to beat him up it would be because he gobbed on me and not due to the colour of his skin.
Then recently it happened again. I was gigging at The drones club in Chapter, a lovely little gig which I help out with and often perform work in progress, sketches and the like.
this night I was trying out some new stuff on fame and the various brushes I've had with it.
I come from a tiny village called Brechfa where the buses only ran twice a weeek, Wednesday and Saturday and was telling a story about when the whole village was asked to be in an advert for British Telecom. With Joanna Lumley.
It was a delightful affair where all the kids were given free cans of pop, as many and as often, as we liked. They later regretted this when it was time for filming when all the tartrazined up kids were relieving themselves behind the hedge.
I'll even admit to having a few Lilts that day and the call of nature was strong...
But I digress. The village had a lack of ethnic diversity and, to stop us from looking like a backward, bigotted sort of community they hired a family of black actors to join the throng. I then said that everyone wanted to be their friends and arguments ensued about whose football team they would join, thus disproving the asumption that all rural communities are full of toothless racists. A positive story I thought. But someone did not agree.
It was at this point that a member of the audience, Phillip, took offence and shouted "Racist!" at me.
Phillip, an intense, amply framed man with a very powerful glower had decided that to mention race at all was racist.
I tried to talk to him but the conversation was cut short by the fact he hurled a pint of beer over me.
I reacted in a split second, and stood there. I was soon soaked with beer, but I remained calm, trying to talk to Phil and still keep the mood light and airy.
He and his friend got disgruntled, shouted a few rude comments and left, only to be escorted off the premises by security and told never to darken Chapters doors again.
I was a little shaken up but continued with my set, but cut it short.
I was surprised by his reaction, but he lost his entrance fee and the price of a beer(quite pricey) so he lost out.
Then two weeks later, also at the Drones, a man took offence at my material and had a go at Clint, shouting at him
"I would expect to here that sort of material at a working mens club, not an arts centre!"
My offense? I used the word 'bummers'. It was innocuous and meant in no harm, but he didn't like it.
So now I'm homophobic AND racist.
The third incident was tonight in Brecon. Clint Edwards,Henry Widdicombe and I were doing a gig in a pub called the Bulls Head in aid of Oxjam, a festival in aid of Oxfam.
Clint and I walked in and were immediately a little worried. There weren't many people in and the comedy would be performed in the bar area, with no seperate room.
Soon though it filled up, leaving it impossible for us acts to get on stage without first walking out of the back of the room, out past the toilets, out the door, out the gate and walk back round to the front of the room.
Clint started MCing and got a lively banter going and some good jokes which got the audience warmed.
Henry was introduced and he did a great set and told everyone about biscuits. the audience were lovely, our fears were alaid. Or so I thought.
A new audience member had joined us, a man who looked like a cross between Nick Cave and Danny Devito, dressed as a camp lemon.
I was doing my shtick about languages and I chanced upon a German lady in the audience and tried my only sentence in German, "Mein Vater ist ein Dudelsackpfeifenspieler und seine Dudelsackpfeifen sind in Schnee bedeckt"
(my father is a bagpipe player and his bagpipes are covered in snow"
I then asked if she wanted to tell me any good german words when Lemon, who I later discovered to be called Paul, chipped in.
"Leave her alone!" he shouted. I explained that the lady could speak for herself. It turns out she didn't want to speak to me but that was by the by.
I continued, talking about my Slovenian friends and how they taught me a song in Slovenian. I started to perform the song 'Yoshke' when he shouted "Racist!" at me.
I was angry and tried to get him explain why talking about some one from a different nation, who speak a different language and then bothering to learn about their culture and language was racist. He responded with "Ooh, you're angry now"
And I was. And I enjoyed it. I unleashed on him, got him to shut the fuck up and just continued with my set by translation of the song into English and revealing that it is called 'Big Tits' adding the phrase "They may have been sexist but I'm not a racist" and got a round of applause.
I felt good about myself and the fact that Paul left when he realised he was the only one who felt like that.
So am I wrong? Is the very mention that someone comes from a foreign country or of someones sexuality( I know I said bummers but all the gay guys I know love the word)or that talking in a foreign language racist?
Or did I just meet three massive twats.
Sunday, 2 August 2009
I like Merv, his updates on the situation 'The Good news is we're 6 minutes ahead of schedule, the bad news is there's only 147 days to Christmas' bring levity to my journey, which can be an uncomfortable one and is one I have travelled many times before.
Often I will sleep as much as possible on a journey such as this, but not today. Today I have a purpose. And a journey with a purpose is like a life with meaning.
My purpose is not a grand one, it is merely to write this blog, but as this blog says-this is My Big Idea. It in itself is a journey and it has taken many journeys to get here, but now I'm ready to go and want you to come with.
The idea is simple-to put on a show. I've been involved in shows before. I've performed in Fiddler on the Roof, Waiting for Godot, Calamity Jane. I've played several parts in Little Shop of Horrors and helped build gas amsks and plants. I've directed youth Theatre and even done a one man, multimedia murder mystery where I played all the parts. With free peanuts.
But this show is different. This show won't let me sleep. This show demands to written and performed and has chosen me as its vessel.
And so I write. I write like never before, each idea spawning another, moving ever onwards, like the infinite snake Euroboros (or Snake 2 on the Nokia). The ideas pour from me like the evils escaping Pandoras Box.
The show is based on Greek Mythology and a TV set that steals your soul. It has a story arc as well sketches, musical numbers and a dance routine or two.
It is a comedy but also has tragedy, pathos and a love story.
It features Greek gods, Deus Ex MAchina, Bettywomanface FBI and infinite monkeys.
It will be multimedia and difficult to produce. But I must. I will call on every favour I can, every person wh can help.
I have begun casting, I have nearly finished the first draft and am slowly recruiting a production team of costumers, photographers, film makers and writers.
It is a logistical nightmare and probably massively over ambitious but when it is ready it will serve as a showcase for the abilities of my friends and myself. I want to show it every TV/Radio producer I can.
Why am I doing this? Because it is My Big Idea and noone else will.
The name of the show is Dirtbox
Saturday, 1 August 2009
My first blog. Thousands, millions of words in my head and I don't know which ones to use.
Do I use the ones that tell of how I got to the point I'm at or the ones that tell you where I'm at?
I choose the later. I can't go back to yesterday, I was a very different person then. To tell you my entire history would take too much time. There are fantastic stories in there involving owl training, epileptic dogs, newt rescuing and bats. There are tragic tales of death, tragic before their time deaths, suicide, even murder. There are romances, love and pain and all the bits in between.
But they can wait.
I live here now. I live in the present and the future and occasionally visit the past for inspiration and advice.
Right now I am writing my blog in pencil in a notebook, because that is how I write. Always on paper first, then I can cross things out, draw arrows if I want to move the position, place different words in position and then decide which is best. I can draw on the side too, an option woefully lacking in most computer systems.
I was naked but then needed tea, so put a dressing gown on so as not to disturb my housemates. I drink tea at a steady pace throughout the day, it being my lifeblood, my friend and when served with a biscuit, my secret lover.
I awake early most days, and go to bed late most nights. It wasn't always thus, I used to sleep til late in the morning and then fill my days with naps. I was uninspired and wasting my days. But I have purpose now and a message of intent:
World, I am here, I am ready and I will be recognised.
Every day, I awake before 7, turn on my computer, go and make a cup of tea(often with toast, butter and marmalade, but usually that comes with the second cup of the day). I return to the computer and turn on some random music.
While writing this I have already listened to 'Two Birds' by Regina Spektor, 'Three Best Friends' by Zach Galifianakis, 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' by Yes and 'I hung my Head' by Johnny Cash.
With an eclectic mix pulsing through my mind and soul, I procrastinate. Facebook and Twitter are checked, and messages and emails are answered. I then look to the screen, type a few words, delete them, retype them, then go and make a second cup of tea(with or without toast, according to my previous cup).
I then begin to write in earnest. Plots, jokes, scripts, sketches-whatever needs to be done towards My Big Idea. But Dan, what is your Big Idea? That will be the topic of my next blog as it deserves its own section. It is a Big Idea though, and it stops me sleeping and won't let me forget it.
So that's it for now, a brief intro into my life, with plenty more to come...