Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
9am: Small loose bowel movement (not urgent)
9.30am: Cappuccino & muffin
2.30pm: cheese & ham sandwich on brown bread, packet of crisps,
5pm: cheese roll (white bread)
Thursday 29th July
9am: omelet, bread roll & butter
Friday 30th July
Saturday, 3 July 2010
During the ensuing discussion the doctor showed us other examples of nose jobs on his computer, and as he scrolled down through a sequence of ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots Nut began to emit little yelps of surprise. “Oh,” he said, “there’s Pon! Oh, and there’s Ta! And there’s Ton!” The patients were mostly friends and regulars at a renowned local nightclub. There they all were with their taller and narrower noses or their larger eyes - another operation popular with Asians being double eyelid surgery, or ‘enhancement of the Asian upper eyelid crease.' This again turns them into Westerners. All very odd, actually. I’ve never heard of Westerners having their eyelids messed around with so that they resemble Asians ('slitty eye surgery').
Towards the end of this consultation it dawned on me that I was being talked about and pointed at. If I had something done to my eyes, a kind of sucking out of the fatty deposits beneath them, I would look ten years younger, I was told. Oh no, I couldn’t, I said. Only 50,000 baht (about 700 pounds), said Nut. Oh, is that all? I said. Well, in that case… After Nut had had some quick botox injections (painful, he said) we left the surgery, passing boys peddling ‘sex dvds’ to tourists. Exhausted, sweaty soldiers slouched against shuttered shop fronts and gazed idly on.
Monday, 28 June 2010
“The Rude Boys go to Westminster” is an alternative reality TV programme in which a group of handpicked lowlifes exchange places with politicians and spend a couple of weeks running the country. David Cameron swaps places with me and finds himself having to tip-toe from his attic room every morning, creep past the bedroom wherein lies the sleeping landlady and pick his prime ministerial way through the cat puke punctuating the kitchen floor.
V.O: Clearing up Nicotine vomit in the early hours of the morning isn’t the kind of thing David Cameron’s used to doing.
CUT TO: David at the G20 Summit, looking bemusedly on as Angela Merkel cracks a joke, Berlusconi cracks his face, Barack beams and Sarkozy slaps everyone on the back.
But there’s something more pressing than this: no one is reading my blog. You can’t even find it in search engines. According to my research it can apparently take a few weeks for your blog to start appearing in Google. But it nearly is a few weeks and it’s still not there. I’ve consulted blogger Help and I’ve done what Help advised me to do, which is to send the link to my friends. Friends have clicked on it. Some have actually read it. I’ve even left a comment on someone else’s blog, gawd help me (or rather Help help me), but only because Help told me that the way to get your blog noticed is by leaving comments on other people’s blogs. The trouble is, though, that no one has commented upon my comment. Perhaps it was a non sequitur. Whatever it was I am now stuck with this problem: my posts are being shot out into the blogosphere but remaining for the most part unread. They are also missing Google by several miles.
Perhaps what I should do is regard this blog as a private journal that I’ve accidentally left lying around in the bathroom. It’s just a matter of time before someone chances upon it and has the temerity to open it. But this approach is fraught with danger. If I assume no one is going to read it then I will apply neither taste nor discretion to the writing, and then if they do read it (in the bathroom or anywhere else) and find themselves lampooned or bitched about I will end up being sued for libel. Or on the streets.
Although I’ve mentioned my l-lady and various individuals a few times here already, I have so far gone to great pains not to bitch, being aware that even if I am not consciously bitching it might come across as bitching. Which takes me back to The Westminster Fight Club for Rude Boys. I mean, sorry, Rude Boys go to Westminster.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
But I can’t talk about politics. I don’t know the language. I can’t talk about landladies either because they’d kill me. She’s gone away for a few days, my l-lady, leaving me to feed Nicotine. Which is not a euphemism for my smoking habit (I don’t have one) but an allusion to the cutting up of M&S organic chicken and the feeding of it to a seventeen-year-old cat called Nicotine who has reached that grand old age precisely because she’s been on a rigorous life-long diet of bran biscuits and responsibly sourced meats. But at least I don’t have to pay any rent. Well, not until the landlady discovers my blogging activities and her inclusion therein. Oh, let’s throw caution to the wind and assume that the l-lady will be delighted to find she is being blogged about. After all, there’s only one thing worse than being blogged about, and that’s not being blogged about.
This is my sixth post and I still haven’t found a subject about which I can safely blog. There is IBS, of course, but is irritable bowel syndrome a suitable subject for blogging? To get to the point: have I got IBS? Does anyone, apart from me, care if I’ve got IBS? If I feature in the list of cuts in today’s budget and all I am left with is IBS and blogging, then what hope is there? An IBS blog. That’s where the hope lies. Unless the blog is cut as well.
Last Sunday I came perilously close to having a bowel explosion in the middle of Dalberg Road, Brixton. It would have been the fifth such incident in my lifetime, previous explosions having occurred in the queue for the boys' toilet in Mrs. Long's class at St. Winefride's Convent School circa 1968, in a disused outhouse on Battersea Rise, behind a stack of garbage cans outside a swanky Manhattan apartment block (significantly only a few weeks after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre) and, most recently, on platform 9 of Waterloo Station, where I found myself ducking down behind a workers’ hut one cold evening in 2001 and not so much opening my bowels as letting them have their say. Displaying great quickness of thought, I concealed the spreading lake of diarrhea beneath copies of The Evening Standard and Metro. The following morning I had to pass through the station again. I noticed, with a quiet satisfaction, that platform 9 had been cordoned off.
Friday, 18 June 2010
Some old people, one is told, are only kept alive by their own complaining. “If she didn’t have anything to moan about she’d die,” they used to say about my Granny (they didn’t, actually, but I’ve got to support my claims somehow). My landlady (who shows no signs of ageing) is one of the most enthusiastic complainers I know and yet she’s recently decided to exchange the bustle of Brixton for an isolated trailer home near Taunton. ‘You’ll go mad,’ I said to her. ‘I won’t,’ she replied, ‘I’m an only child, I’m not a sociable animal, I can’t wait to be alone in the country. It’ll be lovely.’ ‘But you’ll have nothing to complain about,’ I said, ‘It’s what keeps you going. You relish confrontation.’ Similarly, although I complain about my landlady (and practically everyone else too) I probably enjoy complaining about her, just as she enjoys complaining about me. Sometimes to my face.
So, RB, Hitler, David Cameron and, to a lesser extent, my landlady and I are like that. They are irritants we cannot do without. Without which we would die. Absurd. Next topic. Instant messaging and how it’s got me in its grip.
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
I’ve just had a few for The Poof Downstairs, although some of them shouldn’t be called reviews at all. They are penned, more often than not, by over-zealous computer geeks with scant knowledge of their subject and then posted on their b***s. They should be called ‘customer responses.’ The first time I did a (I’m going to have to say it) ‘scratch’ (i.e. a work in progress showing) of The Poof Downstairs up popped a bloggy customer response which described the work as ‘a nonsensical mess.’ She also wrote this: ‘The Poof Downstairs promises to be ‘the ultimate feel-good play’, but after an hour of listening to tales of disappeared stroke victims, abusive neighbours and the death of his mother, writer Jon Haynes clearly doesn’t have much to feel good about, and neither does the audience.’ Almost exactly a year later I received an awesomely bad review for the same show (headlined “Mad, skittish ‘monologue’ is a flop”) from the Bristol Evening News. Like Blogger 1, above, she also pointed out the dissimilarity between the show she saw and the one promised her in the blurb, as if I was somehow guilty of contravening the trades description act. I was. Deliberately. It was a joke blurb, describing a show that never happens, The Poof Downstairs being essentially one long introductory speech. There is no 'play' as described in the theatre's brochure. Lost on Blogger 1 and The Bristol Evening News, of course. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. People have always taken me too seriously. My colleague David Woods had the opposite problem when he was growing up: “When I was being serious,” he told me, “people always laughed, so I thought ‘fuck this, I’ll just do comedy.’ ” With me it’s almost as though I should go through life brandishing placards saying things like “It’s ok to laugh at this” or “I know I look serious but looks can be deceptive.” Though they’d probably take that seriously too.
The worst review I’ve ever had is also my best. My performance in our adaptation of Three Men in a Boat inspired this from Ian Shuttleworth, then writing for City Limits: “Jon Darke (the absurd name I was going under at the time), as narrator J, displays what Ken Campbell calls ‘the legendary minus effect.’ When he leaves the stage it seems more full.” Shuttleworth couldn’t have known it, I suppose, but what he described is basically the quality in acting to which I aspire. It’s the kind of acting that doesn’t walk up to you and shake you by the hand, the kind of acting that you hardly notice. So actually the best compliment a reviewer could pay me would be not to mention me at all. Difficult when it’s a one-man show.
I don’t envy reviewers. They are required, it seems, to identify meaning in the shows they see and then describe these meanings to their readers. But what if there is no meaning? Theatre, in my cynical view, a view that’s been formed, you could say, by my uptight response to reviews, means nothing at all. It is meaningless. Rather like life, actually. It is up to us as spectators to impose meaning upon it, just as with life we can choose to find meaning within it.
And I didn't even get onto words I don't like.
Monday, 14 June 2010
I’ve seen shots of Cristiano sitting in the changing room exuding sex and perspiration and body odour in equal measure. I’ve come close to what I can only describe as drooling over his image as captured by Annie Leibovitz and reproduced in Vanity Fair. I’ve ordered his evocatively titled autobiography (‘Moments’) from Amazon, read (more accurately, looked at) said autobiography, been transfixed by documentaries on the man, been charmed, mesmerized and…well, generally lost for words. But then I’ll watch him in action and it’s a quite different experience. In the heat of the match he appears to me all clenched muscle, arrogance, vein-popping determination, gaping spoiled little boyishness and, ultimately, sexless.
And as I watched the England team filing out onto the pitch at Rustenburg on Saturday (wondering whether the violent head rolling exercises Rooney was doing were an attempt to keep his temper at bay) I consciously laid myself open to be titillated. But it didn’t happen. In spite of his reputation John Terry doesn’t do it for me (nor does Beckham for that matter). It was only, I’m almost ashamed to say, Rooney who exhibited a glimmer of sex appeal. Yes, Wayne Rooney, the pitbull of soccer, the header of the year, the potential pin-up on my bedroom wall. Perhaps I’ve found a way in.
Saturday, 12 June 2010
I don’t know why I am saying this (which is just the kind of self-deprecating admission I should try to curb – readers want confidence in their blogger). Very well, I do know why I am saying this. I occasionally look at other people’s blogs, and looking at them is precisely what has, until very recently, deterred me from starting my own.
I used occasionally to read The Guardian’s various blogs, and when I’m overseas I tend to read the online edition of The Guardian to keep up with events, though I’ve practically stopped looking at The Guardian since it gave me a 2 star review for The Poof Downstairs. Childish of me, you might say (you can say, actually, by posting a comment at the end of this post). I stopped reading Time Out several years ago (“I don’t give a damn about Time Out. Time Out’s a fucking asshole magazine” - Robert de Niro). This was perhaps only an age thing. I found one day that I was no longer part of the young, fashion-led, grab-a-coffee-on-the-way-to-work brigade and therefore didn’t need Time Out any more. Time Out gave me a good review for The Poof Downstairs (four stars and Critics’ Choice) but in spite of that fact I haven’t taken it up again, and won’t.
But other people’s blogs, yes. So I’ve glanced at Goode’s, I’ve looked at The Guardian’s, at Alison Croggon’s Theatre Notes, at Crysse’s blog (only because I was searching for reviews of The Poof Downstairs and found one on her absolutely marvelous blog) and I’ve looked at a few others and, well, I don’t mind them at all. This blog of mine could, it’s just occurred to me, be a blog that reviews blogs, though I imagine there are several blogs doing that already. Goode’s blog, then. Although I’ve never met CG in person, nor, for that matter, seen any of his work, I am quite sure that he’s a thoroughly good egg. He certainly comes across as one in his blog. I was drawn to his blog originally through searching for reviews of our show Tough time, nice time (premiered at the Barbican in 2008 and published by Oberon Books). His was a good review, I suppose, but it contained a hurtful criticism of my performance. Not just hurtful but, on examination, nonsensical. I should have left a comment on his blog at the time, expressing my hurt in no uncertain terms, but I didn’t want to be exposed as the kind of theatre maker who searches the internet for reviews of his work and then gets upset reading them. This is what he wrote: ‘The only unbelievable thing in the play is that Jon Haynes’s highly contained, uptight character has ever been fist-fucked.’ I had to read this sentence a few times before I realized what was wrong with it. It implies that I should have played the character as though he’d been fist-fucked, or in such a way that the audience could believe that he’d been fist-fucked. How could I have done that? Perhaps it might have worked if I’d spoken my lines in a sort of husky drawl, my bowels trailing behind me. It’s a bit like saying you should play a murderer as if he’s a murderer (with a club foot, hare lip and a bottle marked ‘Poison’ in one hand). People who appear contained and uptight, it is suggested, could not possibly have been fist-fucked. Well, I’ve been fist-fucked (only once, in Berlin). Do I look as though I have? I’ve no idea. The truth actually might be the reverse of what CG implies, that people who are highly contained and uptight are precisely the kind of people who do get fist-fucked, who in fact need to get fist-fucked, if only to seek temporary relief from their uptightness. All of which goes to show (does it?) that I shouldn’t engage with reviews.
Sunday, 30 May 2010
Gordon Brown told Nick Clegg to ‘get real’ about nuclear arms in the second televised debate of the election campaign. He repeated it twice for effect. And although I can’t now find an example, David Cameron’s campaign speeches were punctuated by frequent exhortations to ‘Get over it!’ “Get over it” is also the phrase that springs to mind when considering my attitude to blogs, a form of which I appear to have just begun. Have I finally got over my antipathy towards what I formerly regarded as an acutely self-regarding practice, or have I at last become immune to whatever it was that so irritated me about other people’s blogs? And why is it, incidentally, that the dictionary on my new laptop doesn’t even recognize the word ‘blog’? ‘Oh come on, get over it, Jon,’ I should say to myself. Get real, Jon. Get on with it. Ah yes, but on with what? What is this blog about, let alone for? It’s self-advertisement, for a start. I want to let everyone know what I’m doing, have done or am about to do - hence the information displayed on the right, listing performances of The Poof Downstairs.
Having said all that I don't now know where to go. This is, then, a blog in development, a blog (a word I like less and less, I note, as I repeat it) that is finding out about itself. I could, it's just occurred to me, write about The Poof Downstairs, but I've always sided with Alan Bennett when it comes to talking about one's work. I may have got this wrong. It might not be Bennett at all who said something like "If there was any way of explaining what I meant other than by doing the work itself, then there would be no need to do the work itself."
Too many words already. Let’s liven it up a bit with a picture.
This is nothing at all to do with The Poof Downstairs and more to do with being in the middle of the Red Shirt protests in Bangkok. I was in the shower in the gym when the staff shouted at me to get out. Without drying myself I had to proceed hastily through the fire exit, as there was a grenade attack in the street. A man in a wheelchair was selling lottery tickets by the razor wire, a short walk from the afore-mentioned gym. Life, as they say, goes on.