Monthly Archives: July 2007

Over The Top…

…and down the rollercoaster!

One show down! Well that wasn’t so bad in the end. I had been really nervous about my lines, but I managed to do pretty well, I thought. I always get nervous about my lines, and you’d think that I would realise that it always goes well in the end. But it goes well in the end because of the panicked extra line-runs and rehearsals that get scheduled.

As for last night, well we had a technical run-through in the afternoon, where it was realised what a cue-heavy piece this is. A sound, light or prop cue every two minutes on average – mostly bunched together. The run-through was patchy, and we ran out of time for a proper dress rehearsal, so the first public performance was the first time we had everything ready – including the lines. But the (very small) audience were very responsive, and did their usual trick of confounding us by not laughing at the bits we thought were giong to be funny, and chuckling in the “wrong” places. I give up trying to second-guess these people, honestly.

I have friends (Daneeta and PJ) coming along tonight, so best be good!

First Night Tonight

“No turning back now, this is for real…”

The props are boxed and ready. The costumes are laid out. The script is memorised (honest). The tickets are selling. The crew are awaiting instructions. The cast are at work until this afternoon. The theatre is empty (hopefully). The pep-emails are flying. The Facebook is updated. The blog is being updated at this moment. The finer nuances of character are being finalised.

Wish me femur damage!

TCFW Props Workshop 1

How To Make Alien Insect Goggles

You will need:

  • 2x cheap white plastic tea strainers
  • white fabric elastic
  • craft knife
  • scissors
  • sticky plasters and up-to-date tetanus innoculation
  • antibacterial cleaning materials
  • metal skewer
  • open flame, like a gas hob
  • oven glove


  1. With the craft knife, cut off the parts of the tea strainers that rest on the edge of your teacup. Also cut off the handle. Clean up edges of plastic.
  2. After removing the blade of the knife from the end of your thumb, suck thumb while swearing muffledly, and pace up and down the kitchen, until bleeding slows to a slow trickle.
  3. Apply sticking plaster to wound.
  4. Clean up pools of blood using cleaning materials.
  5. Holding skewer with oven glove, heat skewer in open flame until hot enough.
  6. With skewer, melt a hole in the side of one of the tea strainers, as near to the rim as possible. Melt another hole in the opposite side. Repeat with other strainer, reheating skewer as necessary.
  7. Thread short piece of elastic through a hole in one strainer, and a hole in other strainer. This will be the nose-piece. Tie and trim elastic accordingly with scissors.
  8. Thread longer piece of elastic through the remaining two holes. This will stretch round the back of the head, like swimming goggles. Tie and trim elastic accordingly with scissors.
  9. Your alien insect goggles are now complete.

Watch out for more prop-making tips in the coming days. For the finished article, come and see They Came From Woking at the Colour House Theatre. Details below.

Official group website / Facebook event / Map to venue

They Came From Woking / Scriptless Wonder 2007

Gawd help me, here I go again! This time it’s a double bill – They Came From Woking is a new play by my good friend Kristen, about a UFO-obsessed nerd who learns that his planet is being invaded, and in the meantime learns a few things about life as well…

And then it’s a reprise of last years Times-recommended improvisation gameshow – Scriptless Wonder!

Item! There’s only 4 weeks to go, and I’m papping myself! Thanks!

Official group website / Facebook event / Map to venue

Oppenheimers Deadly Toy

So I woke up suddenly at 4am today, in a cold sweat, becuase I had been dreaming there had been a nuclear war, and I was living in the grisly aftermath. I didn’t eat cheese before bed, I hadn’t been watching anything like ‘Threads’ or ‘The War Game’. So what the hell is going on?

It was really nasty. People were dying all around, no food, nuclear winter. The Theists had risen and were taking the piss, basically – even more than usual. It was a really bad scene. I can’t remember much about the details of it, but I remember wishing that I had been outside when the missiles hit – “One flash of light, and we’re vapourised” to paraquote Professor Falken.

The only thing I can think of is that I was reading ‘A Short History Of Nearly Everything’ by Bill Bryson – specifically the chapter about the discovery of our friend the atom. I got as far as E=mcc before going to sleep, and as you know that shows how much encapsulated energy there is in everything. But why would my mind decide to freak me out by showing me these terrible things? It’s a bastard, that’s why.

Is it trying to say that I need to get my life moving, because Armageddon is round the corner? Well, excuse me, I thought going to live in Los Angeles as soon as I can was pretty proactive – I see now I shall have to try harder.

LA Story 9 – Monday 2 April – Cafe Culture

More ancient notes from the Moleskine…this must be it by now…


After a short morning visit to the dog park, we went for some breakfast at a café next to the musical conservatoire owned by Chilli Pepper Flea. Through the windows we could see lots of aspiring cellists and clarinetists jumping around in their pants, or with socks on their c0cks.

I must say the café culture works better here – wider streets, fewer pedestrians, and of course more sun. I’m not saying that fewer peds is a good thing, mind you, but the whole thing hangs together pretty well. Silver Lake is pretty cool. Arty and relaxed.

I’m told that you can pretend you know anyone in West Hollywood by going up to them and asking, “So, how’s your agent?” The person will instantly assume you know something about the trouble they’ve had with their agent, and will launch into a revealing conversation, because they can’t remember if they know you or not. In Silver Lake it’s different – you go up to people and ask, “So, how’s the band?” and they will instantly assume you know something about the trouble they’ve had with their bass player. A$$hole can’t play for sh1t.

Then in the afternoon it was time to exercise the raw buying power of the Pound Sterling by going to a mall and doing some shopping. So Cassie took me to her old stomping ground, the Glendale Gonorrhea. Two things. Cassie didn’t really hang around the mall – she’s way too cool for that. And it’s actually the Glendale Galleria – what I said before was an old LA joke! Hee!

On the way home I had the only drive-thru burger I ate in LA – an In-n-Out Double Double. Double burger, double cheese. Delicious, fattening, and Christian – the company is a family firm based on Bible values. Flamed-grilled over a burning bush, perhaps.

Conrad Veidt and Cold School Mornings

When I was growing up, and going to school on cold Autumn mornings, my Mum used to listen to Terry Wogan on Radio 2 in the kitchen – it wasn’t a hip ‘n’ trendy household. I used to trudge downstairs despondently, eat my Ready Brek in the hope that the red glow that the advertisers falsely claimed it gave you would protect me from the bullies for a day, and then head out into the mist in my navy blue parka.

Wogan’s voice was comforting in those days. It wasn’t yet the chilling voice of reactionary Middle England, complaining about seeing empty bus lanes through a BBC-chauffeured car window, and he wasn’t yet the national treasure famous for xenophobic Eurovision barbs. He was a charming uncle, who would send us all on our way with a nice slice of easy listening. ‘Baker Street’ perhaps, or ‘Arthur’s Theme’.

One particularly cold winter in 1980, Wogan got a request to play a recording of German film star Conrad Veidt performing a song from his 1933 film ‘F.P.1 Doesn’t Answer’. I say ‘performing’, because while he was a great voice actor, he couldn’t sing, choosing instead to speak the words, sometimes with unfortunate mispronunciation. Rather like Rex Harrison. The song grabbed my attention then, with it’s reedy musical accompaniment, so evocative of gramohones and the 1930s, and it kind of stayed with me ever since, in the dusty cupboard of memories. I’m glad that thanks to the internet, I’m able to find a music file of the recording, and the lyrics. Luckily it’s in RealAudio format, which gives the same quality as a wind-up gramophone, so it’s just as evocative.

While looking around for information about Veidt, I was alarmed to find this picture of him playing ‘The Man Who Laughed’, a character that went on to be part of the inspiration for Batman’s enemy, The Joker. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been as comforting to think of this thing singing about a lonely cottage by the sea. With no telephone.

Sorrento Travelogue 2 – Pompeii and Herculaneum and Rain

This is getting ridiculous, I know, but these entries have been hanging around in my email for ages. Finally I present the second part of the Sorrento Travelogue…

Saturday was a nice lazy day, breakfast, strolls, lunch by the beach, walking up the cliff because we missed the last lift, resting, naps, dinner and bed.

Sunday was not a lazy day. We had booked a package holiday tourist excursion, and so had to meet a coach at 0815. The day had been laid out in front of us, consisting of a visit to and tour of Herculaneum, buried by 20 metres of volcanic mud in 79 AD, and still being excavated. Sadly, the rain persisted pretty much for the whole day, varying only in intensity. But the tour of Herculaneum was fascinating, because so much had been preserved, more so than in Pompeii. Friezes and paintings on the walls, some parts of furniture, and so on. The radio earpiece tour was informative, and gave an idea of daily life, and how similar it was to modern life in many ways, from snack bars to shoe shops. Then sadly the package tour syndrome set in & we were herded back on the coach.

Lunch was provided, & was a quick pizza, can of pop and a plastic tub of Mr Whippy – a far cry from the 70+ flavours of gelato we’d been trying in Sorrento. I was reminded of the Monty Python sketch with Eric Idle going off on one about package tours, with “bleedin’ Watney’s Red Barrel”. The two racist ladies we shared a table with were funny. Then it was off into the ruins of Pompeii. They’re more extensive that Herculaneum, with more open squares, columns and the like, but less was preserved, because it was higher up, more exposed, and buried in scalding ash, rather than mud. There were a couple of the famous plaster casts of the victims, but most were on tour in Canada. First class seats no doubt.

I was keen to see Pompeii, because of Spike Milligan’s description in his war diaries, during his time stationed in Salerno. He took a couple of his less well educated pals along, and they were taken with the Lupinarium, or brothel, with its tiny booths, with stone beds for the transactions to take place.

But, the day was rather ruined by the increasingly heavy rain. Despite our fetching disposable macs (effectively bin bags, blue for me, yellow for Mairi), we were glad to get back to the coach, and back in the hotel for a much needed rest for our poor weary, soggy feet.

Monday was a nice lazy day in comparison. Late breakfast, late stroll to the town to collect bread, cheese, salami etc for a late picnic lunch then we took the lift down through the cliff to the hotels beach. This was surrounded by piers with deck chairs and loungers, and beach huts for hire. It was pretty quiet, the season coming to an end as it was, so we took our pick of the loungers.

The sun was just peeking round the top of the cliff, and it was very warm, but when Mairi and I took a swim it was a shock how cold it was. But with baby steps, we made it out to chest depth, then took the plunge. Mairi was much more intrepid than I was, it has to be said. We swam out to the pier, soaked up some rays, and watched the little fish dart in and out of the lava blocks that made up the pier foundations, and also our toes.

After a good swim in the salty Med, we needed to rest on the veranda with a drink, nap, dinner, bed.