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Saturday 24th May 2014


So the writing of the play begins in earnest. Not of course until I had recorded the audio Warming Ups that I was behind on. The Robot Voice character seems to be taking over somewhat. It was created by Terry my producer (you won't know who he is, but he works hard editing out all my many mistakes from these podcasts) to save me time in reading out the date and title of the podcast, but it seems to have taken on a life of its own. It's embarrassing that this computer programme has got ideas above its station, but luckily none of you will ever hear the binary madness. Terry has not only edited out the strange madness, but promised to destroy the tapes. He is a good guy. A Robot Voice twitter account has appeared from somewhere (@RobotVoice1) but I can't imagine it's real. Unless the Robot voice software somehow has gained the ability to access the internet. Terry is too busy to set up an email account and a Twitter feed just for such a weak joke. He's probably nearly as tied up with other work as I am and so why would he waste his time on something as niche, pathetic and mad as that.

But eventually I was up in my office, making notes about the characters and putting up index cards with potential plot points and themes on my cork board above my desk. I am still overwhelmed by the task in hand, but hoping blind fear will push me onwards. The whole thing made me exhausted. I had a bath and then lay on my bed and fell asleep. It's been a pretty full on 2014 so far and I guess I should cut myself some slack. The DVD record did take a bit out of me.

The streets of Shepherd's Bush were full of jubilant QPR fans who had somehow chanced their way to promotion from the Championship with a last minute goal in the play-off final (alas it was at Wembley so I couldn't waste more valuable time commentating on the sounds from the ground). Luckily they were in a good mood though. Men (and the occasional woman) in hooped shirts strode up the pavements singing the name of players (I am guessing - they might have been random words) and other men (and women) shouted them back. Yet if you told these people that I played myself at snooker in a basement they would probably say I was crazy.

We went to the Bush Theatre to see Incognito, a play about the brain and memory, loosely based on the story of a man who had part of his brain removed to cure his seizures and the man who stole Einstein's brain. I enjoyed it on the whole, but when I am writing a play myself it's hard not to view any trip to the theatre as part of the research. What I found most interesting was the way that four actors successfully played multiple roles, which is something I am trying to do with "I Killed Rasputin". It's a very theatrical piece though and couldn't really work in any other medium. Personally I would rather see a play that concentrated on either of those two very fascinating stories than one that tried to interweave them together, but that's down to the logical way my brain likes stories to be told. I had heard a radio documentary about the Henry Molaison, whose hippocampus was sucked out of his brain by a surgeon with pretty horrific consequences for the man. It proved that short term memory was stored in this part of the head, but that's quite a disastrous decision for the individual. I didn't know about Einstein's brain being taken at his autopsy, but in a way I would have loved to hear more about that.

But the 90 minutes flew by and there was lots of interesting ideas to consider, not least the fact that our personalities are just a construct and that our own brains are fooling us into thinking we're in charge. It was clever stuff and I enjoyed it but I think my tiredness and the fact that I am getting a bit engrossed in my own idea meant that I was not the greatest audience member. My wife was annoyed by my sighing (which I wasn't aware of) and my fidgeting (I had a bottle of water which for some reason kept crinkling and crackling in my hand when I tried  to drink from it). If I'd been on stage I would have torn me a new arsehole. That's the problem with being in a play - you're not really allowed to step out of the story. I was engrossed though and not at all bored, so maybe sighing is how I express excitement or interest or at least emotional resonance.

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My new stand up show, Oh Frig I'm 50 is at on tour from February til June 2018. There's also a new series of RHLSTP with recordings every Monday from February 5th to April 2nd All details of shows here.
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