I thought moving to London would be a piece of cake, and it was at first. Though I should have seen the signs when I was packing away my gear into a van in Manchester. My
friend Jason, stood on the lip of the back of the van got his feet tangled up. Concentrating on untangling his feet stopped him concentrating on putting his hands up as he fell out. He landed head first on the concrete kerb. It is the most frightening thing I have ever seen. The sound is still in my head. A solid deep sound. He lost a tooth and immediately started shaking -he was having an internal fit. And then he went still as if dead: his eyes wide open, his glasses smashed. “Jason, Jason”.
He could not speak. he did not know who I was. He did not know his own name. Blood spat from his mouth, colour drained from his skin. I called an ambulance. In shock myself. He fell like a tree and his head took all the impact. He was hospitalized for two days. His parents travel led up from surrey and two or three days later I travel led to London where my GF was waiting in our new apartment
They say that moving home is second in the trauma stakes to a death in the family. Having never had a family, it is evidently first. Michael Begley. He’s an actor and always full of an artists energy. I have known him and his wife Sally for quite a few years now. We met in covent garden a couple of months ago. I was absolutely depressed and my head was full of distortion. I had been here, in London, for four months and the after-shock had hit me full on. It was relentless – on a tightrope between skyscrapers, a panic attack and couldn’t stop the thought rushing through my head “I can’t do this. I have made a big big mistake”.
I have performed in every continent in the world, every city in England, all over UK most of Europe and my home in Manchester has always been a place I stop off in-between. I know the cafes and the beggars who sit outside of the cafes. I know the theatres and the renegade artists. I know the academics and the anarchists. I know Manchester
and Manchester knows me. No wonder the move hit difficulties.
Fortunately I am getting over it, this move, and starting to settle. Michael called. He is in a play in Chichester. His play is by David Hare, a brilliant playwright “Sir Ian McKellen came to the show and he came up to me afterwards and said he loved what I did”. Sir Ian of
X Men fame I have met a couple of times: once when he introduced me onto stage at The Mermaid Theatre in London ( you can hear it on my web page under recordings) and once at The Royal Exchange in Manchester when he was acting as a guest in Coronation Street. It was at The Royal Exchange Theatre that he said the exact same thing to another actor friend of mine called Carla. David Hare I met at Shakespeare’s Globe
Theatre in London as part of a Human Rights Watch Performance. It miffed me that when Michael mentioned me to David Hare he couldn’t remember having met me. Bugger! My ego is dented. But it needs a good denting every now and then.
One thing you see as a poet and writer is other people getting famous. It’s a fascinating sport. July called on the same day. July Ellis is an actor who lived in Manchester and
who now lives in London. she moved around the same time I did. She is a great person, like Michael, a hard working actor. She has just received the news that she is to co-star in ken Loach’s next film. This is incredible news. July played in Storm, my own play at Contact theatre in 2003 and we have remained friends ever since. Ken Loach won the Cannes Prize for Best film on his last film. I think he may have won an Oscar too. He is at the height of his game. For July to co-star in his next film is BRILLIANT news
And thank god I spoke to the Brilliant Flim maker, Producer and Friend Paul Sapin. I
think of him and his wife Kate as older and wiser brother and sister. They have no idea that I have appropriated them in this way. They have no choice, it’s my thing. Paul has been away in Iran for three months, filming with ex-BBC star reporter Rageh Omar. I am glad Paul is back safe and well. I told Paul about my panic having moved to London. “well” he says in his agreeable US/Euro voice “you know when you moved and we met in Camden I thought that you might pass through the honeymoon period and hit the wall”. This is exactly what happened but it was warming to think that someone was thinking of me in such a considered way. London is a beautiful city. Being writer in residence throughout 2007, at The South Bank under the leadership of Jude Kelly is just about the best introduction that a working poet could ever ever have to what is one of the greatest cities in the world.
Back in Manchester while writing this my best friend Mark Atwood has just had a daughter Daisy Louise Atwood born 9.22am 15th September.