In the beginning I knew I wanted to make something.
Something to share.
I love sharing.
It is not a love of performng,
Or a need to perform well,
It is a love of sharing.
I have problems with sharing.
I tend to “over share”,
This, I think is explained from the point of view of someone
needing to fit in to an established group on a semi regular basis.
Or not so often, but at key moments in my growing up.
I was friends with Christopher Nixon. We did everything together at school. We dressed the same. We liked the same things. We played together on the weekends. If he had a leather bracelet with metal studs: I did. If I had a toxic green and black t-shirt with a skeleton on the front: he did. It had nothing to do with the large C&A in town offering cheap kids clothes; it was because we were subconsciously in tune. We played formula 1 in the play ground - he was Senna, I was Mansell. We both kissed Chloe, with chris pushing my head in for the kiss; or was it me pushing his head in? We got caught showing each other our willies in the toilets by Mrs Smith.
We were friends.
And there was no proving it.
There was no fitting in.
At the end of year three dad got a job as a head teacher in a place called Taunton.
Taunton is in the south west, Somerset. We lived in Ely, Cambridgeshire.
1992 was when I said goodbye to Chris.
1992 was when I got put on a table with Lloyd and Nathan.
They spent most of the day laughing at me. So I asked them why they were, they didn’t know.
They were nine. We became friends. Nathan and I did work experience together six years later.
At the end of the day Mr Robinson gave us some homework: to write two lines about our summer holiday. I went up to him when we were all leaving and said: “don’t expect much from me”.
He ignored me.
Or rather he chose not to respond to me.
Instead, he called my parents, and then put me on a reading and writing programme.
I learnt how to read and write.
(I haven’t mentioned - I was bullied by Mrs Smith in year 1 and stopped learning how to read and write, I stopped talking mostly).
Mr Robinson was ace.
But I found it hard to fit in.
As my confidence grew with reading, especially out loud, I discovered confidence in my imagination, and sharing my imagination. Mr Robinson’s year 4 class was a breading ground of imagination: the solar system was stretched out on the playing field, moonscapes were made with clay, as were greek masks. Jupiters storm spot was discovered through spreading ink in water. We all had tie-dye t-shirts. Jokes were learned. And I was in the school play. I was loud. LOOK AT ME. I couldn’t play football, so colin and I ran on to the pitch as greek gods. I told stories by creating worlds in the playground. I had a girlfriend, Sarah - although we mostly avoided each other through embarrassment. She once said she would leave me for Robbie Williams. I think at the time I felt that was fair.
Year five and six were Mrs Townsend. Drama drama drama. Brilliant. Drama club. Brilliant.
And then: moving to secondary school. Had a look at them all, and the best one was the one dad was the head teacher of.
Suddenly I was no longer the loud quirky fun, difficult kid.
I was the son of mr jones.
No longer part of a group, I had to jump in on conversations, learn how to be on the periphery of a group. When the group went back to class I had no idea where we would meet up again.
I lost a language.
I no longer knew how to be relaxed with someone,
like with chris nixon.
I called him up. Mum had his number. It was shit. I told him I liked radiohead. He said he hated them. We spoke for five minutes and then he said bye and hung up.
I lost a language.
All I seemed to know was:
Get in a group, make them laugh, when that stops find another group.
Then I learned how to rollerblade.
Got given some for my birthday.
I went skating every day and then Jason (mum and dad didn’t like Jason - he smoked, he got me to have a go. I was thirteen) said he was hanging out at Hamilton skate park with Liam. I went. I was good. We barely spoke. We just skated. Told each other to do stuff, like:
“How far can you jump?”
“I bet you couldn’t jump over that”
“Try a three sixty”
I liked it. I went every day. Jason Leigh stopped. But I carried on, and met Jon and Julien. We skated every day.
We never really liked each other.
No, that's a lie.
We did. We liked skating and we liked each other. Jon once puked on my parents sofa. We all went to different schools, but that didn’t matter. And I didn’t have to prove myself. I didn’t need to entertain them.
I could just skate.
I did my GCSE’s. Did well. It was a slog. Really hard. Answered the wrong questions. Had to get a maths tutor. But I did well.
Dad got another job.
So did mum.
Just when I had made some mates and felt good - unpressured.
It's not their fault, and I wasn't angry. I'm not angry.
It just helps explain things.
I went to Exeter FE college. Did a Btec in performing arts. Started again. No-one liked skating. Everyone knew each other from school.
I lost my language again.
This is all run-of-the-mill stuff, right? Champagne troubles. First world problems.
It kept happening: NYT, Drama school, now acting work.
I have learnt the language of making friends quick, letting them know everything about me - share share share, never really learning about them, reaching the end of the job, bailing out starting again.
I am paranoid no-one likes me.
My friend says - “what are you talking about, you’re always the centre of attention, everyones looking at you”.
“yeah - it’s exhausting”.
But I also like it.
I do like sharing.
It is something I’m good at.
But now it is my job, and I love it.
Of course you get over these paranoias, these things. I am married, so clearly I did learn about someone and learnt a language with them.
But the sharing has stuck.
So I knew I wanted to share something.
Or not a story.
Something about my angle on the world.
So I looked about. I looked at my family. At my friends. And started thinking.
For about ten years.
And then jenni showed me a film. Or rather a trailer… A happy man by Jonas Mekas.
I always remember wanting to be like someone else.
My drama teacher,
I also wanted to beat them. to win.
“Read this, Simon. It’s the secret race by Tyler Hamilton. It's about doping in cycling.”
How blood is manipulated.