Place holder…

Now the story is complete in my understanding… for nine months Er Tao has smiled at me and called me Dâcher, which means teacher, tolerated my poor sense of humour and my kack handed attempts to communicate.
But now he shows his metal and it’s stronger than mine.

Meat…

My friend, Stu Jenks will enjoy this…

Fresh made rolls, a rare rib, roasties, ratatouille & vin rouge.

best

best

Thank you Stage Entertainment for the employment and the opportunity to experience.

Surrounded

Overwhelmed

Rock & Roll…

Nine hours on a bus… this is Rock & Roll.
For the thousands, tens of thousands who come to see each week, the mystery is maintained. Our reality, is passing over ground rock, trapped in tar macadam & rolling to the motion of traffic… sometimes at an even 90k/hr, sometimes at a jerky 5k/hr – now, crossing again through France, passing names familiar from history lessons and last week… Norman, Plantagenet, Republic, Napoleonic and 20th C.
Often war dominates history, but look beyond the sweep and you’ll find the names of people affected, give them a chance and they will be warm, effusive, even to the point – and this is difficult if you’re English, happy if you’re Welsh – of touching you.

No buts…

Monday 10-7=9
Tuesday 10-6=8
Wednesday off… did art with Alice!

The place, the space & the grace

The place, the space & the grace

Thursday 12:30-7:30=7
Friday 12:30-1:00=12.5
Saturday 12-1:30=13.5
Sunday 10-8=10

Total 60hrs, 20 of which are unpaid

Boxed and ready to go

Boxed and ready to go

Next stop… our finale in Lyon.

Lille hotel…

No pictures available.

With paper thin walls, that permitted the bodily functions of all surrounding parties to be gloriously revealed to me, and mine to them (which was probably more unpleasant), its opening to the gypsy camp that gave the bemused Chinese a first hand experience of what the civilised world holds… petty larceny and squalor, and the three motorway, six track walk to the venue, where life and limb are threatened… this shit of a place gets the prize, for worst hotel of the tour, maybe not from all, but they didn’t stay here.

3SD Lille…

The platforms keep confounding us.
The backstage is causing injury.
The permanent crew is exhausted.
But the applause is great and the kids who’ve come to have their picture taken with ‘The Animals’, simply beam.

Here's one excited child.

Here’s one excited child.

Valuable contribution…

I had my evaluation today.

It took more than fifteen minutes.

It took more than fifteen minutes.

For the first time in forty years I sat on the other side of the desk and was told how my actions, attitude and work ethic were perceived by these representatives of the company.
Happy to report that they considered that I’d done quite well and could go far.

This was notably better than the last one… received age 14, “Could do better”, the teacher scribbled in my school report, “…but if William applies himself, I can see a future for him down the mine.” This was 1972, by 1979 (when I was leaving Nantyglo Comprehensive school & starting at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama) the nationalised mining industry was being systematically dismantled with the mining communities left bereft as a result… and those of my schoolmates who had taken that career advice were facing a life without the work for which they’d given up their hopes and dreams… A generation lost.

A museum to my prospects.

‘Big Pit’ Blaenavon, a museum to my prospects.

The only winding wheel to pit head in operation now is for tourists, who wonder what it must have been like for those generations of men, stripped to the waist, cutting black gold from a seam, a mile closer to the heat of the Earth’s mantle.

We are scattered…

How the world in turning, laughs at us.

One moment we were together for every minute minute, now we are elsewhere and not altogether through choice.

An image to hold onto.

An image to hold onto.

The other worldly girl, is about to break into this world, the small smiling boy has grown huge, is in Tennessee and about to leave for Namibia and university, the one who will not be conquered is smitten by ponies. The older ones who have watched their progress in awe and who should know better, are finding it difficult to let-go, but let-go they must.

Still aboard the bus…

Six more hours till the next inadequate hotel… but enough, the pattern is established and requires no further description here.

Instead two moments of idiocy began this days otherwise boring travel.

The hotel where we had our stop-over, didn’t seem to want us there and we were separated from the rest of the guests… untouchables who deserved a lesser level of service and care… I’d heard that Holiday On Ice has some unpleasant historical baggage and this establishment was taking no chances.
I go for breakfast at 9:15, bus is at 10:00, should be plenty of time, ‘aim for a small prepared table overlooking the lawn… the first grass I’ve seen in a month, the cherry trees are in blossom, there’s no sound of car alarms, no street arguments, no rank smell of uncollected refuse. I make to sit, “You can only sit in that area”, says the restaurant supervisor, pointing beyond the screen, “But there are no clear places there?”, “This area is for our other guests.” and she shoo’s me like some animal that’s become parted from its herd. She shouldn’t have done that.
What happens next will not have helped Holiday on Ice’s reputation, but it got me applause from my cast and crew mates.
I ended up not getting a good breakfast, but I did achieve a sense of satisfaction.

And in the carpark… more prejudice:
Our busses are filling in the tight parking lot… a taxi has pulled up, is completely blocking the road, door wide open and its driver is being abusive to our drivers, for being in the way. I come upon the scene at the point where his English has turned Saxon, his face red and his hands are windmilling in full Gaulic bravado.
looking… it seemed to me that he could easily negotiate around, but instead stands demanding that the loading stop, that the busses reverse along with luggage trailer, so that he – could more efficiently pick up his fare.
Our drivers are very good, accomadating, patient (they need to be) but this arsehole’s demand is ludicrous. The move that would disrupt seventy and take fifteen minutes, would take him seconds… he could already have done it and been away with the fare, who was looking increasing as though she didn’t want to take this taxi.

So, fresh from the breakfast scene and quite prepared, I step too close to be ignored… his bravado checks, but he’s in a rhythm, that’s hard to stop… more invective, becoming quite personal infact, with references to our mothers, learnt from Hollywood, littering his spittle encrusted jibes. This draws some of the crew, who stand (also too close) listening, looking down at this snapping terrier… doesn’t he realise he’s fucked?
Time to conclude this, I step past him and take a quick snap of the driver identity badge in his taxi’s windscreen, congratulate him on his colourful command of English and check that the pic has appropriate details. He blusters, but next would be a moment of no going back… the faces looking at him are too calm. He turns arms still flying are gets hurriedly into his car, slams the door reverses at speed, nearly running into the queue that’s built up behind.

Why so angry man?

Why so angry man?

His fare’s lost, so is his dignity… he should learn to govern himself and could do no better than to read the 15th century French essayist Michel de Montaigne who wrote, “The souls of emperors and cobblers are cast in the same mold…The same reason that makes us wrangle with a neighbour creates a war betwixt princes.”

On the bus…

Ten till eight in a formed plastic seat, on a bus heading north… our destination Lille.
This time next week, I’ll be in the same seat, for about the same amount of time heading south… back to Lyon.

I had planned to use the time productively, but instead fall into a morass, the result of having again performed for 20,000 with delinquent platforms… a numbness brought on by that combination of tiredness, adrenal stress and crap hotels, I’m now well familiar with.

So, I look out of the bus window, nodding in time to the rhythm of road and machine, watching the passing motorway verges built to contain, the intersections where cars leave and join, towns seen for a moment and then gone, fields and rivers where I’d like to stop a while… I have lost all sense, and to anyone looking at the bus… they might notice the old man, with loose jaw and dull eyes, but then again, they might not.

Marseille Boulabaisse…

In the old port of Marseilles, at the famous restaurant,”Mirimar”

Taxi to the place, instantly guided to my table, past the queue, .

Sit overlooking the harbour, in sight of Fort St Nicholas and Notre Dam de la Garde.

Age old...

Age old…

I am in the care of master chef, Christian Buffa, who visits all of his guests… he shakes my hand in welcome, then oversees his kitchen, where is prepared for me, Rascasse (scorpion fish), Lotte (monkfish), Rouge Grondin (red gurnard), St Pierre (john dory), Vive (weever), Congre (eel), Mussels, Etrille velvet crab, in traditional and exquisite Provençal broth.

My journey here has been long and is of importance.
So after 50years (and that’s just my lifetime… what about my dad’s?).
40million invested in the show that brings me (some of it mine).
20,000 audience this weekend alone (they were very loud).
19,000 kilometers on a bus (1000 of them tomorrow)
200 Kilos (and yes it hurts)
And more than I’ve earnt for my eight hours of work today.

I raise my glass & fork to family & friends, and thank them for getting me here.

A bounty of the sea.

A bounty of the sea.

Here’s the recipe from Christian:

– 4 weevers
– 2 dories
– 4 gurnards
– 1 anglerfish
– 2 capons
– 1 eel
– kilos of rockfish soup
– salt, pepper, onions, garlic, saffron, olive oil, sticks and grains of fennel, parsley, potatoes, tomatoes and 2 glasses of Pastis.

Thin slice the onions, crush the garlic and brown all in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Cut the 3 tomatoes in pieces. Add a tablespoon of tomato purée, the pieces of tomatoes, the dried fennel and 2 doses of saffron. Add the 2 kilos of rockfish and fill up with water (up to 4 cms over the fish). Add salt and pepper and cook for 20 minutes.
Blend the fish soup, seep it through and cook for an extra 10 minutes.

1. Peel and slice the potatoes (2 cms thick), to be added to the fish soup.
2. According to size, place the fish on top of the potatoes in the fish kettle. Lay it in decreasing order : gurnard, weever, dory, anglerfish, eel, capon. On option, you can add slipper lobsters or a spiny lobster .
3. Fill up the kettle with the left over soup, it needs to be well covered. Check the seasoning. Add the saffron, cook at high heat for 5 minutes then set to low and cook for 30 mns.
4. The spicy Provençal sauce « rouille » : whip up the sauce with 3 yokes as for an ailloli. Add the salt, crushed garlic, then drizzle with olive oil and add the saffron.
5. Slice the bread in croutons (1 cm thick) , rub with garlic and soak in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Put them in the oven (220°C). Then spread them with a tablespoon of Rouille. Serve the soup, topped with the croutons, in small tureens.
6. Serve the fish separately.
7. The secret of the chef : Before serving, pour a good dose of pastis in the broil and whisk.
8. Serve in the presentation tureen.

And his autograph…
IMG_3289 - Version 2

3SD…

No day off for me this week again, and today’s twelve hour marathon, six of which are spent grunting and sweating, take a toll… but I find, that this state of exhaustion is not only affecting me, everyone involved is simply knackered by the end, but too wired for sleep… good job that Artur & Mirjam have the fridge well stocked. Despite the less than salubrious surroundings, the mistral blowing through and the ever present smell of rat urine, much chatter and quaffing helps ease our tired bones towards bed.

Plastic sheeting doesn't keep out the wind or the infamous Marseille rats.

Plastic sheeting doesn’t keep out the wind or the infamous Marseille rats.

Satisfied…

Life's too short to try everything.

Life’s too short to try everything.

Eve (Jeanine) suggested the glazed almond flan with raspberry base.
Who was I to refuse?
Coffee she made, specially for me, (this is my fourth visit) experienced hands, worked nobs and levers, squeezing all of the dark nectar out… delinquent pods gave up their magic aromas so that even before I’d tasted, I had experienced.
Your thinking is right, the fork pushed into the fresh made flan, it yielded beneath the soft curved tines… ‘get the picture?

Food pornography.

Food pornography.