My girlfriend and I spent Easter with her parents down in Woking, Surrey. It's quite posh down there. They get out of the bath to have a piss and everything. All the houses have names instead of numbers, and it must be a pain in the arse being a postman, having to remember which house is 'Acacia Lodge' or 'Riverside Manor' and totally bollocksing it up and delivering it to 'Clearview' instead. (If I could name my house, I'd call it something like 'Buggeroff' or 'Dunsodomisin', just to piss my neighbours off.)
Anyway, Woking is a nice place to visit. It was the birthplace of H.G. Wells, and they have a theatre there named after him, and about a hundred yards up the road from it is a cool statue of a tripod from War Of The Worlds and it's the kind of thing I wish we had more of up here in Birmingham. I mean, this is the place John Ronald Reuel Tolkien grew up, and do we have a statue of Gandalf? Do we buggery. Birmingham City Council seriously dropped a bollock in not aggressively advertising the city's links with Tolkien when the Lord Of The Rings movies were being released. New Zealand got all our tourists! What we do have is a statue of Tony Hancock, (who buggered off to Bournemouth when he was three) and some lame 'walk of fame' paving slabs on Broad Street which have 'Ozzy Osbourne', 'Jasper Carrott' and 'Noddy Holder' embossed on them and are frequently cordoned off because they become dangerously slippy when it rains. And it rains a lot here in Brum. (In fact,as I write, a big fucking thunderclap has just gone off above me, scaring the shit out of me, and now hailstones are raining down on us poor Brummies. It looks like Lenny Henry's paving stone is going to be cordoned off tomorrow.)
Anyway, back to Woking. If the tripod statue isn't weird enough, just up the road from that is a big silver-coloured fighter jet on a big pole as a piece of public art. I don't know why it's there or the significance of it, but it looks cool.
While I'm on the subject of public art, while we were there, we visited The Lightbox, a very smart art gallery where we looked at sculptures and where we also looked at an exhibition on the history of Woking, which told me stuff I already knew (Woking had the first Mosque in the U.K., I only knew that because it happened to be on the last The One Show I actually watched; Paul Weller and the MacLaren Formula One team is from there, too) and lots of stuff I didn't (Status Quo are from there! Woking's cemetery is the largest in Britain and the whole town was in fact intended to be, at one time, just one big graveyard to bury London's dead.) and generally, the Lightbox is a really nice place to go and spend some time.
Another thing I learned is that my girlfriend's parents are actually ninjas. There one minute, gone the next. We went on a drive around Surrey, stopping at points of interest, such as Guildford, which has a castle keep and the cathedral where they filmed The Omen, and all through the day, there were times when one of them (they were both dressed in black, as well) would just disappear into thin air. On the surface, they don't seem to be that nimble or agile, but it's just an act. Say the wrong thing, and the Sai would come out, quick as a flash, and pierce your neck. I'm only joking, of course, they're lovely people (I have to say that, I've got a sai up against my throat) but we did spend quite a lot of time looking for Heather's Mom or Dad at various points of the weekend.
That said, we had a lovely time down south. We had a posh Chinese meal and a lovely Easter breakfast which, because my girlfriend's parents are American, consisted of lots of pancakes, butter, maple syrup and bacon. Not very good for the arteries but it sure does taste good. We also spent a night drinking and playing 'Risk' with some of Heather's closest friends. I'm not a big fan of board games, but this was a good night because the Mick-Heather Axis managed to take over the world and win the game. Also that night, I discovered I knew quite a lot about Eighties pop music. It's frightening what useless facts are stored up in my noggin. Like I said, I don't really enjoy board games (I'm not really a competitive type of guy, I'm more of a 'let the wookiee win' person) but my girlfriend does, and it's nice for her to spend time with her friends and family, especially since she moved a hundred miles north because of some scruffy Brummie bloke.
I also had a week off work to spend some time with my daughters during the school holidays, but the time off was blighted by two factors: One, the weather was truly dreadful; torrential rain for three whole days, and when it got better factor number two kicked in: Stomach bug.
I spent two whole days pooing and spewing which wasn't very nice at all, and meant that me and my daughters were stuck indoors for most of their time here with me. Oh well, they had chocolate to munch on.
Heather and I went to see ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, a rock band that I really love (and I heartily recommend their new album The Century Of Self, it's excellent. Don't be put off by the band's name, they're not as horrible as they sound. Slayer, however, are.) and it was an excellent gig in a shitty small venue that stunk like the inside of a Chelmsley Wood postman's shoe after giro day, and one of the support bands Middle Class Rut, were also very good. It was a good night, spoiled by the fact that after we got home, my stomach bug (thought defeated) returned with a vengeance, possibly aggravated by either the horrible burger I'd eaten or the horrible beer I'd drunk, and I spent the rest of that night violently spewing my ring up. Not good. Don't worry, though, I'm fighting fit again now. Well, as fighting fit as I can be!
On the art front, there's not that much to report, really. I had an interesting email from a film director who wanted me to submit some art to him as he was looking for a storyboard artist for an interesting sounding Anglo-Italian horror movie. He'd emailed a few people, but he did sound very enthusiastic about the stuff of mine he'd seen. He sent me a brief consisting of images they'd like to see a picture of, so I picked the one about the antangonist of the movie hunting at night, drew it in a surprisingly quick time and sent it to him. Below is the drawing I did (click on it for a larger version):
The director liked it a lot. He warned me that there wasn't much money involved (it's a very low-budget movie) but I might get to go to Sicily, where they're going to shoot it. He asked for my phone number. I was feeling quite confident about getting the gig, but in the end, I didn't. Oh well. At least I got a cool picture for my portfolio out of it, even if I say so myself. (Note the sky; on the original, it's done with an ink wash, but my scanner decided to tipp-ex out big chunks of it. I kinda like the effect.) You win some, you lose some.
I also went to a play at my eldest daughter's school. My daughter wasn't in it, but a lot of her friends were, so we went, despite my general dislike of these things, as school plays are nearly always rubbish. Maybe my views on these things are coloured by my own experiences in school plays. I think my last major role was as 'J.R.' who was a cowboy in my primary school's version of Cinderella. I know, there isn't normally a cowboy in Cinderella. I like to think they created the role especially for me, because they saw a rugged John Wayne quality in me. Actually, they probably thought I was more of a Gabby Hayes type. I remember my dad watching it through the window because he didn't want to pay and watch it, the tight bastard. I had this really long monologue about my character's lineage, and I remember being absolutely petrified. I've been scared of public speaking ever since.
Anyway, if the play we went to the other night is anything to go by, school plays have changed a lot since the days when I went to school. It was set in a hospital, and it was a portmanteau involving lots of different playlets about visiting times. Some of it was comedy, and some of it was dramatic. Some of it was very inappropriate indeed for a school play. There was one scene where a visiting wife was struggling to get the top off a thermos flask for her severely injured husband and saying 'Oh, this is hard', when a nurse comes in and thinks, because of the angle she's looking at it from that the wife's giving her husband a blowjob and runs out all embarrassed. This is a SCHOOL play! Bloody hell!
Besides this, it was fairly enjoyable. Some of it was dull and boring, and some of the acting was shit, but mostly the performances were excellent, and I enjoyed it despite myself. If only it'd been shorter.
Anyway, I think you're all up to date now. I can tell you're all impressed about my exciting lifestyle. I'm off to put the binbags out now. Will all this excitement never end?