Producer / Director / Writer / Actor / Publisher / Musician / Improviser / Voiceover / Walking Chinbeard


Herein lies the musings and moanings of an insignificant human being.

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Friends Or Fiends...

Posted by Barnaby on January 25, 2016 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I have a perpetual problem of wanting to be liked. I may have spoke about it before. If I did, I hope I didn't offend you. You see? Can't help myself. This has caused, in the past, me to often become somewhat of an inveterate apologiser. Seriously. Some of the nasty crap that's been thrown at me by people who I've tried to help and support (and, in fact, *still* try to help and support - because I so desperately don't want anyone to dislike me) would have your ears falling off with stress and your eyes popping out in panic. I'm not a nasty person. I never have been. I lost a lot of friends when I was younger, simply because I was ill. You know those mates you still have in your circle, that you went to University and School with? Oh, I have them on Facebook. But, the majority of them buggered off when I was seriously unwell. So, I inherited my sister's friends - who were lovely and supportive. But, again, there is always a point where I go from being the epicentre of a group to being villified and attacked by someone over something I don't have any control over that I end up in shock and not wanting to defend myself, as I can't believe people would think what was being said was anything other than lies.


I don't get it. Genuinely.


If you look at my Facebook Wall, you'll see me spouting off about this event or that, about someone or some group to be liked, or a video to be watched, some music to listen to, a book to read, a vlog, a blog, a charity to donate to, or to highlight someone's venture. All of these are people who I call friends. Most of them, at some point, have been a tad rude to my face or behind my back.


As I said. I don't get it.


I live my life day-to-day. I'm lucky I can do anything creative. And when I do, I downplay it. I think most people assume everything I do is easy. I make it look easy. It isn't rocket science. But, this seems to cause jealousy and I desire to either use me as a stepping stone (to where, I've no idea - I'm not exactly more than one rung up any ladder) or take what I do and go away and copy it fairly obviously and then expect me to congratulate them on the thing they're doing that I was doing first. It's bizarre.


I like Facebook. I like keeping up with people's lives and I like having friends. Friends mean the world to me because I lost so many when I was seriously bed-ridden and expecting to snuff it on the hour, every hour, for months and months and months. But, it's occured to me that I try to hang on to friends. I didn't get why I'm excluded from groups or not asked to join creative projects or just basically ignored when I ask how they are. But, I do know. I trust people implicitly and I'm always shocked when they show their true colours.


I get it. It took a while. Probably a good twenty years.


I don't need friends to like me. I just need to like myself. I don't need friends to praise me. I just need to praise myself. I don't need friends to put me down. I just need to stick up for myself. I don't need to apologise for living my life. I just need to live it with the same ethos I always have. Love. Light. Peace.


I'll support you, if you're a friend. But, to my knowledge, in all the nastiness that's been thrown at me over the years by various people - and my amazement at other friends still thinking that's okay to do that - I don't think I did anything wrong. I certainly didn't do anything intentionally and I never understand why I'm the one attacked. I've been told it's because I don't fight back. I pacify. I try to see the good in people but then get hurt when they do it again or when friends I thought would stick up for me just ignore what's going on and become closer to the friend who's digging the knife in.


These are rare instances. I don't spend my life fighting these battles. But, you know, they are battles when they happen and they upset, stress and play on my mind for years and years. I don't ever get over them. I try to forgive but I never forget.


Basically, I'm trying to tell each and every one of you that I like you. If I'm your friend, I'll be interested in what you're doing, how you're doing and who you're doing it with. I'll support you and try to be there if you need me. I'll go above and beyond just because you've had the good grace to like me and want to be *my* friend.


However, from now on, I'm not going to build bridges that are burnt. I'm not going to forgive someone who speaks out of turn. I'm not intending to work with people who haven't supported me. It could mean a seriously reduced friendship group but perhaps it would be one that respects me a little more and doesn't think I'm a soft target?

Dead And Gone

Posted by Barnaby on August 31, 2014 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Life's a metronome, forever ticking on,

Who's going to remember you, when you're gone?

Oh sure, they'll be people paying respect,

Updating their status with a sad face text.

I think of my Dad, just a mere 64,

Not there to see my kids grow up anymore.

And when they have matured and grown,

He'll just be a fuzzy face in their memory and a marble gravestone.

And will my daughter's children even attempt to recall,

Or will that generation not care at all?

For once you're gone, and unless you have fame,

You'll start to fade from memory, along with your name.

Two generations down the line, maybe all you'll be,

Is a calligraphic footnote on a family tree.

So, life is short and it's tactlessly true,

To say that eventually you'll fade from view.

And they won't remember you.

And they won't remember you.

And they won't remember you.

Or me.

Off The Cuff

Posted by Barnaby on August 14, 2014 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Some of you may know that I set-up and ran a monthly improvisation show from 2007 to 2013, called 'OFF THE CUFF'. During the course of that show, we settled on a stock set of performers who became my regulars and were incredibly talented within the format of the show. All of them came from theatrical backgrounds, which helped immeasurably, and we formed quite a tight-knit group. However, I don't agree with 'rules' when it comes to improvisation. I like 'structure', which is entirely different. Structure comes from the format of the games you play - building the house that you play in - and the improvisers you choose to participate in those games (who you think work best together). Others loved the 'rules' of improv, which is how you're supposed to improvise *within* that structure; but there was never any animosity or criticising of each other. Talking without ego, the show worked really well. It was remarked on by audience members, by reviews, by staff at the venues, and by the various venue managers we were indebted to for giving us a home to perform. But, it became apparent, during the later stages that - without me there - the show would change its structure and people wanted to experiment. I'm all for that, if it works. Sadly, although it may have been different, it didn't work as well as it had been. I liked the show a certain way and felt very protective over what I'd created. I was more than happy to encourage others to do what they wanted in a show of their own, or a spin-off, but I wanted the structure of my show to stay the same. I'm forever supporting friends in whatever venture they'd like to achieve and, yet, the close-knit feel we had started to feel, for me anyway, that it was unravelling. I felt like it was more of a chore to keep us all together than let people go and do their own thing (which they've all done, highly successfully; I might add!). I've had a lot of feedback about the time I was directing the show from afar and not able to be in it, all of which telling me that - without my guiding hand - the show just wasn't as funny or focused, regardless of those performing it thinking they were changing things for the better. You'd think I'd be chuffed about that but I really wasn't. I didn't like the fact that the show was being twisted into something that it wasn't supposed to be because, and you can call this ego if you like, I knew what worked and was keeping the audiences coming. So, like a child, I lashed out and dropped a few performers before finally shutting down the show. I dealt with it oddly and I always regretted that. We had one last hurrah at a theatre in Cheltenham and I vowed that was the end, which was kind of upsetting. I was burnt out by the egos that had grown since the show had become a success. I'll be honest, I miss improvisation more than anything. It's the thing that gives me most pleasure in performance, bouncing off another person's imagination and going somewhere an ordinary written sketch never dares or thinks to go. So, I'm sure I'll do something in the future that lets me release my inner anarchist. Why am I saying all this? Well, I've just read an article about the late, great Robin Williams dropping into the Comic Strip Live club (an improvisation stage show). He bent the 'rules' of improv and the author of the article wasn't happy about it and actively comes across as a bit of stickler for wanting those 'rules' in place. I hope, for the performers involved in 'OFF THE CUFF', I never came across like that. All I ever wanted was a loose framework, or structure, of games that would allow the improvisers to fly. I didn't care if one person was hogging all the best lines or getting the most laughs. If the audience was having a good time, so was I. It appears Robin Williams never adhered to any 'rules' and that's my kind of performer and the show I tried to create was based around that concept. Improv is about creativity. Rules help you learn your craft and hone it but they're there to fence you in. When you've reached a level of performance, like Robin Williams, where rules don't apply then you don't try and stifle his creativity by shoehorning him into a structure that doesn't work as well for him. What's the point? If other performers egos are dented because he got the laughs, then rise to the challenge. Bounce off him. Lead the scene in another direction. That's the great thing about improvisation, there are no set directions. Go where you like and take everyone with you. Read the article, make your own mind up. But, the author - to me - comes across as a little petty and bitter. Perhaps the level of fame Robin Williams achieved irked him, when you're still performing in a pokey club with a small audience. I don't know. For me, whether I was performing to 50 people or 500 people, it was the same ethos - let's make them laugh in whatever way we can. Throw away the rulebook and be funny.

Pour A Glass Of Whine...

Posted by Barnaby on April 25, 2014 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Blimey, I whine.

I've just re-read my entires in my blog and, far from being the lively and fun self I like to be, they're just "wah-wah-wah!", "boo-hoo-hoo!" and "self-pity, not-witty!".

I think I viewed my blog as like a personal diary and, to be honest, nobody wants to read a personal diary unless there's juicy scandal in it. All I've done is be introspective and ask you, the reader, to feel sorry for me and - at the same time - marvel at what I've achieved with limited talent, health and dedication.

So, I did say in my very first blog that this wouldn't be a silly or hilarious blog. Well, balls to that.

If and when I blog in the future, it won't be about me. And, if it is, I'll be sure to make it bubbly. Like fizzy lifting drink. Only this time, I'll turn off the fan, so there's no danger of you being uplifted into a bloody mess.

Right. So. Here's my favourite joke...

Ask me if I'm an orange.

"Are you an orange?" I hear you cry.


The Parent Trap...

Posted by Barnaby on April 24, 2014 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)

A friend posted this link on Facebook. I think people assume it's 'brave' to write these sorts of things. It isn't. So, here's the link to read and then below is my response to read afterwords...


Totally disagree. Not with everything but with the main points. When you're a child, you need that attention. It isn't teaching them to be an adult by ignoring them. That's hurting them. As they grow, they will learn. That is the nature of evolution, the human brain and the society/school we deposit them into as adults. They are only young once and children need to feel love, security, encouragement and have their hands held. If you decide to be a parent, you need to think about this beforehand. It's very easy to say you're other things beside a parent but, essentially, that's passing the buck. No. You chose to bring a child into the world and, until they can fend for themselves, they are your main focal point. In actuality, it's the immaturity and selfishness of 'our' generation that makes parenting difficult. My parent's generation didn't stop and write self-pitying blogs or try to change how other people think or attempt to get as many 'shares' as they can with their attitude. It's very easy to say 'every parent is different' to try and deflect criticism but, in essence, that's not true. Every parent should be exactly the same. I don't mean in a 'Stepford Wives' type way but in how they embrace and nurture their child. Don't ignore them when they want attention because, rather than create perfect little adults who can fend for themselves, it will - in actuality - make adults who crave attention and feel loneliness. So, far from being the perfect way of dealing with a needy child, you're actually creating a needy adult. She's using adult examples of childish behaviour too. No adult would expect to have their hand held to go through a task that your Boss sets you because, by then, you would have learnt the necessary skills to think and act independently. That's what school, college, university is for. You're learning. And, as a child grows, they are LEARNNG about the world around them.


Yes, good manners need to be taught and, yes, you shouldn't have to resort to electronic devices to keep your child quiet, but no that doesn't make you a better parent because you're teaching your child the supposed value of being an adult early on in life.


So, I don't agree with it, no. In fact, I strongly disagree and not in the way she thinks. I don't like this whining culture of our generation, who have had more perks and technological developments than any other generation. We take to social media to tell the world our problems because we think the world wants t know how we think, what we feel and who we are. It's needy. Like a child. So, love your children unconditionally. Don't try and teach them to exhibit adult behaviour until they are an adult (and even adults don't want to be adults) and don't try and pin the blame on a society that - as an adult - you've contributed to making the way it is.


This is just yet another post about parenting that tries to make you feel okay to ignore your children or to tell you to be who you are and not a full-time mother/father. No. If you have children, you've made that decision to love, care and pander to them. That's what they need. If you can't handle it, then you should have thought long and hard about having them in the first place.


Rant over.

Calling The Capital, Calling The Capital...

Posted by Barnaby on January 4, 2014 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I've just read the news on Facebook that a friend of mine has become an Associate Playwright at the Old Vic theatre in London. My heart sank. But not for him. His name's James Rushbrooke. Check him out. He's going to be huge, I guarantee.

You know what, I'm not a competitive person. At all. I believe in helping others and that's what I've tried to do. I spend my time passing on projects, bigging up friends and making sure that - if I'm doing some sort of creative project - I get as many people involved as possible to help them in their career (or just have fun).

But, this is different. I'm really very excited and chuffed that he's got this far, so this post isn't about him in he slightest. He deserves it. He jumped from one creative group to another, honing his skills, crafting his creative quarterstaff, losing any deadwood that followed him, and - within a very short time of moving to London - has jumped up several rungs on the 'success' ladder. I am genuinely pleased for him.

I'm just not pleased for myself.

I can't write witty or entertaining blogs. My inner self isn't as witty and/or as entertaining as my outer self purports to be. I've been stricken with a life-changing illness since I was in Sixth Form, twenty years ago. At that point in my life, I was all ready to go to RADA in London, become an actor and work in a career I really lusted after since I was young (not to be famous, heaven forbid. I just wanted to do what pleased me most and that was acting). Sadly, being struck down with M.E. (at a time when it was dismissed as a 'fake' illness - tell that to my family, who supported me and worried constantly over me) put pay to any of my aspirations. I continued to jump between creative projects. I never got particularly good at any of them but I sort of took comfort in that anything I tried my hand at I was successful in. I never put on a comedy show that didn't get a laugh, I never wrote something that people didn't like, I could always do these things in a quarter of the time other people took. In a nutshell, everything came easy. So, I often thought my illness was a punishment for not having to work at anything. I expected to be an actor, I didn't think I wouldn't be. In the same way as, I suppose, I expected to get a book or poem published or whatever it was I turned my hand to.

In the twenty years since being unwell, I've stumbled through creative things. I've worked twice as hard as many people to get things off the ground and I've never, ever had an ounce of luck to help me on my way. I consider myself lucky that I've met and created some amazing talented people on the way. I consider myself lucky that some of these people are still my friends and didn't seem to cut me off when their success outshone anything I could attempt to do, or simply got jealous of the fact I made things look easy (I've had that accusation levelled at me loads of time). It's not egotistical to know you are a good at something. It's egotistical to boast about it and I never do. I know I don't have the time or the energy to get where I want to go (or possibly the time spent to improve my talent).

I know that other people, with no illness and no commitments and with more of a focused, dedicated or ruthless streak, can achieve what I've always wanted to. I'm never cheesed off about that, about them or wishing they never had that success. No. That's not the way my mind works. I just look back and wish I could have trodden a different path.

Please, this isn't self-pity. This isn't me moaning. I've had an AMAZING life, pushing at the limitations of what my limited self will allow me to do. I think I've achieved incredible things against a background of very poor health and the associated structure that that puts upon my life. I've got a loving, supportive and understanding wife. I've got two little daughters who light up every day with a hug, a smile or a well-timed uttering. I am very lucky in that respect.

But, I'm not where I thought I would be creatively and professionally because I can't chase opportunities or breaks or contacts or anything. I can't up-sticks and move to where there's a better chance of competing in the field of creativity that I wanted to be in. I call myself a writer, an actor, a musician and a poet. I am all of those things because I can and have done them. I'm just not enough of them to satisfy my inner muse. I haven't done enough, achieved enough or left enough mark to make me happy with my lot. I know a million other people live their lives in the same boat as me. I'm not decrying their plight or saying that somehow life owes me a favour. All I'm saying is, please live your days as if everyone is your last. Chase your goals and realise your dreams. Some of us can't and, as much as I'm happy for others success (especially when I've had a small hand in it), I'm often very sad for myself.

However, the next project is always just around the corner (however small that may be) and I only have myself to rely on to keep creating and moving forward. I've never had anything done for me or a door opened by someone I know or a favour returned or a helping hand. I just push on in the hope that one day I'll get to a creative place where I'm happy. I know it's vaguely unattainable but it's something to strive and push for. Like my family, it keeps me going.

And, in this life, everyone needs something to keep them going. The bright lights of London called to me when I was a teenager and still call to me now. I know I'm not going to see them but I still walk towards them like a moth towards the light.

Keep shining. Shine on.

The Write Stuff...

Posted by Barnaby on March 4, 2012 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (1)

I've written since I could write. Obviously.

But, I haven't stopped. I love to write. Even when I was bed-bound and exhausted with the start of a very long-term illness, I would write letters to people, poems about my surroundings, and stories to entertain me. I couldn't actually stop.

I had a 'purple period' in the mid 1990s. This wasn't the point where I started swanning around in purple clothes and claiming I was Oscar Wilde. No, this was when I wrote an awful lot, which was mostly all pretty good. I don't say that easily, as my ego has never attained to much however hard I stroke it, but because a lot of my writing was reviewed or published or performed and it all seemed to be consistently of a high standard.

But, it's only now that I've decided to call myself a writer. I mean, I've written for TV, radio and stage but I never felt like it was my main 'thing'. I've acted, improvised and performed and they all felt more like me than sitting at a desk and channelling my imagination onto a computer screen.

I'm no literary giant. I just like to entertain. As long as my writing gets a reaction, then that's all that mattered. If it's ignored or uninteresting, then I've failed in what I've set out to do. I can't claim that I'll ever be a great writer, by any standard, but then I'm not sure I want to be. I've never courted fame or success, I've always just done what I wanted to do in order to please myself and entertain others. That sounds like a calling for fame but it isn't. I like being on the outskirts. I don't like the cut-and-thrust of false friends and even more false acquaintances. I've had that with groups of people over the last half a decade, all of whom were hungry for success and adulation and all of whom would tread over whoever to get there. When this happens, I'm usually left behind wondering why they bother. As a writer, you get the chance to avoid the shallow people, unless you're writing about them. In your own company, you can create the world you want to live in or the world in which others want to delve into. I'm not a loner, by any means. I love company and I struggle when I don't see people. But, I also love the satisfaction of shutting myself away and creating something that's totally mine - not watered down by having others involved, or twisted into a vision by other people's words or worries, and not taken away from me unless I want to let it go. I suppose it's all about control. You can't control your friends but you can control your characters. It's a valuable life lesson.

So, I'm a writer first, before anything else. And whether I'm a good one or not, is not for me to decide. As long as I enjoy it, I'll continue doing it. It's as simple as that.

The Importance Of Perserverance...

Posted by Barnaby on February 12, 2012 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

I've done a lot of things and I've never felt I've broken through that 'Brilliant' barrier on any of them. You know the one. The invisible line which turns something from being 'Good' to 'Brilliant'. So brilliant, in fact, that you could make a career out of it.

This is mainly due to my brain's ability to flit between projects even during doing them. If I have 'success' in one thing, my brain says "Well, you've proved you can do that, on to the next thing!". It's why I get fidgety and, when something seems to be going perfectly well, I want to stop it and go on to the next thing.

However, yesterday was different. Yesterday, I finally realised - away from the layers of self-deprecation and constant putting my work down before someone else does - that I am actually crossing the invisible line. I'm brilliant at...


Let me explain! It takes me three times as much effort as a 'normal' person to realise and achieve projects, due to my condition (M.E.), and takes me that much time again to recover afterwards. So, every little thing I do has repurcussions and drawbacks. I've written theatre plays that have won the odd award, I've performed as an actor to rather good reviews, I taught students who have gained qualifications, I've authored a book that seems to have legs, and I've tried my hand at pretty much everything that is artistic and creative (songwriting, audio productions, voiceover, poetry, drawings, etc). Everything I've done, I've done because I wanted to prove I could do it, regardless of being unwell. Whilst peers and contemporaries have rushed hither and thither, doing things I'd love to be able to do, or getting breaks I couldn't get (simply because I have to turn down so much more than I want to), I've steadily done what I've done without trying to build a career or get myself noticed or attain any level of recognition or fame. I just did it because it made me happy and gave me fleeting moments to forget the limitations of my illness and my life.

I haven't been given a leg-up, or helped in any way. I've always had to carve out opportunities for myself. But, that doesn't stop me constantly passing on work and suggestions for my friends. I often wonder whether I like punishing myself by seeing others do exactly what I can't. It's in my nature to try and help and promote people I know and, even when I'm in a black mood and try to be more selfish, I invariably come across some link or some job that I can't stop myself passing on.

So, I perservere. That's what I do. That's what everyone does. It's life. I can't claim I'm a special case, due to being unwell (as there are millions who are worse off than me). I just realised that I am where I am because of perservering. I hope I can continue to perservere well into the future.

About Face...

Posted by Barnaby on February 12, 2012 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

This weekend, with a few fleeting hours to myself when my little daughter was napping, I was perusing the endless parades of conversations and congratulations on Facebook. It was like being surrounded by friends at a party for themselves and being stuck in a conversation that I had no reason to be involved in.

Social networking is a fantastic bonus for promoting yourself and your work but it's also a dangerous tool for abuse and upset. Even something as simple as just seeing what other friends are doing, or who they are visiting, can result in an unjustified huff. The point is, it's like being the invisible man. You can see what everyone is up to but, in the end, it just corrupts you. People annoy you who you once loved. People disappoint you who you once respected. In a nutshell, you end up learning more about friends than is healthy for your friendship.

Being sometimes housebound (whether it be due to being Daddy Day Care or a relapse in my long-term illness M.E.), you rely on seeing friendly faces. It's always nice when someone pops by or makes the effort to see you. Oddly, being on Facebook seems to alienate you from that. As you are in 'contact' every day, people don't feel the need to see you in person. Strange.

I'm a sucker for Facebook. I like the interaction and the ability to connect with people from miles away and from overseas. It's usage as a promotional tool has been watered down due to the hordes of events and pages and groups that you tend to ignore on an hourly basis. But, it's still a fun place to be. However, when you realise that you spend more time talking via a keyboard than via your mouth, then it's time to cut back and invite people over.

I get lonely. Everyone does. I like being surrounded by people. I like being in a 'group'. However, invariably, I find myself the epicentre of relationships and friendships - it's like I'm the connecting point that got everyone together in the first place - but then, due to the fact I've introduced everyone to everyone else, I'm the one left with nobody to talk to. It's a conundrum I've yet to figure out and, I'm sure, sounds terribly self-pitying. But, sometimes, just sometimes, I don't want to be the one who does the running, who does the organising, and who does the contacting. I'd like to be surprised by friends who genuinely want to see me, simply to say 'hello'.

I'll just sit here, tapping my foot impatiently, until the doorbell rings...

Chuffed About The Huff...

Posted by Barnaby on December 14, 2011 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, well, well (three holes in the ground)! I didn't start getting into Twitter until a few months ago and, once on there, I realised that it was the perfect place for silly, quick one-liners and surreal musings. Also, like everyone else, it is also very good for promoting things that you're doing.

However, I mostly just do silly jokes. Not always funny but I try my best.

I am rather chuffed to have been included in The Huffington Post's top Twitter jokes today. It's based around the kerfuffle over 'faked' footage on the brilliant BBC show 'Frozen Planet' (with David Attenborough). The footage was admitted to have been filmed at a zoo on the programme's 'Making Of' on the website but, yet, the newspapers decided to flag up this non-story as a reason to criticise the BBC and Sir David. Nicely done, Media Types! Ahem.

Anyway, on Twitter, it was just an excuse for a load of funny topical jokes.