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February 8th, 2017

11:32 pm - Edge of Seventeen
I don't have much to write here anymore. Still feel the same. The world still feels the same. I've scared or shunned away most of those I considered close to me, and I don't think they're coming back. And who can blame them.

I'm not in any danger, but I really just want all this to end now.

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December 31st, 2016

12:33 pm - Another one
Working until 11pm tonight, not that it matters as invitations to any kind of gathering total - yep - zero (and this time I don't even have the in-another-country excuse), so midnight will probably strike somewhere on the Jubilee line for me. Most of the highs and lows of the year have been covered in that last post, so no need to repeat them.

Generally feeling numb. Making it through the year was hard. Now I have another few hundred days to get through.

Can I really do this again?

EDIT (13:32):

Yes. Yes I can. Happy New Year :)

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December 23rd, 2016

12:06 pm - Year goggles
I haven't done one of these surveys for years, but seeing it on canadanne's encouraged me to give this old thing a well-needed update.

2016, Billy styleCollapse )

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September 23rd, 2016

12:43 pm - Lifting the curse
Last day of 27. My least creative year since 17. Eighteen had the very beginnings of steps back into performance with a few short courses, nineteen The Weather Room as a theatrical debut (discounting school/showcase stuff of old), twenty that mad & glorious year of YPT and playing two-hundred year old scientists in Better Humans, twenty-one off the scale with City Lit, NYT and how not to make an Edinburgh show, twenty-two Wind-Up's formation and golden age, twenty-three CL's final year, Wind-Up's fully (ok mostly) formed Box Junction and other strange things, twenty-four 4x4's writing successes and Wind-Up's death-do-us-party, twenty-five just Hamlet and twenty-six the age of Age of Love and Soho standup, fitting in a couple short films before the year was out. Twenty-seven, creatively, had - let's face it - fuck all, and that does feel kinda disappointing after the last action-packed decade.

Saying all that, I do like the idea of the me of ten years ago reading the above. Even the idea of 'just Hamlet' would be pretty mindblowing to him.

But, come on, that's not what it's been about. The majority of 27 was spent on the other side of the world to my UK home, living in shared dorms, semi-reclining train & bus seats and the occasional airport floor. The early weeks started ok but soon went horribly wrong, as I blew far too much of the hundreds I'd saved on alcohol and other luxuries which soon left me tired, poor, depressed and generally that weird guy in the corner who most people understandably decided not to talk to. But by the southern hemisphere summer/northern winter, once I'd re-evaluted my budget and actually got a job again thanks to the life-saving joy that was the Adelaide Fringe, it all got a little easier - still cautious, but generally the people I was meeting (Canadians and Germans especially) being pretty damn awesome. I could have met more, I could have socialised, partied and generally enjoyed myself more, but most of the time I simply wasn't in the right state of mind, afraid to allow myself to trust in people who I didn't feel needed me anyway. So I remained guarded, quietly sleeping as much as I could as others chugged down goon and had the time of their antipodean lives, occasionally wanting to join them but ever-present social anxiety forcing me to generally stay put. My last alcoholic drink remains that one glass of wine I happily sipped while watching Summer Heights High with top international pals in early January. I'll probably end up having a few tomorrow, but my current and understandable lack of social life prevents me - probably thankfully - from indulging myself too much.

Country count currently stands at 44, thirteen more than the 31 I'd reached by the end of 26. Could easily reach 50 way ahead of schedule, maybe by the end of the year (presuming no cancelled flights/horrible illnesses/passing out along the way) which would finally give me an excuse to have a break from all the globetrotting - the 'travel phase' a revelation of fresh air as I began it three years back, but starting to wear a little on me now. The feeling of imminently reaching a quarter of the entire world (there's approx 200 countries) should at least be fairly neato.

It sometimes doesn't feel like it, but I like to think I've matured a little during the last 360-odd days. I drink (a lot) less as detailed above. I no longer have this desperate urge to see as many people as possible all the time or miserably mope if they tell me - directly or not - to fuck off. Being totally alone and almost penniless ten thousand miles from home ended up helping with that, including on Christmas and New Years Day. What I still don't have is a direction. It's a deceptively simple question - "Who am I?" - and a few years ago I'd happily give you a ten-page life story as an answer. Today? Fuck knows. One day I'm hunched over a computer screen, eagerly typing several hundred words of some sort of half-formed play or story idea only to ditch it shortly after as I run out of inspiration, the next I'm Poundland's version of Michael Palin. Other times just on Facebook, scrolling down and seeing former friends achieve seemingly far more successful and fruitful lives than I've yet to manage. Wedding. Wedding. Engagement. Baby. Wedding. Selfies with celebs, articles for magazines, directing & writing plays starring everyone you know but you etc etc etc you get it. I've tried creative 'comebacks' before and for the most part they hopelessly fizzle out, leaving me even more depressed than before I bothered. I don't know if I have the energy to try again. But I also don't want to get to the end of another twelve months trying to decipher what went wrong this time, as it's already getting too miserably repetitive to think about. I've already done a fair bit in my twenties - more than some dream in double the time, granted. But it still doesn't feel enough. My personal Pearl Jubilee is in twenty-four months time, and time's running out to make it truly mean something strong enough to celebrate rather than commise.

28, then. Both my parents reached this age missing a parent of their own - I still, thankfully, have both. I remember both their 28th birthdays, back in 1995; my Dad pretending he was actually one-hundred-and-twenty-eight and fought in the Boer War, my mum reacting to the Polly Pocket doll I bought from the shop for hers, six-year-old me presumably thinking that's what all twenty-eight year old mothers love to own.

Lord knows what I'll get from my imminent new birth year. Hopefully a little more happiness, creativity and general worldly joy.
Current Music: Little Mix - Secret Love Song

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September 15th, 2016

07:37 pm - Bill-E
Back in the summer of 2011, I'd found myself at a house party after attending a major music festival. They seemed a nice bunch so I thought I'd hang around until the trains resumed in the morning, though having danced all day and evening I was fairly exhausted so despite the pounding music I was mostly relaxing in the corner with my ever-faithful cans of Strongbow.

There were drugs around. I'm far from an expert, but people were snorting all sorts of stuff off tables to varying effect - some up on the dancefloor, others quite worryingly slumped in chairs with the facial expression of someone who's watched seventy-eight episodes of Escape To The Country in a row. It's not a scene I take part in so tried to leave them to it as much as I could, and eventually went outside to get some fresh air.

I'm met by a pleasant-looking, slightly hazy-eyed young woman who strikes up conversation with me. She reminds me of Cassie from Skins, and I've always loved Australian accents like hers so I enjoy conversing back with her. After a few mins she asks if I'd like a drink, to which I instantly reply of course! She nips indoors for a while and returns with a funky-looking cocktail, which I happily chug down to keep me in the nicely tipsy, chilled sort of zone I am. She smiles back.

And within minutes I really wanna dance. Like, really REALLY wanna dance, as if a switch has just been pressed and set me on turbo drive. I rush to the dancefloor and they're playing all the dubstep/D&B hits of the era plus a few 90s classics (Prodigy/Chemicals etc), and jesus christ do I begin to rave. So much so that everyone else on the 'floor soon leaves me to it and I've got the whole room to myself, they're tracks I adore anyway but something about them right now makes them sound immense, like I'm really feeling the music and I can only barely make out the faces of those staring at me around the room - some amused, others a bit sickened, but it doesn't matter, this feels epic. "I'M SO HAPPY!! I'M SO HAPPY!!!" I remember literally screaming out loud at one point to no one in particular, not getting much reply back. I can't remember how long it lasted - felt at least 30 mins to an hour but could have been longer or shorter, and my last memory is finding a chair, sitting down on it and I must have immediately blacked out. What seems like seconds later I awake, it's daylight, and the owner of the house is politely but firmly asking me to leave. I grab my coat and head, still a bit baffled at what the hell just happened.

Yeah, I was spiked. MDMA was slipped in the drink in what should have been obvious at the time but I was too young and naive to realise. When I was told a few weeks later by someone who was also at the party (who had no connection to any of these events and to all accounts was seriously pissed off at the person who spiked me) I was surprised, but presumed it was just some hilarious normal thing that people do at parties and there was nothing to worry about. After all, I didn't die or end up in hospital or anything so no harm done, right?

When it got to the point when I started telling it people as a wacky anedcote about this fing wot happened right, I'd reveal the story and expect the big laugh at the end. I'd get looks of horror instead, sometimes the odd "What the fuck?" from friends. "Imagine if you were female..." someone once said, "...and a guy did that". That's probably when I first realised that, actually, what happened to me might instead be pretty awful. And that 'high' feeling I had? It took about a month before I shook off daily cravings of wanting it again. Luckily I didn't know the drug involved, let alone where to get it, but had it been more easily available I could have become addicted pretty damn quickly.

And yet others have expressed the opinion that what happened to me was, actually, fine. They say it sounds like I had a positive experience, nothing "bad" happened so it's not something that needs to be on my mind. And yeah, when on the 'high' I did feel pretty amazing, but would have I done had I known what I'd just consumed? I missed a potential mega-comedown by passing out the moment the high was over - how would that have felt? And what if this was a way of life that I could have later become involved in?

Worth making a point clear that this isn't a preachy drugs-are-bad post, or at least doesn't intend to be - people who take such things in moderation and still lead healthy lives are fine with me. What I worry about is what could have happened to me as an individual. I get addicted to things quickly and easily - caffeine, alcohol, random Channel 4 gameshows starring Noel Edmonds etc - and I eventually cut down and then stopped the booze completely, as the associated mood swings and general depressive comedowns were impacting me more and more negatively. Drugs, at least taken as excessively as my Strongbow-downing days of old, could have destroyed me.

And still could. That's why, five years later, it's still on my mind.

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August 11th, 2016

10:39 pm - Pointless
Belated update to the football entry a couple posts ago:

Euro 2016: A year to treasure if you're Icelandic or Welsh, both teams doing spectacularly well to reach all-time highs - it says a lot that I can name more members of the Welsh team now than I can of England. First time I watched major tournament matches in a country outside my own, England's knockout by Iceland seen on a big screen on a warm evening in Pristina, Kosovo. To think we used to moan if we "only" got to the quarters, something we've barely done in the last decade...

I did indeed watch Pointless 'live' the day after my last post, four episodes recorded a day and I saw two of them on the Monday afternoon. It saw me return to the Elstree Studios I filmed 'Victoria & Albert' at sixteen years ago, no longer with its massive Who Wants To Be A Millionaire billboard dwarfing all but still feeling rather retro and 'worked-in', a refreshing change from the gleaming glass of modern constructions. Didn't even need to pay to get there, Hendon station having no ticket gates at all and Elstree just seeming to leave theirs open all day - but I forked out the £2.20 anyway in the (admittedly zero) chance a ticket inspector were to board the eight-minute two-stop journey and go on a sadistic fining spree. I was probably the only one on the train who'd bothered.

Walking around said studios reminded me of an unfortunate fact. It's now over two years since the last night of 'Hamlet', in July 2014, marked my last theatrical performance to date and perhaps ever. A couple of stand-up attempts and short films last year kept some of the mind going, but I'm beginning to resign myself to the inevitability that this year will be the least creative in over a decade, something I blame myself completely for. Buried on my Google account are a whole host of unfinished scripts and ideas, many started on a lazy day at Melbourne's State Library of Victoria late last year or early this, none of which currently thrill me enough to start the steps to take them further. Occasionally I'll load one up, only to get a few lines in and become horribly disillusioned by the futility of it all, and instead procrastinate my evenings away binge-watching Youtube videos and listening to musical melodies from a better time. Something, knowing me, I'll probably be repeating in a few years as I hum along to Drake songs and kid myself that I was actually happy when these were first around.

Future still cloudy, still unsure. New Zealand still beckons as a possible location for Working Holiday Part 2, providing I do it sometime in the two years and one month before Thirty. I'll be back in the UK for my twenty-eighth birthday next month, but who the hell do I even invite? It's been almost a year since I last saw those who I consider my friends. If I invite them all and none of them bother attending, then that's it - they've moved on without me, whether I want them to or not. I feel like I'd rather live with the belief that they all do care rather than face a possible uncomfortable realisation that they don't...but it's one day of the year where I can actually celebrate being myself, and it even falls on a Saturday this time, so it might be worth a try all the same. Will give it a think over the next couple weeks.

With no job (ha), relationship (hahaha) or any direction anywhere, the feeling I have nothing to live for and no reason to exist is strong with this one. But I know I've been here before, and I know that, each time, I've managed to rescue something out of the mess. Need to stop fearing that the ideas bank is almost empty. Need to keep the hope. As usual, fuck knows how. But when I'm not thinking about all the people who couldn't give two shits whether I was dead or not, the hope - somewhere - remains.

I'm in Blackpool tomorrow, hopefully enjoying a well-needed catchup with the Knightmare lot. Maybe inspiration will strike while I'm there...
Current Mood: blahblah
Current Music: Erasure - Breathe

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July 24th, 2016

11:29 pm - Chase against Time
Well, I suppose I've done a little better this year in terms of journal writing anyway. We're only in July but I've already written the most posts here since 2012, although that's not quite as impressive as it sounds when you realise that I made well over a hundred posts four years ago but this is only my twenty-sixth this year. But it's a substantial improvement to 2015's low of twelve, three of which were in the last three days of the year. The record - well over two hundred - was set in 2008, with '09 and '10 not far behind, which sadly I can't see returning unless astonishing things happen.

But I'm finding enjoyment elsewhere. Tonight I headed down to the old LWT Studios in London to see an episode of 'The Chase' recorded, the ITV quiz show that's always worth a watch around 5 or so. I'd seen Deal or No Deal a couple of times almost a decade ago, Harry Hill's TV Burp in the (now closed) Teddington Studios, and last year even saw a US sitcom, 'Melissa & Joey', recorded in front of a whooping American audience in LA which was a joy to be part of, they can be long evenings but always fun experiences. I was on my own but it worked out quite well, as rather than being squeezed in the back few rows (I arrived an hour early and was audience member #121 in the queue, I'm not sure if many behind me even got in) the audience ushers got me a great seat third row from the front, giving me a dandy close-up view of the stage.

This was a celebrity special, and the four contestants were introduced one by one - a comedian I hadn't heard of, an athlete I hadn't heard of, an actress I hadn't heard of, and...

"...and our fourth contestant, please welcome COLIN BAKER!"

I almost fell off my chair as the SIXTH DOCTOR WHO walked into the studio and took his place. I met his surnamesake Tom fourteen years ago, saw Mr Matt Smith in a play eight years ago (pre-Who), and that's the closest I've been to any Who since. I didn't get to meet Colin - I could have easily said hi at the end of the show as the audience were leaving but decided it wasn't the right place or time. But it was still good to see him in action, and the episode, without giving anything away in case I'm sued by ITV or something, was one of the best I've ever seen. And that's not just cus I was there for it, even had I watched at home it was a nailbiter! An enjoyable evening and one of the first times I've actually enjoyed being solo in an age.

Tomorrow I'm seeing Pointless!

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July 14th, 2016

12:22 am - May to December
David Cameron left Downing Street today, or yesterday now it's gone midnight. The first change of prime minister since Brown's final moments in my swing-dancing, booze-guzzling days as a 21 year old, back when I thought I knew my life. Blair bowed out when I was eighteen as a social life I'd dreamt of finally began its opening chapters, while it was way back as an eight year old when my mum explained to me that the smiling man on TV shaking hands to the sound of D:Ream would make things, finally, better. I was born during the reign of a female Conservative PM, and as Ms May took power today we're full circle.

My journal posts exist for both 2007 and 2010 switcheroos, both rather painful reading today as my Blair to Brown entry is frustratingly naive and twee, much like my '07 self, and that ghastly line about them being "all the same" is a horrific statement I can't quite believe I ever genuinely thought. Three years later my Brown to Cameron entry features a political rant that all felt smugly mature and intelligent at the time but now comes across as a whinging child throwing toys out of his crib, no change there then I hear you cry. "The country isn't entirely ruined yet" I sarcastically mope at the end. No, not then. But, erm...now?

As my last post suggested, we voted to leave the EU. "We" not including myself or millions of others, and primarily consisting of a non-London, non-Scottish, non-Irish borderline racist minority I'd assumed died out sometime around 1990, and the pound's quickly gone to shit, spelling a probable end to my travel era for the immediate future as everything simply becomes too unaffordable. Cameron swiftly legged it, as did seemingly most of the political heavyweights as no way did anyone want to attempt shovelling us out of this mess, paving the way for Theresa May to become the sixth prime minister in my lifetime. She's only been in power for a few hours, it's too early to judge, but my god I hope she does a better job than her predecessor. With racist attacks increasing and political infighting rampant, it's difficult to know how the country could get worse by the next election but we're talking the Tories here, who don't fill me with huge hope. The 2010s only have a few more years to not be seen as a decade of misery, austerity and insecurity, maybe - just maybe - things get back on track from here on.

Christ, what am I saying, of course they fucking won't. It's difficult to have any optimism for this place right now, it's a horrible time to be back and I'm missing Australia already. And sorry if that sounds grim, but right now I find myself in the position where I'm back in a country and city I lost love with a good while ago, jobless and about the most disallusioned with everything I've perhaps ever been. I don't want to act, I don't want to write, drink or dance, I don't want to meet friends or party or even leave the house, I am, once again, completely out of ideas as to who I am and my place in this mess of beings. Still. After everything I've done, I'm back to this. And every time it happens, I sink further and further deeper.

I'm Billy Hicks. And, right now...I'm nothing.
Current Music: Liza Minelli - Losing My Mind

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June 24th, 2016

01:01 am - Referendum
We're going to end up fucking leaving, aren't we.


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June 8th, 2016

10:31 pm - Billy's coming home
1996. What a year. The Demon Headmaster on the telly, virtually every classic song of the decade on the radio, and England did pretty well at football too.

It was twenty years ago today when I watched the opening ceremony of Euro 96 on TV with Dad. Living in Neasden, the (old) Wembley Stadium was a few minutes walk down the road, leading to something of a surround-sound immersive experience as the roars of the crowd echoed both out of the TV speakers and the windows themselves. As a shot of the Red Arrows appeared on screen, we rushed out of the house and into the garden, where, seconds later, the planes zoomed over me bursting out coloured smoke - an incredible sight, as was the hundreds of balloons that filled the skies minutes later. For someone still in infant school at the time, it was a pretty awesome day.

'Three Lions' was sung by everyone in my Year 2 class, and I watched the infamous England-Germany match on a tiny wooden-sided TV upstairs with Dad as Mum watched a soap opera or something downstairs. I remember the absolute devastation at school the next morning, kids almost in tears from the events of the previous night as England failed to qualify for the final. Being only a year old for the equally huge Italia 90, Euro 96 is easily the first major football tournament I remember, and while I never became a huge fan of the game (or any sport) every Euro and World Cup since I have at least some memories of. Here's all of them since, as thirty years of hurt turn fifty:

France 98: Still a kid but my first World Cup, given England failed to qualify in '94 and I'd probably have been a little too young to remember it anyway. Not as memorable as '96 but England v Argentina's sight of a referee holding up a red card and a floppy-haired blonde dude walking off in a huff sticks in the mind. By the end of the year I knew his name was 'David Beckham' and was going out with that posh one from the Spice Girls.

Euro 2000: Forgotten by most (at least from a UK perspective) as they crashed out in the first round, against, of all teams, Romania. Main memories are of a colossal powercut blacking out the BBC shortly before the crucial match, and various unfortunate reports of English hooligans running riot in Belgium overshadowing the game itself.

Korea/Japan 2002: The one where the matches took place in the morning instead of evening, which makes this one easy to remember - I was thirteen as me and the family watched England beat Argentina, and we squeezed into a packed-out Wetherspoons afterwards crammed full of singing and cheering fans. Knocked out in the quarter final with Brazil, but then Brazil were pretty fucking amazing then (and went on to win) so you can't blame 'em.

Euro 2004: Just eating a massive bowl of Corn Flakes in my room as David Beckham's penalty against Portugal spectacularly missed the goal and zoomed into outer space.

Germany 2006: Seventeen years old and my god was this a hot summer - every match with windows open and an ice-cold drink of Cream Soda for refreshment, chugging down so much of it that summer that just drinking a can now takes me back a decade. Again England did pretty damn well but were beaten - again - on penalties by Portugal in the quarter finals, everyone blaming it on Rooney being sent off ala Beckham in '98. Also Zidane losing his mind and headbutting someone in the final, which led to all sorts of comedy GIFs - and David Tennant's first series of Doctor Who. As in it also happened that year, rather than Zidane's headbutt leading to it.

Euro 2008: England didn't qualify! The BBC tried its best with all sorts of "Who will YOU support?" trailers but this just kinda came and went with few being bothered. I have one memory of a match being on the TV in a pub somewhere - this being the peak of my nineteen year old hedonistic alcoholism - but god knows who was playing.

South Africa 2010: The year of the vuvuzelas!! Every match had the sound of them bellowing out from the stand and linked in the mind with 2010 along with Tinie Tempah songs and episodes of Glee. This one was something of a turning point for England fans - all the usual build-up before the opening match against USA, they proceeded to do utterly shit and the hype has never come back since, like everyone just completely gave up for good this year and accepted we're just always gonna be a bit crap. England did - just - advance into the second round but were absolutely annihilated by Germany, who beat us so thoroughly (4-1!) we didn't even get the thrill of a penalty shootout that year, and then there was the disallowed goal from England that - to the Germans - felt like payback for '66. When Germany scored their fourth goal I did kinda want them to get a fifth just to evoke comparisons with the famous 2001 England 5-Germany 1 game, but little did we know what would follow four years later...

Euro 2012: Overshadowed by the Olympics and everything else that went on that year, which actually might have helped England as, with few taking notice, they reached the quarter finals for the first time in a major tournament since 2006. And it was penalties again - I remember before the shootout even started that everyone basically gave up hope, including the players themselves, it's the moment penalties progressed from a run of bad luck to something genuinely psychological as if England just know they're gonna lose and therefore be a bit rubbish. But the UK went on to storm the Olympics anyway which was the real big sporting event of the summer.

Brazil 2014: Christ. They didn't get anywhere near winning this year - eliminated at the first possible opportunity, no hype, no build-up, nothing, just a general feeling of despair from start to end and made 2010 look like a triumph. It's Germany that many remember this one for and that 7-1(!!!) win to BRAZIL, a team so good in 2002 utterly dying on their arse just twelve years later. I was in Pisa Airport for the duration of the match, refreshing Facebook and live updates every few minutes as the German goals just kept on going. Germany, of course, went on to win the whole thing which seemed hugely deserved after their brilliant play.

Taking us to today. The first round matches are Russia, Wales and Slovakia, surely three teams England will breeze through but that was said six years ago before they played the USA. The biggest worry is that the EU referendum vote happens two days after the crucial Slovakia match - if we're shit then I can see a lot of disgruntled people voting Leave soon after, which may sound bizarre but England's performance in the 1970 World Cup is said to have impacted Harold Wilson's chance of re-election later that month. It begins with England v Russia on Saturday, and I'll be glued to the screen to watch how we do.

I'd love a Final moment in my lifetime. I'm lucky to have experienced the '96 Semi - a whole generation of young adults today have only seen an England quarter final match live. I don't see it happening this year but, should they ever do as well as '66 again, it'll be an incredible where-were-you-when moment.

There's a World Cup in 2066. I'll be 77. Maybe I'll live long enough to commemorate a hundred years of hurt...

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