The whole morning has made me think that I have to try and get my Dad's old laptop going, because no matter what Samsung, or Apple would have you believe it's impossible to be a creative writer and run an office on the go with just a smartphone. Especially if it's a year and a half old one that finds it impossible to lock onto the 3G network, and takes what seems like 5 lifetimes to check Yahoo mail. I inherited this laptop from my dad when he died a year and a half ago. Unfortunately I didn't inherit the power chord, but I'm sure that he is looking down on me and willing me on to try and find a technical solution, for I am the son of an engineer. If I'm to follow in his footsteps it has to be the most cost effective solution that involves only using stuff from Maplins or Dabs.com, and any old bits of wiring that can be found in the garden shed and soldered together. My Dad was something of an amateur inventor and perhaps his greatest moment was when he proudly showed me his wonderful Heath Robinsonesque solution to digitising his old cine film. It consisted of taking the guts out of one of his old projectors, (he collected them, much to my mum's consternation) putting them back so the projector ran backwards at half of the speed. He then wired a mouse to it and stuck it to a wooden board, along with a huge lens and a camcorder (both stuck to the board as well). He enthusiastically told me that the camcorder would now capture the cine film frame by frame as it was projected from the projector, and special software (from a free disk from a computer magazine) would reconstitute the film. Most people would just go to Dixons and buy something to do this, but not my Dad.
As for my mum, one and I half years on from loosing him she has decided to sell up the family home, and had the hurculean challenge to sell all of my dad's possessions. Amongst the accumulation of a lifetime (that included an original BBC computer from the seventies that had been put back perfectly in it's box and stored in the loft, yes, he threw nothing away) I found something that made me look at myself and my career in a different way. My Dad kept a scrapbook with press cuttings, ticket stubs, programs, photos, and other paraphernalia of all of the professional shows that I'd been in. The thing is that I didn't know about this, and amazingly, neither did my mother. I used to think that I really didn't have a career, but he obviously thought differently. I confess that that I never felt close to dad when he was alive. It's not that I didn't love him, it's just that we didn't really share much. He was the life and soul of the party, but was also very private in many ways. I miss him thought, and realize just how much I'm like him. I too tinker all the time with street shows, bits of writing and cabaret routines that I've hoarded over many years. I do however feel like I need to keep his spirit alive in a deeper sense, so it's off to Maplins to buy a soldering iron.
Mike Raffone is the co founder of the production company howhow along with his fiancé Grisel Tarifa. They hope to open a new performance club The Royal National Theatre of Fools in Peckham in the winter. It will be dedicated to the clown, the absurd and the eccentric. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.