Friday, 28 September 2012

The recycling of intellectual ideas

I'm aware that yesterday's blog may have only had any real meaning if you do indeed watch GBBO, (That's the hash tag on twitter for The Great British Bake Off... see... I'm down with the kids), so I'll try and give today's a more general appeal. It's a bit like when Grisel and I watched the one man Star Wars trilogy at The Fringe this year. The actor was racing through all three films at break neck speed and was coming up with some inventive ideas, but the trouble was you had to actually know the films. We both had seen the first film years back and managed to chuckle our way through the early part of the show. However when he moved on to the other two films we were aware that we were suddenly watching, not a comedy parody, but a piece of performance art. It was incomprehensible. I have to say that yesterday, for the most part, was spend at my computer remaking the soundtrack for my street theatre show so I reckon I've got a challenge to make that of general interest to anyone, but I'll give it a go.

I wanted to just change a couple of tracks, but, as so often happens with me, a small job turned into a day's work as fun distractions presented themselves yet again. Yesterday's heroic act of displacement came in the form of some CDs I found at the bottom of the filing cabinet (so I DID file something away in that filing cabinet after all). The CDS had literally hundreds edited music tracks that I've used in past shows. This immediately allowed me to go down memory lane and indulge in a bit of comedy nostalgia. I first started tinkering around with sound files about fifteen years ago after managing to get hold of a quite expensive a piece of sound editing software for free. This software didn't come bundled onto a new computer, or taped to the front cover of a computer magazine, oh no... It came via a friend who cracks the registration codes of software and then offers them, not for profit I have to say, to his friends. I confess to being ambivalent about using illegally copied or downloaded stuff, after all I make a living from creative work as well, but this was great software so of course I took it. At the time this particular software was owned by a small independent company and so useful was it, that I vowed to actually buy the software properly one day to help out them out. Of course I never did and on the day that the company was bought up by Adobe I confess I had a pang of guilt. Since then I've got a number of upgrades from my friend, but of course because the software is now owned by the mighty Adobe I've abandoned my aspiration to pay up. Yeah, stick it to the corporations!.. no actually it's just too easy to use it for free. But moral dilemmas aside, back to the story. I remember having great fun when I first got this software and my street show at the time suddenly became full of sound gags and weird bits of music spliced together. There was even an incomprehensible section were, for no reason, the music speeded up. Why? because I could do it on my computer, that's why. As I listened to these old bits of weird rubbish I started to chuckle. Not only that I started to remember the routines that I did to them and started to chuckle even more. "God I was creative back then." I thought, and hopefully I sill am. A lot of them were discarded as ideas that just didn't work for some reason, but I could see that they could work in the show I'm doing at the moment so I sneaked a few of them the soundtrack for the present show. Perhaps this was one distraction that was worth it. We'll see. So my big advice to any creatives out there is don't throw anything away. Ideas can be recycled as well.

I'm going to be remaking some props for the same show this afternoon. Prop making is something that I really find tedious so hopefully I'll find an old store of props form the eighties behind the sofa and another rich vein of distraction can be opened up. Meanwhile it's lunchtime so that means only one thing... Facebook.


CLICK HERE


For an example of the creative work I was doing in the late nineties. Honestly, you had to be there.

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. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

On your marks, get set, BAKE!

We're gutted in our household. Ryan has gone out of The Great British Bake Off. As the announcement was made last night we both fell into deep shock, and there was a dawning realization that Tuesday nights will never be the same. You may think I'm being sarcastic, but honestly... I'm not. For any of those who are not familiar with this unlikely hit TV series that has made baking trendier than a bearded cardigan wearer from Hoxton, The Great British Bake Off is Masterchef for the amateur dough maker. Ryan was the hapless photographer who made great flavour combinations but failed every time in the technical challenges. He's been on the edge of extinction before, but has always managed to cling on. This week, sadly, his luck finally ran out. It all started so well. When the judges praised his lardy cakes he nearly cried, but then it all fell apart. His doughnuts sagged, his celebration cake... well... didn't and suddenly and he was history. We'll miss him, in fact it's not too strong to say, we are mourning him.  You see Ryan has this vulnerable cuddly quality that makes you want to take him home, along with his signature key lime pie. (He was star baker that week, deservedly so). Grisel has a strong urge to mother him, and I confess, so do I. He's a kind of clown. I'm not saying he's stupid, because clearly he isn't. He just has that naive, innocent quality that's impossible not to like. He was often praised on the show and his slightly startled expression made him look like he couldn't quite believe it. He's the true star of the show, and now he's gone.

So here's my confession for today. I love The Great British Bake Off and watch it religiously. So what is it about a baking program that makes it such compulsive TV? How have they managed to inject drama into something being put in the oven for an hour and then... well left there? and how in the hell did I get so addicted to it? It's a strange idea for a program. The producers seem to be falling over themselves to sex up the whole concept. It's cut like an episode from 24 hours in A&E and I think they've nicked the music. We see someone scream, "My strudel's got a hemorrhage!" and then there's long and lingering shots of the contestants tying up their aprons and psyching themselves up for the challenge. Is baking in The Olympics? Have I missed something? Even the title suggests a conflict of gladiatorial proportions. There's 'The Rumble in the Jungle', 'The Thriller in Manila' and now 'THE BAKE OFF!!!!' Bruce Willis has to star in the film or I, for one, am not interested. Maybe in this blockbuster a crazed suicide bomber climbs inside one of the proofing ovens and Bruce, now a disillusionment pastry chef with a broken marriage, has to save the world. It's just a thought, but I'm aware I'm going off the plot again. Even though 'The Bake Off' is falling over itself to be hip it's set in a marquee, decked out in Union Jack bunting in the middle of a field. I think it's this weird contradiction that I love so much. It's like Cool Britannia meets Mrs Beaton. There's that and the fact that I can't help roaring with laughter every time a tray of meringues is dropped on the floor, and sniggering everytime the word masterbaker is used. ( I know... I'm twelve.). Fact is, it's made me interested in baking and for that I'm glad, after all who doesn't like eating the stuff.


Ryan in another sticky moment on The Great British Bake Off
So it's farewell Ryan. With tears in our eyes we wave you goodbye. We'll never forget your key lime pie. Keep baking mate... keep the faith.


The Great British Bake Off can be viewed in all it's glory on BBC2, Tuesdays at 8pm. Next week it's the quarter finals and it's biscuits. Sadly Ryan can only now be seen on BBC Iplayer and on his website www.bakology.com




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. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A place for everything, just not today please

I'm sitting here in front of a very tidy desk. There's lots of space to put things, lots of space for things to pile up on top of one another, lots of space to loose things in a mess of papers... and, believe me, I'll manage all of the above.This is another quirk that get from me dear old dad... serious untidiness. Here is a photo of my desk space a few days ago.



You will notice that I've chosen to dump my papers in a random and cluttered fashion on top a perfectly usable filing cabinet. I inherited from my father both the filing cabinet, and the complete inability to put things in it. It's screaming out at me "use me, use me!" but I prefer not to. I find tidying up a stressful thing and I'll put it off for ever (as you can see), and I wonder why this is? There are a number of things that I fear I'll find when I tidy. For example there are things that I can't throw away for sentimental reasons but can't think of how I can store them. I'll prevaricate over them for ages knowing that If I file them I'll never see them again, but also knowing that I just can't let go. They'll end up in my bulging 'Miscellaneous' file, a file bigger than any others by miles. Then there's the things that I know that I should keep but can't find a home for. The Miscellaneous file beckons yet again. Worst still are the things like old batteries that I don't know how to throw away. I want to just throw them in the bin, you know, get rid of them right away, but then I'll suffer from eco guilt, and that's one of the worst kinds of guilt for the educated classes. Even worst then that is knowing that deep down, buried at the bottom of the pile I'm going to find stuff that I should have dealt with ages ago but haven't. Some new age types say that tidying up gives you space in your mind. I'd like to agree with that but fear that if your filing system reflects the state of your mind then I'm in deep trouble. For example in this latest tidy up I found a bill in Euros from when I briefly lived in France over 6 years ago. I haven't a clue what it's for, but I know it's very official. I'm thinking that maybe this is what's causing the Eurozone crisis... bad filing. The bill is for 94 euros, 86 cents, and at today's reckoning that's about £75. I'm thinking that maybe I should work out what it's for and pay it, but then maybe I should just leave it. If the euro collapses I may end up paying just 75p. After all The Tresor Publique de Francais has waited over six years for this money, what's a couple more years between friends. Don't worry, it's now in the Miscellaneous file so It'll never see the light of day again.

But none of this is my worst fear. My worst fear is finding stuff to do with my tax. I hate being reminded of my tax. I've got so much stuff to do at the moment that I ought to write 'to do' lists but I can't bring myself to do it. This is because I know that 'Do your tax' will be at the top of it. To explain, here's another picture.



This is my accounts. Two plastic bags and an envelope. I don't think I need to say anything more really. It used to be three plastic bags but I managed to rationalize it a bit. I have to point out at this stage, I'm not in charge of the accounts for howhow productions. Anyway there is light at the tunnel. Here is a picture of my office at the moment.



This is the new filing system... for now!

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. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Monday, 24 September 2012

A not so spontaneous moment

Refreshed from a weekend off I blog again. I'm wondering if it's wise to attempt attaching a photo to this blog today. Friday's was a bit of a fiasco to say the least. The upside down and blurry picture of Pret A Manger on The Strand was not the photo I had intended to take, in fact a photo of Pret A Manger was not on my list of interesting shots at all. I took a number of photos on my smartphone but couldn't get them to come out anything but blurred. Maybe Samsung smartphones only are only set up to take decent pictures when you are skydiving. That's what their ads seem to say anyway. I then tried to upload it onto the post via the handy Android blogger app, but for some reason known only to itself it decided to upload the picture upside down. Yes I can hear all of you smug iphone/ipad users out there saying, 'doesn't happen to us', but I don't care. To Windows and Android I will stay loyal. Anyway the idea was be to show my readers where I write some of my blogs when I'm not at home. The place where I have to drag the huge Sherman tank of a laptop that is called The Gericom to. On, the subject of laptops, you know how Mac users always go on about how their precious ibooks go on for years without any problems and PCs always break down. Well I say to them The Gericom is almost ten years old and it's still going strong. Mind you I did wipe the hard drive and install only Word, online backgammon and Google Chrome so it doesn't exactly have to work hard. My God, am I channelling my dad again?

But back to the point of the picture. It was not my first choice of photo for Friday's post. I actually wanted to take a photo of Peter. Peter is one of the cheery (and I say this without a hint of sarcasm) staff at the aforementioned Pret. The staff there seem to be quite happy and the drudgery of serving hasn't seemed to have got them down... yet. This is quite a feat as they have the most surly and humorless duty manager I think I've ever seen. He's an imposing man who would not look out of place as a hammer thrower for Belarus. Anyway, Peter served me my Late and chocolate croissant with a particular flare, performing a great flourish with his tray as he placed the cup and plate on it. My immediate thought was to take a photo of him, smiling by his coffee machine to place on this blog but sadly I didn't. I sat down and though no more about it until I'd finished writing. It was then that I decided to do something that really breaks one of the cardinal rules of life. I tried to fabricate a spontaneous moment. I decided I would take the photo of Peter, but he was no were to be seen. After a quick check that I had not aroused the interest of the duty manager I asked the staff if Peter was still around. I explained that I wanted to take his photo for this blog and told them that they should check out his flashy tray moves, "I think he wants to work over the road at The Savoy" I quipped. They just stared back at me blankly. I was amazed that non of them got how hilarious and wacky the situation was. They were however politely helpful and told me that he was working in the kitchen. One of them phoned down stairs and I was told that he was on his way up, so I waited... and waited... and waited. Occasionally I was told that Peter was just coming, but he never came. Eventually a kind soul rang the kitchen again and this time I was told he'd meet me there. I came to the kitchen door and Peter popped his head round the door. He was not however the dashing servant type that I remembered. He was now sporting one of those strange elasticated plastic hats that food preparers wear and a rather worried look on his face. I explained about the photo and he seemed less than keen, and I was about to find out why. I looked around and saw to my horror that the duty manager was standing next to me. Not wanting to get poor Peter the sack I explained the whole thing. There was a moments silence, and then to my surprise the manager broke out in a huge grin, "sure" he said as he left chuckling to himself. I was amazed. He, of all people, got just how side sidesplittingly funny all of this was. Peter, however, was not seeing the funny side at all. "Just give me five minutes to finish what I'm doing" he barked, and ducked back into the kitchen. I waited... and waited... and waited, but he didn't emerge. After what seemed like on eon standing alone in the corridor next to the gents toilets and the door to the kitchen I suddenly had a thought, "maybe he thinks I'm stalking him." then I had another thought, "maybe I am stalking him!" and it's at this point that I left.

Oh well, no photo of Peter today so you'll just have to make do with a photo of The Gericom instead.

The Gericom, sold exclusively at Lidl. This particular model
is a bit of a museum piece, dating back to around 2004.

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. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Friday, 21 September 2012

KISS (keep it silly stupid!)

Pret A Manger, The Strand, where I sometimes write this blog
(It's not usually blurry or upside down,  Honest!)
Following on from yesterday's theme I've just got down to writing this after indulging in another pet distraction of mine. Writing silly things on my facebook page. My idea to develop a boylesque act called Shriveled Walnut went down particularily well. I got lots of feedback and I think that collectively my Facebook buddies and I have nailed it.  The new act that, I confess I posted as a joke, may actually happen and will consist largely of sparkles, feathers, sequins, the proverbial referee's whistle (MATRON!), a velcro fig leaf and, of course, copious amounts of bumfluff (sorry, I can't avoid that one). I am actually the middle of trying to write a new ten minute cabaret act and I'm thinking that perhaps I should make these outrageous suggestions more often. Maybe it would make the whole devising material thing a lot easier.

This is not the first time I've made joke artistic proposals on Facebook only for people to take them seriously. A few years back I commented that I was delighted as I had just secured the rights to produce Prisoner of Cell Block H on Ice. I got a flood of comments asking when the opening night was. I'm thinking now that I should just concentrate on stupid ideas and forget about the so called 'brilliantly funny' ideas that I fret so much about. Because that's about it really. It's true when they say comedy is a serious business, in fact from my fantasy Academy of Comedy the graduates would be sent out into the world with a copy of The Writers and Artistes Yearbook, a form to join The Writers Guild and the details of at least three therapists. Let's face facts writing (especially comedy) not easy. I actually started this blog as a sort of easy way to flex my creative muscle and warm myself up for a morning's writing. It was an exercise in actually finishing something and hitting the publish button come what may. I never really thought anyone would read it but now I'm getting a few comments that people are actually reading it and liking it. Now I feel the pressure. There is a real danger that it will take over and I have a play and a cabaret show to write. If I'm honest I'd say that the whole writing silly things on facebook thing started because all the facebook posts I was reading seemed... well... samey really. My reaction was to solemnly vow never to post mundane status updates about how I was picking the kids up from school, or doing the washing up. I preferring to post things like, "Mike is amazed, he's just found a hole in the space/time continueum at the back of his airing cupboard." To my amazement my Facebook friends couldn't get enough of this stuff, I was on a roll and it was at this point that I felt the pressure and stopped. It was all a bit arrogant really, I mean, lets face it at this very moment I'm writing, and believe me that can be as mundane as doing the washing up.

There is a serious point here I suppose. Writing something that is supposed to be funny can sometimes be hell. There is a real trick in preserving the fun of it. Of course there will always be a serious head scratching side to it as well. After the writer has created the monster he/she must make it likable.

Oh by the way you may be wondering about the picture. Grisel thought it would be a great idea to include photos in my blog. This is my first attempt at uploading a photo taken on my smartphone via the blogger app. Room for improvement I think.

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. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Warning! advanced users only

I have a day off from Covent Garden today as I have to wait in the delivery of my new bank card and I have to show them photo ID to pick it up. It's only humble debit card and not a lofty credit card but the level of security is so high you'd think the crown jewels were being delivered, . Quite frankly I'm glad to have this enforced admin day even though I am, effectively, a prisoner in my own home. (The delivery window is 9am to 5pm so I'm expecting it at 4:59.) My Covent Garden experience yesterday almost ended in disaster on what was a terrible day. My whole show seemed to be funded entirely by just one family who were on holiday from The Emirates. Such was the lack of response from a few casual onlookers that I cut the show short and they were one of only a handful of people who came forward. So generous was their contribution that it made up about 90% of the hat! Is this what arts patronage feels like? Again the extremes of street busking were in evidence.

I had planned to write this first thing in the morning but today I've indulged in one of my favourite pastimes... getting distracted. Instead of writing I started by updating  a list of our companies log in information for the various websites that we regularly use. Not a big job in itself but it did require me to log into these sites to check if I had the right passwords. This is where the problem really began because you see, I seem to have a bit of an addiction to websites that you log into especially if they offer DIY solutions to such technical things as website building and bulk email management. Strange but true. Subscribing to a website and then gaining exclusive access via a password all seems very grown up to me and I can waste literally hours on these sites. This time is typically spent trawling through the help files so I can find out exactly what the site can do... all of it... not just the bits that I need. This of course leads to the inevitable googling of any jargon that I come across and the search for online tutorials to explain it all. I love learning to do all of this cool online stuff, but I sometimes worry that I border on the obsessive. I've been working on the howhow website recently and one day a noticed that we could have our own favicon. "What the hell is a favicon?" I thought. To me it didn't sound like anything to do with web design, more like something to do with birth control and it's been niggling me ever since. Well today was the day that I decided to find out so after two hours of bouncing between our website builders help files and photoshop howhow.co.uk became the proud owner of a favicon. In case you don't know, a favicon is a tiny icon that appears on a website just by the page heading. It's totally useless really, but that's not the point. I worked out how to add one, and it did it all on my own.

Perhaps a worst manifestation of this very male autistic trait that that I love to tinker with settings, and if it says "warning, advanced users only" well that's just a red rag to a bull. I recently had trouble with one of my email addresses. Of course my first instinct was to contact my email provider, but I firmly rejected that one because I saw a great opportunity for some serious mucking about in both the email provider and the domain registrar's advance users area. One and a half months later I admitted defeat and actually asked for help. This must be the modern day digital version of 'refusing to look at the instructions when programming the VCR recorder' and I'm a bit ashamed that the whole thing went on for so long. There was however a happy ending to all of this. I had, in fact, been tinkering with the wrong advanced settings, so now I had the opportunity to do it all again with the right advanced settings and with the blessing of Malcolm from Dreamhost technical support. By the way my email now works again, oh and don't forget... we have a favicon.

Of course I'll take great delight in passing on my new found wisdom to Grisel as I watch her eyes slowly glaze over. Yes, she definitely puts up with a lot.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The joy of theoretical giving

Well not a lot happened yesterday which I suspect will be reflected in the brevity of this post. I didn't get a show in Covent Garden, and that always means I have to do two things: 1) be philosophical about it all; and 2) go home and do some admin. I spent most of the day looking into how we are going to fund one of our pet projects,The Royal National Theatre of Fools. We are working non stop at this around other work and we are burning the midnight oil some nights in a frantic effort to actually get this thing off the ground. Our targets are venue by the beginning of next month, fund raise in Octorber and open mid November. I say this not to impress you, or indeed interest you necessarily it's just that if a publicly state it, I have to try and do it. But I digress (as usual).

I was perusing some crowd funding websites, where people with big ideas and no capitol (I like think that's us) ask for funding in return for rewards. I must say it was heartening to see at all of the other guys out there who are in our position, and I got the sense that wee are not alone. I was looking at a funding campaign set up by Crooked Pieces Theatre Company who wanted to stage a new Sarah Kane play. They had only reached 50% of their target with days to go. Surely it was disaster for them. I navigated away and looked at another page, and when I returned a few minutes later I was amazed at what I saw. They had reached their target with one sizable donation. This had happened RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY VERY EYES. In fact I got so excited about this that I imagined that this money was flooding into our bank account. I don't know whether or not this is a spectacular exercise in visualizing my wealth (I'm sure there are a few gurus in California who are recommending that one), or just unrealistic optimism but I confess it was fun.

Like I said before crowd funding is all about giving away stuff in return for donations So I decided to make a list of what we could give away. I discovered that giving can be a lot of fun, especially if it's all theoretical. In that case the sky's the limit, so on my own, at my computer I managed to give away virtually all of the company plus some pretty cool things that we don't actually have. Yes it was a bit of a laugh, but thank God for the intervention of Grisel later on in the day. I imagine that you're getting the idea that Grisel is the more practicle one in the business partnership and it was one of our smarter moves to give her ultimate control over money. That certainly should not be left to me. To be cavalier with ideas is one thing, but I've learned the hard way that to be at all reckless about spending money is quite another. I still have the emotional scars and some of the debts to prove it. Our discussion on the subject was fruitful and we ended up with a series of rewards that were generous enough to reflect the value of what we were giving away, but not so generous as to double the amount of money we would have to raise, just to pay for them. It pains me to say it, but again all credit goes to my finance.

Although this is all very well on paper, that's all it is at the moment and I confess to being a little scared of the whole process. What if we don't get anything? Oh well I suppose we have to try. I've always been a little uncomfortable about asking for money and I'm secretly jealous of those folk who have enough confidence to be very up front about this. I remind myself that I've been performing street theatre since the late eighties, so I've based a whole career on asking for donations. How hard can it be? I'm determined to find out. Our fund raising campaign is not quite up and running yet so I don't want to give away too much, but just to say that our gifts range from a thank you party at a West End venue (Yes, I've called in a big favour from a friend for that one!) for everyone who funds up to a years free entry to the club and a signed original artwork of the inaugural poster if you are feeling very generous. So watch this space and get involved. The least you'll get is a party. My God, I think I just asked for money. Perhaps this will work out after all.

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. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Meet the family

I'm exhausted today after a very long day at the office yesterday that dragged on until seven thirty. Yes, you heard it right... the office. I'm in an actors cooperative agency, and, on the whole, it is very cooperative. I still however manage to find the experience slightly stressful. I want to do my job and get the other actors as much work as possible but I'm aware that I'm really not a genius in an office. It's also a bit strange for me because I have rejoined them after about an eight year absence. I'm now seen as something of an experienced member which I'm not, and much has changed in the agency. I'm constantly asked for sage advice and have to admit that I really haven't a clue. Of course in my mind I'm a cigar chewing big shot agent, but in reality I type at around two words a minute and can never find the stapler.

I can't lie, I find office work a chore To get through the day I drink copious amounts of strong coffee which makes matters worst. I may perk up temporarily but it plays havoc with my over active prostate. Oh did I tell you that I have an over active prostate. It's part of a number of minor health problems that have cropped up in the last few years. There's the weird skin rash that needs industrial strength prescription dandruff shampoo to get rid of. Then there's the back pain, the shoulder pain and not to mention the knee twinges. And let's not forget the weird mold on my big toe, the teeth falling out, the rheumatism, oh and the occasional hemorrhoids. I accept this, it's all part of my age, in fact I like to think of all of these niggling ailments as family. I still think I'm pretty fit and when I was young I was told that my skinny physique was ideal for marathon running. These days I think I could have a good shot at running 22 miles as long as there were a few portaloos along the way.

Anyway it always goes mad in the office in the afternoon and my attempts to schmooze casting agents whilst, at the same time, tracking missing invoices are made more stressful by frequent trips to the lavatory. It all strated about ten years ago when I was working at The Stephen Joseph Theatre. Alan Ayckbourn asked me if I had any ideas for a one man show. I had a vague idea of a sort of pompus Classical music conductor who's orchestra quit so he had to do a concert alone. Not taking the request seriously I scribbled the idea down, using my worst handwriting on the back of a shopping list and handed it to Mr Ayckbourn's PA. I was shocked when I got the go ahead the next day. To this day I don't know whether or not they wanted The Conductor or my shopping list but let's assume it was indeed the former. I wrote a rough draft, booked some rehearsal space and set to it. I'd never done anything like this in my life before, and as I sat alone in a windowless room, staring at the walls with no idea of what to do next frequent trips to the toilet seemed like a sensible creative process. Maybe, at that point in my life I actually trained my bladder to be the feeble wimp that it is today.

A few months back I was getting up and going about four times a night and when it started to keep Grisel awake as well as myself I decided that something had to be done. My doctor advised that this problem was normal, and he told me, "No alcohol after eight in the evening". I was worried that the actor in me immediately thought, "Oh that's OK, I can drink in the afternoon instead", but luckily this hasn't been the case. Why? Well there is one more ailment I can add to the list, hangovers from hell. Yes anything more than two glasses, turns me into the living dead for some days after. I confess that still I can't resist the temptation to party occasionally. In fact the last time was Saturday and I think I' still recovering. Oh well there's always more coffee, that doesn't give you a three day hangover. I'm drinking a particularly good fair trade Kenyan blend at the moment. Oh s**t, excuse me... must go to to the toilet.

Oh by the way I'm still looking for acting work if anyone needs anyone, but don't bother me, talk to my agent, www.vagabondsmanagement.com

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. Mike is also busy writing his latest one man show without the aid of a toilet. It's called Clowns, Coulrophobia and MeGo to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Dying with dignity

I'm sitting in Pret A Manger on The Strand writing this before I attempt a lunchtime show on the cobbles of Covent Garden. I'm looking over at a man using a band new macbook air. He doesn't look like your typical Mac user and I'm heartened by this. Oh no, hang on a minute, there's that inevitable air of smugness as he eyes my newly refurbished 10 year old concrete slab of a computer made by German Industry Computers. I wonder if the company are aware that they were buying into the British Sun readers stereotype with the anacronym GERICOM, but I digress. It's not that I'm jeaulous, well actually I am. I'm jealous not because I could never afford a Mac in a million years, but it's mainly because he won't have to incur osteopath bills that I will just by carrying the thing around. Oh god, now there's an iphone user next to me. I'm proudly placing my Samsung on the table as if we're playing some bizarre game of smartphone poker. I'll see your iphone 4 and raise you a Galaxy Android. Yes, I long for my light and sleek Windows workbook. As someone in the arts and entertainment I know I'm supposed to have a Macbook but I confess that I've never bought into the whole Mac are the best thing since the wheel thing. There is no logic to this extreme position, it's just that I'm bloody minded and so stick to PCs and Android phones, even though it means hours spent doing software installations  followed by even more hours trying get rid of it all when the machine slows down to a snails pace. No, I've always done it this way, so that's how it's going to be. I've inherited this from my dad as well as the clunky old laptop.

An informal business meeting has just broken up on my other side. I always find it strange when I see such things in coffee bars, I mean, it's such a public place, isn't it all a bit too casual for such important decisions? I'm always tempted to barge in and say, "Can I join in. I turned up at the right place on time didn't I?", but I don't. Grisel and I have a habit of bursting into spontaneous production meetings for howhow in our Kitchen, or when lying in bed so I guess there's no difference really. We had one such impromptu meeting last night at the dinner table, which, on refection, was a bit inappropriate because we did have guests. To be honest it was more me than Grisel, in fact she was trying to steer the conversation away from our business, but I was having non of it. I hadn't had the opportunity to hold court like this for a while so I took the opportunity with relish. She puts up with a lot.

Truth is I needed a drink. I was getting quite a head of steam yesterday afternoon putting all sorts of fun buttons and widgets on my website but had to tear myself away to go to do an evening show in Covent Garden. It was so bad that I didn't even finish the show and the five bemused non English speaking onlookers didn't seem to care on way or the other. I was annoyed more than anything that I'd wasted my time coming in in the first place, but I managed to die with dignity. It reminded me of just how hard busking can be. It can bring out the best and the worst in a performer. It's a game of extremes, and it shapes our psyche to a certain degree. It either humbles you, or makes you think the world owes you something. As I witnessed the act before me, who had every juggling prop in the business, two tall unicycles and an arsenal of funny lines, go through half a dozen audiences in the space of half an hour I knew that I was on a hiding to nothing. One of the performers did manage to complain that they didn't get any folding money in the hat. As I looked out over the piazza, the solitude broken only by three groups of bored teenagers on day trips I wondered what sort of contract he'd signed. Me, I was just going to ask for donations. Yes, it's tough. Eddie Izzard once famously said that stand up was easy in comparison to hitting the cobble stones with a bag of props. It's certainly easier to write this. Oh, I say, two community policemen have just stormed into the cafe to make an arrest, how exciting. Oh no... hang on... they're just chatting to friends. Oh well The Piazza awaits.

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. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Church or Cabaret? sometimes it's a tough call

I'm blogging on a train today. I’ve managed to get my blogging pattern (is there such a thing?) back to the mornings and I’m sitting on the London Bridge train from Charing Cross happily writing this. I’m aware that by the time I reach London Bridge I’ll have said nothing before I have to change trains but such is the fast pace of modern life. I'm on my way home from the morning draw at Covent Garden to do some serious writing and general sorting out of my life. The glamour of a life in the arts. It's only been half a day since my last post so nothing much has happened really.

I did meet a vicar yesterday evening. That’s something that doesn’t happen everyday. Grisel has a job at a lovely community center in Walworth called Pembroke House, and David (The Vicar) is her boss. I'd been invited there in the evening and as I walked around I had the sense that good things went on here. We were actually there to watch a short film of a community project about different cultures coming together through play. After the film our Reverend made a speech. To me he was typical of many vicars that I've known over the years, you know, very well meaning and good hearted but slightly stiff. In my experience vicars have a habit of leaving little silences all the time when they speak and I never know if they are being thoughtful or just uncomfortable. He certainly was an archetype, and observing him, I ended up wondering if he watched ‘Rev’ on the telly. I liked him, and admired greatly what he was trying to do for the community. He spoke of people coming together and I warmed to that. His speech came to a natural end, there was another pastoral micro pause. We thought he was going to sit down but he stayed standing up. He then displayed another personality trait them made me warm to him even more. He seemed to be a bit of a frustrated actor. Next came a rather awkward joke, and a reference to limbo dancing. (We both thought that that was an attempt for this Oxbridge educated man of the cloth to 'get down with the youth'.). Again there was a short pause, was he going to sit down? No, next there was then an attempt to get a round of applause for the film we had just seen. The cadence of his voice rose, and he gave a sort of showbiz flourish that wouldn't be out of place on The Good Old Days. I now wondered if, secretly, he wanted to start up a comedy club in the church hall. It's not the first time that I've come across a vicar with thespian intentions. I remember the highly camp and wonderfully eccentric vicar I knew a few years back. He had written a play that I was touring in, a sort of tragi/comic dialogue between God and Jesus. He was retired by this time but was chaplain at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He quite openly told me that when he was young he couldn't choose between being on the stage, or in the pulpit. He decided that he was not quite cut out for a life in the theatre so opted for, as he put it, "the only other job were you could be the center of attention and wear frocks". I suppose the two callings are rather similar.

I looked over at one point and saw David, our rev, sitting at the side. He seemed a little alone and lost amongst the hustle and bustle of kids playing and grown ups drinking wine and chatting. I can relate to this. It made me think that I spend most of my time with people in the arts and entertainment, or and it's not always so easy to hang out with people outside of this tight circle. You could call them ordinary folk, but to me, they are the extraordinary ones and it was great just to be there for a little while. Before we left I said goodbye to The Reverend. "I'll be seeing you again" I told him. Grisel then jokingly chipped in with, "Is that a threat or a promise?" "Oh it's definitely a threat." I retorted. David seemed perplexed at this bantor and he went slightly stiff again. "Oh well", I thought, "maybe The Church really is his true calling, and not comedy."

For more information about the wonderful work that Pembrooke House does go to http://pembrokehouse.org.uk/

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. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I'm feeling all out of sync with this blog

I keep meening to blog in the first thing but because I've slipped to doing it in the afternoon so nothing new has happened when I come to try and do it in the following morning. (does this make sense?) Anyway, today I thought I'd keep it short so I'll have something to say when I try early tomorrow. It seems that time management is taking center stage in my creative life and I'm not sure I like it. I like to think of myself as a Willow The Wisp, a creative bohemian who is above such things, but of course that's bollocks. I know this because if I call myself a bohemian in front of Grisel she rolls her eyes in resignation and faint disapproval. She's the best bullshit detector I've ever had. Anyway I've been exploring the more macho/engineering/tinkering side of myself today by trying to get going the old laptop that I inherited from my Dad. This means I can take it into town when I work in Covent Garden, and during my downtime be a bohemian in Cafe Nero away from the watchful eye of my fiance.

I did want to briefly come back to the subject of phobias. As part of my research I have found that there is literally nothing that the human mind cannot think itself into being scared of. It really brings home to me that the enemy can often be too much thinking. I guess fear in most cases is irrational. Maybe it's because we have it so good in the modern world that we insist on using our 'fight or flight' responses at wholly inappropriate times. I confess I am not immune to this. I was discussing with my counsellor today my deep seated fear of being wrong. This phobia is as irrational as any of them.

Anyway, during my research I discovered quite a comprehensive list of recognised phobias that are dealt with by mental health professionals. The list is truly bizarre in places and only seeks to underline my above point. (Phew, that means I'm right on this one, fight or flight averted.). Yes fear is a truly irrational thing, and I couldn't help but laugh a little as I read about: Anthrophobia - the fear of flowers; Chronomentrophobia - the fear of clocks; or even Octophobia - the fear of the figure 8 (that one sounds particularly devastating if you're a figure skater). I began to ask myself why we find this funny. I suppose we can all identify with fear and can laugh at it in others. We do however seem to forget how extreme these reactions can be. As I read case histories of people who can't leave the house, hold down a job or have any meaningful social interactions it starts to become no laughing matter. There was one phobia that stood out above the rest and it seems to illustrate this. Phobophobia - the fear of phobias. Yes, some people have an acute fear of fear itself. It must truly be debilitating, and I really admire anyone who's faced up to that one.

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. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

There is hope!

Today I decided to work on some much needed personal admin. At least that wast the plan, but I've just ended up doing stuff for our new club, The Royal National Theatre of Fools. I wanted to do personal stuff but the RNTF is just so much more exciting and inspiring.

Some of you lovely people who are following this blog may be wondering just what the hell this Royal National Theatre of Fools is, and what it has to do with being a fringe newbie? Well...

The Royal National Theatre of Fools is a radical alternative cabaret club starting soon in the heart of Peckham. It’s an immersive, eclectic, pop up, multimedia experience combining the talents of established and emerging variety acts with artists and designers from South London. It’s dedicated to the comedy of the modern clown, the absurd and the downright eccentric, expressed through live performance, film, art and design. If you are scared of Ronald MacDonald have no fear. We have a strict no white make up policy for our clown acts. (Red nose is optional.)

...at least that was the copy I came up with today for our website and I have to say I'm quite pleased with it.

It all started really as an idea for us to cut our teeth in the world of theatrical production. "Let's put on a club" we said, "that'll be easy". Of course the idea grew, and grew... and grew some more, so putting on a club has proved not to be that easy. We don't mind the hard work because the idea has grown into something that we like a lot. In fact we like it so much that we may even consider taking it up to Edinburgh next year as well. And so, following on from yesterday's blog, I've been busy looking into crowd funding. In case you don't know crowd funding is basically a way of raising money to fulfill your dream project. It works on the principle of getting a lot of people to invest a small amount towards a set target that will allow the project to go ahead. In return for this micro investment you offer them rewards ranging from things like free tickets to events to exclusive limited edition gifts for those who do donate larger sums. It's grass roots funding, and I'm a total fan. I know this blog may seem like a bit of a plug today, and that's because it is. I confess to being truly inspired with this funding idea and I now feel that we could actually pull off our grandiose scheme. I had a positive spring in my step as I strolled down Rye Lane in Peckham today to pay a visit to yet another potential venue. I have a new sense of confidence that maybe we won't have to sell everything we own (even the shirts off our backs for a contingency fund) to get this project up and running.

We have decided to crowd fund and have already started on one of our rewards. An exclusive gala fundraisers preview show at a venue in Central London and we'll keep you updated. Think big, that's what I say. Right, I'm now getting on my soapbox and proclaiming to the world (well to anyone who reads this, not quite the whole world, but part of it) that if you have a heart project or an artistic dream then crowd funding, consider you should. (I hope I'm allowed to steal the grammar of Yoda). And here are some links, follow you could.

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk
http://www.kickstarter.com
www.pledgeit.org.uk
http://spacehive.com



Mike Raffone is the co founder of the production company howhow along with his fiancé Grisel Tarifa. They will soon be crowd funding for their new performance club The Royal National Theatre of Fools. It will be dedicated to the clown, the absurd and the eccentric. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.



Monday, 10 September 2012

Mixed fortunes and little surprises

It's been a weekend of mixed fortunes for me. On the Howhow front Grisel and I have decided that if our dreams of putting on a show at next year's  Edinburgh Finge are to become a reality we need one thing. That's money. We've looked at budgets, re looked at budgets, tweeked those budgets... come up with new budgets... tweeked those... made cuts to those tweeked budgets.. tweeked those... and so it goes on. No matter how we look at it we still come up with the same conclusion, Edinburgh 2013 will probably cost us. The slow reality has dawned on us that we need funding if any of this is to happen. Of course when I say we looked at budgets, its been mainly Grisel. She's a tireless saint when it comes to looking at the accounts.

I've also come to a personal conclusion that I need to do something that I've never done in my life before... wait for it... yes, I have to start saving money. In the precarious world performing I guess I've done alright. I've survived. Money has always come to me at the right time, but it's always left me just as quickly. I believe in our production company, but belief alone is not enough. There now has to be a long term plan.

So this weekend I made a solemn commitment to performing my busking show in Covent Garden six days a week. Now at Covent Garden, like The Fringe, we pride ourselves at being open access... anyone can have a go. As a result there are so many regular performers there that a daily draw for shows is necessary. It's ironic that the weekend I decide to positively engage int the whole thing I'm rewarded with the worst luck ever. I've come bottom of the list every day since Friday and have had to endure working in the hot sun when everybody wanted to be in the shade, and in the shade when everybody wanted to be in the sun. I even did one show in the dark. I decided to work today, I mean, it's not everyday that 20 bus loads of Olympic and paralympic heroes parade through the center of town, 3 minutes walk from your pitch is it. Of course sod's law kicked in and I was last on the list again and ended up performing at 11:40 in the morning. For me, it's an anathema for any self respecting performer to work in the morning unless it's a kid's matinee but I though I would give it a go, after all I was there. As tumbleweed blew over the Piazza I managed to get four people to watch my lunatic goings on. Not only were they watching, but they were laughing. This inspired me to carry on and over the next forty minutes the show grew to a massive total of thirty. OK not a large audience, but one that was laughing. I guess this exclusive, but fun show was a reward for one thing... persistence.

It's not all been fun and games in the West End for me this weekend though. I've also managed to spend some time walking around Peckham and Camberwell with Grisel looking at potential venues for The Royal National Theatre of Fools. I guess we are open minded about what the first home for the RNTF will be. Rooms above pubs, abandoned cafes, church and community halls, derelict railway arches. You name it, we are considering it. One such place was the community center of a Greek Orthodox church on The Camberwell New Road. Yes, we even considered that. The hall turned out not to be what we were looking for however I felt privileged to be able to look at the actual church, which is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. I spoke to a lovely old woman who was busy cleaning in that slow methodical way that only seems to happen in churches. Hale and hearty and well into her nineties, she enthusiastically explained to me that the beautiful and vivid fresco of the last supper had only been painted 10 years ago by a Bulgarian. "There is a joke" she says, "that you can tell it's been painted by some who isn't Greek because the disciples look too well fed." I couldn't work out whether this was a comment on Greek Orthodoxy, or the Eurozone crisis, but I liked her, and the church that she so lovingly looked after. I'm glad that life can stiff offer these little surprises.

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. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

A little of what you know can do you good

Apologies for the two days absence. I've been unwell. It seems that my body has reacted quite badly to being pumped with sedative drugs and prescription pain killers, so I've been suffering from what can only be described as the worst three day hangover I've ever had without having a single drink. I still don't feel 100 per cent but let's give this blog a go.

It all started with my visit on Monday to the dental hospital, and it's been quite a drama. You see I have to confess that since I can remember I've always been squeamish, and will quite readily faint at the sight of blood, or the thought of a doctor's needle.  Earlier this year my dentist told me that I needed to have two teeth taken out and arranged for an appointment at Guys's Hospital who have an excellent dental surgery department. From the word go I opted for sedation as the only way I could get through this, unfortunately this was to be injected intravenously. The first attempt was aborted as I fainted when the catheter was placed in my arm. An appointment was made for a couple of months after and this time I was in such a state of anxiety I decided not to go through with it at all. With great patience the dentist re booked again.

And so last Monday, six months after the initial appointment I was one my way to Guy's for the third time determined to go through with this come what may. This time, however, my anxiety was a lot less. I was being accompanied by my fiance Grisel and this was really helping and it was something that had happened a few days earlier that had really made the difference. I had been researching phobias for my one man show, and there it was in black and white, 'trypanophobia, a fear of needles'. I read on, apparently trypanophobia can lead to a fear of medical procedures in general. "Could I really have this?" I wondered, and what I read next convinced me that I did. This phobia causes a raising of the blood pressure due to anxiety (this is common with most phobias), but when the procedure is started there is a sudden lowering of the blood pressure, which causes fainting. "So that's what's been going on all these years" I thought, "just a sudden lowering of my blood pressure, that's all." Now I never ever thought that I had a phobia so this was a revelation to me, and I started to look at my squeamishness in a differnent way. I wasn't just some wimpy bloke who faints at the sight of blood, no, I had I phobia, and irrational fear of something. How cool is that? It's ironic, but knowing this really helped. I realized that I'd had needles poked into me and had all sorts of long and uncomfortable dental procedures in the past so what made this one so different? I came to the conclusion that the only difference was that this latest procedure was being called an operation, and it was taking place in a hospital. Perhaps it was this that was this that was causing me so much anxiety? With the problem identified I could now reason with myself that the procedure (I still like to call it that) was routine and no big deal, and that the wonderful dentists at Guys Hospital were not Victorian barber surgeons (as my fear addled mind had told me), but were in fact a fantastic and caring team of healthcare professionals. I even told myself that it was OK to faint, because after all, I had a phobia.

As Grisel and I entered the ward we were both surprised at what we saw. There was literally about forty odd dentist chairs in one huge room. Each one in it's own little cubical. And there was a palpable air of hustle and bustle and patients were brought in and discharged at a rapid rate. My immediate thought is that this was some grim Stalinist conveyor belt of torture, but this time the thought was a joke. I even mused that this was maybe the way that The Moonies usually got their teeth fixed and I inwardly chuckled to myself. In fact, now that reason and not blind panic seemed to be taking over, the mass nature of all of these operations (there, I've used the dreaded 'O' word) only helped me to see that it was all just routine. I felt that I had finally taken control. I sat in the chair and proudly stated to the dentist that I had a phobia, and she, her nurse and Grisel immediately went into overdrive to make sure I was OK. I have to say though, that although I had faced my fear I was still very grateful for the sedatives, and this time as the needle went in it was just like any other time at the dentists. The drugs kicked in and I was starting to enter the land of Ga Ga, but  I still managed to ask the dentist, "How is my blood pressure doing?" "Normal", she replied. It seems that knowledge is power.

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. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to www.howhow.co.uk for more info.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Weekend over, so it's back to the word cruncher.

I confess to being a little disappointed today (or at least my over sensitive, artistic ego is). I asked a number or my friends to subscribe to my blog, this in itself proved difficult as the subscription for this blog is an RSS feed, and some of my friends are technically unsavvy to say the least. Try explaining the wonders of Real Simple Syndication to someone who has trouble with email and you understand my situation. I ended up giving time consuming and confusing IT training on Facebook and, of course, Facebook being the wonderfully interactive tool that it is, it wasn't long before a number of other friends were posting comments like "Yes, I tried and couldn't do it as well, I'm glad I'm not the only one". How come they all get the idea of Facebook, and not RSS? In the end we all decided that it was better not to subscribe but just to read the damn thing.

Anyway, I've decided to use this blog as a sort of warm up to the day's writing and I wanted a kind of support group. The theory being, that if I'm not blogging then I'm not writing. I even said that they didn't have to read it, they just had to hassle me if I stopped doing it. Well, I decided to take this weekend off blogging, expecting to get floods of texts. How many did I get?... none. It seemed obvious to me that when I said don't read it, I meant, read it.

Maybe the real reason that I took the weekend off writing was not a cunning and brilliant piece of reverse psychology (well in my mind anyway), but the fact that I had such a bad hangover that all I was good for was to lie groaning on the couch watching Homes Under The Hammer, and The Heir Hunters (or was it the Paralympics, I can't remember). I just don't know how heaving drinking authors do it. Brendan Behan, I take my hat off to you. On Friday night I had met with an old theatre producer friend of mine at a Soho wine bar. I liked the place, but I'm the first to admit that these days I'm less fussy. I have just three criteria for pubs and wine bars, 1) they must be independently owned, 2) they must have an atmosphere that is the exact opposite to All Bar One or Cafe Nero and 3) they must be unlikely to be frequented with bankers or 20 - 30 somethings who live in Shoreditch. As we were drinking rose on my friends tab, I was cheerfully informed that the top floor was a bondage parlor, and  sitting at the tables outside on the pavement watching the comings and goings of Berwick Street, "this is Soho" I thought to myself. Even being almost taken out by a Westminster Council pavement cleaning vehicle on a regular basis only added to the fun.

Not only did I over consume on the wine front, but the following sleepless night only made matters worse. You see my theatre making friend was very enthusiastic about our ideas for the Royal National Theatre of Fools and kept offering advice support and contacts, saying things like, "You should arrange a meeting with so and so, he doesn't know what he's doing, you could get a good deal out of him." Later in the evening, when the brandy was flowing there was even talk about a small investment. I confess that I'm still not used to people actually liking my work, (remember the 12 subscribers to our mailing list, now 15) and I still react like a teenager. That night my head was spinning with plans to take over the world using absurdist and eccentric comedy. (To my knowledge this is a new idea in world domination, people usually go for bog standard totalitarianism.)

I suppose the internet silence over my blog makes we wonder if there is anyone out there reading this rambling? I hope so, it's fun to write. Oh well, it looks like I'll have to go from 5 days a week to 7, and it's goodbye to rose in Soho wine bars for a while at least.

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 http://www.howhow.co.uk/#!national-theatre-fools/cozg to subscribe to the monthly newsletter that Mike toiled so hard to create