I remember fondly the first paycheque I received from acting (some may have written "acting" including one reviewer but I stick by the former). It wasn't that long ago, 14 years, but it was pretty momentous. I nearly framed it and kept it but it was worth actual money. And it was made all the sweeter for being remuneration for a Doctor Who audio story produced by Big Finish and directed by my lovely mate Gary Russell. Having been a gigantic fan of classic Doctor Who - i.e. before girls really got involved - this was a dream come true.
I mildly digress and run the risk of this becoming a blog solely revolving around a Time Lord so I shall keep the Who references to a minimum-ish, until they become the subject.
Like the overwhelming majority of actors (and serendipitously I like the overwhelming majority of actors) I find financial reward in other places.
And I'm OK with this. Now. These days.
As part of my new year's resolution stroke ongoing attempt to find more inner peace and happiness I am working strongly on the tenets of Eckhart Tolle and truly appreciating the power of now, of being in the present moment as much as possible.
A little over ten years ago I was working with Matt Donald in Harrods for a marvellous company demonstrating and selling magic tricks and toys. We later found ourselves working in [a major toy-store] after a misunderstanding with Harrods. That misunderstanding being that we initially thought that Harrods weren't twats, but later discovered they were twats.
[A major toy-store] however are lovely and the store induction definitely isn't excruciating. When the recent offer for ongoing-flexible-templike work came in I had to really think about whether or not I wanted to work there again. Nothing to do with the job, simply that didn't it feel like a failure, a stagnation? The same thing I was doing ten years ago... But I decided to breathe, be in the present moment and see what happened. And of course it's a lot of fun, being retrained on magic tricks involving illuminating thumbs and expertly palming balls is nothing but a joy, and a skill to be mastered and most likely utilised in my performance life.
Ten years ago my motivation for working there was to earn enough money to be able to afford three bottles of wine for a fiver (no matter when you read this these events weren't long enough ago for that wine to be anything other than of appalling quality) so Matt Donald and I could enjoy an evening watching The X-Files or 24 until we basically had to get up for work the next day.
Today, other than helping with the exigencies of paying rent, it's an opening into a whole new world. I get to delight Oli and Dora with thumbs that light up and disappear into their heads, as well as teach them the secrets. This is early days of course. There may come a time when I have repeated the same card trick several hundred times and they ask to me to really really consider whether or not I want to marry their mum...
It's a chance to perform, earn some money, be surrounded by the glorious unstoppable energy of children, and even bring a fresh smile to the face of the by now short-suffering parent who has seen all manner of flying driving lifting throwing drawing temptations on offer throughout the store.
Sometimes I do other things.
Sometimes I work for a lovely staffing agency at Excel, Earl's Court or Olympia. This can be extremely varied and fascinating. For several years I have enjoyed the same position at the London International Wine Fair - under the table - Ahhhh! Jokes.
It can also be, well, other.
It is definitely perplexing to be in charge of a roving microphone at a financial conference listening to a group of people who all look like people and who are ostensibly talking in English, I am ASSURED they are talking in English but it is literally in such a tedious, dense, esoteric argot that I literally hear people speak for hours in my own language and do not understand a single thing anyone has said all day. That can be somewhat boring and frustrating.
But not nearly as frustrating as the day we lost Garry Jenkins.
When I'm at these conferences or exhibitions now I practise being present and happy. Happy to be there and happy for whatever I'm doing. There are varying levels of enjoyment, of course. I may be a supervisor with autonomy working directly with organisers and not in any one position all day. I may be in the same place all day but working in an room full of interesting discussion topics. (I've learnt a lot, from things like why olive oil shouldn't be heated to the fact that most of the world's leading medical practitioners can't give a speech worth a fuck. They may have interesting things to say, it's just a shame that the way they say can often make those listening wish they had actually undergone a stroke, rather than just experiencing the symptoms).
Anyway, if I'm in a room at least I'm not on a stand (at quieter shows less action so more internal clock-watching). If I'm on a stand at least I'm not a salesperson on a stand. If I'm a salesperson on a stand then at least I'm not a cleaner (especially at the wine show).
Actually, if I'm a salesperson on a stand then I really do look forward to going home.
So I can do the cleaning.