Saturday, 5 December 2009

An early Xmas Gift

Merry Xmas and all that...

Just a little present from my private collection of random crap on cameras and computers over here.

Suppose if you like it we could arrange to do more.... let me know.


video

Monday, 23 November 2009

Can you love someone without ever meeting them? I love this man...

No Rhyme or reason to this post, just felt like it.

David Attenborough. If I could see into the future and see that I have achieved a nth of what this great person has I would know that my life was worth it.

If there is a person who has done more for education I don't know them. To be able to make fox's interesting and relevent to my life and my being alive is astonishing.

Not much else to say but a sentiment quoted from Mr.Attenborough when asked about his status of an Agnostic "My view is: I don't know one way or the other but I don't think that evolution is against a belief in God."

There you are, random but true. Is it possible to love someone without ever having met them?

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Few things started it

I am a member of a chain email group thing which is basically a load of mates who kill time at work by talking about stuff. Usually mundane. Usually about some obscure cricket player who plays on the reserve team on the isle of wight or something. Occasionally things get a bit more interesting however and a flurry of emails went flying around concerning a friend of mine from school who joined up to the army at the earliest opportunity and has since been serving our country abroad. This old friend had posted a status update on Facebook about a week ago which I will paste here word for word (apart from his name)...


"...Thinks the amount of Anti-Soldiers groups on facebook is a FUCKING joke i wonder how quick a KILL EVERY FUCKING MUSLIM SHIT CUNT group would get kicked off Facebook! If people dont like the sacrifice our troops are making then GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY COUNTRY ! NO FUCKING MUSLIMS can be trusted as the 5 lads in Afghan have paid the ultimate price ! RIP Lads !"


...Ok. So thats that. On first read its pretty shocking and actually still is. Upon reading this I started to rush through a reply -

"To every person that has served our country - thank you.

B**** you have done something that I could never do. You must have seen things that I would never wish to. I dont know what seeing people that I love die in front of me would do to me because thank fuck its never happened to me.

I fucking love this country. I'd like to say I would die for it but I don't think I could. ... Read more

Dont really know how to respond to your post really, but i feel like I should. I suppose some at home cunt like me who has had a nice warm comfortable life while our boys and girls are over there giving everything should just stay quiet.

I think i can understand where your coming from, even though I know I could never know the dog shit horrible things you've obviously been through.

Suppose its useless saying I think to tar all Muslims -or as your post commenters said "Paki's" or "shit skins" with the same brush is idiotic and small minded. Think your exposure to people from the middle east has been a world away from mine.

Im doing a lot of supposing, thats all I can do. Things are in a shit state of affairs. I don't like racism. I dont like idiotic replies to someones obvious heartfelt - if not rage fueled post. Fuck 5 more lads? makes me angry and Im a civvie.

If I was fighting in a country far from home, fighting to liberate the country and my mates were being killed by inhabitants of that county AND living day to day with the possibility that I might die next - I think It would make me rageful and angry and personally think it would fuck with my head. If i put it like that then I can sympathise with your views that no Muslims can be trusted. I dont agree with that view, or the views of some of your replies but I can understand how angry and hard done by you must feel.

I think your more intelligent then that. I hope its a view that you posted through anger and hate for seeing people you know die and not actually because you think no Muslim or "Paki" or "Shit skin" can be trusted, because frankly thats bollocks.

Don't remember you being that way back in the old school days though mate. Hope your well, and the family. Let me know when your back in chingford and if your around maybe you can put me straight over a drink or something."


as I was about to post I phoned another friend of mine to discuss. What ensued was a heated debate centered mainly on whether one could sympathise with someones views such as the above even though we could never truly know what fighting in a war and seeing your mates die in front of you is like. I argued that it seemed to me that the dehumanisation that you must go through to be able to kill another person would inevitably lead you down a road of "us and them". The ability to kill another person, I assume, Is part of your remit as a soldier at war, to deal with this - so I have been told and read previously - involves dehumanising the enemy as so to be in a position to kill efficiently when the time comes. On top of this, I argued, seeing mates that you serve with being killed on an almost daily basis must further emphasise this gap between "Us and them" and I could understand, emotionally, that that would fuck with my head and somehow further enforce any moronic prejudices that may have been thrown up through the process of being in another country and fighting and having your life threatened and having to deal with the fact that you too need to be able to pull a trigger.

My friend argued with me that we could not possibly sympathise as we have not been through the experience that this soldier friend has. We haven't lost mates on a daily basis and that In this age of facebook, twitter, wikipedia, worldwide news coverage and information on tap that a modern day soldier cannot be exonerated from retaining moronic views such as those in the status update.

I dont think its as simple as that. No matter what information is there I think serving my country at war is a bloody complicated job. The physical stress is nothing compared to the mental. The appropriating your mentality and feelings to the job in hand is not something we are evolved for and Its no wonder someone has the views such as the post above. But yes I don't know what I'm talking about really, I haven't been through it. Imagining it isn't the same as living it and I wish I never have to.

I do think I should try and understand these views, and where they come from otherwise I'm just creating an "Us and them" between me and the people who have those views. Like them or not they are humans too.... obviously.

Besides all that, Well done to everyone who serves this country, I couldn't do it.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

AH, fell at the first hurdle didnt i?

Been a hectic couple of weeks and would've been great to keep updated here on whats been going on as I think it would've served as an interesting insight into how these things work... or maybe it would've been boring. Will never know....
What I will do is give a summary. It will have to be over the weekend however as I am completley bloody shattered, despite having agreed to play 5 aside tonight with a Jewish league team (really should tell more about this - actually hilarious) maybe ill include some anecdotes on tonights farce of a game...

anyway, undecipherable as this is its all i got right now.

In the words of Russell Brand, Love you bye, love you bye.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Coming up........

So, I been trying to come up with a solid reason to blog regularly. I have random passions that would suit for the occasional outburst of typing energy, and i think thats the best way to write these things, randomly and passionately.

To contradict myself, however, I think i have come up with a way in which I could sustain a constant flow of this stuff in my brain onto this here blog.

For the 2 or so years I felt I had a lot to prove. I was a soap actor. I was a young soap actor. I was paid generously. I worked a fuckload. I hadn't gone through the stage school/drama school system. I had a working class accent/background similar to that to EE.

I was angry, confused, confident and naive. And I knew it (see blog "why did you leave..."). I knew I had a lot to learn and set about in doing that. I enrolled In classes. I turned down all TV work. I felt by sticking to theatre I would gain a knowledge and credibility never before afforded me, and to a certain extent It did.

So this year I felt it was time that I tried a little return to TV work and again set about in implementing that. I auditioned for stuff. I auditioned badly for stuff. The baggage of soapland still I carried. Not that anyone else made me feel that, It was me.

Anyway, long story short, I let my head get in the way of my heart and consequently I had become a fucking shitty actor - I resorted to cheap tricks and not believing a thing I was doing. It's deadly for an actor.

Then I was awoken to a new way of acting. A new technique (for me) - The Meisner Technique.

Again long story short, I have my first TV job for a while coming up and am feeling quite neurotic about the whole thing and I thought It may be an interesting read for me to blog the process of working on a character.

So for the next little while I'll let you know whats going on and how I approach things, analyse a script, accent, physicality, preparations etc etc etc...

For now you can know that I am in the process of confirming the job and then we can all get started...

J.A

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Neils reading of the blog...

Coming soon, Neil Silverman with his interpretation and review of this blog.

Sounds weird but if the test run yesterday is anything to go by its going to possibly be the funniest thing ever witnessed. Even funnier the Del Boy falling through a bar, or David Brent dancing or something.

J.A

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

WHY DID YOU LEAVE, WAS IT CAUSE YOUR SHIT? - well, sort of actually...

Since leaving EE I get asked quite a few questions quite a lot. Amongst the most common ones are;

1. Aint you working anymore?
2. Why don't you go on strictly come dancing/Im a celebrity etc etc etc...
3. Can you please pay your bill?
4. Did they kill you off?
5. Can you shut up?
6. Can i see your drivers license, sir?
7. Didn't you used to be on the telly?
8. What are you doing in my house?
9. Why are you such a dick?
10. And the most common one, Why'd you leave Eastenders? (why don't you go back?)

This blog is attempting to answer number 10 for once and for all!! here goes...

The familiar sounds of Easties dramatic conclusion came to an end. I sat there for a few moments. My mum, bless her, turned to me and said, as she usually did, "you were good tonight" I sat there for a few more moments trying to work out what the bubbling torment in my stomach was, and how best to articulate it. Was it pleasurable? nope. Was it excitement? no. was it Indigestion? Nearly, but no. "I was shit!" I declared.

It was one of those moments you have, well i have had anyway, a moment of realisation that the certainty you have as a child was ill founded. That things don't always happen how you expect. That sometimes things need to be taken into your own hands. That night i saw myself on t'telly and i was shit, and i knew then that i had to do something about it. I wasn't that dismayed actually, i just knew that something had to be done.

At the time i was 14 and just about as self conscious as i was ever likely to be. Struggling with all the usual teenage boring angsty stuff which is not even worth mentioning just fill in your own and your about there, as well as also being that Kid on the telly (I'm just slightly proud to note that the show was getting about double the audience it is now... ahem) so the realisation i was a shitty actor could've gone pretty badly - could'a'been all sorts of off the rails behavior. Instead I knew that i had a few things to learn and i couldn't just go in day after day and mess about anymore. So i became very serious about things. And that hasn't really gone away since.


At about 18 or so i had another one of those realisation thingys. I had been invited to be amongst a select few from EE's to attend a certain awards show, and not a shitty one either. I took this as quite the compliment and a bit of an achievement on my part, felt like i belonged and all that jazz didn't i? (I'm wiping away a nostalgic tear) So there i was sitting on a table, all suited up and having a little look around at all the faces when a fellow-will remained unnamed - EE cast mate decided to pipe up. "where's my Champagne??" He/She spat out with all the grace of a Dickensien fat gentlemen/madam to the poor sod who was waiting our table. They persisted to whine for it and moaned that they shouldn't have to pay for it either. The rest of the table found this to be quite hilarious, out of politeness?, i don't know but in any case everyone seemed to laugh a lot. That's when the realisation hit me. This is why i get heckled in the street. This is why a certain ownership is felt by people over soap actors more then any other. I could see the looks we as a table were getting, and even heard it as well, "would be that lot wouldn't it" . The blind arrogance of said individual was seen as typical of soap actors (its not by the way, but not that rare neither) . It was then i realised that i was associated with this. It was then i realised I was also regarded like this. It was then i realised I wanted to leave the show.

At this point I'd like to say, I didn't want to leave because I looked down on the person from the paragraph above, or EE or any soaps. No fucking way. I loved that show. It was my nursemaid for years, It provided me with work, money, friends and a career. But like most kids i knew i had to leave home to grow up some.

I had to get away from being comfortable. I felt repulsed that I was pigeon holed with the likes of the champagne demander above, the kiss and tell boys, the cheeky chappy fellas that considered themselves actors because they manage to say a few words with a frown on their face in front of a camera (yes that was a rant)... anway I had a craft to learn and i got to a point where I wasn't going to learn anymore from being silver spooned. I came to despise the naivety that so called celebrity gives by default. naivety should be clarified; It bred in me a self assurance i knew wasn't warranted. I left that show having been there for 10 years. I had been closeted from a lot of things and so flew the nest and have been flapping my wings ever since.

The reason I started this blog is another blog in itself but i suppose in a simplified form i have a lot of opinions and have been afraid what people might think of them, in the past. I also don't like the idea of selling oneself private lives to newspapers and magazines either. And i won't really reveal anything private here, just its a nice unedited forum on which i can say a few things about a few things.

To wrap up I recently had another of those realisation thingymajigs, I realised that no matter how much I engage in politeness and keeping people happy i will always piss someone off so why not be happy and say what i feel, and btw I still think I'm a shit actor but thats why I'm still learning.

Anyway, as usual this is written all at speed and without much editing so please excuse spelling and i's instead of I's

J.A

Been a while... little update

So It's been a while. A lot to tell i suppose. I'll use this little update as a way of a little plan on what's to come from this little blog o'mine.

So what's been happening.

Work, or the lack thereof. The country is the grips of its highest unemployment for a long time, highest debt, recession and all that jazz. I suppose my situation is a privileged one, or has been anyway. I left a tv show with all the naivety of a child actor who grew up in a show where everything is taken care of short of having my arse wiped for me. I'd never tasted what its like to have to make your own way in the world, to carve out a career to provide for myself. And by the way i was well aware of that fact, an awareness of ones own ignorance seems a bit of a paradox but true nevertheless. So ill be writing a little something reviewing the last two years or so of my life since leaving Easties, going from working fucking hard 24/7 to actively seeking an education on what acting really is to carefully selecting work that what help me accomplish that to the situation i find myself in now - tempting to go further right now...

What else, well slightly related to above but have something akin to a religious conversion in terms of acting. I have started training in something called the Meisner technique, an acting method devised by Sanford Meisner (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meisner_technique). It has completely blown my world apart and opened my eyes pretty sharpish to what acting can and should be. And as any new convert to a religion i find myself wanting to shout the good news from roof tops and speaking with dedicated enthusiasm to anyone that will listen. Some people find Jesus, I found Meisner... More to come on that one!

Again related to above, but enough to say that it will require its own blog - TV shows, or more specifically those that I get offered on a regular basis but that I seem to have a physical reaction to. Much like when you here of some terrible sex crime, i get that same shudder when offered anything with a title along the lines of "Celebrities in a jungle dancing on ice" - Not that i begrudge anyone taking part in these shows, I have very good friends who do and are currently taking part in shows such as these. Not "Celebrities in a jungle dancing on ice" - thats a made up one... but give it time

So to finish up, I suppose its time not to be afraid of who i am, my opinions or sharing them. Funny old business this one I'm in, so often I find myself scared to give my ideas on things as I'm afraid of offending people. What I have come to terms with recently however is that as long as you have a good reason and can back those ideas up with solid logic, most people will respect you for it... hopefully... see you soon.

J.A

Monday, 20 July 2009

Last night i punched a man in the street.

Last night i punched a man in the street.

True -

La Haine, my most watched film. Hard to say my favourite, but its one of those that plays with my intestines and gets my muscles twitching to write or direct and most of all puts a rocket up the arse of my passion for acting.

Long story short - its a film of 3 young suburban Parisian friends the day after a riot has taken place and their journey throughout the day. One is a Black Gym owner (whose gym was burnt down the night before) One is a skinhead Jew (who stole a policeman gun in the confusion of the riot the night before) and one is Arabic (Who Wrestles with the two sometime opposing friends and is eternally happy and seemingly carefree).

There is infinitely more this film deals with, but to me what has always stuck is the way it deals with 3 men and their relationships with each other, their differing cultures never an issue and the obvious tooth and nail nature in which they will defend each other.

Yesterday, in retrospect, reminded me of this film and its themes - and opened my eyes at shocking speed to the experience of ethnic minorities in London.

I met up with two friends of mine. One of which i see on a regular basis, the other I had not seen for about a year, when we had worked together. Both are passionate, interesting, successful and wholly nice blokes. Both are of Asian descent (to clarify, i write Asian as I'm not exactly sure at the time of writing, but i know one is Persian/Indian, and the other, I'm about 80% sure is of Indian descent).

We had arranged to meet at the Shoreditch festival (http://www.shoreditchfestival.org.uk/) to see a dance act called Twilight Players (far too brief, they were excellent). After a jug of Pimms or two we were ready to eat and made our way over to The Hoxton Bar and Grill and had some excellent ribs/steak/burger over some very deep chat.

Now 3 men sitting and talking quite honestly about themselves is something quite rare to me. I think white suburban London isn't a place that lends itself to emotional revelation, such is where i grew up and still live. I think a heady mixture of Nostalgia and food got us in the mood to talk about the deeper things in life.

The 3 of us first encountered each other in very turbulent times. A tragic event occurred through completely unprovoked violence which left us, at the time, shell-shocked and angry at first and ultimately contemplative and questioning. 1 year on even more so and this manifested itself on saturday in the discussion of self doubt and worth, an oh so common theme amongst actors at the best of times - and we found ourselves opening up in a way which was refreshing and became quite bonding.

For example, and forgive my vagueness, one of us talked about how they feel they are being judged a lot of the time, and especially amongst successful people can find themselves becoming uncharacteristically withdrawn and isolated. It occurred to me that i feel the same, but actually that self doubt drives me to reach out for more and strive to be better at what i do. (wanky, yes, but tis true).

While waiting outside while one of our trio were taking a piss, the conversation turned, as it happens, ominously, to the racial prejudice these two young men had experienced from time to time. Recently, i explained, i was traveling with an Indian friend of mine. The trip involved stopovers, and therefore quite a bit of security checks at airports. I saw first hand the gulf between me as a young white man (i was stopped once for a metallic buckle on the belt i was wearing) and my friend who seemed to be frisked, questioned, looked at fearfully and also inexplicably told to either put his phone away or turn it off at passport control - all the while i was standing next to him happily texting away as were nearly everyone else after a 10 hour flight.

Re-joined by our now relieved third member we mosied on over to a bar that we knew had some old school arcade machines and the conversation continued.

Now before I move on I think it relevant to mention something. Now we know that the other two fellows are asian, specifically from the Asian-subcontinent. Further to this both wear beards. Yes its true. Neither do this for religious reasons. One has a short, neat beard he wears because, frankly it looks good. The other has a wild bush of face fuzz which at first glance gives him the appearance of a wild man, a caveman, a fucking feral beast-boy.

This bearded modern caveman is not defined by his hair, as much as he not defined by the colour of his skin or the clothes he wears. But when i see him the first thing that comes to my mind is a prehistoric wandering man looking for food to gather and bring back to his tribe! BUT, Having the privilege of friendship with this person i know him to be deeply intelligent, superbly talented, eternally interesting and also bloody funny as well. His beard didn't tell me that. His random clothes choices didn't tell me that. His skin didn't tell me that. My opinion of him was formed through interaction. Through chats, jokes, drinks and food. Through his anecdotes, his search for love, his imitation of american stand-ups, the stillness he creates on stage that i can only envy at, his ease of conversation with anyone he meets his constant happy nature and the genuine intrigue he seems to have on life.

I like to think that all my opinions of people are founded on such a solid base. I'd like to think that, i aspire to that. But i know that as a human my brain is not evolved to work like that. Its tribal, it sticks to what it knows and feels safe in the known. It forms opinions instantly, anything unknown or foreign - it fears. Its safe where it is, and rejects what it doesn't know.

Human intellect and Intelligence dictates otherwise however. We know there is nothing to fear really. That a different culture is something to be respected and learnt from. Logic tells us that the instant opinion we feel upon meeting someone is founded on absolute bollocks all.

But even though i know that i still can't help thinking of a prehistoric creature whenever i see my friend with the big beard.

So i can almost (almost) understand what happened to our 3 heroes when sitting outside a bar in one of the most multicultural and liberal areas of one of the most intergrated and tolerable cities in the world.

I can almost understand that when another trio of men walked down the same street we were sitting on and they saw our bearded friend sitting and laughing and enjoying the early saturday evening air that they instantly formed an opinion.

What i can't really understand is that one of these men decided it was his job to approach our bearded hero, put his finger in said beard and shout at the top of his lungs "CAR BOMBER!".

Well, racial stereotypes sure have com a long way from the whispers of "Paki" you used to hear tentatively in school in the outskirts of London, but nevertheless it was quite obvious this was an instant opinion formed by this man and just as quickly acted upon.

What happened next was, as these things often are, a bit of a blur. I in an instant felt confused and angry. I very quickly felt quite offended and reacted appropriately. I think my reaction was something along the lines of standing up from my chair and shouting "what the fuck did you say?" I know, not exactly tactful or witty. My bearded friend had also reacted along the same lines.

Later on in the evening we would discuss what happened next. My friend had felt it was the last straw, and he was tired of having to be meek and mild, and had dealt with these situations with words previously. But its quite hard to deal with words when you have 3 40 something men snarling and threatening you in the middle of an east London street.

A lot of hand bags ensued. General shouts of "fuck off" and "just walk away you prick" but strangely enough that only seemed to inflame the situation. Funny that.

Now although i feel completely justified in what i did next, i really am not proud.

A punch was thrown. NOT by me. A drunken mistimed anti-queensberry rules punch was thrown by one of the bigoted racist trio. In an instant i found my self reacting and throwing one myself. Being evidently more sober i hit the guy.

And that was it. Any argument i had before that for peaceful protest was gone. Any anti-violent ethos was shattered. i had reacted physically to my friend being verbally, racially and physically attacked by punching someone in the face. And you know what it felt good. I have to be honest there is no two-ways about it. It felt good to hit the snarling bigot in the face. I really wish there was a way to avoid it, and trust me i tried. But in that instant the pre-historic caveman emerged in me. Hit or be hit.

I wish we could all have sat down and reasonably sorted out our differences and aimed to better understand why we all felt the way we did. Wasn't going to happen though.

Anyway - this was written with all the passion and speed of the event itself, so i hope it makes sense and i hope you can form an opinion of it through consideration. cheers!

J.A