After my then ex had throw me out after I found out she had been shagging a stream of men over 6 years, leaving me with just what I stood up in, broke, homeless and living on the streets. I have to admit I'd hit the floor in so many ways.
Saturday, 17 December 2011
After my then ex had throw me out after I found out she had been shagging a stream of men over 6 years, leaving me with just what I stood up in, broke, homeless and living on the streets. I have to admit I'd hit the floor in so many ways.
Sunday, 27 November 2011
You may have noticed a bit of a dichotomy appearing in these posts, that although I was often travelling all over the place as a young man working as an escape artist, I was also acting like a total lunatic. This does have a back-story and while maybe not as 'funny' as previous posts it may help to explain the split.
back when I was at school (back in the stone age for those of you under 25, the wheel had just been invented, everyone lived in a rather garish version of colour and acted like Gene Hunt ), As I was living in my home town where there was mass unemployment due to the steel works being closed and no one had a fucking bean. The idea of a lad starting at aged 11 yrs old was earning more for a 10 minute act than most people did in a month did not go downwell.
Not even a little bit!
.....in fact that's putting it rather mildly.
It made me unpopular with the other kids as being on TV, radio and papers what seemed to them like all the time doesn't make you Mr Popular at that age. (Even less so when it doesn't stop after a few weeks but goes on till the age of 17). So being bullied at school was the norm for me, and I had just about every type of bullying you can imagine.
'High Points' include :
- Being dangled out of a 3rd story school window by my feet
- Slashed with razor blades more times than I care to count (a few scars still show)
- Having my arm set fire to (although later I'd do this for shits and giggles at parties lol)
- A sharpened metal rod shoved somewhere you REALLY don't want it to be....ever... in a metal work class. (yes it did leave a fucking scar before you ask)
- Being beaten up by a mob of over 150 kids as I'd recently been on TV the night before.
- beaten in the eye with a wooden pole leaving me blind in one eye for 48 hours. (the eye I curently have problems with unsurprisingly enough)
I could go on but chances are you're having a problem beliving the stuff I've put above let alone adding the other things. So suffice it to say that I had a rough time at school. It was made a bit easier as at 3.30pm I could go home and I was earning a lot of money. I didn't spend it on much apart from an ever increasing collection of antique handcuffs and some very expensive locks. The money built up and up. My parents weren't pushy showbiz types, far from it. In fact I know the whole idea of me working on stage at that age did worry them, but they were supportive and I have no complaints about them. They never touched a penny and it was still there when I left school.
Now this is probably where both they and I did make a rather huge fucking mistake. The day I left school was one of the happiest days of my life, I went into the garden and burned every book, uniform, bag..in fact any fucking thing that reminded me of school in any way. The idea of going onto college or uni was not going to happen as I was not going to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. (Which I do regret a bit to be honest).
So I embarked on what can only be called the world longest party, fueled by the money I'd earned over the years. (What I didn't party was eaten up in private medical bills years later). I started the day I left school and didn't stop until I was about 26. I grew to resent that after a serious health problem I could no longer be an escape artist as it could cost me the ability to walk and pushed all that away like it was poison.
I've never 'fit in' my whole life and the one thing I wanted at that point more than anything was 'to be normal'. I wasn't quite sure what 'normal' was but I decided to have a damn good bash at finding out. Although I had no real idea what 'rebelling' was, I was pretty sure I was doing it right. You name it and I've probably done it back in the crazy decade of my life. Every day was a party and there was only one rule:
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law".
(A bonus point if you can name who said that quote.....)
I drove my parents nuts once I'd left school as I'm one of life's extremists. other people for example would listen to a song and buy the album, I would buy all the albums, every bootleg and track down every video tape. This repeated in whatever I was interested in. other people partied for a couple of years then settled down to 'working for the man'. Back in the day my mates and I all made a pact to 'keep the faith'. Meaning to live the lifestyle we enjoyed and not to bow 'to the man'. Silly as it sounds I'm proud I'm the only one who never broke that. I may not party every day anymore but I am still prone to the occasional regressive craziness.
An example of recent craziness back before my wife and I had kids was we were walking back in the early hours from a jam session I'd had with my cousins. I was hungry and the only place open was the MacDonald's drive through. So my wife and I joined the queue with the cars and when I got to the window to give my order (to some very strange looks from the staff I may add) I deadpanned the whole thing pretending to drive an invisible car. So yes I do still have those occasional crazy moment although thankfully for my wife's sanity not very often these days. Although every time I mention 'the MacDonald's walk through' my wife still cracks up.
Next time its either going to be: 'Cooking with Alan' or 'The Day I Met my Wife'
Friday, 25 November 2011
That's a helluva confused title for a blog post I'm sure you agree, but if you can come up with a better one after reading this then be my guest. To wind up the 'entertainment' things for a while and move onto more serious stuff I'm going to cover two separate things in my life that I did for TV as both are interesting for different reasons.
Back when I was 15 years old I was all over newspapers and TV as an escape artist, maybe the one thing I have fond memories of was when I was asked to do the old ITV primetime show 'what's my line'. It turned out to be the 2nd from last episode that Eamon Andrews ever did before he died. That name won't mean a helluva lot to many younger readers, but back in the day the guy was one of the big names of TV.
Having been asked to be on the show and having just finished my exams (the old 'O' levels), I had to travel down all expenses paid with my mam acting as chaperone (which may sound dull, but my mam is anything but a dull person). They really pulled the stops out , probably as it was just before my 16th birthday and it was business class all the way, chauffer driven limo and 5 star hotel. these were the days when TV companies had a shit load more money than they do now. When variety was king and 'reality TV' hadn't reared its ugly head and wiped out all before the altar of Simon Cowell.
The limo drive from kings cross was amazing for a young lad who had never been to London before (which was ironic as I'd been us about everywhere else lol). So on entering Thames Television it was crazy to see the other shows on the board being filmed in other studios. What caught my eye was the kids TV show Rainbow (this is back in the Zippy and George days before Bungle changed his voice). It's a show I've always had a soft spot for and I made the decision to try and get to see that studio if possible.
So I asked the assistant director who seemed to follow my mam and me around like a lost lamb if I could..the answer was a most emphatic NO!!!! The reason being that as the 'stars' couldn't be allowed to see the people on the show in advance in case they worked out what each person did it was not allowed. I was gutted. Back then they took this sort of thing very seriously not like today.
During the 1st rehearsal (minus 'stars') to check the angles they'd need for my escape there was a rather funny (to me) conversation. I was used to people assuming coz I wasn't an adult that somehow it'd be something 'easy' or that I'd be escaping using a key or something behind a big screen. (This was how 99% of escape artists did things back then...the screen I mean.) I have to admit that I had a bit of fun with that wound people up mercilessly many times. But not on this occasion as it was important.
Director: So Wayne do you need a screen or something to hide behind while you escape?
Me: no in the middle of the floor in front of the desks will be just fine.
Director: but wont people see you using a key?> cameras can zoom in quite close you know, its not like a stage.
Me: Honestly don't worry about it, I'll be picking the locks in front of people so they can see what I'll be doing (this was sort of my trademark back then)
Director: You can't show people how to pick a lock! We'll get taken of the air!
Me: I seriously doubt it as it's not like eating a biscuit ya know!
Directior: can you show me then and if I can copy it you'll have to use a screen.
(so after 5 mins of getting 3 extra pairs of hand cuffs from my bag back we are again both locked in 3 pairs of police regulation handcuffs and a long thick chain locked with 4 lever Hiatt padlock......)
Director: Do you have a spare lock pick for me then? (laughing and starting to take the piss a bit)
Me: no as I'm not using lock picks...
Director: but you said....
Me: I'm going to use a hair pin instead. (Americans: a bobby pin)
Now at this point Mr. Director bloke looked a big stressed as I'm guessing he thought I'd fuck it up lol.
Me: just say go when your ready...
on the word 'Go' from one of the floor crew I stuck the hair pin in my mouth and picked all 4 locks in about 10 seconds. Needless to say the director was stuck and I was allowed to do it in full view (which was a 1st for british TV by the way). he did ask one thing...if I could slow down a bit as 10 seconds was too fast. This is the 1st time I've admitted this but I slowed it down to the 30 seconds seen on the program. Although people thought that was amazingly fast next to the 3 mins other escape artists were taking.
Just before the show we all had to go to Eammon Andrews dressing room and have a chat 9adn sit in his rather nifty dentists chair). Turns out he was shit at putting handcuffs on and managed to trap the skin on my wrist badly on the show. (Which was why I covered my wrist with one hand afterwards, as the blood would have been a bit obvious otherwise lol.)
All day my mam and me had been talking to this nice secretarial type woman. imagine our show when as we were watching in the green room them finish what would be Eammon Andres last show when it turned out she was a stripper and stripped down to a Basque and panties! now I was your normal red blooded male and from that moment I never left her side lol. Funnily enough my mother was fine about all that as she knows what I was like back then.
So me and this woman(who for the life of me name I can't remember) decided to go AWOL and try and find Zippy and George and the Rainbow set. After creeping out we went roud corridors getting lost and maybe would have found it eventually if it had not been for literally bumping into Ernie Wise coming out of a lift on his way to the green room to meet the other people who had been on what's my line (he was on the panel..and no he didn't wear a wig...I asked and he let me pull on his hair to prove it lol). So we never did find them.... although Ernie wise was a fascinating man and spent a good 2 hours talking to my mother and me, when I never forgot. He took time to talk to people, real old school.
So me and this stripper who was still in the Basque she stripped down to on the show, sat till about midnight in the hotel bar chatting. Now I didn't have a chance, I was only 15 after all, but I thought all my birthdays had come at once!. But it didn't stop me absconding once my other was asleep and going on a taxi drive and walk about in the early hours with her. No nothing happened before you ask, but you could say she did manage to colour my views of women for a decade or so lol. (We'll go more into that at a later date.) Not many 15 year old lads get to have those experiences. Magic times......
While the most boring extra work I'd ever done, 'Our Friends in the North' was the most interesting in one way...the cast most of who were unknowns at the time. So I have happy memories of having a cuppa with a pre Doctor who (by a good few years)Christopher Ecclestone (quiet bloke didn't say much), a pre james bond Daniel Craig ( an even quieter bloke who insisted on remaining in character at all times on set) and the one big 'star' Malcolm MacDowell. That guy spent more time than he should have with the extras as I quote 'The crew and cast don't talk much and were boring to be around.' I wish I could remember more of what he talked to us all about, but my brain sort of stuck at the stuff he talked about Clockwork Orange. He explained the story behind it being pulled (like most people I'd believed it had been banned, not pulled as it actually had due to copy cat crimes.) What it was like to go into that part and the public reaction afterwards and the odd things people had said to him if they saw him in the street. One thing I can say is he has the same shoe size as me as there were no more left in costume in my size so they put his on me as he wasn't in the scenes I was.
Next time... 'rebel without a clue'
Monday, 21 November 2011
Back in the day, as well as working all over the world as a escape artist (must hunt out some pics / cuttings some day) I also joined the actors union 'Equity'. Being an Equity member was useful for one sole purpose.... extra work and bit parts. For every cool thing I got to be in, I was in 4 embaressing things such as the video below...(see if you can'spot the Wayne').
Embaressment factor: 9/10
Yep that was me in camera at the bar..and also if you look very carefully dancing as a teddy boy. not my finest hour I'll admit. But hey it got to number 1 in the charts (thus proving how sad music was back then) and meant it was shown on top of the pops over here lol.
I always tried to behave myself and be professional whenever I was doing extra or bit part work. Although that didn't stop odd things from happening. one day I got a call from my equity rep asking if I would want to be an extra in the royal festival ballets performance of swan lake. As it paid £500 a day I said yes rather fast. But it had a catch...
All we had to do was to wear a monks habit on stage and then after 40 mins standing stock still walk to the front and wave our arms about. What they did NOT tell us was the 'monks habits 'were made from an old horse hair blanket and under the lights you would lose about 1kg each time....I was already thin as a rake back then soI didn't need to lose weight. (But now I'd be begging to lose that much a day lol).
So we had the excellent idea of not wearing any clothes under our habits as it was simply too warm. plus if you were really careful and moved slowly enough you could have a bottle of water under the habit and move your arm out from the sleeve and bring it up to your mouth for a sly dry to rehydrate. It was all going swimmingly every night until the last night's performance....
I must back track at this point and explain that one of the other 'monks' was an actor we nicknamed 'ringpiece'. He was given this nickname due to having a massive ring piercing through the end of his knob. he wasn't exactly shy with showing it off either and was always getting into trouble slapping it out to show the ballet dancers. Sadly for him most were from lesbania.
So the last performance...we all go walking forward to do our 'waving arms about like a lunatic' bit and ringpeice slips flat onto his back, the monks habit up around his waist showing the entire theatre royal his pierced knob. He got sacked for that...although bit pointless as was the last night. It would not be my last encounter with 'ring piece'.
I next encountered 'Ringpiece' when filming as an extra on the above video for Robson and Jerome's single 'Saturday night at the movies'. While they both portrayed being big mates in interviews etc....it was obvious to anyone who saw them that they fucking hated being near each other. Imagine the oasis Gallagher brothers but with less violence lol. Robson Green was a great guy though and would come in each morning early to stand and act as teas maid for the extras and crew. He seemed a very nice guy from the times we were talking to him, obsessed with football and Newcastle united.
So on day one while we were filming the bar scene cowboy part it become time for us to break for dinner and that was setup to being a nice posh bar down on Newcastle's quayside. Right next door to the crown court and lots of barristers and lawyers went there for their Din-dins.
So as we're sitting eating a very nice buffet put on for us, one of the woman asks if its right that Ringpeice has a reverse prince Albert piercing on his knob. Now what he should have done was said 'yes', what he did was to drop his trousers in the middle of the bar full of posh business types and show the whole bar. It took a nice 'cash donation' from Robson and Jerome's production company for them not to call the police (as they were big names in England at the time it would have been eaten up by the papers). The rest of the shoot didn't go well as day two we all had food poisoning from day ones buffet! No wonder the two poor buggers never used extras in a video again lol.
There was another phone call the next year for yet more extra work with the ballet, again swan lake but a totally different production. This time there were 4 of us playing large medieval guards and me and another guy were each side of a thrown. Nothing untoward occurred on stage (apart from the last night when we felt the need to draw various moustaches on ourselves..didn't go down well that lol.)
no...the big problem was we were carrying 8 feet tall razor sharp pikes. They were heavy as fuck and when the stage lights went out it was as black as the black hole of Calcutta. The only way off stage on this particular set was through a small opening the size of a single house interior door. So we had to point our pikes forward and hope to fuck no one was in the way. all but one performance somehow we managed it, but on the 3rd performance I fucked up. There was a dwarf actor playing some part or other and I manage to stab him up the arse, which is no mean feat when your arse is less than 2 feet off the ground!
I was very apologetic and made sure I bought the guy a drink afterwards as a small way of saying 'sorry I impaled you up the arse with a razor sharp pike'. Every time I went up or down in the lift to and from the stage the very same bit of music from swan lake was playing..it still sends a shudder down my spine whenever I hear it well over a decade and a half later.
See that title got yer attention didn't it! I was never a big drug taker, even though I was surrounded by mates who were smoking and taking everything they could lay their hands on. But lets get this straight I was no plaster saint, far from it. My trick was I knew when it was time to put away childish things and grow up before I went down the paths I've seen so many mates go.
Disclaimer: Remember this was 23 years ago, safe to say I was a bit of a serious dickhead back then so bear this in mind as you read it. I have changed..honest.
Back in the day I had a lot of mates and only half knew each other, this often meant my days were filled with wall to wall excess. I'd pop to see a mate in the afternoon, come back have some dinner then be off out doing more crazy stuff with different people an hour later. But our craziness wasn't confined to the hours of darkness...oh no!
Lets take a typical week day when I was about 17 years old....
Morning was always spent with my mam and dad, usually recovering from the excess of the previous night and getting some right old ear ache about it. Once the clock hit midday it was party time.... Usually if my mate Rob was skiving off university I'd walk to his and we'd sit doing crazy stuff till it was time for dinner. Rob always had drugs.... he wasn't a dealer and wasn't a person at the bottom of life, just the opposite. But he was a mate I'd known since I was about 6 and the stuff we got up to has until now remained 'withheld' lol.
So one afternoon in mid December robs dad who owned a few shops had left some fireworks for him as he had them left over at his Consett shop. I always had a lot of time for his dad Don as he'd known my dad for years (this also meant being very careful as if we were caught doing insane stuff it would get back to my dad adn he would not be a happy little bunny). After a few joints and the usual craziness, one of us (I can't remember which) came up with a great idea. The convo went something like this:
'We've got to let these fireworks off mate'
'yeah but its daylight we'll not see shit'
'Well rockets are just simple missiles anyways..lets fire them at the old people's home across the road'
So for the next 25 minutes rob and I stood 20 feet inside his house with the door open wearing a pair of woolly gloves laughing our backs off shouting 'WAKEY WAKEY YER FUCKERS!' and various other things that make me shuder when I remember them.
How we didn't get arrested I'll never know. How the old people didn't all have coronaries is still a mystery....maybe as they were used to the various crazy stuff that went on at robs house when his parents were out.
So stoned off our boxes the rockets finally ran out and I tried to walk home....it took a while. To this day every time I see a firework rocket I think of that afternoon.
After dinner I had a pop over to see my mate Alan, I've known Alan longer than any human alive outside of my family. Now him and me were a toxic combination, as when we got together anything could happen...and usually did. After an afternoon talking complete bollocks to each other and smoking enough dope and drinking enough to make the whole of Jamaica float away on a cloud. We went for a walk to blackhill.
Consett used to have a massive steel works complex until it was shut down in 1980 by the Tory government as an experiment to see what would happen if you ripped the heart out of an industrial area. I'll tell you what happened...no one had a fucking job or any money that's what happened. While most of the old steel works complex was knocked down, a few remained for years afterwards.
ok back to the story....
So we for whatever reason had always noticed what we referred to as the CIC building that was about the size of 4 aircraft hangers and largely left untouched as it had when they had locked the doors for the last time. So Alan and I went through a hole in the fence and decided to have a look. Not for nefarious reasons...just out of curiosity. Alan had the wonderful idea of breaking in. Now as at this time I was still working as an escape artist I was given the job of breaking into it. I achieved this by the rather high tech way of kicking the window in.
So in we crawled and the sight that met our eyes was like manna from heaven for a couple of teenage lads. All the machinery had been auctioned long ago leaving the biggest god damned room I have ever seen in my life (and I've seen a fair few!) So off we walked with torches and explored the place, expecting 2 feet tall rats or something to come running at us. It was pretty damn clean, cleaner than most nightclubs in Consett to be honest. This gave us the idea of putting an illegal party on, the idea of a band quickly died when we realised obviously it had no electricity.
This did not stop us. So invites to a select group of people of both sexes was thrown out and as the film sys 'build it and they shall come'...and they did. I won't go into all the details but let's just say it was like Sodom and Gomorra for that 1 night. There was every type of drug available to us (bar heroin which no one would touch in our circle, crack hadn't appeared over here and E's hadn't been invented as far as I know.... simpler, less dangerous times) You had people tripping on acid and any hallucinogen they could find, people with joints so large Bob Marley would have been jealous and an infamous 'mmix'.... that was something unique of my own that I came up with. No one ever bought it, you had to 'earn it' and most refused to ever have it again...it was nasty stuff. Nothing in it was illegal but kicked like 17 mules, so technically I wasn't breaking the law.
Some people, not saying it was me mind...did end up in the offices leading off the main 'hall' and did end up shagging on the desk that had been used by the bloke who ran Consett Steel works day to day. The lucky part was the ghetto blaster we'd brought echoed around the place and made it sound like you were at the fucking monsters of rock festival. We were all having a great time....then it came..the moment I always dreaded.
Alan said his usual 'I got to see a man about a dog mate...I've ran out', which was his lame code for one of his many trusted dealers. Alan never had any money, and what little I had i wasn't giving him...Alan was already completely off his tits and chances of him remembering anything past about 9pm were slim at best, let alone me lending him money. So I didn't.
But Alan, ever resourceful decided to go to a dealer who was a 'mate of a mate' and his mate owed him money. How the hell this all worked I'll never know, but about 40 mins later there we are sitting in what these days would be considered a crack den. Me sobering up very fast surrounded by people I didn't know who did not seem very happy to have 2 loud mouthed teenagers there.
I could tell the atmosphere was getting a bit heavy, but Alan stoned off his little titties totally ignored this. Eventually Alan quietened down after getting passed a join that was going around. Now I passed it as I wanted to be as sober as possible till I got the hell out of here...wherever 'here' was.
Now I remember the two blokes coming in....I remember them sitting opposite us, I remember that they were sweating and carrying a sports bag. What i remember very well was them pulling two saw off shotguns out and placing them on the table. (This makes no sense to me to this day.....why??? only an idiot would do that!) Now Alan was gibbering on like a lunatic obviously trying not to look scared. I was nearly shitting myself as I was now in a dealers house with 2 angry looking guys withyorkshire accents with sawn off shotguns.
There is a bit of a blank bit at this point.....I'm not sure what occurred or who said what to who but next thing I know Alan and me have two shotguns pointed at our faces by two VERY angry geezers. Alan seemed to be rooted to the spot and have came to the conclusion (surprisingly for him) that to say fuck all was a real good move at this point. Now I have one big failing as a human being....well one of several but this one is pertinent. I fear no one, I never have. So I went from 'Clark Kent / won't hurt a fly Wayne' to full on Jack Regan Sweeney mode.
'get that fucking gun out of my face now you fuckhead!'
why I said that against all sanity and terror I'll never know. I've had decades to mull it over and came to the conclusion that it was a 'fight or flight' response and there was simply no way I wanted to die in a drug house with shotgun to the head. Something snapped...I think I didn't want my parents to have that as the last thing in my life. I didn't want to let them down.
There was shouting and threats from both sides (not wise when someone's angry and pointing a gun at you) and I batted the shotgun pointing at me away, I remember it hitting the table and worrying it'd go off and blow Alan's kneecaps off. As all hell was breaking lose, Alan said the wisest words he had ever said in his life....'RUN!!!!'
So we did...and didn't stop till we were outside his parents house....after two hours of panicking and paranoia we calmed down. I went home and never set foot in a dealers house again and made a rule to not go near buying drugs. (I used to let others do that lol.... mind you I've not taken anything for over a decade and a half, just to clear that up). It scared the hell out of me and I don't mind admitting I very nearly shit myself when the gun was in my face. The guys weren't local that was the funny thing....the accents they had were Leeds accents.
overall it was a crazy day and not the only one I had.... next time 'trouble at the ballet'.