Cardiff and Woking and Coco the Mind-Reading Parrot

The curious phenomenon of audience identities continues: Cardiff crowds (though I expected a big raucous crowd) were very quiet, but saved it all up for the end. Which was a relief the first night: after that, I knew to expect it. I, to the amusement of many, struggled with audience members’ names and answers, as I did in Belfast and Dublin. The combination of unfamiliar names, strong accents, microphone amplification and the wobbly acoustics of the auditoria made this an unexpected comedy highlight. I do apologise.

Woking brought great, enthusiastic audiences – or rather ‘brings’, as I have one more night there tonight. The house has a resonant, bright sound, which helps the show enormously – it’s lovely to hear every reaction clearly. We have all benefited from a day off and time at home – although my builders have all assembled to work at mine this week, which has made the long-awaited time at home more stressful than being on tour. But hey, whaddyagonnado. Tonight, Andy comes to see the show: he hasn’t even seen it this time round, being taken up with Ghost Stories (transferring to the Duke of York Theatre on June 25th). That’ll be good.

The voice is improving, and I imagine I’ll be back to signing once we get to Stoke on Tuesday.

What else? This:

‘Tis true. Our very own Neil, from the Parrot Zoo, of which I am Patron Saint, presents Coco The Mind Reading Parrot at SkegVegas – the tourist attraction centre for Skegness. Coco has been trained in all sorts of arcane mentalist techniques and presents them to the public for the price of a pumpkin seed and a chunk of finger. Here’s Neil and Coco practising their elaborate two-person code  (man on left saying ‘Is it a cup of tea?’):

Expect further updates from Coco as they unfold.

Thank you for your responses to taking part in a new show of mine: keep them coming in. No other questions answered, sorry. Email for an application form. No parrots involved.


PS Thank you also for your response to the Dench portrait. I did anticipate the request to see it in its various stages: once I’ve absolutely finished it and have had it properly photographed, I will post a little step-by step thingette in case it remains of interest.

New Picture – “Grand Dame”

With some afternoons at home, I’m finishing a new portrait – a second one of Dench – still not quite complete but I’ll finish it when I can and get it up on the art site for general availability, prints etc. Brand new easel too: my old one cost me a few quid from a Bristol Oxfam many years ago – I finally treated myself to a great big easel with a crank and everything – just wonderful.



Dublin audiences have a certain mischief about them absent in Belfast, and probably anywhere else I’ve come across. The Grand Canal Theatre was wonderful: it has only been open a few weeks in there, and it is great to play. And a long time coming: the crumbling Olympia has its charm, (it’s a unique experience to perform with rain coming in through a hole in the roof onto the stage), but the new theatre, part of the O2 empire, is a triumph. My voice (thank you for the well-wishes) has become stronger,  but I still have to be careful to rest it before and after shows.

The final night in Dublin was not as raucous as I expected. The final night was not the best, (a certain punch was lost in aspects of the second half) , but the crowds each night were marvellous, oddly giggly and very demonstrative. There is another unique aspect to performing there: evenings out start late in that city, and a 7.30 advertised starting time, I was told by locals, is taken as 7.30 for 8. Each night, ready and poised to start the show as 7.30 on the dot, we were still awaiting around 600 people. Each night I eventually walked out around 7.50. I’m not aware of this happening elsewhere, and am unsure whether we should advertise it for 8 next year, or whether that will be taken as an 8.30 start… A curious but somehow fitting idiosyncrasy of that very special city. And the Guinness… oh yes.

Sunday morning we left for an early ferry at 7 am. This is what the rest of the bunch look like at that time:

It was a very long day. We slept a bit on the ferry, and got up only to go and watch an advertised magic show on the deck below. It turned out to be a show for the very young kids who, sensibly, would benefit from the distraction, so we left the cheery chap to do his best with them. Although I did consider standing at the back and staring him out for the whole thing. After hours of intermittent napping and trying to get the internet to work, we poured out, onto a a coach, and then onto a minibus that got us into Cardiff for about 8pm. It was a long, scenic route, punctuated by a stop for truly disastrous fish and chips in Aberystwyth. Here’s Coops and popular new boy Jonas at unnamed café:

It was a long drive after a long ferry-ride: we were exhausted and it was difficult to sleep. Conversations, bleary and hallucinogenic, at one point turned to a hushed discussion of how, if we absolutely had to, we could best kill the driver and dispose of the body. Iain, as we knew, is something of an expert on mass murderers, and much of our solution hinged on whether or not Jennie had anything in her kit which would allow us to grind the driver’s bones down to dust. She didn’t, and he was spared.

Tonight’s show is at St Davids: another concert hall, but another guaranteed very good crowd. I’m being spoilt at the moment. Maybe see you there.


Happy Birthday David Tennant

Picture from

At the age of three, Tennant told his parents that he wanted to become an actor because he was a fan of Doctor Who. Although such an aspiration might have been common for any British child of the 1970s, Tennant says he was “absurdly single-minded” in pursuing his goal.

He adopted the professional name “Tennant” — inspired by Neil Tennant, the lead singer of the Pet Shop Boys — because there was another David McDonald already on the books of the Equity union. His second choice for a stage name was David Brandon and his third choice was Chris McDonald.


Personal Website