Diary 2003 page 2

3rd May 2003

Well I’m inching nearer to going off to new Zealand. It is both exciting and a terrifying challenge. I am waking from sleep with my head full of how a certain beast might move. Enormously exciting, as I siad, but what a huge life change. A lot to do before I go. It is a good chance to start again as there seems to be very little to keep me here in this country anymore. Several calls back and forth to new Zealand.

Had a couple of days down in Newport working with some first year animation students. a good group who seemed very interested. It took them a while to start chatting freely, and to start thinking why things work on a film, but we got there I think. Wasn’t wild about staying in the student digs, but the great fried breakfast made up for it.

Other than that the house continues to have years and years of history slowly being taken out of it in binbags.

It does not look as if I’ll be able to get to New York to do this theatre workshop which is a shame...bad timing.

Ah well, little Hamilton has won another award this week. Best Animation at the Real to Real(sorry if I got that wrong)Festival in Vancouver. That’s good that he keeps winning...I think that’s about his 15th award. Shame none of us were there to collect it. Wonder what it is. Some of the awards I have won have been pretty strange and wonderful...others have been very obscure. I have to say I like the ones that represent something...I’m still trying to work out the significance of a lump of rock that Screen Play won in a european festival. My favourite is a brass little imp in full scamper...beautifully sculpted and expressive. Ironically the first award I recieved was Best Technical Achievement, for Next. Technical achievement.....? Is there anyone less technical than me.

Anyone out there won any strange awards?

May 9th 2003

Just recovering from my first day’s full animation in over 13 months....10 seconds in 13 months - that’s not an impressive rate! But it was good to be back at Cosgrove Hall, where everyone seems very cheerful and it all seems to be flowing smoothly. A lot of the faces that were there twenty odd years ago are still there or have returned, but there are certainly a lot of new faces. I was just doing a day on Postman Pat...can’t say I’ve ever watched an episode of this, so the characters were totally new to me. But it was good to be part of a shoot again - oh but I had forgotten those aching calves! Or is that age? I was just doing several excited reaction shots, but it did give me itchy fingers to get going on something again. I fear it will be a very very long time before I touch a puppet again. The sets for Postman Pat look wonderful...production values at Cossie Hall seem particularly high at the moment.

My contract is nearly here for NZ and I nearly have a date, so its all getting very exciting. There’s a panic inside me, not so much about the job and everything, but about having so much to do before I go...so much.

I did go down to the Garrick theatre again and got slightly wistful - I do want to direct a play again soon. Maybe I can do one in NZ. Just being at the theatre and I could remember that frisson of standing in the wings, (dressed as a swan or as even less!) with the slightly muffled voices on stage, waiting for my cue. A great feeling.

17 May 2003

Quite a week really. A great couple fo days up in scotland saying goodbye to Jo. We managed to cram in Glasgow, a trip to the theatre in Edinburgh (with lots of lame Carry On jokes about Arthurs seat), and a trip to Loch Lomond (cue some dreadful singing) in about 25 hours. dammit it is beautiful up there, with the colours being especially glorious at the moment. It was odd walking with Jo down the street and people looking at her as if they know her - some talked about her as if she was invisible. When you are in a Soap Opera as she is, the public get easily confused.

The journye up was fine, and full makrs to Virgin for the new trains. can there be a more spectacular journey, taking in the Lakes and Scotland. Wonderful.

I’ve been on tenderhooks all week waiting for contracts and the like, and, well, the contract arrived and I’m off to New Zealand. crikey! Suddenly a lot of packing and organising to do in earnest. How things are going to change so quickly. So exciting, but a bit emotional being away from various people for so long.

Tuesday night sort of disappeared into the ether with me picking up B from Liverpool airport...the scheduled time went back and back and back..we just got home as the milk man was calling.

A busy week....and the house was nearly raised to the ground (something of a contradiction there)when the rubbish from the demolished houses next door were mysteriously set alight early one morning...waking to the site and sound of flames just metres away is not nice. The fire brigade were around...definitely some dodgy dealings going on somewhere.

25th May 2003

I was with Bethany, my sort of god daughter at the weekend, looking a world globe. We were tracing a flight from Manchester to Los Angeles. Yes that was fine and did not take much spinning, but turning on further, and further, and further.....a lot of blue. Eventually New Zealand popped into view. Yep, its a long way!

The date draws near and I’ve been rushing round saying goodbye to a few people. There has been a bit of weeping and wailing, some spontaneous indifference, and some excitedly planning for the time I would have otherwise have taken up. The Manchester Evening News came up with the headlineMonster Job for film King’ - groan, but a decent article, without giving too much away. Jo, at the idea that I want to write a diary, suggestedThe Kong and I’. Here we go with the puns.

The stopmotionanimation.com site is having a field day at the thought of a remake of King Kong, and I have to say some of the thoughts expressed are a bit alarming.I’m not sure the average punter would care or notice what technique was used in bringing Kong alive as long as it was credible and impressive. Anyway there’s certainly a can of worms been opened, and one I have to keep some distance from.

Still masses to do and i’ve got it into my head to sort the house out, and have started splashing paint around. Not sure that’s the most productive use of my limited time. We had a house meeting and I think there will probably be rather drastic changes when I get back.

But yep, I’m ready to go, mentally if not practically. A clean start sounds good to me...and the project is so exciting.

31st May 2003

A busy week, and yes, I’ve started to pack. I’m leaving on the 14th June. I am getting so excited, but got a bit weepy at the end of the week thinking of the people I shall miss. But what a challenge, and what a project to be involved with. Hopefully this is what the being out of work has been about...saving myself for this. I’m so looking forward to starting...assuming I survive that journey.

Said goodbye to more pals.....had a nice morning with Barbara and my godson Thomas playing in their gorgeous garden.

Also I flew to Dublin for two days to finish the external examining for the Dun Laughoire(sorry I can never spell it) college. It certainly is a lovely college and Thelma puts everythign into it with a giddy and infectious enthusiasm. Out of the 13 films I had to asess there were about five or six that really stood out with clear potential. I’m afraid there were a couple that showed no potential and seem to totally miss the point. It is an unrealistic situation in that the students are expected to direct, write, animate, do the camerawork - well everything. This is an enormous pressure especially with the clock ticking away, and in that sense it’s useful preparation for whats to come, but it does make it hard to focus on one skill. Interestingly enough it was the puppet films that came across as too ambitious....there’s just too much technical and physical stuff to conquer.

But I enjoyed being at the college, though the responsibility of actually affecting peoples lives makes the decisions not to be taken lightly.

And Thelma’s sunny daughter Rose made me smile with a letter I shall pass on to Legolas next month.

So back to Ireland next week and then that’s it......crikey!

7th June 2003

Well I’m nearly there, and I’m now sat reading the Wellington Sunday papers looking at whats on, and the flats for rent. Crikey.

But I’ve been packing this week, and trying to squeeze in meetings with the accoutnants and all that. I’m nearly sorted. Just need to seel the car.

But in the middle of running round like a madman, and occasionally stopping for a few emotional moments, I popped over to Cork to say goodbye to Amanda and Peter. The drive back from the airport to their house still takes my breath away. We went on numerous walks, on e minute in mist covered mountains and forests looking a bit like Canada, then the next flower covered vertigo inducing cliffs. And then there’s the colour...the air and seems to give everything a light indigo tint. Truly astonishing. very sad to wave goodbye at the airport, and I’m not sure when or where I’ll see them again.

Of course I could make a pigs ear of all this and be back in three months and won’t people be laughing! But I’m excited and keyed up.....terrifying to see the length of the journey in print.

Did another interview for the local paper...hmm, can’t wait to see what pun comes out this time. The stopmotion site is trying to provoke me in to saying something, but my lips are sealed.

Anyway one more week of rushing round over here.

June 13th 2003

ah well that’s it. I leave tomorrow. This has been a busy and emotional week. Lots of goodbyes, and a lot of wandering round the house worrying about what to pack. The answer being not a lot as I’m only taking one chunky suitcase. I’ve had a husky with me this week which has complicated things but has also meant I’ve been wandering through the various glades with her at five in the morning, with the dew and the sun rising. Oh it is beautiful here and I shall miss it, but New Zealand is pretty damn stunning too.

Sold the car for a pittance....sad to see that go.

Headed to the new Zealand immigration office in London to get the work permit...apparently several people are heading down in the next few weeks. It’s certainly going to be an adventure and I’m so excited. The journey, Manchester, London, Bangkok, Sydney, Wellington, is daunting but thankfully I have a few days to recover before coming up with the goods.

But it is going to be undeniably hard being so far from various people. Not having the familiar around will be tough.

So here goes......at the moment it looks a long way up to the top of the Empire state building, but definitely worth the climb.

June 16th 2003

36 hours of travelling and I’ve made it to Wellington. have to say the ground is still swaying as I write this. Not a bad journey that took in some extraordinary sights. We flew over Sydney harbour as the sun rose, illuminating the bridge. It was a bit of a shock to see the bridge and the opera house actually there in the flesh. Flying into Wellington was beautiful...it certainly looks as if I’ve come to an exotic very different country. A great hotel with a view over the bay.

Fortunately I have some time to myself before making an appearance at Weta. Must get my head together very quickly.

Thursday 19th June 2003

Well a few days into the New Zealand trip and I’m breathless. Recovered from the jet lag ok but I’m overwhelmed a bit so far. So much to do with cars and bank accounts, but also so many people to meet and names to remember. But I keep stopping and marvelling at the breathtaking scenery. Had an amazing afternoon on the set of Rings....hobbits everywhere. But oh the light in new Zealand is astonishing. So clean and crisp. Finally got a housee sorted out after many trips with the housing Jacqui...she was great company and enjoyed me going wow as we turned every new corner and saw another spectacular view. So I’ve got a house on Breaker Bay...and it lives up to its name.

Not really started work yet but have read the script and found my way roudn the various studios and building of Weta. all wonderfully cheerful and relaxed.

It all seems to be going well really and its damn exciting...homesickness and missing chums aside. Wednesday morning I did want to run home but I looked out of the window at the sunrise, and all was well.

Talking ofchums’...I’ve already got a reputation for being an eccentric englishman full of energy and strange words..this will probably only encourage me more. Though I have a long way to go with Ian Mckellen here charming everyone!

What is going to be difficult is remembering, in the midst of this huge thing happening to me, that other people still have lives away from here. I’m so overwhelmed by it all at the moment.

Saturday 21st June

Shortes day with it dark by 4.45. Wellington was overrun at 11.00 with the usual Harry Potter fans in costume racing into the bookstores for the new book. At least they did not have to queue at midnight.

I’ve done some proper work over the last couple of days but not on the big ape. There’s another character that is being tested and I sort of spoke up, saying it was lackign somethign. So I’m workign with an animator....totally bemused by all the technology but we meet in the middle and talk about acting. I think we will get somewhere.

Went to a screening of an in housemaking of....’Rings 1...well I’m totally in awe of everything. the detail is stunning, and the logistics are extraordinary. Very very impressed with everything and very very daunted. It is exciting being here, and drivign to work roudn this spectacular scenery is joyous. This morning I had to stop at a particular bay and just look and look...a flock of seagulls came and sat with me expectantly.

Gradually getting to remember a few names and some good allies are being formed. Still having twinges of homesickness...but will have to get used to that.

June 28th 2003

Well that’s the end of my first official week here, and how vertical can a learning curve be! So much new stuff thrown at me, lots of new passwords and codes to remember, hundreds of names, and a million different ways of doing the most familiar of things. A lot of learning. I’ve loved it all but have been somewhat overwhelmed. Our small group, well Andy and I, is hardly up to speed yet, but all the stuff I have seen so far is staggeringly good. This is certainly going to be exciting and daunting. I have felt a bit at sea,definitely feeling like the junior, and have to yet work out how to apply my skills. A sunny disposition and cultural name dropping is not enough when faced with mathematics.

Have met a lot of the cast of LOTR wandering round...they are definitely going to have withdrawal symptoms when their bit finishes after so long.

Outside of the studios Wellington continues to come up with the goods...a startlingly vibrant and almost indecently coloured sunrise each morning. Then minutes later bizarre clouds and mists and high waves. Was thrilled to see a single penguin minding its own business on a rock. Sadly I missed the Orcas in breaker Bay - even the Wellingtonians are not blase with those visits. The wellingtonians on the film are grumbling at the cold...seems quite glorious to this pale Englishman deprived of sun.

So it all seems to be going well even if we are making things up as we go. Home still seems a long way away and the 11 hour time difference maddening.

July 4th 2003 Wellington

A frantic blur of an exciting week, full of hobbits, wizards, gollums, TRex’s and all manner of mythical beasties. Again seeing the work here, I am just amazed at the standard. It’s probably a bit sad that I get quite so excited over a sculpted figure but some of these take my breath away.

Most of the principals actors on that other film were leaving one by one...how do you give up such a huge project, and such an all involving project, after so many years. Most of the actors were havign to do various bits of ADR, and so lurked with us before going into the studio. everyone was fascinated by the big monkey, just as I was fascinated by meeting the hobbits out of costume. Ian Mck breezes in excuding prescence and warmth and just being wonderful. he had a leaving do on one of the set at night - the place illuminated by flares,and long penants flapping in the wind. He stood on the battlements, waving the sword he’d been presented with, and agave a speech to the assembled multitude worthy of Henry V before Agincourt. Pure sliced ham of course, but heartfelt and enormously moving. I was thrilled to be there at that extraordinary moment. What a huge project this has been for them all..and the next one could be jsut as big and amazing.

We are certainly getting heavily involved with our work and our role is clearer. And happily our work seems to be appreciated and ideas listened to and taken on board.

Having first bumped in Ian Mck here last week I’ve now seen him everywhere...even in the bookshop looking at some Rings, totally invisible to the children next to him. Ian was very amused that we seemed to be working in the cinema toilets.

Was finally glad to leave the hotel. I moved into an extraordinary digs - everything is becoming extraordinary here, and I’m taking the most surprsing and even shocking things with a blase shrug.Good to have the company of a very friendly cat this week. The digs made the Tales from the City look like dullsville, and certainly made me question a few things. But I’m ready to move into the house and a bit of my own space.

We did two great massed voiced sessions this week...shouting and screaming or deep breathing ourselves hoarse. Hoorah so I can now actually say I am in lord of the Rings. I think this lone deep English voice will come soaring through somehow. Actually keep meeting people from Manchester, and Bob the Builder, and of course Andy serkis was at the Royal Exchange before Christmas. Anyway the voice sessions were great fun.

So I’ve been quite exhilarated this week, the mostly stunning blue skies and sunshine have helped that. What brought me down a bit was my birthday during the week - I did feel very far from chums and family again. One year I’ll have a birthday with those closest. Last year was Turin, and the year before Bristol. Will I ever get to work in Manchester again.

I so hope Amanda can make it out here, especially to see this house. I’d really love B to be part of the film as I get breathless with it sometimes, and want to share it, and he’d love it all, and fit in so well. Or there’s that lovely quaint and perilous picturesque airport

On the 4th, the company took the American theme seriously and there were bagels everywhere and a Barbie in the fab sun.

Fraid I’ve resisted picking up the New Zealand expression sweet as....’ orHow’s it going....box of fluffies, mate!’

Well a good week, and next week will be even more productive.

Friday 11th July 2003

An exciting week at work with our first creations taking a few steps. OK so I’ve not been playing with the keyboard myself....various people having been throwing me towards it and whilst i’m understanding what’s going on, the jargon is still totally alien. I’m getting my head around the slow piecing together of a move...so unlike stopframe animation where that whole frame and every move in it is done before you can do the next frame. Here you can do the leg moves for the whole sequence, then go back and do the arms. It still feels a disconnected way of doing thing....the natural instinct for the move struggles still to be felt....well by me at least. But hey, things are moving and we are telling a story, however roughly. I have to say all the ideas are coming thick and fast and Gus, the artist, is realising the drawings Andy and I do as action packed paintings...these are breathtaking in their energy.

From our space we’ve been perfectly placed to say hallo to most of the actors as they’ve gone by...sometimes this can be very surreal.It’s not every day you see the Prince of Darkness/Lord Summerisle wandering down to the local cafe in a beanie hat.

Randy, who is mortified that he has not ranked a mention here recently, and I are fast becoming something of a vaudeville double act...well these studios can be a bit hushed with everyone hunched over their computers.Though what is it about animators and juggling.....?

I’ve had a week now in my house and have become somewhat fascinated with the ships going by. It is a glorious location, and even when the weather has been foul as it has this week, the view is never less than gobsmacking.

But this week has been an enormously tough, lonely and difficult one for me, as my oldest chum, dear Michael, died on tuesday back in Manchester. We both knew when I left him four weeks ago that that was that, but I can’t bear it. I’ve lost too many friends too early. He’d been part of my everyday life for over 23 years, and he was so excited about this New Zealand trip. I can’t believe I won’t hear that wonderfully northern giggle gossipping about some camp nonsense or arguing about the finer points of Dusty’s make-up. I can’t get to the funeral which is hard but I know the church will be graced with the most handsome well dressed congregation ever, and the rafters will be raised by the sound of Maria Callas, the Ronettes, Chopin and above all, the great Dusty. This is too hard even to think about, let alone for his partner Mark and for his friends who will be there. I raise a glass to one of the best, the warmest, the most beautiful and most loyal of men. Thank you Michael for so much.

Not unnaturally I’ve felt awful and so far from home this week.A tough one.

Yes a very difficult week, dominated by the funeral of my friend Michael in England....apparently the sun shone gloriously and everyone looked devestatingly smart. Vissi D’arte was sung in the church, and chopin played, with a Joyce Grenfell poem read by John, and a eulogy read by his partner Mark. Dusty and the Ronettes brought tears at the crematorium and various letters, including mine, and photos were produced at the hotel. This has been hard to cope with, especially being so far away. Jo Chalkley bravely represented me there.I’m so sad not to have been there, so sad.

I’ve been living every minute this week with my head concurrently in various times zones,with John and Mark and Michaels family in Manchester, with B out of touch in Spain, and Jo in Sardinia, Amanda in Ireland, and me down in New Zealand. Trying to keep touch with who’s going to work or bed at what time is very confusing and exhausting...I’ve not managed to speak to people as much I’d like....this is a very strange time difference.

Work has been exciting. Over on the set, they have wrapped shooting, but everyone has their heads down over their computers turning out some staggeringly epic footage. With us on our rather humble animatic, things are getting exciting. our heroine is being pursued by something very nasty.Gus continues to do artwork that inspires us all.

I’m trying to organise an evening of short films by people in otheir other lives. I’ve got about eight so far...should be a fun evening. I’d like to try an organise a concert as well...a lot of people have some hidden talents. Randy and i would have to do a G&S duet...it would be spirited if not exactly in tune! Oh dear I am turning into Jean Brodie (or maybe Dame florence foster Jenkins, someone unkindly shouts!).

We had another great voice session, and my friend Patricia came and gave her not inconsiderable lung power to drunken hobbits and armies fo the dead. We were exhausted and not a little giddy afterwards.

The weather here still manages to range through all four seasons in a day, but is tending to glorious sunshine. The air is so pure and the light so dazzling. At night i’m not sure I’ve ever seen the stars so clearly...though of course they are all in strange positions for me.

And so we move out of the cinema foyer, and into a new sparkling office, and now we can really get to do things.

Have been trying to swim as much as I can...I’m amazed by all the various water games going on at the aquatic centre. I’ve never seen underwater hockey before,a nd looks an awful ot of work for little effect. Canoe polo seems to consist of people crashign into each other and wearing a lot of protective clothing. For the moment I’ll stick to quietly doing my lengths.

So five weeks here already......

25th July Wellington

I forgot to mention last week that it was a huge thrill to find a couple of guys looking lost outside our door...not only were they from the northwest of England (Home!), but one of them was Royd Tolkien no less. Great chatting to him...of course I had to ask whether the name was a blessing or a curse, but, as he said, he was in Wellington. Not that much of a curse. He was having a good tour of everything it all, and being very impressed.

This week we have moved into our new offices and how different is that. We are right in the middle of the lot now, casually chatting to all the Orcs, peasants, guards, knights and all those magnificent horses. Everyday the sights get more surreal...hard to have an intelligent conversation with someone when bits seem to be falling off their face.However grotesque they all look, they are sat there in the sun, dressing gown on, reading the paper. It is an exciting place to be. In addition to all the mayhem of a film set, we are right next to the airport and the planes take off literally yards away....I still get excited about that. very odd though to see knights in armour directly under a Quantas plane heading for Sydney. Oh how B would enjoy these planes.

Our work on the big fella seems to be going well, and all manner of exciting ideas beginning to take shape. I do feel we are getting somewhere. And our new offices have more than enough space for me to start running wild and developing all manner of primate body language. A few eyebrows get raised as I charge down the corridor in a very low slung way! Mind you no-one is surprised any more...opposite me Christian is trying to be numerous winged beasties. A bit of a sunny madhouse really.

Still trying to keep up the swimming, and still trying to keep up with everything at home.My space in the office is now decorated with the complete life of Barry Purves in 50 photos (and a few plants )and I feel much better for it. Have not seen much of the guys back in the old space though, and the great Eva Dixon cafe has not seen much of me this week..

July 25th Wellington

I gather back in England this week Ray Harryhausen was introducing a 70th anniversary screening of King Kong at the leicester square odeon. Oh that would have been a piece of history to attend.

I forgot to mention a very delicious and civilised and colourful meal round at Randy’s house last weekend- wonderfully cooked by Dom. several others were there from the film, including Alan Lee, and we all got breathless with anecdotes. Very civilised to be sat there all snug whilst the waves crashed heavily just feet away. At the end of the evening Randy and I introduced the weird and wodnerful Jacques Tati to some of the others. Great stuff, but possibly an aquired taste...I aquired it a logn time ago.

August 1st 2003

Not a dull week by any means but nothing out of the ordinary happened. Well, if anything can be called ordinary round here.

I was heading back from the garden centre in the car having brought a quaint water feature for the office (well it clears the air of all the dust caused by the horses), when I got stopped for speeding. That’s my first ticket ever, and it was not cheap. crikey I’d only driven about 300 yards.Huh.

Out on the lot there have been more horses, more bearded women, an elf boat, lots of demolition, and strange squares of gravel that change places overnight....haven’t got to the bottom of that last one. As I look out over the lot now, high on the ridge behind is a group of people trying to see anything exciting on the lot...they are in danger from being beheaded from the very low flying aircraft takign off from the airport.However many years on, the excitement aroudn tehse films has not waned.

I’d planned with Monica to have a short film evening here this week and we got all organised, but we’ve been psotponed for a week. Certainly its going to be an interesting and very varied programme, with documentaries, aniamtion, drama...everything really. all the films have been made in an Ork free zone, before or outside of Rings.

I enjoyed watching a group kite surfing on sunday...its looks pretty wild and dangerous and cold, but their dog seemed to be having great fun jumping in and out of the water. except the dog turned out to be a seal. I love this place. With my work, we’ve been getting heavily into some nasty physical scenes, prompting Andy to shift in his seat, sayingI love my job!’. The results are looking good so far. Shall we just say its a little more aggressive than Bob the Builder. Not sure where I’m dragging all this up from. And the glee when I find a new piece of revolting business is a bit alarming.

Went to a great do round at Ronn’s and met some new faces from Rings...from his balcony

we rather voyeuristically watched the antics of the tranvestite prostitutes, now legal over here. A cold night and all that rejection and ...well not an enviable job. They certainly have the business though.

A bit knackered by the end of the week...a lot of thinking has been done this week, and reflecting on home and people. Still trying to keep up with what friends and family are up to eleven hours behind. I’ve not seen a paper for ages so have totally lost track with what is going on.....except I did see Liza Minnelli split up from her fourth husband.......what is there to say about that, except that the story will never appear as a Tales From the Unexpected!

Oh, there they go, the riders and their horses. I hope that one takes his sunglasses off! And there goes the equine pooper scooper scurrying behind.....that must be one of the busiest jobs on the film.

August 8th 2003

Happily no more earthquakes, and I seem to be the only one who felt it but there we go.

A busy week at week but our small sequence is slowly building up into an exciting story. we can’t wait to see what happens next...except I know what happens next but can’t wait to film it.I’m still surprising myself with comign up with gruesome details.

It was probably just the wrong time to organise a short film evening in the cinema at weta, with the crew working evry availabe hour and more, but it certainly proved to be quite a diversion and I’ve had some great responses. I showed about 14 films of various lengths and techniques, and very varied levels of seriousness. A couple of short ones looking at the quirky side of Weta rituals brought a howl of recognition. Achilles went down well....as it were. All in all, a very entertaining evening, and it certainly got people chatting to each other and fired up about things. Who knows what may come out of the evening. I know I’m itching to make another short film.

Back at the hosue one night this week I put on Swan Lake which is the first time I’ve played it since The Ritz back in early march, and it brought back the feeling of standing in the wings ready to go on. What it also brought back was the whole feeling of The Ritz - I know I may have rosy glasses, and lord knows there were some hiccups on stage and off, but that was an enormously satisfying few weeks...the production seemed to gel, and everyone was working towards the same goal, and seem excited with what I was doing with the production. And the joy of being on stage in a production that I had directed and was ticking over very nicely, with the audience responding as we hoped they would..well that was satisying. I do so need to do some more stage work soon. I need to use my imagination.

Crikey this is the end of my second month here...sometimes it feels it. I had a mail from John back in England telling me about Michaels’ casket being interred earlier this week. This reduced me to tears again, but at least when I get home there will be a headstone to visit and chat to. I still can’t believe he’s gone, and it hits me in waves sometimes.

I’m not sure when I’ll get a visit from back home. Maybe B will be the first out, who knows. Its odd hearing of all his news, and what Amanda has been up to in Ireland and Jo in Scotland; they seem so close but I can’t just pop over to see them and join in sadly. As for world news, I’ve lost all touch really...except some huge dino bones were found in Russia recently, leading people to think dinos were even bigger that previously thought....much the size that we are dealing with.

On the lot outside, the equine activity seems to be coming to an end, but still there are a few peasants and knights sat around on their mobile phones, and the odd huge pillar being wheeled around.

Ah well.....

Friday August 15th Wellington

Whilst good old Blighty suffered under a heatwave (and even over here we saw the obligatory photo of two girls in bikinis eating ice lollies whilst being leered over by others on the beach in Eastbourne - why is it always two girls. Is it the same two girls?), good old Wellington suffered rain, rain and more rain, and this morning we had gales to boot. Wellington boot! This morning the sea was crashing over the road as I drove to work. Needless to say the horses on the lot have hardly left their tent all week. The accumalitve effect of 40 horses in a tent, horse poo and the rain, led to a lot of steam! They looked very miserable.

The cloud was so low we could not even see the planes taking off at the airport next to us.

Two social nights out with Ron and Mark, and then Patricai and Jane were fun. Eddie Izzard was great fun but I was dismayed that it was one of our lot who was very unsubtly recording the show from the auditorium, much to Izzards annoyance...though he did go into a very funny riff about it. It was also one of our lot who brought a very young baby into the audience...who of course screamed and then had to be taken out disrupting everyone. I get onto my high horse here, and I know that probably in Shakespeare’s Globe the audience were very rowdy, but I do like to be able to concentrate on the stage and not worry about some selfish guy flashing his camera in the way.

Work is going OK, and I think I got things moving along with a bit more structure. I had a meeting putting forward various story ideas for our sequence, and realised I was a bit like Henry V before Agincourt, but it worked and everyone was very excited. Hundreds of ideas are coming forth.

We’ve battled the technology a bit this week, or perhaps I was just a bit overwhelmed by it - however there are lots of things running about suitably excited and viciously. I hope what we are doing is productive.

I had a lot of good feedback about the film evening, and calls for another one. Well there will be another one, but different.

I’m definitely feeling the distance between here and back home this week. It seems to have got greater.....and I’m forgetting things, though every so often I’ll smell something that reminds me of home, or something visual will trigger a connection. Anyway home, and a few people, seem too far away. Lord knows when I’ll get back. I do seem to be in some strange emotional twilight world....well limbo certainly.

The cat, Crabtree, has made himself very confortable,and he has found His chair; his company is appreciated, though the rain keeps him away. It’s nice as he seems to be here for company not food. Or maybe he is used to more than just dried biscuits.

A strange dream about the Altrincham Garrick putting on a musical calledIsn’t that Barry Purves?’ sort of telling my story, except it was all about striking miners and the contrasting world of animation was being used as an example of something trivial and socially irresponsible. Crikey! Don’t want to examine that too closely.

Every morning I’m amused by the schoolkids at their road crossing patrols, with their swinging out stop signs. It clearly is a serious thing, understandably, and they probably look forward to being on the rota.It’s a responsibility they fight over no doubt. And the orange jackets they were are...er..bright! but for some reason most of them this morning were dressed as animals which made for a very bizarre sight.

lost the weekend and most of my enrgy this week toa rather explosive stomach bug. It totally laid me low. Not good, but Leonardo dragged me out on saturday and we sat on the cliffs just marvelling at the landscape...then I went home and was ill again. Ah well.

So there’s not been much culture or much activity outisde of work at all. I only managed one swm, but next tiem I go I’ll certainly be a bit more streamlined.

With work I’ve been banging around the ideas, trying to get a structure that works for this sequence..maybe that is the wrong approach at the moment...maybe we should be coming up with ideas. But I like structure, Finaly on friday, all the logic and motivations and all the why’s and wherefore’s we’d been arguing about suddenly fell into place with a very satisfying click. Of course its only my ideas but I was pleased with them and certainly felt I’d earnt my pennies.

Having not felt too good all week, and aching from that,and aching from not being used to sitting down all day, I treated myself to a massage. Candles, gentle baroque music, and a somewhat intense pummelling whilst the wind and the rain did their absolute worst again the windows is certainly a good remedy to many things. And boy was the weather spectacular.

The backlot is looking very sad this week, as its all being cleared. No horses, no extras wandering around in strange make-up. And someone’s laborious job is too clear away all the dung filled earth that they spent weeks laying. Where is all that going to go.

So that’s it, I’ve been away from home for 10 weeks now...certainly a memorable ten weeks. Still not sure how long I will be here.

August 29th 2003 Wellington

Still bugged horribly by the effects of food poisoning. certainly lost a lot of wieght but probably not the best way to do that. It must be obvious when people comment.

At work I was taking on the might of Final Cut Pro and by and by losing...we’ll get there but this editing tool is overpowering. I’ve been editing for 25 years so that’s not the problems...the problem is learning a totally new language and looking so incompetent. I seemed to be making a mountain out of a molehill and being grumpy with it. Sorry guys....just a learning process. Various people are taking me aside and enquiring about the possibility of staying on and working with the monkey...not really up to me, but I’m glad they seem excited as I talk to them about it. Andy and I once again found it hard to just keep things simple and and are working away with great detail and some complexity.

I do worry how I seem to make such a mess of anything technical....the DVD is swallowing the discs, the laptop is now worm free but damaged, the CD player getting stuck, and the computers at work are total abstraction to me. Much better with ideas and hands on.

The lot is very quiet now with nearly all signs of Middle Earth having vanished.....except you can’t go past a video shop without the making of documentaries scremaing at you.

Still struggling to keep up with things at home...was worried about not hearing from big b for so long but alll well there. Not been able to get hold of Jo in Scotland so have got totally confused whether she is her soap character or dialect coach. Over in Ireland Will has left and the builders returned to Amanda’s roof....people having building work done everywhere. Big Bs house is also being gutted, and i can’t provide him a home at the moment. It is hard for me not to be involved with all this and helping out where I can.

Other than the huge jolt last saturday this has been an earthquake free zone...thank goodness.

There is ten minutes of every day where I want to go home but then I look out at the water........