Castle Howard at Christmas

Seeing this post evoked some memories for me of times when I had to be up early and go outdoors in the cold, before the sky had rubbed its eyes clean of sleep. Here is one of those times… Granted these photos are not fantastic, but they have nostalgic value for me, and I think they give you enough of an idea of what a wonderfully picturesque place Castle Howard is.

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A speech I wrote a couple of years ago, inspired by this play:

by a good friend and long-time collaborator, Matt Harper, which I eventually produced with my theatre company in January this year.


Woman with clipboard leads audience in, speaks to V.

W            The, prospective students…

V             Yes, thank you. (To students:) Take a seat. (Waits.) So. Welcome to university. And all of that. Some of you will be sitting your finals, some hoping to get certain grades to get in somewhere, etc., you’ll, no doubt, be swatting up on various things, chemistry maybe, law, higher maths, what kind of angles are in a triangle.

And good luck with that. May the powers that be smile upon you. If they do, I’ll see you in September.

Some of you will be writing your personal statements, trying to impress us with your use of grammar, and your witty anecdotes.

Which is fine. That’s great.

But where I’d like to start is this. I want you to come to me in September, and bring the following. Make a note. I want you to bring pictures you can’t stop looking at. Even if its porn. I want songs you can’t help but move to. I want old clothes that make you feel sick with nostalgia, numbers of people who drive you up the wall, whatever makes your Christmas. I want you to come to me and say Vanessa, help me. I want you to cry on my shoulder. I want to play with your hair. I want to know what makes you tick, because I want to do it for you. I want to be your GOD. Because how else are we going to get through this.


You can watch the other character-specific trailers* for Person-in-Law, along with other videos from Six Lips Theatre, here.

*These fantastic trailers, as with most of our best videos, are by Paul Richardson of Parashoots. Check out his work, he is a brilliant film-maker and someone to watch. (And so are his films, obviously.)

Dear Vulnerable Genuine

Another attempt at Victorian-style love poetry

Dear Vulnerable Genuine

Classic and rare

Pray, prof’ me your passings,

These I wish to share

You reach me

in ways

so subtle and light

You don’t have a clue

You can only do right

And as long as you’re you

then thus it will stay,

for I cannot match it

with e’er and a day

I put on parachutes

and wish you were here

to lie with and sigh with

and sit out some Fear

Brings ‘choly, so love,

and we could be one

Shy Purple and Thumb

inspired to stun

As ‘tis, poor Purple

hides modest from thee

Though they bat no eyelid,

none other I see

Be all that you are

You are sure to glow

And I’ll be the carp

kisses tips when they show


World if you won’t make it famous, I will. I will bombard you with references to famous authors making out that I move in such circles, I will dedicate my heart away to any and every sentimental tie in my life that you can trace. I will make sure there is always something on your desk – if you send it back, I will send you something else. I will lie to you like a good artist and tell you everything you want to hear – that my work is fantastic, and recognised; that it is abhorred and outrageous. I will put on an RP accent when you call, I will letterhead and use appropriate sign-offs like a mothertrucker. I agree to all terms and conditions, re-enter all my details again and again and again and again, print hard copies a-go-go, prepare some SAEs, and ready some perfumed envelopes with little stick-men drawings on that I spent hours on to make my letter stand out and that weren’t quite to your artistic taste, so you binned them.

Night Shift

Medium security psychiatric facility. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team under the direct supervision of a qualified nurse you will be required to undertake a range of duties involving direct patient contact and interaction.

Candidates must be of strong physical build, not of an easily affected disposition. High level of professionalism essential. Own transport an advantage. Previous experience in a similar environment beneficial but full training will be provided.

This was not the kind of place you wore make up.


Dappled rays dance over nonchalant ground

while the stranger tiptoes through in dark warm cloth bound.

Sad silent snowflakes play out their descent

like sorrowful playwrights of sensitivity truly blent.

Neither joy nor solemnity affect his mask

and, giving thanks for this most rewarding task

of wisdom and ecstasy both combined;

he hath completed the most sacred entwined

quality allowed to the state of our race;

an acute adoration that forgets outside pace.

For if this is neglected, then of what worth

was our somewhat primitive, long-ago birth?

If ‘twas merely evolution of means to survive,

then let only the radicals secretly thrive.