Weeknotes S06E05

Secrets, and a little wanky actor talk

1. I gave a talk to a half-full auditorium – about 200 people. I think I nailed it. It was a really bloody good talk too. Like a really good piece of theatre, it was a truth that I believed and the more I did it the more authentic it felt, the more I discovered the True Shape of it.

Because my Aspergers means I don’t get people. I don’t get you on an individual basis. I’m bloody awful at post-event networking drinks because I have zero idea what to do, but when I’m in front of a crowd I can feel it breathe. I feel like I can sense when to drop my voice and when to raise it; when to be still and when to move; when to laugh and when to be silent.

The world makes sense when I’m there, because all I need to do is bend the world to the shape of the words. I don’t have to bend myself. I’m just the fulcrum, just the conduit to a Platonic world where to speak is to be understood.


The talk was about user-centred design in arenas that traditionally don’t see it, and it was thrilling to be able to talk about it. It’s also a talk I can’t give again, because it was geared pretty heavily to this specific conference, but it’s given me back the performance bug –

I pause as you, dear reader, look around you at 5 seasons of weeknotes, a thriving social media presence, and a history of acting. I wait patiently for you to finish rolling your eyes and saying “oh, come off it”

it’s given me back the performance bug and so I’m either going to join my local amateur dramatics society or give more talks, and frankly I haven’t the time to learn lines so please give me suggestions on how to get started with submitting talks to conferences.

2. Despite effectively delegating, more work arrives. I have realised that this is because the pipeline of work is proportional to the effectiveness with which you process it. The reward for good work is more work. This realisation has really helped me deal with a minor meltdown I had midweek when I had to have a bit of a cry because I couldn’t understand how, despite giving other people chunks of my work, I still had infinite work.

It is because work is an infinite set, like the countable numbers, and I’ve written about Hilbert’s Hotel before but it’s still a marvellous example of counter-intuitive thinking. Even if I halved my infinite workload – dumped every 2nd piece of work – I’d still have an infinite amount of work. And what that means is that I can be okay with not doing all of it.

And it’s possible to argue that I just have a lot of work. To which I say: to the butterfly, the coast of the island is infinite. Infinite is just a number that’s too big to manage.

3. I saw The Death of England and should have brought an umbrella. That’s a little flip: the one-man play is really very good, but anyone who’s been close to a drunk, angry Englishman knows you’ll come away with a thin film of someone else’s spittle on your lapels. A good piece of theatre should moisten your cheeks – but not like this.

The play deals with how Michael – the central character – comes to terms with the death of his father. It’s not really about that, of course, but it is also very much about that. I suspect that everyone goes through a crisis when a central figure in their life passes, because you have to reckon suddenly with the question of how much of what you believe is just what they believed.

There’s a lot of rage in this play, a lot of hatred directed outwards at the faceless “Other”. It’s rage that your country is being taken away from you, but you don’t know how, you don’t know by whom, and so you resort to the reflected glory of nationalism because that’s a birthright. People can’t take your birthright away from you, and before long it’s all you’ve got: one square inch of glory that you guard jealously.

It’s made me think a lot about life outside my particular bubble, but also about what it means to be a boy. It may be time to re-read How To Be A Boy.

4. Inspired by a pair of lovers.

Ha-ha. I’m tired, I’m wasted, I love you darling.

To love: a conjugation devoutly to be wished
A pattern which, when sober, can't be missed:
I love - he loves

As day slips her fingers under the blinds
It trips, without pause, down from the mind:
you love - we love

In chilly cathedral 'fore stoney-faced priest
Surrounded by people (who're here for the feast)
you love - they love

Any fool can love with a clear head;
with a night's sleep;
with a straight face

But drunk, and foolish, and tired am I
and I fumble the form:
I love you - 
fuck
he loves you
almost
love me
nailed it

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