I have just shaved off my beard in preparation for a new series of Lewis because I want to look my best for my on-screen love, Donald Whately. Donald? Isn’t his name Kevin? I’ll explain. A few years ago I was fishing off the end of a jetty in Florida. A large American gentleman approached me. ‘I’m sorry to bother you son, but my wife asked me to ask you if you are an actor from the British TV?’ I am, I said. ‘Dang. I just knew it,’ he replied, patting me vigorously on the back. His wife stood behind him, nodding and smiling kindly. ‘Well, we just had to say how much we love Inspector Marsh and that Donald Whately, boy what an actor he is.’ His face beamed in earnest appreciation. Thank you very much, I said. I’ll be sure to pass that on. And I did, which is why Donald it has been ever since. He takes it in good cheer, does Donald.
I recently and inadvertently caused a six and a half minute national furore after leaving my son unattended in the car while I nipped into a chemist to pick up some medicine for my other son. A police community support person advised me that to correctly raise a child within the confines of the law, I should have taken my boy with me. I felt a little put out but fair enough, the law is the law. The community supporter then offered up the rather rude (if accurate) opinion that I was ‘a disgusting and appalling human being’. Nice. As we pulled away in the car, a little voice next to me said... Actually I think I’ll keep it to myself what the little voice said, but I laughed and laughed.
The day after press night at the theatre, I find myself standing in the rain smoking, bare feet going numb, engaging in what my agent refers to as google-wanking: the reading of your own reviews. Here, surely, I say to myself, will be some praise for my latest piece of face-pulling. I’m ready, I think: I deserve my moment in the sun. As my eyes scan the page I feel hope fading. Next time, next time. As I turn to come back in, my eldest sticks his face against the kitchen window, smiling and making ridiculous faces at me. My mood improves dramatically. What sort of ridiculous person am I to care what someone I don’t know thinks about my ability to pretend to be someone I’m not?
Someone once said that you could judge a society by how it treats its prisoners. Apologies for nicking the idea, but nowadays I think you should also judge a society by how it cares for its elderly, and having witnessed up close and personal the shocking disregard for the most vulnerable in society recently, I am appalled. Must do better.
I have several friends who, like me, are married to women who are better-looking, smarter and more influential than we are. Well, now we’ve decided to strike back. After much discussion we have labelled our wives WOPs (women of power) and when we feel that they are taking us for granted we begin the chant, WOP WOP WOP WOP in pathetic emasculated unison. In return, our partners, after a short chat, have retaliated by labelling us CIJs (cocks in jars) — the idea being that our poor little manhoods are stored in jars by the bed, on the WOP side of the bed of course. The weakest of us have become CABIJs, pronounced cabbages (cocks and balls in jars) and for the real slugs of our group, those nodding like terriers at every command from their WOP, is reserved the final insult: ‘Pickled CABIJ.’ I need not explain more, or at all probably.
Off to Rotterdam to play at the Songbird festival. I tried to keep the crowd onside between songs by taking the piss out of my drummer, the unflappable and wonderful Greg. After the gig, I ask him if he minds. ‘Not at all mate,’ he says gently. The following morning I woke up near the bed, fully dressed. The room is hot. My head — it hurts. In moments such as this, I like to think of churches and harvest festivals and things that are wholesome and pure to keep the nagging fear that a hangover brings at bay. There is a knock at the door. Greg stands smiling before me in the hotel corridor, naked. He calmly hands me a fizzing remedy of some kind and walks off back to his room with a gentle ‘Morning mate!’ thrown back over his shoulder. I love Greg.