For a while there, things in Covidland weren’t so very different from real life. As an artist all too often "resting" from his acting work, I spend a lot of time in my flat writing plays etc. etc. – and, for about the first half of the lockdown, which started on the evening of 23rd March, things went on pretty much as normal. True, I was separated from Jenny – we having failed, in five years of marriage, to get round to finding a place to live under one roof – but, that sadness aside, it was largely business as usual – in fact, with the absence of any paying jobs to take me away from home, I increased my efficiency; updated my showreel, got to third-draft stage with my play Little Things That Keep Us Together, and even got to cutting together some vox pops I did in Barnstaple at the time of the Something Rotten premiere.
But then I got the notion of doing something with Quint, my traffic warden alter ego from High Vis. Why not a series of vlogs, I thought, documenting his experience of the lockdown? Yes, Robert, good idea – and one that has come to hold me prisoner every bit as fully as Boris Johnson seems to be prisoner to Dominic Cummings. Yes, as you can tell, this update was written in the wake of the revelation that the PM's most trusted adviser, at the height of the lockdown, chose to flout the rules he’d helped encode – and to me, watching his supposed boss make that passionate defence of his behaviour, it had the look and the sound of someone suffering from a brand of Stockholm syndrome.
Anyway, back to me – and, aside from partaking in a number of online Shakespeare readings (including the role of York in The Show Must Go Online’s Richard II), it’s been non-stop Quint ever since I filmed the first batch of episodes on 1st May. It’s not easy, being producer, writer, director, editor and PR guru for the project – oh, and actor, as well – but, as Paul Newman so memorably said in Road to Perdition, “This is the life we chose, and none of us will see Heaven".
Of course, he was talking about organised crime; I'm talking about show business – though sometimes it’s hard to know which is the more stressful.
Robert Cohen – a man in showbiz so stepp’d in that, should he wade no more, to go back were as tedious as go o’er. These are among his musings.