A blog for Grandpa

This blog is for my Grandpa. Living as we do in Burnley and London, we are separated by many miles across many motorways and our time together is far too short. But he keeps a close eye on this (extremely neglected) blog and so this one’s for and about him. And it goes like this…

Performing 8 times a week, particularly in a demanding role, requires serious sacrifice. For me this means sticking to a very dull, very rigid routine. I have to eat right and rest wherever possible. No drinking, no partying, in fact very little socialising at all. There are some performers who can party all night long and sing like an angel the next day…but not I.

To be honest, this is no great loss for me. Long before I became an actor I was avoiding pubs, clubs, bars and booze. At Drama School leaving a party early was called “doing a Dave” and during Tara’s first pregnancy I “joked” that I was having a baby so I could leave parties early (It really works, you should try it). I’ve always much preferred a cuppa tea and a slice of cake in a cosy coffee shop, putting the world to rights with a great friend. But other sacrifices have hurt me. Namely moving so far away from my friends and family up north.

I’m currently sat in the back of a cab, driving home from Luton Station - not my usual route and one that finds me travelling much farther than usual. Sat in the darkness of the back seat, illuminated by the warm glow of passing street lights, my mind is wandering and I’m suddenly transported back to Burnley, driving home after the football.

If I close my eyes I can see my Dad next to me, driving us through the Lancashire hillsides. My Brother’s in the back, stuffed to the brim with meat and potato pie and regaling us with the finer points of Burnley’s latest win…or at least condemning the appalling refereeing decisions that led to our defeat. If I lean to the side I can almost feel the warm landing of my Dad’s shoulder as he reaches over to pat my head.

I allow my mind to wander lazily back through that well-rehearsed day to our ‘football match tea’. Grandpa would refuse to eat if Burnley lost - though he usually found a way to force himself. We’d spend our time laughing, joking and fiercely analysing - that referee really did have a shocker.

An 'eight shows a week’ schedule leaves very little time for trips up north and having a toddler and another on the way makes it all the more difficult. Contracts eventually come to an end though and your schedule can become (terrifyingly) free. Maybe then I’ll be able to reconnect with some old traditions, the greatest of traditions: those spent with people you love.

Being a Father is another demanding profession to say the least. I was asked recently why I wanted to have children (the person in question described them as leeches - we tend to disagree on most things) and after reflecting for a moment I mused that the relationships I have with my own family are some of the most important and rewarding I have ever known and the thought of creating that for a new generation is thrilling to me.

I dream of driving home with my own Son, Rufus, after a football match tea as he rests his head on my shoulder. I suppose at some stage I may be a Grandpa myself. And if I am, I hope I’m something like as wonderful as my own, adamantly refusing to eat my dinner…before helping myself to seconds.

Love you lots Grandpa. I miss you.

And what about that referee eh?!