Simon Amstell: Numb (2012) Movie Script

This programme contains some
strong language and adult humour.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome
to the stage Simon Amstell.
SONG: "The Inner Light"
Hello. Thank you very much
for coming. How are you?
This show that you are about
to see is called Numb.
This came from a very real
inability to just be in a moment
without anxiety and going home
at the end of every day of my life
feeling quite lonely,
disconnected and depressed.
So that's the hour.
I didn't know how disconnected
I had become
until I was invited to a series
of very cool parties last year,
by some cool people.
They took drugs, though,
and I don't take drugs
so that was a bit awkward to see
happening in front of me,
like these lines of cocaine being
wrapped up on a coffee table
and to be offered a line
and not know what to say,
so I end up saying, "Oh, no thank
you, I've just eaten. You carry on."
I wanted to be there because it
meant that I was one of them
and you can't reject
the social norms. I know this
because when I was 16 and
alcohol was first introduced
to my group of friends, I ended up
saying, "This is ridiculous,
"we're children."
And then because I couldn't cope
with what was going on,
I would pretend to be asleep
on a sofa, thinking,
"I can't wait till I'm 17 so
I can drive away from this fun."
And I don't drink now and
I understand the reason we drink
in this culture,
it creates a fluidity,
it means we can sort of cope with
the people we love, but if you...
if you don't have that, then you
need other coping mechanisms.
So what I have noticed is that
I tend to say the word "fun"
a lot at parties.
Well, this is fun. This is a fun
party. You having fun?
I'm having fun, what a fun party.
You a couple?
How long have you been together?
How do you get a spark alive
in your relationship?
Then they feel awkward
and I can relax.
To describe the people
at these parties,
there was a guy there called
Merlin and that is not the issue.
I noticed one night he had the most
incredible straight, white teeth
and I said to him, "Gosh, Merlin,
"you've got such perfect teeth,
did you wear a brace as a child?
That's the sort of person
that was there.
They just grew out of
his gums without anxiety.
The people there were comfortable
in their bodies.
There were men wearing vests.
Do you know what I mean?
And I, every three to four years,
find myself buying a vest,
thinking, "Maybe this time."
I hated my body when
I was a teenager
and then I got to about 25 and
it suddenly became quite trendy
to be skinny and I got a bit carried
away and ended up saying at a party,
"I'm quite skinny," and a girl said,
"You're not that skinny,"
and then I was fat.
The other issue, and this is often
a problem when I meet new people,
they somehow don't realise
that I am funny.
And I think if you don't know that
coming in, then the things I say
seem to be a bit odd or aggressive,
and I have to say to them,
"Oh no, don't worry,
"I'm professionally funny."
And it wouldn't be a problem
if I was not perversely drawn to
the very trendy, yet humourless.
I was in...
East London's
Shoreditch recently,
which is where many of them are,
and I don't want to judge these
people. I want to be one of them.
I like their courage and I think
they would like to experience joy.
I feel them saying, "We would like
to laugh but our hair is too heavy."
And I was drawn on this particular
night to this guy wearing
very large, round, funny,
big glasses.
Really funny, crazy,
oversized, big,
round glasses and I said to him,
"Hi, they're big glasses."
And he said, "Not really."
Small face?
He said, "I'm short-sighted."
I said, "Oh, I know. Look,
we're all short-sighted
"but if you can't see
how big they are...
"Maybe you need bigger glasses."
Then I was worried he thought I was
being aggressive, which I wasn't.
I said, "I came over cos
I like the look.
"I like what you've got going on.
But you seem to be
"wearing them without the humour
they were designed with."
I was in New York recently
and I met what seemed to be
the female equivalent of him. She is
everything you are supposed to be
if you've a girl in this culture,
very thin, very pretty but also
subtly subversive, so she's got this
fringe that's slightly too short.
She's got socks and...
everything about her says,
effortless, cool, success.
She's got this job in design,
she's got a boyfriend
with one streak of grey in his hair,
it's all very clever.
And we meet up on a day that
she's come from a flea market
and she had purchased
a vintage crate.
She said to me,
"Don't you think
it's a beautiful piece?"
And then I didn't know what to do,
because I'm not an idiot who can't
appreciate the beauty
of a crate, but...
it didn't feel far away
from her saying,
"Look, I've bought a brick."
And all I want to do is connect
with her as a human being
and maybe it is all effortless
for her. Maybe she has bought it
for its beauty. But I know
that everything I've bought
for my flat, everything on the
shelves, everything on the walls,
so that people come round, they say,
"Wow, this is a cool flat." And then
I have to say, "I know, everything
I did is so you would say that."
There was a lot of talk
of Jasper at these parties.
You must meet Jasper Simon.
You'd love beautiful Jasper.
He's in Paris at the moment but
when you meet him, oh, my God.
Jasper arrives six months later
and I don't really find him
attractive but I don't feel
I should reject the idea,
because I already said no to so
much cocaine, and I want to be a guy
who's at the party, there, one of
them. I don't want to be a guy
in the corner, secretly making
notes for a show. So...
So I find myself
sat on a bed with Jasper,
inhaling nitrous oxide
from balloons.
I don't do drugs but I will
if they've come in balloons.
And I felt a little high.
It made me want to
touch him, this drug,
but rather than going
with that feeling,
I stuck with my personality,
which ended up saying,
"Maybe we should kiss."
He then stands up and says,
"I might get a drink, actually,"
leaving me, just surrounded
by deflated balloons,
thinking, I didn't even want him
but he just got back from Paris.
That's not a reason
to go for someone,
otherwise I should be stood on
the London terminal of the Eurostar.
Oh, Brussels, continue tout droit...
I couldn't connect
with the people there.
I couldn't connect with Jasper.
I found out, recently,
he now works for a magazine
that comes out twice a year.
I mean, why not be
really interesting,
work for a magazine
that doesn't come out?
Have you read Toot? No, no-one has,
it's too cool for eyes.
It was interesting, recently, being
at my cousin's 18th birthday party.
He somehow has these two
distinctive groups of friends.
On one side of the garden
these young, healthy,
comfortable-looking guys
playing football.
On the other side, these shy,
awkward, weirdo, outsider,
odd-balls. The sort of young people
who come and see me do comedy -
and thank you for coming.
I decide at that moment in my life
I'm going to be with
the comfortable people. I'm going
to exist there, and I do.
It's fine, but as
I'm leaving I feel bad
that I'm not talking to the other
people, and this comes out of me,
"Goodbye, I used to be one of you."
And, because I couldn't connect
fully, emotionally with
the people around me, I found myself
last year going on holiday alone,
which I've done quite a bit
and it isn't a comfortable thing
to talk about or hear, I know,
when I tell people I'm going
on holiday on my own, they kind of
panic and start saying things like,
"What do you mean? What do you do?
How do you do that?"
And you have to reassure them.
It's fine, you go to a museum,
you go swimming, you sit in a
restaurant, you eat a salad,
you pretend to text. It's fine.
I often take a little notepad
with me so I can pretend to be
making some notes on something. Not
really, just if anyone is looking,
"Oh, is he lonely? Oh, no,
he must be a travelling genius."
But why I'm there and what I like
about being alone in another
country, anonymous,
is that you find out who you are.
Who we tend to be
are the fixed, limited perceptions
of the people around us and
if you are alone, who are you?
Who are you?
It turns out, I... a horny sex pest.
And not a successful one.
Just somebody thinking about
but not getting any sex,
all the time, like this ridiculous
addiction, like being addicted
to heroin but, somehow, never having
found anyone to give you heroin.
Oh, another whole week
without any heroin.
How will I overcome
this fatal addiction?
I was in Amsterdam for about
three days, thinking about sex
the whole time that I was there,
apart from, I don't know,
40 minutes in the Anne Frank museum.
And I was there for an hour.
The most sexually exciting
it got for me
was being at this swimming pool
that had been recommended.
I was changing
into my swimming shorts
and then a man says to me,
"Oh, no, this is a nude pool."
I do not hear nude because
of his accent, I hear "new",
and think that must be just some
weird judgement on my shorts.
So I said, "Well,
they're all I've got."
I ventured to the swimming pool
to find everyone was there,
naked and now looking at me
like I'm a deviant,
and I had to take the shorts off,
which was OK,
cos I was naked and alone.
If I was there with a friend that
would have been quite difficult.
These are our willies.
We may not have curtseyed,
I don't know.
And as I'm swimming, I realise not
only is this a wonderful feeling,
but this is not peculiar
to the people around me.
It is the cultural norm,
but what they don't realise is,
they've got a British pervert
in there with them.
Although, I just finished this tour
and people from Amsterdam
came into one of the shows
and told me afterwards,
"We don't know what pool that was."
it is not the cultural norm.
I was swimming with
a bunch of perverts.
I think that disconnection
that I'm talking about comes from
a repression of feelings. I
think I was oddly sexually repressed
and also, repressing a lot
of anger, it turned out.
I didn't even know I had anger.
I would see other people
becoming angry and think,
"Well, this is quite silly,"
especially as I live in Hampstead.
To see people being angry on
Hampstead High Street is like,
what? There's crepes, have a crepe.
But then I was at
the Dublin airport,
coming home from a comedy festival
with a couple of friends
and one of these friends sees
this girl that he finds attractive,
working at the MAC make-up counter.
She was quite attractive.
She was wearing a lot of make-up
but we can't judge her for that,
she works at the make-up counter,
the hours go by, and she gets bored.
These things can accumulate.
And I think that's a problem quite
specific to the make-up counter.
I've never gone into a shoe shop
and somebody's covered in shoes.
So I say, "Well, let's go over
and say hello to this woman,"
because we're alive and...
That's something I say occasionally.
And I think, it's been my idea,
so I should host the flirting,
so I say, "Hello, what's all this?"
She tells us about the
exciting new MAC range
and I, in order to get my friend
involved with her,
in a flirty sort of silly way, ask,
"What do you recommend for
"my friend with his nice, pale skin,
what do you recommend for him?"
She says, "Your girlfriend..."
I say, "No, there's no girlfriend.
"He's very much single,
what do you recommend for him?"
She says, "If you had a girlfriend?"
I said, "No, there's no girlfriend.
"What would you recommend for him?"
She says, "Well, women..." and then,
and I didn't even know why,
I was warm from fury.
And I start saying things like,
"What if Eddie Izzard walked up?
This is very limiting, isn't it?"
She didn't know who he was,
which annoyed me.
She was beautiful and she
knew that she was beautiful
but I think that's all she knew.
And that's just jealousy, really.
If you are naturally beautiful,
that's all you need in this world.
I used to get so excited by models
at parties. "Models! There are
"models at this party. I've got
to go and flirt with the models."
"Must have a model."
I was recently at a party,
there were two models
stood in front of me
and I was all ready to go into
action and I just thought,
"Oh, fuck you."
Because what have they done?
They've grown high.
I learnt to juggle.
It hasn't helped.
It hasn't helped me.
Why did nobody put a piano
in front of me as a child?
Then I could be a guy now,
who can play the piano in a bar,
taking requests. There are
no requests with juggling,
other than, "Don't juggle."
I was standing there in this airport
with no self-consciousness about
shouting at this stranger. I don't
care that people are looking.
My other friend comes over and says,
"Is everything all right?"
And I say, "No,
"we just want to buy some make-up,
"but apparently we
should just fuck off."
And then I see my friend for the
first time, who's clearly thinking,
"Well, this isn't quite
what we planned."
I didn't even know why I was angry
and I've since come
to the realisation
that it was about how limiting
she was being about
what was allowed to occur in
this world of possibility
that we are actually in and to be
still so stuck on gender roles.
We all combine
the male and the female.
It's only the most insecure men
who are aggressively masculine
because they feel it's all
they've got, and often the most
insecure women are wandering around
with the least amount of clothes.
I feel them saying, "All I know is
I'm a woman. Come on, get involved."
And, obviously, that...
it's not always a thing that
comes from insecurity.
I want to, I feel I should say
that's not...
It's not something that always
comes from insecurity,
like, it can be an empowering,
A girl from New York came to see
this show and she was
quite brilliant,
she had a problem with that.
And what I'm saying is, women...
We all combine the male
and the female
and it feels like we're
trying to get there.
It feels like, as a culture,
we're trying to be all
that we actually are,
but because there is
still this fear,
we are being fed these words
that don't make any sense.
Like man-bag and guy-liner.
Like men don't have hands or eyes.
Bought this guy-liner,
don't know where it goes.
And if I did, no way
of putting it on.
It still upsets me to hear
even young, trendy couples saying
things like, we're having a baby
but we don't know the gender
so we don't know whether to paint
the nursery blue or pink.
We might go for yellow
just to be safe.
What is the danger here?
Go blue, go nuts.
What if it's a girl? We don't want
her to grow up to be Bruce Willis.
And then they have the baby and
these sentences pour out of them.
Oh, we've had a girl
but she's quite a tom-boy.
What is this word? Maybe your idea
of what a girl is supposed to be
is quite restrictive.
Oh, we've had a boy
but he's playing with dolls.
Oh, God, then put him back in?
I'm not keen when the word
"but" is inserted into a sentence
when there is no need for it.
When my grandparents had new
neighbours, they said,
"Oh, they're Indian
but they're so polite."
There's no "but".
When TV dramas don't know what to
do with their minority characters,
they give them a little twist.
Well, she's black but she plays
the oboe. It's not a twist.
Ooh, the oboe. I thought she'd
murder my wife. The oboe.
He's in a wheelchair
but he's not sad. What?
He's wearing a turban but
he's also wearing a kilt.
I'm very impatient for this time
that we live in,
the things that are considered
normal. People talk about the past,
history, like that was
all ridiculous,
how could any of that have happened?
I would like to be in the future
now or somewhere else
so I could look back at this time
and say, "Do you remember
"when people drank milk
from other species?"
Did they see cows feeding
their calves and think,
"Yeah, that's probably for me."
Do you remember when people
got married before they trusted
that love would be enough?
"Oh, it's just our one special day,
it's our one special day."
And then what?
Do you remember our special day
before we sat on this sofa
and never got up again?
I was thin, wasn't I? You were thin.
We made it all up, marriages.
It's not a naturally occurring
thing, we had to have all this
romantic language. Will you
marry me? Because it couldn't be
the truth, which is, will you please
save me from my loneliest depression
and fear? Because people would
have said, "I'm quite busy."
Do you remember when people
thought money was the answer?
That money would make them happy?
If I could just win the Lottery,
"Oh, I have won it. Oh, I've spent
it all. The problem was internal."
Money is just a system for
moving things around and to be
so attached to things.
"Oh, I love my car. I love my car."
Do you? Or do you
just hate your wife?
If you have people excited about
a system for moving things around,
then you have control.
When I was at primary school,
there was a teacher who
couldn't control the class
and then introduced a points system,
where at the end of every week,
the person with the most points
would win a fun-size chocolate bar
and everyone went nuts for this.
And I remember thinking,
don't you people know that
outside of this room there
are actual-size chocolate bars?
What about, do you remember
when we had that Pope figure
wandering around, saying fatally
inaccurate things and eventually
we just had to put him in prison
for crimes against humanity
because you couldn't kill him
because he just got replaced?
That was when we had prisons,
of course.
Do you remember when we had prisons?
When we separated people off into
cages rather than giving them
the love they needed that would
have stopped all the crime?
You'll have to just
trust me on that one.
Do you remember when people got
upset when their pets died,
but then when other animals died,
they ate them?
Do you remember when food
became so processed
and unnatural that certain foods
became labelled organic,
like it was a kooky luxury
to not consume poison.
And what about when religious people
failed to remember that
God is nature. There is nothing more
all-encompassing or wise
than Mother Nature.
And atheists forgot that science
is the study of nature
and then they both remembered
and had amazing sex by a tree.
And do you remember when people felt
proud of where they came from,
like it was something
to do with them?
It's just where you happened
to fall out of your mother's vagina.
Oh, I'm so proud to be British.
You may as well be proud
to be Caesarean.
All these separate flags.
If you're going to have a flag,
have a flag of a vagina,
so then you can meet people and go,
"Oh, hi, where are you from?
"Oh, same as me. Let's be friends."
How was peace finally achieved?
The introduction of the vagina flag.
But that was the past, right?
When we fixated on such silliness.
I, when I was turning 30,
had a crisis about that
and I didn't even know it was going
to be a crisis until this moment.
I was wandering along the street
in some skinny jeans,
trainers and a yellow hoody
and I suddenly saw a reflection
of myself in a shop window
and thought,
"Does my head look
too old for these clothes?"
And I couldn't concentrate
on anything else that day
because I thought everything
in my life depends on youth.
I'm sort of a bit cheeky,
you have to be young for that.
"Oh, young Simon is so cheeky."
Uncle Simon is creepy.
And Grandpa Simon, he's in prison.
I also used to exclusively
fancy young men
and I thought I needed to look
like them in order to be with them.
If that couldn't happen anymore,
then I needed a new look
and this is what I came up with.
So that now I don't have
to look like a young guy.
Now, people look at me and think,
"Oh, he must be a poet."
So I can be at a party and a young
guy can be looking at me thinking,
"Oh, hello, his head looks
young for his clothes."
There was also this terrible fear
of becoming my father.
We do not have a great relationship.
He invited me to one of his new
kids' birthday parties recently.
He started breeding again because...
what if we run out of Jews?
That's the actual reason.
I don't feel great about going
to the party. We don't have
a great relationship.
I don't know the kids well.
They're all under nine.
I didn't grow up with them.
It's the same sperm
but a whole different womb,
but you can't say that
to a four-year-old on her birthday.
It's best to write that in the card.
My father also asks if I can bring
some of my magic tricks that
I used to do so I can entertain all
the children. Because when I was...
I wish this was quite
a bit younger. ..17,
because nobody ever said to me,
"Oh, it's nice, Simon, all this
magic. You might like sex."
So I had no sex till I was 21
and I really had to make up
for lost time.
So there's been quite a bit of sex
but now I very much miss the magic.
I like the idea of having
a prop at the party,
having something to do,
because it meant I wouldn't
have to be my father's son.
I could be the entertainer guy.
I thought I could make balloon
animals for all the children.
But he didn't invite
all the children,
it was just him and his three kids,
and I'd ordered 200 balloons
from the internet
and once I'd made a couple
of poodles and a giraffe,
which is the same thing, I...
I had to talk to my father.
He says, "Let's have a chat."
I sit down and he says,
Which is a very broad question.
I struggle. He then follows it up
with, "So, what else?"
I have accepted,
after years of therapy,
that he was a distant father
but that he's such
a bad interviewer is unfair.
He then says, "You know,
you must come over more often."
It's like being a restaurant,
not providing any food and saying,
"Come again!"
But we didn't talk for a while
and then he phoned me
and said, "I've been thinking. One
day, I'm going to be on my death-bed
"and if we don't have
a relationship, there'll be regret."
So now we make sure we see
each other, like, once every
couple of months
and I always regret it.
But when he dies,
I'm going to feel pretty good.
He, er...
He came over recently,
in a week that I had been dumped
by possibly the first person
I've ever actually loved, and...
Oh. Doesn't help, but thank you.
And at the same time as that
happening, my washing machine broke.
Fuck you.
This is my actual life.
It's not a fun night out.
We really must put
that on the posters.
So he comes over to fix the washing
machine but I thought that,
perhaps, for the first time,
we could actually have
a conversation about something.
There was some nurturing,
some wisdom that could be provided.
He did not have the emotional
capacity to discuss a break-up.
He fixed the washing machine.
I felt very angry that
that's what happened that day
and I've since come
to this realisation.
I mean, I know he came over a day
early to do that, because
he knew I was upset and he did what
he could do and so that's the love.
So now when people say to me,
"That's a nice top, Simon,
is it new?" "No."
"My father loves me."
And I accept that because
he won't be around for ever
and at some point, I'll have to have
that relationship with a plumber.
And who knows who he is, really?
Everything is perception.
He came over recently and
dealt with this incredible
family crisis that we were having
and he dealt with it
so beautifully,
like a trained counsellor.
That was not my memory
of him from childhood.
In childhood, he was
either angry or distant.
So either we didn't know where he
was, or we did and it was not ideal.
He dealt with this so beautifully,
with such patience and kindness.
I said to him afterwards,
"Who are you?
"How did you do that?"
And he said to me,
this is what he actually said,
"About two years ago,
I cut out wheat."
I could have had a happy childhood,
instead of "Don't disturb Daddy,
he's eaten a lot of pasta."
So, because I couldn't talk
about that break-up with him,
I'm going to talk about it with
you people now on television.
And it took a long time to even
become a relationship
and I really wanted something
real at that point in my life
and one night we had this whole
discussion and he said, "Look,
"Maybe I don't want to be
Simon Amstell's boyfriend."
Which was really hard for me to
hear because...
I am Simon Amstell.
And he was... he was my exact type.
He was young and vulnerable
and when we first met
he had all this crazy, big hair
and I said to him,
"That's big hair,"
and he agreed, so we could carry on.
And he has some issues
with his step-father and
he suffered from a bit of depression
and I love all that stuff, so...
Everything was going so well
for about six months
and then he found this job, which
meant we weren't seeing each other
enough and I wasn't sure if there
was this tension now because
of the job or just us and I thought,
if I can just put some
dates in our diaries,
there'll be stuff to look
forward to, everything will be fine.
And then we meet up
in this park square.
We're sat on a bench
and he says to me,
"I can't be in this relationship
any more."
Can't was the word.
And I thought, "You could."
"Now, pick a date."
But he could not discuss it at that
point in his life, so we hugged
and we parted and then
I felt like I may cry,
which is quite odd for me,
but I didn't feel like I could
in the middle of this
public park square.
So I see a coffee shop in the
distance and I think, I will go
and cry in the toilet of that
coffee shop, which was a worry
cos often they don't let you cry
unless you buy something first.
And there's all this build-up,
walking to the coffee shop.
I don't have to buy anything.
I close the door behind me
and... because I'm so
emotionally blocked,
I feel one tear and I'm so thrilled
that happened, I stop crying.
I couldn't even cry
the pain out of me.
I get into a taxi home.
The taxi driver is quite perky.
I end up saying to him,
you seem quite happy.
How come you're so happy?
He says, "I'm always happy,"
which was a clear lie
so I pressed him on it.
I said, "How can you
always be happy?"
He said, "I just know there are
always people in the world
"much worse off than me."
Oh, yeah, that's why
I really enjoy eating
cos I always know there are people
in the world starving.
Mmm, yummy.
I get home and this
is the hardest part for me.
This is the problem.
I get home and I can't
feel any of the pain.
I go straight to my computer and
start typing up what has happened
so I can tell you people
and I'm so annoyed at my own
fingers, like,
"Why are we doing this?"
"Because this is all we've got."
I met up with him a while ago
to discuss what had happened
and it's very nice during all
of that break-up story to see you
hugging there in the third row.
That was sort of nice for me.
Thank you.
I mean, is it a bit
selfish of you to...?
It's all right.
"We're fine, aren't we?"
Everything ends.
So we met up a while ago
to discuss what had happened
and one of the things he said
to me was that he felt that
I was vulnerable and I needed
somebody to take care of me.
To save me.
This did not ring true at all,
until I was at a spa hotel
in Spain recently.
Because life lessons
can come from anywhere.
Many will come tonight
and you won't even realise.
You'll think you've seen
a comedy show
and then tomorrow you'll think,
"Perhaps I should leave my husband."
I request a massage at this hotel
and it isn't available so the lady
in charge asks if I'd like
this other massage,
which I haven't heard of,
and also this flotation room
treatment, which intrigues me.
I say yes to both, thinking
they will be two separate events.
What it turned out to be was
me lying back in warm water,
in a dark room with a man
swinging me about.
And I loved it.
It was this strange womb-like space
and it felt like he was everything
in that womb, mother, father,
brother, lover, and also relieving
neck and shoulder pain wonderfully.
I also found him quite attractive
and not my usual type.
He was quite a muscular chap
and I normally go for somebody
with no muscles, no bottom,
just a stick and a head.
This guy, not only did he have
this strong body, he had this,
like, kind, vulnerable face,
which is a good combination for me.
He had, like,
this swimmer's body
but the face of someone who
maybe can't even swim.
His body's saying, I will heal
and protect you, his face saying,
unless I drown.
And as he's massaging my shoulders,
in the water, in the darkness,
I can feel his breath
on my face and I think,
there are no laws in the womb.
I could, I could perhaps just
lean up and kiss him, couldn't I?
I couldn't. Fear, even in that
womb-like, dream-like space,
was still present.
I was so annoyed at my own fear,
then I told this to a friend and
he said, "It's good
fear was present,
"that would have been really odd."
So what happened instead
was, eventually,
he got out of the water and told me
to get dressed when I was ready
and then I, because he had been
healing me and taking care of me,
ended up saying,
"Are you sure you don't
want to get back in?"
Like a crazed,
middle-aged housewife.
Please, my husband won't touch me!
I live alone
and that's fine.
You just have to make plans,
that's the key, especially if you
don't have a normal job because
if you live alone and you don't
make plans, here is what happens,
you wake up and it just gets darker.
I caught myself a few weeks ago,
clutching my cat to my chest,
"We're all right, aren't we?"
There's no-one there taking care
of me. There are no rules.
I'm now watching the least
ethical porn and...
I don't even know how it happened.
I used to say to people,
and it was true,
I can watch pornography as long
as the people in it are clearly
smiling and enjoying
what they're doing.
That is not the case anymore.
I'm now rarely watching anything
unless there is a person
in it who's been tricked.
And everything in my fridge
is fair-trade and organic,
the porn is neither.
Just have to make plans,
that's the key, you just
have to make plans,
so that life has the illusion
of meaning and forward momentum
and that's why you're here,
so you've done something tonight.
Because people tomorrow will ask
you, "What did you do last night?"
and then you can say, "I went
to a live taping at the BBC
"cos I live in London.
I'm alive, I'm alive."
Are you, though?
Or are you just desperately
filling the time
so you don't have
to feel all the pain?
Well, you came to the wrong show.
What are any of us doing?
What are we doing?
There are no rules.
All we have are the conventions
of the people who came before us
and we can't just mindlessly follow
those, so what's the priority?
What are we supposed to be
doing here?
I like the idea that there's
a self-improvement going on
and I often feel like this
must be some temporary personality
before I get to the good one.
Like, this can't be it for life.
Like, this voice, this is my voice.
And I have this laugh now.
I don't know when it started,
but I'm going to have to act it
for you now, but this is
my actual laugh in my life.
It's like I can't even experience
prolonged joy.
I remember reading at school
the book To Kill A Mockingbird
and there was a character in it
who went on this heroic journey
of self-improvement,
attaining a purity. She knew
she was dying and she wanted to give
up her addiction to morphine
before that moment.
And I remember thinking,
"What a stupid thing to do."
If I knew I had two months to live,
one of the things I would
take up would be morphine.
I have had it for an operation
and it is like a hug
from the inside.
It feels like love but
with none of the bother.
You wouldn't give it up,
you'd say, "OK, double the morphine,
"and bring me Atticus Finch."
That story of Mrs Dubose, I think...
I think what that was about was
about her wanting to feel
all of life, rather than
numbing it in any way.
The pain must be felt.
The pain must be felt.
My friend recently told me
that I think too much.
I just think too much, which
is fine - except he then,
very boastfully said to me,
"You know, I never think."
And I said, "You do, you do think,"
and he said,
And I said, "Look, even if
you don't discuss philosophy
"every moment of your life, you'll
still come to some conclusions.
"Like when you wake up and you get
out of bed, why do you do that?"
And he said, "I've got work."
And then I got a bit annoyed
and said, "Well, why don't you
"just kill yourself, then?" And then
my other friend leaned in and said,
"He seems quite happy,
don't ruin another life."
Now he may feel as numb as I felt
in the past and be in deeper denial
but there is something in
what he is saying.
We're all thinking too much
and not feeling enough.
You cannot think your way to
enlightenment. And so I find myself
now on this spiritual journey
to overcome ego,
which would be great,
except it's such an egotistical
journey to be on.
I have a friend and he's
on the same journey as I am
and it is clear yet unspoken
that we are now in competition.
So I will say something like,
"I'm going to Peru next month
to visit the Shaman.
"We'll drink this plant medicine
that has been used by
"the indigenous people for thousands
of years to heal themselves."
And he will say, "Oh, yeah,
I know the guy who invented Peru."
And he is winning, but
what I've realised is that
any competition is ridiculous
because nobody wins this thing.
We all just die, so...
to do anything from
a point of ego is absurd.
Do something from just the
joy of doing it in that moment.
There's some integrity there,
so what I thought was,
if I can just do everything
in my life, from now on,
from a point of pure joy,
rather than any ego,
THEN I'll be the best.
And so, because you cannot think
your way to enlightenment, to peace,
and because I felt so broken and
couldn't fix myself - and I tried -
I found myself in Peru, drinking
this plant medicine with a Shaman.
And what I'm about to tell you
will sound, perhaps,
like a bit of a crazy drug trip,
but I promise you, it isn't that.
I've enjoyed magic mushrooms
because I don't do drugs
but I will if they contain magic.
And with that, it just feels like
a wonderful, giggly experience
and then at the end, you just go,
"I don't know what that was about,
but I had a lovely time."
This was very much the opposite.
It was traumatic, horrific,
there was throwing up involved
but it was focused,
psychotherapeutic healing.
Everyone got exactly what they
needed in their lives somehow.
I was there with about 11 other
people from around the world.
All there for various different
reasons. Depression...
it was mainly depression.
And it was clear I was there
because I couldn't be in a group
of people without anxiety
and I know that's odd me saying
that because I do this,
but this was the only way
I could cope with talking to people.
Raised and lit.
And the other thing
to know about this story
is that it isn't rational.
I tried to find peace
in the rational world
and I couldn't find it.
I'd always dealt with trauma from
the past in what seemed to me
to be a fairly logical,
positive way. I always said,
"Whatever happened, it was perfect."
And then something in the rainforest
said to me, because it acted like
a psychotherapeutic conversation,
"It wasn't perfect, though, was it?"
And it was such a relief
to accept that.
I said, "No, it wasn't.
What was it, then?"
And it said, "It was what it was,"
and I said, "But it's been very
useful for what I do in my career."
And it said, "What you do is what
you do, it is not a big deal."
And this was a great relief,
but also
very insulting.
There were four ceremonies and
each one we sat in
a circle in total darkness.
We drank this medicine. In the
second ceremony, I was reborn.
We don't have time to discuss that,
but I was reborn.
In the fourth one, I found
this strength I did not know
I had before. Even before drinking
the medicine, something was
happening because I started singing
in my head for some reason,
a prayer that a boy sings during his
Bar Mitzvah where he becomes a man.
And then I became a cat.
To my left in the circle was
an attractive young American who
had also become a cat.
I heard him meowing.
And I started thinking about him
during the ceremony,
sexual thoughts.
I found him quite attractive
but I felt ashamed to think
these thoughts during the ceremony.
It felt wrong, inappropriate.
And then something in the rainforest
said to me,
"Why do you feel ashamed?
"You are a strong, sexy cat."
And so then I turned to him,
beyond my own control, the medicine
was in charge now, and rather than
saying something meek like, maybe
we should kiss, I did this motion.
And then he, not his physical head,
but perhaps his spirit cat energy,
at that moment, landed in my palm
and we kissed and then I giggled
cos I felt, "Oh, what a silly thing
to have done, what must he think?"
And then the rainforest said to me,
"Why do you feel embarrassed?
"Look, he enjoyed it."
I looked over and I had
a vision of him enjoying it,
but he also looked quite shocked.
So I said to him,
"Do not be concerned."
"This was just a moment between us.
It is not your path. Continue."
And that was just one of
countless lessons in how
to be in a group without fear.
And something changed in me.
When I got back to England,
I was wandering along
a country path with some friends
and this guard dog came out of
nowhere and started barking at us.
It was quite scary. My friend said,
"Let's just keep walking."
I would have followed him,
in the past.
In this moment, I stood there,
stared at this dog
until it walked away.
And what a stupid dog, because...
I'm a cat.
When that last ceremony ended,
I could still feel
the medicine inside of me
and there were these urges.
It said, "We need to feel the rain
on this body."
And I went into the rain.
I stood naked in the rain,
felt comfortable in myself
for the first time in my life and
it then said, "We need to dance."
And so I got my headphones
and I put on some Michael Jackson.
As the music started,
I noticed for the first time
these wet curls in front of my eyes.
Of course, mine from the rain,
but in that moment, I thought,
I am Michael Jackson.
And I cannot dance but in those
three minutes I lost myself,
my ego, and then found myself, as
the music stopped, in this position.
I learnt to feel, to be in
the rainforest, rather than think
and analyse and I asked while I was
there, what are we here for?
What is the priority?
Is it just joy?
Everything else seems absurd.
Is it just about joy?
Are we just here for joy?
Is it just joy?
And then a tired-looking gorilla
appeared before me
and said, "Yes, it's all joy."
And I later wrote down,
"Joy confirmed."
There is this knowledge now in me
that I'm here purely to enjoy being
here and joy doesn't just
mean laughter. There's joy in tears.
There's joy in authentic experience.
But it's difficult to stay connected
to that joy, to your true self
if you watch the news.
So I've stopped doing that
because it isn't even the news.
What they give us is the worst
things they can come up with that
have happened in the world that day
and that's not a fair representation
of what's going on in our planet.
If it was the news,
I could watch it,
because it would be, "Oh, hi,
"How are you?
Did you have a nice day?"
"The news team, we had a barbecue."
Let's see what we've got for you.
So the sun came up again,
grass continued to grow. Now, some
people have died but you never met.
So you can't feel bad about that.
Don't feel bad about not feeling
bad. That would be silly.
And also, everything's being
dealt with by experts.
If you're still watching, we'll go
live to our Middle East
correspondent, Harold.
What can you tell us?
"Well, it's just ridiculous."
Thank you, Harold.
But we have to watch the news,
don't we?
Because what if you're
at a dinner party
and somebody said,
"Oh, did you hear the news?"
and you weren't able to say,
"I know,"
and then carry on eating,
but with sadder faces?
But is it selfish?
I think we are selfish,
as human beings,
and we should embrace this,
not feel guilty about it.
What it means to be selfish is
you are fully in alignment with
who you really are and after that,
you could be quite useful
in the world.
This, I mean, what I'm doing
now is completely selfish.
I just like doing this.
I know it doesn't seem selfish
because it's brought such joy
to television, but really...
The only news that
I need is - Hello,
somebody's coming towards your
specific house now with a knife.
And somebody already came
towards my house with a knife
and my parents let
that rabbi in, so...
And they weren't even religious,
these people.
I don't think the buffet
was even kosher. "Oh, no,
"we don't care about that bit.
We just loved the cock-cutting."
Didn't love it, of course.
They did it cos it
was the thing to do.
They thought, we've had a boy,
we'd better slice off a bit
of his penis, otherwise people
might think we're weird parents.
And I've decided
I am angry about it.
There is a loss of sensation in sex.
So I'm with someone and they say,
"Wow, that was incredible."
Yeah, would have been, I don't know.
For me to enjoy that fully,
I had to keep going into my head
and imagining that you
were Justin Bieber.
In reality, I do not find
Justin Bieber attractive.
I'm quite indifferent
to Justin Bieber
but there is this fantasy
being sold on television,
this sort of sexless, neutered
yet cocky sex person,
which has meant that, I think,
anger has got mixed up
with sexual attraction.
So I would now like to meet
Justin Bieber
so I can do something to him,
so next time I see him
on television,
he's got a look that says,
"My life has been changed for ever."
But that's not the reality.
In reality, if I'm anywhere,
I'll say, "Hello, nice to meet you."
But there is something in me that
wants to fuck him till he cries.
I don't think it's my fault.
And, of course, it's a metaphor.
When I say Justin Bieber, of course,
what I mean is
the mainstream media disconnecting
us from who we really are.
Because at this point in our time,
I feel we need to be fully connected
to who we are, which is each other,
nature, the universe, or
at least be in a relationship.
Otherwise, you feel alone
and you eat everything.
I know this because I was in
a hotel room recently, alone.
I'm in a relationship now and there
was a chance he could come out
and meet me for the weekend.
He didn't.
The first thing I do when I
get to this hotel room is
go to the minibar, which I thought
was an act of curiosity
because I don't drink alcohol,
I'm pretty much a vegan now,
so there's nothing in there for me
and I thought it was curiosity.
But it was clear loneliness,
because I then just started opening
every drawer in the room
hoping to find
a little friend somewhere.
I order a salad from room service.
The reason I became a vegan,
by the way, is because last year
I became addicted to eating
a chocolate cake every night.
I needed a label to stop
that from happening.
Sometimes you need a label.
Like the only way to not drink
alcohol at a party is to be
a recovering alcoholic, cos people
say, "Do you want a drink?"
"I'm a recovering alcoholic."
"Fair enough." Otherwise it's,
"Do you want a drink?"
"No, thank you."
"Have a drink!"
It's like these people, their only
aim is to turn everyone into
an alcoholic and if they meet one
they think, "Oh, you're done, fine."
It's very difficult to be a vegan,
especially if you're into
the idea of joy.
You see, I mean, you certainly
must never watch a Nigella
cookery programme, because she has
no rules, and we need rules.
Oh, I wouldn't normally
use double cream
but it is Tuesday.
Of course we wouldn't normally eat
the whole goat but it is raining.
I wouldn't normally go to the
fridge in the middle of the night
secretly at the end of every
programme while the credits roll
for more cake but I've clearly
got an eating disorder.
I eat my salad whilst watching
a film and I'm fairly content.
I think the reason maybe
they started giving us
popcorn in cinemas so that all
senses are then stimulated,
not just sight and sound but taste,
touch, smell, all senses stimulated.
We've been encouraged, over time,
to numb our feelings.
No need for feelings,
buy this alcohol,
you won't have to feel anxious.
Buy this ice cream,
you won't have to feel sad.
But I think we need to feel,
as human beings.
Perhaps there should be
an advert that says, "Hey,
"why don't you have a little cry?"
"You're doing so well,
you're so beautiful,
"you don't need anything external.
"The source of you is pure love."
I don't know who would
pay for that advert.
But I think it will be
preferable to the advert
I saw this year for
Galaxy chocolate bars,
where they were trying to encourage
people to eat it secretly.
The tag line on this advert was,
"Think hiding it. Think Galaxy."
That's bulimia!
And I want to believe
they just didn't know that,
but there's something in me
that feels there may have been
a meeting where somebody said,
"Now, who eats a lot of chocolate?"
Galaxy. Hide it, eat it,
throw it up, buy some more.
All too soon, I finished the salad,
but the film continues
and that isn't enough for me,
just sight and sound.
So I see the bread that they've
brought up, which I didn't order.
I don't eat bread, cos why
would you eat bread?
At some point I might want
to be a good father.
But because I'm alone
and it's there.
Because I'm alone and it's there,
I start spreading butter
on the bread, I'm eating all
the bread, breaking all my rules
and I now can't stop thinking about
the chocolate in the minibar.
I can't stop thinking about it for
half an hour. I think the only way
to stop thinking about it is
to get it out of the room.
Just get it out the room.
And the only way I could do that
was to put it into my mouth.
And that's why he had to be there
on that holiday with me.
I'm texting things like,
"It would be lovely if you
came for the weekend!
That's not what I mean.
what I mean is,
"Marry me, it's an emergency."
We need to feel, as human beings,
otherwise we will just consume
and consume until
there is nothing left.
Why did we almost destroy the Earth?
Because we felt alone and it was
there, but we're not alone.
We're so profoundly connected
to each other, to nature.
Last week I ate an apple.
Do you know what I mean?
Thank you for listening, good night.
MUSIC: "The Inner Light"
by The Beatles
Without going out of my door
I can know all things on Earth
Without looking out of my window
I can know the ways of heaven
The farther one travels
The less one knows
The less one really knows...