During the lockdown Herald arts finds out how local creatives are dealing with their downtime. Here Adrian Edmondson shares his thoughts. The actor played Malvolio at the RSC in 2017, and currently stars in Sky Atlantic’s new series Save Me Too. #ArtistsInRetreat
Tell us about what you do, and how you got started as an artist.
I sometimes act, sometimes write, sometimes sing and play in a band, occasionally I direct things. I started off as Angel Gabriel in a nursery school nativity. My dad worked for the armed forces and we moved about a lot. I had white hair as a child and looked angelic. I played Angel Gabriel four years running in four different schools. After the second production my mum kept the wings she’d made for me and I arrived more or less fully formed as an angel wherever I went. I’ve never looked back.
Where are you spending the lockdown and who are you with?
I’m spending it with my wife, my youngest daughter, her partner, and their flatmate. We’re in Devon, on Dartmoor.
How are you staying connected with the outside world?
We’re in a remote spot and the internet is delivered through a single strand of telephone wire, often nibbled at by sheep and the odd jackdaw. Occasionally we get a bit of 3G and marvel at the speed. We’ve got an old land line that crackles and fizzes. It’s like living in the late-80s regarding the internet, and the early-50s regarding the phone. We have the radio on almost permanently. I think I just heard Neville Chamberlain say something…
Are you managing to do any kind of work?
No. I feel mostly serene in that there is nothing to do and nothing to be done. This serenity is often punctured by moments of blind panic. Other than that I’m trying to make some raised beds to grow vegetables in. Though I was overcome with fumes from the creosote a couple of days ago and have mostly been just thinking about it since.
Do you have any cultural recommendations for keeping entertained during the isolation? Eg, your favourite binge watch, film, book, music?
We watched Little Miss Sunshine the other night. Hadn’t seen it for ages and my daughter’s flatmate hadn’t seen it before. I was relieved to find it was as good as I’d told her it was. I’m listening to the audiobook of the new Hilary Mantel [The Mirror and the Light], which will probably see me through most of the next decade. Other than that there’s a very good programme on Sky Atlantic called Save Me Too – I believe the guy playing the creep Gideon Charles is something rather special?
Any other tips for not going stir crazy?
We’ve mostly been drinking our fears away. I bake bread. I’ve always quite liked ironing, so we’re using napkins a lot (they iron so beautifully). I’ve started ironing my socks – it’s a revelation, they feel like new! I washed the car the other day. Mind you we haven’t used it since, so I doubt it will get dirty ever again.
What will be the first thing you do when self-isolation is lifted?
Go to the pub. I’d just finished a run of The Boyfriend at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark before the lockdown. Every night I’d make my way to the theatre going passed lots of lovely Southwark pubs that looked so warm, jolly and welcoming. I vowed that as soon as the run was over I’d go on a big pub crawl, but the virus rather put the kibosh on that.
What lesson would you hope mankind could learn from the coronavirus catastrophe?
That there’s more to life than GDP [gross domestic product]. That the NHS and the BBC are brilliant institutions. That delivery drivers and people who work on checkouts are as important as everyone else. That kindness is the name of the game. That some people are selfless heroes. And to quote Frankie Boyle – that you shouldn’t vote for anyone who considers you ‘a herd’.