Graeme's London Marathon report

Hello Ladies & Gents,I am Graeme Brookes, I am an actor and I am running the London Marathon for ACT and I have been asked to do a blog so here goes . . . . . . I don’t like running!I am new to the whole running game. I didn’t start running until around June 2017. I had an acting job that took me over to New York, my digs were next to Central Park. I’d never run more than 5k (and only on a treadmill). I said to myself before I got there, you may never come back here so you have to run around Central Park. It was perfectly 10k. I had been in the Big Apple for around 12 hours when I put on some shorts and knackered trainers on went for a jog. My mouth hit the floor as I saw things I’d only seen in films (Home Alone, Elf, Die Hard with a Vengeance – the best of the Die Hard’s in my opinion!). I was there for 7 weeks, during that time I ran around Central Park maybe 2-3 times per week. Before I left, I did my first 10K race around Roosevelt Island. I then got back to the UK and went on tour and ended up running 3 times a week all around the place. Salisbury, Guildford, Exeter, Eastbourne. I was loving running. I signed up for Birmingham half Marathon in Oct ’17, did it and got addicted and 2 days later managed to get myself a charity place for the London Marathon (An actor that is a little impulsive! Shock Horror!). I did it in just over 5hrs, 15 mins. It was so hard, especially the last 6 miles. Me personally, I am 6’2 and was 17 stone, though I am a bit lighter now, I am definitely not Mo Farah and I am definitely not built for running and my body was falling apart. After fighting with my mind about who had control of my consciousness – I swore I would never do a Marathon again.So – I am running the London Marathon in less than 5 weeks! What a grade A idiot but I am doing it for ACT. When I was made aware of them as a charity – I immediately asked if there was anything I could do to help and I was told they need some Marathon runners and after 5 seconds of that voice saying ‘don’t do it Brookes, don’t do it’ – I told them I would love to represent them and here I am. Just over a month until I run 26.2 miles again.I am doing it because I am an actor, I am also a father. My little boy is three years old and like most parents, I am anxious every day for he may hurt himself or that I can’t protect from life impending. However, my anxiety levels have hit the roof significantly as being an actor is hard bloody work for future planning is nigh on impossible, a salary as inconsistent as MP’s voting on Brexit and often changes of plans and circumstances for auditions, workshops, tours can be very sudden. For example, in 2018 I worked up until August. I finished a job and I had saved enough to make sure I could cover my son’s nursery fees and I could continue to meet his primary needs for around 2 months. However when the end of October came and the auditions weren’t forthcoming – I got incredibly anxious. I got myself a credit card (for the first time in a long time) to support him as I didnt get another job until the end of November. Luckily, that has allowed me to support him but I was approximately 1 week away from contacting ACT myself looking for help. And even now, after paying his nursery fee’s, meeting his needs as his Dad should, paying my agent, paying the tax man, saving for future fee’s and general unemployment, paying digs, getting food – there isnt much money left but hey – thats life isnt it really. I accept that. There have been a few occasions where I haven’t had ‘acting work’ – in particular longer-term theatre work. I once had a break of 18 months (with a few days filming). It was brutal. During those times, I didn’t have a little boy to think about. Now I do – that cannot happen again. It just can’t. Its fine me wearing tired clothes and having shoes with holes in, but not him. No way, not on my watch. However, I am trained as an actor, I have spent 13 years as an actor and to be honest – I am not very good at much else and all I want to do is be an actor and I love being an actor BUT I love my little boy even more and I have to do what it right by him. I hope that doesn’t mean I have to give up being an actor but if needs must – that is always something I have to consider. Agency work is drying up, the competition for freelance flexible ‘normal work’ is getting harder and harder so finding jobs to tide you over whilst we are out of acting work is difficult (I wont use the word ‘resting’ because I resent it a little because when I am not acting, I am doing the opposite of ‘resting’).Being a parent is amazing but hard work and being an unemployed actor sucks (being unemployed generally sucks doesn’t it really?) so the idea of being an unemployed actor parent leads to me a million percent understanding why so many actors take sabbaticals, get credit cards or have to ask for help from others. However, it saddens me even more that actors do quit full stop. I appreciate the erratic nature of a salary for the self-employed is not exclusive to actors but it breaks my heart that so many actors don’t feel they can have a family. It shouldn’t be a choice. Is it easy? No, of course not – but the very difficult journey is made easier by ACT and that again is why I couldn’t say no to the suggestion of being a marathon runner. What are a few hours of strenuous exercise and a bit of a testing of one’s mental health in the grand scheme of life? I can do this to support actors and also to support myself because who knows when I will need help and I thank my lucky stars that a charity like ACT exists and I will go to them without any shame and nothing but gratitude. If you can spare a few pennies. Please do. Support me, support whoever, support ACT. We as actors are in this uber competitive industry and we often look at each other as the competition and a threat but as a collective – let’s take care of each other. Its hard enough as it is – lets make the nice things even nicer and let’s support one and other and support each other’s families.  Good luck everyone. I shall see you on Sunday 28th April.Love, Graeme

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