Time moves on and the gigs get further apart and further away. The visits to London pubs with more successful friends begin to space out and become stranger and more awkward. Work ceases to be a topic of conversation with friends and family; instead conversations turn to the mundanities of broken down cars and the moral probity of the new Asda that just opened so conveniently nearby. My Car Plays Tapes approaches the dry spell in a creative career with compassion, gentle humour and a deliciously self-aware self-deprecating side-glance.
Talked into supplementing his meagre creative earnings by an artist friend who thought he’d be good at it, John Osborne is honest about his standing start as a care worker: the difficult time building skills; the challenges and rewards of the work; the difficult reality of successfully balancing identities; without losing or devaluing either. As he flickers between identities - support worker with vulnerable adults by day, literary festival haunting poet-raconteur by night - he skids and bumbles between kindly spaces, propelled by a kind of confident uncertainty. It’s a disaster, yes. But it’ll work out. Things will sort out. Fate will deliver it when you need it most, whether it’s a car or a job or a new direction or a difficult question posed suddenly by an excitable yoga teacher.
And if it isn’t quite as expected? Well, people are alright and look out for each other. It’ll work out. Things will be OK and there’s time for a few more poems. Kindness to himself and others permeates the evening, wrapping up the Burton Taylor in a comfy armchair of gentle humour, each story feeling like a shout out to his mates, and like you were probably his mate, or would be, very shortly, over a beer and a book of poems.