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Thursday, September 30

I was a week early
Apparently last week was not the last night of the Comedy Cave gig in Edinburgh. I know that because last NIGHT was. I was charged with the responsibility of heading up north to Scotland - me? on the A1 again? surely not!? - to tech and MC this most historical of events in Scottish comedy. In fairness, it was a bit simpler than that. I turned up to a pub with a bunch of wires and stuff, set up the gig and then waited to see if we had an audience.

On the positive side, I managed to get an hour's stroll around Edinburgh before the gig, since I arrived early and chose to use my early arrival as an excuse to grab a Starbucks icy beverage and wander up and down the streets of one of my favourite cities. I covered a reasonable area too:



Then it was time for the gig. The comedy gods decided to provide an immense gaggle of pretty young girls - well, a party of 8, at least. One of these young ladies was so outrageously pretty that I suspect I delivered much of my set directly to her. However, they were all so young... well, 18-20, but that's quite young... I had to confess that my primary instinct was to make sure they all got home safely. This got a collective aaaah from them, which is sort of good.

In other news, I still managed to resist the evils of late night shit-eating (where we're talking a metaphoric sort of shit, which can be bought from motorway services). I'm now in the habit of only eating things branded as low-calorie or low-fat. Technically, not eating at all might be better, but I have hungers, and perhaps my appetite will diminish if all I eat is as uninspiring as this. It's certainly easier on the pocket not to be spending £7 on sweets and snacks in the services. My Berwick stop (it's a good way to break the trip from Edinburgh to Newcastle) cost me £2.25 in healthy tuna sandwich.

Bloody night pay
Boycott night pay. That's what I say. If people don't trust you, then don't give them your money. The Berwick Shell station lets you go in and be treated as a human - that's why I go there. The same can be said for the Esso in Musselburgh, if you need a closer-to-Edinburgh stop. Yet a large quantity of the service stations in our land operate a frosty shouting-through-glass-getting-your-goods-through-a-slot service. If I wanted my petrol station to be a vending machine, rather than a shop, then I'd design it with more convenient buttons.

Wednesday, September 29

I thought I'd lost it
One careless button press on my mobile phone and I thought I'd deleted this picture for good. However, I'd managed to copy it onto my computer at work before my act of foolishness. So, I can present to you a photograph of the set of The Musical! as we created it in Altrincham in June:


Tuesday, September 28

I'm beginning to see in a different light
A rather grand title for what essentially is a combination of two dull facts. One: I replaced four lightbulbs in my house over the past few days - two of which I replaced last night including a nail-biting dramatic hike up a very short step-ladder to replace the porch light, which has been out for... ooh... months! Two: I'm feeling rather cheery, having cheerfully arranged some entertainment for 4 weeks' time.

I said it was a grand title.

The month of September is nearly over. A month ago, we were preparing for our penultimate performance of The Musical! at Edinburgh. There's still not quite the comfort of a month's separation from this event. I've still got to get used to the "real world". I still don't have what you might call a routine. I also seem incapable of waking up. I can only get up in an emergency, which it usually is by the time I leave the bed (not that I'm wetting the bed - not that sort of emergency) more the time that I get up is usually pretty close to "the danger zone" - that time when I'd better get up, or I will be desperately late.

I managed to get a lot of sleep last night, having taken myself to bed early (all the lightbulbs were replaced, so there was nothing left for me to do). I read a book. A rare pleasure. Now my neck aches, from a combination of reading in bed and sleeping for over 8 hours. You can't win!

The task of eating healthily, with a side order of eating lots of fruit, is still underway. There's a plenitude of food being eaten, but it's all good - if I can couple it with some exercise, that would be good. Indeed, if I can't, that would be bad!

Monday, September 27

Pointless life chronicles
The burning question I know you dare not ask... what did I do yesterday? What a question!

Well, I woke up - I must have done, since I couldn't have achieved everything I did yesterday while still asleep - no sir! No sirree! Enough of these wanton exclamation marks. Well, just one more then. Woooh!

Once up and about I busied myself about the place with the utterly unmemorable tasks of getting a shave (first one in a while) a shower and something to eat. I believe I almost got sucked in to watching an episode of 'Allo 'Allo, with the fabulous Arthur Bostrom, whom I saw live on stage doing his hilarious mispronouncing of words on Friday night. I escaped, luckily and managed to make time disappear - no idea how - until it was time to head up north to Scotland. I refuelled the car on the way and set off up the A1.

An afternoon in Edinburgh
I arrived in Edinburgh at about 4.40pm. I'd arranged to meet someone for coffee - an acquaintance (don't start getting excited). This person chose us as the first person to accept a flyer from during the Edinburgh festival - she then came to see the show and was suitably disapproving of the hilarious revealing costume in the later scene. Given that it's nice to relax before a gig in non-comedy company, I'd suggested a late afternoon coffee. Her response - "Can I bring my dad?" was surprising, but unlikely to divert me from my goal of breaking the day. So, we three sat in the upstairs of Starbucks and had coffee. I suppose the dad was wondering why his 21 year old daughter appeared to have gained the attentions of a strange old-looking 30 year old man. I soon clarified that I was nothing more than show-folk... not only that, but I was show-folk-that-hasn't-quite-cast-aside-the-real-world.

It was quite an entertaining way to while away an hour or so.

An evening in Leith
I did my gig in Leith. I can't say that I was on fire, or that I specifically "rocked". I'm not putting enough pressure on the audience at the moment. Having said that, my behaviour generated laughs, so I can't complain too much. I need to be harder hitting and less distracted. Having said that, I enjoyed the evening and my newest song looks like a goer.

A night in Edinburgh
Then it was a late night meet up with some friends to talk about possible future plans. As late night meetings go, this one lived up to its name and I had to brave the graveyard-shift drive home.

When you set the alarm on my mobile phone it tells you how many hours left before it goes off. I didn't like the number of hours I was told there would be before resting my head and being forcibly interrupted by beeping. Still, I made it into the office exactly on time, so I guess I've not suffered too badly.

Saturday, September 25

There they are
One thing I forgot to report about my musings on the journey home last night (if indeed I bothered reporting any of my musings directly) was that there seemed to be a distinct lack of people in town. I walked away from the theatre between 10pm and 10.30pm and the streets were pretty empty, as were the bars I walked past. Perhaps everyone had already made their way to late-licensed establishment, or perhaps everyone chose last Friday night to have a night in. The lack of people in the theatre may well have been a symptom of that (or a symptom of the fact that it was a relatively cultured show and Newcastle is a relatively uncultured city).

Anyway, Newcastle does have one hell of a population and it certainly knows how to celebrate its city-wide love of football. Today I walked into town starting at 2pm (I didn't go there directly) and managed to get caught in match-traffic - human-match-traffic, that is. There were just hoards of people headed for the ground. Apart from the staunch way they refused to budge when I tried to make my way against the flow, they seemed a pretty genial bunch. It is good to see a group of strangers united in a common purpose. I somehow managed to head home around kicking-out time at the stadium as well, and had to work against the flow of people heading into town from St James' Park. I found myself in the recently restored Leazes Park, and had a wander past the duck pond, which was nice. Anyway, I've missed out the amazing story of my trip to town.

A trip to town
Phew - I can tell you about my jaunt into the city.

My aim today was to clock up some miles on the legs and feet. This is part of my new-found lack-lustre attempts to put some health-conscious activity into my life again. This should include the avoidance of naughty foods, the favouring of good foods and the half-hearted attempts to do something that's more energetic than sitting in a car, or at a desk every week. So far, week 1 has gone well, but I'm weak and I fully anticipate the next chocolate biscuit being too much for me.

Anyway, I know myself and I know that I work best with a mission. I set out for town with a number of objectives:

  • get some new guitar strings
  • buy some Starbucks coffee beans
  • get a small radio to make walking more fun
  • pick up a photographic print I'd had made
Given that the radio would have been nice to have for the whole day, I had the excuse to walk into town via a rather awkward route - one which took me past a few places which might sell such an item. Once in town, I accomplished all of my objectives, visiting some of my favourite shops in the process. While I spent money on various things, I managed to avoid spending time and money on stuffing bad things into my stomach. The only edible item was a Starbucks cappuccino, which I even had with skimmed milk. Watch this space, this new effort will quickly disappear.

In search of radio
I'm a man of extremes. My objective was to buy a radio which doesn't tune with an analogue wheel - these things are next to useless if you walk since the FM frequency varies slightly and the radio should really follow the frequency. There are three sorts of radio that would do the job nicely for me (given that I wanted something that would sit neatly in my coat pocket):
  • A cheap cheap cheap auto-scan radio
  • A nice digital tuner
  • A personal DAB radio
As I'm a man of extremes, the middle one was not on my list - they cost £30 to £40 (as I discovered today).

The auto-scan radio will find a channel when you push its button and hopefully hang onto it as you walk. As I listen to Radio 2, I'm usually able to pick that up as the the first channel on the auto-scan, so if it goes off, I just press the re-scan button and it gets picked up again. I used to have a couple of these radios. The best was free with about 8 million cans of Pepsi and worked beautifully - sadly it got wet and broke. I had another one, with a built-in torch, about which I remarked would probably wear its own battery out if the torch were accidentally activated (say with something pushed against its button in a pocket) - this happened, proving me right. I later found how useful the torch facility was when I had to pull over on a dark road, worried that a tyre was flat in my car. Anyway, this latter radio broke as well. A replacement would have been nice - it should be worth a couple of pounds.

The DAB radio will find a wealth of channels and relay them in CD quality to your ears. I quite fancy one of these. They cost a minimum of £140 if you have one that's pocket sized. One can buy a unit for £70 if you want something that is the size of an old-fashioned radio (why they make new things look like classic old things is beyond me - like progress only works if you dress it up in nostalgia!?). In the end, my wallet resisted the thought of spending that much money on a radio when I could get 70 of the other sort for the same price.

Choosing to go first to a department store instead of the everything's a pound shop, I found the exact set I was looking for - it even had the torch. I bought it. £2. I also bought an unnecessary power tool. Well, it was cheap! I was going to buy a shirt, but my resistance to buying polyester was in force - some of those shirts were 100% polyester - that's just wrong. That whole shop must be a fire risk. One bit of static and the whole place will go up. I went to the pound shop second in order to buy a massive supply of AAA batteries for my new radio. They also sell autoscan radios. D'oh! I could have saved £1 on the radio I just bought. Then, in a bizarre twist of fate, I bought one of their £1 radios. Why not? It's only a pound. This one doesn't have a torch. I now have a choice of radios, or, better than that, can keep one in both of my regular coats - there'll always been one on hand, now. If one proves to perform better, then great. Life is too short to worry about £1 for a radio.

I'm now listening to a CD.

Friday, September 24

A night out
Well, I arrived at the theatre and took my seat up in the gods, having first read the programme through - not thoroughly as I later discovered. Nobody else was up there. I knew that there were some deserters, having heard some people leaving the upper floor commenting on there being seats available lower down and how people don't check your tickets that thoroughly. I staunchly refused to steal a better seat than I'd paid for. I sat, all alone in the gods. Everyone else had either deserted or not turned up. I planned to move a few rows forward if nobody turned up - all the seats up there being for free. Then, someone from front of house came and told me that the gallery was closed - I was lead into the upper circle and given a better seat. I was in the middle of row E - unobstructed view. Lovely.

Admittedly, there appeared to be some bizarre combination of bad hygiene and good perfume sported by one of the nearby female theatre goers - at least I assume so from the smell that initially hit my nose. However, this settled into a reasonably sweet smelling equilibrium, so I was undeterred from show watching. The show contained the actor who played officer Crabtree in 'Allo 'Allo - not only that, but one of his running gags was to mispronounce a word - how we laughed.

The show was good fun. Not quite my usual cup of tea, but musically well executed and lyrically creative. I'm not giving a euphemism here. I mean that the words were a highlight. There was one show-stopping number in the whole performance and the rest was pretty good. The physical execution was far from perfect, but of a high standard. They could do it, but there were obvious mistakes across the whole cast. Maybe just an off night. I enjoyed myself.

Then the long and cold walk home. I'd taken the bus in, to avoid worrying about the car. I thought some evening exercise might brush the cobwebs out of my system. I think it brushed some of them out - the spiders remain.

Not an awful lot to report
So why write? Well, I don't know. Maybe I just like it. As Jonathan Pryce once said "Don't ask anymore".

Yesterday was another day spent in the office. Office work can make the day fly by, or can see the day crawl past like an injured hyena. It varies. Working with a clock on the telephone and computer screen means that you can be painfully aware of the time. It's rare that the day goes by at the ideal rate. Either there's not enough time, or there's way too much. This is a real nuisance. Looking back on Edinburgh with rose-tinted spectacles (as I'm bound to) I remember many of the days passing by quite quickly. There were times when flyering seemed to be taking forever, but largely the days flew by. Perhaps the fact that we were running to a schedule helped a great deal - in general there was the same amount of work to do every day and it was labour, rather than thought, intensive.

In some ways, Edinburgh was quite creatively stifling. The only new material I got out of it was factual and a small fantasy about giving a flyer to a dog, which I've not even considered mentioning to a non-fringe audience. Luckily, the creative juices have been flowing much more in the last few weeks. In some ways, I missed the burst of creative energy which Edinburgh can give you. I think that exposure to tons of performance can be very inspiring. Sadly, if you're side-tracked by doing a lot of flyering and performing, then the effect is at least postponed.

Sitting at a desk can be equally stifling. Luckily, long car journeys and, even more so, long walks can balance this out. It's time I got my feet motivated. That's the beauty of having both the desk job and the world outside the office - contrast.

Primped and buffed
I have a hot date tonight, so I've got a new haircut. Well, it's the usual haircut... and the hot date is not actually hot, or a date. I'm going to the theatre. Alone. Technically, it's not a date, more a diversion from a lonely night in. A lonely night out. But I shall be with countless other people (well, there'll be a count, but I won't be a party to it - the box office staff will probably know, I can't be bothered to conduct my own census). I'm off to the Theatre Royal in Newcastle to see The Merry Widow. I've not seen this show before and I've only heard it a couple of times. I'm not sure whether I'll like it, but it's got singing in it and it's some people's favourite show, so I'm sure I'll find the good in it. Knowing me, I'll also find the mediocre and bad in it. At least I'll come out of the theatre knowing more about the show. Maybe this will help the recording I possess of it makes some more sense. Maybe I'll even want to listen to it some more.

I'm in the habit of buying programmes to shows I go and see, so I shall have something to remember the evening by. I have skimped on the price of the ticket, opting for a cheap seat up in the gods... and it's really high up there. You do get a reasonable view, though - often of the heads of the actors... and tall scenery is a waste of time. If it's really good, then I could always buy a stalls seat for tomorrow and see it again. I am a cheap date for myself. I hope I don't fall out with myself and end up going home separately from myself. That's the beauty of dating yourself. If you do end up going home alone, it's not necessarily an indication of a failed evening.

Show memorabilia
I have quite a lot of programmes from shows I've been to see. Suprisingly, though, it's programmes and nicely printed sheet music from shows that I've not seen (or at least productions I've not seen) that find their way into clip frames on the wall of my dining room. Today I received a late 90's programme for the National Theatre's production of Guys and Dolls. It's nice to see how another production looks. Once I've been in a production, its own imagery becomes the dominant memory of the show... and I'm staunchly loyal, so I'm going to consider anything we do on stage in February to be far better than anything ever. Hopefully other people will agree.

The question is whether I'm going to go along and see the Darlington production of this show at the end of next month? I've never seen the show on stage. Should I put another live version into my head? Watch this space. Perhaps I will go, and perhaps it will be really poor - much like the version of Little Shop of Horrors I saw at the People's Theatre in July. If the show is good, the poverty of the performance can fade into the background, supported by the quality of the writing... and I can feel superior, safe in the knowledge that I'm not boasting when I say "I could have done a better job". Ok, so maybe that's not a thing to admit, but it's true and I try to avoid denying the truth on this blog.

Thursday, September 23

Doing things for people
Following on from the last post, it's clear to me that it is good to do things for other people for no reward other than doing-them's sake. I consider my own behaviour to be selfish. I don't think that my selfishness necessarily requires that I take something for myself, or do things which make me look good in the eyes of others, but I know that I rarely do something that I don't want to do. So, I'm self-serving, but I enjoy being nice to others, so it doesn't do any harm. Indeed, I like to think of myself as generous and good-natured, so I choose to fulfil that role, or I would let myself down. I'm not too generous - too selfish to give too much, but requiring of myself that I feel like I'm generous. This is a rather cynical analysis of my own behaviour, but it's probably quite accurate. Maybe everyone is the same.

And so it was that our party of two on Monday became a party of three as a random person in a pub became our welcome guest for a curry. We offered friendship and hospitality and it was good. People should do things for people. It feels good.

You can't have it all
The folks in the sandwich shop downstairs are offering moderate quality food at slightly inflated prices. I have avoided patronising their shop as a result, but they are more convenient than walking further afield, so I occasionally give them a go. Yesterday, I went there and managed to get the sort of lunch I wanted, healthy and pleasant. I was also surprised by the courtesy I was shown by the person who served me. She was very friendly and took pains to say goodbye and thank me for my custom. I was so surprised, not accustomed to this sort of service, that I was actually on the way out of the shop when I realised she'd bothered to engage me. Usually, the staff in there thrust the change at you while looking elsewhere, seldom make eye contact and are generally incapable.

This new staff member seemed to have a willingness to be personable as well as do her job. The only problem was that she made the act of slicing open a roll and applying some mango chutney look incredibly painful. Any time I'd saved in going to a closer shop was lost as she made a meal of making my lunch (as it were). I think part of my reason for hastening out of the shop, having bitten my tongue at her sluggish and graceless performance in sandwich making. However, I regret my actions. If I'd realised she was going to be so nice about it, I would have stayed around to offer a smile.

Some musicals trivia
Yesterday I was listening to Miss Saigon, the original london cast, which included among its number, the very charismatic Jonathan Pryce. Miss Saigon is in many way a better musical than Les Miserables, by the same writers - Boublil and Schoenberg - which I'm presently listening to. I think that the power of Miss Saigon comes from the greater variety of emotions and numbers on display. You can sympathise with the principal characters more and there are fewer threads of story to be confused by. Where the tragedy comes in, it's a lot more focused and, perhaps, a little more tragic. Perhaps it's just less miserable.

The show will be headed for the Empire theatre in Sunderland next year and I think I'll make the effort to go and see it. I saw it in Birmingham last year and was impressed by it, but perhaps I wasn't swept along by the atmosphere, the theatre being so big that it was hard to become immersed in the action.

I've had a couple of listens now to the musical Weird Romance. I bought the CD of this on spec, as is often the case when I go shopping on ebay. This recording has the benefit of being written by Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors and a raft of Disney stuff) and including Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors, stage and screen) in its cast. It has a good pedigree. It's a curious recording and, after a couple of listens there are some moments which stand out as favourites. I've said before that you can hear the hand of a writer in their work. Despite not orchestrating this recording himself, you can tell that the music is from the same writer as Little Shop of Horrors. Lyrically, the show works pretty well too, once you've forgiven the need for Americanisms for the words to fit together. Weird Romance is a pair of one-act musicals connected by being speculative fiction in which a male character falls in love with an artificial woman. I don't mean like a sex doll. I mean more like a woman whose presence is provided by machine in some way, though in both cases the spirit of the person is not artifical. In both stories, the woman goes through some sort of nurturing/training to be realised (a bit My Fair Lady like) and in both cases the love that forms is in some way pure, a connection of mind, rather than body. The stories end tragically and are quite touching. I doubt I'll get the chance to see this show performed. Shame.

The last night of the cave
Last night was a bit weird. I wasn't expecting it to turn out the way it did. I stayed in Edinburgh longer than I expected I would, opting for a very late night return trip on the A1, punctuated by a low-fat sandwich stop in Berwick. I was savouring the afterglow of the gig, but I didn't realise at the time that I was savourign the afterglow of the last gig of its sort. One of my favourite venues in Edinburgh has just closed its doors on its Wednesday gig. There will be no more comedy cave. We ended it in style, though.

As nights go, it was truly an unusual one. I opened the show and had my set punctuated by various random interruptions. I didn't get a whole lot out of the whole of the audience, but I did get something and I think I gave a reasonable performance. After the gig was over, I became deeply involved in conversation with the three best audience members, two of whom were newly-weds (to each other) from the states. It was a refreshing conversation and the four of us had a blast. It was a long goodbye, which ultimately ended on the street when we ran out of words and the harsh reality of my need to get home, get sleep and get to work hit.

We had, during the conversation, toyed with the idea of packing all of them into my car and driving back to mine in Newcastle. My reasoning for this being: I have this really big plant... and ingredients for a smoothie. It seemed to be attractive. I think I could have gotten away with it, though what I would have done with 3 tired strangers in my house is hard to imagine. In addition, though two of them knew each other, we had all only just met, which would soon have gotten weird if we moved the impromptu party.

I summarised the highlights of the road trip that didn't happen, so I don't think they missed much. I like to give of myself to my audience, but a post-gig celebration like that is unprecedented. If any of M, B or S is reading this - Hello! Do get in touch.

Tuesday, September 21

Tellin' it like it is
Mal has a point in his comments about charity. There's no doubt that a lot of people who signed to sponsor, in the great north run, the father of a recently deceased colleague (she was only in her 20's) did not really worry too much about the cause they were contributing to. Sending sick children to Lourdes sounds like a good cause and I think Mal's comments debunk that cause suitably. But is it still worth contributing to the cause, even if it does seem a futile activity?

At the time the sponsorship form came around, I looked at it, briefly, as a cynical attempt from the family to cash in on our sympathies as work-colleagues, still unable to understand how a pleasant, healthy person could be so suddenly taken from us. I say I looked at it briefly that way because I quickly realised that that opinion was more an example of my own cynicism than that of her family. Of course her family would ask for our support, we were her work colleagues - perhaps we need some outlet to express our loss of a work colleague, and giving a few quid to charity is not a bad way to do it. As a word, charity comes with connotations of people shaking tins or doing "outstanding good work", but perhaps it's more than that. As humans, we are both selfish animals and beings with a soul and a need to feel good. Doing something for someone else for its own sake can create a great sense of goodwill.

So, let's look again at this great north run sponsorship. In his grief, our colleague's father decided he was going to do something constructive. He was going to run the great north run (no easy feat) and raise money for charity. This is a simple case of him doing something positive and good in the face of a great loss. I applaud him. For those people who signed his sponsorship form, there was the chance to join in with his good work, albeit in a very easy way (sign here, pay later). For the eventual recipients of this pot of sponsorship money, there will be the sentiment of many people offering goodwill. While a trip to Lourdes may not, in itself, bring them anything other than a whiff of French cheese, the fact that they're going on a journey with the goodwill of so many people behind them will surely make them feel a little better.

Alton Towers would probably just as good too. Unless they have unstable back injuries.

Monday, September 20

There's no feeling quite like it...
When in one rash mouse-click you lose some data and have no way of retrieving it. The hollow empty feeling in the pit of your stomach...

...luckily, I recreated my spreadsheet in approximately 9 seconds, but it could have been worse!

Crackers
Yep. It's official. Everyone's gone nuts today. Here's another example. Redditch Amateur Operatic Society sent a round-robin email to everyone on their address book, advertising their new show. This was not a stupid thing to do. Indeed, I've done pretty much the same thing, expanding my address book to include them in the past. However, their foolish bit was to CC everyone, thus telling everyone each other's email addresses. I, at least, had the sense to BCC people. Never mind. The real icing on the cake was when one of the recipients decided to do a reply-to-all to say:

"Please remove my email address from you records."

Not only did this person decide to moan at everyone - the majority of whom had nothing to do with the spam - but they sent their typo to everyone. It's an exercise in how to look incredibly stupid in one single keypress!

Bad mood?
With all the curmudgeonly writings of today, you'd think I woke up the wrong side of the bed or something. As it happens, I didn't. Although I was having yet another odd and vivid dream, the exact details of which escape me, though I remember there being a lot of vomiting, I got out of bed with good resolve. I was going to healthily walk into work and even commit a brief act of good will and generosity on the way. This I did. I even managed to resist the temptation to buy more than a healthy litre of fresh orange juice as my "breakfast". I'm in quite an optimistic mood. I'm just incapable of ignoring the vast stupidity that appears to be going on around me.

System shock
When you add the 45 minute walk to work to the gardening style exertions (ok, so it was medium to light mowing) of the weekend, well it appears that my body doesn't know what's hit it. Luckily, I'll be able to put a damper on this apparent burst of healthiness by having a couple of glasses of brewed liquid (and I don't mean tea) this evening after work. I've had something like a single can of lager since I returned from Edinburgh. In fairness, I didn't drink a great deal while over there, though there were a few nights when I hit the whisky - purely for medicinal purposes, you must understand. No, seriously. My voice was going and my throat hurt. One apparent remedy for this was single malt whisky. It appears that my tonsils have good taste.

Pretender to the crown
I'm currently listening to the soundtrack to Jurassic Park III. Where the first two soundtracks were John Williams, this one is Don Davis, using some of JW's themes and scoring the rest himself. I've said before that you can feel the hand of a writer in their work and in this case, I think you can feel the absence of the true writer in some of the reworkings of the original Jurassic Park music. While John Williams frequently employs various tricks, combined with a simplicity of touch, his musical impersonator in this film seems to be oversimplifying certain moments. I think it's the problem of stepping into another man's shoes. Where Don Davis has the chance of writing something of his own, it's fairly nicely done, though nothing magical. Where the original theme needs working in, it feels akward. The tempo isn't right and the endings are occasionally blunt.

There is only one John Williams.

Well, actually, there's that guitarist called John Williams, but there's only one film composer called John Williams... or at least, the film composer called John Williams cannot be emulated. Okay, so he can - David Arnold does a good job from time to time, but John Williams himself is still unique.

Fools rule
What is it with people in administration? Does the ability to set rules make people go power crazy? I know that I'm something of a control freak and stickler for detail. I know that I sometimes have everything sewn up in advance, but that doesn't mean that I've lost the ability to be pragmatic. This month, it appears that everyone around me is setting rules and policies that are there for having rules' sake. I'm not entirely convinced that pragmatism is at the heart of the draconian limitations being established around me. Having said that, we all fear change, so perhaps the bigger problem is that I'm noticing changes. Coming back to the humdrum world after a month's play in Edinburgh is always going to seem odd, and the maintenance of the status quo would make the transition back into the real world a little easier.

I don't suffer fools gladly, and my own natural arrogance (not that I'm proud of it) means that I'm inclined to declare a lot of fools.

Today, I forgot to bring a key to work. Since I wasn't driving, I brought the set of keys for my house which don't have the car keys on. I forgot that this particular set of keys doesn't have the office key on too. So, I can't get in and out of the office. While we have spare keys, which I could borrow for the day, I'm not allowed to borrow a spare. I have to borrow one from a colleague if I need to nip out of the office - say to the toilet. Great. Apparently it's okay to be told:

"I can appreciate that this will be a hassle for you today, but you might remember it tomorrow."

It's been over 12 years since I was at school. I think I was treated like more of an adult there. Still, according to our company policy:

"Stress provides motivation and achievement."

So, perhaps this is all part of some sort of system to rile me into doing something. Resign?

Maybe the people from parking control have been sending evil telepathic messages to the people of Newcastle in my absence to make everyone behave like a bunch of morons. Hooray for everyone!

Maybe I'm just sore
Perhaps I'm in a mood because I didn't win a competition on Radio 2 this morning. I awoke to the sound of Jonathan Ross doing the breakfast show, which confused me, since I immediately assumed it was about 10am on a Saturday, which made no sense, given that I was pretty sure it was Monday morning. Then I remembered that JR is relieving Mr Wogan for the week. Working out that I had time to get to work, but that it wasn't the weekend, so I'd better get up sharpish, I listened in to their competition to win a radio. You had to come up with a headline for the news story about an old woman who successfully tackled a burglar. She basically talked him into such a state of boredom that he fell asleep. Once asleep he was easy prey for the police. She was telling him about her family and showing him pictures, hence the immense boredom she created. I thought my headline, which I texted into the show, was a real winner, but they didn't even read it out... aaaah.

Here it is:

Your money or your life-story.
It doesn't even rely on a groaner of a pun. Maybe that's its fatal flaw.

Sunday, September 19

Another day in Newcastle
I didn't get in my car at all today. I didn't even walk more than 3 minutes away from my home. I spent the day in my own dominion. This consisted, primarily, of mowing and edging the lawn, watching quite a lot of television (Star Trek The Next Generation is truly silly), ironing for two hours (that was the duration of Futurama and The Simpsons, which coincided neatly with the 500 shirts that needed my attention) and then watching a DVD. Annie Get Your Gun is quite an entertaining movie and, despite the best efforts of Betty Hutton to overact her way through the songs, I really enjoyed the 100 minutes spent in the company of Annie, Frank and Buffalo Bill.

Ironing remains something I find calming and fascinating and I felt a little closer to the iron today after it threatened to withdraw service on Friday night. On Friday I ironed a shirt before taking a shower and going out. As I turned the iron off at the switch on the wall, it blue a fuse and took out the circuit breaker on the ground floor. I worried that my beloved hot metal steam generator might be completely ruined by this experience, but I didn't have the time to do anything about it - I was running late. Yesterday, I grabbed a spare fuse from the bag in which I have parts of the regular 13Amp plugs that came with my mirror ball pin spots. Hooray - the fuse solved the problem. In my opinion, those pin spots did not warrant 13Amp fuses, but lucky that they had them - my iron was back in operation. Woohoo.

I realise that I'm a 30 year old man with his own house, car, several time consuming hobbies and plenty of opportunities to get excited, and that I've chosen the inconsequential repair of my iron to be worthy of note... perhaps this is indication of how utterly pointless my life is at the moment. Having said that, at least I care about something... even if it is an iron. And anyway, it's not me reading this. Maybe you ought to question yourself now. Are you excited for me? or have you formed any opinion at all? If you have, maybe I'm not the one with the problem.

Dull
Yes. I know. This blog is a bit dull at the moment. I occasionally read my archive and find interesting bits. I'd heartily recommend January 2004. I read this today and found a nice mix of highs and lows.

Cinematic night-time visions
This is the second night running that I've had a vivid dream. Had I felt scared during this one, I suppose it would be classed as a nightmare. I didn't. I was more a spectator in the story, though I was expected to participate at various points and virtually failed. Don't ask me why, but my last dream was about being a guest in someone's house and discovering it to be rather haunted. The person in question was talking of this haunting in quite a matter-of-fact sort of way and playing it down. Just as I was about to leave, I went to the bathroom and found it to be full of ghosts and ghouls of varying sorts. Most notably there was:
  • The flying flame, which was setting fire to the string on the pull switch for the room.
  • A series of glowing blue streaks, which could be conveniently let out of the window.
  • The Terminator - yes. The Terminator. This was my favourite. A hole appeared in the base of the bath and a mockup of Arnie on a bike emerged through it. This mockup was rubbish, because its weapons only flashed. Not only that, but they didn't flash like the flash of a camera - more like the flash of someone turning a torch on and off.

So, am I losing my mind, dreaming of strange bathrooms with ghosts in? Of course not. As I remarked in my last blog, dreams are perfectly normal and cannot be taken literally. I have no desire to get to the bottom of this vision, instead preferring to blame it on whatever I'd been eating the previous day. In fact, a lot of what I'd eaten the previous day was fruit. Perhaps it was haunted fruit.



Ding dong the bells are going to chime
If I were a cynic, I'd say that weddings were invented to make single people feel even more isolated and desperate than they already are. If I were a cynic, I'd say that. However, I've been to three weddings this year, and at none of them have I felt that way. They've been three very different occasions, and my social experience at each has been markedly different, but I have felt neither isolated nor desperate. Phew!

Given that I know that a least one representative of each couple whose nuptuals I've attended reads this blog, I should tread carefully in what I write. Indeed, I shall not be passing comment on anyone's wedding day in particular. However, I will say a little about marriage. I believe in it. I think it's a wonderful thing when two people find each other and decide to commit forever. If you can make that commitment than you have found a person whom you should be with. Marriage doesn't suit everyone, and that's fair enough. Equally, some couples aren't ready for marriage yet - perhaps they need to develop, as a couple, to that stage, or to the stage where they call it quits and walk away. As humans, I think we have a straightforward purpose - develop as individuals and bring the next generation up. The framework of marriage is a good way to achieve both. Stability and love are not to be underrated.

It's strange that I should wake up on this wedding day (admittedly, someone else's) after a rather bad dream concerning the breakdown of my last relationship. Perhaps it's not. Perhaps it's perfectly obvious that my brain would react to the celebration of someone else's relationship by spewing forth comments on my singledom. Dreams are generally meaningless, or if they have to have a meaning, it's usually not found by taking their content literally. In this particular dream, I was required to improvise a performance with my ex. We were performing in a house or flat, with our audience watching through the windows. We couldn't see them, but we knew they were watching and could hear us. We had to improvise some sort of theatrical piece (don't ask me why) and, without thinking, I started a "sketch" which took us through a reenactment of our break-up. In the dream, we were not a couple, we'd simply been thrust into the same place for this pointless feat of drama, which was ended by my closing the curtains of the room we were in. Neat. The curtain came down on the performance with domestic curtains.

Hooray for my mind. Hooray for being without any responsibilities and anyone to wake me up that I could sleep long enough into the afternoon to have time for this amazing feat of nocturnal fantasy. Hooray for it all.

Shopping and mowing
In other amazing news, I managed to visit the supermarket and buy lots of fruit. Indeed, I bought nothing unhealthy at all. I treated myself to a hot meal, at the supermarket's cafe (why I didn't buy something and cook it at home is beyond me) and even that was relatively healthy - though I did stuff a muffin down. Oops!

Back at home, I took it upon myself to tackle the lawn. It was really quite deep, having remained unmown for much of the growing season. I put a solid hour into the task and returned to the house with shocked muscles. Me, exerting myself? Me? Surely not!? A quick shower and I was back to my usual self - sitting in a car driving somewhere.

Sarcasm?
There seems to have been a bit of sarcasm in this post. I know it doesn't work online. You'll just have to guess where I'm being genuine. I should point out that the positive stuff about weddings was genuine. I really wouldn't go online and publicly slam the happiest days of people's lives when I know those people read. I'd simply not write about it. But since I have written about it, and since I don't intentionally mislead on this blog... well, it's clear that I'm a big fan. The sarcasm comes a bit later.

Coping
My life is in something of a state of flux. I'm really without purpose at the moment. Things will conspire to give me a purpose in the not too distant future, I'm sure of that, but at the moment, I'm a fairly pointless individual. If I were to wink out of existence, I'd hope that I'd be missed, but I don't think the course of anyone's lives would be significantly altered. While it would be fairly arrogant to assume that it's my place to be an alterer of the course of everyone's lives, I think it's a good aim to be in a position where you have the responsibility or opportunity to make a difference. Putting a show on at the fringe was an aim - nobody's life (with the exception of other people in the show) was going to be changed significantly, but we brought maybe the total of 1000 man-hours' entertainment into the world, which must count for something.

Yes. I'm in post-Fringe blues. It's a lot more pernicious this time, though. I don't feel like I've got the blues... but if I scratch the surface...

Friday, September 17

We're officially endearingly gormless. Yes! It's weird to find an unseen review... and see that they both liked it and got it. It ups the number of four star reviews too. A nice surprise.

Well, that's an answer
Dull though it is, there is, apparently, no word meaning four times.

A couple of amendments
It seems that David Arnold can also use a choir for dramatic effect - this Independence Day soundtrack is as silly and over the top as the film it came from.

I also accidentally bought some more soundtracks while at lunch today. Ooopsie. However, I do now have a 2 CD John Williams soundtrack from a Star Wars movie - in this case Episode 6 - Return of the Jedi. I also have completed my Jurassic Park soundtrack collection with number 3 (which is largely not John Williams where the others were). Finally, Mr Barry Gray and his Orchestra will be playing Thunderbirds music for evermore in my ears.

Looking back
It's now my habit to look back at previous entries in this blog to see what I was doing a year or two previously. This is interesting to me for now, in that the last couple of years have been enriched by a variety of formative experiences and I can now see patterns emerging in my behaviour which show how seasonal an animal I am. However, looking back on this entry in a year's time will be somewhat dull. I can imagine that I'll write, a year from now, something like: "Well, it seems that, a year ago today I was... well looking back a year ago to the day...". So, I should keep my retrospectives brief. One should look over one's shoulder, but not to the exclusion of moving forward. Yes. Very deep!

I wonder if there's a male pornstar with a pseudonym (a lot of them have pseudonyms, you kn0w) that's a tribute to the regular film star Johnny Depp. He'd be called Johnny Deep. In case you hadn't worked that out.

Sorry about that.

Comedy within 5 miles of my home
Tonight will be the second of a two night comedy binge within Newcastle. I know! Watching comedy within 5 miles of my home - can it be possible? Well, with the Newcastle Comedy Festival due to start at the beginning of next month, it's looking likely. In this case, though, it's the local promoter - Funny Bones Comedy - who opened a new gig in Jesmond last night and is presenting the established show in Heaton tonight. I like watching comedy. Good comedy is a treat to be savoured. A room full of laughter is a good room. The show last night was good because the laughs were friendly. The comedians were a good mix too. A lot of the best humour last night relied on the intellect too, rather than just pushing rude buttons.

Film themes
I'm going through a phase of wanting film soundtracks to listen to. This is not a bad thing. Many film composers are producing unsung (unless you're Hans Zimmer, who uses choirs a lot) masterpieces that secretly hide behind the action. I'm currently being aurally assaulted by David Arnold's soundtrack to the film Independence Day - this is not a grand masterpiece, but it is textured and enjoyable. With the recent Back to the Future evening a clear memory (I'm a bit gutted that I failed to notice the Lonesome Pines Mall sign when I watched the first movie on Monday - I remembered it on Wednesday) I'm hankering after a bit of Alan Silvestri - he used a 98 piece orchestra for the Back to the Future score. Wow!

John Williams features quite heavily on the list of movie composers to adore. John Barry is in there too. I can't afford to get too into this subject. If I'm into movie scores and musicals equally... well, I won't have time to do anything except go on ebay and constantly make new space for CDs.

Thursday, September 16

Putting it together
My 190th gig last night. I managed to mix a combination of old and totally new material to get a mix of responses from the audience at the gig. You have to try new stuff out somewhere and a "safe" gig is the best place to do it. I'm not sure whether it was my behaviour, that of the compere's or the act who got virtually no laughs, or just the natural impatience of youth, but the gaggle of 18 year old student girls disappeared at their earliest opportunity.

The joy of gigging in Edinburgh means that I got to spend more time in my own company driving on the A1. I quite like the A1 these days. It's nice and predictable with only a few annoying moments with the trucks to deal with. I don't get especially nervous on stage, so I have to get my thrills somewhere - foolishly overtaking trucks and having to find an escape route is one way to get that burst of adrenaline!

It's bizarre that my late night arrival at home and reasonably short opportunity for sleep left me feeling more refreshed and capable of getting out of bed than my relaxed evening in front of the TV earlier this week, at which I got an earlier opportunity to go to sleep. Perverse, isn't it?

Looking for a new mission
With the Fringe arrangements looking like they'll be wrapped up shortly, I'm now in the market for a new challenge. My brain is starting to generate ideas, hence the nights of trying out new material. I need the next big thing to do. Answers on a postcard.

Wednesday, September 15

Keeping my cool
Well... it was bound to happen. I've been haring around the country for the last 18 months, very intensively in the last 11 months... I finally got me a speeding ticket. I got caught out by a speed camera in Northumberland (or Northumebrland if the documentation is to be believed). It's a fair cop. I was driving too fast, I got flashed, I should be penalised.

I resisted the temptation to correct the spelling error on the official notice I was sent. I didn't actually want to rile the police. I'm not sure what my penalty will be. I guess I will find out. Oddly enough, the note didn't fill me with the bile and contempt I felt receiving a parking ticket the other month. Perhaps this is something to do with the fact that I feel like I've earned my speeding ticket. Though I'm not pleased to have been exceeding a speed limit at the same time as an automated speed trap was watching, I have, at least, intentionally ignored the rules of the road. It was entirely my own doing. At the time (2.40am) I will have felt safe in my control of the car under the conditions, the fact is that I shouldn't have been driving above the prescribed limit. I was specifically doing something wrong. With the parking ticket I received, the car was stationary. It wasn't doing anything wrong at all... okay, it was parked a space to the left of where the imbeciles in the car park would have liked it, but it was minding its own business and had been left there with the best of intentions. There's no doubt that when I failed to brake for a posted 30 mile an hour zone, my intentions were wrong... so I have no rancour in paying the penalty.

There's a lesson here. If you're going to do something wrong, then either DON'T, or don't get caught. Or possibly, the lesson here is that parking fines just rile me. I don't know. I've learned something, though. I must have.

Tuesday, September 14

In some ways I failed...
Last night's challenge was a success in that I watched the entire Back to the Future trilogy, along with the "hilarious outtakes" - not all that funny in my opinion - and, more importantly, the deleted scenes, most of which I agree with the deletion of (though they did explain one or two things). However, I had three other things I needed to achieve and I failed.

1. Eating a LOT of pizza - I only really managed to eat SOME pizza - the local store's supply of frozen pizzas being on the small side. I thought I'd bought a lot of pizza, I even added some microwave garlic bread and chicken wings (classy!) but I could still walk after I'd eaten them. So, not a LOT of pizza!
2. Drinking plenty of beer - I foolishly drank no beer. I bought some, but didn't feel the need to consume it.
3. Arriving at work on time - this morning I had alarm clock difficulties. Bizarre isn't it. I spend a restful evening on the sofa and get to bed late, but not as ludicrously late as I sometimes arrive back after a gig... and I can't wake up through my alarm clock. My defence is that my mind was back in 1985 and so, technically, I was actually early for work - 19 and a half years early! It's a poor defence.

Back to the future...
I enjoyed the Back to the Future movies when they first came out - and it's hard to believe that the first movie hits its 20 year anniversary NEXT YEAR! Anyway, tonight, partly because I needed a remedy for a rather downbeat day, and partly because I was challenged to do it, I watched the whole trilogy. Each movie was watched, in the correct order, back to back with no pauses of the movies and only a toilet break in between. This behaviour wasn't stipulated by the challenge, it was simply the way I naturally behaved when the movies were playing. Even though I've grown up a long way since I first became a fan, I found these films to be just as compelling as they were all those years ago.

I giggled with glee, smiled and generally found myself amused as the 5 hours of Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd's antics played out. Where the film is cheesy, it's so cheesy that it's great. In addition, knowing the full story and how the various plotlines interweave, I'm still amazed at the audacity of the writers setting various ideas up between the last two films. I think it's the sheer quantity of detail, along with the coherence of the world they created, that makes these films re-watchable. I might give it a few years before I have another crack at them, but I'm glad I gave a night to them tonight.

I've owned this box set for a long time and never felt I had the right moment to crack it open. I thought it might be nicer to have company for it. I didn't need company tonight.

Monday, September 13

The healthy option
She's got whole-grain bread, fruit and vegetables to eat and she's only drinking water. However, she's gone and spent money on a jug to fill with water, rather than walk for 20 seconds across to the tap to fill her glass... that might accidentally get her some ****ing exercise.

Home-maker?
It seems that my instincts are a little domesticated. I had 6 hours to myself on Saturday between waking up at a reasonably respectable 10am (not bad, since I'd been in Manchester until about midnight the previous night) and heading off to the next commitment (I left at 4pm to be in Edinburgh in plenty of time to get to the gig I was MCing). This 6 hours was the only time I was due to spend at home while awake this weekend. I spent it vacuuming, watering plants, putting washing through the machine and doing the washing up.

Having said that, my house is still a mess - it still looks like the remains of some Edinburgh Fringe show have been just dumped in it. I have a lot of washing still to do, I found an extra bag of washing from Edinbugh - it's been two weeks since I came back and I'm still not there yet... if I will insist on being in my car!

No longer a novelty
You know when you've been on the road too long when the palindromic mileages don't seem all that interesting any more. I missed 148841 and thought - "ah well, there'll be another along in the next 1100 miles or so" at this rate, that would be next week sometime.

Cordless a problem
Perhaps having a cordless mouse is a problem. At moments of frustration my main instinct (which I'm suppressing) is to pick it up and throw it out of the nearest window. This is unfair, since my frustration is seldom caused by the mouse. At least a corded mouse would stay attached the computer and be easily rescued if thrown.

Home safe and well
Despite the efforts of the wind and rain, coupled with the increased risk of being on the road for some 22 hours this weekend (or thereabouts), I'm still alive and have achieved the goals of the weekend... at least in driving terms. I have covered at least 1200 miles. I have visited Manchester, Edinburgh, Glenrothes, Warwick (well, a small village near it) and Peebles, and I have managed to maintain much of my sanity. I'm even feeling relatively energetic and rested.

The fact that I have energy is probably down to the fact that my Peebles gig didn't happen. Though I arrived there early enough to do the gig (in fact, I arrived early enough to get some food - naughty food at that - and have a rest in the back of my car) the audience never appeared. So I got to go home early. This was a shame in performance terms, but great for me, since I had more energy available to me for negotiating the tricky roads and weather conditions that stood between Peebles town centre and my bed.

This week is looking exceedingly dull. I shall have to spice it up somehow.

Saturday, September 11

Car journeys can provide the solitude that fosters deep thought.

Friday, September 10

Another contribution from the haikulator

a raging desire
whispering your name again
better than last time


Random poetry is curious. Don't forget to take a trip to the incredible section to see some of the siblings of the haikulator.

When you see a guy...
It's that time of year again. I'm starting preparations to join another musical. In this case it's Guys and Dolls with music and lyrics provided by the skillful Frank Loesser. Having heard the Producer and Musical Director give very illuminating talks on the work of this writer, I'm all the more switched on to the task of finding a role in this show and contributing to the quality of the performance in February.

Juggling the job, the musical and the stand-up is something I'm familiar with. Although this weekend is going to be almost the busiest weekend I've ever had, the next two weeks are looking quite relaxed. The calm before the storm. Having said that, I'll probably find ways to fill the spare evenings - I do appear to have an allergy to spending too much time "alone at home at night" (he said quoting his own lyrics).

Anyway, back to Guys and Dolls. I have three recordings of this show. I'm presently listening to the original Broadway cast - as far as I can tell, this was recorded around the time that the show first opened. There was a superb production at the National Theatre in the early eighties - with Julie Covington and Julia McKenzie, and I also have that. However, the real talking point recording is the CD I received yesterday. This story of gangsters in New York was recreated on stage on Broadway in the mid seventies by an all black cast. It was reorchestrated to have echoes and, in some cases, full frontal exposure, of jazzy funk seventies style. The fact that the recording was produced by Motown ought to have given this away. It's truly terrible, but rather entertaining.

Thursday, September 9

A random haiku from the haikulator:

opening my heart
i've got the blues so badly
can you believe it?

Be sure your dreams will find you out
Another night on the road. Last night I made Newcastle to Edinburgh in about 2 and a half hours, which isn't bad, considering I had to make a couple of stops. In one case, I had to stop for a comfort break after a particularly funny programme on the radio exacerbated my need for a room with running water. The return leg was a record in about 105 minutes, which for the roads in question is pretty good going - not insanity, just promptness.

The experience of going to do the gig was mixed. At the end of the day, it's my desire to zoom off to various cities in the country and perform to whoever turns up. That is what I certainly achieved last night. The audience mainly comprised the other acts, along with about 3 regular audience and 3 germans who did their best to understand the humour and language, but were often looking intense, rather than amused. Nice guys, though. When I offered to do the gig I had higher hopes for my own personal level of entertainment for the evening.

I did get to have a wander around Edinburgh, which was strangely surreal, given that it was just over a week ago that it looked like a remarkably different city, with all the Fringe apparatus in place. I also bumped into some people I knew, which gave me something to do between arriving and getting to the gig. So, in many ways, it was a positive experience. However, the reality of being a solo stand-up act is that a lot of time is spent in isolation. It's important. Without the isolation, there can't be the act.

Oh, and I got to try out some new stuff, which seemed to work pretty well. I had to draw the line at a more surreal routine, which the germans would really not have understood. Plus, we got the germans to tell us a joke - translated from German to English. Bizarrely, it's a joke I heard in English about 24 years ago... it was old then. The teller spoiled it somewhat by asking for help translating one of the key words of the punchline before telling the joke. Still, it was a nice moment of cross-cultural sympathy.

Wednesday, September 8

Been sleeping too much
I have had more sleep this week than last, and I feel a lot more tired. Clearly my body is in a state of flux. It doesn't know whether it wants sleep and plenty of fruit, or denial of sleep and plenty of junk food. I've no idea myself. It's hard to think straight at the moment. Something tells me that I'll not have time to myself to work this out for a while. I've not really had a break after the Fringe - perhaps that might have been wise. By the look of the next few days, I'll be ready for some sort of break by Monday. Luckily, next week is looking a lot less busy, which is nice. Knowing me, though, I'll probably fill some of the empty days by performing or watching gigs.

Tonight I'm returning to the scene of the crime, as it were, and MCing a gig in Edinburgh. It's one of my favourite comedy nights, but totally dependent on the presence/absence of an audience. With the students not back already and a city somewhat unimpressed by its recent experience with over-exuberant performers, perhaps it will be a sparse night. Ah well, what's a 240 mile round trip when there's a gig involved!?

Expectations
It's strange to compare one's own expectations and hopes with what other people expect of you. To some extent, I'm quite a reactive person and perhaps on stage, I work best with an audience that expects me to be funny, than with one that's unsure or specifically doesn't. I think I sometimes get a glimpse of what people expect of me and this can affect my confidence if their expectations are lower than mine. Or maybe I condition myself to meet other people's view of me. This is, of course, a bad way to be. Over-confidence is a problem, but so is the fear of aiming high.

I didn't come back from the Fringe with some heady notion that I'm now a star. I know I'm a lot more accomplished as a performer, and perhaps a little more wise of the world, but I'm still the same person I was 6 weeks ago before the insanity of the Fringe began. Having said that, I have grown accustomed to being treated in a certain way, and it does take some adjusting to the fact that, once I'm off the stage I created for myself, I'm just a regular guy. Hopefully, my self-effacing attitude will prevail and I'll not piss anyone off.

If I ever write an autobiography (though who would read it, I don't know) I think I'll use the title - Living with mediocrity.

Tuesday, September 7

For the majority of last month, I had an eating and exercise schedule which counterbalanced each other rather well. I had a modest and enjoyable walk between the flat and town, usually with some sort of load on my back. There was much in the way of fried breakfast and there were rare occasions when scottish deep-fried food didn't find its way into me on the way home. This is, of course, very naughty. I was redeemed from gaining too much weight by the quantity of walking within Edinburgh I did, and the energy I needed to expend to perform.

Now I'm back home, things are noticeably different. I'm pleased to say that I've not eaten anything fried since I returned from the festival... oh, unless you count the deep pan pizza I had the other night. I'm also trying to teach myself to eat healthily again. This is not working. I have consumed a vast quantity of fruit. This, coupled with my already fragile digestion from a month's abuse of my system, is having nothing short of a confusing effect on my body - I'm sure I'll appreciate it in the long run.

I have to learn to avoid many high-fat foods again. It's been a good 18 months since I was really totally in control in that respect. The problem comes from the way that I eat. A lot of the eating I do appears to be in the car - at least when I'm gigging, it is. Taking a rest stop at a motorway service station and looking for something to stop my stomach arguing and to provide me with the instant energy hit I'll need to wake me up for the journey... well, it's the shite which seems to make the most sense - not that motorway service stations provide the healthy option as a rule anyway.

Hopefully, I'll find some sort of way to cram in some exercise. For the next week, at least, all the spare time I have should really be devoted to sleeping. This coming weekend is likely to be totally crazy. I don't know how it'll work, but I'm going to be in Manchester, Newcastle, Glenrothes, Newcastle, Warwick, Peebles and Newcastle again between 4pm on Friday and whatever time I get to bed on Sunday night. That's a lot of driving!

Monday, September 6

Lost time
Yesterday I wrote some thoughts into this machine and did my best to be the dutiful blog-writer. Sadly, these thoughts were eaten and so I shall have to do what I can to recreate them.

Back from Edinburgh
The Fringe is over for another year and the one-month stay in the fantastic city of Edinburgh is now over. Getting back in touch with reality is not an easy task, especially since the time away was so lengthy and packed with activity. Strangely, the office seems a lot more familiar than it should do after such an absence and my attention is not being dragged back to the Fringe too often. In addition, talking about last month feels like talking about something that happened a long time ago. It was only 8 days ago that we gave our last performance of The Musical!

Gigging again
Since returning to Newcastle, I've been at work for 4 days and I've performed in three gigs. Thursday was in Manchester, Friday was in the hard-to-get-to Buxton and Saturday was in Glasgow, with a brief detour via Edinburgh for reasons of my own. It's all been late nights and roads. This is, apparently, perfectly normal.

Home comforts
I'm now officially living on my own again, my lodger having deserted on Saturday. I'm probably a hard person to lodge with, so it's for the best. I can now wander round the house naked should I feel the need to do so - I don't, but it's nice to have the option.

I went to Tesco yesterday and ended up buying a home electrical item and some glassware. See, I do care about having a home of my own. The fact that I've barely spent any time in it all year and have plans to perform in another musical and gig very hard between now and February is immaterial. If I want to buy some American-style soda glasses, then I shall. Ha!

Friendship
I was surrounded by friends in Edinburgh, old and new. Now I'm back to the solititude of home, work and late night car journeys... well, I'm bound to miss it. I appreciate having people around me.

I suspect there will be some sort of case of post-Edinburgh blues on the horizon.

Friday, September 3

I truly suck as a diarist...
Far too few updates to this blog to consider myself a true recorder of my life experiences of late. The Fringe went very well, so well, in fact, that I didn't have time to write about it much. I do have notes of every gig I performed or watched. I shall try to do a summary of the gig side of things and record some opinions on what I saw.

Some facts/statistics would be pertinent.

Total shows I performed in - 67
The Musical! - 23 shows plus one "Best of the festival musicals"
Audiences - in The Musical! we must have played to over a thousand people.
Reviews - on the whole, good
Audience reaction - occasionally astounding, largely enjoyable
Most shows performed in one day - 5
Best show of The Musical! - 22nd August
Best stand-up show - 28th August - Laughing Horse - the audience were immense - they screamed
Smallest audience I performed to - 1 man in When Hedges Attack - there were more comedians than audience in ratio of 2:1
Largest audience - The Musical! once beat the 70 mark (plus company passes).
Longest set - Did 33 minutes headlining the Capital Comedy midnight show.

Now I'm back to the usual life of late nights spent on the nation's major roads in between working and gigging.

I'm tired but jolly.

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