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Pay What Now?
Outro
Hearing the music
When to quit
I am not as other men
Tonight I was funny
Attack of the Drones
Notes on your set
Why Pissing off a Fellow Comedian was Fun
Can I Just Say That iPads are Lame

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Monday, July 30

There Wasn't Any

Just when carrying some watermelon would have been most appropriate, I couldn't get any. I managed without. I prefer it without.

Friday, July 27

The End of an Era

A more twisted bit of creative writing from me today.

You never know how it’s going to feel until it actually happens to you. It’s amazing what goes through your head too. Nobody can prepare you for someone slicing your ear off with a scalpel – it’s way off the syllabus at school, it’s just weird. I think that the thing which both amused me and freaked me out was the fleeting thought of “Ah, it’s just a bit of cartilage, I probably don’t need it”. How optimistic is that!? In the end, though, I did lose the hearing at that side – a combination of the damage inflicted by the knife and the weeks before I got proper medical attention.

Nobody knows why Van Gogh really cut his own ear off, but they assumed that they knew what motivated “The Van Gogh” killer. They believed the newspapers. They believed that he was a sick man who was lashing out against the world. They believed that he was a violent psychopath with blood lust. In short, they didn’t know him like I did. It’s because of how well that I got to know him that he let me survive.

He only did what he did because he was an artist. That was his way of expressing himself. He wasn’t a harsh, shallow man. He saw ugliness in many of those that people now call his victims, but that was because they were ugly people. It didn’t make him the ugly man. He was the artist, and those people were turned into his art. Things between us were different, though. When he’d done me, we talked about it. He realised that I hadn’t been changed by the removal of my ear. I’d been beautiful to him all along. I came to realise that it was about love all along.

I proved to be his weakness. Rather than let me bleed and starve to death, he came down and spent time with me. He gave me something for the pain. We talked. Because I made him stay in the same place for too long, they found him and it was because of his love for me that I survived and he was taken away.

If they ever let him out of jail, we will get married.

Labels:


Making Time For It

There's always time to be tested.

IQ Test Score

The End

I have mixed feelings about my last day at work in this job. I still believe it is time to move on. I'm still a human being with an in-built fear of change. Still, my plans for the year stretch out beyond today, and I will enjoy missing people more than coming to despise them all.

Thursday, July 26

Hair cut 100

Today I had my hair cut at the shop I've been going to since I started working in Farnborough and stopped asking my girlfriend to cut my hair. Though she did a good job, it was too much effort to clean up after it. So it was farewell to the two ladies who have serviced my head for me. I got them a box of chocolates. I've been aware that I've never tipped in my time as their customer, so a goodbye gift was the least I could do. Well, not the least, but you know what I mean.

Coincidentally it was my 100th visit to the place. This is not true. I've been going there just less than weekly for about 18 months. It's more likely to have been my 63rd visit. I don't know. It's silly that we would attribute a significance to the 100th and not, say, the 61st. In short every visit is uniquely important. Today's because it was the last.

The hairs keep growing. I shall have to find an alternative venue for trimmage. My next appointment is in Edinburgh with the barber I use there. It will be my 100th visit to them. In about 50 years' time.

Simpsons Avatar

I tried to make a Simpsons version of myself. I'm not sure it's very good:


Waterloo, Sunset

I'll be honest, I didn't truly think last night through properly. I was winging it. As a result, things got a bit off kilter. Or did they go pear shaped? I quite like the shape of pears, so probably not pear shaped. They were certainly not hourglass shaped either. There's another nice sort of a shape. Erm. A shape I don't like. Perhaps avocado. The avocado is, essentially, pear shaped. However, when you get closer to it, the avocado is actually very very lumpy. It has a miserable complexion. Maybe it should moisturise. Perhaps it should use this:



Anyway, last night went avocado shaped, after a promising start.

I managed to get a suitable train from the area in which I work in the direction of London. It took a couple of stops and then blasted through to Waterloo. I used the opportunity to prepare for tonight's show. This timed perfectly with the arrival at the far end.

Once in London, I took appropriate trains towards my meeting near Liverpool Street station. I had my malfunctioning MP3 player stuttering its way through some good music. I must find out whether this malfunction is permanent. If so, I'm going to end up buying something. Having a working MP3 player has become an essential. I'm not sure I'm ready to let iTunes take over my life, especially given what I've heard about its method of resynchronising with the iPod. Gulp! I'll no doubt be blogging about this at some point.

The meeting went exactly to plan and then I hurried my way across London to meet my family for a meal in North London. I arrived before my food did - I'd ordered from the tube. Thankfully, the service in this particular restaurant lived up to its reputation as unhurried. On the stairs leading up to the restaurant, I noticed a sign that apologised for any disturbance their redecoration might be causing. It said "Sorry for any inconvenient this may have caused". The sign has been corrected from the original "inconvienient" to have the "i" removed. I took this as carte-blanche to correct the sign some more. I crossed out the "t" and added a "ce". Well, if you're going to put a sign up...

I enjoyed that.

The food and company were good.

The service remained excessively mediocre (is that even possible?).

There were comments from my fellow diners "are you sure you're not going to miss your train?". My answer was a resolute "I have no idea". I imagined that trains would run up until about 1am. You imagine these things when you imagine that you live in a modern country with a vaguely coherent transport system. I must emphasise that these are things I imagined, rather than things I believe to be true in the cold light of day.

Getting from North London back to Waterloo station in the south should be a pretty simple thing to do. You get on the Northern Line, wait about 20 or so minutes and then you're there. However, the train I was on decided, part way through its journey, to change the direction it was going in. I had been bound for the Charing Cross branch of the Northern Line, but decided to go on the Bank branch instead. I know it was the correct train when I got on it. I missed any announcements, owing to my MP3 player fitfully playing further tunes into my ears.

So, I had to get off, go back a stop, switch lines, and then go in the right direction. However, there was a notice saying that the Northern Line was suspended from about two stops before Waterloo. I'm resourceful though. The Bakerloo Line follows the same path as the Northern Line from Charing Cross, which is where I got off and switched lines. Now... I noticed as I left the train that was on the Northern Line, which was supposed to be suspended from Charing Cross, that nobody else was getting off. Perhaps they did after I'd left I've no idea.

All this switching of trains and lines will have added 15 minutes in walking and waiting time. It's no surprise to the wily reader that this is leading to the bit where I get to Waterloo and find that there is no train going where I wanted to go. Let's take that as read.

What do you do in this situation? I did the thing that was most sensible. I drew out some money from the nearest cash point and then considered my options. When you're trying to route something to its destination, you can spend ages calculating the optimal route, considering all the options. Or, if time is pressing and you want a near-optimal result, you send the thing on the first and quickest thing going in the right general direction.

Thus, I found myself on a train to Woking. Woking!

At Woking, I got a taxi to Farnborough. In fact, I already looked at a map (Google maps on the mobile phone) to establish how far it was, and looked up a mini cab firm to order a taxi from. They turned out to be located about half a minute's walk from the station. They talked me from the platform to their office. Outside their office a guy tried to bundle me into his car. Firstly, I spoke with the dispatcher to make sure that I wasn't being abducted. Then I got in the Passat and let the guy drive.

I tried to chat with this guy, whom I think came from Pakistan. I got that from the fact that he mentioned Pakistan at some point during the "conversation". I say conversation in that I know we both made the effort to talk during the journey. His command of the English language was, to put it mildly, limited. However, he tried and I certainly speak less Urdu than he speaks English.

I could tell that we were just saying words at each other. Still, we valiantly plodded on.

We arrived at Frimley station. He was about to pull in when I said "I wanted to go to Farnborough. This is Frimley". He thought about it and then said to himself "Frim-ley... Farn-borough..." I helpfully added "Farnborough is the next one - about 5 more miles". We continued on, and he rehearsed the name "Farn-borough" a couple more times, throwing the occasional "Frim-ley" into the equation. By the end of the journey, and after he'd followed the road signs to "Farn-borough" we arrived at my car. Job done.

Then I drove home. Legally.

I'm not suggesting that my taxi-driving associate has no legal right to drive in this country. I'm simply pointing out that I presently do have one, and that I wasn't about to compromise it further by driving illegally.

A shower and then bed. To sleep, perchance to wake up tired.

Wednesday, July 25

It's All Going Random

Only 2 and a half days left in this job. They want me to change the password on my computer tomorrow - owing to a security policy, rather than to stop me using it. So, I'll have to have a new password for one day. Plus, I put a letter in the tray where letters go to be posted... nothing... I just picked it up again. I'll post it myself, then. This is all getting a bit silly.

On The Record

Last night I did something I haven't done in a while. Oh how such a sentence will make childish minds everywhere snicker guiltily to themselves! Anyway, in this case, the something was perfectly clean, legal and edifying.

Along with my musical comrade from years gone by, I recorded a song. Now I'd like to be specific about this. I personally did the recording, not the playing or the singing or anything like that. I was the fat man in the sound booth - except it wasn't a booth, it was a spare room in my house. The other chap brought along his guitar and a load of musical ability. I provided the venue, a multi-track recording desk, piano, bass guitar, cabling, FX pedal, power and know how. In fact, the know how was initially "not quite remembering how" but then I recalled how to use the recording desk and also looked up some stuff that I'd never known how to do. Oh, and I also discovered some stuff I didn't know it could do.

There was the small matter of the lyrics which I'd written, which needed to be rewritten on the hoof a little to make them into a song that suited the actual tune. Luckily, there was my printer nearby and I could quickly nip into the next room with my laptop and print out a new version of the lyric sheet.

Thus, despite having a time budget of about 3 hours to pick up my cohort from the station, buy beer, do the recording and get him back to the station, we managed to record a 3 minute song. There was very little time for messing about. At the start of the evening, the room which became the recording studio was empty of all equipment. I set most of it up before he arrived, and got to put it all away before going to bed, after I'd done the mixing. In this case, mixing is the term I'll use for making various settings of relative volumes and so on in order to make the piano, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, vibes, bass and vocal tracks all sit together in a way which sounded passable. I've no idea what I'm doing, and the end result shows this quite emphatically.

We haven't recorded together in a very long time. I personally hadn't used that mixing desk since about October 2005. I think my friend used it himself in about March 2005. We definitely used it together in mid 2004 when we recorded the soundtrack album of The Musical!. So, it's, essentially been three years since we recorded, studio style, together. It took very little time to get into the right mood for recording. I think the fact that I didn't have to provide anything except words and button pushing helped reduce my own levels of stress. Indeed, I felt under no pressure whatsoever. I wasn't uninvolved, but I was more objective and less precious than I might have been in the past.

That could, of course, be the process of growing up taking over.

Anyway, we managed to get a bunch of tracks down and there is a resultant song. If it goes online somehow, I'll link to it.

It's good to know that, without any ceremony, I can get back into the spirit of teamwork required to record a newly written song with an old writing partner. It's worth noting, though, the whole rehearse-record process for a song can take, as a guide, 3 hours for just less than 3 minutes of end-product.

The Dying Disc

It's becoming increasingly obvious to me that the Cd as we know it is a dying format. It's a shame. In fact it is also a shame that the 12 inch vinyl album has pretty much become extinct too. The reason to mourn the loss of the 12 inch is down to the beauty of the item and the way its packaging allowed for artistry and photography you could really appreciate. Cd album artwork and booklets are pretty good too, but they must be on their way out.

I am, of course, speaking from my own point of view only. There may well be people out there who won't let the format die. What is slightly weird is that I have never, I repeat, never bought an album online in mp3 format or similar. There are various reasons for this. The main reasons are the inconvenience of DRM - digital rights management, which may as well come with a note saying 'your mp3 player won't play this file' and the fact that I can buy the same album for a similar price to its downloadable equivalent, and have it on Cd as proof that I have paid for the right to listen to it.

Yet I still feel the Cd is dead as we know it. To understand this you have to know how I use music. I have three places where I listen to music: car, desk and train. In the car there is a Cd player but I can play my mp3 player too. At my desk there is the backup of my mp3 collection, all of which comes from cd albums I have bought or been given over the years and have converted myself. Out and about there is my mp3 player. There is something like 1000 discs' worth of music on there. I cannot keep track of where all the actual discs are. Many are in my loft in Newcastle. As a result, I listen to tracks. So once I've shelved a Cd I've bought, it rarely goes into a machine. I keep a few random discs in my car for when the mp3 player is low on battery or elsewhere. There's also the radio.

Putting a disc in a machine is now a rare activity for me, except to convert it just after buying. Moreover, the kooky tracks at the end of albums, where there is a long silence in the middle of the track followed by an extra song, just seem annoying and pointless. I expect everything to be a track: an entity in its own right.

Having said that, the combination of my natural levels of ocd (figuratively, not clinically diagnosed) coupled with the hard to use controls on my player means that I seldom listen to a hand rolled playlist. I still listen to an album in order from start to finish. I just don't play with shiny discs so much anymore.

Tuesday, July 24

A Wicky Wah

The Wickerman Festival in Scotland 2007. Here is the wicker man:

Not even warm yet


The flames are lit and they're taking them around the wicker man in a display of heat


About to be lit


Ablaze like a pyromaniac's wet dream - well, not wet, that would dampen the flames

Oi Va Voy

At Glastonbury this year, I headed off to the dance tent in order to see the band Oi Va Voy play. I'd heard one of their tracks on Radio 2 during some car journey or other. I'd kind of liked it. The fact that being at Glastonbury gave me the opportunity to see them do a full set, appeal to me greatly. In addition, though I was seeing a band I'd barely heard of, the anticipation of them actually appearing before me and playing was very enjoyable indeed. I stood in the tent, they came on, did a bunch of stuff I'd never heard before and left a positive impression overall. When they played the one song I did know, I was particularly chuffed.

I've since bought their album, which I've listened to a few times since I got it into my MP3 collection. The songs are all very familiar from the first time I heard them - live at Glastonbury. It's got a nice ring to it. I guess I'm going to try to go back there, then. There is something special about a band you first saw live. In the case of Oi Va Voy, what makes it more special is that they're a really unusual band. It's hard to classify them, so I won't. Buy their album, or go and see them live. I think they're very good.

He'd Met His Waterloo

Last night at Waterloo station I had a couple of encounters that amused me.

Pipe Man
Ashley smells smoke, glances at the man next to him who has lit up a pipe, gives him a knowing look. Beat. Then he addresses this man, a white-haired skinny septagenarian in a pin stripe suit with a leather briefcase. Owing to the smartness and maturity of the man, Ashley addresses him formally.

Ashley Does it cover pipes, sir?
Man What?
Ashley The smoking ban. Do you think it covers pipes?
Man I don't know. (Petulantly) And I don't care. (Beat) Do you mind?
Ashley You know, I'm not sure I do.

Bless the old petulant man flouting the legislation that has been in force a mere 23 days out of his vast pipe-smoking life.

Arguing Couple
A couple are standing in full view of everyone in the centre of the concourse. They're in discussion. They had been seen walking back and forth rapidly a couple of times prior to this. All of a sudden, the woman hurls her carrier bag at the man, some shoes fall out.

Woman Those shoes cost £50!
Man Well, you shouldn't have thrown them at me!

The woman then walks off to the right. The man, picking up the carrier bag, heads off in the opposite direction. The onlookers have noticed. Some are smiling. Ashley addresses the nearest one.

Ashley You've got to admit. That was pretty funny.
Nice Guy Yeah. It was. She threw the shoes at him.
Ashley It's such a coupley thing to do. It wasn't about the shoes, though, was it.
Nice Guy Probably not.
Ashley No. She was probably thinking "You don't love me, and I'm going to throw these shoes at you to prove it".
Nice Guy Yeah.
Ashley It's one of the side-effects of being in a relationship. You married?
Nice Guy Yes. I'm onto marriage number two.
Ashley She a shoe-thrower?
Nice Guy No. I learned my lesson. This one's better.
Ashley Was the previous one a shoe-thrower? Metaphorically, at least?
Nice Guy Yes. Yes she was.
Ashley Still, at least it's funny when it's happening to someone else.

Waterloo station is the place to hang out at night.

A Classic Round Robin

I'll miss things like this going round on email:

Dear All,

Please be aware that dumping rubbish of any kind in [the site] skips is not permitted. Please do not bring in your rubbish from home and dump them in any of the skips on-site especially grass cuttings!

Thank you.

Emails like this tell a story. Some tightwad has been bringing in their grass clippings and dumping them at work. That's ridiculous!

There's No Indulgence Like Self Indulgence

I can afford to be self indulgent, in mind at least, since I have nobody to feel unindulged in the wake of my obvious self pampering. However, the problem of self indulgent behaviour is that the fun can truly wear off. I'll be the first and perhaps only one to admit that my automatic eating of crap and/or quantity has returned to my misbehavior patterns, and yet the truth is that I don't really get any pleasure out of it. So why? Why indeed.

The fact that I pack so much into my life is a big plus for me. I truly want it all and sacrifice sleep and sanity to get it. However, something has to give. My house is a wreck, my body is not incredibly happy, my stress levels are all over the place, and my bank balance and driving licence are both in serious trouble. In short, I may have to admit that I've not entirely been on top of it all. Such is the nature of the reckless boy that didn't grow up.

Just like the flaps in my shirts that allow me to change shape from time to time without them getting too tight, so I have some room in my life set aside to deal with some of these things. The next few months will present my biggest challenge to date, and I'm excited and scared in equal measure.

Perhaps this is why I'm comfort eating again. Idiot!

But There Are Dreams That Cannot Be

Sometimes I have a dream so compelling that I have to go back to sleep to finish it off. Sometimes, it seems like the reason I want to sleep is to dream more. Sometimes, looking back at the dream, the symbols within it are, in fact, my subconscious trying to remind me to wake up. When people talk about realising their dreams, they probably don't mean the following, which I'm trying to patch together from memory before it flies away, like a scared duck.

I was in a lazy mood. I had a journey to make and walking was a bit too much effort. There were a few hills involved, and some of the ground underfoot was a bit rocky. Luckily, in case things got dusty, I had a sweeping brush. Even luckier than that, I had a sort of simplistic electric wheelchair.

The electric wheelchair was basically a black leather-style padded seat with a seat belt - a lap belt in fact, and a motor. It had two settings - on and off. You could sit in it, turn the motor on, and it would trundle forwards. If you wanted to steer it, you were in trouble. You could stick your legs out, or stop the motor and steer the chair yourself. This was not a conventional wheelchair.

I sat in the chair with my sweeping brush on my lap and used it to climb a hill, scattering some other pedestrians - orthodox jews, I think - as I went. I reached the brow of the rocky hill and there was a brown dusty path ahead. As I trundled onto it, I wondered whether the sweeping brush could be used for steering.

At this point I think I also remembered that I was due at a gig in Darlington, run by the promoter of a comedy club that won't normally book me. It was after 8pm and I reckoned I was due at the gig at 9pm, at the latest, and I didn't even know the address of the venue, or how to find it out. However, I was having fun with my sweeping brush steering mechanism. Hold the brush straight for forwards, and turn it left or right to go that way. Tighter turning circles could be achieved by bringing the brush head nearer the chair, and more stable course corrections could be achieved by extending the brush to full stretch. The sweeping action also left a nice swept mark on the dust floor.

So enamoured was I of my new invention that I stopped at a nearby house to demonstrate it. I think that I believed the occupants of the house to run some sort of shop which might be able to sell this invention. Given the time of day, the people in the house were busy doing other things. I took my shoes AND socks off at the door and tried to convince the lady of the house to come up and see my special invention, which she might want to market. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, along with squeezing through some tight gaps in their rather packed out hall, I eventually managed to get some interest in maybe seeing this undisclosed invention of mine.

Then I started to realise how frivolous my "sweeping brush steering for wheelchair" was and how it was unmarketable. I changed my description of it from "something really good", to "something that will make you laugh". I also noticed that the time was really passing by and I was still no closer to my gig. Would a sweeping brush steered electric wheelchair get me there?

We squeezed back upstairs, past all the obstacles in the hall, I managed to get my socks on, I was putting my shoes on too...


... and then I woke up. What a pointless ending to a dream.

Monday, July 23

Interesting

As I predicted when I arrived in the pub and got nothing on my gig radar, tonight was a quiet one. The audience were hard to move to laughing out loud as a group, preferring to snicker to themselves, rather than let it out. I gave a restrained performance rather than scare them away completely. I think I can summarise their response as 'mild amusement'. Still, it beats a night doing nothing. Admittedly, I don't really ever do that.

Ah The Irony

Firstly, and I mean this, congratulations to AB for getting a sketch through to the BBC for recording. I appreciate being told the good news alongside an 'I think you helped me'. Of course I may be a smart arse script critic, but the scripts I sent seemed to meet with total silence.

Still, at least I know someone who got a script through. That's like being successful myself, right?

This Is The Life?

I write this entry sat at my laptop in a coffee shop. When I read Richard Herring's blog, this is often how he portrays his working day. It's a nice idea. I'm not sure whether it would suit me though. However, assuming that it's money for old rope to the right person, let me describe this "office environment". Maybe I'm describing my ideal job, or maybe I'm describing something in which I'd start failing and getting very lazy.

I've travelled to the East End of London where, in about 90 minutes, I'll be walking over to the venue where I've got a gig tonight. In the meantime I have time to catch up on some writing. I'm sitting at a small table in an air conditioned and airy café. There are some businessmen in here. There are some pretty girls. There's a smell of coffee in the air and I've already succumbed to the lure of an almond croissant. Theoretically, almonds are good for you, so it must be a healthy item, the almond croissant.

This is, of course, total dingo's kidneys.

I have a large cappucino by the side of the laptop and, plugged into my ears, are some ear phones sporadically playing some MP3 tunes into my ears. I can't work out the reason for the sporadic playing, though my current guess is dodgy earphones. I hope so. A dodgy MP3 player would be more expensive to replace.

I have a window open on the screen with the brief for the writing exercise in it. I have another window with the plan for the complete written item and I've started the process of filling this in. Some of this writing has been done on the train. Trains are good places for writing.

I'm in my own little world in this café and it's sort of like a workplace. I might even be able to get free internet access here. I'm not going to check. I just need to flesh out this piece of writing.

Note: despite having been here for nearly 15 minutes already, all I've managed to do is the displacement exercise of blogging about it. See... it's not necessarily ideal except in the "this is easy" sense. It's not necessarily going to motivate me to get much stuff done. I think I work best under pressure. This probably explains my choice of job - I'll be working in a fairly high-pressure and motivated environment. I'm looking forward to it...

...in as much as, at least, I can't possibly look back on it at this stage.

I've also ordered a book that I think will help me get into the right mindset for the new job. So I must be looking forward to the new challenge. Hell, there may still be the chance to do some work like this in the cleverly (not really cleverly - it's a horrendous pun) named works café.

Whatever "the life" is, whether it's this, that, some other thing, or a bizarre combination of things hitherto unexperienced, I shall have to make the most of it. You don't get to have a second go.

More meaning

Another spam message with a hidden meaning:

Date: 16:10 23rd Jul 2007
From: "Derrick Reyes"
To: "infod"
Subject: doge craggy buchwald

appearance biotic binary ansi. amsterdam consortium brought bigelow clan
abominable. arbutus apostolic
claustrophobia alto calculate cit chang competent abyss. anisotropic
baldpate crackpot burlington cherry credenza bureaucrat.


and the hidden meaning?

appearance biotic - something about yoghurt
binary ansi - a means of coding a message for computers
amsterdam consortium brought bigelow - that must surely be Billy Bigelow from Carousel. Perhaps this is a musicals society in Amsterdam who like Rogers and Hammerstein.
clan abominable - a group of yeti
arbutus apostolic - a tree, that writes or is something to do with apostles.
claustrophobia alto - a singer who doesn't like to be confined.
calculate cit - one more than "bit"
chang competent abyss - a chinese dynasty which was good at dealing with holes
anisotropic baldpate crackpot - a misshapen balding nutter - that's me!
burlington cherry credenza - a special wooden sideboard made by Burlington Bertie from Bow.
bureaucrat - Berlington Bertie now works in an office


So, in summary:

Look at the bar codes on yoghurts, they contain a message about a production of Carousel being staged in Amsterdam by a group of yeti. There's a message on the trees that one of the chorus is afraid of being trapped more than just a bit in a gap organised by the chinese dynasty. Some out of shape balding nutter (me) should look in the sideboard in the office.

It's all so logical. So when do I get the Viagra, then?

New Shirt

This morning I put a new shirt on. I then proceeded to take a leisurely drive to work. Despite it being close to the time I wanted to arrive at work, I couldn't leather it. The reason I'll not be leathering it in the car for some time is due to my current driving licence situation. I have 6 points on my licence - 3 from September 2004 and 3 from April this year. Sadly, owing to a particularly rapid journey from Leeds to Reading on 9th July this year, I face intended prosecutions by not one but two police forces. If they both result in points then I face the possibility of being disqualified from driving. This would be, quite simply, a big problem.

However, until I actually know the outcome of these intended prosecutions, there's nothing I can do except carry on as normal. I shall, at the very least, drive sensibly - getting further driving convictions would be really foolish at any stage in the next 4 years or so.

I'll be honest. Wearing a nice new shirt doesn't ameliorate the very real fear I have that I may no longer be allowed to drive within a few weeks. Even if it's only a 6 month driving ban, the idea of being without a car is one which makes me both very worried and very sad. It's not so much that I like driving, though I obviously do. It's more that having a car seems to give me a freedom that I simply wouldn't have.

I can't gig the way I do without a car - the public transport system isn't up to it. I can't get to work the way I do without a car. Sure, I might be able to take a bus (there is one - I already checked) but a 10 minute sprint at my time would be turned into a one-hour-long slog at someone else's schedule.

Losing 2 hours a day to the bus would be bad. That time would, essentially, be dead time. Okay, so maybe I'd get to read a book, listen to the radio or my mp3 player, but it's not a good swap is it? I get to swap the freedom for going to gigs for a couple of hours in a sweaty inconvenient bus. No thank you. I don't want that.

Today, however, I have my car. I have my new shirt on. I have the paperwork sent off for the new job, with the application for my new company car included. I may as well hope for the best. I chose the one with the lowest CO2 emissions as my first choice. That will be nice - assuming I get to drive it. I looked at the acceleration and the top speed briefly and then remembered how I got into trouble and thought I may aswell not bother worrying about that.

So today I shall be optimistic. I'm even optimistic that I'll have voice enough to do my gig tonight. I shall be on the train for tonight's gig. This is a choice which owes itself to the fact that it's the most convenient way in and out of London and also the fact that I'd like to spend some time sitting down with a computer tonight, and a train journey is a suitable enough opportunity. I don't know that I'd want to get my laptop out on a bus. I guess I may find out.

There's always cycling. Hell, I might even get fit.

Sunday, July 22

Wickerman Festival

I headed away from the water-logged part of the country on Friday in order to go to south west Scotland for a festival. All in all, this was a good thing and I had a good time. I'll try to recount the story of going and spending some quality time with my car.

I headed north by a silly route, intentionally. I wanted to avoid the nasty parts of the M6 and I also had the notion that I might be called on to pick someone up in the North East. This didn't happen, and when I'd come to realise that I wasn't going to be doing that, I changed course and crossed from the M1 to the west of the country via the Peak District.

I reasoned that I may as well, if I was cutting across to Manchester way, via Chesterfield, go and get myself some lunch in the place where they filmed the League of Gentlement. This is called Hadfield and it's very near Tintwhistle - a place I once spent hours in a traffic jam at, on the way to the gig that was on my 30th birthday. Hadfield is a fairly simple, non-descript sort of a place, but the local people have adopted the League of Gentlemen identity and are sort of proud to be associated with the fictional "Royston Vasey". Lunch was at the Royston Cafe. I got take out.

At this stage, I should point out that I think I've completely fallen off the dieting wagon and I am in no way impressed with myself for this. I ate tons of crap all weekend and I hope I can stop myself descending any further, or I will end up back to square one, or worse, in a very short period of time.

I sauntered from Hadfield up to Scotland via a couple of stops and without really encountering much in the way of traffic. I arrived at the festival, got my Artiste pass and then found myself directed to a normal parking space. I sauntered across the camp, found a spot to pitch my tent, pitched it with a fair amount of ease - despite never having even taken it out of the bag before - and then went off in search of the others.

My previous festival experience had been Glastonbury, where the idea of being able to find someone was almost totally preposterous. I knew that I could meet my colleagues at the venue for our show, but I doubted I'd be able to find them before. How wrong I was. The Wickerman Festival is quite small - at least compared to Glastonbury it is. As a result, I think I managed to meet everyone whom I knew to be present, along with a few people I hadn't realised were going to be there.

I found the others and they had camped in the special VIP camping area. They asked me if I was going to join them, but I was happy with my successfully pitched tent and I quite liked being a "man of the people". This is not really very interesting. The short version of the story is that I was in high spirits, in festival mode, and managed to get my guitar stuff both stored and also technically planned for the evening's show. By technical, I mean that we devised the method for making the guitar come out the speakers. Such things are important when you're going to perform.

So far we have the story of me driving to a festival, pitching a tent and finding the others. It's a fairly small festival. I only really wanted to see one band - Hayseed Dixie - who were performing as I arrived and whom I basically either missed or ignored. Still, I think they were present, and that was nice for someone.

I'll tell the tale of the two shows we did.

Show 1 was on the Friday night after midnight. We were performing in a big top. This is a circus ten where a circus was performing during the day. It had seating round two thirds of its circular area, and it was, at first sight, a hard room to play. The acoustics and the audience positioning were against ease of doing comedy. The fact that circus tents attract children wasn't going to help either.

When a crowd turned up, some of them were children, some of them were adults, a few of them were actually interested in comedy. We told the audience that it was an adult-oriented show and there were a few laughs at the way they were told. However, our first act basically found himself getting more and more abusive heckles. The kids, sitting on an inflatable sofa on the front row, while their parents sat back and enjoyed they misbehaviour, ended up throwing a ball into the face of the first act. There was drunken abuse being hurled and the gig turned from a 150 person ambivalence fest into a bit of a bear pit.

Somehow we kept things moving and the next act, whom I thought would belong in that environment, and I was right. He did really well.

Another act came and went and then it was my turn. I had an absolutely lovely time, but then I'd been driving for 10 hours to Scotland, had a load of stuff on my mind which I wanted to put to one side, and was there to have a good time. I swept aside the silliness of earlier and had a good time. I did things differently. I played the set as though I were in a big top, and I was... I bantered with the crowd a little. I threw jokes at them. I threw improvised songs at some teenage hecklers and I generally had fun. Because I was having fun, it seemed to work. I was going to have fun regardless.

The night went on for a couple of acts more and then we stopped. It was late, but it had been both good fun and horrendous, depending on which act you happened to be.

We had post-show drinkies at the VIP campsite, and then I went back to the midst of the real world to my tent, cleverly marked with an "A" in gaffer tape so I'd find it in the dark (with my torch).

Despite being kept awake by some people singing and playing guitar nearby ("Can you shut that thing up!? Nice playing, by the way"), I managed to get some sleep in the end. Probably at about 5am! I woke up after lunchtime, though I didn't miss lunch, obviously!

The day was frittered (fritters - one of the few things I didn't eat) away and then it was time for show 2.

Show 2 was much harder. We opened the doors at about 9 and nobody came. Then some people came. Then they left, because we didn't start the show because there weren't enough. This cycle repeated for a while until we had a sparse audience in and we coralled them into a single section. Then we blocked the doors so nobody could come in or out. This may have helped, or it may have created an increased audience attrition rate, since people ultimately did leave and our new potential punters never got the chance to enter the venue before they got bored. Such is festival gigs.

The show limped along to the smaller audience and I was thrust in front of them as a closing act. I did some stuff that worked, and I did some stuff which failed. I broke a nail. I had some repeat punters from the previous night, and so I chose to do some material I hadn't done the previous night. My attempt at improvised song didn't work so well and I also felt less comfortable doing filthy stuff with quite a lot of children in the audience. As a result, I just messed about.

Then we went to watch the burning of the wicker man that the festival was all about.

I took my guitar back to the car to lock it up there. I had been back to the car previously that evening to get my microphone - the venue didn't provide one - so I got a nice walk in. This probably explains the general sense of aching bottom. Yes. Too much walking. That makes my bottom ache. Either that or the poor airbed I use.

Then it was late night. I sauntered around the site, everything closing down. There were some people watching the movie of "The Wicker Man", I got to see a giant screen version of Brit Ekland and her body double cavorting nakedly - then I got bored. I had some porridge. I met up with the other guys at the camp site and chatted for a bit.

Returning to my tent was part of a plan to get an early night. Lying on my airbed I discovered that it was a plan to lie down and listen to very loud music for a couple of hours from a neighbouring dance tent. Still, it was fun.

I woke up at 10.45, packed up my tent and left the site. That was that, really. A good festival.

Thursday, July 19

Back Of The Line

Another work of fiction:

It had started out well enough. All the boys had woken up when he went around the camp ringing the morning bell. Some of the lads were already up, despite the fact that he’d heard a few semi-hushed voices and giggles at nearly midnight the night before. He would have stepped in if they had gotten too loud, not because he minded their youthful exuberance – far from it, he enjoyed the unbridled joy they could have for nothing – it was just to ensure that they felt that there were boundaries. Children respect boundaries and it’s the role of the leader to demonstrate the boundaries from time to time. They’d played close to the line last night and this morning, they were happy and complicit.

After breakfast, and after the pots had been washed up, they had set about on the day’s hike. It was around this point that the combination of poor weather, youthful exuberance, and his aching bones had conspired to bring the day crashing down into ruins. He knew that you should lead from the front, but he’d discovered that the lads would get distracted and hang behind, or wander off the path. He told them to walk ahead of him. He would call directions from the back to keep them all on track. It was a good plan. He could keep them in line and get them to wait for him if he was falling behind.

It was as he was congratulating himself on a clever scheme and gloating a little at his colleagues, who had scoffed at this ability to look after 6 boys on a trip alone at his age, that he felt the first pain. As he clutched at his chest, he trod clumsily on a patch of freshly-made mud with his walking boot, and fell almost gracefully to the ground. The wind was knocked out of him, both from the fall and from the turmoil that was going on inside of his aging body.

As his vision blurred, he could see the boys continuing on ahead, oblivious to the faint gasp that came out when he tried to call to them. He’d have to hope that one of them would be bright enough to check on him, and that they would be resourceful enough to work out what to do. There wasn’t a scouting badge specific to this particular activity.

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A Sense Of Something Missing

Mmm. There's disquiet again. I have a sense of having lost something. I'm not sure what it is. It can't be my virginity. I'm not a slag. I'd never lose that.

It could be any number of things, I suppose. This is quite obviously the end of another week at work. There won't be many more of them, either. Just one. That's not many. It could be the loss of the few hundred quid I'm due to pay out to the plasterer, but I think that that's not so much a loss as a gain - of some plastering.

It might be that Les Misérables, which I've not listened to in a bit, is stirring up a sense of emotion that I find uncomfortable to be experiencing during working hours.

It might be that my brain is not firing on all cylinders at the moment. Do brains even have cylinders?

It might be that a thread on another blog, which prompted me to dig out a song I wrote a few years ago, expressing the loss of a relationship, has awoken some sort of feeling or some sort. Feelings? Me?

It might be that I have a lot of things to do, almost all of which need to happen outside of this building, and none of which I feel on top of.

Or maybe my car has been stolen from the office car park while I've been sitting here listening to musicals. I'll find out when I go to where I left it in a few hours.

Progress

The house, of course, has been taking longer than hoped. However, progress is being made. The plasterer started work today. He should be a couple of days doing my kitchen stroke bathroom space. The result of this should be that I can paint the whole thing out, and maybe even install proper lighting before I head off to Edinburgh. That would be good.

In fact, I should also be able, in my post job, pre Edinburgh time, to get rid of all my rubble, making the site look presentable all of a sudden. That would be major progress too.

There's a way to go, but things are moving in the right sort of direction.

Dynamic Reconfiguration

Last night didn't go to plan. It also went very well. This is what happens when you adjust your plans in the light of reality.

I had intended to go to see a friend do stand-up in the Mornington Crescent area of London. After an MSN chat I further developed this plan to include another friend, whom I drove to Reading to meet. We took the train to London, which was pleasant enough, if not a bit sweaty, owing to a breakdown in the air conditioning.

Arriving at the venue early, we discovered that nothing was due to happen for 45 minutes or so, so we scooted off for some food. Our burgers were ok, delivered a bit slowly, which must have included cooling time for the food, since it wasn't quite in the zone of hot when it arrived. Feeling we were running behind time, I denied my companion her requested time on the quiz machine. I didn't want to miss the gig.

The gig didn't happen. D'oh! We may as well have played 4 games on the itbox, rather than denying ourselves the 2 games that had been suggested.

Still, with the gig cancelled, and a bunch of people gathered together to watch the friend of mine perform, we had to do something. We decided to go to another gig that we knew to be happening across town. We didn't really know where the gig was, but we headed on the tube to near where it was supposed to be. As we hit the surface, I rang around a few people I know who might have known how to get there. As it was, I found someone who happened to be sitting next to an A to Z of London, which he then read on my behalf and sorted me out. From now on, I'll be calling him TomTom.

I managed to steer my little group towards the venue, despite being behind most of them, for some reason. We got into the venue and, though we'd missed the first section of the show, we managed to see the second half and have a good time, before leaving in good spirits having had a good night.

Sometimes a bit of improvisation can lead you into a good night.

Sometimes a bit of improvisation can be the hardest thing to do. I have had my fingers burnt in a bantering/MCing capacity. If I'm honest, it's only really been a couple of times that my MCing has failed me. Generally, it's been fine. I was on the front row of the gig when the show recommenced last night, and the MC decided to pick on me. Now, he didn't know that I'm an act. I also hadn't set out to perform or heckle in any way, so I just played along. The problem is that I don't know how to play along as an audience member. I'm not phased by a bit of banter, as normal punters can be. I'm also unable to avoid thinking of witty things to say, though I can't actually go ahead and say them, since it's not my show. So, I try to say things which are helpful, and they're not.

I suppose it might be nice to be a heckler. Especially at this show - So You Think You're A Good Heckler. If ever there was a show to take a bunch of professional comedians along to in order to see whether we could heckle a performer so badly that she burst into tears, this is the show. However, I'm sure she'll get the reviews and audiences she deserves. I'm not especially interested in it myself.

I was thinking about the banter with the MC last night as I was driving into work. There were a few moments where he chose to insult me or provoke me, and I just sat and took it, smiling up at him with open body language. Why would I care? I'm not scared of being laughed at. Here is the script for what might have happened if I were actually evil, rather than a cheery jolly man, who was hoping the MC would find something funny to say (which he nearly did).

Him: You're a rather camp fellow aren't you? Did you grow that stubble to look more manly.
Me: (Smiles up at him and says nothing - so far, this actually happened)
Him: You're not saying much are you.
Me: Well you're the one that's being paid to talk this evening, not me.
Him: Oooh. Look at you. Aren't you so very camp.
Me: That's brave of you.
Him: Brave of me?
Me: Yes. It's brave of you to try to make funny by insulting me, when I'm sitting here surrounded by my friends, and you're up there... alone...

I'd never do that.

It would be funny, though...

The final act picked on me too. It was slightly hurtful... since we've actually met in real life and he clearly didn't remember me. I didn't mention it. It would have sounded pseudo-homo-erotic, and I already had the reputation as a camp oaf from the MC. (Sarcasm follows) How will I ever live it down!?

Wednesday, July 18

Alone Again

I spend a lot of time in my own company, often in cars late at night. I suspect that the process of coming to terms with the break up of my last relationship has been going on in the background without me really have much of a say in how it goes. Such is my refusal to do an extended period of mourning, sitting around with boxes of tissues and sad songs, and getting all Bridget Jones on my own ass.

I talk to a lot of people when I'm physically alone - by MSN messenger (Windows Live Messenger to give it its proper name) and telephone. This year has seen some new friendships form, and has also seen some others strengthened. It's been good in those respects.

Although I think May was a low point (and if I read my own blog, I'll probably find that it was something like April through to early June), generally I've kept myself chipper, with the occasional flashes of downheartedness (except for those weeks where I just HURT, which seem to have stopped happening since I decided to quit my job and force myself to start anew).

Anyway, occasionally something surprises me with the emotion it evokes. I'm currently listening to one of the CDs I bought yesterday. I was out charity shopping it looking for a particular track for someone else. What I failed to mention in my blog on the subject yesterday is that I did snag a few bargain CDs. In fact, one particular charity shop sells its CDs at £1. I can't be held responsible for that. One of the CDs contains Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto (in C Minor). As I was listening to this, which sounds vaguely familiar, though I don't recall ever having listened to it specifically, a feeling of desolation and loneliness starts to birth itself.

I was confused. Why should a bit of Rachmaninoff remind me of sitting around crying into tissues. Why, despite feeling in good and cheery spirits, having sung my way into the office and smiled like the criminally insane at everyone, should I suddenly get a taste of rejection and wailing? Then I listened to what this music was telling me. It was crying out something about "I never needed anyone" and "those days are gone". Rachmaninoff? Writing a power ballad about being alone? That's wrong. Wait.

If in doubt, ask Wikipedia.

Aha... the song All By Myself was BASED on this exact piece of music. So, my memory of Bridget Jones crying her self into a fat-faced bleariness (that's the character's self image, not my own criticism of faces in general) has been reawakened by the original themes which were "borrowed" to make a song of self pity. Since the song is the version of the themes I most know, the original now has the role of eloquently orchestrated film-music-variation on those feelings. Music and feelings can be anchored closely together.

So, it wasn't my own feelings being awakened at all.

It was Renée Zellweger's. I'm still in good spirits. Yay!

Workmanship

Last night was fun. I took a break from gigging and DIY to do some DIFSE - doing it for someone else. I like DIFSE. It has all the fun of DIY, but the work ethic is slightly different, since you don't feel like you can let someone else down the way that you might tolerate letting yourself down. In addition, even if you mess a bit up, you don't have to live with the consequences day in day out. Often the little bits you mess up are fairly hard to detect, unless you live with them every day, knowing they're there and blowing up the error to a huge disproportionate well of despair.

Like my bloody shower-room floor tiles.

Last night I painted (well wood treated) my sister's shed. It took a couple of hours. It involved some detail painting as the shed has two windows. Luckily I had a suitable paintbrush in the car for doing that with. The result looks like a first coat, but I think the shed looks nice.

Job done.

As I've said, DIFSE is a load of fun. This is why I volunteered to help out with reinforcing and boarding a loft in Leeds. The opportunity was discussed while I was away this weekend. Essentially, a friend and I would be volunteering to go and work in the loft at another friend's mother's house. How much fun would that be? An immense amount! It might be a bit dirty and dusty, though.

The dirtier and dustier the better.

Sometimes you just have to get in there and do it; for whomsoever needs it done.

A Man Of Leisure

My time in employment is rapidly heading towards its end. Okay, so it's a temporary end, and I've got an immenseness of stuff to do before my next job starts, but there will be a day when I'm technically between worlds. That day is 1st August. On the 1st August, I shall be unemployed, unoccupied and a man of leisure. Before that I'll either be in employment or working on my house. After that I'll be in Newcastle working on my other house or gigging. On 1st August, I've nominated myself to be doing neither.

How shall I spend this day?

Well, I have a gig in the evening - of course. However, it also coincides with the final week of The Drowsy Chaperone a musical that I expected that I'd go and see. Now I'm definitely going to go and see it. I just bought a ticket. I may well be a man of leisure, but I'll be a busy man of leisure.

A busy musicals-obsessed nutcase with guitar in tow.

Tuesday, July 17

Cosmic Ordering

I was chatting to someone last night who runs a comedy club. I made a comment about the time I walked along the length of Broadway in New York with a script in my hand as a good luck charm for The Musical!. I should point out that I do not attribute the success of the show to this act, though the show was a success, so maybe my intention to wish success on the show through this act was realised, whether the act had anything to do with it or not.

The guy I was talking to told me about Cosmic Ordering. He explained that you ask for something and it might just happen. So, as a joke, I said that I'd have to ask the cosmos for a booking at his club. He was very positive and told me whom to contact and what to say. I had been joking.

Today, I received a call from the person he mentioned. I asked that person if their boss had told them to call me. They said no. I'd already been in touch by email and they were just following up. In fact, over the course of today I've received 3 comedy bookings for later on this year. Is this Cosmic Ordering paying off?

No.

To quote an opposer of Cosmic Ordering - "It sounds like an opiate to dull the pain of reality". In other words it's just another system of beliefs to mystically link effects with causes, just to give one hope in an incomprehensibly complex universe. Not that having hope is a bad thing. In fact, remaining positive is a survival instinct that successful people use. I think what most probably happens is that those people who remain so chipper are more able to spot opportunities which have presented themselves and are more likely to capitalise on those opportunities. In addition, someone's conviction in something is very hard to question, so once that person has a foot on the right ladder, their confidence can take them most of the way up it.

Still, I had the nerve to joke with a comedy promoter about something which would affect my chances at a particular club. Though no individual club is the whole of the comedy world, there is a sort of snowball effect to breaking into the comedy scene. Once you've got going with enough clubs, the chances of building momentum and gathering more is increased. Part of this is down to having reached the right standard and confidence to progress. Part of this is just about being popular. Some comedians' time will never come. Some dogs will have their day.

I'm a dog.

Definitely.

A dog.

Woof.

Tired Of London

I can't remember exactly what happened during my journeying last night. It was simple enough. I had to go to the Angel district in London to do technical things for a sketch show, which went very well. I had a slightly convoluted route to take, owing to the relative positions on the tube network of my start and end points. However, despite the fact that I ran pretty much on time and even got some writing time in along the way, I was somehow disappointed with the efficacy of the transport system. It felt like it wasn't up to scratch. It felt, in short, like Paris was better.

We had a mixed experience of the Paris metro. It was very very hot, but so was the whole of the city. Sometimes the tickets wouldn't let me through, resulting in me buying a second ticket on one occasion, rather than ask for help. To be honest, at a quid each it didn't matter. The machines selling tickets were a bit weird, but I grew to like them, especially when they said 'code bon' after I entered my credit card's pin. The signage and maps were okay and at their best when most closely like our own. So, so far you'd be left ambivalent. However, the sheer scale and efficiency of the service left me impressed in a way that wasn't impressive last night. So boo to London and Yay to Paris.

What A Tosspot!

I'm going to prepare you for what's to come. There will first of all be a mission of mercy, then a rant against the locale in which I work, finally, there'll be an admission that I'm a tosspot. You need not read what's to follow.

In order to help out a friend, who is, in turn, helping out someone else I know (from the world of both showbiz and reading his blog), I set out this lunchtime to find a particular track. It's the theme tune to a radio programme, which I'd been asked if I had a copy of, and didn't. Getting hold of a single track should be easy these days, what with the likes of iTunes and other music download services. However, when you're making some sort of use of the track, the copyright issue, which you can resolve by paying PRS, becomes an arse. The download services use digital rights management, and this, essentially, makes it excessively inconvenient to use the track for anything other than putting into your ears.

The advantage of looking for a track which is also a radio programme theme tune, is that it should be on a wide variety of CDs. So going round the local record shops, should be quite fruitful. There are a lot of possible positive results in the search. This is a good thing.

Farnborough, however, is a soulless backwater populated by what I can only describe as a bunch of freakish mutants, whose idea of an economy is firmly pitched in the region of lowest common denominator. Any shops that might have sold CDs were selling either top ten discs, or a random small collection of nothingness. Indeed, the ghoulish denizens of the place are probably frightened of the shiny discs that play songs they might not have heard recently on the strange singing box.

I thought I could play my trump card and go to the charity shops, which are more dense in one street in North Camp (on the outskirts of Farnborough) than I've seen in any other street anywhere else. I duly went to these shops and looked through all their CDs. The track was nowhere to be found. I was frustrated and annoyed. If Farnborough people could lift themselves out of the neanderthal mindset, perhaps the laws of supply and demand might create an economy which provided more than just sportswear (that is never used for sport) and pastry, with the occasional health food shop, selling healthy goods ironically.

Getting back to my desk, upset that my mission had been a failure, I started to ask around some of my online contacts. I thought of sending my sister, who lives in London, where they have proper shops, which stock more than just the basics, to go and have a look for me. Ordering online would, of course have been possible, but that would have taken some delivery time. I want it on CD, not in encrypted form, so that I can rip it to mp3 and send it to my friend. I was down.

I also contacted another friend and, while I was contacting him, I just had a quick second search on my computer, found the file, and sent it to the original requester before this last person could respond. The conversation went:

Me: Have you got so and so?
      Hang on. I've just found it. I'm a tosspot.
Him: No. I didn't have it anyway.
Me: Er... do you want it?

So. Mission a success, no thanks to this godawful place that I'll probably not want to return to after my job here reaches its natural end, a week on Friday. However, I could have avoided the mission by just searching my computer properly. What a tosspot! Farnborough's probably better off without me.

Simpsons Go One Step Beyond

The Simpsons movie promoters have made a massive Homer Simpson right next to the Cerne Abbas. Genius.

Monday, July 16

Action Shot


The Patient Is Sinking

It's strange how a phrase will sit in your brain from childhood, for over twenty years for no good reason. There's a Muppets sketch with "Doctor Bob" where they're operating on a patient of some sort - it's probably a muppet sort of patient. There's a delightfully awful pun in there.

Nurse: Doctor Bob - the patient is sinking.
Doctor: I wonder what he is sinking about.

Very poor. Later on, I seem to think there's another gag.

Nurse: Doctor. We've lost the patient.
Doctor: No. He's just here, under the sheet.

Totally harmless. Very sweet.

I guess I'm thinking of it at the moment as my mood sinks down from the highs of a damned good trip away from... erm... all of... this.

The Best Laid Schemes

I've mentioned this particular aphorism before now and will, undoubtedly, have another go at it from time to time. Such is my way.

I've recently returned from a weekend in Paris with a long-standing good friend. We planned very little except the accommodation and rail-journey. I say "we". It's probably more down to "him". Still, I helped pay, so I was at the very least complicit. The fact that we seldom planned much of what we were going to do except in the moment, meant that we could not, at any stage of the way, fail to meet our expectations. I think we made the most of the trip, following quirky routes through the city and through the tourist experience, with good humour and good results. I may or may not blog on the highlights of the trip at some point.

Thus, the major steps of the plan worked and the plan to have no plan also worked. A bit of time away from my day-to-day life gave me much room to think about things I want to plan. I had the opportunity to plan some steps in the chess game that life sometimes turns itself into. Some of the things which occurred to me as good ideas have been acted upon already, some have not. Of course, these things, being mini plans in their own right, have the potential to gang a-gley.

But since life is a whirlpool of uncontrollable chaos, perhaps one's ability to roll with the punches, and turn the ugliness of "a-gley" into something better, is the key. Perhaps it's not just the destination, but the journey and its pitfalls which make life worth living. Perhaps this is just a bunch of pseudo-intellectual/spiritual claptrap which the 33 year old computer programmer likes to blether about in the vain hope of looking like he has more than just logic circuits and cheese on the brain. We'll never know.

This week, like the rest of the weeks in July, is going to be a bit of a busy one. A lot of a busy one, if I'm honest. To add busy to it by trying to do more, is not a recipe for an easy time. However, I don't enjoy easy... Ok, I DO enjoy easy, but I seldom find the things I enjoy to be easy, so striving through tricky stuff is the order of the day.

Maybe Robert Burns was right when he said "Good evening, my names Burns, Rabbie Burns" - I think that was his catchphrase. I don't know. Most of my apparent appreciation of literature is a collection of small details, laced together with pomposity. Still, admitting you have a problem is the first step towards solving it.

Meant To Be

I'm sure that my reading the God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins will confirm this, but it is already my opinion that we humans want to believe that there is some mystical purpose behind the things we encounter. I think it is a survival instinct against the harsh and mind blowing reality that the world is a totally chaotic place where stuff does and does not happen in a totally unrelentingly arbitrary manner. There is nothing which is meant to be any more than there is something that is not meant to be. Sure there are laws of cause and effect, but they operate at a level that is too complicated to analyse or indeed make sense of. To say that something is serenedipidy is to retrospectively assign it a status that makes it comprehensible. It's a romantic notion and I both like it and see it as a fallacy.

I suppose I have this vision of standing around the fireplace with some grand children and saying something like 'if I hadn't stubbed my toe that day, your grandmother would never have looked at me twice, and you'd all not even have been born.' Silly isn't it. Still it explains a lot.

Thursday, July 12

Uke-tastic

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain being totally brilliant as always.

Uke-tastic

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain being totally brilliant as always:

Wuthering Heights

Life On Mars - mixed up with other stuff.

Fly Me Off The Handel - a total musical tour de force.

The Good The Bad And The Ugly - another lovely one.

You Don't Bring Me Flowers - totally splendid physical and musical comedy.

Dirty Dancing?

I used to HATE the movie Dirty Dancing. I don't even think it was the content. It was the very idea of it. It was the movie that my female friends - I think I knew two girls when I was about 15 - used to know word for word. It was the sort of movie I thought my sister would like. It was namby pamby nonsense.

Why, all of a sudden, am I getting mildly obsessed with it.

I think it might be semi-ironic.

I also think I need to buy me a copy on DVD.

Oh dear oh dear.

What has become of me?

Shame

This didn't happen either, which is why it's in the fiction section of my mind-library. However, I can tell you where it didn't happen. It didn't happen in Hampton's bar in Southampton.

He swaggered into the bar, looking her where he thought she’d be. The place was empty. He bought himself a drink and sat waiting for her. This was the night he’d planned and some girl turning up a few minutes late wasn’t going to stop him. He looked around the room – it was dingy and stained, the product of the days when smoking was allowed indoors and people did it with gusto. This wasn’t the sort of place you might expect to meet the person you were going to spend the rest of your life with, but this was where she came most often, and he reckoned that the faded décor would make him seem better looking in comparison.

The ban on smoking was hell on the committed smoker and, after he’d completed his second drink, he went outside to partake of his drug of choice. Typically, after he’d taken his first proper drag, the dark clouds, that had been looming, threateningly, since he set out from home, with nothing but a shirt and a healthy splash of aftershave for protection, reached the point of no return and let go of their payload, like an apologetic puppy might soil a carpet. As he took another deep drag, hoping to get a final quick hit before going back inside, a gust of wind blew a shirt-full of water at him and he stepped back in shock, the hand holding the cigarette flailing and hitting something. Someone. The girl. She didn’t know yet who he was, and he had rather been hoping to make a positive first impression on her. Burning the forearm of the girl you’ve been watching for weeks was not high up in his list of “things I aspire to, socially”.

He apologised profusely and she just shrugged it off. He offered her a drink in recompense, but she shrugged that off too. She just wanted to get away from the rain and the damp forearm burner. As he returned to his bar stool and she took up her position at the usual table, he noticed himself in the mirror. In his plan, his first offer of a drink to “that girl” would have come from a confident and smart guy, standing proudly before her. All he could see was a bedraggled, hunched-shouldered embarrassed idiot. What upset him most was that he wasn’t entirely sure that he had ever looked any different.

Labels:


Dear World

The names have been changed:

To: Everyone in the office
From: Mona

Hi All,

Sorry for the wide alias but has anyone got a package for myself or Billy Corkhill sitting on there desk?

It is urgent so if you have got it,can you please respond ASAP to me

Thanks

Kind Regards

Mona


There's a rule. If you're going to send a message to everyone, everyone will read it. If it contains errors or stupidities, these will be multiplied by the number of people who notice them in order to make you look more stupid and erroneous. It's worth doing a quick proof read before hitting send. Here's what went through my brain:

To: Everyone in the office
From: Mona
Who?

Hi All,

Sorry for the wide alias but has anyone got a package for myself or Billy Corkhill
sitting on there desk?

What's a "wide alias"? Are they catching? Why use "myself" instead of "me"? What's with the word "there" when you mean "their"? Why send a message to everyone and then phrase it in the third person? So many questions...

It is urgent so if you have got it,can you please respond ASAP to me

As opposed to responding to whom? Someone totally unrelated? What's with the lack of language in this email? Punctuation, phrasing, correct usage of words? Everyone includes a lot of people who are busy and just need to know what you're getting at. Everyone also includes a lot of people who don't speak English as a first language and, therefore, it might help if you wrote in a succinct version of English that they might have a chance of getting.

Thanks

Kind Regards

Thanks and kind regards. Well, I suppose that makes it as polite as it is isn't accurate.

Mona


Still, it was a nice distraction from the daily grind.

Does A Toilet Have A User Interface?

Here at the office they recently did a refurbishing exercise. It included painting most of the place and cleaning the carpets. Reasonable. They also did work in the toilets. They didn't replace the toilets. They did, however, replace the seats and the locks on the cubicle doors. This has proved very effective, since these are about half of the user experience that a toilet can offer. The majority of what happens in the toilet, and what happens in the toilet stays in the toilet - a phrase which reminds me of my recent battle with blockage - the majority of what happens is actually a matter between the user and his digestive system. However, assuming a suitably cleaning regime, there is not a whole lot you can do to improve the usability of the toilet. Some other possibles include stopping the toilet roll from jamming and making the flush a bit more effective.

So a toilet has a user interface. Seat, door, roll, flush. That's all.

It's A Right Laugh

Why do I go out to see live performance? Well, one answer might be that I'm usually out there because I'm due to go on stage myself and give my ego an airing. That's possibly why I do it. Though I go to gigs where I'm not booked, so it's not just that. Maybe you might add that I'm a practitioner of the craft of showing off and I'm looking for tips on how to do it more effectively. Again, I think that's not entirely unfair. There might even be the outside chance that I just love a live performance and the fact that anything can happen. That's what I'd like to be the real reason. Perhaps, though, when I'm at a gig I'm not booked on, I'm there for the "Christine Daié" moment.

The WHAT!?

I'm such a musicals geek. However, I'll explain. It's the moment in Phantom of the Opera when the prima donna, Carlotta, goes off in a strop about the fact that bad things are happening in the Paris Opera house.

Carlotta: Well, as long as these things happen. THIS THING does not happen.

The call goes out for who can step in for this rabid soprano at short notice. One chorus girl, perhaps Madame Giry's daughter (played by Jennifer Ellison in the movie) suggests:

Chorine: Christine Daié can do it.

And so Christine is propelled from the chorus to the stage and wins the hearts of both the audience and also her future husband and handsome quasi-hero Raoul.

Anyway, I digress. Not entirely by accident, but I digress nonetheless.

So perhaps you might accuse me of going to see live performance "just in case". Maybe someone will drop out and they'll need a comedian at short notice - step forward Ashley Frieze (aka Christine Daié). I've heard similar stories of Star Trek geeks hanging out in full Star Trek uniform outside of the soundstages where they film Star Trek, just in case someone runs out of the soundstage in a panic, shouting "We need a crew member - stat - if only there were someone who was dressed and ready to go... WAIT A MINUTE!!!".

I don't believe that I go to watch gigs for the chance to perform. Last night, in Southampton, one of the acts hadn't turned up. I was there to watch a friend perform (as well as everyone else). My friend and another act had been told that they might have to do longer. As they told me, I said "Christine Daié can do it", but they didn't get what I meant. Then I said "I'm a comedian" and they said that they might mention it to the promoter. I didn't push the point. After all, I'd gone there to watch and had even bought a ticket.

I went upstairs just before the show was due to start. The MC and one of the other booked acts was there. I know them both. The MC greeted me by saying my name over and over a few times. It became apparent that he wasn't just saying hi. He was saying my name as though it was an obvious answer to a question. The question of "Is there a Christine Daié in the house?". He asked me if I'd be prepared to go on, offering the use of his guitar as a means of making it possible.

I mentioned that I'd been happy to go on and that I had my guitar in the car. He said he'd chat to the promoter to clear it. He came back to say that there was no money. I said to him that I'd do it for free - as encouragement for the promoter to book me in future. Perhaps that's a bit needy. At some point it was decided that I'd go on in the middle of the show, though, and I'd be performing. I stood my ground a little, though, I declared that, if I was to perform, I'd expect a refund on the ticket I'd bought.

Christine Daié doesn't pay to see her own gigs.

So, I went all pre-gig revving up. This is a change in mind from seeing funny to being funny. I still had my kit in the car - the idea being to go and get it and set up between sections of the show. I watched the opening - the opening acts both did longer than originally booked for and the audience enjoyed them greatly.

Come the first break I was de-booked. There was no need for me. I was almost ambivalent. I think I quite liked the idea of going on and having a crack at the audience, but it was no major loss. What had been quite amusing was the way that the MC had introduced me to the audience from the start of the show. He'd said that an act had dropped out and that the show would be slightly different from billed, but then said, in a way that he identified as a little like a 70's Las Vegas lounge-singer compere, "But we have another comedian in the room. Mr Ashley Frieze, everybody" getting me a round of applause as though I were someone they'd heard of. That was weird. Being name checked at a gig I wasn't even playing.

The closing act (promoted from opening act) was stupendously good and I laughed heartily. She mixes energetic performance with filthy naughtiness and a lesser observer might write that off as easy - but there's so much more to her, and some of her lines were just brilliantly conceived of and blasted at the room. Excellent.

A quick name check again at the end for me - er, hi everyone - and the show ended on a massive high.

I proceeded to bore some people who had come to see my friend with discussion of musical theatre. I don't think they were entirely humouring me, but I was in the mindset of a stand-up, having revved up for a gig that didn't happen (at least, I didn't happen) and so I had to use up that motormouth energy somehow. Enthusing about musicals is a way to do it. I think they were not too overfaced by it. I hope not.

I also managed, while outside, to make a couple laugh. I'd commented about a particular song, playing inside the venue, being from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, which made this couple laugh. I had to follow that up with my "Dirty Dancing is every movie" spiel, which I'm starting to think could be a really good one to do as an MC. It's guaranteed to be non-scripted, and relies on geekiness and enthusiasm from me - something which are the root of my nature. Worth trying out sometime.

This couple did some jive dancing and were showing off, so I grabbed my friend and swung her around a bit. She was shocked. She's a good height, though, for a dance partner. I should learn some more moves. I really only remember two.

The highlight of the night (not really) was when I went to the toilet. Oh yeah. This is a great story. I went in and noticed the urinals were fairly full. I commented out loud on this, but then set about doing what I had to do, which involved trying to wee slower than they were draining - faster and it would fill up and overflow. Someone I'd been chatting to within the pub came in and stood next to me. His urinal had the same problem and he mentioned it. We agreed it was a challenge. Then something like the following occurred:

Me: Yeah, you really have to concentrate on this, or it will overflow.
Him: Nah. Just go for it. It'll be fine.
Me: I'll get my shoes wet if it overflows. I'll have to control the flow. Like when women do their pelvic floor exercises to tone up their vagina.
Him: You've got a vagina?
Me: No.
Him: Hey, you've got two streams coming out.
Me: Are you looking at my cock?
Him: Two streams - that's not right. And hey that's the wrong colour. You should drink more.
Me: I can't believe you're looking at me pissing AND giving me a running commentary.
Him: It should look more like lime juice, not that colour.
Me: We're freaking out the other guy pissing here.
Him: Your piss smells a bit of sugar puffs - are you diabetic?

There's breaking through the 4th wall in stand-up, and then there's totally inappropriate social interaction. This guy is also a comedian, so he didn't have the filter on. I'm a comedian and have little sense of shame about social interactions - especially when they're pretty funny... but... that was pretty wrong. Still, these things stick in the mind.

So, last night was a good night. I made people laugh in conversation. I didn't make people laugh on stage. I still got a round of applause - for doing nothing - and I got to find out an outsider's view of my wee. All in, that's why I go to gigs...

... or maybe I'm just there to have a good time, whatever that entails.

Back Posts

Although I have sort of complained of not keeping the blog up to date. I have retrospectively just posted into the last couple of days... it makes things make a bit more sense when read in the future. So... if you're a "read it as I write it" sort, then check the last couple of days out to make sure you've read it all.

Alternatively, use Google Reader to track all new posts. It's brilliant.

What Is A Blog?

It hit me last night as I was driving. A blog is an unedited written-as-it-happens autobiography of someone who probably wouldn't sell any copies of a better edited published version.

Pre-occupied

Busy time over here at the moment. A quick run down of what's busy:
  • Gigs
  • Changing jobs
  • My current job
  • The house
  • The forthcoming weekend's trip to Paris
  • Domestic tasks I'm neglecting
  • Time with friends
I wouldn't swap any of it for something that takes less effort.

Wednesday, July 11

Up The Pool

I had gotten into work earlier than usual in order to enable me to get an earlier departure. I took my early departure and blasted towards Liverpool. The secret to this is to use the M6 toll road and go as fast as the laws of physics and the laws of the road will allow.

Last time I headed to "The Pool", I got there at a hassled 8.30pm. Somehow, I'd managed to get a head start on the trip this time and I even had a chance to answer a last-minute request to buy a set of raffle tickets (for running a raffle, rather than for me to participate) before arriving at 8pm or so at the venue.

The journey was especially joyous. I listened to Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, for the second time, and I also listened to That Mitchell & Webb Sound, third series - both the CDs of which had arrived the previous day. I laughed and grinned like a moron for much of the way.

Having a good time on the way to the gig always bodes well - it puts me in the right frame of mind to do the gig.

So it was, after we had a mini raffle to determine who went on in which order (not using the raffle tickets), that I was put on in the middle section. There was a promoter/agent in the audience, who had seen me at a rather unsalubrious gig previously, in which I'd made the audience laugh, but offended a fellow act (whom I'd hoped might come that night, so I could apologise). Anyway, I went on in the middle and had a nice time. There were some nice moments of interaction and improvisation and I left the venue with laughter ringing in my ears.

Job done.

A trip back home with more comedy and I was ready for more sleep.

The gig had been a preview for The Great Big Comedy Picnic - our Edinburgh show. It cost me a fair whack to go along, but the profits from the show will pay towards our Edinburgh experience. Technically, I would have been better just shoving my petrol money into the pot and not going, but that wouldn't have been in keeping with the spirit of things.

Tuesday, July 10

It's Out

News that I've quit my job and will no longer work here from July 27th is now known. I guess I can tell the world, then.

Multi-Functional

I left work last night in time to get home for a couple of hours' work on the house. I had thought that I might get some satisfaction from completing a single discrete task. The thing which has most been bothering me of late has been the bare wood in my bathroom - it's a moist environment, and the wood there is probably not going to benefit from being unpainted for too long. I also had some wood-filler to sand down. I've been part putting it off and part deferring to other higher-priority tasks. I wondered if I couldn't tackle it in between getting home and going to my gig.

To cut a long story short, I sanded, cleaned up the dust from the sanding and then primed the wood in question. This made me feel like I'd achieved something I could see. There's still more painting to do in there - in fact, the whole room needs repainting, as a combination of the installation of bathroom fittings, and the room being bashed about in in general, have caused the walls to deteriorate somewhat since I first painted them after they were first plastered. Maybe I'll only have to repaint some sections, and maybe only one coat. We'll see.

Still, I had just achieved something in the house and I couldn't hang about and bask in the glory of the job well done. It was time to go to my gig. I walked into town with my guitar in tow and took the train to London. I was due to perform in Stratford, which is East London, and had been told to get there for 9.30pm. I was hoping to be there for about 8.30pm. I prefer to be at a gig from the start.

Sadly, the journey took longer than anticipated, so I arrived nearer 9. I saw most of the show, though, and was in plenty of time to do my bit.

I noticed a piano on stage, and decided to incorporate it into my act. I can't say that anyone enjoyed that addition to the set as much as I did. I'm particularly proud of ending my first song, turning round and giving it a final clonk with the piano. I had a lovely gig with the crowd, though. They had a really powerful ability to laugh and I simply had to find the laugh and then it came with utter gusto. It was great fun. I arsed about a bit, and I also played it tight in places. There are some lines I can just throw at a room which I know will make a big laugh if one's possible. This audience got a really high-paced set from me.

Listening back to the recording, I discovered that my energy dropped at about 15 minutes in for a bit. The audience response dropped a little as a result. It was something to do with the fact that I had been going at it with high energy from the off, and that I'd done about 2 hours of DIY in my house before coming out. I only have a finite supply of energy. This is the risk you have when you use energy as part of making the laughs - the laughs can become linked to how much energy you expend. This is why I admire the deadpan acts, who can make it funny without the huge physical effort that I often expend.

Overall, though, my closing set was very very well received and will be one I look back fondly on. I wasn't the best-received act of the night. That honour goes to Gareth Richards, whose set was faultless and who made me laugh out loud countless times. I don't think I'd ever want to give myself "best act of the night" awards anyway - not in public. I've seen Gareth a few times and I've seen him do ok, not too well and very well. On this occasion, he blew away any previous notions I had of what his act is about. If I had a gig to book, I'd book him.

I returned home hot and sweaty. A bit of a chat with some lads outside the gig (who'd already seen me inside and had decided I must be funny) gave me a chance to fire off a couple of jokes and make them laugh. That's the stand-up comedy version of street magic, I suppose. Then I found my various trains and went home.

A taxi took me from Reading station to my house... it's all rock and roll in this business.

Then I got to get some sleep. I'd done a lot that night.

Monday, July 9

Googling Yourself

I seem to have had some occasional adventures in self-googling. There's definitely a chance to learn something to your disadvantage if you search the internet for yourself and find yourself. With a name as unique as "Ashley Frieze", I can be sure that most Google hits tend to relate to this version of me, rather than some other Ashley Frieze. This is only going to exacerbate my occasional bouts of... what...? Narcissism? Insecurity? I don't know.

Now. Here's a contentious suggestion. Rather than hang my head in shame at my apparent over-blown self-interest. Let me now staunchly defend the idea of self-googling. I have some reasons.
  • These days people do Google each other: new girlfriends Google their new boyfriends and vice versa, families Google their prospective new son-in-laws etc - it's wise to know what they will learn about you
  • If your work colleagues, or prospective employers Google you, what will they find? Will it affect your career?
  • As a performer, what would a "fan" or, more importantly, a prospective promoter find out about my act?
All of these things come down to the same basic idea. What's written about you on the internet is increasingly becoming a part of your public image. In today's media-obsessed society, even non-celebrities are starting to get researched and opinions are being formed on them in the same way as celebrities have to put up with. It's the nature of modern media.

There are a few things written about me on the internet which I find misrepresentative. Largely, though, the person writing the most about me is me. This blog is by far the biggest risk to my public image... or maybe it's my biggest asset. It's frank and detailed, which is probably a virtue. It may be its undoing, since I may sometimes prioritise the writing of words over conveying what little there is of interest to say.

I don't see myself as a self-obsessed individual - certainly no more self-obsessed than average. I have pride. I want people to like me. Ultimately, though, I just do what I do and hope that nobody hates me with too much conviction. Some of what I set out to do is intended to foster a reaction in others, which is probably where some of my insecurities turn into "what are they saying", since I want to feel like I've succeeded in bringing entertainment to strangers, rather than succeeded in making myself look like a total tosspot.

Still, if you're good at doing something, you should do it. So, if I'm a good total tosspot, then I should make the most of it. That's one question Google can't answer.

Getting your house in order

The visit to my house in Newcastle worried me. There's a lot of work needs doing on the place. It's not doing it itself. I now, effectively, own two houses that need time and money spending on them. The weight of this responsibility is not crushing, but it is not nothing either. I need to put some time in. Soon.

I've been going through my diary, considering how things will fit together before the Fringe starts. I think I'm basically going to have to run myself as ragged as possible to achieve something by the end of the year. I have very few nights in planned, and I am now planning a sojourn in Newcastle in order to deal with house and garden issues. Put simply, this is not a time for relaxing. It could be the making of me. Or I could fail quite horribly. Either way, money looks to be a problem, especially with the impact of recent decisions.

I feel quite unbothered when I say this, but today my future truly hangs in the balance. I don't know which way it will tip. I know it will be a challenge, and I know I will have money concerns, if not full blown worries.

Maybe it takes bravery to take all this crap on. Maybe it is, in my case, the product of naive optimism. I don't know. I do believe that you make your bed and then lie in it. That's how life works. I also believe that being busy and hyper productive is a great feeling. I remember those moments of utter exhaustion after the first few shows of The Musical in Edinburgh. I knew I had much more to do that day, and indeed for the rest of the month. I knew I was so tired, but that I couldn't afford to give up. Once you have tasted success, anything else tastes bland an comparison. Life has had its share of blandness of late, and now I must focus on getting some success. Perhaps just gathering my tools together and tidying away the remains of completed jobs would be a start in the house for tonight.

You can't do it all at once. Step by step is the only way. So. It's time to plan some steps.

Poster

The poster for The Great Big Comedy Picnic is done. I like it. Here it is, for posterity:


Look at the idiot on the left - "We've got lumps of it!!!"

It All Happened So Fast

It's Monday again and there's been quite a lot of things done since the last time I was in the office. I had been tempted to say there there'd been a lot achieved since last I was in the office, but that would have been misleading. I'm not sure I "achieved" anything. I've "attended" a number of things, but is attendance an achievement? I certainly achieved the process of arriving.

Given that I travelled approximately 840 miles, spending many many hours in the car, and plundering much cash and petrol and environment in the process, it's probably worth describing my arrival in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds and Reading as a series of successes. The illustration to the right here shows the sheer ludicrous nature of my journeying, approximately. When you add to this the fact that I'm off to Liverpool for a gig tomorrow night, and I'm in SW scotland in about 10 days' time, and then going to Edinburgh in August. Well, let's call this weekend's driving something of a rehearsal.

I pity my poor car, which undoubtedly needs some TLC, but most probably needs replacing sometime soon. Given my financial situation, which has been rendered uncertain until after the Edinburgh festival, I simply have to risk not replacing my car just now.

I'll do a day by day on the trip, but maybe I'll keep it brief.

Friday
I had an appointment in the centre of Reading, which I attended on foot from my home. I managed to get to the appointment with plenty of time to spare, get a greetings card on the way AND a coffee, and still do it all in less than 30 minutes. And it was even a nice healthy walk. Not bad at all.

After I'd finished, I walked home, changed, got on the road and had a leisurely drive to Edinburgh. During this time I listened to the radio, listened to the first series of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and spoke to a friend on the telephone. It was about six and a half hours' driving (with occasional pitstops) in total, and it didn't feel like hard work.

I arrived at my friend's house and we chatted long into the night.

Saturday
Waking up later than planned, I went out with my friend to walk his dog, a gorgeous 12 week old Huskie. This is a lovely dog. This is a dog which attracts very much attention. The general conversation goes like this:

Nice person: (to dog) Oooh, you're so cute. (to owner) What is it? How old is it?
Correct answer: She's a huskie - 12 weeks old.

Now. I'm a comedian. I'm not necessarily a good comedian, but I'm still incapable of resisting an opportunity for a joke. This is why I commented on the people in the cafe today, who were slicing onions, with this joke:

Q. Why do you cry when you're slicing onions?
A. Because it's really sad.


Anyway, these random interactions with strangers are funny. There's loads of scope for taking the piss, AND you'd probably get away with it. Example:

Attractive student girl: (to dog) Oooh, you're so cute.
Subversive owner: And so are you? How old are you? What breed are you?... where you going?... call me... just whistle... throw me a stick...

My favourite moment was when a woman, walking her own dog, stopped and asked something. Here's what I would have said.

Other dog walker: Oooh. What's that?
Subversive me: It's a dog. I'm surprised you didn't work it out, you've got one of your own, there.

Anyway, the point is that we walked the dog and got a little exercise ourselves and it was good.

Then we had some pints.

Then I went to a wedding.

Then I came back from the Wedding and discovered that I'd accidentally locked everyone out of the flat. I'd been given a set of spare keys and had, feeling like I was being responsible, locked the front door of the flat on the way out, being the last person to leave. I'd turned the key in the mortice lock and thought that I was leaving the place secure. I was. However, the other key holder didn't have the key to the mortice lock, so it was, perhaps, more secure than I'd planned.

Having said that, all three people, who were waiting for me when I arrived back, had managed to climb up some scaffolding that was being used outside of the building, and make their entrance through the window. So, perhaps the mortice lock wasn't really the question when it came to securing the building. I was apologetic for my mistake and my host was magnanimous in his response.

Whoops.

We stayed up chatting until the even wee-er and smaller hours.

Sunday
I slept later than planned, visited by various pets in the course of my semi-doze. After a coffee and a nice long chat, I was back on the road. Newcastle awaited me, and I listened to The Feeling and then the original london cast recording of My Fair Lady (Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison). This I sang along to lustily, arriving at my house in Newcastle at around 5.30pm.

I hung out there for a bit, chatting to my friend, who is my only tenant there. I noticed how good the paint job we did in April was. And how good it wasn't too. I noticed how much the house needs some quality time spending on it, and may go up for a couple more days in July/August to try to spend that time. It seems that there needs to be effort invested just to break even on the work that needs to be done. In the meantime, however, I should still try to get some tenants in. I can't afford to run the house without them.

I headed off to my gig in plenty of time and set up there. It looked like a good venue and a nice audience.

It wasn't an easy gig, though. I had some successes and some failures with the crowd, and it was kind of good that another local comedy promoter had come along to see how well I fared, and it was also bad, because I think anything short of storming that gig, which I didn't do, would have left her unimpressed. I'll find out at some point what she really thinks, but a hard gig is not necessarily the best place to showcase one's talents. That'll be it for her for the next two years, if she was unimpressed this time. But, she only books one club, so it's important, but it's not THAT important.

I managed to remain fairly positive as I scooted off onto the long drive back. I stopped in at a friend's place in Leeds for a coffee and to shoot the breeze. Then it was refuelling and home.

I wish I'd gotten more sleep, but something has to give.

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