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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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Thursday, August 30

Welcome Back To The Zone

For a while, I thought I'd managed to escape it, but it was there all along. Thank goodness for the watermelon. Here's a picture of the wee laddie in action, being carried by the not so wee laddie in a city where the laddies are not awfie wee and the lassies are not so awfie wee neither.

Wednesday, August 29

The Day Passed By

I had a day in the office followed by dinner out. That's the summary of the day. To ameliorate (I like that word) the fact that I would be eating out in the evening, I watched what I was eating over the day - not too much, to be honest, so it probably didn't matter. I'll be eating out a couple more nights this week, which may have an effect on my weigh-in on Monday. I sort of care and I sort of don't. Perhaps I can eat sensibly while out. I didn't actually manage to eat all of the eating out food tonight, so perhaps my appetite is not the way I remember it.

It's strange. I don't think many things are quite the way I remember them being at the moment. My body doesn't quite behave the way I remember it behaving - shirts fit me that shouldn't etc. My house is just a house, rather than a home. Perhaps that's the necessary distance you need when you're renovating a place, or perhaps I've just come to realise that it was never going to be a home for me, or maybe I've moved on in my head without actually moving out in person. Who knows?

There have been a couple of Kaiser Chiefs songs that have resonated with me of late. There's "Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby", which was the soundtrack to April's painting, and which later came to reflect a crush I had on a girl I met in that very month. The lyric "there is nothing at all except the space in between finding out what you're called and repeating your name" is very neat. Then, having enjoyed the Kaiser Chiefs original and then bought Mark Ronson's cover versions album, the song "Oh My God" has the line "Oh my god I can't believe it, I've never been this far away from home", which seems to reflect where I am right now.

In the last 8 months, all my constants have been removed. Not all, but a lot. The breakdown of my long-term relationship, the change in jobs, money, car (I just got a car from my company today - not my final car, but something to drive around in that's new), house, weight... where the hell is my comfort zone?

Bizarrely, the one sporadic thing in my life - gigging - is starting to look like the constant. That's just weird.

I suppose this is what happens when you're over a third of the way to one hundred and still haven't found your place in the world. Who knows, tomorrow I may discover it. If I do, I'll probably mention it in passing on here, within the blether about plastering, tiling, roads and what I've been eating.

Tuesday, August 28

Whoah

I worked until 7pm tonight. Then I drove home in a sort of stupefied silence, punctuated by the radio.

Arriving home, I changed from work trousers to jeans and headed out in search of food. I rang a friend, mainly to discuss the surprising events leading up to the fact that I was just getting out at 7.30pm, having been up and about much longer than has been my habit in previous years.

Chatting led me to the co-op where I selected some food. Having paid for this, I took it to the nearby park. Some of the food never made it as far as the park before being consumed. Some of it was consumed on a park bench. I drank a litre of water to wash it down.

Back home, I did some tidying (not enough - there's a whole house full of it that needs doing) and then spent the better part of two and a half hours ironing. That was my life.

With the exception of the chat with a friend, tonight represented some sort of quasi-monastic lifestyle, the likes of which I used to ponder in teenage depressed fantasy... though back then I didn't factor in a building site of a house, two mortgages and my having yet another stab at solving my perennial weight problem.

Life is good.

Tomorrow night will be better.

Monday, August 27

Monday Monday, Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah

I could have done other things on this day, but I chose to do some painting instead. My shower room got the coat of paint I'd been hoping to give it for ages. As I painted, I listened to the radio and tried to keep my mind away from ponderings. It generally worked. The room looked so very much better when I'd completed the painting too. In fact, I think it's almost complete, now. All it needs is some skirting-board/tile sealing and it's done enough for me. Finally!

After painting and cleaning up, I washed myself using baby wipes - the old Glastonbury trick, there. I headed out to the railway station so I could do my London gig that night. Why I had agreed to give up the night of a Bank Holiday Monday in order to go and do 10 minutes in a pub in London for no money is anyone's guess.

As I was walking to the station, a friend called me, and I wished that I could have skipped this gig and spent the evening in their company instead. That would have been more fun. However, my plans were set and I'm not a dirty welcher. So, I headed to London.

I had healthy food on the way to London. This was part of my continuing plan to be healthy, which I discovered was matched by the loss of some weight since I was last weighed. The potted history of my August weight goes thus. I lost 9 pounds between leaving Reading and returning back from my Newcastle/Edinburgh trip. One week on and the total had increased to 11 pounds. If I continue having no time to eat much, as I've been doing at work this last week, and if I continue avoiding the stupid eating habits I'm most obviously capable of, then I might be able to break through the weight barriers of old. I think I'm only a couple of pounds away from my lowest weight in the last 12 years.

I should feel great.

I feel a bit empty.

I feel like some of my shirts might be a bit big for me.

On the train I read my book on the Pink Floyd album - "Dark Side of the Moon". Good book.

At the gig, I went and did my 10 minutes and then got right back on the train and headed home. I couldn't be hanging around the gig. It had been a nice crowd and everything, but I really wanted to be home in time for a nearly-early night.

The rail journey home was quite harried. There were a bunch of people back from the Notting Hill Carnival. They were in such high spirits that a row just accompanied them. Though the half dozen or so revved up lads left the train a few stops back, the motormouth girl from hell, blethered on the phone to her mother and her friend's boyfriend, for much of the time. My mind was partly on my book and partly on her constant jibber jabber. In fairness, she was quite a jaunty young lady and perhaps I was a bit snobbish in my disregard for her capacity to say anything of any value. She could certainly say stuff emphatically and made me laugh a few times with stuff she said. She was talking to her friend about how boys can't, "you know, conversate". I like that. I have a conversation, so I must be conversating. Neat.

Had I been in as excitable mood as this girl, I bet we could have had a well-wicked conversate. As it was, she danced the line between amusing and tiresome. I finished my Pink Floyd book and moved on to a very funny book by Robin Cooper - The Timewaster Diaries. Sadly, much of the detail of this book was forgotten with the jibber jabber backdrop competing with it.

I walked from the railway station back home and didn't get an early night. Instead, I finally got a recording down of my new song. I'd been singing it in my natural key while out and about and had recorded myself doing so - as a result, I was to discover, by playing the recording next to my piano, that I wanted to sing it in A flat minor. Sounds like a joke, I know. As I'm a crap pianist, I used the transpose feature on my piano and played it in C minor, which is the key I wrote it in - it came out in A flat minor and everyone's a winner. I was happy enough with the version I recorded to consider it complete.

That took my total of songs recorded up to 5 for the weekend. However, I also downloaded some chords off the internet for a song which had been meandering around in my head on the walk home. Unlike the other songs, which I'd recorded a track at a time, in some cases up to 8 layers. This song I just wanted to play with. So, I put the microphone stand at the piano - rather than across the room - and improvised a piano part while singing. After a few goes, I had something I quite liked. Song 6 - all 9 seconds of it.

I would have gone straight to bed, but I had to listen to my work a couple of times first. Narcissistic or what!?

Still, the bank holiday weekend had been productive. The shower room was painted, I'd done 3 gigs, I'd started work on my downstairs wet rooms (discovering new problems to blight me) and I'd recorded more songs in one go than I've done since 2004 while achieving a lower weight than I had when I did it.

Not bad.

Sunday, August 26

Doing Something

The DIY will wait for no man, and I woke around lunchtime to discover that it had already started doing it itself. This is, of course, a lie. However, I couldn't spend the day playing around with music. I had to get myself motivated to paint. I had two bathroom style rooms to do and I reasoned thus. I can paint the downstairs of the rooms today, leaving myself able to grab a nice shower before going to my gig tonight. This I did.

At least, I started down this road. Then I discovered some more penetrating salts in a section of wall I was planning to paint. I painted around it. There's more work for the plasterer, it would appear. Sigh.

A shower was had and I made my way to Winchester for the gig I was scheduled to play. This gig turned out to be a corker. I did pretty well in my slot and I rolled out the new song - the one I'd only played on stage 4 times before, but had spent a good 3 or 4 hours perfecting a recording of. The recording process had really helped. I'd set a pace in my head for exactly how the song should be delivered. I knew the key moments in the song. I knew how it should sound and why it should be funny. There's a moment in the song where I play something odd on the guitar and then go back into the regular chords - the audience had a laugh-out-loud moment of realisation just after this, and I couldn't have given them that moment if I'd been spooked by their lack of reaction at the joke in there... they now laugh at the joke, but they laugh off the beat, because it needs a moment to settle - a moment where I'm still giving the song full conviction. This is the beauty of the recording process.

I stayed around for the end of the gig. This time, having not died on my arse, I was happy to stay around. The headliner did ages, largely just dealing with a surreal heckler. The whole night had a slightly surreal edge. However, it had some naturally funny moments. I'd told the headliner the story of my awful gig on Friday night (awful for me, perhaps - it was a nice charity night and I'm not taking away from that) and I also told him about the emergency joke. He thought it was a good emergency joke.

After he'd dealt with the heckler, without even getting as far as his material, for a good 30 or so minutes, the headliner pulled out the emergency joke. It worked well for him, the audience and, especially, me. I almost cried with laughter as this special incantation. The emergency joke. I can't even tell it in blog form. Come up and see me and I'll tell it to you and make you smile. (Note the lyrical perversion in there somewhere).

Back home, I think I may have had some more time with my recording equipment. My new song was taking shape, but wasn't ready. I was recording versions of it to listen to, but I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, or even which key it was in, so I wasn't recording more than draft versions of it. This particular song needed space enough to grow its own way.

I was also dissatisfied with vocals I'd done on some other recordings, so I re-did them.

Sunday was quite a fun day all in. Painting, music, gig... and there was still another day of the weekend to go. This weekend had been going better than anticipated on Friday night before the music plan. Having said that, painting gives me time to chew things over, and the radio wasn't always distracting enough.

Saturday, August 25

Saturday What A Day, Groovin' All Week With You

Somehow my late night put me back into Edinburgh mode. Sleep at 4 or 5 and then back up at 10.30. That's how to live. I had tasks I wanted to accomplish. I went over and picked up my post-Edinburgh laundry from my ex-girlfriend's place (they are so very kind to continue to launder me) and had a bit of a chat about the progress of the week. Then I grabbed some lunch on the way to B&Q where I bought the paint I was planning to use, along with some rollers etc. I also bought the lights I'll be fitting to my kitchen when the time is right. I spent a fair bit of money.

I should just throw a quick aside in. My kitchen/bathroom project is running slow. The plasterer hadn't finished. This turns out to be due to the fact that, in the heavy rain we had the day he was plastering, there was water running down some of the walls. To add to this, I found some penetrating salts in some of the plasterwork he did. I can only imagine that that's not good... oh, and some of the plaster also hasn't dried - that's probably not good either. Great!

However, the bathroom bit of the project looked to be a goer, having dried and EVERYTHING. I planned to paint this up over the weekend, perhaps to completely painted (where it will be painted) from an initial primer coat, through two coats of bathroom paint. I also wanted to repaint my shower room, which has taken a bit of a beating to its initial paint job, which was done before the shower was installed. That was the aim of buying my B&Q things.

On the way back from B&Q I pondered my recordings and wondered if I couldn't buy a suitable microphone for recording my guitar. So far my guitar recordings have been fairly poor and a good microphone would help. Off I went to my favourite music shop with a budget in mind. I ended up first playing on one of their pianos, which was very nice indeed, reminding me of my nice electric piano - now a resident of my sister's house. Eventually, I stopped playing an instrument I've no room to store, let alone money enough to buy, and I went to talk about microphones.

Somehow, a compromise was struck on price, shape and functionality of the microphone. I ended up with a device that could capably record my guitar, but which would also serve me very well indeed for a vocal microphone. Result. My vocal mic isn't that good either. Or at least it wasn't. Now I've got a beauty of a microphone.

Back at home, the DIY stuff was ditched and I started making more music. The microphone was very useful indeed. I was inspired.

I recorded the vocal track for the song which I'd made the piano part for. I then started work on another song. I enjoyed myself so much that I went on to record two of my comedy songs. One song has only been performed on stage about 4 times and I was uncertain about it. However, I was keen to give it the works. It came out rather well, I think. The other comedy song is a firm favourite of my stand-up set. A visit to AshleyFrieze.co.uk will furnish you with copies of these recordings.

I had been worried about disturbing my next door neighbours with my caterwauling. I had heard no banging on the adjoining wall and decided that I simply would trust the thick brickwork to keep them protected from me. What I hadn't quite banked on was the fact that I was doing my recording in a well lit room with no curtains. I looked out of the window, mid song, to find a window full of spectators in the opposite house. All their multitudinous children had flocked to see me, headphones on, posturing and mock-conducting myself in mid air, as I blasted notes into my new microphone.

I waved.

They kept watching a while. It should have been obvious to them that I was up to no harm, given that I was surrounded by instruments and fully clothed.

I went to bed with four songs recorded and some ideas for a fifth.

Friday, August 24

First Gig Back And Wowser

Tonight was an important night for me. It represented my first night back gigging after returning from Edinburgh. This was also my first gig performed within my new job. It's important to make sure people are comfortable with the whole gigging thing. I perform because it's something I feel I have to do and because it's something I really enjoy. I have always been up front about the gigging side of my life with employers and I being that up front means that I foster a sense of trust. That's important.

In the new job, there is a sense of people putting in the hours and being around at the end of the day. I had to get to Bristol, so I capped my day at 5.30pm. This was something which added stress to the build up to the gig, since not only did I have to worry about getting away in time, finding the venue and also getting in the right mood to entertain the people, but I also had to be certain that I got enough done before I left and didn't act like I couldn't give a damn about leaving people in the lurch.

It was the end of my first (nearly full) week at the job and there hasn't been a great deal I've been able to involve myself in so deeply that I'd be missed, but I still felt like it was a big deal to break out of the office before 6pm. There will be more such evenings to come, so we may as well get used to the idea sooner or later.

Driving to the gig was fine. I had a couple of chats on the phone which had the benefit of helping me while away the time and also changing my mood from work to pleasure. Since I'm now driving dead on (or below) speed limits, in a vain attempt not to make my driving licence situation any worse, there are to be no heroic car journeys where I arrive all rushed. That means car journeys will take as long as they take. Virtual company on the handsfree is always appreciated.

Anyway, back to the subject of the gig. A little background, I think. It was a charity night. That's not a problem. I like doing charity gigs and, in general, they often go very badly for me. Hang on. Did I just say that I like doing them and that they also go badly? What's all that about? Well, to be honest, I only just worked it out. The thing is, I like the idea of doing gigs for charity, and I don't mind giving of my time and even paying my way to do a gig, if there's a charity that's going to benefit from it. However, thinking about it, the two major charity gigs which immediately spring to mind from earlier in the year were both equally disastrous, though for quite different reasons.

Anyway, I'd committed to doing this gig and the organiser had been checking and double checking that I was still up for it. I don't remember, at the time of booking, checking exactly who the audience were. I don't remember at which point I found out that the venue was a British Legion. In fact, I don't think I thought this gig through at all.

My last phone conversation ended about 15 minutes after I'd arrived at the venue, after which I'd had chance to see various people going in. One of the things you do when you see your audience out of the context of the venue is try to work out if they're your sort of person. Will you have enough in common with them to make them laugh? Or, will you be able to adopt a role in their company which paints you as the sort of person they expect to make them laugh. That's basically how it works.

Had I been my own grandfather, by which I mean swapping identities with, rather than some bizarre genetic discrepancy, I could have heartily answered a positive yes to the question - "Are these my people?". Sadly... well... I entered what was a bit like a scene from Phoenix nights, only significantly older.

I knew from the off that I'd have my work cut out and I was prepared for the challenge of seeing how long I could do without resorting to any of my usual material, most of which is so very "blue" that the audience would probably not even understand it. Of course, I'm selling these people short. The truth is that a lot of them have lived a long time and know all about filth as much as I do. The difference is that their interest in filth is very different. It might not be embarrassing to them, but it probably wouldn't be funny. I would have to meet them somewhere in between.

The order of the night was quite something. First there would be a man playing his organ. Then there would be a singer for a bit. Then I got to go on and try to be funny, after which there was a charity head-shave, a raffle and then the singer again. A good night... unless you happen to be the out-of-his-depth-comedian stuck in the middle of it.

I looked at my options. Option 1 - use the emergency joke. I think that was a given. Option 2 - do some sing-along stuff at the start in order to break the 4th wall and make them play along. I think that made sense - start off not being funny and then funny may emerge over the low bar set. Option 3 - do the "Amore" bit - they'll like that and will even get it. Oh yes. Option 4 - Do some other stuff and then go.

I used all my options. The emergency joke got a laugh. A lot of stuff didn't. A few things I thought of to say made me amused "Do you remember the kids' TV show Rainbow? No? Maybe it was before your time." These were PENSIONERS, FOR FUCK'S SAKE!!!

It was in no way my finest hour. The audience laughed more during the head shaving. In fact, I sort of wished I'd just had a shave on stage - it might have done better. They sang along at the "knees up mother brown" section of a routine I did, and I had the sense to keep the song going along, rather than stop it where I normally do. It was a one-off that an audience would do that. They didn't laugh at the punchline where I substituted the national anthem into "Who ate all the pies". Such was the gulf between my own brand of absurdity and their sense of humour. However, I worked the room and even turned a nice middle aged lady into a rancid heckler. Well done me!

I couldn't stay beyond 30 minutes into the raffle. I think that dying in a room, even when you take it with a sense of humour and know it's going to be a death in advance, makes you feel like you want to leave, and I'd had enough.

I'd also had the good sense to decline the offer of expenses, which were given to me in an envelope before I'd been on stage. I insisted on donating such a gesture directly back into their fun. They were raising money for MS and Breast Cancer (or for "M&S" as I heard one guy explaining outside). My own ego and my company-subsidised fuel expenses were not worth paying for in this situation.

I'll be honest with you, I headed home in a bit of a state. I was facing a weekend of some solitude, with a couple of gigs to do, and some DIY also to do, but no real sense of the sort of company I'd become used to enjoying over the course of my time in Edinburgh. This was to be the long bank holiday weekend and I knew it was going to be slow and potentially soulless.

I hit upon the idea of making some recordings. Well, actually, I hit upon the idea of recording a song. It was a song I quite liked and which I thought summed up how I was feeling. Rather than turning my own feelings over and over in my head, I would, instead, turn over the question of how to recreate this song with my limited ability, equipment and talent. Good idea. I could have fun with it.

Arriving home, I fetched my piano, recording desk, microphone, wires and such like and recreated my sometime recording studio. I also listened to the song I was going to try, transcribed the lyrics, copied it to my computer for piecemeal playing and got ready for the long process of rehearse-record.

It took a few hours, long into the early hours, before I'd fathomed out enough of the chords and the tricks in the song to be able to fashion a wan facsimile of the actual accompaniment. However, it was very satisfying and my mind was totally occupied with the music, not the internal blether of misery that it could have been occupied with. I had planned to spend Saturday doing DIY things, but I had a vocal to record and my Friday night voice wasn't up to it.

So, the first week of the new job ended with stress, disappointment and then a resolve to make music. I slept deeply.

Thursday, August 23

The Fixer

A work of fiction:

It was the first time he’d ever picked up a screwdriver. He’d seen his dad using one all those years ago and it seemed really straightforward. You put the end into the screw and then you do some turning and then the thing which is broken becomes fixed. It was as simple as that. Of course his dad was the expert, but his dad wasn’t around anymore.

When you’ve seen something done so many times before, you feel like you know how it would feel if you did it yourself. When you’ve seen so many things fixed in the same way, you feel like anything could be fixed if you just apply the same technique. One two three, turn, twist, fixed. He was excited about making the problem go away and he was convinced that he could make the screwdriver work for him, once he’d got used to the feel of it. It felt strangely alien in his hand, not quite like he’d imagine at all.

His mother was going to be so pleased when he’d finished. She had missed his father, and his discovery of this old screwdriver, just when she needed something fixing was going to make it all better.

Slowly and carefully, he inserted the tip into the power socket.

Labels:


Well The Days Pass

Day three in the new job and I'll be honest, I've not seen days pass this quickly in quite some time. I was in the office at a reasonable hour and I left over 9 hours later, uncertain of exactly what I'd achieved, but fairly convinced that I'd been busy for the whole time I was there. I did, however, manage to sneak a quick lunch in Bracknell, which turns out to have a fairly not-unpleasant town centre in which to sit for a few minutes and allow the heart rate to return to normal over a baked potato or some such.

Last night, in a fit of attempting to get some sort of control over my life, I took up my paint brush and did a coat of gloss painting in my hitherto almost forgotten shower room. I was close enough to the floor to realise exactly how much I'm disappointed with myself for the way that I tiled it, though I know that I'm the biggest critic of my own tiling and few others would really notice or give a toss... though there are enough corner and edge misalignments to give the barefooted visitor to the bathroom enough cause to be disdainful of my tiling skills.

Lots to learn with the tiling, then. The painting I can pretty much do, and I think I'm about to go and give the room a second coat.

I'm not sure where my head is right now. This is post-Edinburgh and it usually comes with a massive descent into fringe-based grief. However, I am not really thinking much about the fringe at the moment, so who knows where I am.

I have much to do this year before I can declare myself a winner or a victim. The tussle with the law, in particular with my driving licence, is not doing me any good either. I have received a letter definitely confirming that I have no choice but to go to court over speeding. It's just a case of waiting for the dates now and paying for appropriate legal advice.

Sometimes I wish I didn't have to be a grown up.

Wednesday, August 22

Day 2 New Job

Today I went to my new job and arrived before 9am. I left the office at 6.30pm. I had, in the interim, spent all of my time working, though lunch was provided as something of a working lunch. The environment I work in is very friendly, yet people are also quite stressed. Today we were looking at ways of reducing the stress, though it's fair to say that there are some cultural reasons why people will be expected to work long days and take on more than perhaps can be achieved in those days.

In some ways this is a bad thing. In other ways this environment could be what I need. I like being busy. I also know some of the tried and tested means of reducing the levels of expectation while simultaneously making it easier to deliver what's truly valuable in the long-term. The question, I suppose, is whether the improvement programme will move at a rate fast enough to avert my own personal burn out.

I guess time will tell.

I've eaten, and I now face a night at home. I'm quite tired and I don't know what to do with myself. I could take on some DIY, or I could try and do something else. I feel like some exercise might be nice.

My head is all fuzzy.

Indeed, my head has been fuzzy for a lot of the day.

I had some moments of clarity, suggesting some potentially quite useful things over lunch and reaching agreement with my new colleagues over things I care about.. and the seem to too. That's good.

How I would love to crawl into a corner right now and have a massive hug!

Tuesday, August 21

Edinburgh Highlights

As has happened in previous years (though not last year, thanks to a phone which wasn't too full of text messages and too shit to be able to let me email blog entries in), I have managed to avoid blogging one of the more interesting months in my year. I did spend some time online during the month, but always in a rapid check-your-emails sort of a way. I was, basically, very very preoccupied with the Fringe and the people I was keeping in touch with, outside of it. This is forgiveable, I hope.

I'm back now, and I'll list some things which I remember as noteworthy. They'll come with the benefit of hindsight, which is possibly a more coherent way to describe them too.

Three Weeks Reviewed Me
We got a review for The Great Big Comedy Picnic. It was a good review. All I can quote about my own part in the review was its description of me - "Plump, bald man". Not "fat". No: "Plump". I'm so very proud.

The Karaoke Show
I did the Amateur Pro Celebrity Karaoke show 3 times during the Fringe. The firt occasion was potentially embarrassing. Not all of the audience stayed, which was hardly surprising given that we didn't really have a show or a format. I managed to link together the nothingness which was available and we sang some songs. Two New Zealand women, who were keen for the show to be entertaining, basically made it so by being supportive enough that the show was going to work, no matter how tenuous it got.

I should, perhaps, have learned my lesson and not gone back to do further shows, but I was assured that there would be a format and also an audience for further shows - as in an audience who were both numerous and aware of what they'd come to see.

In the second show, there was an audience. There was something which looked like a format, but that was largely illusory. I bantered with the people to make them seem more like an audience and less like a bunch of randoms. I asked one guy what he did. "I'm a journalist," he said. "Are you reviewing this show?" "Yes."

He gave the show three stars, which was good, considering how ropey it got. He described me as "ebullient". I was pleased with the way that show came together in the end.

The final time I did the show, I had an idea. Rather than the old favourite "One song to the tune of another", I suggested that I should sing a newspaper article to the tune of Robbie Williams' Angels. An audience member provided me an article to sing. The bastard had only gone and selected one on Madeleine McCann. It turned out very funny, though I had to make sure the audience were totally okay with it before proceeding. They were. Sick bastards!

Impro
I've done a few impro games in my time, but I've not done any since becoming a stand-up. I had the opportunity to have a go at this 3 times during the Fringe. I got better at it and would like to do a bit more if I get the chance. I had the benefit of working with a couple of improvisers that I know quite well and who know what they're doing. As a result, I felt I learned enough of the ropes to get on.

The secret to impro is not to try too hard and to avoid trying to make it about yourself. So, some naturally funny stuff happened... I also cracked some jokes which worked.

Seeing Tim Minchin's Only Edinburgh Gig
It was the middle of the night. Tim Minchin, who hadn't been down to play the Fringe, turned out to be in town. He turned up on the board of "acts playing Spank tonight" and I went to see him. He was absolutely brilliant. I was right at the front and loved every minute of it.

I was so excited at having had such a great night that I ran out of the venue in very high spirits indeed. I was in the mood for racing cyclists up the hill - an activity I'm not in the last bit equipped for. I didn't car. I'd seen Tim Minchin's only Fringe performance.

Later in the Fringe, I saw him again. It turns out that other people went and booked him for their shows too. It didn't matter. He was just as good the latter time, on Mitch Benn's music club.

Fighting The Weight Advantage
Losing weight at the Fringe was good. Eating healthily and zooming around the City of Edinburgh is a good combination. I did have one fried breakfast, on my last morning, and I did have a few (not too many nights) with alcohol, but these didn't seem to get too much in the way.

I did have a brush with alcohol and obesity, though, on my last but one night in the city. The order of events was something like this. I came back to the venue to do the late show, drank rather a lot of bottles of pear cider in a short space of time, went on at the end of the gig and basically didn't give a toss about what happened. The audience had been good, but they hadn't quite roared yet. I gave them a very exuberant performance.

One guy heckled me at some point and I batted him down a few times. Then his heckles seemed to suggest that the thought that I was the less fat of the two of us. I then announced that he should come to the front as we were going to have a "flab off". I chose those words quite carefully.

Statistically, I beat him first on waist measurement and then on weight. The audience cheered me for being the winner (and they had already decided they didn't like him) on each occasion. Then he suggested that we go shirtless for the final judgement. I pondered it a moment and then went for it. I didn't see, but apparently he was quite shamefaced that I'd called him on this. I ripped my shirt off with aplomb, we stood with our profiles out and I won that one too. The audience booed him off stage.

Strange isn't it. I'm not proud of my body at all, but I whipped off my shirt without more than a moment's hesitation (Question - will this be funny and win the game? Yes! Go!) and showed it to everyone without any embarrassment. In that context, I was fine. I was also drunk. It was a good gig.

The Five Performance Days
On a couple of occasions, I managed to fit in 5 different performances on the same day. On one of those days I added a show watched to the mix too. This isn't my personal record, but it's still extreme. The performances (and I'm including MySketch, since I did have a role in it of sorts) included:
  • 14.25 - MySketch
  • 16.45 - Amateur Pro Celebrity Karaoke
  • 18.15 - Impro Show
  • 20.35 - The Great Big Comedy Picnic
  • 23.35 - Merle Handsome's Late Night Comedy Extravaganza
Extreme stuff. The rush from the karaoke show to the impro show was almost too much. Add to that the fact that I was chattering on the phone during one such sprint, even to the point where I had to end the call about 30 seconds before I was due to be called onto stage, and you'll get an idea of how frenetic some days got.

The Six Watched Show Day
The stand-up show - The Great Big Comedy Picnic - didn't run on Tuesdays, nor did a couple of the other shows I was involved with. As a result, I had Tuesdays free after 3.30pm. So, on my second Tuesday in Edinburgh, I ran around show watching. I managed to see shows that were as little as 10 minutes apart in some cases, running out of energy as I didn't have time to eat as I scooted between venues, in some cases running to make up the time. It was great!

The "What The Fuck" Musical
"Xenu is loose" - a musical about scientology. It had the potential to be very good. It looked good at first. Then uncertainty crept in. Some of the musical numbers were ok. Some were piss poor. The script worsened, the show got odd.

By the last third we were laughing. We weren't laughing at gags in the script. We were just amused at how poor the show was. We laughed through the love song. I started to wonder whether the whole thing wasn't a total parody. Perhaps I'd been a bit slow and hadn't realised. Then I realised. This show was just shit... Or was it? Maybe I should check.

I read a bunch of reviews just to make sure I'd not missed the point. I hadn't. The show was bollocks. End of.

The Last MySketch
Working back stage on a show is a good thing. At no stage did I ever really feel under the spotlight. This was odd, because we did one sketch every day where I had to push myself into the limelight, and we did another where I delivered the punchline. Despite this, I always felt like I was just behind the scenes. I was able to watch the whole show, offering more of a guiding hand to keep it flowing than anything else. As a result, I was able to help some of the cast work on their scenes and improve them.

By the end of the run, we had the full cast and the full show running like clockwork. On my last day we did the show to end all shows. Everything worked well, was appreciated and made me proud to have reached the zenith of what has been, so far, a 7 month long association with some people I'm pleased to know.

Glad To Be Leaving
It's strange to say this, but I think I was right to feel like I had a good reason to leave Edinburgh when I did. I knew that my life had to start afresh after this festival, and I knew that the way to do this was to leave a city I love and seek the next phase. I didn't leave Edinburgh with a heavy heart. I left having performed or at least engineered 37 performances, and having witnessed a further 28. That's not bad.

I had kept my voice from running out completely and I had kept my energy levels and spirits up. I never reached a point of being overwhelmed by the Fringe and I only once truly overstretched myself to the point of having to run between shows. I had had a very good time and I wanted to stop while I was ahead and see what good times might follow.

Perhaps the potential future beyond Edinburgh was something of a pre-occupation of mine throughout the festival, and perhaps this pre-occupation might have saved me from losing my soul too much to something which I always mourn for a while after its over.

I left Edinburgh happy.

Back To Planet Earth

There's nothing like a few weeks away from the real world to make you look at your life and wonder. I wonder lots of things. I wonder where the hell I'm actually going. I don't know. I do know that I've got things I've decided to do and that I'll be doing those things from now on. I do know that my life from today will be different to the life I was leading back in June or July. I do know that I can't just sit back and see what happens. I'm going to have to be proactive in the next few months and move things onwards, or I will end up even more confused than I have ever been.

Today I started a new job. So far so good. It's hard to get the measure of a place from a single day (plus nearly a whole day being interviewed) there. However, the overall verdict, so far, is good. There seem to be some smart people there and there seems to be good management. That's not to say that there are no faults, but I've not been present in the place long enough to get a measure of anything meaningful, except that the coffee and sandwiches are a little overpriced and not incredibly good.

Home is a strange beast too. I've felt more at home in other houses than I do in this one. This is mine, but it's not really homely. I need to do something about this place. Unfortunately, there are a few potential evils lurking around the corner, which seem to threaten to make my renovation plans falter. I need to sort this shit out. Imminently.

Theoretically, I've plenty of time to be getting myself into gear this week, as I've no after-hours fixtures to look after until Friday. However, whether I have any motivation after a day in the office at my new job is a matter of some uncertainty. This, coupled with the fact that I'm not quite sure what to eat, is an issue.

The reason I'm not sure what to eat is that I managed to lose about 9 pounds between leaving Reading and returning after my labour/energy intensive trips to Newcastle and Edinburgh. The idea of regaining that weight, especially since I've just bought a new pair of trousers, which fit well, but without a huge margin of error, worries me. As a result, I'm sort of not sure if I want to let myself eat anything that might challenge the weightloss. A day in the office is very different to a day on the Royal Mile, or a day running around a house doing things.

Of course, if I were so motivated, I could spend my nights running around this house and sorting things out. There are walls and a ceiling to strip in my second bedroom, for instance. There are some walls to be painted, some to be repainted. I could even organise all my tools, or do some lining papering... there's much to be done. I feel absolutely zero motivation to do any of it as I write this. Perhaps some epiphany will occur after I hit the Post button.

So, back to earth with a thump.

Saturday, August 18

Another Bouncy Bouncy

Last year I went to see the Bouncy Castle Hamlet. This year it was the turn of the Bouncy Castle Macbeth. The basic idea is the same. They stage a Shakespeare play on a bouncy castle. You haven't lived until you've seen people making entrances and exits by jumping about the place, and life is not complete until you've seen people whacking each other over the head with inflatable toys and balloons etc. A lot of fun and perhaps a soon-to-be-Fringe-stalwart.

Perhaps next year they'll do the Bouncy Castle Romeo and Juliet?

Wednesday, August 15

It's Strange The People You Meet

I suppose I shouldn't have been so easily impressed. It was, after all, the Fringe and the One Man Star Wars show was in town. I knew that because I'd seen the posters and I'd also been to see the show. So it shouldn't have been too surprising to find this chap hanging around the bar near the Udderbelly - the collaboration between E4 and one of my favourite venues. It shouldn't have been too surprising. It still make me raise an eyebrow and then my camera phone.

Thursday, August 9

Oh. Am I in a good mood. Seriously! I'm in the best of moods. The Fringe is still not quite as kicking as I like it to be, which is a product of my own sense of distraction, the fact that numbers are quite low at the moment, with crowds seeming a bit backwards in coming forwards as it were, and the fact that I'm used to the later weeks of the Fringe, which are usually more busy anyway.

However, despite this, I'm flying high.

Yesterday the sketch show went well, I saw another show - a friend's - in the afternoon and then we did our stand-up in the evening. The stand-up was fun. I headed out for a long break and returned for our stand-up late show. This was, to be perfectly honest, a bloody bloody nightmare. Except. Well, I know why what I do is funny. More importantly, I know why I find it funny... that's an armour I can wear when it's not working. Oddly, last night, the more odd it got, the funnier I found everything. At the end of the set, I knew it had gone quite poorly, for no real fault of my own, and I was singing a long note and looking into the spotlight - I suddenly got the idea that, perhaps, the audience would have left by the time I finished the note and looked back into the room. I laughed hard.

I finished my set and, as I've done on a few occasions before, I hit the ground back stage pissing myself laughing. I hooted uncontrollably for about 3 minutes. All that potential laughter I was bottling had to come out somewhere. Brilliant!

I haven't been sleeping nearly enough, and last night was no exception. Today I have, so far, done a bit of a performance workshop with some people from the sketch group - trying to tighten up their sketches when they're blown up to big room size. I've also done some flyering, techied the sketch show, run across town to a karaoke-based show which didn't happen, practiced some karaoke anyway, come to a Starbucks for a break, and I'll soon be playing in two stand-up shows, with the possibility of watching something in between.

This is the Fringe and I wouldn't have it any other way... well, perhaps I could, but not this year.

Tuesday, August 7

Yesterday

Unlike the last time I recall using the Beatles song title above for a blog entry title, this is not going to be some stupid blether about puns surrounding the Beatles. Curiously, that particular item was written on the day that I first got involved with MySketch - their first London show.

Yesterday was actually MySketch's first Edinburgh show. I think that I was one of the people who kicked them into actually doing an Edinburgh show, but maybe they would have worked it out without me. Probably. It's hardly rocket science.

In fact, I was involved with three shows yesterday. I teched MySketch. I was then going to follow that up with a performance on my own, in the place of someone else's show, but that didn't materialise, so I joined in with an impro show instead. I had fun improvising, but clearly have a lot to learn about the subject.

Later on we did our show - The Great Big Comedy Picnic. About 20 or so people joined us in our room. It felt quiet and the first three acts had a tough one. Then there was a break. I knew most of the audience would do a runner. 5 people remained for me. One of the five went out part way through to take a phone call.

You know what. They didn't laugh much, because they couldn't. However, it was a great fun gig. I went up there and thought "Hey! I get to do my songs." So I did. I enjoyed myself and in between I blethered in a part reassuring, part ridiculous way to the audience. I could see teeth through the spotlights, which I assume meant smiles... or grimaces.

If I can remember why it's funny when there's no laughter, then I'll be a better comedian.

I did a bunch of writing yesterday too. That was good.

I've Hit The Wall

Don't get me wrong. I've enjoyed this Fringe so far very greatly. This is a magical time for me and I can't believe how much better it is going than I could ever have imagined, planned or indeed dared to hope for.

However, I have managed to combine four things that probably shouldn't be combined. I'm not eating a great deal at the moment, a result of a genuine desire to wean myself off junk food and to come back from Edinburgh healthier. In addition, I'm walking the length and breadth of this city (well, yesterday I stayed largely near the venue, except for a 45 minute walk to pick up my guitar amp from my car). Add to that the fact that I'm getting to bed, really late, and there's obviously some sort of conflict going on. At least I'm getting some sleep? Lovely restorative sleep?

Nope.

I have been waking up earlier than my alarm these last few mornings. This morning I was woken by a recruitment agent, whom I'd ignored yesterday. Even if he hadn't woken me up, the chances are that I would have just woken up myself anyway.

I'm feeling a sort of empty-chested exhaustion, like I've totally run out of beans. I didn't even know I was bean-powered. It's what, I believe, athletes call "hitting the wall". I've never been an athlete, but perhaps I'm being the Ashley equivalent of one at the moment. I have hit the wall before, here in Edinburgh. I can tell you what the solution to this ISN'T. In 2004, I used my constant exertions as an excuse to eat what can only be described as three square meals a day of deep fried shite.

No! No way will I do that this time. It will be smoothies, smoothies, coffee and more smoothies (coffee smoothies if possible).

I'll be out and about soon and I'm sure this weariness will disappear. I hope so... or this trip's going to drag and I'm going to come back with nothing left.

Monday, August 6

There Is No Time

My Fringe is mapped out in a diary, and it looks quite sparse. However, there are myriad demands on my time and quite a lot to achieve in the next 24 hours alone. A part of me feels exhausted like I've had very little sleep and a lot of physically demanding days in the last week, and another part of me is raring to get fully into the Festival I love in the city I still consider to be my spiritual home.

Yesterday I went and saw 5 different shows. Well, nearly. I knowingly bought tickets for two shows where one ended as the other was due to start. I hoped not to miss much of the second while leaving the first. The first overran, so I missed the first ten minutes of the other. Still, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed the first ten minutes as much as I enjoyed the last ten minutes of the show that overran.

I think my record is a 9 show day. I don't know if I'll get to do any of those this year. I have a lot of demands on my time and head-space, and, to be perfectly honest, I'm having a bloomin' marvellous time. I knew that the year would tip up on these weeks, like a see-saw with a midget on one side and a big fat heffalump on the other. I don't know if I'm either character in this metaphor. It doesn't matter.

What I do know is that I feel like I've put a lot of the troubles of the year behind me. Ok, so I still have to sort out my Reading house, but it will be good sorting. Newcastle currently feels sorted, my ex-job is a thing of the past, I've definitely moved into my own space in my house, and I've got a lot of things planned to start in the post-Edinburgh time.

Ok, so there are new problems to face from September onwards. I find the idea of starting a new job to be daunting. I also find it to be a character forming new challenge. Likewise, there's the possible tribulations of a driving ban... but none of these are the problems which hurt me in May and June.

So. I have now to run away from this Starbucks, where I've had a breakfast of coffee and fruit, and I have to sort out the technical things for the show, for which I'm meeting everyone at 1.30. Then there'll be lots of running about, culminating, I hope, in a feeling of both warmth and fuzziness, around midnight.

If this is how life's going to start feeling, then bring it on!

Sunday, August 5

I Need Internet Access

It is late Saturday night and I've had a cracking day. It's been a bit unusual in festival terms, but I have enjoyed it. I will be going to bed at some point before 5 in good spirits.

Breakfast was healthy. So far I've followed my resolve to remain on the healthy eating (according to my definition at least) plan. I didn't manage to eat again until much much later, where I munched optimistically on a sandwich on a park bench opposite the Festival theatre and had time to take stock of the day.

After breakfast I'd mooched about until I was invited to a friend's house. As I headed there it became clear that I'd have to make a flying visit. Ok. I can do that. I also misjudged my departure time, reading from a slow clock, so I had to grab a taxi to get to my gig on time. I was early in the end, and managed to have a phone chat before it started, missing the opportunity to do a sound check. This didn't matter, given that there was no audience and no Pa system to plug into. The show was run, in the end, as a dress rehearsal, with me playing the role of audience throughout, except during my 5 minute guest spots where someone else from the cast gamely took over and laughed in the right sort of places. I won't be doing their show again, owing to lack of availability, so it mattered less whether I got it right or not.

I spent the next hour or so buying a new case for my guitar, along with some new strings. I also walked across town to where I'd be meeting the acts for the evening's show and managed to send so many texts that I killed the battery of my phone. Luckily, I'd just let everyone I was picking up know where I was sitting.

We headed towards the car and I was glad that the headline act mentioned his Tv work in passing. He was someone I've not net before, but knew from his work, and I didn't want to get all embarrassed about things if it was me that mentioned it. The other act, a fan of the show in question, hadn't worked out whom he was walking with until that point. Very silly.

We got to the gig in plenty of time and had a nice chat. Though the gig itself proved not to be a barnstormer, I enjoyed myself and I think a night away from the lunacy of the Fringe was probably good. I'm not officially here until Monday, I've decided. I am, like my life, in a sort of good limbo. Still the company here is excellent.

The voice is still working. I feel like I've been on the go forever today. My house is now fully rented out, and I have had good company in various forms over the course of the day. That is truly excellent. More more.

Saturday, August 4

Fab Friday

Woke up in a bed in Newcastle. I am writing this in a different bed in Edinburgh. That's Friday for you. It's not how many Fridays go, but it's a good summary of the day. For more detail, read on.

As a quick aside, there is an art in choosing what to say and what not to say. I don't always practise it or even succeed at it. However, I sometimes say less on purpose. Sometimes, I say less because writing a blog using a phone is an arse. That's the situation right now. So here are some highlights.

I signed up a tenant for Newcastle after long negotiations. I prepared contracts and did other admin. I also repainted the interior of my front door. I grabbed lunch and drove to Stockton at around 4. I did a gig there, a half hour guitar based comedy set, and them headed to Edinburgh, with a good selection of musicals playing. I arrived in Edinburgh at 10.30.

I met up with people at the launch party for the free festival group. I kept being amazed at how many people I knew. This shows how ill prepared I am for this festival. I should at least expect to be surrounded by my comedy colleagues in the Edinburgh International Comedy Festival. What a plonker!

I unpacked my car at the flat, ditched the car in a free parking space and walked back. I like Edinburgh always. I like it during the festival. Now it is time to put all the tasks I took on this week behind me and concentrate on making the most of this festival.

I hope not to lose touch with non comedy friends or absent friends during my time here. I also hope not to piss them off too much with too much talk of a festival they are missing.

Friday, August 3

A Grand Day Out

I'll tell you this. Being unemployed seems like a lot more work than being in a job. I woke up before 8 this morning after a general lack of sleep and fitful sleep when it came. After morning coffee I was on the road to Newcastle. I had time on the journey to plan my attack. In fact I took that time to listen to a couple of musicals, but my attack was planned aswell. I multi task.

Problem one was the very bad smell of dog poo. Some motorway service station sandwiches are terrible. Joke. I hadn't eaten the poo. I'd stepped in it, apparently. It's odd. I noticed a sort of bad smell when I got in the car in London to head up north. It was on my shoe. I drove without the air con on up to Newcastle so as not to aggravate the smell and get any more of it into my nose. As I have an over step, the poo was on both the underside and the rear side of my right shoe. I reasoned that some baby wipes from the supermarket would help me to a convincing clean up operation. Either that or I'd have to pick up some new shoes in town when I went in, around lunchtime in order to meet someone for coffee whom I used to meet regularly when I lived here.

At the supermarket I bought a load of cleaning materials. It wasn't because I was going to go mental on the shoe. I reasoned that I had three prospective tenants to show around the house and it would probably look nicer if I gave things a damned good cleaning. I also bought the baby wipes. At the car the shoe proved too much for the wipes. Oh Yuck.

At my house I had a good look around and worked out a plan of action. I needed to vacuum everywhere and clean the bathroom, porch and kitchen sink. In general the place was in good condition, except the garden, which I planned to do some major clearing up in. As I was moving stuff around, prior to cleaning, I found some shoes of mine that I'd left behind. Most entered the bin, but one pair was elected new shoes of the day and the poo shoes were shooed out of my life to shimmy down the chute to get their final shallute. In other words, I threw them away.

I worked on the cleaning for a bit and then went for coffee. I was going to get a haircut, but there wasn't time to queue. I did buy a new pair of shoes. Just like the old ones. Minus the shit, of course. No pre soiled shoes in Newcastle shops yet.

Back home I completed the cleaning, working at a sweat inducing pace. I had first put the shower curtain into wash, knowing it would have mildew on it. I used some cilitbang on the tiles but ended up throwing the malfunctioning bottle away after the first use and a load of pink solvent all over the place. Still the tiles got clean. Then I changed into rougher clothes ready for gardening. I trimmed hedges and bushes and then my first viewer came, closely followed by my sole tenant.

There then followed a bout of garden tidying punctuated by viewings. This continued until the last viewer left and we finished putting the remainder of the garden waste into bags. Then we went for a curry.

As lunch had been a bagel, and since I'd been working up a sweat all day, I reckoned I'd be okay with a bit of curry and a couple of beers. I'd earned it. My tenant, also a friend, bought the curry, reasoning that my work on the house was to help him. It is, theoretically his responsibility to clean the place, not mine. Likewise the garden maintenance. The thing is, that I saw it as a part of showing the house in a good light for viewing, which is why I took it on without question. What is interesting is that I cleaned the place as though I was doing it for someone else, rather than for myself. Though it is the same building, the same cleaning tools and the same technique used, I can't clean this house like a home any more. It's not my home. I have a home elsewhere, I suppose.

Aside from that the day was punctuated by texts and calls, some from recruitment agents missing the boat and the point, and I had a lot of coffee and water to drink. I even managed to laugh good naturedly when the pay and display parking ticket, for which the machine had been selective about which coins of mine it would take as payment, was snatched from my fingers by the wind and delivered onto the railway tracks below. Well these things, like poo on the shoe can be solved by buying new.

Thursday, August 2

Wishing

In my mind, wishing for something and pretending that it is possible are too closely aligned. If I see a possibility, then I can't help but rehearse possible outcomes in my head. This runs the risk of greater heartache if the apparently possible turns out to be improbable after all. I must stop attempting to count quasi-chickens. It is keeping me awake. Or is that the coffee?

What A Day This Has Been

What a swell mood I'm in. Why it's almost like being in gloves. But that was yesterday.

I am writing this on what feels like Wednesday night, though it may technically be Thursday morning. It's been a hell of a day and I think I can call it a success. I woke up early enough to complete the rough draft of my article before having to leave the house. It was a slog. Then I packed the car and went to pick up a parcel from the post office. Such is life. Bizarrely, or perhaps predictably, the book that I bought, inspired by the recent Paris trip, was also bought last week by my Paris tripping colleague. Great minds think alike while bigger fools watch on and other fools rush in where eagles dare. I digress.

I travelled to London where I was due to watch The Drowsy Chaperone at 3. At 2 I was looking for somewhere to park near to where my evening's gig would be. As luck would have it, my book buying friend rang at that moment, and his knowledge of London got me a good recommendation for parking. I had time to buy lunch and run for the tube.

Though I'd failed to look up the theatre while at home with internet access, Google Maps on my mobile phone proved a perfect solution. I found the theatre in plenty of time and absolutely loved the show. Steve Pemberton of The League Of Gentlemen was in the lead role and Elaine Paige was in the title role. It was a lovely show and it is a real shame that it's closing so soon. I bought the Cd on the way out, which was over priced, but was, at least available to listen to immediately. I have a bunch of other musicals winging their way to me at the moment, but you can't listen to something while it is in the post, and I had a car journey to make.

Back near the car, I got my laptop and tried to use it at starbucks. I was able to edit my article to make it make sense. However their internet service was good enough only for me to be able to pay for a month's access, not good enough for me to get any meaningful service from it. Oh dear.

I drove to where the gig would be held, found another starbucks, paid for more access, just to get the password from the first time, and got my emails flowing and my article sent off. Somehow, at both the shopping centre and this starbucks my nutter magnet was in full swing. I don't know why I attract them, but I do. At the shopping centre, I got a lecture on credit card cloning from a clean drunken man. I tried to shake his hand as a way of saying goodbye, but he smartly held on to it, so I was trapped both physically and socially. I managed to release his grip with a good natured 'and now we're releasing the hand shake like this' and he seemed affable enough, just a bit lonely and fervent. It was like looking in a mirror. In starbucks, there was a young chap who had either mental health issues or just a disability and poor social skills. He was insistent on chatting even though I was engrossed in my computer and checking texts and making calls. He was also fervent and I chatted absent mindedly to him as I tapped away. He knew I was busy and seemed undeterred.

I wonder why social outcasts talk to me so. Do I have an approachable look? Do I talk back too nicely? Do they see me as a kindred nutter spirit? Is it my training as a voluntary patron of the homeless folks? I don't know.

The gig wasn't easy, but I did well enough. I had the room laughing and applauding mid song at the end, which is a good sign. The journey following it was long but was accompanied by various musicals and or radio 4 programmes.

Now I'm in Leeds at a friend's house. I am zooming up to Newcastle tomorrow. There is work to do and prospective tenants to show around.

Wednesday, August 1

Well Well Well

Given that it's 1am and I have an article to complete before I leave the house for most of the month, now is probably not the time to be writing a blog entry, but sod it. Stuff's been happening.

Thursday
Went to London after work - spoke to a woman on a train about stuff. She worked for the police. We spoke at length and I tried to make the conversation about her, rather than about me. Okay, so some Ashley facts crept in, but I was concentrating on being a good conversation partner, so I referred them back to what we were discussing about her. It all makes a sort of sense.

Friday
Left my job for good. Felt a bit weird. Felt a bit like nothing was happening. Did a leaving speech. It was okay. Went to the pub at lunchtime, but other people were in a meeting, so it was four of us. We had a nice lunch. I ate unhealthily.

In the evening I went to Brighton and did a gig. It was ok. Something wasn't quite working.

I chatted to a nice lady after the gig about her work with homelessness - she said "Hey, Mr Comedian, make a joke out of that." I declined. It started a conversation about her work. I was fascinated.

Later in the evening, I chatted to a lovely young lady on the subject of musicals - yay - and her boyfriend - woo. She out musicaled me, so I had to promise to research the show she recommended that I'd never even heard of.

Even later I had a girly sleep-over, which was really just eating pizza at stupid-o'clock with a friend. Then we went to our respective beds.

Saturday
Got up early enough to rescue my car from almost certain ticketage. Got some milk - yay - and some chocolate - not yay (well, it was yay at the time). Had coffee and tea back at my friend's place and then headed back home.

I decided to go to Argos and buy some items I needed - a CD rack and a tripod for my camera. These were bought cheaply, though I couldn't resist the lure of MacDonalds -just a chocolate muffin and chocolate milkshake. Perhaps not the wisest of choices, but they were my choices.

I went home and assembled my shelf and then filled it with digital discs.

I decided I couldn't do anything further that was useful at home, so I went, instead, to collect the remainder of my outstanding stuff from my ex-girlfriend's place. This means that everything I own now resides in a house I own (well, one of them). That's a good thing. Probably.

We decided to go and see the Simpsons movie - yay - after a meal in which we had desserts - sort of yay, but mainly overeatingy. Especially when we also had popcorn and maltesers in the cinema... and a sugary drink.

Can you spot a recurrent problem? Fatty and sugary foods. Bad for you.

Sunday
Following the lateness of the night of the Simpsons movie, and following the late night with earlyish get up that had started my weekend, I slept in on Sunday. I awoke and got on with my day's mission. I had to get a birthday card and birthday cake for a friend. I succeeded.

I also wrote a bit of the article that I needed to write.

I am responsible for booking a comedy night in London, and so I started to "fill the grid" this is easier said than done, and involves a lot of contacting random people. It's hard bloody work. Anyone who organises a comedy night is trying to juggle lots of random factors and deal with lots of earnest young hopefuls. It's depressing.

The comedy night, though, will be bloomin' marvellous.

In the evening I went to watch a friend perform at a gig in Portsmouth. This didn't really work out as planned. In the end, I was out the room lighting a birthday cake for her while she was on. Also we didn't to spend any time together, since she had loads of her friends to look after, and I was quite busy discussing musicals and other things like that, with someone.

I had so wanted to buy a watermelon from the shop next door to the venue, just so that I could carry it boldly into the venue and declare myself a mawkish watermelon carrier. However, things didn't work out like that. The shop didn't sell them, and my mawkishness was not as evident to me as it had been.

Some of the comedy that night proved excellent. Some of it proved unfunny enough to cause my sometime musicals-discussing companion to give up and leave. I padded along, not wanting to miss a final moment of discussion about musicals. This is not, entirely, an honest account of the evening.

Monday
Monday was rubble day. I hired a van. I drove it to my house and filled it with rubble and other stuff from my garage. I drove it to the tip. I waited in a massive queue at the tip and then got to off load. I discovered that the tip requires you to "file" all your rubbish in some detail. This involved some unpacking of the bags that contained a miscellany of crap. It was very time consuming.

I got a call partway through with an offer of help. I considered my male pride for a moment and then I considered the matter in hand. I had a load of stuff to move and I couldn't do it all alone. I accepted help.

Two further trips to the tip and my garage was empty. There was still rubble outside the house, but all the sacks had been cleared and the van could be returned. Plus, I had a gig to do in Oxford.

I rushed a shower and rushed to Oxford.

The gig was pulled as nobody came.

I returned home and got some sleep.

Tuesday
A late wake-up and then more of the admin, which had carried through into Monday, and which I didn't bother to mention above, relating to the gig. Must fill the grid. That's what it's all about.

I decided to move two car-loads of rubble to the tip in my car. At first, I was putting bricks in the boot and rubble sacks in the back. This worked ok, but I was running out of rubble sacks and they were leaking crap into the car anyway.

On the second load, I stuck my wheelie bin in the boot and threw the rubble into its open mouth. Oh yeah. That worked a treat. I got to unload the loosest rubble in one tipping out sort of a motion, though getting a wheelie bin half full (or half empty: in this case I'm not sure which is a more optimistic viewpoint) of rubble to come out of your car is not an easy lift.

Getting home, I set about vaccuuming the car out - I removed a lot of rubble and assorted bogeys and other crap from countless car journeys over the last year and a half (since it was last valeted).

No rest for me. I went to collect my clean washing, then to Tesco and Staples for some supplies. Then home for the ironing - many many many shirts. I packed my stuff and then it was very late.

Now it's even later.

I watched disc one of Rock Profile - it was very good. I did it while ironing and packing, so it's sort of multitasking.

I had so many admin-type jobs to do before I could get to my article, that I didn't get to do the article. I shall have to wake up tomorrow and do it now. It's so very late.

Sigh.

Still, off up North tomorrow after going to see a musical and doing a gig. Hopefully, I'll get some time in a cafe with wireless internet. It seems like the best way.

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