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Tuesday, August 10

E is For

Well, E is for Edinburgh, obviously. It's also for Elephant, Escapade, Epsilon and Extra Extra Large, but only the last of those (with a hint of the first) actually applies to me this evening. I'm preparing for Edinburgh, which has taken many forms, some of which have been rehearsing (or not) and some of which have included just thinking about, or nearly doing stuff.

The way to kick start my Edinburgh final packing preparations involved going through my wardrobe and kicking out my quite-fat clothes, in the acceptance of the fact that my very fat clothes are de-rigueur (there's a spelling I had to look up) with a body like this. Fine. So I'm fatter than I've been at the Fringe ever and have one of my most demanding schedules. Fine. I'll burn off the flab (or die trying).

The next step was to get out my soldering iron. I find it easy to be slowed down by things I know I'll find easy and enjoyable to do but haven't managed to do yet. It's not the doing. It's the starting. The simple act of firing up (well, plugging in) the soldering iron so I could convert one of my leads (hopefully one that WAS dodgy and has now had the dodgy bits cut off) into a nicely tamed guitar lead with a right-angled end (which turns out to be very very useful) was all it took. Finally, I was on top of my Equipment. This it the major E for this year's Fringe. My show is very equipment intensive and I need to have stuff with me. I need spares. I need leads.

The soldering wasn't the easiest task in the world, mainly because it's not very desirable to hold a rather hot thing that you've just heated to the melting point of solder. However, I soldiered on (see what I did there) and the lead is ready for trying out on Thursday, which is my next gig.

Next I turned my attention to the guitar bag. I can't remember when I bought this bag. It may be three years old. It might be older. It was bought in Edinburgh and has been falling apart ever since, largely because someone (me) keeps overfilling it and then dragging it around. In a previous year a little gaffer tap was put on the bag. I've just given it a full gaffer tap make over. I've even made little envelopes for all the shit that usually gets lost in the depths of the pockets, so hopefully I can keep the whole thing under tighter control. In short the guitar is now in a better carrying bag than I've been using.

Did I mention that I restrung my two main acoustic guitars this weekend? No? Is that because it's not an interesting thing to talk about? Well, even so, there's a fringe benefit to having done that. Firstly, the guitars look lovely and shiny and new (I polished them too) and secondly there is a load of clipped guitar string bits in my study bin. This turns out to be a very useful thing to have around when you've got a prop to fix.

For the previews of the Seven Deadly Sings, I had a kneepad with a sleigh-bells attachment. This was made by screwing the rubber mounting of the sleigh-bells into the knee pad. Though the pad is made of, well, padding, the screws penetrated the outer material and seemed not to want to go anywhere... except that one side would have a habit of falling out once in a while.

When I was recording the Christmas Song For Jews track for the CD, I decided to disassemble my sleigh-bells kneepad and play the sleigh-bells by hand, tapping the assembly into my hand to avoid the bells ringing even longer and even more tinny-like than they already did (sorry to people with tinnitus who end up getting the CD). Anyway, my sleigh-bell kneepad was in pieces. This is the sort of problem that can dog a man on his way to the Fringe.

I've been stressing over the absence of my nice bag of cable ties - a sure-fire solution to the problem of the knee-pad. The answer, my friend, is that nobody knows where they are. By which I mean that I don't know and nobody else cares enough to search. Why should anyone care, it's 50p worth of plastic. How can I more permanently fix my sleigh-bells to the kneepad (noting the fact that I don't want it to be totally permanent as I may one day stop playing sleighbells and start tiling floors again)?

It's like when we watched Toy Story 3 the other day and I knew how the characters would be saved from their ultimate peril; you look for the thing that's been set up, the characters that are missing, and work out that they're going to come in and save the day. Yes. The Guitar String People Save The Day.

I used a D or maybe G string from my bin as a cable-tie. It poked nicely through the kneepad and threaded into the sleigh-bells strap. A bit of cable twisting and some gaffer taping and the deal was done. Boom.

This is a lot of information about not very much. I feel like I busied myself nicely tonight, and I feel a step closer to Scotland's capital. It also feels like it'll never be Friday afternoon at this rate.

The internet is not being a help. It's either full of the silence that indicates that everyone has better stuff to do, or full of the snippets of info that prove that they're having way more fun than I am. Reading reviews, good or bad, is a distraction, but a recipe for no major happiness.

I did discover the worst sort of review that can be given, though. A review that's negative, and absolutely reasonable and fair comment; that surely must be the worst sort. There's no get-out clause. You can't say "they didn't understand me" because this sort of review proves that it did. You can't say "it was a bad show" because the review's got that covered. You can't say "they don't know what they're talking about" because such a review not only knows its own business, but probably knows more than the reviewee does about what the reviewee was trying to achieve. A reasonable bad review will pretty much subtract the obvious from the picture and just leave the features. Imagine a picture of your face with only either your spots or blemishes, or your perfect features visible. It wouldn't be a caricature. It wouldn't be unreasonably harsh or glowing. It would just be the truth... and if it said you weren't up to much, it would be the worst sort of "mirror mirror on the wall".

This is why I don't really want to read any review of my show until I've done the last one... yet I suspect I'm too weak to avoid it.

E is for "Expectations".

That's an abrupt end to this, but nobody expected me to go on forever.

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