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Friday, May 28

Let's nominate another:

Musical of the Day!

And it's West Side Story - I know someone who will approve of that particular suggestion.

West Side Story took about 10 years to develop. Originally to be called East Side Story and to be a story about Catholic and Jewish families struggling against each other in New York's East side, this idea - a modern-times adaptation of Romeo and Juliet - eventually came to fruition as the ultimate combination of staging, choreography, music and lyrics - conceived together to tell the story as a coherent piece. This was groundbreaking in a musical theatre world largely comprising "Gags and gals".

I was listening to the radio recently and someone commented that Leonard Bernstein's score seems to youthen. There's no doubt that this show feels more modern than a number of show which followed it. As much as I love Lerner and Loewe, they have a feeling of times gone by, where the music of West Side Story still feels hot.

As I believe I've mentioned on this site before, one of my best moments watching a musical was in the second row of Durham Gala Theatre as the overture of this show started and I was hit with a feeling of "my goodness - they're really doing it". I felt similarly when I first saw Les Mis, which hass engineered as a show to have magnitude... but West Side Story just has impact, effortlessly, it needs no engineering.

Sondheim's lyrics to West Side Story are characteristically well crafted and make use of his relentless word power.

At some point I'll post the blooper from the film sound track.

I wish I could do West Side Story, but I'm too old and not limber enough. Shame.

I'm currently listening to Marni Nixon as Maria singing a duet with Anita, played by Marni Nixon - one of the bizarre side-effects of using one dubbing singer to cover two non-singing actresses in the same movie. Bless Ms Nixon, she almost ruined the movie of My Fair Lady with her inappropriate tone and accent, but she did a reasonable job on West Side Story - again, with a flaky accent, but with, at least, the range to sing two different registers and make it sound like two different voices.

Thursday, May 27

A new challenge

Not having the guitar on stage is something of a freedom. However, I now need to learn how to take a bottle of beer on stage. I hold the microphone left handed and I wave with my right hand... where does the beer go? I don't want to put it down - I might want a sip... I held it next to the microphone for a bit... perhaps it's a personal reverb unit in that mode? Should I juggle? I don't know. Still, it's fun to find out.

My life's just weird
I can't keep track of the darned thing. Just when I'm getting used to how weird it is, I start to notice more unusual things. I was having a chat with someone on the train yesterday and was going through a series of anecdotes which I felt might amuse her. We probably chatted for about 30 minutes... and then I realised... these events had all happened within the last 6 days. That's just odd.

I woke up this morning, quite refreshed, but it was 6.35am. That's wrong! I'd only had about 5 hours' sleep. Admittedly, I'm feeling it now, but it's still wrong. I was in the wrong city too. Actually, I was in the correct city for the previous evening's gig, but the wrong one for the forthcoming day's work.

Maybe my life will seem more manageable once I've got my new phone... well, I've got it, but I'm not using it yet (give me a few moments - they have to activate it... and then let the mayhem commence!).

The Musical!
Just confirmed the Altrincham date - it's Father's Day, which is possibly a bad day for it, but maybe a very good day. I guess we'll find out. June 20th - The Altrincham Garrick Playhouse - more details on

Wednesday, May 26

Talk to the mic, not the guitar

I'm trying my hand at a bit of compereing at the moment. Plus I'm leaving the guitar at home for it. Stand-up with a guitar is fun, but I shouldn't be limited to just being a guitar act. I didn't start out as a guitar act, so I should be able to do the talking bit too. All I need is a mind and a microphone and a voice... and an audience.

A fee would be good too.

Offers to

Have I mentioned The Musical! recently? I really ought to. I'm telling everything. 3500 seats to sell in Edinburgh and we've got other previews of the show under starter's orders at the moment. More announcements to be made shortly no doubt.

This has been a weird, and yet also wonderful, week so far. I could have died. I didn't. I'm also getting a new toy. That's the summary, and now to the detail.

On Monday I sat in a building society manager's office and discussed the very adult subject of mortgages - it's time to move my mortgage to another lender - fixed rate interest periods being complete and all that hooey. Although I had to take a very serious decision, affecting up to the next 20 years of my financial future, I tried to keep it as jaunty and up-beat as possible. I closed the meeting by plugging the Edinburgh show. Result!

On Monday night I went to bed early, this was after I'd helped my musical collaborator toast the end of his exams. Admittedly, he continued toasting after I sloped off for an early bath. I had to be in bed early (and anything before 11pm is very early for me) since I had a business trip yesterday and needed to be fresh enough to take a long car journey (yes, I know I'm always doing long car journeys, but seldom for work and seldom after just waking up - at least in the morning). To be even more specific, I had to be in Chipping Campden by 10.30am and I was waking up in Newcastle. I set the alarm for 4.30am, with the plan to be on the road by 5am.

As it happens, I woke at the time I planned to, but pottered a bit (which was probably a good idea) as I got myself washed and ready for the trip. I got on the road at 5.30am, which was plenty of time to travel the 240 miles required. Sadly, the car started misbehaving after a couple of hours on the road and I found myself at the roadside, nursing a blowout. The car had started vibrating, with or without power, and then the characteristic flapping noise of the blowout hit my ears. Luckily, I managed to find a hard shoulder in a joining slip-road. This was great - I was a lane away from the traffic and only at risk from people coming down the slip road - nobody did. In addition, the blowout had been the rear tyre on my side of the car. This had not affected my control of the car too much and so was not too hairy. I think I was quite calm at the time.

I then had to decide - should I change my clothes from suit to jeans (in the road) or just get on with changing the wheel in my suit. I did it suited. Wearing sunglasses. Quite nonchalantly. I think I was probably the coolest motorist on the roadside changing his wheel that day. And I didn't die. Oh yeah! Rock!

The meeting went well and then I had some time to spend as I wished. One thing led to another and I found myself deciding to come back North up the Western side of the country, rather than via the usual Eastern route. This meant I could watch (and subsequently review) the show at XS Malarkey. I had a good night. I've never been an audience member there before - always been there to perform. I even sat in the audience bit of the room. It's a great club. We had a good laugh.

Of course tonight I'll be a comedy club too... and Friday... and Sunday... but they're in the future.

Today I also agreed to get a new mobile phone - the people at the phone company sounded really keen. They don't want any money for it... well, they do, but in the form of a new contract, which I'll happily pay - I was going to pay for it anyway! Yay! New toys!

Sometimes it's great being me.

Mind you, I'm already exhausted and my throat and chest are suffering - at least, although gigging, I'm not singing tonight. A bit more compereing... should be fun!

Must do some more work.

Monday, May 24

From Monday to Sunday I spent 6 of the 7 nights in comedy clubs. This is turning into something of a habit. I wasn't really expecting to be at gigs on Saturday or Sunday, but such is life. The last minute summons to Hexham on Saturday, which came at around 3pm, was beaten hands down on Sunday. On Saturday I had approximately 5 hours to go about 30 miles. I managed a mystery tour around Blanchland in search of a cream tea before then showering and getting there.

On Sunday, things were more complicated. I was out buying new clothes... and shoes... oh yes... shoes a go go... and I received a call. It's 5pm and I'm due in Dundee within four and a half hours - some 180 miles. Well, I didn't HAVE to go, but I thought I've have a go. I spent just over an hour in Dundee, opened the show and then got back on the road. Craziness. However, I had a fun gig - a chance to chatter with the audience and do material - it worked well for me... and them too.

Highlights were the bizarre heckles - "No, it's just a metaphor..." classic!

Sunday, May 23

I've somewhat neglected this blog for a few days, so I should do a wee summary of what's happened since Monday. That should be fun.

Did something at work - I always do something and they even pay me... yay! Then I zoomed off on the A1, M1, M62, M60 and a whole host of less interesting roads, which lead me to the lovely XS Malarkey gig in Manchester. The location of my 30th birthday, this is one of my personal favourites to play. The crowd are lovely and they didn't back off too much when I told them of a weird dream I'd had about Jordan's breasts... admittedly, they didn't laugh a whole lot at that bit either (i.e. not at all). The stuff relating to my actual act went pretty well.

Back to work. Did some things and then headed off to the railway station. I took a train to London, with my suitcase and guitar and laptop. I spent the journey on the train writing, which was fun, and then headed to a gig. The gig was a competition. I wasn't particularly good, didn't even use the guitar, and didn't get anywhere in the competition. D'oh! Still, the rail ticket was cheap enough, and the meal we celebrated my crushing defeat with - well it was pretty good.

Spent almost all of the day writing. This was rewarding. Then went into town and joined my congenial host in the act of finding entertainment. We saw the fantastic Priorite a Gauche, whom I've adored since I first saw them (and perhaps even before).

A gig had sprung up in my diary and I needed to get the car so I could get to the gig. I left London Kings Cross at 8.30am. Got to Newcastle about 3 hours later. Hot footed it to the bus. Hot footed it to the house. Hot drove it to work. Worked for a fair old bit and then hot footed it to Gateshead. My feet stank! As did my act... well, not quite, but it wasn't a phenomenal success. However, I did banter with a heckler and managed to salvage one or two routines which the audience weren't prepared to get. In fact, I shouldn't have thrown them at that audience, but you live and learn.

Had to be awake for the electricity reading man to read my meter. Once he'd been, I mowed the lawn, pottered and then received a call offering me a compering spot in Hexham. This I accepted after spending the afternoon in search of Blanchland... we managed to get into the Prudhoe loop, which was nice... and we found Blanchland - it was there all along.

The compering went ok too. Not bad for a first time. Perhaps I would have done it differently, but the audience didn't seem to be scared of me, nor I them.

Up to date
And that's about it... an eventful week and there's been a fair bit of clothes laundering going on too. That's what we like to hear... innit. Are you with me!?

Monday, May 17

A varied weekend, that's for sure. Friday night was spent at a comedy club - me at a comedy club? Yes... of course... where else. I wasn't performing, and had the pleasure of enjoying three very good acts. There was a moment where it looked like I might be called to the stage and I was without the security of my guitar. However, the call was not made and so I was able to relax and enjoy the show without any pressure to perform. As if I mind performing!

On Saturday we headed southwards to Harrogate for a stag night. The car was modified and fixed en route, which made for no end of lost confidence in its viability as our conveyance. I should point out that this wasn't my car, but that of a friend and colleague. The car defied our lack of confidence by taking us to our destination with no fuss whatsoever, though the absence of an aerial for the radio, coupled with a dodgy method of not playing tapes, meant that we had to entertain ourselves by playing "Who am I?". Fantastic game.

Arriving in Harrogate, we went to a nearby hostelry and had a couple of drinkies while the football was on. Then we went out for a meal. It seems that the effort of drinking a couple of glasses of wine and eating a bit of cheese was too much for some of our number. When we returned to the hotel for some of the lads to get changed, a couple of them sloped off to bed and never made it for the rest of the evening. Fair enough, I suppose. After all, it was nearly half past eight!

The rest of the stag night is something of a blur, but I know that it was spent toasting the groom and his bride's good health and that I may have even strutted some of my funky stuff briefly on a dancefloor. We hooked up with a hen party - in the loosest of senses - we met them, that's for sure. We drank drinks with silly names. We then left in search of some bad food to join the cocktail of bad drink.

I ended the night talking rubbish about the life science market in a small pizza takeaway in a Yorkshire market town. Most nights end this way. I'd also managed to indulge in more than one brief discussion on the subject of Musical theatre during the day's festivities. Oh, and I used the hen party as an excuse to plug the Edinburgh show - plug plug plug.

I don't specifically recall going back to the hotel, but I know I did it and I'm fairly certain that I remember going to bed. I certainly remember waking up. I woke at around 7am with a feeling of euphoria. I felt great. I needed the loo, but I'd survived the poisoning of the night before... or at least I thought I had. Until I moved. It seems that all of my body's fluids had come to a perfect equilibrium if I stayed in the position in which I awoke. Moving was a problem - it hurt somewhat. After visiting the loo, it seemed that it was hard to rediscover the position in which I'd been able to avoid the pain. I managed it though and went to sleep and dreamed...

...a series of murders were occurring and the principle subject was a woman in disguise. A lot of the murders seemed to involve people daubing the name of cheap sub-celebrity Jordan's name on walls in blood. It soon became apparent that Jordan was hypnotising the men of the country to commit murders, using her evil fake hooters of doom to control their minds. The violence had to end - but where would it end? This was certainly some sort of murder mystery, but where did the clues lead us?

I was in a supermarket. I'd gone there in a large left-hand-drive bus, which had been rather awkward to park. Realising that my passengers had left the door open, I had to return to the vehicle. Sadly a lorry driver had decided to park in the adjacent space - this shouldn't have been a problem, since the bus was left hand drive, but the only door was on the right and lorry was parked on the right too. The lorry had reversed into the space and had a trailer - sneaking past the trailer, I found a writhing person, tied up like a mummy - obviously awaiting being murdered by the lorry driver who was daubing Jordan's name inside his cab in red spray paint. Despite riling the driver, who chased me with the hack-saw implement of his Swiss-army knife, I managed to get into my bus and start backing out of the space and I backed into... into...

...never eat more than one pizza in a day. One of them was a quattro formaggio - that's one hell of a lot of cheese.

Eventually, I managed to find a sequence of water drinking, sleeping and waking which didn't hurt anymore and I awoke to a scalding (literally) hot shower and got into the car which was heading to Leeds. This was not the original plan - I thought I'd be off to find a bus, but no. I had a lift. We surprised the sister of one of our number with a visit and then I was dropped off in town.

First stop when you're in Leeds at lunchtime on a Sunday... lunch. A shop called Wrapid, which provided a very pleasant flat-bread-based lunch. Then I thought I'd buy some reading matter - perhaps a newspaper. I was stopped by a market research lady - she wanted my time and I needed entertainment. A perfect combination. I can't say exactly how I decided which brand of paint I considered "Aspirational" (that's not even a word!) or how I decided why I thought Dulux was "invigorating and exciting" (sounds like shower gel - and I've never thought of paint as a cleansing experience). Quite frankly, I've never met any of these paints as people, so how I'm supposed to answer anthropomorphic questions is beyond me. But we made some shit up and I suspect that's what the market research people are happy with.

In Smiths I found a book by a 16 year old mathematician on cryptography - for 50p. Bizarrely, I'd wanted a copy of this book for a while, so everyone was a winner: me, for getting the book, Smiths for selling the unwanted book, and the 16 year old mathematician for growing to the ripe old age of 21 and putting her writing days behind her.

Going for a wander I managed to find some refreshment and a place to sit and relax in the Merrion centre, where I was accosted by "The man who smelled of poo™" and chatted to a nice man about community projects. Then I decided to make more of the good weather and found an outdoor table to sit at in millennium square.

Then I mooched over to the comedy store and performed a couple of times. Once was a good performance with quite a good response, the second time was a good performance with no laughs - the audience didn't get it. In fairness, I don't blame them. Doing an odd character act to that audience was a bit like a live sacrifice on stage - and I was the the victim.

A good weekend. The lift home, from a different source, seemed to take next to no time. Bed came in its own time and everything slotted into place as I drifted back into the world where minor celebrities are evil deities, controlling the simple folk from the pages of the tabloids... I couldn't tell you what I dreamed, though.

And now, here's a lovely picture of some foxes:

Leeds Gong

Ah... the pleasure of the Comedy Store King Gong Show!

I did an opening ten last night in Leeds and then rejoined the gong show masses using the debut of my very serious character "Mean Mr Mustard". I say very serious since the audience cracked a smile not once during the 20 seconds the character lasted on the stage... I personally thought it was hilarious... but rather alternative.

Actually, it was a load of rubbish, but in keeping with the gong show. In fairness, I managed to hold the crowd's attention and keep my timing at an unusual pace for me. However, it seems that putting on a silly voice and talking nonsense is not all it takes to make good comedy... who would have thought it!? :)

Friday, May 14

Who would have thought that a video of a Japanese woman folding a T-Shirt would be so exciting!?

Thursday, May 13

Well... I think we've really made it now. After two attempts to buy a copy of what shall, in future, be known as "that rag" - The Shields Gazette, I've finally read it. Our first ever poor review. Our review predicted we'd be savaged or ignored by the Edinburgh critics. Our reviewer was also convinced that he was missing a series of in-jokes, directed at individuals in the audience.

Clearly not the reviewer's cup of tea. I think he was probably right to point out that the reaction to some things was over-exuberant - the crowd were very excitable, and this did eclipse some of the intended humour. However, if we had in-jokes with the crowd, I wish someone would tell me what they were. I think we do have a challenge playing the show to a harder crowd - we need the pace, but the audience need room to get the show. In this case, the reviewer wasn't swept along by the momentum of the rest of the crowd and so we lost him. Fair enough. We need to play the show to more people and see where it goes.

I'm proud of the review - you have to be really something to be panned so hard. I suspect I'll take reviews a lot more seriously once we get to Edinburgh, but for now, a two-bit local rag is not going to ruffle my feathers too much.

Wednesday, May 12

One very pleasant review in the Evening Chronicle (bottom part of page) for The Musical!


Ooooh... expensive car day.

The car is in for service and MOT... it's done over 8,000 miles since the last service. Plus it's time to renew the car insurance. If I get away from today with change for £500, I'll be a lucky feller!

Tuesday, May 11

I think that blogging is possibly one of the most useful things one can spend one's time doing. These diaries are for life... or at least, until the internet stops working... and they're written with ease. The fact that they're on display to the world affects the way you write, but then equally doesn't seem too great an issue when you sit down to expose whatever it is that's on your mind. This, for me, is the allure of this habit I seem to have formed over the last few years. I've written tons and tons of rubbish about the minutiae of my existence, which can't possibly be of any importance to anyone anywhere... and yet it has been useful.

A couple of my friends have started blogging and their sites make for entertaining and illuminating reading. Keep it up guys... it's worth it. Sometimes, it's better to write things in general terms for anyone to read than it is to try to explain yourself to one person. I've found that writing my mind (rather than speaking it) has been fun...

Ok, so what difference will it make in one week's time that I spent the evening dining with a friend and watching Vic Reeves videos? Or that we screamed with laughter at his first ever Big Night Out video and hooted at the first of Bang Bang? What difference will it make that, despite my best intentions, I failed to avoid the subject currently known as "banging on about that bloody The Musical! thing"? I doubt it will make any difference, but it's recorded now and I seldom change or delete posts from the site.

Some people read my fringe diary from 2003 and commented on the fact that I recorded my eating habits as much as I recorded the shows I saw and performed. I think it seemed, to the casual reader, a rather odd thing to commit to posterity. But how do you know what's important? Hindsight is a wonderful thing and perhaps one day I'll review all this nonsense and filter out the things that are most fascinating... and maybe it will be the fantastic cooked breakfast you can get at the Sainsbury's in the Broughton area of Edinburgh... I've no idea!

Nowadays, I write comic things for performing. There was a time, however, when I used to write comic things for reading... at least they were always meant to be at least vaguely comical - though they were often related to real-life trauma. Here's a silly letter I wrote to the makers of Branston. What a futile waste of a few minutes that was... or was it?

I've drunk so much diet coke and espresso that I think I'm starting to get paranoid... at least I've got a major stress on, for no apparent reason. Okay, perhaps part of the reason comes down to the not-insignificant quantity of money I've just dropped in the post to a nice man in Edinburgh who has finally answered the question "Can you put a price on your dreams?".

In other news, I should counter-balance the bile-ridden expletive-encrusted rant of a few posts ago. Speaking slightly more rationally on the subject of my backing down from seeing a parking ticket through to the Magistrates' Court. I wrote the most offensive and sweary of my public posts on the subject because I had no other way of venting the anger and frustration I experienced at the hands of the council. I find it exceedingly offensive and unjust to be treated in such a way by a council who are paid twice by me, once in council tax and again for the parking permit. When faced with such injustice, as part of a system that's simply too big for one person with limited finances to fight... well, what can you do? I hated backing down. I am too old and ugly to be a victim of school bullies, but the people in Parking Control held too many cards and acted in a way which basically amounts to petty bullying. I can't believe that they invented a system that is so unfair and then use it to demonise people like me. All I ever wanted to do was leave my car in a car park while I went to work - the fact that I believed I was doing so legally and still faced an unnecessarily harsh penalty is what upsets me so much.

Anyway, I can, at least, stop worrying about the problem. There's no future in it. I'd dearly love to sue the Council for bad practice leading to me being fined, but it's a shaky case at best. I'm rarely angry and I seldom feel like being violent - clearly Parking Control is one organisation sent by the angry-violent-gods to test me. I think I may have failed.

Monday, May 10

Yesterday I managed to attend the most gigs I've ever attended in one day outside of the Edinburgh Festival. It was a pretty crazy day - the craziness somewhat exaggerated by the dawning sense of come-down and exhaustion after Saturday night's festivities. Perhaps getting straight back on the horse after doing a show is the best way to cope with it... I'll let you know if I survive to the weekend.

Anyway, yesterday's series of events:
  • Wake up early - well, 8.30
  • Unload the car, which was full of the kit from the previous night - I'd somewhat voided by insurance policy by leaving it unattended in a car overnight, but nobody stole it, so who's the victim?

  • Go into town, parking at the scene of the crime (well the previous evening's show) and grab breakfast with my comedy colleague and erstwhile compere of The Musical!

  • Go home for an hour or so to relax - this involved realising that I could see my pulse in my eyes...

  • Listen to the CD for "Camelot" - the show I did with Durham Musical Theatre Company - a good recording. Indeed, it was nice to hear the voices of my Durham colleagues - especially since a lot of them had turned up the previous evening to support the show.

  • Then off to Dunston to pick up a comedy colleague.

  • A couple of hours later, we're in Edinburgh, having used my special Roman-route.

  • Then a few minutes later, we're in Penicuik. I watched the gig - attended by a small, but perfectly formed crew.

  • Hang on, we're in Peebles - how did that happen?

  • Can't hang around - I've got to get to Glasgow.

  • I'm in Glasgow - I was the first act on at The Stand - the audience were lovely lovely lovely... I left as soon as the first part of the show was over.

  • Back in Peebles - this is becoming a habit. I must cut down on my scottish small towns beginning with a P habit.

  • Watch the end of the Peebles gig... and then grab some chips. I know... I know... but I barely ate anything on Saturday. Porridge in the morning, a couple of toasted sandwiches at 1am - my stomach was playing the bongos.

  • Back on the road - listening to Classic FM's lull-you-into-a-stupor show

  • Got back home about 2.30am.
The day appeared to last about 9 seconds, but went on forever too. Weird. Anyway, everyone did well. I liked everyone I met... er... and I'm just happy to be here. My car needs servicing!

Sunday, May 9

Did you see The Musical!? Tonight around about 120 people did - enough for me to declare the show a sell out. As for declaring it a hit... well, it's up to the audience to decide - they certainly humoured us nicely by getting to their feet to let us know their answer... I'm not saying whether it was an ovation or a walk out!

I owe so much thanks to the people who helped. I think I'm in shock - the show came together. We put our trust in those around us and it actually came to fruition. I'm not saying the performances were perfect, or that the script is truly a gem, but the show was fun to do and seemed to receive more support than I'd hoped for. Wow.

I feel rather small - ironic, given the demonstration of my somewhat impressive size earlier on.

It was only an idea. I've got the notepad - a handful of pages with scribbles on, many of which made their way into the skeleton of the show we've just played tonight. It was never meant to get that far. Surely people couldn't seriously take us at our word - "Yes - we wrote this musical - we're taking it to Edinburgh". Apparently, they did take us at our word... and turned up to demonstrate their belief in the nonsense we'd been telling them.

Or perhaps it's only me that's full of shit. Chris has worked hard, believing in the show and believing in it actually happening - perhaps I've just not had the heart to tell him that I was only kidding. I'm not a finisher - I'm a starter. I don't actually carry these schemes through. I just invent them... except...

... well we did. We pulled it off. A host of things went wrong, but by golly we got through the show. We dealt with the problem with the microphone at the start, which nearly cost us the show. We managed to do the love scene without the foot pedal for the piano. We managed to rearrange a few lyrics here and there... but dammit, the audience probably didn't know. Any of them reading now will realise.

And I enjoyed myself.

I really had a good time.


Only 25 more shows to do!

Thursday, May 6

Wednesday, May 5

Yesterday was a funny old day all in. I think I had about three entirely different days in one. There was:

Red mist morning
There's no doubt about it. The morning was not good. I have been fooling myself about a parking ticket. I've been fooling myself that I can cope with being subject to criminal proceedings for not paying it. I know that I am in the right. I know that Newcastle City Council's Parking Control have been a bunch of unfair jobsworth cunts who do not deserve to be paid MY money to do a job which ultimately takes more money to pay them to be even more cunts than they already are. If this is legally offensive to the cunts then let them know one thing. They're cunts and I've proof.

I have a parking permit to park in Manors car park. This permit entitles me to park in a permit space between 8am and 6pm every day. On one wet day a few weeks ago, I parked in a permit space between the hours of 10am and about 5pm... returning to my car I found a parking ticket. What had I done wrong? Well, I'd misjudged the border between the permit spaces for Gold Permits and the permit spaces for Gold Plus Permits. Why are there different spaces? Well, the Gold Plus Permit holders get to park for longer... ah... but why do they need a different sort of space to do that? Because the Parking Control people are cunts? probably... probably.

Anyway, I appealed against the 60 pound ticket (30 if paid promptly) on the grounds that it was a genuine mistake, I was parked within my time, the parking had been paid for and I was one space - yes, one space away from the place they wouldn't have ticketed me in. They rejected my appeal.... and I'd even been nice to them. I hadn't called them a bunch of fucking wank-shaft jobsworth cunts who deserve to rot in their own faeces.

I appealed again and this time explained that the signage was dodgy (it is... perhaps I'll take a picture) and that the car park was exceedingly busy - I couldn't be certain that there was a regular gold permit space available. Again... they've been fucking paid for my right to park in their poorly maintained shit-hole of a car park... perhaps they can do something a little more sensible than fining their own customers for using parking facilities... Oh no... apparently not. £60 please (no £30) or "We'll take you to the magistrates' court". Ok, says I, in reply. If the only place you're prepared to discuss it is in court, then I'll see you there...

Then I get a letter explaining the consequences of actually going to court. Pay the fine, pay court costs, pay compensation - because it's tough being a bunch of fucking nazis - it really takes it out of you - pay a fine imposed by the magistrates court for being a criminal (because parking a car is against the law you know) and spend 10 minutes in the lift of the car park with deathly gas coming at you... actually, that last bit I just made up.

A couple of sleepless nights later - anger more than fear. I decided to ring up and resolve this matter amicably. I don't want to go to court. Especially since the charge was "not paying a parking ticket" which I can't deny... I hadn't paid it. I didn't want to. If I lost my temper in court - and that was likely. I'm seeing the red mist now and I'm not even under any pressure - then I would have lost the case. The only chance of winning was to come across as reasonable to the Magistrates and catch them on a good day - too big a risk. So I tried to negotiate my way out of the situation.

To all the people at Newcastle City Council Parking control, who are, as I mentioned previously, a bunch of fucking imbecile-cunt-jobsworth-hate-filled-shit-for-fucking-brains-cunts, I say this. I forgive you. No. I don't. I paid your fucking charge - even though you refused to, at least, drop down to the initial £30 which I would have paid if I hadn't dared to appeal against your stupid fucking system. I paid the £60 to keep you quiet and to remove the stress. I do not agree with the system. Nor do I agree with the way it's policed. The irony being that I'm paying council tax for these people to continue their reign of terror, and my employer is putting regular funds in their cash-laden-nazi-pockets for the permits which permit me to be a victim of the jack-booted cock-suckers.

So, I was very cross in the morning. Luckily the mood was broken by this picture:

Click to enlarge

Classic! I laughed uproariously and it didn't seem to hurt as much...

Off on a journey
I left the office went shopping for some various items and headed for the station. I regret the fact that I did not watch where the end of my guitar was headed... it knocked a sandwich out of the hand of a passer-by. Admittedly, he should have been looking where he was going too. The sandwich was ruined and he threw it away. I was upset for him - after all, I was at least partly responsible. I asked him whether he'd allow me to replace it for him and he refused. I suppose if you're going to hold your sandwich badly, you have the right to be proud about replacing it. Shame. I could have bought him a sandwich and we could have become friends - maybe travelled the world. Maybe gone to Cleethorpes... but no.

I got on the train and warned the lady beside me that I was about to do something odd. I pointed out that I knew it was odd and so, therefore, it shouldn't seem scary. I won't spoil the reveal for those people who read this and who will be seeing The Musical! in a couple of days, but my train journey was spent sewing. I'm not much of a seamstress, but I learned a lot over the course of the journey.

My companion turned out to be in the fashion industry, so we chatted about that for a while as I ineptly sewed away. If only I'd had a rocking chair and a roaring hearth too.

Gig night
Then I went into gig mode. I did a very nice arts centre in Cranleigh, Surrey. The audience were small and perfectly formed. I threw some stuff at them with pop-music references that 65% of them would not have got... but I made it work anyway and acknowleged that they weren't really radio 1 listeners... always play the room you have...

As gig nights go, it was a treat. I ended up in bed at reasonable hour, had a couple of beers during the gig and woke up at a reasonable time ready to go to work. On this occasion, my bed was 300 miles from the office, but I had a morning off in which to narrow the distance. Good stuff.

Tuesday, May 4

Monday, May 3

Just had a good night out at a gig - as you do... well... as I do.

As I was introduced, the compere took a guess at my "comedy mileage" - in terms of how far I've travelled for gigs since I started doing stand-up. While I don't expect anyone else to know how far I'd travelled, it struck me that I've not really worked it out myself. So I just did. It was suprising. On a combination of trains and (mainly, sadly) my own car, I appear to have travelled within a couple of hundred miles of 20,000 miles! That's a lot of miles.

I enjoyed doing a local gig tonight. It was really quite near. Very convenient.


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