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I'm still not 100% today. I've still got the Berti...
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Spoken Word Last night I entered a Poetry Slam. I...
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Just listening to the musical Song and Dance, as p...
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Monday, November 8

I've a little more time than usual to write this blog entry, so I hope I can use it to my advantage and craft some words that are worth reading.

On Friday, I had precious little time to comment on anything other than the fact that I was still suffering from a case of the Berties (let's just call that some sort of ailment of the body) and that the day was going awfully badly. I didn't get the chance to mention anything of the previous evening's entertainment, which is best summarised as going out for drinks, which was enjoyed simultanously with not going to a comedy night that turned out to be a bit of a washout. I enjoyed the evening immensely as a result of a good choice of company and activity. Perhaps it was more enjoyable because it nearly fell through. However, you had to be there to really have any measure of the evening and since, for the majority of people reading this, you weren't, and since I already pledged to try to make this an interesting piece of writing, I'd better move on.

Incidentally, I received a few emails today from someone who randomly stumbled across some of this site while searching for something else. What can you do under those circumstances? A complete stranger suddenly knows some personal stuff about my life? Is that meant to be embarrassing? Should I attempt to forge a bond with this person since fate and google have brought us in contact for apparently no worldly reason? Or should I cynically suggest that they buy tickets to see Guys and Dolls in February. The latter, I'm afraid. Bums on seats, performances and wires. That's what it's all about.

Anyway, back to the summary of the days between blogging.

Friday
This was largely spent in a haze of activity in the office. I rather like a busy day since the time does fly by pretty much of its own accord. Sadly it flew by in a way which prevented me from feeling like I'd achieved anything of discrete value, but fly by it did. Could the next working day be as absorbing (after a period where perhaps I've found my working life somewhat less than absorbing)? Well, you'll have to see when I get to the bit about Monday. Don't read ahead now. First things first.

Part way through the day, I rushed into town to buy a pair of dice. I needed them for one of the shows I'm involved with. You'd think that it would be Guys and Dolls, since this is a show about crap shooters. In a surprise turn of events, I was getting hold of the dice for a rehearsal for South Pacific, which, to my knowledge, has no mention of dice in it. The idea, I believe, was to use them in some sort of role-playing situation (that's acting, not dungeons and dragons). Dice should not be a difficult thing to source. I headed to one of the role-playing shops (that's dungeons and dragons, not acting) in order to procure some spotted cubes. Dice were readily available. Indeed, I was quite able to buy some battle dice, which appear to be normal dice, but coloured red. However, I had no need for 36 of the little blighters and reckoned that I'd prefer to part with pence, rather than pounds for the privilege of ownership. I was directed to another shop, one which sold dice, figurines, magazines and Star Trek videos. Oh yes, I had entered the world of geekery, wizardry and nerdery. Given that I work in front of a computer, sit in front of various screens the rest of the time, and have sympathy for sci-fi, I was worried that this shop might have the power to change me into a true geek, rather than a citizen of the real world, temporarily geeking for cash on a daily basis.

I escaped my shopping trip with 90 pence worth of dice and no immediate urge to watch Star Trek Voyager. Later in the day I would, in the spirit of completing my catalogue of props for the evening's session, print out a picture of a 1940's film star - I chose Ingrid Bergman - I chose her because I have limited imagination and reckoned (correctly) that Casablanca was probably made in the 40's. 1942, I believe.

Following work, I drove to my rehearsal. I arrived early, but that wasn't a problem. Had I left later, I would have arrived on time, but I might have risked getting a parking ticket, and we all know how much I despise parking tickets. Anyway, I got the chance to sit in my car outside of the locked rehearsal space and sing through the three songs in South Pacific that I'll be involved with, provided I have the energy and availability to go to full term with this crazy notion of performing in two full scale musicals in the same month.

We needed neither dice nor photographs during the rehearsal.

After all was duly rehearsed, I scooted to a comedy night in Newcastle, where I watched an open spot do his second gig. All I could think of was that this guy wanted to appear like Bill Hicks. Maybe I'm getting all Bill Hicksed out. When I see someone ranting and raving about something totally unimportant, I immediately assume that they've seen Bill Hicks and concluded that ranting and raving is, somehow, an intrinsically valuable and funny thing. It's not. Ranting and raving about something with depth can be a truly amazing experience to watch and one can laugh, provided that the thing you're ranting about is big enough to warrant the passion. No amount of selling is going to make me thing that a full on rant about Sunderland being "a bit downmarket" is really very funny. Actually, the gig, as a whole, was not especially easy in the end, which is a shame, because it can be a lovely room. However, the headliner did his job beautifully, even explaining why the audience should not be so uptight about a Ken Bigley gag. Ah yes. The cheek of a Ken Bigley gag. I find it funny when people attempt to get away with something which really doesn't amuse audiences (though comedians are a different matter)... in this case, the guy did it. Big respect to him too. He came out of it with the audience still on side. It was a good gag too... well, a bit more inventive than most.

Saturday
How can I put this? Saturday was the best day I've had in a very very very long while. Well, actually, last Saturday was, but this Saturday was the best Saturday I've had since, and was certainly the best Saturday I've had in a very very very very long while which began with me waking up at home. Everything that I'd hoped to fit into Saturday was successfully fit into it. Given the way I live my life, this is no mean fit. The first success of the day was getting out of bed before 10am. On a Saturday! I know! Crazy! I had a plan. Breakfast. Toasted bagels with cream cheese dripping off them, along with a nice "Cilky" - that's a milky coffee.

Next off, I sat in my little office and listened to a radio programme I'd missed the previous Saturday. This show broadcasts at 1.30pm and I was planning to listen to the last episode en route to Scotland, so thought I'd catch up on the previous week's before I set off. I also found a show called 15 minute musicals, and listened to a witty 1 act 15 minute musical about the life of Jeffrey Archer. While I was listening, I thought about the most recent series of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, none of which I'd heard, but which were available in digital form for me to download. So, I downloaded them, the idea being that I could burn them onto a CD for my in-car listening pleasure. The problem is that the car CD player didn't work. I think it stopped working in late January or early February. Possibly earlier.

So, after a shower, I headed out to the car and took the unit to pieces so as to fix it. I've done this countless times before and I succeeded in getting it working again. Ok, so I accidentally installed it facing round the opposite way to normal (this goes against habit, rather than its behaviour), but I got it working.

I then managed to get going on my journey to Scotland only 20 minutes later than I'd intended. During the trip, I listened to 3 comedy radio programmes (2 on CD, one broadcast) and some of Guys and Dolls. This was going well. I arrived in Edinburgh just in time to be let into the flat of the person I was visiting by her flatmate. I then fixed the computer I'd promised to fix. Ate the light lunch I'd been promised in return for the fixing of the computer, speedily (like, in 5 minutes) wrote a song which turned out not to be stageworthy, but entertained us anyway, and then, with my companion in tow, got onto the road Dundee-bound. Admittedly, it was about an hour later than I'd planned, but this proved to be no problem.

We arrived in Dundee in plenty of time, met one of the lads who was running the gig and did possibly one of the longest sound-checks/room-setups in my gigging history. The time needed to get the sound working was a 20th of the time we spend messing on with the microphone and guitar, once everything was ok. It's nice to do a warm up.

The gig threatened to be a tough one, but I close the show and gave 25 minutes of Ashley gold... and really enjoyed it. In fact, despite the constant stream of heckling - they were enthusiastic, not hateful - or maybe because of it, I found it a very enjoyable experience with lots of little spontaneous moments in it.

After the gig we went back to the flat everyone (comedians and friends) was staying in and had a late night session of eating Chilli, drinking coffee and talking shite. The shite was talked into the wee small hours, until we each found an appropriate bed or sofa and crashed out.

So why was this a good day? Well, it had a bit of everything - a nice breakfast, some entertainment, a nice gig, good company, travel and talking shite.

Sunday
This was the day to get back to the North East. People go away for the weekend. I go away at the weekend for a day or so here or there. I had someone to drop in Edinburgh as I, myself, had to rush to be back in the North East. I was due to perform in a gig whose location I didn't quite know. The idea was to be back home in time for the organiser of the gig to pick me up. When I received a text, somewhere on the A1 between Edinburgh and Berwick, that the gig was off, I was more relieved than disappointed. It would be disappointing if the gig were on and my appearance in it were cancelled, but I don't mind the occasional gig being cancelled. I'd been worried that I might lose the ability to do a good gig after a few days out of the loop, and I'd also worried that I might not be able to sustain my act for longer than 10-15 minutes, after so long not having done more than that. Given how well Dundee's gig went, under harder than normal circumstances, I didn't feel like I needed more practice immediately. So, I was glad of an evening in the home to recuperate from a busy week gone by.

Sadly, my resolve to look after myself had failed me, and I ended up consuming a vast quantity of calories while sitting on my arse and watching a movie. Blazing Saddles is a good movie, and my new-found love of Mel Brooks was greatly indulged as I watched it and then resaw 50 minutes of it while a Mel Brooks interview (not commentary) played alongside it. It was odd realising that the interview bore no relation to the specific bits of action I was watching - there were occasional synchronicities, which kept things interesting.

I went to bed early, and went to sleep.

Monday
Now, although I hadn't expected the lure of the sci-fi world to be that great, I must confess that I got up at 4am, went downstairs and watched about half an hour of Star Trek Voyager. This, I hasten to add, was not planned. I have been suffering from rather bad back ache in the night of late. I'm fine during the day, but when I sleep, I must be contorting into a position that puts me into some sort of pain. Thus, I wake up and cannot get into a position which doesn't hurt. The solution is to get out of bed and wait for it to pass. I really didn't want to be up from 4 in the morning today, so I watched some TV until the pain passed and went back to bed. It took a while to get back to sleep - the TV watching having woken me up - but I got there in the end and was suitably late for work through oversleeping.

Hopefully these aches will pass. Maybe it's belated growing pains. Maybe it's the new-found tension in my belt. Maybe I need to do more exercise. Or perhaps I need a massage. Time will tell.

I had been concerned, over the weekend, that my role of team-leader was missing one vital aspect - a plan of action for my team. It's not up to me to decide this, but I should be certain that we have one. If there's no plan, how do you know if you're doing the right thing? Luckily, my role is more of a figure-head than it is to be the only one with a brain and my team came through today to define its own goals. I'm really pleased with the work we did on this. We planned an 11.30 meeting for an hour and didn't emerge until 2pm, but we emerged motivated and with a coherent plan of action. This is a good thing.

As a result of the late morning, the long meeting and a quick trip into town to buy the team some congratulatory biscuis, the day seemed to fly by. Indeed, I left the office at 6.30pm not really feeling like I'd had a particularly taxing day.

Sadly, I couldn't bring myself to do anything useful in the evening.

So I wrote this.


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