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Thursday, April 28

This was an important day at work. We had a number of important things to get on with. As a result, I hit the office before 9. This is not my normal habit and so I was already on the back foot. However, I was committed to getting the job done. There are a few reasons for this. One of them is that I want to keep my job. The other reason is that I am responsible, either directly or indirectly, for the livelihoods of other people in my company. I recently found some criticism of something I wrote on this site about team work and company ethics. This is the benefit and down side of googling for yourself. My "critic" described me as one of the country's hardest working comedians, which is a nice thing to say - I do work hard at that, for some reason... probably because I enjoy it and I enjoy improving. The reviewer then went on to describe my ethics as rubbish and just a way of pandering to the fat-cat company that is exploiting me and my foolish co-workers. This could well be true in some companies, but there's a simple reason why it is not true in the relatively small company I work for.

If our company goes bust, we all lose our jobs. If we nearly go bust, some of my colleagues (or me) will lose our jobs. If we make the right products well and sell them, then we won't go bust. If we make them very very well and sell them very very well, then we'll profit. That's "we", not "them". It doesn't matter whether I have a profit share in the company I work for or not. I'm paid well enough to keep myself in the style to which I have become accustomed, and I know that my level of pay reflects the fortunes of the company at the time when my pay is reviewed (well, in so much as I know there aren't generous pay rises when things aren't looking too strong). So, if we all work hard to make the company successful then we have a lot more stability. Our hard work is recognised - by each other and by management... more importantly, it's recognised by the people who actually use what we make. In other words, my work has an importance. I've known this for some time and, in the same way as I've known for some time that my healthy eating regime, or lack of, will have a significant effect on my quality of life, so I know that giving 100% and getting the job done at work will do so too.

Simple.

Anyway. I had the "day which never stopped" in the office. I didn't have time for lunch, I didn't have time to breathe, it was just event after event. It was very very stressful. I had to be in Edinburgh for a show which started at 9ish, so needed to do a sound-check at 8.45. I had been down as the MC of the show, but was promoted to act by the promoter at the last minute. Since the same promoter had, on a previous occasion, done the exact opposite, there was a nice symmetry to it. I left the office at 6pm and headed North. It had been a very demanding day and I was rather frazzled. I was also hungry, but I had to make do with a can of diet coke for company. This wasn't some attempt to be moderate with the eating, just all I could grab before heading to Edinburgh. Using the 80/20 rule, the critical thing was to get to Edinburgh, if I could stop for food when it was clear that I wasn't going to get delayed by doing that, then I could stop for food.

I like driving. This is a good thing considering how much of it I'm doing at the moment. The journey to Edinburgh passed by in a haze and I was soon at a petrol station on its outskirts. It was a Tesco petrol station. Technically, it was an Esso with a mini Tesco attached. Now, I have a theory about these little petrol stations. They're all the same inside. That's not my theory. That's just a fact. Okay, so they are not all exactly the same inside, but there are many where I've done a double-take going in because the environment is identical to the one where I do a hell of a lot of my shopping on the West Road in Newcastle upon Tyne. The theory - there is only one shop. They simply built a magical portal to take you from the doors of where you are to the central shop. The portal knows how to deliver you back to where you came from and the shop is rigged so you only run into customers who came in from your entrance. That's my theory. It's rubbish. However, I wandered into the mini Tesco and saw a face I knew. He was a member of staff and we both looked at each other, clocked each other and said the same thing - "Shouldn't you be at the West Road branch?". Weird. All of a sudden my theory was proved. There is only one... there was just a bug in the system bringing Dan from the West Road into my world. Actually, he's a roving member of staff and my theory is still rubbish. He served me, for old times' sake.

I got to the gig on time, did my sound check, tuning an extra guitar, and was instructed to do a long time on the stage. I went for a strategic pre-gig poo. Now, while I was in the lavatory, I decided to work on some material. I had two routines that I was interesting in working on. One was basically written, but just needed learning - as spoken material (about medication) it required more learning than just another song. The other bit of material I wanted to work on was a song about racism. I had decided before this gig that I would use the gig and the run of gigs over the weekend as a way of trying out and refining some new piece of material. I assumed that it would be the medication material; I'd not quite managed to find exactly how I wanted the song to go and I didn't think it would really ever take shape.

An old teacher at my school used to have a maxim - "If you want something doing, give it to a busy man". There was no doubt that I had been a busy boy over the last few days and perhaps my mind was still working at the busy rate. In fact, I know it was. I was ready to write my song. Can one write a song on the toilet about 30 minutes before performing it? Yes. Technically I didn't quite write this song on the toilet. I had all of the core material, and the set-up verse already worked out. I had some of the middle bit clear in my head, but I didn't know exactly how to fit it all together into a neat piece of work. Once my arse hit the seat, I knew what to do. It was an epiphany - an epoophany, even.

So, I did my set. It wasn't an easy gig and I played with a heckler a little too much, perhaps. I know this because I recorded the gig using my new toy. I used the brief writing period to put me in a position where I had to improvise how to make my new song funny. It was okay, but needed a bit more work. Largely, it needed work on the delivery - it also lacked a punchline. However, having written a lot of source material for this song before actually distilling it into a couple of verses, I had enough spare to find my punchline, which I inserted for the remainder of the run of gigs.

The gig went well for the other comedians and I headed out of a happy room to meet up with the friend who was putting me up for the night. I would finally get the chance to use my new sleeping bag. Yay. The excitement.

Late night conversation before the sleeping bag was very pleasant - largely about the world of comedy. It's bound to be a colourful world! I slept happy.

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