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Wednesday, July 6

I took the bus into town again (I'd done so the previous day too for post-work pick-up action). After work my girlfriend came to pick me up and we headed down south. We were travelling further than the previous night. We were going to Kinver, which is near Stourbridge, apparently.

There was a bit of an atmosphere in the car and some silence. My girlfriend is not as accustomed to gigging as I am and the previous night had tired her out and put her out too. It took some doing, but eventually we broke the mood. It was a warning that I can't expect her to just adapt to the silly lifestyle that I've made my own over the last couple of years. I learned an important lesson. Let's see if I can't remember it.

A few days previously, probably in our sitting-on-our-arses-in-front-of-the-TV phase, we'd watched some of Phoenix Nights. In situations like this, because I'm basically a small-minded enthusiast, I like to point to the telly and say - "I know him" or "I know her". This makes me look like I'm trying to make myself look big and clever by virtue of having worked with people who are much higher in the business than me... almost as though I am, in fact their equals. In my head, though, the real reason I'm doing it is that I'm excited. I got into comedy because I wanted to meet people who go round being funny and I wanted to be like them - in so much as I wanted to have the abilities that they have, rather than just nick their act. So, anyway, the point is that I had pointed to a particular female star of Phoenix Nights and said something like "I know her, she's really funny and I've gigged with her". This is true, and I didn't expect my girlfriend to be impressed.

Hoever, perhaps I often feel the need to justify things I say and do. For goodness' sake, look at this website - the whole thing is a network of words to set my life into some sort of perspective, whether I realise it or not at the time. I may look at this in 10 years and realise what a small-minded muppet I am now (or will be then, who knows). I digress. As we were driving to the gig, I remembered who was closing the show that night. It was the person I'd pointed to on the TV. She plays a stand-up character called Mrs Barbara Nice. As such, she is one of my favourite acts from the comedy circuit. That was something to look forward to.

We got to the gig, met the promoter and other acts and I went off to do my soundcheck. Janice, who plays Barbara is a very warm person who made both myself and my girlfriend feel very welcome and relaxed after our somewhat tense four and half hour drive. Nice one.

I opened the show and it went pretty well. I was pleased with that, as was the promoter. Another act on the bill is also a promoter, a promoter who had, for a time, booked me for a comedy tent in a music festival in September. That booking had mysteriously disappeared, which is what had set me worrying about the "racist" slur against my name... hence the previous few days' backlash. However, he assured me that it had nothing to do with the racist thing and he was pleased with how the gig went and so should be able to use me in future.

Janice had urged me and my girlfriend not to stay around on her account and to feel free to leave. However, I decided that part of the reason for going to gigs is to see some great comedy. While the comedians had been sitting out of the main comedy room during the majority of the show, we all decided to go into the venue and watch Barbara Nice close the show. It had been a good night so far and it was a packed-out room in the upstairs of a nice venue in a small town, I'd never heard of (despite having had some weird deja-vu about the directions on the way to the gig - I've been in that vicinity before, don't ask me when or why!). So, up we trotted. I stood with my back to the bar, my girlfriend stood in front of me. I had my arms around her. We laughed until it hurt, her laughter running into my hands as her body convulsed through entertainment of a wholesome and, well, nice, nature. It was a great moment.

This is one of the up-sides about gigging for me. If the drive is gruelling and my position as opening act difficult with a slow-to-warm up audience (we had the first, that night) then there's often the closing act to put it right. I might feel low and miserable in the middle of the show, but a stunning closing act can inject the joy back into me. This happened in Prestwick on 1st May, when I left the stage feeling like I wanted to cry and then had the pleasure of watching Vladimir McTavish storm it and make me want to laugh again.

So, we left Kinver happy. I drove us back home and we got some sleep.

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