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Monday, February 5

Aching

My back aches from the straining I did with that cast-iron bath. My hand aches from the combination of exertion and having been hit with a hammer. My headache has gone.

In yesterday's post, I didn't mention Friday night's gig, which had me aching from laughing. I'm assuming, though, that the nerves which sometimes give me a tight lower back, and the laughing, which can sometimes hurt my sides, have not been responsible for my discomfort this morning. Anyway, back to the story of the gig.

It was quite a cramped bill on Friday. This was my fault. I'd asked the organisers of the gig for an open spot, just so I could have a "live rehearsal" of my material in front of an audience. I have been very worried about my time away from the stage and I want as many gigs as possible in order to loosen myself back up. I think that I'll have to call an end to this worrying in the middle of the month, since it's something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I say to myself, I'm a bit tight and out of practice, so it won't go so well, and then I go out and give a twisted-tight performance which doesn't go so well. Not the best combination.

Anyway, I was due to go on second in the first section, following Sean Meo, one of the nation's chief comic performer/writers. I was waiting outside the room as he performed, so I didn't hear a word of his set, at least not clearly. I quipped to my fellow comedians, as we stood in the hall - "That's the thing about these professional comedians: they're so muffled". I went on and did 15 minutes - it had a bit of a lull in it, and a few moments where I was expecting a laugh or at least a bigger reaction, and foundered a bit as I recovered my flow. However, it was a gig that it took me less then 10 minutes to drive home from, and I got enough laughs to justify going on stage, so I'm pleased I did it.

I'm also pleased that I stayed around for the other acts. Nick Page was very good in the middle section as was newer act, Wendy Wason. Headliner, Rob Deering, was everything I wanted him to be, and more. I remember seeing Rob in 2002's Fringe and putting him on my list of must-see comedians. I've seen a couple of his Fringe shows since then and I've been on the bill with him a couple of times. It's always slightly embarrassing that his guitar playing simply urinates on mine from a great big height, but he's such a pleasant guy, and so funny with it, that I can't feel jealous, nor does he act like I'm inferior (even though we both know it).

I've seen a lot of Rob's material before, but hearing it again raised big laughs from me, and some of his newer stuff was similarly crippling. I honked and hooted through the 40 minutes or so he was on stage. It was excellent. I've missed stand-up.

So, there was laughing until it hurt, self-injury with DIY, what else could I do to myself this weekend to cause pain? Repetitive strain injury, perhaps?

Well, the jury is still out. I have so many pains in my hands, back and wrists, it's hard to say whether any were caused by the hours I spent at the keyboard this weekend. I should point out that I'm not in agony. I'm just hamming up my mild discomfort. Don't call an ambulance just yet. Whoah there.

I spent a while at the keyboard this weekend working on an article for Micro Mart. When I started writing it, I had no idea if it would hang together, or even meet the lower end of its word-count range. 1800-2400 words seems like a lot when your first word count comes in under 400. However, I used my usual technique of writing a skeleton outline of the piece and then filling in various sections once I knew what I wanted to say. As is often the case with my writing, I used a combination of anecdote and opinion, rather than vast quantities of hard technical data. It is a piece on the use of computers and the internet for cheating and I used the internet quite heavily to research it. Perhaps this is perverse? Perhaps not. I made sure that I had hard facts and sources for many of the things I asserted, which probably made it one of my better pieces. A lot less vague.

The writing had been started on my old laptop the week before last, but the new laptop proved very good at allowing me to pick up where I left off. I did a couple of hours of writing on Saturday night in front of the TV without even having to plug the machine in. Yes! A battery that works! I finished the piece off last night. I'd finished the overall draft on Saturday night, but needed to review it a couple of times to try to shave it down and to make sure it made sense. It had been written piecemeal, and the pieces needed to fit together. Each section needed a start and end, and the conclusion needed to be solid. I wasn't certain if it fit.

Despite my worries that I'd not make 1800 words, the finished piece came in at 3000 words! I had to offer the editor the opportunity to ask me to cut it further, or invoice him for a shorter piece. He seemed happy with the draft I sent him, though. Phew.

To get the finished article (pardon the pun), I used a technique that I seldom use. It works well. I speed read the piece out loud. I suppose that living alone helped me with this. While reading it out loud, I was quickly aware of difficult sentences or missed words. I hope the printed piece looks as fluent as it felt on my screen last night.

How to end the weekend? I ended it as it began. I watched some musical comedy. In this case, it was Bill Bailey's Cosmic Jam DVD. A DVD I've agonised over buying for the last year. It was alright. Bill's definitely improved a hell of a lot since 1995, when it was recorded, and the recording had a number of technical problems which probably prevented them originally releasing it. Only die-hard fans would put up with occasional camera goofs and some awful sound problems. I'm a die-hard fan.

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