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Take That China!
The Continuous Descent Into Madness
You've Been Cancelled
Sort Yourself Out eBayers
The Art of Not Writing
Give Me Your Voice
Not Another Virtual Choir
Demented Reality
My Way of Losing My Mind is Quite Constructive
I'm A Cilla Black Fan On Bike

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Friday, November 30

A Night On The Tiles

Work was a day of two halves. The morning was in the office, running round and doing things (I think). The afternoon was off site, sorting things out remotely. I even had 10 minutes for lunch, which was a quick sandwich on a bench outside the supermarket where I bought it. Good times.

When work finished, and I set an end time, partly for the benefit of the person I was meeting with. I headed back to the house. I had a fully working kitchen, handed over by the builder. I took some measurements of things that needed to be bought and headed out to B&Q.

I bought skirting board and architrave and also hit on the idea of buying some tiles to tile the splashback in the kitchen. I had to go on my guesstimate of the surface area I'd be tiling and I've no idea how wrong I got it. I will be finding out at some point.

Returning to the house, I then set about putting on the skirting board in the places where the builder hadn't. I had previously bought some edging to act a little like an architrave where my kitchen door frame met the wall rather awkwardly. I did the necessary cutting and fixing of this. With some use of my circular/mitre saw, and with only a few glitches, I soon had 5 sections of skirting board attached with two reasonable mitre joins in place. Once a little filler and a lot of paint has been applied it will look totally bonza!

I also did some skirting around the pipe boxing I did upstairs, This is going to require too much filler to make the joins between the new skirting board and the existing skirting board, but it will also look mint when it's done, so good times!

Then I set about the tiling. It soon became apparent that I'd not bought enough edging, nor had I any idea how to make all the edging look good with the various complicated edges that would occur with my tiling scheme. I glued the edging to the wall where I saw fit - largely to provide the line to tile against. This took a long time. I started to do some tiling. This proved to take a long time too. I think the results will be worth it, but it's going to be a pig of a job.

After I'd done enough tiling for my own liking, I did some washing up. Of plates and everything. I'd not used them myself, but still, it's real washing up. It's the first proper washing up I've done in the house and the first of any washing up I've done since April.

I got to bed safe in the knowledge that I'd not yet destroyed my kitchen, but that it's not ready to call finished by a long way.

Selling Snake Oil

It seems that I'm on the border of three possible scenarios. Already this sounds like the sort of post which makes me sound manager like. So to geek myself up a bit, I'll admit that this post comes to you direct from the lavatory via mobile phone, and that I'm really chuffed with the phrase sort of post since sort and post use the same keys in predictive text. Likewise chuffed involves hitting 3 four times to get the last bit, and even has the hitherto unheard of word citeded in front of it in the suggestions list. To be honest, citeded is probably not a word, still it may work for scrabble. Phew I'm not being so much the manager now, eh?

So, three possible situations. Either I'm going around making a noise, distracting everyone, but claiming a personal PR victory in the process. Or, I'm actually getting to the bottom of some deep rooted technical and process oriented issues and solving them in some way, albeit by proxy, rather than by doing anything. More likely, though, I'm just going around telling everybody what they should be telling each other, and discovering that this has some sort of value.

People are treating me like they think I might be useful. I don't want to let them down, but I'm still unclear why they think it. I suppose I will have to make some use out of myself.

Thursday, November 29

Near Miss... Nearly

It's been a day of car-related near misses. I've been especially cautious about the car since I had to take it to be mended and the woman essentially said "What did you do?" which wasn't fair since I didn't do anything... it just kinda happened to me. Anyway, I had a meeting off site today, which I knew about, and which I'd prepared for by parking somewhere near the exit where I couldn't be easily double-parking-ed in. I'd even arrived at the office early enough to do this, though the reason I arrived early wasn't for parking.

I arrived early enough to receive an email explaining that I'd opened my mouth to put my foot in it. I later solved this problem in some manner of speaking by opening my mouth to put pasta in, but I digress.

When it was time to leave for the meeting, I had to back out of my car parking space and I was far too close to the cars behind for comfort. It took a lot of wangling, but I made it and I didn't get close enough for damage. Result.

One late-running session with the meetingees later and I was home for a quick change and decided to back out of my street. Thankfully I noticed the pram being pushed behind the car, or that would have gotten messy. Very messy. Thinking about it, that might have happened this morning, rather than this evening, but the memory is cheating on me, so let's keep this version of the narrative, shal we.

At my gig, in a car park near Uxbridge (the following event, not the gig - the gig was in the pub that owned the car park) I arrived as a car was not so much parked as dumped. It was in the way and I could have squeezed past it, risking scratchage. But no. I think the look on my face caused the driver to repark. Thanks.

No damage to my car so far, then.

I did the gig. It was fun in places and a bit of a drag in others. Perhaps my own energy dropped, I know I was only in control of the room some of the time. They seemed to have fun with it, so fair play.

Then. In the car park. Some reversing. A car entering the car park at speed. Cruncherooney.

Not my car, though. I was a mere witness. Phew. I made sure everyone was ok and in control of their temper before leaving. I think the moment of sympathetic eye contact with the driver who did the driving into, was enough to do and then I left them to get on with it.

I drove back to Reading, went to an M&S Simply Food and got some jelly. It seemed the right thing to do. I carefully dodged the STUPIDLY parked JEEP that had been abandoned on the forecourt by another IDIOT and drove home.

Haha. No damage to my car today. One two three BONZA!

The kitchen is even largely complete. Just one more electrical device to install and then we're done. How cool is that!? Pretty cool - there's nothing to be scared of.

A long day.


So far today the time has flown by and I've been engaged. That's good. There's no brooding when that happens. I have a great wish to be absorbed in what I'm doing. I worry about doing the right thing and about putting myself forward in such a way as would leave me at risk if things go wrong, yet I can't take a back seat and also remain engaged and have a chance of success. So, you just have to jump down the ski slope and make the necessary corrections as you go along.

As far as I can see it, I've the capacity to jump in feet first and screw up, but hopefully I've the capacity to undo stuff too. When I was a kid I once took apart the family's waste disposal unit from the sink. It was broken, but my attempts to fix it ended up in a total rebuild as I foolishly caused more and more of it to come to pieces in my hands. I believe it's still working now after I stayed up that night piecing it back together. Admittedly I put one bit on a bit wrong, but you can't have everything. I was totally engaged and at risk then and it was great.

Better get back onto it.

Wednesday, November 28

Yes Yes Yes Yes

Work. Personal review. Planning for upcoming work. Agreeing to come in tomorrow morning for 8am for a meeting. Reaching the end of my probationary period. Going to post-work drinks and leaving as the food was being eaten, having been engrossed in a chat about comedy with a colleague I've not really gotten to know yet. Yes.

Then home for some tidying to aid the building effort, and some admiring of the kitchen that's coming close to being a kitchen.

No ironing was done.

A late night garage trip was included.

Must get some sleep.

Tuesday, November 27

Out Of The Office

What a day for getting out of the office to somewhere else? In this case I went to two places. I went to the office of a company that we're working closely with in order to immerse myself in what's going on, so I can actually help make it work. It was a very productive meeting which started with my car being blocked in in the office car park back at my employer's, followed by a hurried lunch in a fleeting moment at Waitrose, and then the meeting.

The meeting overran significantly, but that was largely down to my own behaviour. I was somewhat engrossed and keen to find out more. So 6.30 ticked on by without my departure.

However, I had another out of office place to be. I had a gig in Coventry. It's only 90 or so miles, but those miles have to be driven and I needed petrol and I needed sustenance. Actually, the car uses diesel, but you get the idea.

I stopped at Oxford Services and bought something to eat. I visited the toilets in the petrol station where I bought (and when I say bought I mean signed for) the tank full of fuel. The toilet made me laugh. I wish I'd taken a picture of it, but it's weird taking photos of a toilet. They had one of those signs outside showing the number of minutes since the last clean. The sign is digital and says "we aim to clean this toilet every 45 minutes" and then shows the actual elapsed time. It was up to way over 300. Consequently, the toilet was in something of a state. I didn't mind. I can piss on anything. I did find it amusing, though, that their inadequacy was so bluntly illustrated on the sign before you even got to see the full horrors born out of their neglect of basic hygiene duties.

With my food I also impulse bought a Louis Armstrong double CD set. Then I was back onto the road to Coventry. The rest of the journey passed without incident - except... there was... well, the incident of the CD set being devoid of disks was a bit of a bugger. I realised then that I'd have to go back to Oxford services again that night.

I delivered the last sentence to you in a bit of a mock-dramatic way. Like the last line of a novel written in the first person. "I realised then, that I'd have to dig the grave myself and try to die in it in as dignified a manner as possible." Sort of thing. It's not the end of the world to have to take some CDs back to a service station you'll be passing in a few hours. It's just a little out of the ordinary. Still, there'd be a late night snack to look forward to.

Life isn't so bad for me. I have a lot of opportunity.

The gig itself was worth going to. I had a lovely time. I saw some acts I'd not seen before and, though worried about the time, discovered a fairly open-ended timeslot for me at the end of the gig, which I stuck 35 minutes of Ashley gold into. Well, it may have been silver or bronze, but you know what I mean.

I even used a semi-scripted heckler put down. Something to do with being sent to Coventry.

Then the long drive home, with the company of an act who'd missed his train... via Oxford Services.

It's not a bad life.

PS. I since discovered that the CDs provided for my 2 disc set relate to a different Louis Armstrong 2 disc set. It was then that I realised I'd have to go back to Oxford Services... again!!!

Monday, November 26

No Sleep Till Morning

I don't know why I lay awake last night unable to sleep. I have theories. I had slept too much during the previous day and had some excitement and some coffee before returning home for bed. I just had to wait it out.

As a consequence, I had a fairly low energy day today. Work was definitely in monday morning mode, and I was not raring to go. I'm not always raring to go. Sometimes I'm more raring to go that other times.

However, I did some productive things over the course of the day, as the world turned around some axis that I am not the centre of.

After work I had a dinner engagement with a friend from my old job. I got home just after six and dinner was to be at eight. I couldn't let a couple of hours slip by without doing something. I grabbed a paintbrush and roller and covered over the newer bits of plaster (already coated once with paint) in the kitchen. This brings the kitchen up to at least 2 coats of paint everywhere, which means I should be able to go over with the proper second coat and call it finished soon.

Following the roller action and the washing up of the paintbrush and tray, I zoomed upstairs to sweep out the top two attic rooms. They've been wanting a good sweeping for a while now and there have only been cursory bad sweepings provided. I did a reasonable job (you couldn't eat your dinner off the floor, but you would consider painting the room without expecting dust in your paint) and I left the windows open to let the dust out.

Then I got changed back into civvies and zoomed over to a late-night shop to buy a birthday present from my niece. This is an item suggested by her mother - my sister - which I chose from the range of suggestions because, were I young, I'd want a go on it. I sort of do want a go on it, but I can't because I'm too big. It was also the only item suggested that didn't seem to be a matter of "here - play with this domestic cleaning/cooking equipment based toy".

With time to spare, I made my 8 o'clock dinner and we ate.

Dinner didn't last the evening and I was soon back at home with a different paintbrush in my hand and different paint. I was up in an attic room, converting fresh plaster into single-coated plaster. My housemate provided assistance and we zipped the room to completion in record time, listening to some comedy as we went.

Bizarrely, I am still raring to go, despite having had little sleep. However, my body needs rest and I think I've done enough for one day - not quite enough to reverse the slovenly events of the weekend, but enough to feel like the house has inched along a notch towards completion.

Sunday, November 25

Too Lazy By Far

I overslept, but it didn't matter.

I had a smoothie and it was nice.

I drove to a friend's house and had coffee, which was also nice.

Then there was chat and heading off towards a gig.

Then a curry, which was nice.

Then the gig, which was excellent.

Then the dropping off of the friend and a quick hour with another friend - I'm a friend tart. Very pleasant indeed.

Then home to see if anyone loves me - defined by the number of scrabble moves, facebook messages and emails I have to wade through. The answer is "mmmnyeh".

Bed in a moment.

This is not quite how I lead my life, but it suited me for today. It was a good day - shame I missed half of it by oversleeping.

Saturday, November 24

Hitting The Wall

Nothing. I couldn't do it. I was going to motivate myself tonight. Honestly. I just couldn't manage it. I lay down for a bit, watched some TV - broadcast TV!!! I know. That's not like me. Then I lay there some more with it off... then time passed and I'd done nothing and that was that. I guess I'm tired and need some downtime. This is me getting downtime.

Still, my weight is stable (probably lower now I've nearly blocked the toilet with quite a delivery of something or other) and I've got a busy week ahead. I might even get up tomorrow morning and do stuff.

I might not.

You're A Long Time Dead

A cliché of a title. Still, it's true. Comparing the amount of time I'm going to end up claiming as my lifespan to the amount of time that may exist, my life amounts to sod all. However, perhaps that's unfair. Maybe I should account for the fact that everyone's lifespan means the same under those ridiculous comparisons, and devise a different scale of reckoning. Perhaps I shouldn't be comparing my 70ish years (maybe less if my lifelong overweightness has been killing me) to the geological scales. Maybe I should compare it to the reasonable sphere of influence one might expect to have in the world. So, let's start from a time before I was born - say when my parents first knew they were going to have a baby - and go up to a time after my death when I might drop out of anybody's memory, records or gene pool.

If that's the case, then perhaps someone young, who I met when I was 70 might remember me for 70 further years. Perhaps a son or daughter would both remember me (you'd think) maybe have children, whom I'd probably meet, and maybe those children would tell their children stories of that idiot grandfather who wrote all those words on that blog so many years ago. So perhaps that's going to add 100 years to my mark on the plant.

If I could somehow create something enduring, then people might remember that endured thing's creator for longer than 100 years after my death. We've all heard of Da Vinci - he wrote that book about Dan Brown.

So maybe I could hope for 300 years on top of my lifespan to influence the world. So, let's measure one's actual 70 years against the 370 years one might have influence over the world from conception through to loss of memory by all concerned. You're still a long time dead! 300/370 - it's more than just a simple majority.

So using one's time profitably makes a heap of sense.

I once wrote a song with the title "you're a long time dead". How many people have done that. Surely that's profitable use of time? Perhaps had I spent that same time meeting women, we'd be well on the way to grandchildren by now, but probably not, since I had a girlfriend when I wrote the song, and I'm not the sort to keep meeting other women just on the offchance that the woman I'm with might grow out of me or something.

But I digress.

Today I hit the wall. After the recording session, I knew I had to get on with doing serious things, but I had no energy. This was probably because I'd not eaten anything all day, trying to rely on yesterday's food and smoothie intake for sustenance. It wasn't enough.

After dropping my friend off at the station so he could return to London with a CD of our 7 minutes of recordings in his pocket, I headed over to a friend's house to drop off some washing (perhaps for the last time, since my new washing machine is out of its packaging and may be installed very very soon). This turned into a mission to fix the ramp that one of the guinea pigs uses to get in and out of its hutch. A trip home with the ramp, the insertion of some new screws (mmm Spax) and a trip back, and the ramp was reinstalled, fixed. That was what I'd achieved so far after the recording session.

I went to get some food.

I came home and ate the food.

I still felt low on energy.

And here you find me, wondering if I'll have the wherewithall to do some DIY, ironing or indeed anything vaguely constructive before I go to sleep. Tomorrow I'm due to be out for much of the day and evening - plans made a fair old time ago. I will be having a good time, but I will not be making "progress". Something tells me I have to get up and get on with stuff. It's just hard sometimes.

I'm still tired, and the food is kicking in, but it's also slowing me down having eaten. I don't want to waste the next four hours, but my inertia is high at the moment.

I guess we'll see what happens. I'll either collapse in a heap of apathy, or steer myself into some sort of useful series of actions.

Back In The Studio

It's been 3 weeks since my friend came over to record some music in my house. In the last 21 days there have been a huge number of changes to the house, some of which have had an effect on where we locate our ad hoc recording studio. The events of the last 3 weeks include:
  • Installation of a new kitchen floor
  • Painting of the kitchen - partial
  • Plastering of the attic rooms
  • A trip to New York - not affecting anything, but still worth a mention
  • Installation of a downstairs toilet, and some bathroom tiles
  • Partial installation of the kitchen - one wall's worth of units and worktop is now complete
  • The activation of the fridge with an ad-hoc hall based kitchen emerging as a consequence
  • The arrival of a housemate
Not a bad list for three weeks, really. I didn't include the painting of the walls of one of the attic rooms, one of which I'm now sitting in while writing this. It's not completely painted and it's cold and dusty (paint and dust don't really mix, but it was a primer coat, so that's probably ok) but it's a room and it's away from the rest of the house, so why not set up our ad-hoc studio here?

The room we have used for the studio is too busy with other stuff, and may allow for too much disruption of the housemate and his girlfriend, who are watching TV downstairs, so the attic is the place to be.

I say attic, but it's the top floor of a 3 floor house, and these rooms are anything but dingy. It's nice to be up here. It's nice to be involved in the making of music, even if my role is more about facilitation, than actually expressing myself. I get to express myself on this screen, which is good enough for me.

I slept this morning until way later than I planned to, which has had the effect of clearing some of the fug in my brain. It's seems like not setting an alarm clock correctly is the mental equivalent of the opening of a window that we did in this attic room after we swept up, so we can breathe while we're up here. I can mentally breathe. I think my metaphor may have gotten out of control. So be it.

This weekend will help put a challenging week behind. Now, on with the music.

Friday, November 23

Bugger In Rugger

I had plans for today. I was going to go to work in the morning and head out to an afternoon meeting, from which I would leave to go to my evening gig. The afternoon meeting would have put me somewhere off site and potentially closer to the gig. I hadn't worked it out and I didn't quite organise the day around the gig, but it seemed like everything was going to hang together nicely.

Nothing went to plan. My morning flew along, in a way I can't quite recall, though I know I was occupied with something important. The afternoon involved a luncheon treat for my team, who played a blinder in my absence, achieving a target we'd agreed on, and which looked like a big booby on the graph I drew it on. We went to the nice pub for lunch and the company paid - or at least they will when I claim the money back. The afternoon meeting didn't happen. This was a nuisance.

Instead, I made use of the time to talk to someone whom I think will be important to the next project I am working on. I think that taking time to get to know his point of view will prove to be of great assistance in the coming weeks. We'll see.

The day was, therefore, reasonably useful, but it ended a bit later than would have been perfect for rushing to a gig. Never mind, thought I. I've got less than 100 miles to cover, and I've got three hours to do it in. What's the worst thing that can go wrong?

Well, it turns out that the Friday rush hour, when you don't skip out to beat it with a 4pm head-start, is a bit of a bugger. It gave me plenty of time to chat with friends on my handsfree, though I think that gave me some sort of guilt complex as I went on to have a bad dream about it (speaks the writer with the hindsight of writing this after the day in question). However, the handsfree had to be employed for getting the promoter informed about the fact that I was stuck in a mountain of traffic and was likely to be running 30 minutes late. That's ridiculous. It's less than 100 miles and I was in stopped traffic for about an hour.

I did have time to get changed in the car. I'm a big fan of getting my trousers off in traffic. There's something quite emancipating about being able to get changed in a car, which requires a lack of embarrassment and a more supple body than I'm used to having. I even got my feet up high enough to put my shoes on and do the laces.

Perhaps the best thing I achieved on the car journey, though, was finally re-establishing contact with an old friend. We used to go out on Monday nights in Newcastle, and he helped me loads with my garden there. He'd moved down to London and I hadn't seen him since, failing completely to be able to raise him by phone. A call out of the blue to his house gave me a chat with his fianceé and yielded his mobile number. Then I called him and we agreed that it had been too long. We'll see each other soon. Indeed, our mutual friend (my recording chum) and I will both go and see him soon and life will be better as a result.

It has been a week where I've reestablished contact with old friends. I spoke to someone from my days doing musicals in Durham, earlier in the week. I miss the folks there. I should do something to go and see them. I will. There, you heard it here first.

It took me about three and a half hours door to door, but I arrived in Rugby before the gig had even thought about starting, which is not the impression I had been getting from the pre-gig promoter contact, which had suggested that they would be waiting for me and that I'd have seconds to get ready before the show started.

I'm not complaining that I had over 20 minutes to get settled before showtime, but it seemed like some stress could have been avoided if I'd been more aware of the reality. As it was, the gig was a weird one, which ran until midnight and had some bizarre moments in it. I opened, and perhaps set the scene for the weirdness, or perhaps was the first in line to tame this particular room.

I won't review the other acts. It's not necessary. I will say that I'm glad I stuck around until the end of the gig as I got to see an act, with whom I'd not gigged in ages, until he opened the gig I MCed a week previously, close the show doing some musical comedy, which I'd never seen him do. It was nice to see something different from an act I already liked.

The room was hard and the PA system was not working properly, with feedback coming and going. The crowd weren't quite in the right place, and there was a hard to please gang of 7 middle-aged women to the side and slightly behind of the stage. They chatted when they weren't engaged in the set, which was very distracting to the performer, though, it turns out, less so to the rest of the audience.

I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the gig, but it turns out, in the end, that it was worth the journey. I saw some acts have it tough. I saw how to tame a room. I saw how to be the have-a-go-hero of the night, and I didn't feel too inadequate about my own skills.

Going home involved eating some slightly naughty motorway food and taking a late night trip to Tesco. I think I managed to close the week appropriately. I was so very very tired.

On the move

That title might suggest to the wary cynical types that this entry was composed on the toilet or something. Ridiculous conjecture I say.

In other news, I managed to delete a whole bunch of texts from my phone. On purpose, which means it now has enough spare memory to enable me to send the occasional clog entry from wherever I happen to be sitting. Work provides me with a Blackberry, but that adds some crap to the end of emails, which finds its way, along with some other crap, into the blog entry. The simple text based email of this piece of shit Nokia 6233 is actually just the ticket for writing occasional thoughts to send into the pit of posterity that you are currently reading through.

I suppose that I now take mobile phones for granted. I've had a mobile since 1995 and I've just become used to the idea that I can call or text whoever is on my mind. The long car journeys often pass by with my handsfree headset thing and a friend in my ear. There's a lot of 'sorry can you repeat that', but there is a lot of company too when I would otherwise feel isolated.

The down side is that you can start to expect your friends to be at your beck and call all the time, and then feel slighted if they're not. The phone almost makes the friend seem like they're always present in compact form in your pocket. It can seem more isolating when you can't get in touch with someone, or if they take more than a few seconds to reply to a text. I'm also not sure that you can always get a fair interaction with someone else by text, which is too concise a medium to contain much of the writer's intent, yet I know I react strongly to words on my screen, suggesting that I'm providing a lot of the meaning myself out of thin air.

Mobile blog entries are a boon, though. Earlier in the year, with a long train journey to undertake, I'd happily whack out a few words of the moment, safe in the knowledge that one day I'd come back, read them, and have my own first hand account of what it must have been like to be me during those formative experiences that will leave me needing to know where it all went wrong.

It's at this point that I should probably question why I am always so negative about myself in what I say and write, but then, I'm not. I can be scathing, and I'm feeling the need to be self critical a lot, but it is not related to this particular subject, so I'll stop.

Send. Then wipe.

Thursday, November 22

A Jalopy And Jalapeno Jamboree

The title doesn't describe today in any way. I don't think any title could.

Work started at its usual pace, and then something hit the accelerator around 2pm, which made things more interesting, but also a lot more stressful. This was generally good stress, though, so I won't complain.

During the work day I continued some of the work I was doing on staff reviews, which I gave as much attention to doing well as I could. These things are important and if I can't treat my co-workers with respect, I may as well give up. I hope that I did the right thing by them and that they actually benefit from the whole experience. I'm saying that genuinely, not as some way of trying to cover my arse in case they read this crap.

The plan had been to leave work at the normal time and then head home to get to the station to go to London to do tonight's gig. However, an afternoon meeting outside of the office required my attendance, so I found myself in the car away from the office, dressed for work, replanning my London trip for when the meeting ended. Obviously, I also found myself engaged in the meeting. The replanning happened en route.

Anyway, I decided to drive to London. Though I had my guitar and amp in the boot of the car, I didn't have my jeans and comfy shoes with me. Never mind. I was wearing a stripey shirt, so I could do the gig. I'd just have to transfer a plectrum to my back pocket and I'd be good to go. My gigging trousers always have the plectrum in the back pocket, even when I'm not gigging (unless I'm extremely off-duty). I carry spare plectrums in the wallet, though, so all is well.

Incidentally, on the subject of wallets, I was asked by a journalist in the street the other day whether I was feeling festive. I said I wasn't. He then asked what I wanted for Christmas. I said that I wanted a wallet but that I didn't expect that anyone would or should be buying me a christmas present this year. Last year I received presents from my now-ex-girlfriend's family, but I feel it would be inappropriate for such a gesture this year, even though we're all still friendly and in touch. I didn't tell the journalist this last bit. I did start to paint a fairly pessimistic picture of Christmas... until I remembered the thing I rather look forward to doing over Christmas, which is pretty cool and nothing at all to do with spoiling myself.

I could buy a wallet tomorrow if I wanted. To be honest, I only mentioned it because I had thought that my wallet looked in need of replacement, and the current one was once a christmas present.

Anyway, I digress.

I headed to London from the meeting and joined a whole world of traffic. While I'd originally set the sat nav to take me to the venue, I decided to cut my losses and stop in Hammersmith, to do the rest by tube. This seemed, in my view to make a sort of sense. Also, I needed a comfort break, which is a euphemism for a wee, so I stopped at the services, dabbled with the idea of coffee, stood at the Costa, saw a woman making a very troubled face at me and then realised she was looking through me to her husband, so fair dos. Then I gave up on the coffee owing to time.

I headed to Hammersmith as quickly as I could. Clearly the traffic wasn't going to make that easy and clearly I wasn't tackling it very well, since I actually saw the odd-faced woman and her husband in the car behind me as I entered Hammersmith, and I had left them in the not-yet-paying stage of that Costa.

I parked, grabbed the guitar and amp and headed for the tube. I plotted an efficient route, which had me changing to the Victoria line from the Piccaddily at Green Park. It was a work of genius. Then the train stopped. This was bound to happen. It's a train. It stops. People get on. People get off. The three women, one of whom was laughing far too emphatically at everything, had managed to get on at a stop, and were staying on. However, this was something more than just a stop. This was the "we're stopped for too long and they're saying something about a blockage and shortly" type of a stop. There may be trouble ahead, and we didn't have moonlight, music, love, nor romance.

I got chatting to a woman standing next to me. She had made some comment about how hard it was to read standing up on a moving tube, as you needed both hands for the magazine, and one hand to catch oneself. This descended into a discussion about parties on tubes, spilling soup and then Herbalism. She was called Fleur. I promised to look out for Fleurs Herbs in a few years in case she followed her dream to open her own Herablistic practice. I encouraged her to follow her dreams - just do it. I told her that I was a stand-up comedian, late for a gig, that I just did it, and that I was part following a dream, though still keeping the day job. I don't know if any of that made sense at the time or if it makes sense now. It just happened.

The train threatened to make me late. Then it made me late. Then it threatened to stop at King's Cross. They said it would be there indefinitely - just one stop from Highbury where I wanted to be. Fleur and I walked away from the train and then the doors started beeping, so we jumped back on, and then I was at Highbury, and only 15 minutes later than planned - 30 minutes later than the time I'd hoped to meet my friend there.

We went upstairs to the gig. First we went downstairs, following a poster. The poster wasn't a signpost to the gig though. It was an advert. Downstairs we found the gents. I've played some toilets in my time, but never literally. Upstairs the gig was to be found. They had a PA system, so my amp carrying was a waste of time.

There was little audience. The promoter was nowhere to be seen. This wasn't looking good. After the two and a half hour journey to be there with a lot of stress along the way, I was feeling frazzled. Wouldn't it be funny, I thought, if the gig was cancelled. Then the promoter came along and told me that he didn't have me on the list for the night and that I'd missed a previous gig of his. I said that I hadn't had such a thing happen before and that I'm normally very good at getting my booking rights. However, such mixups can occur and never mind. I wasn't going to insist on getting shoe-horned into the gig. I'd just come back another time.

After a bit of discussion with my friend we headed off to seek greener pastures. There was the talk of going to see a show at a nearby fringe theatre. The show was to be an undersubscribed (as we found out when we got there) impro show. I explained that it might be nice to patronise such a thing in the style of an Edinburgh Fringe performance...

...we went out for a drink across the road instead.

I had a duck wrap, which turned out to be some duck, some cucumber, some spring onion, all laid on a plate with some pancake rolls - make it yourself. My friend quipped that this was the nearest I'd gotten to cooking all year. He was right too! Almost. I helped someone grate some cheese back in August!

Anyway, we caught up and then he gave me a lift back to King's Cross where I toyed with the idea of the bus back to Hammersmith, saw that it took 65 minutes, took the tube instead, got into my car, paying a lot of money for parking, and then rode home with another friend in my headset making jokes.

This was not an evening where I felt on top of my game. I had the pre-gig and post-gig experience without the gig in the middle. This is most frustrating and the stress of getting to the gig wasn't fair under the circumstances. Had I arranged a night to meet my London friend and just chilled out somewhere appropriate, it would have been better. Note: not all good nights out have to have a gig in them.

I'm glad I spent time with people I care about this evening. Shame that it was made brain-numbingly stressful by circumstances.

Arriving home, I got a shower, played some scrabble, wrote this blog, all with the music of Bernstein playing on my new stereo from my mp3 player. Life is not all a pool of muscle-tearing stress.

Wednesday, November 21

Hitting The Stride

There were moments today when I was revving, but not moving. Then there were moments when I wasn't sure what I was doing. There were, however, some excellent moments where I did things for the people I work with, and felt like I was at least trying to do right by them, which is satisfying. Whether or not I succeeded is not for me to say. As work days go, stuff happened and I think I was on the right team.

This is the only week night this week that I'd earmarked for DIY, so I headed home in time to meet a queue of tradesmen and bills that needed paying. Some £2000 lighter, I had paid 5 tradesmen by the end of today, and as an encore I went off to the B&Q end of town to pick up some items and my housemate (who works in a nearby industrial estate, rather than in an orange apron).

To be honest, if I'd been cracking the whip, we'd have been DIYing much sooner, but we went for food and a catch up. We're friends from years and years ago, but I've not seen more than a fleeting glimpse of the guy since he moved in a week and a half ago, and we had much catching up to do.

However, there were also DIY tasks to do, so off we set, doing them. I won't detail exactly how, but the end of the evening yielded the following results:
  • A new light switch - so now the kitchen light can be turned on/off at either end of the room - the wiring was there, but the switch wasn't on
  • The fresh plaster in the kitchen has some paint on it
  • The paint that was going brown in the kitchen through damp penetration has now been sealed so the next coat won't brown
  • The damp patches in the upstairs ceilings have been similarly treated
  • The larger of the two attic rooms now has a coat of paint on its fresh plaster
Not bad for a few hours' work, and it gave us loads of time for chat.

In other news, the kitchen units were all delivered today, which would be perfect if the order had been completed 100% successfully. Looks like a little debugging may be required tomorrow morning.

Also the bathroom is now largely tiled and I even bought a nice toilet seat for its toilet. I always think that that's the main bit you use - other than the running water.

The house moves on apace. I wonder where it will all be by the weekend.

Tuesday, November 20

Back and Forth

Some of this blog entry has been edited from an email I sent to someone, so I apologise for recycled words.

Tonight's gig was in London at the Coach and Horses in Soho for the Laughing Horse comedy club. The gig was very stressful in one sense and pretty good fun in another. I laughed at some of the acts who went on before me. I thought the audience - a spirited bunch of american student girls (largely) were quite good fun - and I generally managed to make them laugh. The problem with a night like that can be the sheer number of acts. I was closing the gig with what was supposed to be a 20 minute set (me and my guitar and some merriment). There were something like 10 on in the end, plus the MC. Some of the acts were late additions to the bill and were given 4 minute slots. The problem with this is that no comedian will ever stick to time, and the audience start to lose their attention span when the comedian keeps changing. I went on and said hello and got nothing in response - the audience were exhausted. However, I laughed at them, threw some energy their way and things got going. It's a long way to go to be stared at, though.

Journeys to gigs and then watching the acts before me make the gig harder are the two stress factors that have the most regular impact on my demeanour. Sometimes a gig can seem intimidating for spurious reasons, but feeling like I'm either going to miss my spot, or get a hard to work room, are the two big ones. Given that I set off late for tonight's gig, by car, via an industrial estate to pay for my kitchen, and had to contend with the closure of the Victoria line (having parked at one end of it to do a gig near Oxford Circus) making my return journey home harder, I had some stresses to deal with.

It all seemed done and dusted when I was the other side of a cab ride and buying a late supper in the 24 hour Tesco in Hammersmith. And some smoothies. I love smoothies.

By the end of the evening, I was back home in a haze, having organised my kitchen (desperately trying to post a cheque through a non-existent letterbox in a remote industrial estate) and having braved traffic and various gig strains and stresses. Though there was money for the gig, it went into the taxi-driver's pocket. Such is the way of the world.

I made some rather inappropriate jokes, people laughed and I got to go to sleep. That's not a bad end to a day.

Monday, November 19

Start As You Mean To Go On

Having had my early start and then gotten a rocket up the arse of the house, and then had some preparation and some important meetings to attend, it was time to get on with the out-of-work-time events.

I left the office in time to get stuck in a huge amount of rainy traffic hell. It was 5.30 when I left and I had two hours to get to a gig in Islington. That's possible. It's harder when the traffic is nose to tail before you even get to the first official traffic jam spot. They're not official spots, but they're consistent and I know where they are. The broken down lorry at the roundabout we were heading to, was not a helpful addition to the road conditions.

I arrived at home much later than I'm comfortable arriving. The rain was lashing down. I couldn't walk to the station - I'd get soaked. I couldn't drive to the station, the traffic was too bad. The bus would take too long. I really needed to get a 6.30 train to be in London for 7 to get to the venue for 7.30.

I hit on the master plan. I'd cycle, with my guitar-bag, which doubles as a ruck-sack, on my back. I would get wet going to the station, but I would not mind being wet on the train. I would get wetter going to the venue, but... the clever bit... I would only get wet in my cycling clothes. If I carried a towel and a change of clothes, I would be able to perform in a dry way when I arrived.

This proved to be a workable plan and I did indeed blast my way through the rain to a train, through more rain at the other end, to a venue and then get dried off after my sound check. As you can tell, I even made it to the venue on time, despite much stress at the fear I would be late at various stages of the journey. I hadn't bargained on the fact that my guitar bag would be clonking me on the back of the helmet (cycle helmet) for the entire duration of the 11 or so miles I cycled tonight. I also hadn't bargained on my new trainers acting more like sponges than shoes. In fairness, I think a certain percentage of the water was entering the shoes via the special method of sock-osmosis. You're not going to read the phrase sock-osmosis very often.

I gave a very damp-of-foot performance, discovering that my stomach was tense, possibly through pre-gig-stress or cold, and the upper register of my singing voice was not really functioning, probably through cold too. And I was tired. They are the excuses. Having said that, I made the audience laugh and I had a few moments of amusement. It was nowhere near as spontaneous as I had hoped. A little bit of going through the script, rather than making it real, I think. This can happen when you're not feeling incredibly connected to the audience. Given that this was in a theatre with most faces almost totally invisible, and given that I had played the exact opposite scenario the previous night - a well lit pub, with no distinction between act and audience, and many fewer people - well, it's no surprise that I noticed a difference.

Nonetheless, I did the combination of the sort of set that I want to do, and what I thought the room would react to at the time.

That gig is done now.

The return journey was wetter. I chatted to a friend while on the train home, got even wetter between the station and my house and then took a shower to dry off. Pretty much.

A small food issue occurred today. I had a fairly modest lunch - salad and a banana, and then I didn't get anything to eat after. I'm exhausted and cold and I can't be going out to get food. There may be a can of soup somewhere in the house, but I'm not really going to go looking for it. So, I'll sleep hungry tonight. I had a litre of smoothie, I'm going to survive the night.

I'm not starving myself to make a point. Honest.

I should probably eat something.

But first, I shall sleep, perchance to misquote shakespeare in my dreams. The start of a typical week for me, methinks.

Last Year

In between moments of sorting things out this morning, I've had a quick peep at last year's November, just to see where I was. I almost don't remember ever being in the place I was when I wrote those words. Don't read them now. Work wasn't so busy and I was writing tons and tons of blether. I was also blethering from home, so there was plenty of blether to deal with.

It's weird looking back 12 months and noticing all that's changed. A lot hasn't. I'm still a self-obsessed comedian, though I feel (as I always do, looking back) that I'm a lot wiser about comedy now than I was then. Of course, if you use that argument recursively, the whole "looking back, I used to be a bloody idiot" thing resolves to "I'm always a bloody idiot". Great.

This time last year, I was making an offer on the house I've now been failing to live in for 11 months. I was living with my now-ex-girlfriend in her parents' place. I was worried about my weight (while being about 2 stone heavier than my last weigh in, and having lost around 3 and a half stone since April of that year). I was not, by the looks of things, incredibly happy.

I've had a number of moments of extreme joy since... but... I'm still working towards happiness and contentment. On the way, there'll be more self-pity and melancholy. However, I'll be dastardly chipper about it. I might aswell. It's my life.

How Much!?

It's only just beyond breakfast time in some hotels (the sort of hotels I'd like to stay in), and already I've managed to see a lot of progress. It's a costly day, but sometimes you have to just live with costs. This morning, I was up and about before 8.15 - the benefits of a housemate who gives you a knock. The builder had also started work at this point and we discussed various details. I now have a plan for what DIY I'll be doing on Wednesday. On Wednesday I'll also be receiving delivery of the kitchen units (well, the builder will), which I ordered today. Oh yes. The kitchen will be operational in days.

As an encore, I organised for someone to jet out my drains and there will be an opportunity to work out what the hell to do about my newly located kitchen sink and washing machine in drainage terms, at least. They're not in place yet. But, they will be.

Not satisfied with solving some of my own issues, I did some Amazoning yesterday to solve a friend's problem and received a delivery notice that some of the solution is on its way. I like solving things.

All before breakfast ended... in some hotels.

Sunday, November 18

Vertical Stripes

The Oddness
Today's definitely been an odd one. I woke up alone in my bed. That, in itself is not odd. It's remarkably normal. In fact, I do it all the time. It would have been odd if I'd woken up with someone else there. That doesn't happen. I'd had a friend around the previous evening and we'd contemplated "bunking up", but decided against it, since it wasn't necessary and isn't really a "friend" thing.

I don't know why I mentioned it.

Ah yes. I woke up alone in bed in an odd way since it was Sunday morning and I was negotiating with myself on extra sleep before 8am, knowing that I'd be rising myself out of bed before long. Indeed, I was dressed and on my bicycle at around 8am. On a Sunday. That's not normal.

I had to be at a meeting in London. As a result, I had my jeans and jumper in my backpack and I was sporting my cycling gear, which is not really cycling gear. It's just how I wear clothes for cycling. I had my white England rugby shirt and my cheapo Tesco shorts on. The rugby shirt was also cheap. I'm frugal with clothing. I also have a lot of clothing, so I don't necessarily have to buy more. So when I impulse buy rugby shirts, I tend to go for cheap. This is a major distraction from the bit where I braved the low temperatures and got on my bike (for the first time in a few weeks) and blasted my way down to the station, past the route I'd walked into town the previous day, with some associations with the previous day's activities registering in my mind in that part waking, part dreamlike state that affects me for a good coupe of hours after waking up.

I had my mp3 player for company - that's not odd - and I was listening to something or other that was good. I made good time to the station and the 8.27 stopping train to London was the first one I attempted to take. It was delayed. That too is not odd. Some of the day wasn't too surprising, but again, I was on my bike at Reading station before 9am on a Sunday morning.

I wished I'd taken something to read on the train and my rush to get to the train in time denied me the purchase of a paper. Of course, I had plenty of real time to buy the paper, the scheduled train time and real time having little in common. I didn't take the risk. I wanted to get to London as quickly as possible. I had to cycle to the Brick Lane area of London by 10.30 and I knew I'd get it wrong. The longer I had to fix my mistaken route, the better. All of this is in a day's work for the amateur cyclist in London.

A London Journey
Arriving at Paddington, really tired, having actually had about 4 hours' sleep, I got the legs to work on the bike and made most of the route to Brick Lane without error. Then I messed something up. I know not exactly what. I added about 2 miles to my trip with the errors. I know because I have an odometer on the bike and I had printed directions out, which were nearly, but not quite, adequate enough for me to follow. I knew I'd got it wrong, which was not too helpful.

I got to the location of my meeting. I'll not mention too much about it, except to say that it was something voluntary and I don't really respect myself for talking about voluntary things I do, since if I was really doing them out of the goodness of my heart, I probably wouldn't need to talk about them. I will say that it is not some weird religious cult. I'm not into weird religious cults. Not one bit.

I parked my bike, went up to the meeting room, just in time for the meeting to start... late... Not surprising. I got changed into my normal clothes and put the cycling behind me. I didn't have a coat, which is fair enough when you're in a reasonably warm rugby top and cycling and getting hot. However, I wished I'd brough a coat since my lesser body fat and my jumper weren't working well with the unheated room we were meeting in. Typical.

The meeting ran with occasional coffee breaks. The coffee managed to make me a little jittery, a little unpleasant tasting of mouth and not in the least bit warmer. Then I left around 2.30 to cycle back to the station. Of course, I got a little lost again, adding more miles to my trip, not many. I know the way back a bit better, it would appear.

Back To Reading
Another train, a return to a rainy Reading, a slightly elongated quick trip to a shoe-shop, and I was heading back home. I had planned to drop in to a friend's place to use their bathroom scales. I'll come to that in a moment. However, the cold was so cold that I wanted the warmth and sanctity of my own house. Typically my house provided something in the way of sanctuary, but little in the way of warmth. Great. However, the heating is behaving better and I warmed the place up quickly enough.

I pithered about on the computer a bit, had a shower and then headed out in the direction of the station again, this time to pick up someone for the gig I was doing in the evening. However, I anted to take a trip via the friend's house. I needed to consult the bathroom scales. I was worried. Very worried. I had been so worried about my weight, since returning from holiday, that I even used my "clever" (read "bloody stupid") tactic of cycling 18 miles on an empty stomach after a few days of scant eating and then getting weighed on an empty stomach as an encore. I had a smoothie I wanted to drink, but I left it in its carton to drink after the weigh-in.

Weigh Out
Let's review the evidence. At some point in September/October, I reached a weight which scared me, because it was quite low. As time went on, I levelled at this weight and then, just before going away, had gained 3 pounds, putting me at X stone 0. After returning from holiday, I got on the scales - perhaps heavier with clothing and other flight/holiday related intakes - but I got on the scales in good faith. I wanted to know how bad it had been. Bear in mind that I thought I was 3 pounds up from my previous successful weightloss point. I learned on Thursday morning that my weight was X stone 6. That's a gain of 6 pounds on holiday.

Now on the holiday there had been various bit of rash eating. I'll be honest, some of the crap I ate I did because it was there and I wasn't in control of my resistance to "treats". I didn't necessarily enjoy all of the crap we ate. However, there was a flip side to this. We barely ate any full meals. We didn't eat more than one meal-sized thing in a given day, and we were walking loads - enough, in fact, to warrant the replacement of my trainers at a shoe-shop today. I reckoned I'd possibly get away with it. A gain of 6 pounds had somewhat scared me.

As a consequence, I didn't eat at all on Thursday. I didn't quite do this deliberately, but when it happened by chance, I didn't resist it. On Friday, I had a modest lunch but was largely on liquids and declined a perfectly reasonable offer of an evening meal because I wasn't hungry enough to feel like it mattered. I think that my body was detoxing from the crap I'd eaten, and I think I wanted to break from all eating habits, good or bad.

On Saturday (yesterday), I had a busy day and again didn't managed to eat over the course of it. However, I did go out for an evening meal - a curry. We ordered plenty. However, the conversation was somewhat extensive (I got yattering) and I didn't really motivate myself to complete too much of the food.

Today's weigh-in was supposed to be a new baseline so I could see what hardcore diet/exercise regime needed to lie ahead. I had been at Y stone 11 at some point and had gone up to X stone 6, apparently gaining 9 pounds (6 of which were on holiday). I don't want to regain the weight I've worked hard to lose, but it looked that I had. Then I got weight at Y stone 5. In other words, I'd lost 9 pounds over the course of the holiday PLUS the last 4 days, and as far as the scales were telling me, I'd lost 15 pounds in the last 4 days.

I've done a lot of pooing in the last few days and not a lot of eating, but 15 pounds. That's not right.

I was wearing a shirt with vertical stripes, though. They're quite slimming, vertical stripes. Maybe that's it.

Slim again!?
In relief, as I appear to be at the lowest weight I've been since I was 20 and off on holiday in the summer of my 2nd year at university (where I recall being about Y stone 7), I drank most of my smoothie, sharing some with my friend. I could go to my gig and even get something to eat along the way. I had a text from the person I was supposed to be picking up from the station and arranged to meet him at a cafe in the station, where I might pick up a cheeky sandwich. I think I'm allowed to eat, so that's fair enough, really.

One aside. I'm not quite going to get neurotic about my weight, but I would like to continue to fit into the clothes that I just bought, all of which are a trouser size down. I'd also like to drop a trouser size or two, since I may actually gain some choice about what clothes I buy, rather than have to go for the dregs that sometimes get scaled up. At the very least, I'd like to stay this size, not go back to the recidivist's option of giving up and eating crap again. I don't even enjoy eating crap! Honest. It just sets me into a feeling of being assaulted by toxins.

Ok. I do enjoy eating crap, but only just before I've got halfway through and the hit of the crap entering my system makes itself felt.

Il Stazzione
I arrived at the station with the gig in my mind. I had a map to where we were going and I was looking for a comedian to pick up. I spotted one, not the one I was looking for. This guy is a comedian from Eastbourne. I called his name and he and his mate, whom I've also met, stopped for a chat. I assumed they were also headed to the gig I was doing, but they were in Reading for a whole other reason. The mate, noticed the shirt I was wearing. I'd put it on as a gigging shirt, since it has vertical stripes and I have a joke about them. Most of my shirts have vertical stripes and this shirt isn't all that special to me. A friend of mine likes my vertically striped shirts, though not this one in particular.

However, the friend of the act was captivated by the shirt. Where did I get it? I told him to peer into the collar and he confirmed my suspicion that it was a Tesco-bought shirt. Then he told me that it was his favourite shirt, or at least, his copy of it had been his favourite shirt until the arms fell off. He said he couldn't find a replacement. I asked him his size. He said he wore L/XL shirts. I told him he could have the shirt - not then at there - I was wearing it. However, if he sent me his address, I'd send him the shirt for him to have. He offered me his hat in return. I declined - that way it would be a trade. I didn't want to trade. I would give him the shirt. Surely it was an odd moment to happen upon such a circumstance, such an opportunity to return someone's favourite shirt (or a copy of it) to their life. Such things are gifts, not trades.

If he sends me his address, I'll send him the shirt. Washed. Maybe even ironed. That's weird. I like weird.

The shirt wasn't really suiting me today - I'd noticed it looked a bit... er... big... Well, not too big, but not really hanging like a favourite shirt of mine would hang.

I mentioned earlier that a true act of altruism wouldn't need shouting about. I appear to be saying "Oooh, aren't I generous" here. That's not the core message. The message is "Life can be weird, do something to try to play along with it.". It's not normal to give near-strangers your shirt. That's reason enough for me!

Then Off To Gig Land
I got my sandwich and a coffee and waited for the act I was supposed to meet. I wondered if he'd declare my new shoes as his favourite shoes and whether I'd give them up. No I didn't. I just made that up to make this bit of story seem more interesting. Sorry.

I took my coffee into the car with us and we sat-naved to the gig. It was easy. As an encore from my healthy moment, I went and bought some fruit from the co-op. This proved to be a good move as the combination of me and the fruit increased the population in the pub about 3 fold. 12 satsumas count as 6 portions, but that was enough. To while away some time before the gig organisers arrived, we played pool and I ate my banana. That's not a way I normally prepare for a gig, but some gigs are odd and this was didn't warrant any normal sort of preparation.

The audience were small. The room was really not laid out with a gig in mind, but we found a way of restructuring it so that something vaguely gig-like could occur. It was the inaugural gig in a remote pub in a remote town on a damp night. Those people who were actually around had largely been drinking all day and had been told to stick around for the comedy. They didn't quite know how to behave. That's unfair on the half of the audience who didn't sit up on the staged area where the mic was. It was the front row who were rowdy, some onlookers were actually there to enjoy the comedy and not disrupt it and they were appreciative.

However, the gig was really hard to control. The front row was largely composed of some low-attention-span drunk people who could easily distract the whole gig. More than that they were spirited, playing along, heckling quite emphatically and, often, being pretty funny and cutting to the acts. In a situation where acts are new and the hecklers are easily upstaging them, the gig can go either way. What made it flounder occasionally was the high-spirits of the "participants". Bizarrely, though, this also proved to the reason why the gig worked. There was an energy about the audience and you could harness it for laughs if you either knew what you were doing or got lucky. Every act managed to get some sort of laugh or other going. They had to compromise their set, but they didn't have to compromise themselves especially.

It was a hard gig to watch and my expectations dropped as the night drew on. It was overrunning and the audience were getting more emboldened by their participation. The last section had little lead into it and then I was thrown onto the stage.

I thought I'd struggle and come to hate the room.

I also thought that the weight of woes that have been wobbling me of late, coupled with low nutrition and a bizarre combination of fatigue and euphoria from the discovery of the weightloss, rather than gain, would undermine me.

I did 30 minutes with them, often distracted. I threw in various quips, some of which I'd written while sitting around waiting to go on, related to the people, or stuff that had occurred to me. I had ad-libs which make me feel a little too smug to report them, and I used a reasonable quantity of cliché and even sort of "borrowed" a joke on the spur of the moment, relating to someone's name. I immediately credited it and told the audience that I'd nicked it... their applause was for someone else. I shall buy him a pint next time I see him. It's wrong to use a "borrowed" joke, but I hope that he'll understand and I think he will. When the lights are on you and the moment's right, some jokes have to be said.

They liked my material. I liked some of the new things I trotted out, including my joke about vertically striped shirts, which was on its third outing. I won't remember the outing numbers for it much beyond this time.

I had fun with them. It went from a possible gig-from-hell-that-I'd-have-to-shout-down to a nice play fight, which we all had fun with. I even did some camp shouting.

This sort of experience makes being a comedian worthwhile. You never know how it will go, but it's an exciting journey to find out. Maybe it's a bit egotistical to look over at the acts when you think you've just trotted out a smart reaction to a moment in the room and hold a proud head when you see them double with laughter. No. No maybe about it. It's utter conceit. However, this sort of ego-trip is harmless when it's done in the name of entertainment. Really. I think very little of myself as a person. I just like the moments that I can sometimes muster when I'm given that bizarre microphone stand opportunity that we call stand-up comedy.

It's a good job I enjoy it. Though a totally inconsistent existence, stand-up has been the only consistence force in my life over the last few years. I think I've come to rely on it. I think I've even found something approaching the embryo of my own voice.

Any more weirdness?
Nope. Nothing more weird happened. Morning trains, weightlosses and gains, vertically striped shirts and gigs that defy definition - that was enough for one day. I picked up some washing and then came home to write this stuff down.

A voice
It's nice to write stuff down. It's nice to express the day and one's thoughts and feelings. I can't do that about everything. There have been things on my mind of late and I haven't got the words for them. Sorry to hold back. I can't do it all. I can sneak out snippets in joke form here and there. I know what I'm not saying and I'm dealing with it in a different way.

For reading what I can write here, thanks.

Saturday, November 17

Sorting Out Saturday

Today was a day of sorting things out. Things were not sorted out in full, but steps were taken. I woke up at a friend's house, having gone there for a bit of a post-gig social after the enjoyable and liberating gig I'd done the previous evening.

The socialising was enjoyable. There were some people also present, whom I hadn't really had much chance to get to know previously, having only met them at gigs, where I'm always a bit "performing at you, rather than talking with you". Though I was in the post-gig haze where some performing still happens, I was also chilling out and relaxing. Friday ended well as a result of the socialising.

Having said that, I lay restless in the spare room listening to the sound of rushing water and wondering whether I had rabies. I have no conclusion on why there was water rushing for an hour in the middle of the night, but I think it was real and it stopped. Such was the outcome of a gig night.

Waking up in time for coffee, I headed home, the friend with whom I was staying, due to visit my house for the first time, later that day. I seldom have people round... though now I have a housemate, that's getting a bit untrue. In fact, I felt like it was time to start making the house more of a home. My solution to this was odd.

I hurried bought a mini hi-fi. I've been wanting one for ages and I decided that my room would be more of a home with one in. So I went and shopped around and briskly bought something which met my requirements. I'm quite pleased with it. I wouldn't have anticipated buying a Hitachi system, but there you go.

Then I went and bought some groceries and a few assorted homewares. I actually put some stuff in the fridge and could even go "what would you like to drink" to a houseguest, for the first time forever in my house. Normally, you have to bring what you want to drink into the house in advance of wanting it. Not anymore. I hope this is the start of feeling like I have a home.

I did various tidy ups and even evolved a small section of the hall into a makeshift kitchen. The microwave is out of its box (thanks to my housemate using it the previous evening) and joins the kettle and the fridge in the hallway. We're days away from there being a real kitchen. I'm sure of it!

Then I got a shower, walked into town to meet my friend, did some shopping, had a coffee and met someone new in Reading, without it being a comedy contact, or someone linked with my ex-girlfriend. That's a first.

Then there was the tour of the house, followed by a showing of The Musical! which I saw through slightly different eyes. The new stereo helped turn this from a quiet DVD into a poor cinematic experience. I chuckled at various moments. I'm increasingly less proud of the show, but I'm still fond of it and proud that we made a good fist of putting it on.

Dinner ended the evening and was a chance to set the world to rights over food. It had been a day of straightening things out. Sometimes, when something is straightened out, it turns out to be different to how you first saw it, but not necessarily lesser.

My hall is now a kitchen, that's not what I would have planned, but the house has a modest hospitality facility now. That's excellent. Things like that can make the difference between an empty chasm in your life and a sense of belonging and propriety.

Does this make sense? It does to me!

Friday, November 16

A Lie In

I had my alarm set for an early time this morning. However, given that my body clock wasn't really programmed for any particular time-zone, I think it's fair to say that any time I set the alarm for would be arbitrary. At some time soon after the alarm started to go off, my house mate popped his head around the door and said good morning, offering me first go in the shower. I declined. We saw, through the haze of morning-eyes, each other's heads. I doubt he even noticed from my shapeless form in the bed, that I've probably lost and gained some weight since we last saw each other in August. I wouldn't expect him to notice anyway - he's a man; even if he had noticed, he's not allowed to say.

Anyway, he had his shower and set about doing what he had to do. I decided to have a lie-in. Well, sort of. I lay there, my mind on various topics, largely the question of whether being a cave is good (I decided that it would be nice to be a cave), and then I lay there some more. I watched the time tick on by, in 5 minute segments punctuated by my mobile phone's snooze facility. Then, I eventually rose from the bed.

Putting on the same clothes I wore for work yesterday, with different underwear, of course, I headed to my car, de-iced it, and then zoomed off to work, instinctively driving at the speed limit, which is helpful for my cause of not losing my licence any more than I'm already losing it.

I'd lain in bed in a partially awoken state for a good hour and it felt restful, if not the most efficient use of the time.

The first item of the day at work was a meeting to express where things are going concerning our wellbeing. That's bound to be a good thing. The text, during the meeting, offering me an MCing spot the same evening was a kick to the adrenaline gland and the rest of the day is now about completing the necessary work and then revving up to get home and then back out to the gig in time to MC it.

Thursday, November 15

Welcome Back

Landed at 8am-ish. The flight had been pretty fine, really. There was some irritation as we sat 20th in line for take off on the runway - you'd think they'd be able to predict their scheduled outbound flight patterns and avoid such things... However, I had avoided caffeine for a bit and had the calming influence of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency to keep me in reasonable spirits.

And so it was that I completed the book, listening to some music on my MP3 player, and then tried to get some sleep. I must have slept too, since I was woken to find "breakfast" on the tray in front of me. It was a croissant, but I ate it as though it were food. Then I watched, and laughed heartily at, an episode and a half of Cheers and we landed.

The baggage collection and passport process were painful. Collecting the hire-car was exceedingly convenient. Seriously convenient. Very good.

I drove back to Reading to drop off my co-holidaying-type-accomplice and then got changed and weighed. I have put weight on. A noticeable quantity of weight. Damn! Was it just one week's stupid eating in America? Or was my body retaining a bunch of fluids and other contents which will soon dissipate? Or have I lost my dieting mojo? So many questions.

Changed and chastised, I headed to work.

Work was essentially a day of catching up on everything. Except eating. I couldn't really face eating, and it wasn't because I felt like I should stop eating as a result of my weight gain. My stomach wasn't complaining my appetite wasn't on, so I just didn't bother. Well, I nearly bothered, but the cafe wasn't serving food when I could be bothered and I reckoned they could stuff it, so I switched back to not being bothered again. Never mind.

I left the office and headed back to my house. Much work has been completed in my absence, and I have a housemate now, apparently. I had considered getting some food with him, but he was out in town for the evening and I didn't fancy that. I took my laundry over to my friend's house, picked up the bag I'd left there earlier and then headed home, expecting to have an early night.

With various friends to talk to, the unpacking to do, the scrabble moves to catch up on, and one thing and another, I didn't get myself into bed until 11pm. I had managed to live a relatively normal day, albeit a tired one. The holiday seemed like it was history already.

Welcome back.

Wednesday, November 14

The Holiday

This entry has been written retrospectively. It's a quick summary of the holiday.
  • Journey out - relaxing - I watched Hairspray and giggled like a giddy schoolgirl
  • Hire car - very convenient
  • Hotel - a stressful check-in, not helpful and the facilities were not as expected - turned out to be just comfortable enough - we were in Queens not Manhattan
  • Transport links to Manhattan - lovely - the subway was easy and the LIRR was an alternative on one day - the car was used for travels to New Jersey
  • Broadway shows - saw and loved The Drowsy Chaperone - then the stagehands went on strike, somewhat wrecking the chance to see any more Broadway shows - D'oh
  • Other shows - saw some stand-up comedy, which I laughed at and was intrigued by. Also went to the Blue Note Jazz Club and saw The Count Basie Orchestra - legendary. Also saw Forbidden Broadway an off-Broadway revue, which wasn't affected by the Broadway stagehands
  • Tour buses - did a day on the buses and got pissed on on the night tour - didn't seem to matter in the end
  • Central Park - did a day wandering around the park and wore the feet out - got a bit pensive with all the time to contemplate my navel in
  • Empire state building - check - at night - moderate visibility
  • Liberty Island/Ellis Island - a day on there missing boats, but went up onto the plinth and didn't get to go any higher, something to do with terrorists and 2001
  • Shopping - went into many shops, too many shoe-shops and a few malls
  • Friends - managed to meet my friend's 2 year old daughter, which was nice - she spoke articulately for one so young and likes vegetables. Also managed to see my friend a second time because we were "in the neighbourhood", something that's very rare - even though "neighbourhood" really meant "state" in this instance.
  • Clothing - I came back with the wherewithall not to be naked
  • Family - saw my parents and had lunch in uptown - all in a day's fun in NYC - even though they live in Leeds
  • Eating - committed more sins than I care to remember, even including some Golden Arches, though the original plan was not to buy food, using the toilet instead - sometimes one thing leads to another
That summary enough. It was a fun-filled week and I drove a few hundred miles on American roads with a vaguely helpful sat nav and a very very helpful low cost of fuel. I should offset it by planting something. Perhaps the seeds of doubt in my own self-esteem. Nope. Already managed that.

Wednesday, November 7

Good To Go

Yesterday was pretty tricky. The cold had been getting worse and grinding me down into the misery zone - well, that and my growing sense of running out of time.

The running out of time might have been figurative, or it might be that I was trying to coordinate too many things before then rushing off to go on holiday. Yesterday was the turn of the curtains, which were supposed to be done before my new housemate comes to join the household. Last night was my last chance to get them up, as it were. The day started badly with the non-appearance of the electrician - snarled up in traffic as he was. I eventually gave him my requests by phone and headed off to work.

Work was busy, but not unconsolably so.

My mood was descending. I guess I feel like I'm running out of time figuratively too. This year really has been a nuisance and I only wish that I could have held on to more opportunities than I did over the course of it.

Going home, low and miserable, I collected a friend, with whom I'm going on holiday. The plan was to plan things on the computer while I got the curtains up. We discussed stuff, but didn't really organise very much of it. The curtains went up, though.

Then we went to a bonfire party. A nice thing to do, but neither a cure for last minute house adjustments nor a cold.

However, the party was very nice and I did an excellent job of boring everyone with whom I spoke. I also got a "try out" of some material I've always wanted to do on stage, which, for some excellently fortunate reason, became the topic of conversation. It seemed funny when I said it in company, so maybe it's one for the stage sometime. Perhaps when I next MC in Southampton, which threatens to be a regular MCship for me, which would be nice.

Ah Southampton - why do you draw me close so often?

Anyway, today has been noticeably worse. I still had myriad loose ends to tie up and the pressure seemed greater. My mood was lower. Hoorah. I need a sodding holiday now.

I think it's all sorted out now. The last of the printouts for the holiday have emerged from the printer. I've found necessary passports and I got some travel money. I've left keys with the right people and I've had further keys cut for the tiler tomorrow morning.

I've got various cars booked for various reasons and my calendar is full tomorrow, but manageable... just...

I did a gig tonight. Wise? Not really. I had a cold and a shit load of stress and a holiday to sort out. However, I am a stand-up comedian and gigs are what I'm built to do. So I did the gig. It went well. I couldn't quite do one of my songs much justice, given that it has some unfunny patches which rely more on the quality of the performance to keep them interesting, than on the music or lyrics to be interesting in their own right. D'oh! However, my new David Bowie joke worked in its second outing, so I'm pleased. Also, I managed to deliver one of my gags to a round of applause, which it's never had before. Nice.

There was even a free M&S meal in it for me, eaten from the M&S simply food/garage in Hammersmith at a point where my car refused to estimate the remaining mileage and just said "!!Refuel!!" on the dashboard. Intense.

So, I'm off to New York for a week, with a friend. Should be fun. Don't miss me...

...I didn't think you would.

Monday, November 5

A Quick Word

Me: Can I have a quick word with you about the work you were doing the other day.
Person X: Yes
Me: I had a look at the code you'd done, while I was doing something with one of the other team members. I see that you wrote some code on subject Y.
Person X: Yes
Me: I just wanted to say. It was really very good. A perfect example of how it should be done. Thank you.
A little recognition is good to give and good to receive. Better still to have the opportunity in a manner that isn't contrived. I realised it in the car on the way home - "that was really good, it would be worth commenting on it". So I did.

Sunday, November 4

Wanton Navel Gazing

Don't bother reading this. It's really not worth it.

I think I worked myself out a bit in the car journey home. By this, I mean I think I know what's bothering me and has done forever. It comes out in the comedy, it comes into play when I'm low and moody, it's probably the core of my being, along with wanting to be liked and trying so very hard to make that happen, while often making it less likely.

The clue is in my comedy. A lot of what I do is very self-deprecating. I frequently make jokes where rejection of me, or my own self-deprecation is what makes the punchline work. Someone asked me why I insult myself so much on stage, and my answer was "so that I can get there before someone else does". This isn't it, though. It would be a good strategy to deal with bullying and I did, indeed, use it. However, the reason I do this sort of thing comedically is more likely to be a sort of inoculation against the sort of thing which hurts me. Jokes are like that. They're practice pain - the brain safely goes through the motions of something bad and then you can laugh it off.

What is this sort of thing which hurts me, then? It's rejection. It's not being good enough. Worse than that, it's having someone else chosen above me, as though I somehow needed to be shown proof that I'm not good enough. When you couple this with my innate greed and my desire for self-indulgence, you can see why I can be such an insecure arsehole at times.

What makes this worse, some of the time, is my strategy for dealing with things I do think I'm good at. I will automatically assert myself, using the things I know to be true, or the things I know that I know about, as the tools to prove myself. What I might be trying to say is something like "Please don't undervalue me in this respect. Look, I know X, or Y.". Alternatively, I might be saying "Hey you. Don't start imagining you're better than me when it comes to Z." The truth is, I'm not sure. Perhaps the only way I can demand my own respect is to somehow prove that there are others whom I respect less than I respect myself.

I'd like to think it's the other way around. Perhaps the only way I can feel respected is to prove myself to people whose respect I want to earn. To be honest, though, I don't have much evidence for this. When I'm comfortable, less insecure, and generally closer to people, then I think all this proving myself shit sort of evaporates and people can see me for what I am... and that's not necessarily a good thing, but I think I can get by on it, and I think people can see that I'm not the maniac I appear to be. However, I am aware, and have been made aware on a number of occasions before, that I come across as a bit in-your-face, especially when I think I know something.

All the in-your-face stuff works well for being a performer. That's what in-your-face can do. You put yourself forward as the big "I am". Bizarrely, it's when I perform that I find myself most humbled. I have my limitations. I can read an audience, in general, at least. It appears that I can't always read people, but then people don't always convey their feelings in their reactions - we all hide how we're feeling to some extent, and each person has different ways of doing this. It's only when you get to know them that you can spot the clues... either that, or you learn hypnosis and the superset of all people's "reveals" (or whatever they're called).

In summary, then, I don't want to be the rejected one. I don't want to miss out on stuff I want. I don't someone to be better than me. I want to fight for my status and keep it... except... well, I can't always do that.

I've seen relationships end and been aware that there's nothing I can do to save them. I know I can't beg someone into loving me. I know that I can't fight to have someone's love, or bargain them into feeling what they don't. I know that I won't be able to guarantee that I'll find a relationship with someone I fancy, since there are a finite number of people whom I actually might fancy, a limited amount of time to get to know them in, and several more interesting, more secure, more confident, more capable men per woman than just me. So, I fear rejection because I've had it all through my life, and I expect it when it comes to relationships.

I doubt I'm unique in this outlook.

People are born to think of themselves as unique and special. It's rare that I meet someone who is genuinely self-effacing. I will be self-deprecating to try to protect myself, or to try to find sympathy, or even, and I think this is true, because I genuinely have evidence that I'm not good at something. However, I still see myself as special. This is not a judgement, it's a heartfelt desire and an instinct which either comes from innate personality, early childhood conditioning, or just the way I was schooled. Who knows!?

I'm stuck with this personality.

Despite going round for a couple of weeks in September thinking otherwise, I'm not really a bad person. Sure, I make mistakes, and I'm quite crap at a lot of things I wish I were good at (and sometimes pretend to myself that I'm better at), but I'm quite an affable and positive individual with stuff to contribute. Perhaps, my confident statement of things I know or believe to be true is reassuring to some. Perhaps that's a positive side to this apparent egotistical bullshit. Perhaps some people need to be the ones to state things as irrefutable fact.

Perhaps not.

I feel like I am lower than second best and that there's little point in wanting to be wanted, since rejection is bound to be round the corner. This is not helpful. This ignores many genuine friendships that I've enjoyed over the years, with a few new friendships formed over the course of this year alone, for all of which I'm thankful. I know that it's greedy to want to be thought of more highly and maybe even to be desired by someone... I should take stock of what I've got and rejoice in it.

I have opportunity and resource that many could never dream of. I've just overset my expectations. As a result, I appear not to be as happy as I want to be.

It's something of a trap.

Right. Well, that's enough warbling on the subject of myself for one post. I may come to read this back at some point and think I've hit the nail on the head. Or, I may come back, read this, and think I'm a crap amateur psychobabbler and fall out with myself. Who knows. I guess it's going to be me alone for the foreseeable, so I'll have the time to try all options.

Repeat Until...

The recording session went well. In blogging terms it was a disaster, as I only managed to tap away for a little of the total recording time, a lot of the songs requiring acoustic recordings, where the sound of fingers against keyboard would have been immortalised. However, creatively it was a success. I contributed a bass line to the first song, which is why my thumb is now bass-sore.

I get to play bass once ever blue moon, I learn the song quickly, play the bassline onto the recording, forget everything and take away only the recording and my sore thumb. That's the sort of basic bassist I appear to be. Still, it's nice to be involved.

For the second song I contributed a single line of the lyrics. I didn't contribute any playing.

The third song we tackled involved a re-record of a song for which I had already written the lyrics. We redid the vocal with the better microphone I now possess, and a slightly more intelligent use of the machinery for the mixing.

After recording for a good few hours (4), we returned to town, listening to the fruits of our (and by "our", I mean "his-with-a-little-of-mine") labours. Then lunch, a trip to town to discover that GAP shops don't really fit me, and then a return home for pre-gig preparation and then going to the gig.

Tonight was in 3 parts. I travelled to the gig, listening to the CD of our recording session, pretty much on a loop. Then I did the gig, which was no pressure, honest, despite having a friend celebrating her birthday with a bunch of her friends in the audience. Then there was the drive home, involving more listening to the CD of the recording.

I had been a bit anxious about tonight's gig, but it went well. My sore throat and general feeling of being run-down didn't impact too heavily on my performance, and having friends in the audience is always as much of a bonus as it is a fear-factor (the fear of looking stupid in front of people you like).

All in all, considering the slings and arrows of my outrageous fortune, I shall sleep, perchance to dream, rather than die to sleep no more.

Rehearse Record

I'm presently sitting in the freshly plastered second bedroom of my house with my friend playing piano next to me as I record him on my equipment. This is not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

My throat is sore, my nose is running, there's an itch in my breathing, caused by the dust in the house and the memory of yesterday's paint fumes. However, life is good today. I'm doing something I enjoy... or at least I'm enjoying helping with it being done. There's not a great deal for me to do while the song is being recorded. Where we're not recording acoustically, I can type away, provided I don't disturb my friend with the tapping. By recording acoustically, I mean with a microphone, rather than the sort of recording where the sound comes directly into the equipment through leads.

I think most of what we're recording today will be acoustic, so the chances to catch up on this blog are limited. Never mind.

The week has been a hell of a challenge, and I'm truly knackered. Today is going to be fun, and I have a gig tonight that I'm both looking forward to and slightly fearfully anticipating. Fearful anticipation is part of the drug that keeps stand-ups standing up. I think tonight's fear is, in part, due to the fact that I'm going to be MCing, not one of my bigger strengths, and the fact that I'm not in my physical peak. I've probably even put weight on.

However, there's no room for dwelling on the matter. I have too much to do this week, including going on holiday on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 3

Everything Day

I think I managed to do more things today than I would normally expect to do on a slightly sunny Saturday. I had intended to wake up to meet a decorator at 8.30 for him to give me a quote. Wake up, I did, but the decorator wasn't coming. He texted me to let me know. So, I lay there, prone, for a while, and then prepared to get up for the next trademan, who was due to see me at 10. In fact, when the time came for him to arrive, I was already up ladder painting my bathroom.

Yes. It was a Saturday morning after quite a late night, and I was up a ladder with a paintbrush listening to "[my] old mate Brian Matthew" on Radio 2. I don't know if it's been a huge amount of time since I last heard him, or whether he had a cold, or whether the memory I have of his voice is from the Beatles at the BBC recordings from the 60's, but it appeared that he sounded older and rougher than I thought he would. I guess we're all getting older. I'm feeling older, and I wasn't even alive in the 60's.

The workman, a tiler, didn't arrive. It's a shame, since him name, which I won't divulge, but it has the same rhythm as "Johnny Terry", had, over the course of the week, set me off into memories of a song from Brigadoon called "The Chase" with the chorus "Run an' get 'im". So, I'd had the guy's name running round my head all week and he didn't come. In some ways, it's a relief since I'd already pretty much decided on a different tiler, and this guy would have had to come up with a good price and a really competitive date for doing it for me to consider him. I'd even tried to ring him up to cancel him, but he hadn't returned my call.

It took no effort on my part for the tiler not to arrive. I simply painted my bathroom. After Monday's efforts, the bathroom walls were already at one coat of bathroom paint over one coat of "primer". As lunchtime arrived on Saturday, the bathroom was finally painted enough for me to call it done. With the tiles down, it can be completed by my builder. This is going to happen. Yay.

Except... no tiles.

I took a friend with me to a local tile emporium, recommended by the tiler I'd already had a quote from. We looked at tiles. We chose tiles. I rang the tiler, he confirmed he can come on Wednesday as we'd discussed and asked me to text him the name of the tiles, so he can buy them and bring them with him. He explained how his discount is variable, depending on the value of the tile. The cheaper tiles I'd chosen may not have much of a discount on them. I hung up and reconsidered the tiles. This wasn't a cost thing. It was my friend illustrating how the chosen tiles might look against the sort of colour of kitchen units I've got coming. We decided to go for a more expensive tile and I texted it to the tiler. I've no idea how they'll look when down, but the next time I see them, they'll be on the floor of my kitchen and bathroom. That's quite exciting.

It's a bit weird. I go away on Wednesday and I'll return to find a totally tiled kitchen and bathroom AND a housemate. I even texted my builder to let him know when the tiling would be complete, so there's a risk that he may come in from Friday and fit the bathroom. That would be hardcore.

I dropped my friend home, following her help, and then considered lunch. In a confusing approach to lunch, I decided to go home, get my bike, take it to the cycle shop for adjustments, get lunch while it was adjusted, as well as getting a haircut, then pick it up to return home to continue the painting. That's quite a strange mix of activities for an hour in the middle of a Saturday, but it seemed to deal with various loose ends that I needed to deal with all in one go.

While my bike was being adjusted, I remembered that the front light's batteries had run out, so I bought some batteries with my lunch at the Co-op. I found a buy one get one free offer on the batteries and was happy about the bargain. I also walked home to eat lunch, throwing away the bag with my lunch remains in it. I remembered, while I was having my haircut, that I'd only extracted one of the two packets of batteries from the shopping bag. Not so much buy one get one free, as much as buy one throw one away. I made a note to reclaim the second set of batteries when I got back home. I had the first set of batteries in my coat pocket, and I put them straight into the bike light when I got back to the bike shop. I was excited. I was solving bike problems. Then I noticed that my cycle helmet was broken, so I bought another one then and there in the bike shop. Not cheap, but sorted.


It was later, while I was on the bike and the cycle light fell off breaking into pieces that I felt that something was trying to stop me getting the bike sorted. Luckily, nothing was irrevocably damaged, except for a minor scratch.

Today had biking in it, sure, but the primary activity was decoration. I returned from lunching to tackle the kitchen. I had some kitchen paint sitting in the room I needed to empty for my forthcoming housemate. Taking a pot of paint out of that room, putting it on the walls and ceilings and then throwing it away would have a dual purpose - emptying the room and making the kitchen painted. Double bonus.

I worked for a number of hours in the confined space with the radio for company. There were occasional texts and even a phone call, during which I painted the wall some more. I was feeling quite ill from my cold, and the paint fumes were not a cure.

After I'd washed up the paint brush and roller tray, the second time I'd done this rather unpleasant job that day, I went upstairs to get changed out of my paint sodden clothes so I could go to Tesco for some food. I went by bike, via a bit of a ride through town, with the fireworks going off around me. Remember remember the 5th of November, and remember that the weekend before it is probably a good time to have a fireworks party. It was at this point that my bike light fell off. No harm done, as I mentioned earlier.

Food bought, I came home, ate in front of the evil scrabulous robot smashing my soul to pieces with its ability to play scrabble, and then had a shower and got into bed for a bit of a read.

At about 10.30pm, the fatigue took over and I couldn't stay awake any more. The book A Piano In The Pyrenees was worth staying awake for. I couldn't manage it though. I went to sleep, perchance to dream, or at least wake up in time for my friend, who was coming to visit in the morning.

Friday, November 2

Home Truths

Work was interesting. A long meeting got longer and I learned some things I wish I'd learned sooner. Feedback is always valuable.

After work there was a trip to the theatre. Avenue Q. Totally excellent.

Then there was some low-fat-low-calorie frozen yoghurt which had an almost instant effect on my companion. No: it didn't make her suddenly lose even more of the weight she's lost, it was a more unpleasant reaction, involving sending her off to the loo. I shall not go any further.

Needless to say, we didn't get the fast train home. The slow train did the job though, and I got to sleep relatively late. So late, in fact, that it was early. This didn't bode well for the following morning's wake up, but it had been a useful day and I'd enjoyed the evening out immensely.

Thursday, November 1

Living Outside The Box

There's thinking outside the box, then there's getting out of the box and thinking. Stop all these stupid metaphors now! Well, I would, but today was a day of being outside of the office and running workshops. Our workshop was based on a TVM - a thinly veiled metaphor. The whole thing was overshadowed, though, by the requirement that we do an advert for the thing at around 9am in front of everyone.

I'd written a small comedy sketch - about 1 minute 13 seconds in length - for which I required my workshop partner to be game enough to act alongside me. I put myself forward as the "I did" in this situation, since I instigated it. I cannot emphasise enough the "but for" principle. But for the active and capable involvement of the other person, there wouldn't have been a result. I hope that the other person felt that they had appropriate support and say in the end result. As it was, the skit went exceedingly well, better than I could have hoped, and I felt that we'd both delivered a good performance.

We'd rehearsed well.

We had to wing it through the workshops a bit. The workshop was a sort of a game to illustrate the metaphor. A lot of planning had gone into the production of the artefacts of the game and, broadly speaking, this work paid off. I'd done some of it, but my workshop partner had shouldered a lot of it for me. As a result, we seemed to have everything we needed to make a success of the day.

We ran the session three times with differing results. In general, I think it was well received. It's a shame we didn't get to go to the other workshops, which also seemed to be well received.

At the end of the day, my voice felt tight - the start of a combination of voice-strain and a cold.

I hung around after the event for long enough to get some bad calories into my system and then I went home. I got changed, drove to my gig, found it not to be occurring and then drove home. Great. I would have done some decorating, but I was worn out. I think I managed to sort out a birthday present, though. That's something, at least.

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