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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.

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