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Thursday, July 10

On Days Like These

I love the story of how Quincy Jones and Don Black wrote the song "On Days Like These" for the film The Italian Job. Quincy was having trouble finding a tune to fit the film, so Don Black gave him a title, picked out of thin air, and then went off for a walk. When he'd returned, the haunting melody that we know and love was fully formed and the rest is song-writing history. I think making music is something that's a privilege, especially when people come to just know your song - to have it inside of them.

It amazes me when I know any of a song that I've never set out to learn. On my car journey this evening, I played the John Barry CD I have in my car. The link to Don Black is fairly clear when you get into the Bond Themes section of the CD and it's all Barry/Black songs for about 20 minutes. I sang along, warming up my voice for the impending gig. In general, playing film music in the car is a good way to get aroused (not in a cheeky way) and ready for a gig. In particular, when I switched over to the deliciously camp Xanadu soundtrack, I knew my mood would be lifted.

I arrived in Burton-on-Trent in what could be described as a playful mood. I then had some of this mood drummed out of me by the circumstances of the gig. The main body of the gig was in the main body of the pub. This meant that the ante-room in which I was waiting for my bit (the last bit of the show) would either be straining to hear what was going on, or talking over it. As a result, there were times when all I could hear was chatter and no gig - as though the comedy had winked out of existence. Given that I was trying to tune into the night and get myself ready to go on, this was not the ideal way to prepare. My mood dipped. This can happen, and I ignored it as best I could. Ultimately, I knew I was tired, running on very little energy, with only a packet of rice cakes for sustenance, topped off with my 4 shot coffee, which I'd bought about 30 minutes before the gig, slightly scaring the motorway service station staff with my chipper pleased-to-be-here attitude.

Still, an espresso-gasm and some rice cakes cannot counter the sense of isolation from the gig and I wasn't sure whether I'd connect with the audience when I hit the stage.

I did.

I could wax lyrical about letting myself go and bantering with the playful crowd. It would come across more as self-praise, than gratitude for a night with a gift of an audience and a room which really does work for comedy. I think I managed to pretty much silence the ante-room, or at least cut myself off from them, so that was good.

Late night drive home, food, washing up and then bed. The washing up was an attempt to break the mexican stand-off between myself and my housemate. I feel like I've been away from the home pretty much permanently for the last two weeks, so I don't feel like the washing up was mine to do. My housemate has probably reasoned that I've not done the washing up in ages, and so probably should... so I just did it. Now it's done and the kitchen is a little tidier. It wasn't a big deal. Sorted.

Just one long drive left this week (tomorrow, Manchester) and then I'm done. It's been a long week:

Sun - 405 miles from Edinburgh
Mon - 350+ miles Taunton
Tue - the London trip, including 12 miles on the bike and a 3 minute run along a train
Wed - 280 miles round trip to Cambridge
Thu - 300 miles round trip to Burton
Fri - 440 miles round trip to Manchester - for pictures

Not bad... I'm a one man carbon footprint.

And gig wise:

Mon - died a little, was largely ok, but the audience didn't 100% like me and I was a bit too distracted
Tue - did ok as the MC, the audience let me be unfunny and laughed when I was funny - cracking night overall
Wed - had a great one with a playful audience - a few moments they didn't laugh at, but overall, a corker
Thu - had an answer for everything, really enjoyed myself - noticed when the audience energy was dwindling and stopped at the right moment

So, this is called "getting match fit" and now I've got about a week with no gigs in which to go stale. Yay!

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