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Friday, October 17

Amusement Is A Big Thing

I spent the morning at home. I was working. In fact, the week had been all the more productive for the fact that I'm allowed to work from wherever I need to, with the proviso that the work gets done. As I didn't need to be working face to face with anyone else, I worked from my house. I got plenty done, but I needed to get into the office for the afternoon. In fact, the beauty of the day was that it seemed to be in neat 3 or 4 hour activities. I knew I wasn't due to bed until after 2am, so to wake up around 8ish and then have a huge wait until bedtime would have been difficult. Thus, I was pleased to have lots of different tasks to break it up.

Why was bedtime so important? Don't be cheeky. I was due to spend the weekend away in a nice hotel in Canterbury. I had a gig in what many might call the entirely opposite direction, in Birmingham, so my weekend couldn't start until after the gig and after I'd arrived in Canterbury. Simple, really.

Short bursts of activity was the order of the day. The tool I was creating was progressed in the morning. Then I got lunch and fuel and did a conference call, which got me as far as the office. I was cheekily dressed in jeans, which is not office dress code, but it was a Friday, so I had my own dress-down day. I say day, it was 2 hours.

There was going to be a meeting, which is one of the reasons I'd planned to have someone meet me at the office at 4.30, so I could take him to the airport. In the end, the meeting didn't happen, so I got some more work done before heading to Heathrow with passenger in tow. Then I headed to Birmingham to the comedy club for my sound check.

I had a fair old wait before the gig started, but all was nice and relaxed and the audience were large in number and seemed to be nice.

This is where I'd normally tell a story of storming a gig. If it's a nice audience, surely I can do well. To be honest, I can't really judge how well the gig went. I know this: it went better than last time, but it also felt unfamiliar. I could liken it to the driver of a regular car, like an Astra, going to drive a massive lorry, full of concrete. Big audiences don't work the same way that small audiences do.

As it happens, I got some laughs, but I knew I was playing at a totally different level to normal. My internal director, the voice that sits on my right shoulder, trying to make the performance work by spotting my behaviour and correcting it, was barking orders left right and centre. I retreated into the tried and tested of the act and didn't really dare reach out to the audience beyond just delivering the set piece stuff. All in all, it was a clunky performance.

But the problem wasn't the audience or the material. Even the performance wasn't desperately poor. It simple came down to confidence and comfort. I'm not used to a room that size, packed so neatly with people, all staring at me. I'm not used to the noises to work with and the ones to ignore in that situation. I'm usually a much bigger fish in a much smaller pond.

This is the level I have to be able to play at to be serious about comedy. I await the feedback from the gig organisers.

Anyway, I came off stage with a fairly bad post-gig come-down, packed up my stuff and got rushing to my car for the long haul to Canterbury. It's 3 hours 20 minutes of driving, but I'd not eaten, it was nearly 10.30 and I was feeling tired. A bit.

I made the journey pass by with lots of chewing gum and a fairly awful musical - Blitz! - by Lionel (Oliver!) Bart. Songs about Hitler were amusing, but not quite enough to keep me chipper. As usual, Tescos that close before they're meant to, and garages that treat you like a criminal who cannot be allowed into the place after dark, made me irritable. So, indeed, did the parking machine in Canterbury (ooh, we fast forwarded) which took cards, but not my sort of card (more their own special cards - oooeee, whoopie doo!).

I regained some control of my temper, drove to a nearby Kebab house that smelled of sick, with some slightly chubby new-Mini-driving wreck of a woman ordering chips with extra salt (she may as well sell the car, she won't need it next year when she's dead) standing at the counter. I bought a diet coke, thus yielding change enough for the meter.

I paid and displayed.

I checked into the hotel.

I got into the room and straight into bed.

One of the busiest and most stressful weeks of late was over and the weekend had begun.

I was very happy and warm.

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