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Tuesday, April 16

It's not trivial

The news from Boston is not good. In fact my parents are in Boston. Luckily my mum posted on facebook that she was fine and back at the hotel safely. In a masterpiece of understatement my sister replied 'good'. Never one to be outdone I simply hit 'Like'.

Monday, April 15

That's not my opportunity - so whose is it?

This morning an opportunity came my way. I wasn't eligible.

The story could have ended there.

I did something I wouldn't normally do. I thought about whom I knew that matched the opportunity. I contacted that person and told them about it. This person has been in touch to say that they're going for it and may be successful. That's nice. That's a warm feeling.

A few lessons from this:

  • Do something for someone - it might make their day
  • Success doesn't have to be your own for it to be worthwhile
  • Look out for the people you know, it reflects well on you to be supportive
  • Do things for the fact that they're right to do, rather than the reward
The person in question said they owe me a drink. I disagree. If they're successful, I'll be proud of their success and that's reward enough.

Plus, what goes around comes around. If we're all like this, then we're, by definition, in good company.

Some Articles

I thought I'd up the read-count of some of the articles I've written for the comedy website Chortle.

In Singing The Blue I wrote a defense and celebration of musical stand-up comedy, one of the more maligned forms of the art. I won the correspondent of the month prize for that. OoooOOOoooh.

With Money for Nothing I was really showboating the principles behind Funny's Funny, but it was still a series of sensible points about how comedians should invest in useful services for their career.

On a similarly financial note, My Car's Earning More Than Me is the most recent article from my fevered pen (fingers on keyboard actually). It looks at the economics of driving to a gig. The result is somewhat given away by the title, though. On the other hand, I do get to mention my favourite motorway bridge (pictured).

Given that "free" is good, my article about the rift between Free Fringe organisations - Defender of the Free World - urges for peace in our times. I'm like Gandhi. And Buddha. Mainly Buddha. And in another piece about the Fringe I blame it on Pigeons.

Don't even get me started on Keith Chegwin. Seriously. If your catchphrase is "Wahey" you can fuck off Cheggers.

Talking of other painful noise, here's how to do musical comedy badly - Bum notes. With a side order of Podcasting Etiquette, which I then totally failed to follow myself in my one off podcast which was not very good.

Finally, as someone who's been self-publishing for years, I wrote a piece on how technology and comedy come together - The Geeks Shall Inherit The Mirth.

Pun titles are courtesy of Steve Bennett.

They say there are two types of comics - ones who are successful and those who write Chortle Correspondents' articles.

Friday, April 5

On Safari

I like travel. I really do. It broadens the mind. I like gigging. I like the series of 20-30 minute performances you get to do around the place. So surely a day filled with a series of 30 minute to 1 hour gigs would be ideal? At the Edinburgh Festival it really is. Occasional splashes of daylight and the Scottish summer - wind, rain, etc - and then you're plunged into the next sweaty chamber where things unfold.

You'd think, therefore, that a day filled with meetings of 30-60 minutes in duration would be the perfect day for the likes of me. A list of meeting rooms and times, with a vague idea of what will unfold in that darkened chamber, you'd think it would be ideal.

Well, it isn't.

What was it I said at my third or fourth meeting of the day to someone? I think I said "Sorry, are we boring you?"to the couple of chaps whom we'd encouraged to come to the front of the meeting room from the back where they'd planned to hide. They weren't really participating in the conversation and had started to play with a phone between each other. They mumbled something about an issue - "Oh, is it a Priority 1?" - nothing.

If my return to an office after Easter break is to be spent running round like this, then I can see why I dropped the niceties. It's not ideal, though, is it?

Still, the day flew by.

Thursday, April 4

I've Bin Complaining

The policy that the bin men use of only collecting a bin whose lid is fully down is problematic. One obvious problem is that the full bin doesn't go away if they decide not to collect the rubbish. The main problem is that this policy is not common sense.

I appreciate that the stated aim of the policy is to improve the safety of the workforce. However, if a bin is overloaded or too dangerous to put into the van, the workforce can take other measures to resolve the problem - like removing a bag from it before loading it.

I appreciate that there's also a case to be made for people trying to get rid of too much rubbish, which is why you have a service to sell overflow sacks, to ensure that people who have more rubbish to dispose than expected have some way of doing so. However, a bin's lid is more dictated by the volume of refuse than the actual mass being disposed of. It only takes a few funny shaped items to make a light bin hard to compact into one with the lid down.

If the policy were applied with reasonable common sense, and a polite request were left on an empty bin, asking for the policy to be followed next time, then there wouldn't be as much of an issue. The fact that the bin-men flat out refuse to collect a full bin is the exact opposite of what they should be doing.

The fact that there have been fatalities within the industry is very emotive, but I think it's not worth creating a dogmatic illogical system over.

So this is my challenge. Justify the policy. Give me the best argument you have for what it's reasonable and the right thing to do. If I can convince you that your argument is not logical, then you can repeal the policy, replacing it, as I suggested above, with a polite note, asking for the bin to be closed next time, rather than the patronising and jobsworth-like tag that gets put on a bin that's not to the bin man's liking.

I've fallen foul of your policy on two or three occasions. The last time was a result of my brother in law putting our bin out for us as a favour and assuming that a 4 inch lid-ajar situation wouldn't be too bad. Now I have 4 weeks worth of rubbish to put out next time. It's plain silly. Let's see if we can discuss this logically and get some common sense back into the picture.

Best regards

Ashley Frieze


Progress is a funny thing. Once you've moved forward, the position you were in looks different from that perspective. To take a step forward is inherently risky and can even reduce the position you were in. But we only move forwards and to stop is the worst of all worlds.

I've recently done a few fixes around the place. I made a small change to my car - I reinstalled the Tardis model on the rear view mirror. I did some fixing of radiator valves in the house, and made a few adjustments to wall hangings. This morning I ended up with a flat tyre on the car - a half a day lost to Kwik-Fit's terrible methods - and we now appear to have a water leak (nowhere near the radiators I touched) into the downstairs ceilings in the house. In the case of the car, it's a common experience that I fix something small, and something big seems to go wrong next - call it the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy if you will (because, coupled with confirmation bias and cherry picking, it is). In the case of the house, there may be a slight causal link. Either way, you kind of wish you hadn't bothered.

However, forwards is my favourite direction (I'm going to assume my car's gears will go next) and I have made a decent amount of progress since the last blog entry.

A lead, earlier.
For those people worrying about the broken audio lead that I was left with after my last gig, you can now rest easy. I dipped into my supply of audio connectors and did some soldering. I even managed to heat up my own fingers, just in case. The lead is now okey dokey. I've no idea why I get the Swedish Chef from the Muppets in my head from time to time, but I just did - he said "The flilm is now okey dokey" which I assume is the way my brain models the resolution of all technical issues.

Putting things right is part of moving forward, and I like fixing things.

A good friend of mine, Sian, said once that whenever her brain empties of thoughts, all that's left is the soundtrack from the musical "Oliver!", playing constantly in the background. I've not quite experienced this, but I've often had a particular song that's playing live in a loop in my head, phasing in and out of my perception, depending on how busy or tired I am.

To Sian, I now say this. Wait until you have kids. Oh my O.M.G! They teach you a lot in the ante-natal classes - mainly how to cope with a baby coming out of you, and how not to kill it in the first few days by doing something stupid, like popping it in the microwave or feeding it spam. What they don't teach you is what it's like to go to bed after a day playing with your child and any toys they have.

It's all about the Jingles.

So, at 39 years of age, I now go to bed with "Heads and shoulders, knees and toes" playing on a loop in my brain. It's playing now a bit. When it's not playing, I've got another catchy jingle ready to take centre stage.

And it doesn't matter.

It's progress.

If I stand in front of an audience of 200 people and make them laugh with my silly songs, it's nothing compared with the smiles and giggles of my little daughter when she sits on my knee and I try to teach her the moves to YMCA. She prefers "I'm a little teapot" and so she should.

The ante-natal classes, should also provide the lyrics to a bunch of well-known nursery rhymes, which I presently can only get about 75% of the words to. I shall be Googling.

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