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Monday, January 24

A few loose ends
This blog is about the details, rather than the bigger picture. As such, here are some random details that haven't found their way online.

A few days ago (it feels like longer... though let's not go into perceptions of size here) I mentioned someone I was trying to help with a computer problem. This particular person had become a virulent boil on the arse of the planet with her stupid attitude towards getting help. She didn't want to give us any information, insistent, instead, that we were wasting her time and should just solve her undefined problem. I believe I called her the dumb-ass bitch. I didn't call her that to her face (well, to her email program). This proved to be both a job-keeping move and also a good diplomatic stance. I slagged her off on this site, vented my frustrations and was, comparatively, exceedingly polite and positive to her by email. The situation changed. I must have charmed her since she changed from a poisonous cobra into quite a reasonable person. In one email she was calling me pompous, in the next it was all - "Hi. Thanks for your help... I promise to be more cooperative in future.". Weird. Is this that bi-polar disorder I've heard about? Or am I simply a charmer? Probably not the charmer. As usual, for every action there is an equal and opposite. Despite the fact that I've done one gig this year, the usual miscreants on the comedians' website have chosen to purge some of their self-loathing by publicly attempting to put me down. After 30 odd years of being treated as the bullied victim by similar schoolboys (usually of a similar age - I don't get my head flushed down the toilet by a bunch of 12 year olds anymore), I'm both accustomed to this sort of thing and a bit weary of it. Apparently, I'm a know-all cock of the highest order, but then I knew that already, since I know all. My omniscience is ace. I went on the website and debunked the people who pooh-poohed me. I can see their point. As with the customer who decided I was being pompous, so some other people are able to take an instant dislike to the sort of jolly, wordy, mo' fo' what I am. Luckily, I'm growing increasingly comfortable in my skin (and believe me, I have a lot of skin, so that's a good value-ratio) so these bullies are not going to get too far under my skin - they're a little like eczema, though: totally harmless, but rather irritating - and it doesn't look too good.

I have indulged in a long online discussion recently about the subject of my self-image. I'm generally quite self-deprecating. I think that some of this borders on the false-modesty designed to make one look good and I know it's a cheap trick. As a general rule, I don't think that I'm particularly pleasant when I'm singing my own praises, so I tend to play things down, or speak highly of what I'm enthusiastic about. I also like to set people's expectations low so I can exceed them. Under promise, over deliver... that sort of thing. A good example of the karma, relating to me and self image, happened yesterday. After the rehearsal of the first act of the show, the director gave everyone notes. His notes to me were quite positive - he told me that he'd not had the chance prior to now to tell me that I was delivering a good and consistent characterisation and that I should keep on doing it. This was great. I then proceeded to sod-up my part in act two. I got lines wrong which I'd learnt before Christmas, knowing that the scene in question is really the only scene in which I get to be a significant part of the action. It was just a hiccup... and it was desperately cold in that room (excuses are to be sought and used wherever possible). Anyway, it's no surprise that I reacted to praise by becoming rubbish. I fully believe that pride comes before a fall. This is why I go for self-deprecation (which I don't do very well, by the way... do you see what I did there!?).

Knowing faces
I mentioned how odd it is for me to know my way around little parts of the country which are unfamiliar. It's also quite odd to have familiar faces in cities I spend little time in. I have friends in Edinburgh and that's not weird. People have friends all over the place (I hope so... well, I guess some people don't). However, it's the people you recognise, but don't know hugely well that I'm talking about here. When I was doing a lot of overnight stays in Edinburgh and using the train, the lady at the cookie stand at Waverley station became very familiar. It seems a bit odd to think that I might walk past her in a city in which I'm a guest, and recognise her. It's odd to think how many people you are incidentally connected to. It's one thing when it's in your home town, but it feels a bit like it's cheating when the random people live over 100 miles from your home.

In Edinburgh on Saturday I noticed someone at a table of the pub in which we had lunch. She works for a different pub in Edinburgh, where I've done a couple of gigs. We did the smiling/waving thing as I walked past. This was preferable to a conversation which would have been fairly empty, since we don't know each other. Our shared history is "Can I have a pint?" and her listening to me do my act. Though we were instantly recognisable to each other. Later on in the same day, I was walking along Princes Street and I spotted someone else I know. This person spoke to us almost daily as we were flyering our show during the fringe and eventually came along to see it (for free). We have actually been in touch since the fringe - the occasional text message - and have met intentionally on a couple of occasions. However, meeting at random was a bit awkward. As we're not bosom buddies, there was no "Why didn't you tell me you were coming up?" and very little of the substance to the "How are you?" conversation. We stood, exchanging pleasantries on a small traffic Island, with two onlookers, in the form of the other members of this person's original group of walking-along-the-street-ers. At some random point, one of them piped up - "I'm not being rude, but we were going to get some food because I'm starving and we really have to get along." She was being rude. However, she did buy us an end to the conversation. Some conversations can sort of peter out awkwardly, rather than reach a climax, and we were standing on a traffic island in the cold with nothing much to say except hi. I pointed out that I'd felt that a smile and wave was inadequate for the situation since I was thrilled to randomly bump into someone I knew, but that a conversation was not really appropriate for the moment - this person had bought us a neat little exit door. So we parted company. I later received a text of apology for the rudeness of the party pooper. No apology necessary.

I'm happy when I'm biking
I hadn't ridden the bike since early last week, but I was spurred on by my efforts to put loads of music into my MP3 player walkman. I reckoned that the hours of filing the albums into a sensible order deserved a bit of listening, so I hopped on the bike this morning. Ulterior motives abound. I also wanted to get the thing serviced, which I'm about to organise (I'll cycle it to the shop where I bought it in a minute). This is not a happy bike. The rear wheel's bearings seem not to have beared up to the stress of my weight on the saddle. In addition, the ratchet system for the rear cogs seems to be seized - the cogs want to continue going forwards, all the time, so you can't backpedal or even hold the pedals motionless while moving without the chain going saggy and then requiring some pedalling back into alignment... it's a bit weird. I had worried that this was caused by a lack of oiling of the chain (which had gone rusty for a bit). However, I've done a fair bit of strategic oiling and I've come to the conclusion that it's more likely to be a result of the bearings and other stuff coming out of alignment.

So, hopefully the nice people at the bike shop will sort this stuff out. Unlike a car which has the potential to cost hundreds, I can't see how this bill can be too outrageous - my last car service cost over half the value of the bike, so I'm price conditioned to feel happy paying good money for transport. Some of the stuff that's wrong should be fixable under warranty. I guess I'll be reporting back on this one soon.

The Beach Boys and their Pet Sounds album saw me into work this morning and, despite having had virtually, no sleep (owing to being very very cold in the night and not being able to settle at all), the cycle ride invigorated and refreshed me. I am a bit droopy of the eye. I should imagine that I would be terrible for keeping awake in a dull room. Say an exam room. Particularly if the exam was about something dull, like a discussion about the reasons not to do IVF treatment (bear with me on this one). If I had to do that now, I'd need the offer to include a cold shower... thus reviving me... thus it would be an invitation for an invigoration before invigilating the in vitro fertilisation inversion exam. I really need to get a girlfriend.


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