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Thursday, August 4

I am a computer programmer. I like writing computer programs. That's what I do. I don't particularly like following a dull test script to try out a computer program to see whether it works. There are other ways of proving whether the software works and we must adopt them if we're ever to get anywhere. However, this mindless testing was, at least, made more entertaining over the course of today by the presence of Messrs Lee and Herring in my ears. They were broadcasting on Radio 1, from 1995 (or thereabouts). It was great. I was transported back to a time when I was a big fan of theirs and when their quirky humour was, for me, the pinnacle of all that was good in comedy. I still really like their stuff. I would also be unable to listen to it unless I was doing something mindless, like testing, so it wasn't a wholly bad experience.

After work, I jumped into the car and drove to Edinburgh. I wanted to be in Edinburgh for about 7.30 and so left the office at 5 to achieve this. I had a three-fold mission. I wanted to perform
once and see two shows. As I drove to the Scottish capital, my mission was altered. I was to perform twice and see one show. Fair enough, you help out with the performing when you can. The show I was definitely going to see was a venture involving some friends of mine, one of whom helped us out extensively last year while we were doing The Musical!. It was only fair to go along and support his first preview this year.

Still, I had a car journey in which to contemplate life, the universe and so on, and I had two performances to give before I was allowed to scoot from the venue (in New Town) where I was performing to the other venue (in Old Town) where I would be watching. As I drove, I listened to the radio. I always like to tune into Radio 4 at 6.30 (when I'm gigging at least) to listen to their comedy half-hour. On this occasion, it was the Hudson and Pepperdine show. For some reason, I felt like I'd heard of these guys before, but I didn't recognise their show or style. Overall, it was 20 minutes' worth of wasted time. While there was comedy value in some of what they were doing, it was over blown, only vaguely amusing and largely falling on the deaf ears with their live audience. As a more experienced performer, I know more clearly what a failed joke sounds like. I hoped that their mediocrity wouldn't affect my own performance.

So, I sat in the driving seat and pondered what I could do to spice up my own act. "I know," I thought "I'll do it backwards!". Now, I don't mean that I bizarrely decided to perform the words in reverse order, more the sections of my reasonably carefully arranged set. I would go from the finale through to the intro. I started to sketch this out in my head and then stopped myself. I would do it backwards but I would not be allowed to rehearse it or otherwise prepare it. It would have to be spontaneously backwards.

As I arrived at the venue. I saw the compere getting little out of a disinterested crowd. Then an act came on and got a bit. Then, after a wee break, I went on and, with gay abandon, got the room whooping. My opening line of "waheeeeey" seemed to capture the mood. I don't quite know how I did it, but I go through a set from back to front... and left the stage highly amused at my own stupidity. I giggled for a good 10 minutes afterwards. Such is my nature. I sometimes make myself laugh... so long as the audience have laughed too, that's probably acceptable.

My girlfriend was due on holiday in a couple of days, so I left the venue between shows (I'd closed that show and was to open the next) for a chat with her before she went. We discussed many things including a rather vindictive act on the part of someone who has recently left my employer's employ. We said our goodbyes and she went off to pack, and I went in search of food.

My new jeans were really starting to hurt me - they're lower cut than my others and the belt digs in and makes me feel fatter than other clothes might... but I'm still really at a zenith of obesity at the moment (not my own zenith - I've been immense - but still a local maximum). With this in mind, I'm really starting to look for ways of being less fat. Hopefully, running round Edinburgh is one of them. In this instance, buying a portion of sushi from Sainsbury's made me feel better about what I was eating and what I wasn't. No pastry or mayonnaise, or chocolate for me!

In the second show, I left the guitar in the bag and did some material - largely new stuff. I think I'd like to be able to make an audience laugh with spoken material. I didn't really manage it this time. Still, I got some response and in a better atmosphere, my new stuff might actually work.

Then I scooted at top speed to the Baby Belly venue, which looks amazing, to see my friends' show. I'd seen the Baby Belly venue as I drove in. In fact, as I drove into Edinburgh, I got three hits of excitement: there was anticipation as I drove up the royal mile and saw the venue I'll be performing in, joy at seeing the top end of the royal mile all set out for the Fringe stuff, and then a real surprise as I saw how the Underbelly organisers have stamped their brand over their new acquisition - the Baby Belly. All of a sudden, I wanted to just see shows and shows and more shows. I really love the Fringe.

I'll not say much about the show I saw except that it went rather wrong. This was down to a computer problem which I may or may not have solved after the show. However, the guys kept the audience entertained with "stuff" and it was the first preview, so hopefully it won't count too much against them. If they keep getting audiences like that, they'll not go too far wrong.

Eventually, I set back to Newcastle for my real life. I'd be back in Edinburgh before long, though.


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