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Thursday, November 22

A Jalopy And Jalapeno Jamboree

The title doesn't describe today in any way. I don't think any title could.

Work started at its usual pace, and then something hit the accelerator around 2pm, which made things more interesting, but also a lot more stressful. This was generally good stress, though, so I won't complain.

During the work day I continued some of the work I was doing on staff reviews, which I gave as much attention to doing well as I could. These things are important and if I can't treat my co-workers with respect, I may as well give up. I hope that I did the right thing by them and that they actually benefit from the whole experience. I'm saying that genuinely, not as some way of trying to cover my arse in case they read this crap.

The plan had been to leave work at the normal time and then head home to get to the station to go to London to do tonight's gig. However, an afternoon meeting outside of the office required my attendance, so I found myself in the car away from the office, dressed for work, replanning my London trip for when the meeting ended. Obviously, I also found myself engaged in the meeting. The replanning happened en route.

Anyway, I decided to drive to London. Though I had my guitar and amp in the boot of the car, I didn't have my jeans and comfy shoes with me. Never mind. I was wearing a stripey shirt, so I could do the gig. I'd just have to transfer a plectrum to my back pocket and I'd be good to go. My gigging trousers always have the plectrum in the back pocket, even when I'm not gigging (unless I'm extremely off-duty). I carry spare plectrums in the wallet, though, so all is well.

Incidentally, on the subject of wallets, I was asked by a journalist in the street the other day whether I was feeling festive. I said I wasn't. He then asked what I wanted for Christmas. I said that I wanted a wallet but that I didn't expect that anyone would or should be buying me a christmas present this year. Last year I received presents from my now-ex-girlfriend's family, but I feel it would be inappropriate for such a gesture this year, even though we're all still friendly and in touch. I didn't tell the journalist this last bit. I did start to paint a fairly pessimistic picture of Christmas... until I remembered the thing I rather look forward to doing over Christmas, which is pretty cool and nothing at all to do with spoiling myself.

I could buy a wallet tomorrow if I wanted. To be honest, I only mentioned it because I had thought that my wallet looked in need of replacement, and the current one was once a christmas present.

Anyway, I digress.

I headed to London from the meeting and joined a whole world of traffic. While I'd originally set the sat nav to take me to the venue, I decided to cut my losses and stop in Hammersmith, to do the rest by tube. This seemed, in my view to make a sort of sense. Also, I needed a comfort break, which is a euphemism for a wee, so I stopped at the services, dabbled with the idea of coffee, stood at the Costa, saw a woman making a very troubled face at me and then realised she was looking through me to her husband, so fair dos. Then I gave up on the coffee owing to time.

I headed to Hammersmith as quickly as I could. Clearly the traffic wasn't going to make that easy and clearly I wasn't tackling it very well, since I actually saw the odd-faced woman and her husband in the car behind me as I entered Hammersmith, and I had left them in the not-yet-paying stage of that Costa.

I parked, grabbed the guitar and amp and headed for the tube. I plotted an efficient route, which had me changing to the Victoria line from the Piccaddily at Green Park. It was a work of genius. Then the train stopped. This was bound to happen. It's a train. It stops. People get on. People get off. The three women, one of whom was laughing far too emphatically at everything, had managed to get on at a stop, and were staying on. However, this was something more than just a stop. This was the "we're stopped for too long and they're saying something about a blockage and shortly" type of a stop. There may be trouble ahead, and we didn't have moonlight, music, love, nor romance.

I got chatting to a woman standing next to me. She had made some comment about how hard it was to read standing up on a moving tube, as you needed both hands for the magazine, and one hand to catch oneself. This descended into a discussion about parties on tubes, spilling soup and then Herbalism. She was called Fleur. I promised to look out for Fleurs Herbs in a few years in case she followed her dream to open her own Herablistic practice. I encouraged her to follow her dreams - just do it. I told her that I was a stand-up comedian, late for a gig, that I just did it, and that I was part following a dream, though still keeping the day job. I don't know if any of that made sense at the time or if it makes sense now. It just happened.

The train threatened to make me late. Then it made me late. Then it threatened to stop at King's Cross. They said it would be there indefinitely - just one stop from Highbury where I wanted to be. Fleur and I walked away from the train and then the doors started beeping, so we jumped back on, and then I was at Highbury, and only 15 minutes later than planned - 30 minutes later than the time I'd hoped to meet my friend there.

We went upstairs to the gig. First we went downstairs, following a poster. The poster wasn't a signpost to the gig though. It was an advert. Downstairs we found the gents. I've played some toilets in my time, but never literally. Upstairs the gig was to be found. They had a PA system, so my amp carrying was a waste of time.

There was little audience. The promoter was nowhere to be seen. This wasn't looking good. After the two and a half hour journey to be there with a lot of stress along the way, I was feeling frazzled. Wouldn't it be funny, I thought, if the gig was cancelled. Then the promoter came along and told me that he didn't have me on the list for the night and that I'd missed a previous gig of his. I said that I hadn't had such a thing happen before and that I'm normally very good at getting my booking rights. However, such mixups can occur and never mind. I wasn't going to insist on getting shoe-horned into the gig. I'd just come back another time.

After a bit of discussion with my friend we headed off to seek greener pastures. There was the talk of going to see a show at a nearby fringe theatre. The show was to be an undersubscribed (as we found out when we got there) impro show. I explained that it might be nice to patronise such a thing in the style of an Edinburgh Fringe performance...

...we went out for a drink across the road instead.

I had a duck wrap, which turned out to be some duck, some cucumber, some spring onion, all laid on a plate with some pancake rolls - make it yourself. My friend quipped that this was the nearest I'd gotten to cooking all year. He was right too! Almost. I helped someone grate some cheese back in August!

Anyway, we caught up and then he gave me a lift back to King's Cross where I toyed with the idea of the bus back to Hammersmith, saw that it took 65 minutes, took the tube instead, got into my car, paying a lot of money for parking, and then rode home with another friend in my headset making jokes.

This was not an evening where I felt on top of my game. I had the pre-gig and post-gig experience without the gig in the middle. This is most frustrating and the stress of getting to the gig wasn't fair under the circumstances. Had I arranged a night to meet my London friend and just chilled out somewhere appropriate, it would have been better. Note: not all good nights out have to have a gig in them.

I'm glad I spent time with people I care about this evening. Shame that it was made brain-numbingly stressful by circumstances.

Arriving home, I got a shower, played some scrabble, wrote this blog, all with the music of Bernstein playing on my new stereo from my mp3 player. Life is not all a pool of muscle-tearing stress.


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