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Monday, January 18

Unblocking The Blockage

No, this is not part of my letter of complaint to my landlord's agents for not sorting out various plumbing issues in our home. I've not rented a house for a few years and now I can see why this is to be a temporary arrangement; though it's a pain in the arse to have to pay for repairs, at least you have the power to get them carried out when it's your own place. I have digressed already.

I'm not going to get into the whole subject of estate agents right now. They are a law unto themselves. Whether it's being ignored by the people I'm paying for rent of our place, or whether it's the agents who are supposed to be making my property in Reading start paying for itself, I'm getting no satisfaction. I believe there's a hidden verse to "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones that says something like:

And when I'm gettin' mixed messages from the one agent
who told me there was a viewing on Saturday
which the other person in the office implied hadn't happened today

or when the other agent sends a pushy 20-something around
to sell me the feckin' obvious as though I'm supposed to be impressed
and acts surprised when I don't make buying signals
oblivious of the fact that I already invited her over to sign up

I can't get no

It's a secret verse.

Anyway, I'm actually using an age-old trick to make the juices flow. This is the equivalent of slow-roasting myself with a sauce to make the goodness come out - very much like the chicken in ratatouille-esque-sauciness, which I knocked up last night. When I say knocked up, I don't mean "knocked up". I mean I put together a dish comprising these ingredients.

If I paint more of the picture that surrounds me, then more will become clear. The point, in short, though, is that I'm using this blog to break writer's block.

Where's Wally?
Well, I'm in Budapest. Again. I shouldn't complain. If anyone's responsible for sending me here this time, it's me. My goal is to get more closely involved in the work of my team out here, which I do periodically. There's no substitute for sharing the same air as someone you work with. You need to be face to face to make the connection.

I set off this morning at a ridiculous hour. I woke up promptly at 4am. I then fell asleep promptly. Luckily the alarm has a snooze function. Unless you're my girlfriend, in which case, it's very unlucky to find a large lump of meat in the bed with you that comes with a musical accompaniment every 10 minutes, and responds to complaints with an apology, a grunt and the resetting of this accompaniment to go off in 10 further minutes.

However, I managed to raise myself from the dead in a way that didn't require any of the mythical apparatus from TV's Torchwood. Discovering that it would have been better to put my stuff in the hall or spare room where I could use a light without disturbing anyone, I eventually managed to clothe myself and close the case. I hit the hall and met the gaze of two kittens. Spax, the ginger one, sang a tone at me. This could mean any number of things. It might mean "Eyyyyyy" like some sort of feline version of The Fonz. It could mean "What are you doing up at this ungodly hour? and why am I, a kitten, using the context of a non-specific deity to define times of day when I can barely read a clock?". More likely it just means "can I go out or what?".

I let out the cats through the back door and then let myself out the other end of the house. The car was ready to go, pointing the wrong way, as usual, but was soon corrected and I was on the road. I chose the new album by Muse for early morning listening and then graduated to a Doctor Who album - Series 3. Loud incidental music took me the 90 minutes to Heathrow from my home.

At Heathrow a series of moves managed to negotiate my journey from where I parked to where I found myself sitting at the gate. For reasons that don't need to be explained, I discovered a link to Omegle a site which provides free online chat with a total stranger. Why would you want to do that? Well, no reason. I found myself chatting to someone in Chicago who was still up after a night out doing nothing and was waiting to go to sleep and continue his life at high-school before going on to become a mechanic, working on big trucks.

I don't think he got some of my sense of humour. I don't think any reasonable person reading this would really understand what the point was of yattering away, using a touchscreen phone to type long messages, to someone I have no intention of meeting, and who showed little interest in anything I had to say. I think the only justification I can offer is that it was free and it started some of my brain processes off. My favourite suggestion to the young whippersnapper was that if he found any spare parts that he couldn't fit back onto the big truck he was working on, he could give them to his prom date as a corsage. It was early in the morning and I have no regrets.

Then a plane journey took me, without incident to snow-filled Budapest, where I went to the office and tried to stay awake, devoid of food and drink.

What's playing?
Now I find myself in the hotel room with my iPod playing through the room's TV. This is quite a cool facility that they provide. It's 10pm local time. I have loads of things I want to do, and I guess I've managed to do some useful things since I've been here.

I've finished reading the book I was reading on the plane and in the week or so before I set off, and I've graduated to, and completed half of Steve Martin's book "Born Standing Up".

I also want to catch up on DVD watching, which gives me a conflict, which we'll come to.

What's on the agenda?
Here is a list of things I want to do right now:
  • Collapse into a deep sleep - though I suspect the coffee will prevent it
  • Write my new show
  • Do my taxes - a necessity, getting close to urgent
  • Do some generic comedy admin tasks, including paying stuff for the new show
  • Watch Doctor Who
  • or Lost

The simple fact is that there is not enough time to do everything I want to do in my spare time because I don't really have spare time. I need to relax and catch up on sleep. But I can't always do that.

New Show?
With some reservations about where I'll go with it, I've conceived of the premise of the show for 2010. It's called The Seven Deadly Sings and seems to lean rather heavily on last year's show The Seven Deadly Jokes. I'll put an emphasis on the word seems. There are going to be some key differences, the most obvious of which is that I'm doing this show solo (my first solo hour) where last year's was best termed as a double-act. The second difference will be the tone of the show. I think we wrote an intentional bumbling script last year, which suited us. This year's show will be a bit more cerebral - quite literally.

The vague format is going to be the same, because it seemed to work as a washing line along which to hang bits of material. Last year we posited that there were 7 joke archetypes. This year I will posit that there are only 7 different songs. What are they? Well:

  • Story
  • In love
  • Complacency
  • In pain
  • Attitude
  • Novelty
  • Commercial

Any wiser? No? Well, the theory isn't really very self explanatory or funny in it's own right. As a brief it allows me to visit any area of music I want to, put together some fact-based or insanity based material, and write any sort of joke I like to offset against the didactic sciencey bits. If that doesn't work, I'll put in some novelty instrumentation and some smiling at the crowd.

I'm currently brewing this show up in my head. I would like to be able to achieve something good by the end of it, and I think some of the ideas I'm working on will work really well - the rest I'll have to write when I get to them. As with last year's show, I worry a little bit that I'm not going to end up with any material which can be transplanted into my stand-up act, but it's early days and it may turn out that some of it fits like a glove.

I think I've used up all of my desire to write. I think I may have to go to bed with Steve Martin (well, his book) and try the actual writing tomorrow.


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