Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Knebworth Sands.

I have this performance of The Beach Boys song Lady Lynda on regular rotation when I listen to music on getting ready in the mornings and seldom skip it.
It's made all the better for the fact it was recorded at Knebworth Park - approximately six miles down the road from where I live (cue all those assassins trying to track me down to a less than ten-mile radius) - in 1980, less than a year before I was born, so if my family had lived in the house I grew up in by then, they could have potentially heard it from our window. I wish I could have been there myself, though if the gig was anything like Oasis' show there in 1996, it would have taken us a surprisingly long time to get home afterwards, despite the convenient location.

When I went to see Brian Wilson perform Pet Sounds in Edinburgh last summer, he happened to have Al Jardine (who sung and co-wrote this) in the band, which was an added treat, and while he didn't sing my favourite of his Beach Boys songs at the gig, it was still lovely to see him. He no longer has the classic Eighties Beach Boys beard or the panama hat, but this didn't affect my enjoyment. I'm just grateful Mike Love wasn't in the band at the Pet Sounds gig, so his irritating attitude and general banter could be avoided. We all know that under his trademark baseball cap he has a full head of hair, or my name's not Vidal Sassoon; my name is that, isn't it?

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Unmissable Hancock.

This afternoon, I was lucky enough to attend the recording of the last two remaining lost Hancock's Half Hour episodes for the BBC Radio 4 series The Missing Hancocks (my third time in the audience, man & boy), which was once again performed pitch-perfectly by Kevin McNally and the cast and left me feeling suitably inspired and uplifted as I exited Broadcasting House and made my way back to the tube at Oxford Circus.

I must admit visiting the BBC always gives me a bit of a lift, as the child inside still can't help but be excited by the many inspirational ghosts that occupy the building, metaphorically speaking (subject to a proper paranormal assessment); I've only been to Broadcasting House once in a work context - to do a radio interview for the Buddy Holly show I was in - and went to Television Centre once in a non-audience-member capacity - for a meeting with a producer with Glyn - but the part of me that longs to be on the other side of the mic there is always keen to downplay the thrill. At the very least, it was nice to be included on the guest list (thanks to the kindness of Kevin Eldon) as I could kid myself that I wasn't just a punter.

Whatever the context of my attendance, the chance to watch another two shows be brought back to life with such humour and affection was joyful. I've often daydreamed about being able to witness my favourite sitcom being made first time around, and while that's an impossibility, The Missing Hancocks has afforded me the next best thing three times now. As always, the quality of the writing was staggering; by rights, the last two episodes in five years of cherrypicking what they wanted to record should have been the weakest, but they were great; the second show - in which Tony was an independent MP with the deciding vote in a Parliament split exactly down the middle - was scarily topical in the wake of the current Brexit mess. Speaking of topicality, the Have I Got News For You team captain (and massive Hancock fan) Paul Merton made a cameo appearance in the first show, which was an added treat. The audience even had a line to deliver in unison, which I enunciated to the best of my ability; the things you do for a CV credit.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Blutax.

I'm pretty sure if you sped up my life using some sort of time-distorting technology, the resulting image would be of me, constantly surrounded by receipts, pulling together the records for an eternal tax return. 

Consequently, I find myself in that back-aching arched-over position once again. If it weren't for the fact it's nigh-on possible to sit in a way that's comfortable and convenient when going through the myriad of receipts and invoices I've collected across a tax year while they're spread out across the floor, I'd probably go say I actually quite enjoy doing it; there's something satisfying about charting my life from coffee shop to venue to coffee shop, tying together the loose ends of another twelve-month journey. The only sticking point is that in doing so, you get a timely reminder of the money you spent and how little you've earned; such is the curse of the self-employed performer. 

As it stands, it's clear 2017/18 was a year of speculating to accumulate, with the hope this accumulation will come at some point between now and my death-bed. It saw the second of three consecutive solo Edinburgh Fringes, plus work-in-progress dates in Bath, Brighton, Cambridge, Hitchin and London, and then more dates in London post-Fringe with the intention of getting some industry people to see me (which actually only resulted in a visit from Chortle's Steve Bennett to tell me I'm not a comedian in his generous, supportive and unbiased eyes). While it was a year of general growth it was an expensive and frustrating one too, although my inclusion in the Daily Telegraph's 20 Funniest Jokes plus a Comedy Central gags list was a bit of a confidence boost, as was the continued success of Mostly Comedy. I just wish I knew I could cover any potential tax bill without selling a kidney; what I need is the same accountant who looks after Starbuck's and Mark Zuckerberg as it seems to work for them, though would doing go by symbolic of me joining the dark side? Probably...

Friday, 11 January 2019

Walkie-Talkies.

Tonight, I cashed in my first metaphorical therapy-dog-chips of the season.

I should probably explain: I haven't literally turned my dog into fries and then attempted to barter by using them as a grisly form of currency; I'm pretty sure that would result in a prison sentence. But I did use him as a therapeutic aid after an argument left me overwrought and overloaded, and definitely felt the benefit, with my four-legged friend (the dog) gaining in the process.

Sometimes, a breath of fresh air is the best cure for what ails you and a dog-walk is the perfect excuse for this. I usually take Elwood out in the morning for an hour while my wife's at work and she'll do the evening dog-shift (careful how you spell that) but today I took him out twice, and that second walk was just what the doctor - or vet - ordered. One of the biggest advantages to walking him in the evening is I get to see the night skies I'd otherwise miss, and this is particularly the case when I cross the field behind where I live, where the lack of houses and minimal street lighting make for a less-obscured vista; the combination of the brisk evening air and the security that goes with having a big dog with you is a winning combination.

If I hadn't had the excuse to get out I might have meditated, but probably wouldn't have shook off my ticking brain. As it was, being able to focus on him as he sniffed his way around Hitchin was the perfect form of mindfulness; I walked the streets for an hour or so, and by the time I got home my wife was back from visiting her sister after work, giving us time for a pleasant evening before my she took him out for another short walk before bed. Consequently, we all benefited, and Elwood most of all: I bet he thought he'd landed on his (four) feet.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Wide Load.

I must be one of the few people on the planet to introduce an hourlong walk to his daily routine for a month and still put on weight.

To do this requires talent - albeit admittedly one I'd sooner not possess - although to be fair my increased mass is purely supposition; I haven't weighed myself in a while. Yet despite the lack of concrete evidence, it's hard to ignore the loosening of my belt and tightening of my jacket: there's something afoot, and those feet suddenly have a little more to carry.

Whether I've got heavier in the last few weeks or not, I've definitely put on weight over the past year, which I'm desperate to get rid of. It makes me feel sluggish and affects my self-esteem; I'm almost glad I haven't had a casting for a while as I wouldn't want to commit my increased girth to camera.

The change is most likely caused by a combination of medication and biscuits. This partly motivated my getting a dog, as I hoped the excuse for more exercise might help knock off a few pounds and improve my mood. So far, it's helped the latter but not the former, but there's still time; I either need to increase the length of our walks or knock my snack block of butter on the head. Until then. I might train my dog to chase me.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Deeply Dippy.


I kind of feel I've reached the limit of what I can do by myself creatively without someone else to believe in me.

It might just be the gloom of the New Year without the impetus of something to sink my teeth into (cliché), or it may be a genuine reflection of where I'm at, but I'm just not feeling excited about what's ahead. I've worked so hard over the past four years, with my 2018 Edinburgh show 'David Ephgrave: My Part in His Downfall' ending up something I'm very proud of, and yet I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do next.

Mostly Comedy has become something of a compulsion with me checking our emails and the ticket reports far too regularly, but despite the frequency I tinker with things to do with it, I've started to resent it. To be honest, it's been a love / hate relationship for years, but as it stands I've started to dread the shows as they've become an exercise in organisation I'm bored with in an atmosphere where it's hard to try new material out unless you're a big name.

Don't get me wrong: I'm proud of all the things I've done comedy-, acting- and music-wise and I'm proud of the comedy club, but I miss the collaboration that used to be behind it.

I'm sure this is just a little dip of the kind I've had before and will no doubt have again - you can't be in my line of work without them - but I'd really like something positive to happen soon to give me a bit more drive. I hope the video of my most recent show will at least spread the word of what I do so something good can come from it; I guess we'll just have to watch this space.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Dog & Ephgrave.

I'm starting to feel like a proper dog owner now, whatever that means.

At first I felt like a fraud, who was holding a friend's dog-lead temporarily with them due to return any minute. Now that Elwood's been with us for over a month and I've taken him out every day there's more of a sense that he's mine; I've got to know how he's likely to act to the world around him and got used to reading his body language; I've also learnt his flagrant disdain for squirrels.


He's even made his own friends, both dog-based and human: we regularly bump into a contingent of people who live on the same estate as us and all have dogs they walk together; they all give Elwood a fuss. and one of the dogs - a very silly, scruffy boy called Sid - lights up when he sees him and gives him a sniff with his tail wagging madly.

It's lovely that having a pet in common brings people together and makes them talk; I've spoken to so many dog-owners over the past few weeks while Elwood quietly regards their faithful friend. He's fast becoming a bit of a local celebrity; all in all, he's settled in excellently (which, if you could see the legs akimbo position he's currently asleep in on the sofa, would only serve to vouch for this).