Friday, 28 February 2014

Eerie Stuff.

A woman just walked past Caffè Nero holding an umbrella with a pair of ears.

It’s worth clarifying that she wasn’t holding the umbrella with her ears - or anyone else's, for that matter. The ears were attached to the brolly and not to her.

(The English language can be confusing.)

I’m pretty sure that they didn’t have a purpose, other than to make the brolly's owner look ridiculous. I assume that the umbrella was designed to be held by a younger pair of hands than those clutching onto it. If the woman had been in her childhood or early teens, it wouldn’t have looked so incongruous. The fact she that was middle-aged called the whole look into question.

Perhaps it wasn’t her umbrella. It could belong to one of her children and was picked up out of absolute necessity.

If it was her property, I can only think of two explanations: (1) she purposely bought an umbrella with ears, or (2) she always opens it above her head and therefore hasn’t seen them.

I’m not sure which of these options is more disturbing.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Wanderer

I went on another long walk today around the outskirts of Hitchin.

On my route, I passed a couple of huge houses that I hadn’t seen before. They must be worth a fortune. I looked longingly up each and every driveway; fantasizing about the time when I might be able to afford to live somewhere like that.

(This day may never come.)

I made a point of purposely taking turnings I don’t know. It’s a great way of stumbling across unfamiliar places and finding out how all the different streets link up.

I was out for the best part of an hour, though I wasn’t walking solidly. I stopped a couple of times; once at the top of Windmill Hill and then again at a little playground not far from where I live.

I had a quick go on the swings while I was there. Thankfully, there was no-one about to see this. 

If they had, I'd probably only end up looking weird.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Kitchen Shrapnel.

You’ve never known true agony until you’ve stepped on some cat litter whilst barefoot.

What makes it worse is the element of surprise. Before you put your foot down, you have absolutely no inkling of the pain about to follow. It’s completely unexpected.

The shock compounds the discomfort. If you knew what was coming, you could brace yourself for the impending attack. I liken it to someone walking on hot coals; if they didn’t prepare mentally, they'd end up seriously burnt.

Perhaps there’s a knack to walking on litter without injury. It certainly doesn’t seem to bother cats; they love kicking the stuff about. I guess they’ve just got different feet.

Lesson Number One: always put on your shoes before entering my kitchen.

Catching Up.

Yesterday, I met up with a very close friend, who I've sadly seen a lot less than I should. 

With some people, it doesn't matter how long you’ve lost touch; it only takes a few minutes to be back to where you left off. This is definitely the case for us.

We have a lot of ground to catch up on, but we'll do it over time. There's no race involved.

I just hope we don't leave it so long in future. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Quick, Fit, Fitter.

I'm trying to get back into shape.

I’ve recently put on weight; not enough for other people to notice, but I’m personally very aware of it. It’s come as a shock, as I’ve been the same size for most of my adult life.

It’s probably partly to do with the fact that I've not been gigging as much as I used to. When I was in the Buddy show, I was always pretty active. It was a good workout; by the end of Act Two, I'd come off drenched in sweat.

(Go on. Picture it.)

I now spend far too much time sat in coffee shops. I've been eating more and moving less. I'm also careering toward my mid-thirties, which is notoriously bad on the waist.

I'm going to pull my finger out of my arse, proverbially speaking. This morning, on my way back from town, I took a detour up a couple of steep hills. I then did an hour-long circuit of the outskirts of Hitchin this afternoon.

(Walking, not running. I haven't completely lost my mind.)

I’d better nip this expanding waistline in the bud before I start buying clothes from Jacamo.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Churning Them Out.

This is my 160th consecutive daily blog.

I’m not sure whether to feel proud of this mini-milestone or not. Sticking to such a stringent deadline could suggest that I have far too much time on my hands.

Some days I enjoy writing and some days I don’t. I’ll often stare at my computer screen with absolutely no idea of what to write about. It’s usually at the point that I’m about to give in that a subject pops into my head.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing it. What’s the point? Yesterday, I had a crisis of confidence about the whole thing. It suddenly hit me that maybe nothing I’d written was any good.

I decided to read back a couple of posts at random, to see what I thought. I actually quite enjoyed them, though I may have made a couple of lucky choices. Worryingly, there were a few I barely even remembered writing; I guess that’s what happens when you do it every day.

My problem is I’m hypercritical. I can tear myself apart over the smallest grammatical mistake. I probably shouldn’t take it so seriously. Not everything I write will be good.

All in all, it's been a useful exercise. I wonder how long I'll decide to keep it up?

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Ha Ha This-a-Way.

Today, I’ve tweeted twice about Wizbit.

I don’t know why this Paul Daniels-fronted vehicle for kids' TV has been on my mind. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Perhaps I walked past something conical.

I was a big fan of Wizbit as a kid (is it odd to idolize a geometric shape?). I was obsessed with magic. It all started after receiving a Paul Daniels Magic Set one Christmas.

My mum actually gave it to me a couple of days before Jesus’ official birthday, to soften the blow after my pet rabbit died. I now wonder if these two events were linked. Did the Son of God have an alibi? Being omnipresent, He must at least have witnessed it.

Like a drug addict switching from pot to coke, I soon craved bigger tricks. I’d use my pocket money to fund my habit, buying new effects from Davenport’s each week. I'd read all the books on the subject that I could find. I subscribed to Abracadabra Magazine and joined a local conjuring club.

While most other kids mimed along to music in front of their bedroom mirror, I'd be practising with my linking rings. I wasn’t a bad magician, even if I do say so myself. I once won my family a holiday to Margate; what other evidence do you need?

On reaching puberty, I gradually lost interest. I also lost most of my props; lending them to a boy at school who never gave them back. I still remember the name of the culprit: Glen Drew, your cards are marked.  

They’re not your cards, Glen; they’re mine.

Friday, 21 February 2014

In Transit.

The 1:00pm train from Hitchin to King's Cross reeks of cat food.

I suspect the odour is coming from the pasty-eating man in our carriage. I dread to think what it's filled with, but I doubt that it would technically pass for meat.

This isn’t the only antisocial behaviour within close proximity. I’m sitting next to a man whose legs are spread unhealthily far apart. It’s like sharing a seat with Kenny Everett’s Cupid Stunt.

(He must have supple hip joints.)

He wants me to know that his testicles are vast. It must be a burden, having to carry them about.

I hope the smell isn’t emanating from his trousers.

Mostly Norman, Nat & Nish.

Today, we had the second Hitchin Mostly Comedy of 2014. 

All in all, it was good. We had Norman Lovett, Nathaniel Metcalfe and Nish Kumar on the bill; three great acts and lovely people. 

(Sorry: I’m gushing more than a geyser at Yellowstone National Park.)

We interviewed Norman and Nish for our podcast, but sadly didn't have time to speak to Nat as well. This wasn't a disaster - we only uploaded our last interview with him a couple of months back - but it was a shame to miss him out. 

Norman's very easy to talk to. He's not afraid to state his opinion (you would expect this, from someone who's spent so many years in the business), but he does it with grace. He's also one of the most supportive acts we've ever booked for Mostly; never afraid to hit the retweet button to help us out. 

He also has a pet pug called Elvis, which earns him instant extra marks. 

We talked a little about the sitcom pilot he is filming for Channel Four. I hope it gets a series; he deserves to be back on television. 

We also had a nice chat with Nish, recounting lots of Mostly memories. He's played every venue since the club began: The George, Croft, Queen Mother Theatre and Market Theatre in Hitchin, plus the Counting House in Edinburgh and Leicester Square Theatre in London. Christ, we get about.

He was on sparkling form on stage. He closed the night, which meant following Norman (who inevitably most people had come to see), but he coped perfectly. You'd expect this from Nish.

Our performance wasn't our best but also wasn't our worst. We got a good reaction, but I felt we didn't give enough attack. 

You can't get it right every time. Not if you're us, anyway.  

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Is it wrong to get unfeasibly excited by how well my hoover works?

I’m not sure what classes as ‘unfeasibly excited’ within this context. It’s possible that any level of enthusiasm is too much. Still, today I couldn’t help myself.

For quite some time, my hoover has been shit. Unequivocally shit. Pushing it around my flat was like a token gesture. The amount of dust it collected was negligible; I could pick up more by crawling about on my hands and knees as I constantly inhaled.
I’d taken it apart a couple of times to have a good poke around, even designating a specific pen for the job (henceforth known as the ‘hoover pen’). Nothing seemed to make any difference.

Then, cleverly, my girlfriend washed out all of its various innards. Now, it’s like the ZX Spectrum +2 of household implements (if up until then, you'd owned the inferior ZX Spectrum+ model).

I probably should have thought of a more universal simile. What I’m trying to say is, “It’s working well”. I’m almost tempted to trample a load of dirt into the carpet, so I can enjoy how quick my hoover picks it up.  

(Don’t let it be said that I don’t know how to live.)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

These Boots Aren't Made For Walking.

A couple of weeks ago, I invested in a new pair of boots. I was very happy with them until just a few days later, when they started to fall apart.

It wasn’t as if I’d put them through any undue stress. I’d just been walking. I don’t think I have a particularly unusual gait. There must be something about my style of footfall that modern footwear just can’t take.

(Footwear that costs £19.99, anyway.)

Today, I headed into town with the sole intention of swapping my hobo boots for an identical - but less battered - pair. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be. After a few minutes of wandering around Shoe Zone in my socks, I called off the search; they were nowhere to be seen. 

It seems that they've been discontinued (presumably because they fall apart in a week). There was only one other pair in the shop within a similar price range. I swapped them, grudgingly.

There’s something about my new boots that isn’t quite right. They make me feel like a toddler walking around in his mother’s high heels.

Not that I ever did that.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Walrus Was David.

Last night, I had a very bizarre but exciting dream (don’t worry, it wasn’t sexual). I dreamt that I had been secretly drafted in to replace Paul McCartney in The Beatles.

The swap was top secret. Not even John, George or Ringo knew anything about it. Presumably, my subconscious assumed that none of the Fab Four were particularly observant. The only person that was in on it was their producer, George Martin – who took me to one side when the others weren’t looking and congratulated me on a sterling effort.

The only thing that Sir George was unhappy with was my hairstyle, which was exactly the same as it is in real life. He told me to brush it forward. I took his advice, though it wasn’t quite long enough to pull the style off.

(Trust my subconscious to put such a mundane fly in the ointment.)

It was a bit like Quantum Leap, only without Dean Stockwell cropping up to smoke a cigar and fiddle with his little electrical device. Most of the action took place in Abbey Road Studios. At one point I was recording the vocal to Eleanor Rigby; doing my best Macca impression to a string octet accompaniment.

When I woke up, I was very disappointed. Until then, I hadn’t questioned the reality of the situation. I’d just been asked to play bass in the most successful band of all time; nothing to write home about.

Hopefully tonight I'll dream that I'm the frontman of Wings.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me.

Yesterday, I watched the most recent Muppets film, the imaginatively titled ‘The Muppets’. Towards the end, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy join forces to sing a song that brings back very specific memories of my childhood: the beautiful ‘Rainbow Connection’.

Every time I hear it, my mind is thrown back to my last day at junior school.

Each year, on the last day of term, the school would hold a special assembly, in which we’d all say goodbye to the class who were leaving. It was emotionally charged, sending the impossibly old Year Six into the great unknown of ‘big school’.

Over time, St Nicholas JMI had built up a tradition. The class who were leaving would always close the assembly by singing the song to the rest of the school. No sooner had the final chord rung out from Mrs Gledhill’s upright piano, than your time there was up. From that moment on, you were practically an adult.

Though twenty years have passed since I stood in there and sang it, I only need to hear the opening bars to be whisked back in a heartbeat. Such is the magic of music. The song still encapsulates those tentative steps from the bliss of junior school toward the great, wide unknown of the future.

It still makes me cry to this day. I guess in some ways I’ve never grown up. 

Do you know something? I hope I never do.

Saturday, 15 February 2014


I may have just eaten my own body weight in tapas.

I didn’t think it was possible, but apparently it is. Surely a succession of tiny dishes couldn’t possibly fill you up? The problem is, those miniscule portions end up amounting to one, massive meal-of-the-century.

It probably didn’t help that I also had a pint of Guinness, which is essentially the equivalent to a carvery in a glass. I may now never eat again.

I’m just going to sit quietly, until my self-induced food coma passes. I hope nobody passes me a wafer-thin mint.

(The Spanish have definitely got a lot to answer for.)

Friday, 14 February 2014

Quiet Man Friday

Today is the first day in quite a while that I’ve visited my favourite coffee shop.

It’s nice to be back. It’s a good place to work – and I really like the coffee (though I often end up drinking too much of it).

The weather is a little miserable, but I still insisted on going out. I think it’s important to get out of the house every day, regardless of whether you have something on or not.

(I’m referring to schedule, as opposed to state of dress.)

I haven’t had much to busy myself with today. I did a bit of admin for Mostly Comedy – and had a little poke around on the internet, to see if any reviews have surfaced for our Leicester Festival show. As of yet, there’s nothing to be found. If anything appears, I hope it’s positive; it would be nice to have a new quote to help promote our forthcoming dates.

If it doesn’t, I may make something up.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Excited by Numbers.

Watching tonight’s episode of the BBC1 game show Pointless led me to mull over a question I’ve been pondering for ages: why does the studio audience always clap and cheer when Alexander Armstrong reads out the jackpot? 

Surely no-one finds big digits that exciting. I've never cheered spontaneously after giving out my phone number.

If I’m honest, I know the answer: it’s because the floor manager tells them to. It’s supposed to add a little tension to proceedings. Being aware of this doesn’t make it any less irritating; once you notice it, it quickly starts to grate.

It’s not like everybody in the audience has a vested interest; they can’t all be related to the contestants. I could understand it if the prize was evenly divvied out.

They’re also not actually applauding anything. It’s not as if the money is sitting somewhere, waiting to be collected. The sum total only exists from the moment somebody wins it. Richard Osman hasn’t got a wodge of cash burning a hole in his back pocket.

(If he has, it’s probably unrelated.)

I’d understand it more if you saw the money - like on Bullseye, when Jim Bowen would physically count it out. There was something so sordid and cash-in-hand about that. Did Bowen fund it personally? I guess we'll never know.

If he did, he was probably Bullied into it.

Utterly Buttery.

This morning, I did some sub-par buttering whilst I made an egg sandwich. 

I love butter, but it can be a pain in the arse (particularly if you’re in Last Tango in Paris). Sometimes it just doesn’t spread, leaving you with broken up patches of half-buttered bread.

(I’m a poet and I don’t know it.)

In the end, I gave up attempting to move the dairy product about; some things in life are just too much to deal with.

Don't let it be said that I don't have it tough. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Good Day (Sunshine).

Today was very enjoyable.

It’s fair to say that the day was pretty jam-packed, with myself and Glyn managing to fit a lot in. We did a live interview for Demon FM (a Leicester-based station that runs a lot of coverage on the festival.) We were booked for the duration of their drive time slot, though sadly, we didn’t impart a single bit of traffic advice during the broadcast.

It was a nice relaxed chat, spread across the two-hour programme. Both the host and the newsreader were very easy to talk to. We also chose a couple of songs each from the playlist: I opted for The Beach Boys and David Bowie, while Glyn plumped for The Spice Girls and Olly Murs; defining the disparity between our two musical tastes in a nutshell.

At six o'clock, we rushed from the studio across to our venue, where we recorded another interview for the same station, for use on their Festival podcast. Impressively, the interviewers had clearly done their research on us; it’s nice to know that we’re not the only ones who are prone to a little bit of internet stalking.

We quickly found some common ground. It certainly helped that one of them was wearing a Paul McCartney t-shirt - though I probably terrified him by being able to guess the year the picture on his chest was taken, by the length of Macca's mullet.

(Everybody’s got to have at least one special skill.)

Finally, we did our show, which went well. Our day of talking had put us in a suitably relaxed mindset for the performance.

Then we drove back to Hitchin, sorted out our stuff for tomorrow’s London Mostly Comedy – and I’m now finishing the day with a cat on my lap and a cup of camomile tea within arm's reach.

Not a bad way to draw a line under proceedings.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Size Isn't Everything.

Tonight, we had our first of two shows as part of Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival.

It went fairly well – or at least as well as a stand-up show can go when you’re performing to such a diminutive audience (in terms of numbers as opposed to stature). We had five people in, who were pretty responsive – but obviously, this isn’t the sort of number you would choose to perform an hour’s worth of stand-up in front of, if you could help it.

At the very least, I feel that we’re in control of the show, rather than it being in control of us. Performing stand-up to such a small turn-out is a little soul-destroying, but we’ve grown used to it. Also, the audience were nice and supportive; it didn’t feel as difficult as it probably should have.

I do, however, look forward to the time when we don’t have to fight to pull in an audience.

Tomorrow, we will be co-presenting the drive-time show for the local university radio station, Demon FM; something that will hopefully be fun, as well as potentially helping to increase our turn-out. 

I hope so. We shall see, anyway.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Calm Before the Storm.

Today, we had our final run-through before we jet off to Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival tomorrow.

(By ‘jet off’, I mean ‘drive’.)
We’ve got to the point when we need to put it in front of an audience. The question is, will we get one? Pre-sales have been poor (or non-existent). Hopefully, we’ll get a few walk-ups, but there’s obviously no guarantee.

We’re also performing our show as part of the bill at Wednesday’s Leicester Square Theatre Mostly Comedy; the same day as a proposed tube strike. TFL apparently resume talks tomorrow, when they’ll decide whether the strike goes ahead or not. I hope it doesn’t; it would be nice if the people on stage don’t outnumber the people in the audience.

If they don’t, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Going Ape.

They're currently showing the sequel to ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ on Five USA (the similarly-titled ‘Any Which Way You Can’). I would love to have been a fly on the wall when they pitched the idea of teaming up an orangutan with Clint Eastwood.

The concept evidently worked, as they managed to squeeze two films out of it. It just seems such an unlikely combination. What was it that brought this pairing into being?

(I could find the answer on the internet, but I’m not prepared to do this.)
Eastwood was probably tired of being typecast. Maybe he felt the time had come to branch out into a more family-orientated market. The question is, when did a ginger ape become an option?

As ideas go, it’s out of left field; the sort of thing that might enter your head when you’re delirious with fever. I assume drugs were involved. After all, it was the late seventies.

Whatever inspired this unlikely double act, I’m very glad it happened. I hope the sudden fame didn’t go to Clyde’s head though. I imagine the work must have dried up pretty quickly.

While we're at it, what sort of first name is Clint?

Clint Eastwood (right).