I was staying in a Premier Inn on an out of town shopping
complex near Catterick. I popped down to the local Costa for breakfast
and to write my blog (though ended up playing Civ II). In an
extraordinarily unlikely coincidence, also in that Costa at this unGodly
time of the morning was actor, writer and Canon photocopier advertiser
Julian Dutton. We started our careers together on the LE Radio corridor
and worked together as writers and performers on the notable triumph
“That’s Wiggin’s Yard” (which was never allowed to be broadcast as Radio
4 feared it would make all their other output look shoddy).
It was a nice surprise.
He was up here visiting his son, but what strange
happenstance that meant I was staying here, 30 minutes from the venue
I’d played at last night. Given we were both in Catterick the chances of
us bumping into each other were still very slight, but life throws up
these nice surprises and it would actually prove that things were
predestined and controlled if there were never any weird coincidences!
It was good to catch up. He is a charming man, about to take a
one hour show about John Le Mesurier up to the Fringe. He’s an
excellent mimic and Le Mesurier is an excellent choice for a one man
show as he had a very interesting life. I highly recommend you see it.
It’s possible Dutton has been stalking me in order to “accidentally"
bump into me and get a mention in this blog. But if so, hats off to the
man. That dedication has probably led to him selling three more tickets
for his show.
I’d been slightly dreading another day of double gigs and
mildly worried that I’d just spread one audience over two performances.
But in the end today was a delight. We didn’t have far to travel, our
hotel was literally next door to the gig and the combined audience was
over 100 more people than I’d have got at one gig.
But more importantly both shows were a real delight to play.
If anything the smaller afternoon gig was the nicer of the two. There
were 130 or so people in, but the reception I got was huge and they were
a smart and comedy literate crowd who really got into what I was
I was full of Sunday roast (the good thing about doing two
shows is I got two meals from the exceptional Newcastle Stand kitchen)
and said I might have a nap halfway through, but it was such fun I
forgot about that.
I had a little wander and then a rest between the shows
before popping down for fish and chips and another show. There were two
Richard Herring lookalikes on the front row, who were joined by a third
for the second half and I wondered if I was being visited by the Mes of
the past (and rudely for the third one, the future - he was younger than
me, but also thinner so I speculated that he might be the gnarled
version of me just pre-death). Annoyingly I continue to improve the show
now the thing is on film, but it’s really fun doing this show in a
stand up venue. People were close enough to be reading the Penguin Race
game before I could get to that bit, but also you can play up the
pantomime aspects a bit more. I told the stories really well tonight an
discovered new jokes even in the Liverpool fight story. Whether I will
remember the turn of phrase that got an extra big laugh (it was the same
story, just a well found way of expressing the embarrassment of the
bouncers to be associated with such a shitty fight) is another matter.
But I also nailed the confrontation with the postman, which is a harder
story to get across as there’s fewer actual joke lines in it and it
relies heavily on me inhabiting the characters in the story.
During the interval I was able to pop back to my hotel room
to pick up something I’d forgotten. A man got out of the lift on my
floor as I was making my return, but then got straight back in. He had
recognised me and was a fan of the podcast. When he found out I was
doing a show next door he asked if he could come and see the second half
- which was easy to arrange as there was no one on the door - you can
pretty much see the second half of anything for free.
Had I not left something in my room and had he not happened
to be in that lift at that exact time, his evening and subsequent life
would have panned out quite differently. It’s a bit like that film
Sliding Doors. Have you seen it?
This was my last night of the tour in a hotel room (I will be
staying with my folks after the Bristol gig and there are now only
seven shows to go. I celebrated with a vodka martini in the hotel bar,
but they fucked it up quite badly and put loads of lemon in it. But
The end is in sight. And I am very much looking forward to seeing my stupid family tomorrow.