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Saturday 19th November 2022

7290/19810

It’s today. Has he been?
But until International Men’s Day is recognised by the UN then what’s the point? Then the world can celebrate like they do for World Pulses Day on February 10th. That UN approval really boosts the PR that a day gets.
I did Park Run this morning and was surprised at how sluggish I was. I’d done a quite intense personal training session yesterday, so was quite tired, but even so the run took me over 32 minutes, which is about the worst I’ve ever done (apart from maybe the hilly and sandy run in Woolacombe). A year ago I managed to complete a Park Run in just under 25 minutes, so that’s quite a slip in form. The important thing is that I got round and didn’t give up, despite feeling pretty shit. 
I listened to James Acaster’s book about quitting the internet. It’s basically a work of fiction - a sort of novel about a man who decides to quite social media and retreats into a fantasy world of madness to attempt to cope. Even though it’s all made up nonsense (with a satirical point, though it’s not always clear who he is satirising - all of us I guess, but mainly himself) it’s intensely funny. About half a kilometre into the run I was laughing out loud and hard and assume the people around me thought I was about to collapse. It’s a weird thing to be hurting whilst exercising but laughing uncontrollably, whilst trying to suppress the laughter so as not to look insane.
The character of James Acaster sets up a gang of misfits who all decide to leave social media, mainly by putting tar over all their devices and leaving them in a lock up in Rill and this club suddenly reminded me of being 8 or 9 and in the first year of Middle School. There was a week where it was raining every lunchtime and so we were confined to the class room. 1.3, the coolest class that was so cool cos I was in it, was next door to 1.2, the class full of losers. There was a sliding partition connecting the two rooms so that the reading areas could be opened up into one bigger room (though don’t remember that ever happening). Someone in 1.2 realised that it was possible to slide their fingers under the partition and wiggle them at us. I think in a spirit of friendship, though I can’t be sure what motivated it. But we in class 1.3 took it as an act of war. We decided we would stamp on any fingers we saw coming through. This was 1.3 territory and even 1.2 fingers were not welcome here.
For some reason rather than stopping putting their fingers under the partition, the 1.2 renegades decided to carry on and turn this into a game. A game where they were always the one to put their fingers under the partition and we were always the ones to stamp on them. Or to try to. The fun for them, I suppose, was to see if they could outsmart us and withdraw their fingers in time. But hard to see what they were getting out of this.
It became a feature of that week and class 1.3 were all assigned roles in the enterprise. I managed to get myself appointed the general of our finger stamping army and organised strategy, others were front line stampers, others still were look-outs who would let us know if any teachers or dinner ladies were on the prowl. This went on long enough for someone in the class to draw us identity cards for each rank of the army. It felt like something we would be doing forever now. Wet lunchtimes and finger stampings. How the Hell did this last two minutes, let alone several days with a complex ID system?
I don’t remember how it stopped - maybe we got into trouble when kids were turning up at hospital with broken fingers (and maybe stubbed toes), but ti struck me what utter James Acaster madness that time had been. Yet thrilling and memorable and cool. But why did the fingerers persist and accept their low status in the game? Who knows? The 1.2 idiots. 
As I trudged to the finish, disappointed in my loss of form a woman sprinted to overtake me on the line. This too seemed like the race of idiots. It was such a bad time (for me at least) that the idea of trying to come one place higher seemed petty.  I was mildly annoyed, though I am sure on another day I might have done the same thing. And I later saw her tweet about how much she’d enjoyed it and how beating me was the cherry on the cake. And I realised that that little victory had given her a boost and no longer felt annoyed. It had given her happiness and that was enough.
Also she’d caught me on my weakest day and she’ll never catch me again. I’ll see to that. I am the general of the 1.3 finger stampers. I take no prisoners,

The gig in the village hall went very well. I managed to do almost entirely new non-pre-Covid material (though the occasional old line popped back into improvised set, but it was organic and probably a good compromise), but otherwise it was local material about the war that had erupted on Facebook about horse poo being left on the street - some feeling it was bad that the riders didn’t get off and clearing it up and others saying this was the countryside and that was the way things are and that everyone should be rushing to pick up the manure for their gardens. I went into quite specific mockery of street names and observed that I probably couldn’t do this material anywhere else, The audience insisted I could and I said I’d try it on Live at the Apollo.
I also did some of my cancer story and it certainly felt like the beginnings of a show and worked well. Three fabulous comedians came to the village to perform: Amy Gledhill, Dan Antopolski and Ed Byrne and we raised a few thousand pounds for the village nursery that my kids don’t even go to because there weren’t enough places in the school. Believe me, I didn’t let that go unremarked. But the comedians don’t even live in the village so it’s even cooler for them to take part.
Lovely to be back on stage doing stand up and also to feel relaxed enough to try out stuff that I hadn’t really rehearsed or learned. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to see me do stand up again, even if you don’t live in my village - (You can see me do some stuff at the Phoenix on the 30th)


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