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Thursday 7th September 2006

I had a very positive meeting at Channel 4 this afternoon. It's starting to look as if the next twelve months could be incredibly busy. If all goes to plan. Which might well reflect badly on Warming Up. It's all entertaining and fun whilst I am failing and flailing, but if I start to do well again will it be as interesting? After all the reviews for my Edinburgh show that said it was great for my comedy that I was so miserable and alone (which I am not exactly in real life), I wonder whether if I start being happy and fit and successful whether all the funniness will dry up. Of course if that happens then I will stop being successful and become amusing again. So I guess I can't lose.
I don't really believe that a positive outlook will have a negative effect on my work, but it's one of those little bits of paranoia that niggle at one's brain. It seemed that John Cleese became less funny once he'd been in therapy. But even if that was true, surely it's better to be personally sorted out than be in a mess and entertaining. Well from my point of view at least, not necessarily from yours.
The harder I work though, the less that happens to me and the less I have to write about. With Warming Up that's not necessarily a massive issue, as this is a bit of a brain toilet where I can examine the minutiae of my day. And even if I do nothing then something happens.
So the two things that spring to mind from a quite busy work day today are these.
There was a man with an umbrella on the tube. It was a really nice day outside and there was no sign of rain and yet he had an umbrella. For some reason this made me uncomfortable. He was fidgeting around a bit and looking at his watch and any logical analysis of the situation would be that he was either extremely cautious when it came to the weather, or that he was a bit nuts and always carried an umbrella with him, regardless of the weather, as part of his eccentricity. He looked crazy. He was fidgety and strange. And he had an umbrella.
But for some reason the illogical part of my brain thought that the umbrella must mean that he was a terrorist about to ...what... poke people with his umbrella. Only a problem if it had poison in the tip, but still not a very efficient way to kill infidels. Or did he have a bomb in his bag and he was carrying the umbrella to make himself look innocent? That didn't even make sense. The umbrella made him look strange. All logic dictated that a real terrorist would not draw attention to himself by carrying an umbrella on a non-rainy day. People would immediately be looking at him askance. Unless it was a double bluff. What kind of mentallism was going on in my own head? Who is the truly madman - the man who carries an unnecessary umbrella and looks a bit tense or the man who sees the man with the umbrella and then imagines that this somehow indicates intent to cause some kind of terrorist outrage? The answer is of course both of them.
I was unsettled enough by this man to move to a different carriage. One with loads more people in it. Rather than the one that practically had no-one in it apart from a bloke with an umbrella. Not a good carriage to choose if it was an umbrella that spat poison. There was surely more chance statistically that a carriage with more people in it was likelies to have a terrorist in it and also be more likely to be chosen by a terrorist. What if I had moved from the path of a harmless poke with an umbrella into the path of a rucksack full of explosives? How paranoid can one person be? How peculiar is it that we become freaked by something that is out of the ordinary - and not even THAT out of the ordinary. I knew I was being irrational as I did all this. But I still did it. Modern life is rubbish.
The second thing is a little wish I have. When the tube pulls into the station (let's use Hammersmith as an example) and the driver or recording announces "This is Hammersmith, please change here for the Piccadilly and Hammersmith and City Lines" I alway wish he would add "or if you are going to Hammersmith, just get out here." Every time I really want them to add that unnecessary sentence. But it would just make it totally clear what your options were. So far they have never said it, but maybe if enough people asked London Underground to institute the policy then we could make a difference. Even if you were going to a station with no interchanges it could go "This is Latimer Road. Please get out here if you are going to Latimer Road." Maybe that is not enough, maybe the announcement should also say, "But if you are going to a station other than Latimer Road, please stay on the train until you arrive at the station you are going to, or the one at which you will have to change so that you can get on the correct line to go to the station you are going to." Maybe that's not enough either, maybe they'd also have to say "Or if you have just realised you are on the wrong train or heading in the wrong direction, please get out here and cross to the opposite platform to go back in the direction you have just come."
I think it has to be all of these things or none of them.
That's the kind of thing that happens in my head.
And I'm worried that a bloke carrying an umbrella on a sunny day is mental.

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