Saturday, 26 March 2011

Friday 25th March 2011: Arundel Good, Trains Bad

I'm still pretty much as ill as I was the last couple of days. I have become a bit less melodramatic than in the last blog, though, which is probably a good sign. Even though I genuinely meant it. Melodrama and honesty are dangerous to the comedy blog, I feel. Even if they do make up most of the content.

After sleeping well, for a change, I went to campus to do some Erasmus-admin I had been putting off for a while now. The campus was eerily empty, especially on a beautiful sunny day such as this. The buildings were largely abandoned and the few people who were there looked a bit lost. It's a shame in a way, that universities close over the spring, just when it stops being cold and miserable. It was quietly fascinating though, and a near-empty university campus does resemble my ideal place in the world. I don't know what that says about me. Actually, I do know what that says about me. It's pretty obvious. And I'm about 35% sure that I like that. I printed the necessary documents, had them signed and sent off to Amsterdam. Apparently I'm doing 72 ECTS credits here, 12 more than usual per academic year. Hopefully I'll be able to use all of my courses towards the degree.

I then planned to spend rest of the night hiding away in my cave (house) watching Anna Nicole on iPlayer (the opera with libretto written by Richard Thomas, of Jerry Springer The Opera fame; which I have translated in turn. So NOT what you're thinking!) and getting some sleep.

It was nearly 7 when I was called by a fellow comic whether I wanted to do a gig in Arundel. I said yes, overenthusiastically, and got on the bill. I slammed a lemsip, took some food with me, and raced to the train station.

I got there in time for the train, but it being Friday night, it was a bit busy. I could only sit near a table, another man opposite to me, me reading yesterday's Guardian which someone left on the table. I don't like British trains, partly because they like to point out my physical inadequacies. I always have to fold my legs over in a way that both limits blood flow to the toes or ram my shins into the chair in front of me, balancing on the seat. When I can, I hang my feet into the isle, being careful not to obstruct other passengers or, comically, have them trip over my feet. Some people like that kind of humour. They tend to be either five or in their late thirties. And overall shit human beings. Especially the ones that should know better, you know. The five-year olds (didn't see that coming did you? Boom!).

At Shoreham 7000000 children entered the train, just as I was trying to have a quiet-enough phonecall with the promotor, being so loud it drowned out direct, loud speaking straight into the receiver of my phone. Even more weirdly, they left the train at the next stop, less then two minutes later. Odd. Can someone explain?

At Arundel, the promotor picked me up. I had been to Arundel once before, seeing the castle, but merely driving through the town and not even getting out of the car. So I'm not even sure whether I could say to have actually been there. But I can now. The gig was in a place called the Arundel Jailhouse, which was set in an actual former gaol (good word, innit?). The mic was in front of an open cell door. I met up with the other comics on the bill as well as the compère, Andrea (She is good. That's all you need to know).

The gig itself went fine enough. The crowd was chatty, rowdy at times, but they seemed to have calmed down sufficiently by the time I went on. I could do ten minutes, which was lovely, so I could take the time. I could fit in a new bit which went well enough, but needs different context. But around the half-way point, I could feel my voice getting weaker, turning into a painful rasp by the end (which did lend some drama to the final joke. Always helps). So it was good I didn't do 15. There was one special moment, though. I was pausing, in an attempt to give the next bit some more gravitas. Then there was this voice to my right. A man and a lady had been touching each other up throughout the gig. Then, this brilliant man chose that exact pause to tell his lady partner: "you want to go back to my flat, we'll have some sex". Most of the audience heard that, straight away, but I could still milk it (huhuh!) for an even bigger laugh. I shook his hand and told him I couldn't have come up with anything more brilliant. The rest of the gig was a breeze. Other than some mid-punchline heckling from a couple of very honest ladies, whom I slammed down with maybe a bit too much passive-aggressive zeal If you're wondering, yes, it exists. That's how I deal with hecklers. I thank them for their contributions and then tell them that their thoughts might not have been that interesting to begin with and certainly not when ruining a joke. Ah well.* But no, it was a very good night. The other acts were brilliant, and I admire Sarah Hendrickx and her brilliant dealing with some dicky remarks from the crowd as well as being non-stop hilarious whilst doing so.

                    * If you're reading this, ladies at the back, I do apologise for the intensity of the put-down. I saw you giggling uncomfortably about 20 sec afterwards, so, er, sorry. **

                   ** No audience remembers comedians after they've left the stage. So they won't have remembered my difficult to spell-name, the gig, or, indeed, the entire mid-nineties. So we can be rude about them here! Eh?

Then, after leaving in the second interval (it being the country, and trains just stopping at some point), the promotor thanked me by more than reimbursing the train journey, as well as providing me with a lovely bottle of wine. First paid gig? Can we go that far already? Yeah, I suppose so! Whahoo!

I got to the station 10 mins before the train to Ford would leave, where I had to change trains to Brighton. I cursed myself for not bringing a coat, and going for the hoodie-scarf combo I've been rockin' round da crib for the past few days (what? This is the way I speak), mainly because it had been too hot for the coat in Brighton when I left for the gig. Or I was just high on lemsip at the time. So I was cold for ten minutes, awaiting the train. Trains in the UK tend to arrive JUST in time, if they do. So I got on, tired, and lay down on an empty three-seat-bit. Only after hearing the tannoy announcement I realised I had to get off quickly, to catch my Brighton train. The train stopped, and I waited for the buttons to light up, so I could push the -open doors- one. This didn't happen, and I started pushing it regardless. I suddenly remembered the man at Burgess Hill in November, so I ran to the next carriage, whose lights also weren't on. The carriage after that just closed its doors. In my face. Arse. I was still on the train, and had to wait for the next stop. That stop, luckily, was also on the route the Southampton to Brighton takes, so when I got there, I immediately ran to the other platform, through the subway. I only ran too fast, and my mp3-player* fell out of my pocket onto the ground as I was running down, so I made that running-backwards kind of stopping dogs tend to do when the realised they'd forgotten something.

                    * This mp3-player is NOT an ipod, since I didn't (and still don't, to be honest) have the money for it. My friend Patrick once looked at it, in fascination as if it was some kind of ancient forerunner of a modern device, like a Babylonian credit card.

Still, I was annoyed. I quickly moved on to the platform, where, again, the train doors shut before my eyes. I asked the man who was standing there whether this was the last train. It wasn't, luckily. So I sat down, panting, and again cursing myself for not getting out at Ford, I would have been on the train home within minutes. And I cursed my scarf-hoodie combo for being too cold. And my non-ipod mp3-player for being subject to the laws of gravity. But mostly myself, for being a douche. But then again, in 20 minutes, I would be on a train.

Then, two minutes later, the tannoy told us that due to a signalling problem, my train would be delayed for another 20 minutes. I was afraid it would get cancelled, but the same man from the station told me it would definitely run, or I would get a free taxi. So no freezing to death, at least not tonight. Which is a crap thing to write in a blog, I know, since you can't write a blog about freezing to death. You might be able to tweet tho.* @StephenFry Frostbite has caused feet to break clean off lol. But can now finally juggle ankles #Swings+Roundabouts, #Bucketlist.

                 * I've been thinking about setting up a twitter account. Good/Bad idea? Also, I've got a title to continue this blog even when I'm back in NL, for those 9 months when I'm finishing my degree there. Comic in Exile. Is it shit or is it good?

I still was angry. Probably angrier than usual on a train station. I did feel like just shouting at someone just to get the frustration off my chest. I genuinely turned 68 when I saw another group of young people, this time with a girl wearing nothing but a top and miniskirt. I wanted to go up to her and shout: 'You stupid bastard! You stupid, vain, self-deluded bastard! You insane egomaniacal cretin!' in her face, until she would understand what a total moron she was. And all her friends as well, by association. Especially after they took the one non-freezing spot in the station, the smelly waiting area, for themselves. I hate teenagers. They are evil. But so is all mankind, so we're all doomed. In short, it was a good thing my train arrived 15 minutes after it was supposed to leave (but five minutes before what they had anticipated), otherwise I would have had a column in the Telegraph by now.

Love and kisses (but not physically, since I'm still flu-ey)

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