Thursday, July 06, 2006

Peace and Comedy / Heavy Lids

Leamington - London Marylebone train I am feeling very happy today. Yes, really!

Mr Landlord is pleased I am staying another six months. I even managed to get us out of the £25 renewal fee.

My comedy pieces for The Stage are almost finished. I just need to talk to Peter Buckley Hill about his amazing raft of free shows (the veteran comedian Brian Damage telephoned me to give me Peter's number) and catch up with Justin Edward (a.k.a. drunken children's entertainer Jeremy Lion) who forgot to call me last night 'because he was writing some comic songs'. It sounds like something out of Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.

True, I have not had much sleep and got drenched to the skin bicycling to work this morning but, nonetheless, I sense life is getting better.

For the religious, lighting that votive candle at St. Peter the Apostle church, Leamington Spa, may have made the difference. If so, a match, a quid and a quick prayer before Our Lady has worked a minor intercessionary miracle.

This is what I wrote in the early hours of Wednesday:

Leamington Garret. 12.15am by Big Ken in the misty moonlight. It has been an amazing couple of days. Extraordinarily hot and beautiful. Last night I was exhausted, after getting up incredibly early to get up to go Leamington after my weekend away in Paris.

Still, I was committed to interviewing the brainy comedian Natalie Haynes for my Edinburgh Fringe preview pieces for The Stage newspaper.

I was not particularly looking forward to it. As a Catholic, I was shocked by her show last year with its apparent support for abortion up to the point of birth and beyond! In the event the interview was not as bad as I thought it would be.

Natalie essentially sounded off her views on manifold subjects, with me very subtly challenging her, something the argumentative always hard to handle. She started talking about her relationships.

She claimed she had dumped a bloke because 'he did not have a favourite square root number'. So, I said: 'Did you ask him if he had a favourite cube root?' 'No,' she replied.

'Did you ask him if he had a favourite prime number?' 'No,' she said. 'Then,' I said, 'you didn’t really give him a fair crack of the whip.'

Natalie Haynes said that after the failure to identify a favourite square root, she just had to walk.

I was really jaded by this point in the conversation but had not hesitation in answering the predictable question of what was my favourite square root number. ‘1.4,’ I said, ‘an f-number and the square root of two. The f-numbers go: 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22 et cetera.’ That threw her!

She started talking about Latin but I was too jaded. I had the quotes I needed, so I said ‘Floreat’ (Latin for ‘Let it prosper!’) and called it a day on Natalie Haynes.

After we had said goodbye, the feeling lingered she had been flirting with me.

Tonight has been equally extraordinary. I met a neighbour from the garret – an amazing fact considering we are four floors up in an office block with no other inhabitants.

I was in the Garret preparing to talk a call on my mobile telephone to a very good (and extremely pleasant) Irish comedian called Jason Byrne who is on holiday with his family in the Canaries.

And this is what I wrote in the small hours of Thursday: Leamington Garret. 1.08am. by Big Ken agin a beautiful reddish sky in misty rain.

God, what a knackering, although productive, day. This morning I felt absolutely exhausted when I awoke. Very early, I tried to so some work on my Stage comedy pieces, and then my colleague picked me up and we raced off to Rotherham to see an awesome printing works.

Blimey! Printing has moved on a bit since I last took a close look at press (at the Hull Daily Mail in 1984). The £7million machine that the director of the company showed us was absolutely incredible. It did everything at a tremendous lick. What a beautiful piece of kit.

Got back to the Leamington Garret at around 5.30pm, with terrible back and neckache. I felt so out of it, I had to lie down and slept for 90 minutes, awakening bathed in sweat. 
The comedienne Lucy Porter telephoned me. What an absolutely delightful person she is!

If I had known she was that pleasant, I would have chatted to in the Assembly Rooms performers' bar years ago. 

I really enjoyed chatting with her. Lucy displayed a level of kindness and generosity that one does not detect in many stand-ups.

Afterwards, I should have got straight down to the writing, but I suddenly felt full of beans and desirous of celebrating the Portuguese defeat at the hands of the glorious French. God bless the French! The Jug & Jester Jam Night beckoned.

It was particularly good tonight. Sinead was on great vocal form, a blonde woman did an excellent Sheryl Crowe cover, and the finale, a version of Knocking On Heaven’s Door was outstanding. I love that gig. Brilliant week in, week out.

6.20pm. High Wycombe. One of my mobile telephones (one personal and one Day-Job) has rung in my rucksack and, attempting to fish it out, I stabbed a finger on something sharp. Now it bleeding profusely over the keyboard of my trusty iBook. Oh, dear!

Back to Paris, on Sunday morning I thought of getting up early to visit Rue Albert Camus. Albert Camus, you may remember, is the great French writer who used to own my brown suitcase. Studying the Paris A-Z, it seemed that the street name inscribed in the lid of my case had been renamed Rue Albert Camus in his honour.

Heavy Lids (Flashback to Saturday, 13 May, 2006.
Lewes Garret, writing on my iBook. Beautiful, hot day. 10.26am. Twenty days to go before the launch of Oliver's Poetry and its blog. I don't feel ready. Help! My eyelids feel heavy.

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