Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Autumn in Leamington Spa

Autumn is here, winter beckons.

I cannot say September was a great month. I returned from the summer break full of beans, determined to get things done. But it is never as easy as that. I look back over last month and realise that, for all my efforts, I did not make a whole lot of progress.

Swans on the Leam, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, UK










Not that it was without its compensations. For instance I was walking down the street on one typically tedious Leamington night and was amazed to stumble upon my old Joe's Comedy Madhouse chum Jimbo. Jim told me that he was taking part in a talent contest down the road at the Royal Spa Centre, the town's large theatre.

What ensued was a hilarious evening. Jimbo was to perform in a cavernous and almost empty hall, in a competition funded by Warwick District Council, the people behind the zone parking outrage mentioned in my previous blog.


Most of the acts on the bill were singers with 'tuning issues' - as they used to say on the Joseph show on TV - so bad that even I could detect when they weren't hitting the right notes.



After four of these performances, there was an interval and Jimbo, a madcap legend on the London comedy circuit, reappeared in the bar. He said he was on second after the break, and I remarked, 'You must stand a good chance here, Jim, all those singers couldn't hold their pitch!'

Jimbo, a veteran of many a provincial talent contest, shook his head. He was not so sure. And so it proved. His wacky brand of humour went down like a lead balloon. The hall's accoustics did not help. It was quite hard to hear the gags, with his trademark vocal hiccups. Up in the circle, I laughed like the idiot I am but was in the minority. Only a group of teenagers joined me. The judges sat po-faced.



Jimbo was followed by a brother and sister music double act who were good. And the evening was rounded off by a precocious schoolgirl singing an awful composition of her own. She was from Leamington Spa.

I realised the three judges included the council official responsible for the parking debacle. His talent spotting was no better. The Leamington school kid came in first, and Jimbo was not even placed.

Still, it was great to see the old stick. He is an extraordinary act and a lovely fellow.

In September I did wonder at times if I was losing my marbles. I began to find living away from home increasingly unacceptable. And even though life is not that bad, I felt depressed and unhappy for a substantial amount of the time.



The best thing was seeing old friends. I went on a day-job course in London one Friday and met my dear friends Dominic Baster and John McJannet as well as dropping into my club, The Colony Room. I felt so at home, so happy, for a few glorious hours.

I caught up with another old friend after a conference in Bath and saw another friend in Kilburn, north London.



Poetry-wise, I have only written one poem in the last month, What Is The Word?, and don't seem capable of memorising it.

I am drinking too much, have terrible nightmares, and have missed two poetry gigs this week through simply having no transport. I have made virtually no progress on my set for the Reckless Moment comedy club at the end of this month, and even less on my Edinburgh show. I just cannot get a handle.

I suppose the highlight of the month in terms of poetry was appearing on the local radio station again to read some poems. I enjoyed that, although it seemed slightly weird slipping in poems between speedway reports.

At the beginning of September, the weather was pretty good (as you see from the images on this blog that I took one night) and I seemed so full of hope. The fairground was in full whirl beneath my bedroom window. It was rather noisy and weird as a sight (as you can imagine seeing this image from your bed).

Fair from bedroom window of Leamington garret

I really hoped, and expected, the autumn would be bring change for me.

Now I am flush with doubt and wonder how sustainable this lifestyle is.

It is dark and cooler now. I have opened the windows to air the garret. At least the threat of wasp attack has receded. (They have died of their own accord). I am on to my second beer and staring again at the brightly lit windows of the flats opposite as I type this, matchstick figures moving around within the pigeonholes.

I should read this through, but I can't be bothered. I am going to scatter the images randomly between the paragraphs and publish (although, of course, I may spruce it up at a later date).

Ricky Lee Jones is on the mono (the stereo does not work) and I need to pack to return to Lewes tomorrow night.

I feel like going out tonight and getting trolleyed, but then again there's work tomorrow, and endless admin. and the all that.

Life isn't so bad. If only I could be happier.

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1 Comments:

Blogger The Poet Laura-eate said...

A tribute I wrote to an excellent poet we lost far too soon (who actually gave a lot of musicians and poets their first London gigs, despite his modesty). However I do hope your story turns out longer and happier than his, Oliver. You owe it to yourself, not to mention all the people who care about you and appreciate what you do.

Haunted (for Brinsley, the difference maker)

Malcontent to leave it at the half-empty, half-full conundrum
He's seen the bottom of the glass
Repeatedly, just to be sure
Now he wears his findings like a cloak of danger
This lumbering former Irishman
With a headful of beautiful anger
A lot full of secondhand cars
And a heart full of unfinished love.
The parallels of fear of failure
Fear of success, fear of life
Have not escaped his weather eye
Harmonica, or sharp pencil.
He's dying to escape them
Despite the lovely wife, nice little life.
I hardly knew him, but his loss still jars
Fated to be under-feted.

Monday, 08 October, 2007  

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