Sunday, 18 September 2011

Travel and hen parties, obviously

What I planned to do this weekend - and indeed what had been planned for me - wasn't exactly what happened. I had originally been a Jongleurs spare. This is a slightly odd phenomena in comedy but involves having your weekend put on hold by the organisation who effectively pay you potentially not to work. If someone drops out of something, you're called in to take their place, wherever that may be. It wasn't long before I'd been put into their Birmingham gig. I quite looked forward to that. Then they dropped the Friday so I only had a gig there on Saturday. Then they moved me to Portsmouth. Then when they confirmed me on Wednesday they told me I was going to Croydon. This still left me without a gig on Friday. That was sorted out on Thursday when Mirth Control asked me to go to Weymouth to do a gig called "Moby Dicks". Confused? You will be.

I set off for Weymouth around 3.30pm and expecting a long and regularly interrupted drive, I was not disappointed. My first traffic jam was on the A414, less than twenty minutes into my journey. It took that long again to get past the accident. Already behind schedule I didn't get on to the M25 until around 4.30pm. I didn't get off it until 5.30pm, largely due to a crawl between the M40 and M3. Then I hit the usual mess around Winchester so stopped at services where I turned down the opportunity to buy a cheeseburger from Burger King at its madly inflated price of £3.24. Surely one day service stations will learn that if they offer value for money they will make money. Oh what do I know?

Winchester Services (Southbound). Home of the ripoff burger.

The M27 was traversed without incident and then I hit another jam behind another accident on the A31. This added another half an hour to my journey. After that it was clear all the way to Weymouth, well until five miles before it when an unexpected diversion added yet more time onto my journey as I was forced to go via Wareham. I got to the gig around 8.15pm. Happy days.

The gig itself was a surprisingly good laugh, not least because other than Iszi the compere, everyone on the bill was not only called Paul but also exploited their middle initial for their stage name.

Moby Dick's - a basement pub venue that has fantastic food - I opted for a "Hot Rock" steak with mashed potatoes and a salad with a fantastic dressing on it.

Thus Paul T. Eyres was followed by Paul B. Dennis and then finally yours truly, Paul B. Edwards. The poor girl did an excellent job of compering but our introductions were too much for her and she successfully managed to get my name wrong three times. I sympathised. I remember compering a bill that included Yianni Agisalou, Angelo Tsaroukas and Dan Evans. I spent so long learning Yianni and Angelo's names that I forgot his completely and made a right fool of myself. The gig centred around a largely friendly hen party who were very keen to get involved with the show (As was everyone else, to be fair) until two minutes before I finished when half of them stood up and started saying their goodbyes to the rest. This was rude, incredibly disruptive and I barked at them to be quiet. They weren't. It turns out they had to leave to get their last bus. They could have left quietly. Anyway, the rest of the audience was on side and everything finished smoothly. Other than the remaining diversion on the way out of Weymouth, the roads were mercifully clear and I got home a shade before 2am. Nearly five hours there, three hours back. I got paid £200. Sounds all right? I'll break it down:

£200 fee
15% agent's fee puts it down to £170
Petrol @ £60 we're now at £110
Food & drink £10 and we've hit a ton
20% tax drops it to £80
Time out of the house: 11 hours
80 / 11 = £7.27 per hour.

You may well be wondering why I bother doing this. I do myself, sometimes. I comfort myself that the rest of the bill were probably on that between them. Why they do it really is beyond me. It must be love.

Not really wishing to get in the car again on Saturday, I plumped for getting the train to Croydon. This seemed like a good idea, particularly when I saw how quickly I could potentially get there and back using public transport. I took notes on the journey and they are transcribed below, to the word:

Gary Numan - here not in his car. I wasn't either. I was on the train.

"Obviously I have bumped into Paul and the lads (And Sean) at Letchworth Station. The former are on their way to see Gary Numan. The latter is going to Finsbury Park for a twelve hour shift on the railways. On way to Kings Cross make unilateral decision to not get the tube to Victoria and get the train from there to East Croydon but instead walk over to St. Pancras and get the direct train from there. Obviously the St. Pancras platform I require is closed so I have to get the Northern Line to London Bridge. Obviously I get a cheeseburger at Burger King for £1.99 - a more acceptable price than Winchester Services. The train to East Croydon is on time, has plenty of room and I get here early. Obviously I walk entirely the wrong way out of the station and get to the gig late for the 8pm start. Obviously the gig is starting at 9pm so no drama.  Obviously I am offered food and drink. Obviously it then takes an hour to arrive, by which time the show has already started. Obviously my sound check involves a sound man who has "never had to plug in a guitar before". Top notch then. Obviously there is a hen party in. obviously they go as far as to clap along to my songs.

Tiger Tiger, Croydon. This is the home of Jongleurs and also the home of "very late" but to be honest, very tasty Thai Curry.

The rest of the smallish audience don't and the whole affair stinks of damp squib. Obviously despite taking five minutes to get back to E. Croydon station (rather than the half an hour getting from there to the gig) I miss the 10.03pm back to London Bridge. Fortunately the 10.09 to Victoria is late so I catch that, hop on the Victoria line and get myself back to Kings X for 10.47pm.


My plan is to get the 11.15pm "Cambridge Express" (first stop Letchworth) which will get me in at 11.40pm and in The Arena Tavern by 11.45pm. This train is also the one that the Gary Numan Posse are planning to catch. I spy the 10.53pm to Peterborough and realise I can get off in Hitchin and possibly get an earlier train to Letchworth and thus beat them to the pub. CHILDISH MORAL VICTORY? No. Obviously the only available seat is by the toilet. Obviously my entire journey is permeated by the stench of urine and excrement, rather like my "career". Obviously I get to Hitchin at 11.20pm only to find that the next train from there to Letchworth is at 11.47pm. Rats. I can't bear to watch the Cambridge Express sail past me with the Numaners on board so get a cab to the pub. Result! In there by 11.30pm".

It was worth it to see the look on their faces when they strolled in fifteen minutes later and I was already on my second pint. Ha! I met up with Phil who had organised the Amnesty comedy show that had taken place in Letchworth Arts Centre in my absence. Apparently an aging female heckler drunkenly threw a punch at another audience member who had told her to shut up. I don't know - as soon as my back's turned... weekend I have a similar set up when I travel to Wiveliscombe on Friday and Greenwich on Saturday. I expect very different outcomes. Let's see what disappointments can befall me then.

1 comment:

  1. It also seems that the drunken female heckler was last seen on the arts centre CCTV (very Orwellian) leaving the venue without her coat stumbling down the stairs and fumbling with her CAR KEYS! Her friend (in her seventies and also drunk as a lord) said her yellow car had gone.


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