Frome

Here’s a tip: if you’re lonely on a Friday afternoon why not jump into your car and head down to junction 15 on the M25. You’ll feel like you’ll never be alone again.

And I knew this. I know that Friday afternoon’s a shit time to be heading west. For Christ’s sake, I’ve spent the last two years writing about motorways. I know the M4 is hell on a Friday but I had no choice – I had to go to work on Friday morning. That live literature won’t coordinate itself (believe me, it won’t). So Molly (my excellent warm-up act on Friday) and I were left with picking our way through weekender traffic at Reading and Maidenhead.

We arrived with 45 mins before curtain up. Well, I say curtain up. There wasn’t a curtain. It’s not panto. But whilst we were a bit flustered and had wobbly car legs it wasn’t so bad. There was no hanging around getting nervous, just time to iron my shirt and drink half a bottle of beer.

I love Frome. The people there are intelligent and charming (or the one’s that come to my gigs are, I’ve met others in the kebab shop later who are less so). They know their poetry (one woman told Molly she reminded her of Auden) and they like buying CDs (hurrah, steak tonight!). I had a lovely time on stage. Of all my gigs, Frome is the one where I most get a regular crowd so I mixed it up a bit because I realised that last year I was running in Laura Brown and A Poet’s Work at that stage of the tour, so I wanted them to get plenty of new stuff. Luke’s Got A Joke continues to go down well, so I’m hopeful for Edinburgh.

Molly and I were put up by a family whose daughter works at The Merlin. In situations like that it’s such a lottery: whilst one expects a comfortable bed and a cup of tea in the morning (that’s fair enough) one doesn’t always bank on getting such excellent conversation. But Sue and Richard and their son Jamie were great fun. We went to a pub that made all its own ales and drank the brown beer and ranted about politics, alternative comedy and Jenson Button all night. Well, only I talked about Jenson Button (we were after all in his home town), but it was all very jolly never the less. And to top it all off we got a stunning cooked breakfast in the morning.

Mol and I headed back to Norwich in a much speedier fashion than we left it and we all went over to Yanny Mac’s for the Eurovision Song Contest. It was his daughter’s (belated) birthday party so I got to eat Monster Munch until I felt sick. As predicted my threshold for ‘so bad it’s good’ fun was lower than the others’ but it all good fun.

Today is the usual round of croissants, papers, blogs and housework. Molly has kindly agreed to sit in for the honeymooning Joel Stickey on the podcast, so I’ll off to record that sometime this afternoon.

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