The highs and lows of tour. It’s the biggest cliche. I’ve said it hundreds and times at Edinburgh, on the road, at festivals. There’s no logic to it, some days are great, some are not.
Not that Aldershot was terrible. It just that we only had 10 people in the audience. 10 people. Not great is it? It’s not completely surprising: commuter belt towns are always the hardest to do well in and I’ve never been to Aldershot before. It’s just so predictable after the amazing gig in Colchester.
That said I did throw myself totally into the show and the 10 people were lovely and seemed to really enjoy the show, and that is heartening in itself. I don’t think Poet Laureate would have stood up that well, in fact that same test WAS applied in Luton last year and I felt like I struggled more than I did on Thursday.
There were some other positives to come out of the day. Yanny got to go back to the street where he grew up. He hadn’t been there for 20 years. We went to the river, to the canal bank which he set on fire in 1980, to ‘Smithy’s”. The grafitti Yan did as a 12 year old was still there, in fact very little had changed. Yan got a bit emotional then Dockers and I got a bit emotional for him. Then Yan stood in the biggest dog turd you’ve ever seen in your life and that punctured the situation nicely.
I bought a bright red Harrington. We also ate Pizza Hut, that was less notable.
After the gig in Aldershot Yan and I got into the baron still sweating and set Tash’s* course for Cranbrook in Kent. I pelted the M25 and we made it before midnight. We stayed in a little B&B. There are two types of B&B: little hotels and people’s houses. This was most definitely the latter. Doreen’s house to be precise. Doreen was very nice and gave us towels and a cooked breakfast.
“What would you like with your cooked breakfast?” she asked when we arrived.
“No beans for me,” I replied.
“I don’t DO beans!” was the stern response. We were on the same page.
“What time would you like it,” she asked, the kindly granny-like tone returned.
“Oh, nine please.”
“Do you like sausages?”
We nodded. She just left the room.
Yan and I got the giggles before making sarky comments at Newsnight. I think I am truly at my happiest sitting with a friend making withering comments at moving images. The other day I watched There Will Be Blood with Molly, and though it was fucking amazing my favourite bit was giggling about how shit the adverts were at the beginning.
The gig at Cranbrook school was good fun. I did my school’s version of Poet Laureate, which incorporates a few pieces from Poet & Man. I think it needs cutting, but it’s almost perfect now. Everyone seemed to enjoy the gig and Yan and I got fed, which always helps, especially as we had been living on smoked cheese for three days.
I decamped to Essex afterwards and ate curry with my parents, drank enough beer to make me all heavy and downloaded and watched the first 4 episodes of the new series of Lost. Yes yes yes!
I spent Saturday day time supervising a workshop for New Writing Partnership at Colchester Arts Centre. I then headed to Oundle for a gig with Phillip Wells at Oundle Lit Fest. We went round each pub in Oundle and did a couple of poems to the unsuspecting punters. I hate doing stuff like this. I hate forcing my art on people, it looks really egotistical. However, Paula Prince, who organised the gig did a great job in introducing us and I have to admit the actual performances were fun. People did listen to us and they did enjoy it. It’s also heartening to know that my poems can still amuse and entertain people who aren’t hardened fans who want to buy tickets to the gig.
The main crux of the evening was the final performance in The Ship. Here the punters were suspecting and I had a thoroughly good time ranted out ten poems or so in 3 poems shifts. Phillip Wells has a great poem about Englishness that I look forward to hearing again.
So many thanks to Cristine, Barney & Anegla, and Paula for having me on at their respective events/venues. I’ve had a really great week. Much love to Yanny, Dockers and Ventriloquist for supporting me in Aldershot. I haven’t mentioned Dockers much on the blog, but she is a truly amazing writer/performer and her stuff is getting better and better. I am really honoured to have her supporting me. Was also impressed with Ventriloquist, and Yanny’s “Domestic Goddess Delusion” is shaping up to be his best bit of work yet. Exciting!
* My sat nav, named after Natasha Kaplinsky, cos they’re both a bit fick, innit.