Four days on the road and I have a new temporary tour manager (Giles the Cannibal is going to take on most of the rest of the tour, though I am doing a few of the dates on my own). His name is Luca. I have not yet asked him which floor he lives on, but I want to do it every time I speak to him. I suspect he might have been asked before and I don’t want to annoy him. But I really want to ask him. If it turns out that he lives upstairs from me I am going to well freaked out.
Luca once toured with Pete Doherty, so I was worried that I might be a bit boring by comparison. I don’t ever take any heroins, either arm ones or in drink form and had stopped off at a services to buy a salad for my dinner from Marks and Spencer. I am not very rock and roll.
As if to emphasise that I have finally got Addams Family Pinball on my computer (there were some problems with my kickstarter copies, probably my own fault so I just bought it anyway). It’s been put together by the people at Pinball Arcade
, who are fucking fantastic (they’re not paying me to say this - in fact I have paid them twice to play their stupid pretend pinball machine). Addams Family was always my favourite pinball machine and I very nearly bought one when I moved into my house back in 2003, but in the end relented (I think because the machine would have to be dismantled to get it into my basement and I thought it was unlikely to play that well after that). So I have been super excited about this computer version coming out. It’s not quite the same as playing a real table (I can’t really get on board with a button designed to help you nudge the table, as that was a subtle art and varied from table to table - occasionally you could nudge a ball back into play through the flippers if the spirit level on the machine was not top notch), but it’s very close. I’ve been playing a lot of Terminator 2 pinball on this emulator and maybe that has softened me, but Addams Family is harder than I remember (I used to be very good at it and would usually be able to get the high score on any table I played). T2 treats you like a baby with a little peg between the flippers to bounce back balls that are heading dead centre and a shoot again function if you lose your ball in the first few seconds. AF does not pander in the same way. There’s a big gap between the flippers and you have to be very skilful to rescue a lot of balls and the ball will regularly fly down the right-hand side channel at great speed, so even if I was able to use the nudge button I don’t think I could save it. Sometimes it goes straight down there without you even having had a flip at it, but Addams Family pinball treats you like an adult. Bad luck. You don’t get that ball back.
The game is hard but very rewarding and I think it might be the greatest piece of entertainment ever created and also the highest work of art. I feel blessed that I was born in a time when this wonder existed and that I got to play it both as a pinball machine and a video game.
I tried to do some observational comedy about the machine after the interval in Nottingham tonight, even though I had established that only one audience member had played it. “Hit Cousin It!” I said to him and he gave me the thumbs up. “The Mamushka” I added and he seemed pleased, though not vocally so. Perhaps it is not enough just to mention features of an obscure arcade game. But as you know my ultimate aim is to have a packed crowd and do material that only one person enjoys, so I was in my element.
The Nottingham gig was perhaps the best one of the tour so far. The audience were on board from the start and I did a really relaxed but sharp performance of the material and got a fair amount of ad-libs in. As I did some material to promote my DVD sales a woman in the front row raised her hand. I was halfway through a joke but broke off to see what she wanted. It turned out she wanted to know if she could pay by card. I lightly mocked her for asking this during the show and wrecking my joke, but it was good fun. I also thought up a new punchline to the last routine in the first half and then explained it needed one as although I liked the ending, no one else ever did. This is a theatrical show in many ways, so it was interesting to see that it worked better in a comedy club than it does in a theatre. But again this may be down to my extraordinarily nice audience (the staff members commented on how polite and receptive they were).
We had a drink at the hotel after the show. I had a Martini, just to let Luca know that I could be wild and crazy. But I was missing my family. Phoebe has been a little bit unwell today and I felt terrible that I wasn’t there to help out. Everyone says to me that I must be relieved to be on tour and staying in hotels so I can get some sleep. But I never sleep that well in hotels and have been sleeping well at home and I would much rather have been in my own bed, even if I had to get up at 4am to change a nappy. Still I got to play Addams Family Pinball for about two hours before I went to sleep. Being away from home at least means that I can play this as much as I want, so that’s something.
Still tickets available for all of my next three gigs. There was a good sized crowd in at Nottingham of well over 200, but Salford usually sells out in advance and there’s still a few tickets left, so it seems that I am losing a few ticket sales this year, but it’s nowhere near as bad as I feared that it could have been given the level of competition.