More aimless nostalgia and confusion about the rapid passage of time as I went for a walk up the gorge. How come the littel car racing game was no longer in the arcade at the bottom of the gorge? And how come the arcade wasn't there? Surely it was only yesterday that I was last there. I hate you time. And one day I will destroy you. At least from my own perspective. I'd like to see you playing these tricks on me when I am dead. Enjoy your pranks for now, because soon you'll have to find another idiot to torment. And I am not the one who is forced to go on for infinity, so the joke's on you. Prick.
I sat in the Costa coffee by Gough's Cave (I know, get Cheddar, with its lattes) and read my book about Rasputin. In Cheddar Gorge, reading about the Mad Monk? I needed only to get my cock out and my three main writing preoccupations would be on display. But suggestions from Twitter showed that I had at least three more jokes than that (they are a shrek, cumpkins and motorcycle clothing, so I am a lot more versatile than I realised).
I bought some Victory Vs from a sweet shop. I have a bit of a cold so could pretend to myself that these would help, but really was just keen to experience another Proustian rush. I used to love these as a kid, buying two ounces from a jar, in a little white bag (was I alive in Victorian times?), my mum concerned that I mustn't eat too many because, according to her, they contained some dangerous ingredient like chloroform or cocaine or something. This was before political correctness and health and safety went mad and people were allowed to put drugs in sweets. But according to wikipedia she needn't have been concerned. They stopped putting ether and chloroform in in the 1960s. I still used to fancy I was experiencing some kind of illegal high off of them (as, of course, my mum's warnings just meant I scoffed the sweets even faster), but really all that happened was the chalky Victory V dust would gather at the back of my throat in a slightly unpleasant way (not in a fun cocaine way, I imagine).My taste-buds, jealous at the rest of my mind travelling in time, was delighted to be able to join the party.
Unlike most sweets you can't just neck a pack of Victory Vs in five minutes. This would be a project that would take me at least a couple of days. I am eating them now, feeling a bit woozy from the imaginary chloroform.
Then I drove to Bristol to appear at the Colston Hall, which sounds more impressive to local people then it really is. That's a 2000 seater! Fuck Wolverhampton Rich, you've made it in Bristol. But alas I was in the Lanterns, a 250 seater room in the same building. Which I have easily sold out for two nights. Who knows, if they had put me in the big room I might have half-filled it.
I always feel slightly queasy heading to a new venue, not because I am worried about the show, but because I am hoping I will be able to find the right door to go in and where I am meant to park and not get lost on the way. It's strange that I can still get nervous about something like this after so many years, but it's an echo of an earlier time in my life, where anything new would scare the shit out of me and when I felt too self-conscious to even go into shops sometimes, as that would mean interacting with a stranger. The fear was doing something stupid that would make people laugh at me. Which is odd, because even then my job was to go into a room and try and make strangers laugh at me. I suppose if I felt able to control it then it didn't scare me. I wasn't all that able to control it back then though.
It was slightly complicated getting into the venue as there was no stage door and no obvious person to talk to. I just parked in a loading bay and had to find someone who knew where I was meant to be. Usually these massive and more corporate venues have staff who see the acts as a bit of an inconvenience or a further customer to make money off, but luckily the people of Bristol are genuinely the best people in the world and aren't going to put up with that kind of bullshit. A security guard told me where to park and then sensing my confusion went out of his way to point out where I was going and the crew were welcoming, friendly and helpful (no question of not being allowed to put out the programmes - they all helped me do it). The front of house man told me he couldn't be arsed with the paperwork so they wouldn't be charging a commission on my merch sales and was also prepared for an interview that I am doing tomorrow before the gig, pointing out that the guy who is doing it is a good lad and not a prick. I loved this candour. Here they still remember that it's worth making sure that the performer is happy and has everything they need, because that will make a better show.
The long, high room had an aisle between the seats, meaning that it was not an ideal venue for comedy and it didn't have the atmosphere of a packed Tobacco factory (where at times the audience reaction has been slightly scary in its intensity), but in spite of being tired and a bit light-headed (I think from the head cold rather than the Victory Vs), it was a good show. I felt a little bit exhausted in the second half, but I pushed onwards.
As I left, young, cool, drunk people milled in and out of the main hall as the band in there blasted away. Maybe one day I will get to play in there (I have played there one more time than you have - almost certainly- as Stew and I did a fun gig in that room in the late 90s). That's a more realistic ambition than the Wolverhampton one. I already have at least 1000 people who will probaby come to see me in this town. If they'd all bring a friend....
I am only half serious about any of these ambitions. I'd love to get to a position where 500 people wanted to see me in every town. With a bit of luck that might be acheivable. I certainly have no interest in playing stadia. But nor am I averse to selling tickets. There's plenty of 1000-2000 seater venues that are just as much fun and almost as intimate as the 300 seater ones. My ambitions are not huge. I would like to play the Hammersmith Apollo in my own right one day. I'd like it if 2000 in Bristol wanted to see my show. Both those are probably achievable. The Wolverhampton one is about as likely as me landing on the moon. That's what makes it a fun goal.
Shoot for the moon and you might just hit the trees.