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Saturday 22nd February 2014


I've said it before, but I will say it again. If you want a free breakfast then head to any Holiday Inn Express between 7am and 10am and tuck into some cereal, toast, yoghurt (for breakfast?) or bacon, sausage and eggs for FREE (apart from the cost of the transport to the hotel). No one checks you're staying there and there's plenty of food. You need never pay for breakfast again. Don't say this blog doesn't give you anything.

I know at least one person did that in Cambridge today as I heard the family on the next table discussing this very thing. One of their party hadn't stayed at the hotel the night before but was still helping herself to a second plate of eggs and bacon. The public 1 The evil corporations 0. Obviously be careful not to talk about it as indiscretely as that family did because you never know what breakfast spy might be sitting at the next table. I know that Ian Holiday-Inn will pay 50p to every breakfast-theft informant and it was mightily tempting to go and tell him what I had learned. But I reckon that in the long run I can probably blackmail that family threatening to dob them in and eventually extract at least 75p from them.

I had time for a 30 minute run through the outskirts of Cambridge before I had to leave my room. It was a sunny day and there was a nice community atmosphere on the streets. The church on the corner was advertising an event in March with a group called "The Entertainers". They seemed to be three smiling, middle-aged women and I was guessing they were a local amateur group. I loved the simplicity of their name and their happiness. It was the height of their ambition to play the local fete and in a way I envied them that. Increasingly I see the positives of keeping things small, but alas even though my once strong ambition for "success" and "fame" eventually melted down and caused a nuclear implosion, the burning embers of fall out and radioactive material still push me onwards to want more than the pleasure of just being one of the "entertainers" on a parochial level. Eventually, I am sure, I will learn that playing the local church to a few half-interested pensioners will be good enough for me. I look forward to that day, but for now, I had to get to Colchester! Take that "The Entertainers". You could never dream of playing Colchester. The next parish in Cambridge wouldn't even touch you. I am best.

A carpenter was getting his circular saw out of his white van and the wind blew flecks of sawdust into my face. Unlike a London tradesman the chippy immediately apologised. I had anticipated the swarm of midge-like particles and managed to turn away so none of it went in my eyes.

Back at the hotel and showered and turfed out of my room I sat in the foyer and did some work. As March is looking pretty busy I decided to use the opportunity to get ahead with my Metro columns. By the end of the day I had written (or collated from blogs and old routines!) five weeks worth of articles and was set up until the end of March. That's quite a hefty day's work, even without the massive payday of performing at an almost sold out Colchester Arts Centre. Are you reading this, "The Entertainers". Oh you think you're happy don't you? But look at everything I've got.

As I left the hotel, in the bushes by my car I noticed a perfectly white and clean bird's skull. It seemed strange that no one had tidied that away. Maybe it was another Grim Reaper portent of doom, but I actually quite liked seeing the head bone of this dinosaur ancestor. It spoke more of the continuation of life than of death. And of the sloppiness of the Holiday Inn Express' cleaning staff/gardeners. I don't know where the rest of the bird had got to.

Colchester is a familiar stop on the tours now and I have built up enough of a following now to have fun. Quaintly there is nowhere to park at this venue so you have to load your stuff into the venue and then drive round the one way system to head to the car park about five minutes walk away. And then, of course, go and get your car after the gig before. It adds about fifteen minutes to the exit time, which on a day when you're looking forward to getting home, can be a bit of a bind. But I like looking up at the Arts Centre, an old church, sitting on a little hill above the old city wall. The church seems to be half constructed from the same bricks as that wall. It looks eerie and sinister in the dark. I did remark that it was apt doing the show in a building surrounded by the buried dead. I really enjoyed the show though. As always on tour I am less rushed and can get playful with the script and it always feels about 50% better than it was in Edinburgh. None of the reviewers or industry people see it of course, just the people of provincial towns. I am more like The Entertainers than I can ever admit.

Finally, after quite a hectic week, I did feel a bit weary driving home. The daytime drives are usually fine, but the ones in the dark, after a show can feel endless. My increased fitness is certainly helping and I am hoping that tomorrow I might find I have dipped under 90kg for the first time in 18 months. I have eaten healthily and exercised so there's a good chance.

And by 12.30am I was back with my wife and my cats (man, I missed those cats), feeling too wired to sleep, but when I lay down on the pillow suddenly realising that tiredness was going to win and falling straight asleep.

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