It was a long drive up to Manchester and I was pretty tired. I was doing Christ on a Bike at the Frog and Bucket as part of the Manchester Comedy Festival and really looking forward to it. I have had some great times at this venue, both on an off stage and the audience is always smart and appreciative. But would I remember the show? Stupidly, as almost always, I had forgotten to make a recording in Edinburgh to capture all the nuances and new bits. Abraham begat... who was it again?
I had set off at 11.30, hoping to get to town at 4 so I could check into my hotel and then head to the venue, but traffic was against me and I arrived at 5.30. With a lot of tech issues to sort out I realised I had better get straight to the venue which would also mean I could drop all my programmes off. Lee who has been in charge of the gigs here since the first time I performed here
when traffic was against me and I arrived in the nick of time. He told me that I could park in the garage at the back of the venue, but I was flustered and a bit weary and couldn't work out where I had to be so he came out to open the gate and let me in. I turned the car around so I wouldn't have to reverse in - I hate reversing, especially with an audience - and then drove into the garage. I was wondering if he wanted me to park in a tight space to my right and a bit distracted and perhaps adjusted a little so I could manoeuvre towards the gap when I heard a terrible scraping of metal on metal. Like a stupid inattentive idiot I had somehow managed to clip my passenger side rear wheel arch against the side of the gate. What a total prick, but made much worse by the fact that I had an audience to witness my incompetency.
I haven't pranged my car for a long time. In the early days when I was a newer and more nervous driver I made a couple of low speed errors (whilst reversing), but the last one was on the way Al Murray's house to see if Will Young would beat Gareth Gates in Pop Idol (or whatever X Factor was called then), so I have gone a few years without serious incident. This time I was driving forwards, into a reasonable wide garage door. I was emasculated in front of witnesses. Lee's face suggested that I might have done serious damage and I had visions of my wheel arch hanging off the car (the worst damage I had done was within months of buying the car when I had wrecked the front wheel arch reversing out of a space - and the jagged metal from the unrepaired damage nearly burst my tyre as I drove down the motorway soon after - luckily just scarred it) so I was quite relieved when I got out to discover that I had just scraped off some paint and left the wheel arch looking like it had been attacked by a hammer. It was annoying and embarrassing, but I could probably get away without having it repaired. The car is pretty old and this was fortunately the same bit of the car that I scratched (and then later my ex-flatmate Jane would also bang a bit when parallel parking). Fortunate too that I never got it repaired. Or I would have had to get it repaired again!
It was an inauspicious and annoying beginning to my evening. Lee did well not to laugh in my face and call me a non-driving idiot and pretended that it was an easy mistake to have made, but I was more concerned about the damage to my ego than my car. I was too scared and self-conscious to repeat the error on the way out so got Lee to reverse out for me, ensuring that any trace of my previous testicles was eradicated for alway.
How pathetic to have got all that way and through all that stress and strain, only to screw up at the last possible moment, with witnesses!
All of this slightly affected my mood, but I managed to put it mainly behind me and get on with the show, which largely seems to be lasered into my brain - most of it came out in the right order, even doing the genealogy backwards, which now seems to come out perfectly as long as I don't try to think about what I am saying. Which is scary enough in itself, because the act of not thinking about it kind of makes me think about it.
It felt like a long time since I'd done the show, but I enjoyed it and it made me look forward to working more on it on the tour
, when I am also lucky enough to be able to afford to take a tour manager for the first time in years - which hopefully means my car won't get any more mangled than it is already. And after all these years Lee is moving on from this job, which is a shame in many ways as it's been a lot of fun working with him, but also good because next time I return no one will know about my granny like driving and inability to negotiate a car through an open space.
Thanks for the laughs Lee and good luck. It won't be the same without you.