I enjoy gigging in unusual locations and tonight was hard to beat. I was doing a gig on the Cutty Sark. This clipper has been round the world and was in a serious fire a few years ago, but what it and its crew have been through are nothing compared with my difficulties of getting from Shepherd's Bush to Greenwich and back on the day of a tube strike. I hope one day there will be a display on the Cutty Sark detailing my journey. The show had sold out, but at least a quarter of the ticket holders were not as hardy as I and didn't make it. I presume they perished on the way. Or got scurvy. It's a tough life at sea.
My wife had already fallen by the wayside, too ill to perform tonight and left behind in Blighty. I wasn't 100% myself, but I couldn't let the ghost crew of that vessel down.
The Hammershit and Shitty Line was running and so I decided that I would take that to Moorgate and then walk down to Bank and take the DLR to Greenwich. I set off at 4.40pm even though the gig did not start until 7.45. And though a little delayed the usually unreliable tube line turned out to be quite a good bet. I was at Moorgate by 5.30, but it was there that things turned into a living Hell that made me wish humanity could be wiped from the face of the earth like the virus it clearly is. The platform was solid with commuters, some moving towards the exits, some moving towards the trains, none of us moving very quickly. We edged forwards, being buffeted by the tide of human scum coming in the other direction and it took at least 15 minutes to get outside. How quickly our civilisation breaks down when just one aspect of it bends and breaks. I am not looking forward to the Apocalypse one bit.
Luckily the DLR was running fine and I got to the ship in good time. I would have hated to have been late and had to watch it sailing off into the distance without me. Though I hoped that I could steal the clipper and sail it back up to Hammersmith and then maybe walk home from there. I could see no problem with this plan.
A photographer was in my dressing room (my dressing room was just the deck above the theatre space) and was keen to get an exact shot of me in front of the mirror. "What are you wearing on stage?" he asked. I indicated the clothes I was wearing. "Oh right, so just jeans and trainers. Cool!" He remarked unconvincingly. Clearly he thought I was going to get dressed up for this low-key gig on a boat, or maybe he thought I'd put on a sailor's outfit. I was clearly ruining his beautiful shot by being scruffy. But that's what I am and the camera never lies.
The gig itself went well. I did the first half of We're All Going To Die! as an opener to replace my wife's set. This was quite a useful little rehearsal for the next tour gig in New Milton on Saturday (a handful of tickets remaining) and I managed to get in some cracks about my career going so badly I was now performing on a burned down ship and how there seemed to be a good sprinkler system in place now for some reason. And though I haven't had much time to work on it there is some promising stuff on love too (though mainly from old blogs and Metro articles). I still can't decide how much What is Love, Anyway? material to include. It's hard to know if I should be pitching these shows to people who aren't really aware of my stuff (and thus giving them the best that I have) or the people who like my stuff already (who will be annoyed by repeats, even if they're watching the free versions!). And given the time limitations on this one it seems to make sense to fall-back a little bit on old material. We'll see. Hopefully I can strike a balance that will annoy and disappoint everyone! I am enjoying rolling out a few of these old routines for the previews anyway. We'll see what I can come up with in the next 11 days!
The journey home looked like becoming an even worse nightmare. There had been a cab right outside the DLR station, but I checked the internet and the Hammeshit and Shitty line was still running, so I decided to go home the way I had come. Which was fine until I got to Moorgate to discover that the line had shut. I now had to find a way to get across town, from a very unfamiliar part of the city. I was tired and feeling a bit ill and the wind was blowing. And I needed a wee. There were no cabs and the buses were going north or south, so I just started walking west and hoping for the best. It was mildly disconcerting and other lost souls were drifting about, giving the whole scenario the feeling of a zombie movie. I couldn't walk all the way home, surely. Though I hadn't done any exercise today and this extra inconvenience was certainly helping keep my myfitnesspal calorie count under the requisite number.
I arrived at the Barbican, which blocked my westward journey, and was unsure whether I could pass through it or had to go around. But in any case I went in to avail myself of their facilities. I passed Simon Callow in the corridor. I had more or less given myself up to dying in the cold London streets now, but at least one of my last sights would be this esteemed actor. I was losing hope and then nearly got locked in the disabled loo and almost lay down and waited for the end there and then, which would have been particularly shameful. People's anger at me using these facilities would surely have over-ridden their sadness at my demise.
I spotted the button I had to press to get out though and headed onwards. The traffic was at a stand-still, so I took a right turn and headed north up a dark street, heading in the wrong direction and feeling lost and vulnerable. But luckily the gamble paid off. At the top of that road was freely moving west-bound traffic and a cab with its light on. The nightmare was over. I was home by 11.30pm. It wasn't that bad after all. But it did make me realise how much we rely on our transport service. I am totally blaming Boris Johnson for this. But at least I got to see Simon Callow, so you know, swings and roundabouts!
The RHMOL machine is starting to grind into action. The first episode is not quite ready, but there are clips to watch and podcasts to subscribe to and a chance to contribute financially if you wish.
You can now watch the opening titles here (the free videos of each episode will be on this page)
There is also a free audio podcast which will have the full interviews and maybe some other stuff. Get it on iTunes or the British Comedy Guide
And if you want to help contribute you can pay to download full video or audio versions (none up yet, but a making of vid is up) or make a donation to the costs (in return for a badge) here.
All the money raised from this will go to pay for the series and if we make any profit we will plough that back into other projects. So if you enjoy all the free content that I do and feel it's worth a pound (or more) a month or just a one off contribution of a pound (or more) then that would be a fantastic help. I would much rather fund this stuff with tiny payments from the people who watch it than have to put in adverts or sponsorship and it's a nice idea that you can all be the patrons of my knob gags by giving a tiny amount each. Like you're a thousandth of a Medici. For a pound a month you will get a daily blog (+ audio version), RHLSTP audio, Meaning of Life free shorter version video and audio and the occasional special or snooker podcast. You will also get all this for £0 a month of course. But your one pound (or more) a month (or as a one-off donation) could actually help to make other content too.
For those of you making monthly donations there will be occasional little extras and offers to thank you for your support (at the very least a different badge every year!)
I have a feeling it won't work, but it's worth a try. As always just spreading the word about the shows is a massive help if you can't afford to give anything or if you'd prefer to give your money to charity or spend it on a packet of chewing gum.