Driving through North London in the summer sunshine and wishing I could afford to live in a family home in Hampstead or Highgate. It’s all so leafy and full of interesting old houses surrounded by those old orange brick walls that I like but unless I win the lottery some time (which I am assuming will happen, like all the people who end up winning I have always believed that I will win, making me guaranteed to get the jackpot some time) it won’t happen. I am really not complaining because I know how lucky I was to get on the housing ladder when it was still possible for someone earning a normal amount of money (and with very basic savings) to do so.
But the ludicrous escalation of prices serves to keep everyone in their place. In the old days, if you worked hard, you had a chance to improve yourself, but now the super rich get all the money and have pulled the ladder up behind them (just as the well off have also pulled the ladder up behind them). I don’t think a civilisation can survive long when it works that way. I listened to a fairly bleak assessment of the economy on Radio 4 on the way back from my gig and I think we’re pretty much fucked. But if President Trump gets sworn in then the property market is going to collapse in every sense. No one is going to pay £4million for a pile of radioactive dust, even if it is right next door to a patch of charred ground that used to be Hampstead Heath.
Things seem to be heading rapidly for disaster and I don’t see any way out of any of the many problems that we have lumbered ourselves with (largely through trusting our futures to democratic votes).
Increasingly I am thinking that we’re just going to stay in Shepherd’s Bush for the foreseeable future. Which is fine. I like it here. And when it is reduced to a pile of radioactive dust it will be less easy to tell the difference.
The gig amongst the affluent young of Muswell Hill went well. They were smart and laughed at the clever jokes, though I think I tested their patience in the evening warmth and some of the more shocking routines were taken at face value. I felt OK about it, but it was overall probably the least good previews so far. And it’s interesting how for a comic an overheard remark can affect your mood. Often as you leave a gig you will hear an audience member, oblivious to the fact that you are within earshot, giving their opinion. As I moved through the throng I heard a man asking his (presumably) girlfriend if she had enjoyed it (as I think he had) and she was mainly positive, but a bit ambivalent and I think summed up the mood of the room when she said that I stretched some of the ideas a bit too far. Tonight, for some reason, it had felt a bit like that, when last night the same material had gone down fine.
I wasn’t offended, as I thought she was probably accurate. But that one review colours your experience of a gig and is somehow more impactful as a result of being an honest and private appraisal than had it come from a reviewer or someone hoping to get a reaction on Twitter.
I think “The Best” show will be a good one, and it’s tricky to get the right balance of material, so it’s not a bad thing to be made to consider if I have chosen correctly. And I do need to make sure that amongst my many pedantic routines I include some of the sharper and more succinct stuff too.There's a tonne of stuff that I haven't yet had a go at too. So it will take a little while to get it exactly right. By the time I was home there were a couple of people on Twitter saying how much they'd enjoyed the show. But first review counts double.
My sat nav took me a much less pretty way home and the sun had gone down by now, so my view of London was less rose-tinted. And Radio 4 reminded me of the uncertain future that lies ahead for me and my offspring. And for you and yours. Buckle up and good luck.
Hear me talk about the death of Rasputin and more on Dan Snow’s History Hit.
The guests for the final RHLSTP of series 9 have finally been confirmed. I will be talking to Elis James and Tom Parry of Pappys (or Tom Pappy of Parrys, I am not sure). All details are here.
But the chat doesn’t stop there as on Tuesday I am heading up to the Great Yorkshire Fringe to perform an hour of my best stand-up (as I will have a projector and screen I am hoping to have a crack at the genealogy of Christ - but will take some re learning) and record another podcast with guests Mark Addy from Game of Thrones etc and the Lord Mayor of York Dave Taylor.