Yesterday my dad said to me - "It gets pretty difficult driving round the country. Have you ever actually failed to get to a gig in time?"
"No," I replied, "I have always got there in time to do it. There's been some close calls, but I think I've always made it."
As I sat in traffic outside Arundel this afternoon, watching the arrival time creeping towards show time, with no prospect of the traffic moving I began to think that I was about to miss a gig for the first time ever. How strange it should be the next gig after my father had made that comment. Like he'd jinxed me.
I really shouldn't have been cutting it so fine. Admittedly the drive from Cheddar to Brighton is a little bit of a complicated one and I was in the unusual position of having to be on at 6.30 and had to strictly keep to time as two other comics were previewing after me, but it was still slightly unbelievable I was in this pickle. I had left home before midday, giving me almost seven hours to do the four hour maximum drive. I had already managed to take a run up Cheddar's World Famous Gorge in the morning, getting drenched by cold rain as I made my way back. It's a beautiful place - especially once you get beyond the shops and the caves. I passed the staff of Cheddar Caves waiting outside their grottos, waiting for punters (of whom there were dispiritingly few, though it was early and rainy). I had had their job over 20 years ago. I felt a bond with them, that they could not return to this long haired jogging idiot.
But I was in my car and clean and dry and anticipating arriving in Brighton at maybe three o clock and doing some work. But I stopped for lunch in a service station and then stopped at the next one for a wee and realised that I could use their wi fi access to catch up on my emails and blog. Perhaps I dallied a little bit too long writing that tosh about my father, but even so I was still likely to be in Brighton by 5. I had even emailed the promoter to tell him, with typical hubris, what good time I was making.
But then the rain came and the traffic slowed and as I got on to the M3 I was stuck behind an accident. It only held me up for half an hour, and I was still destined to be in Brighton by 5.45, and given there is no tech to do, then this would be plenty of time.
Even though I zoomed through the rain, I got stuck outside Arundel
and morosely texted the promoter saying that I hoped to be there by 6.20, but had a bad feeling about it.
The 6.20 estimation came and went, but magically things started to move again with a predicted arrival time of 6.25. But I needed to find somewhere to park. Would I make it?
I would only have been five minutes late, except I tried to be clever and work out how to close to the theatre and got lost and had to go round the one way system again. I finally stepped on to stage, almost directly after running through the door at about 6.42. And it went really well, and I managed an hour, though had to jettison tons of material because the show is way too long. I also had to do it without notes, because I had foolishly left these at the venue in Wedmore. If anyone made off with my black notebook which can't be found, will you please return it to me as it contains lots of half formulated ideas for the show. It might be a nice souvenir for you, but the show will be affected if I don't get it back - and there were several ideas for other things in there too - so please return it to me via Avalon, 4a Exmoor St, London W10 6BD. Thanks.
It was in the short term rather helpful to be forced to do the show without the safety net and I remembered most of what I had to do. And I didn't even nearly cry once.
Then I was back in the car, heading home, burning up my last hours of being 40, feeling slightly disorientated as it was only 8pm and I'd done my gig.
But aside from having way too much stuff, it really feels like the show is almost ready, with nearly three weeks to go. Which is amazing. And with fourteen previews still to go there is plenty of time to cut and perfect it. I hate to jinx things, especially given my family's proclivity to do so, but I think this could be one of the best shows I've done. Book early for Edinburgh!