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Saturday 17th January 2004

I had a second gig in Nottingham tonight. Both audiences were around about 100, which is enough for a good show, but few enough that the venue could have booked me for one night only and have had one almost full night instead of two slightly less than half full nights.
I don't mind; it means I get paid twice and more importantly get to spend a whole day in Nottingham. I am not being sarcastic. It's nice to be able to actually look round the towns I am gigging in. Normally I would be leaving straight after the show, or at best first thing the next morning.
In the end I just looked round the shops and had a couple of coffees. I've been to Nottingham quite a few times and strangely it was a town that we ended up doing a couple of nights at during one of the Lee and Herring tours. So I've seen all the touristy stuff. Well all the touristy stuff that I want to see. Which is "the Robin Hood Experience".
If you know me, you will know that there are two things that I really love: pizza and rubbish tourist attractions, especially if that tourist attraction involves travelling around on some kind of mechanised transport looking at diaramas of bad waxworks or if there's a restaurant selling pizza at the end of it.
I suppose my ideal museum would be some kind of Pizza Experience, where you travelled around on a giant slice of (edible) pizza whilst looking at shop window dummies re-enacting the history of pizza. Especially if it also had a pizza restaurant at the end of it. Even if I'd eaten the giant pizza slice that I'd travelled on, I could still eat more pizza. I love pizza. A lot.
I hoped to encounter such a museum in Italy, but foolishly they only seemed to have one about medieval diseases. The Italian idiots.
I considered visiting the Robin Hood Experience for what would be my third time and although part of me was thinking it would be a great thing to write about for Warming Up, I couldn't quite face it.
Not the museum or the ride on whatever object they have turned into a form of transport (I can't remember), the thing I couldn't face was the audio commentary that greets you on your arrival. As you gather in the first room of the experience an arrogant voice welcomes you to the attraction and comments, "You are about to leave behind your humdrum lives..."
I have always found that a bit insulting. It makes an assumption about me that I don't particularly care for: that my life is humdrum.
You have been reading about my adventures for over a year now and I think you'd be the first to rush to my defence if anyone accused my life of being humdrum. Humdrum!? Was my battle with the box lady humdrum? Was me needing to do a wee when I was stuck in traffic that time humdrum? Was me sitting drinking coffee and considering the pesticles of a strange statue humdrum? I could go on with hundreds of examples that prove how unhumdrum my life is.
And just suppose for a second that my life was humdrum (it isn't obviously, but imagine that it is. It's quite hard to do isn't it. You keep thinking of the time that the security woman at the British Library took my membership card number after wrongly accusing me of using my phone inside the reading room and you're thinking "Humdrum?!!!" aren't you?), it is somewhat presumptuous of the man on the tape to assume that everyone visiting the museum has had a humdrum life. What if a bomb disposal expert was amongst the tourists, or the Queen or Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Nazi Germany. I think they would be within their right to ask for their money back, whilst declaring, "Humdrum?!!!!" in a very exasperated voice.
I also think that the arrogant commentary man would be standing on less thin ice if he wasn't making this bold statement about "The Robin Hood Experience", which whilst a perfectly serviceable entertainment (worth visiting twice, but probably not three times), is not exactly the antithesis of humdrum itself.
You know, fair enough, if I was about to see the world's most beautiful classical music performed by an orchestra of the best musicians in the world, or Michaelangelo's most moving piece of sculpture or some kind of alien space-craft with actual real aliens standing on top of it doing the Universe's most exquisite dance, then I think I wouldn't mind having my life dismissed as humdrum. But however humdrum my life may (very) occasionally get, it is much less humdrum than a shop window dummy dressed a bit like the Sheriff of Nottingham falling into some horse dung. And whoever did that voiceover saying otherwise better watch out if I ever find out who they are. Humdrum?!!!!
See, I still managed to write about the Robin Hood Experience, and I didn't even have to go into it (to have my lifestyle insulted).
It's a great word though, humdrum, and it's especially effective when combined with the word life. Since we first visited Stew and me have used it many times in our writing. In fact put "humdrum" into the search engine for these pages and you will see four other occasions (one of them the British Library incident) where I have used it in Warming Up. And just read the entries again to prove how unhumdrum my life is.
Tonight's food at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre was a very delicious plate of tapas, with parma ham and artichokes and olives and all kinds of delicious fare. Definitely a sandwich rating of 7.5, making an impressive average of 7 for the entire visit. The Lakeside staff can be very pleased with themselve over that one.
Also a slightly worrying development. As I was signing books and programmes after the show a young woman gave me a bag od sweets she had bought to save me being ripped off at the pick n mix counter on the journey home. This isn't the worrying thing. She had also bought a bar of expensive organic chocolate for the arrogant tour manager, Simon Streeting, to make up for "my bullying".
Now it is very important to me that arrogant Simon Streeting doesn't turn into some kind of figure worthy of your pity. All the things I have said about him here are true. If anything I have watered my comments down a little, because I know he reads this diary. His arrogance and self-importance knows no bounds and for his own sake it is vital that you do not reward him for his insolence or turn him into some sort of down-trodden folk hero. He is not particularly intelligent, more akin to an ape than a human and so if he receives chocolate after such blatant incidents of imperiousness then he will think that the way he is behaving is not just acceptable, but is praise-worthy.
For example, on this trip I have noticed him make a definite effort to appear more thoughtful and softly-spoken and less vain. But if you look in his eyes, the vanitatus vanitatum can still be seen burning brightly. Which if you think about it makes him even more arrogant and unbearable.
I don't want to see any of you bringing him sweetmeats or little drawings that you've done for him, or worse still, vegetarian sausages (after all the effort I have gone to to deprive him of them). He isn't important, I am. An ant could be trained to do his job and would be more efficient at it than him. I am the person who is irreplaceable in this outfit.
He is nothing and his arrogance makes hime look like the unpleasant and self-centred person that he so clearly is.
Please do not feed the Streeting. Either his stomach or his out of control ego.

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