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Saturday 2nd February 2008

Days Without Alcohol - 34.

I talked to my mum on the phone this morning. She said the family had enjoyed and been moved by my little piece about my grandad, even my 96 year old grandma, who no longer knows who I am. "But," she said, "You know your grandad was never a miner, don't you? Is that just a joke?"
"Wasn't he?" I replied, genuinely flabberghasted, "I am sure he said he was." If truth be told I have a ridiculous and obviously false memory (given that I wouldn't have any memories of him until he was into his sixties) of him coming home with coal dust on his face and his helmet with the lamp on atop his ostentatious Don King barnet. Amazing what rubbish the brain can convince you was true.
"No, he was a builder and then laid tar mac on the roads, but there were no mines in Middlesbrough." Of course there weren't. Did I think he commuted somewhere?
"I mean he used to joke about and say, "When I worked down the mine..." this and that. But he was only joking. It was just something he said."
So as a child, I had taken my beloved, trustworthy grandfather at his word and once again not understood that he was just taking the piss. Like the pig with one eye gag it was only retrospectively that I had appreciated the humour, but in this case it had taken me maybe 35 years to buy into the joke. It made me laugh. And that's a fine power to possess, to still make people smile twenty years after you died. Well done Don.
I have been trying to make more of my weekends and days off and this afternoon decided to visit Westminster Abbey with a friend, and then if there was time to walk over to St Paul's Cathedral. I have been to both places before quite recently ( Westminster Abbey), but wanted another look, because although I hate God, I love the places he chooses to hang out. We arrived at Westminster just after 3pm and unbelievably the place was closed. On a Saturday afternoon? What gives? If they want to keep tourists out on a Sunday then I could understand that, because it's a day that holds some significance I understand. But Saturday would surely be when most people were likely to be able to make it, but the place closes at lunchtime. Religious people are idiots. I wanted to see some dead kings and instead I was left outside. When I needed a neighbour, were you there, were you there? Well bad luck Jesus, because of your stupid policy you lost out on at least twenty pounds today.
Instead I decided we should go to "Robot World" which I have seen a sign for outside old City Hall, but which I have been able to find very little about, save for one disparaging review on the internet. Again I saw the sign from Westminster Bridge, but once I got to the actual building couldn't find it again. I suspect it's an old attraction that has closed down, or an hallucination. How can I see the sign from the bridge, but not when I am in front of the building? Has anyone been to this futuristic attraction or have I been staring down a portal in time.
Instead we went to the Tate Modern to look at the big crack in the floor, which I hadn't seen yet. I like it a lot, especially the way it disappeared under the wall at the end, as I had hoped. There was a glass wall and a door saying "Private" and I wondered about opening the door to look at the other side to see if the fissure continued, but I was too late.
But it passed the Richard Herring art test, in that after looking at the crack for the length of the building, on the way back out I found myself to be much more observant and fascinated by everything else that was going on. I looked up to take in the rest of the building which was very impressive. Then I saw a child in a red coat lying on the floor, which suddenly looked like it might be another exhibit and just an artist's representation. Then a slightly bigger child grabbed the younger one by the hood of his jacket and pulled him along the floor, anxious to get out of this boring place. It was a very funny thing to witness and art made it seem even more fascinating.
We got to St Paul's just in time to go in the revolving door at the front and to realise that although open in the afternoon unlike its ridiculous cousin, it was now about to close. God damn you religion. Cathedrals should be open the whole time. What if Osama Bin Laden was passing and was thinking of popping in to convert and found it closed and decided not to bother after all?
Religious idiots!
I then went to see the film, "Cloverfield" which once everything started blowing up was enjoyably, gripping nonsense. Heading out into the streets afterwards was a slightly disconcerting experience as I expected the normality to be broken by buildings falling down and monsters knocking the head off Nelson's Column. But luckily the movie did not come true.
And a long and eventful day ended with me doing a very enjoyable gig at the Red Rose, where I found myself doing at least five minutes of improvised routines about colour blindness (the walls of the venue were a garish red and green and I found a guy in the audience who was colour blind and thus unable to distinguish the two hues - then when this didn't really get much of a response I pretended to be an audience member furious that my evening was being ruined by being forced to consider people afflicted by this awful disability - ah well it was quite funny at the time), the television series Credo, which I suddenly remembered out of nowhere and only me and a white haired bloke could recall (I conjectured what it would be like to be a comedian who could only remember sweets from the Victorian era - Who remembers "Twizzle-wizzles"?) and then discussed paedophilia, saying that on balance I thought it was a bad thing and if I was forced to come down on one side it would definitely be anti-paedophilia. I have been working up a new bit about me having hands the size of a child's hands recently and it's really starting to get somewhere, genuinely shocking people with where it starts, but leading to all round laughter by the time I have finished, which is always a satisfying journey for the comedian.
I felt more than ever like a proper stand up tonight and really enjoyed diverting far away from the safety of prepared material. It's enormously pleasing when one improvises something out of thin air that is a fully formed - though almost certainly one off routine.

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