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Friday 22nd September 2023

Off to Belfast today and it was quite the jaunt. I'd started the day with a personal training session that I really enjoyed ( a definite sign that my fitness is improving) and then had to pack my bags and work out how much merch to pack in the suitcase (taking the gamble that we'd sell enough to offset the £70 baggage charge).
The relatively short flight was complicated by delays, which added some extra jeopardy and I needed the time to research my guests, so was a bit annoyed when I got to security and my bag came down the conveyor belt, stopped at the traffic lights and was then diverted into the lane for people with suspicious items. I thought I had quite fastidiously emptied the bag of any liquids and electronics that I didn't need, but it's a rucksack with an unholy number of compartments and I often have to search for five minutes to find the right zip. It turned out that I'd forgotten about the almost secret final section in which I had some sun cream and an ipad. The suncream was binned and the bag was put through again. It got to the traffic lights and I waited with baited breath. The lights went yellow and the bag again went to the security guard.
Another wait for my turn and then the guard, who I think might hafve been new to the job, looked through everything again. He asked me if there was a vape in the bag, but unless my kids have a secret habit and are stupid enough to store the stuff in my bag, then there wasn't. He sent the bag back again.
I was desperate for a wee and each time the bag went back it took about ten minutes. I wasn't very confident of success this third time as nothing had changed. And again the bag went the wrong way.
He looked half-heartedly again and found nothing and so just let me go. I am glad they take precautions seriously, but just giving up in the end because the bag has defeated you is not a good thing surely. When I got to the dressing room I had another look and found a secret pocket inside one of the sections where i'd stowed a can of deodorant. As I said to the audience, a little tip for any terrorists - just hide your bombs in a secret pocket and eventually they'll give up looking. I added, "Not that you guys need any advice when it comes to terrorism". Luckily they laughed at this. I made a few cheeky jokes about Northern Ireland and luckily they all landed. I thought back to my Christ on a Bike show here, where the atmosphere was frosty and I didn't want to stir things up too much and left it til late to reference the religious struggles of the region.I've come a long way. The people of Belfast are able to laugh at themselves. At least the ones that come to my shows. Might not try it down the Falls Road.
In the morning I emptied the bag completely and found that my broken apple watch was still at the bottom of one section. This was clearly what the guy had thought might be a vape. So I smuggled two potential devices through.
We made it to the theatre in good time, thanks to a chatty taxi driver called Jim who said he didn't really drink, but was looking forward to his holiday next week, which was all inclusive and he told us of his plan to drink 10 pints a day and have a bottle of wine with dinner. I liked him.
And what a thrill to meet Lisa McGee, creator of the Derry Girls and all round smiley, cheeky genius. The show was pretty much sold out and we had fun. And though I was flagging slightly after a long day, Shane Todd was a real shot in the arm and picked up the podcast when I was flailing with slightly dull questions and got it flying. I was not really aware of him before, though he's hugely successful, especially in Ireland, but he's a decent bloke and a very funny comic. Check him out.
Straight back to the hotel, as our taxi is coming at 6.30am and I was wiped out. We sold enough merch to just about make the ball-ache of carrying it worthwhile. The bags will be lighter on the way home.
I don't think these episodes will go out until the new. year, which gives you some idea of how far ahead we're getting, but they're worth the wait.

Really enjoyed this chat with the magnificent Jena Friedman (as she struggled to keep her pets and baby happy).

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