I did my third and fourth gigs in the space of about 28 hours this evening and given that I didn't get to bed til 3 last night and had to drive home from Manchester, then travel to North London then South London to do them I was pretty tired at the end of it all.
I did a good gig at a new club called Comedy Gold in Crouch End and then had a couple of hours to get to Brixton to perform at the Offline club, where I had an interesting gig in May last year
. Crouch End is a bit isolated so I needed to get on a bus to go to Finsbury Park. A friend had told me that the W3 went from right outside the venue (though I had come on the W7 and had to walk a bit) so when the W3 pulled up at the stop the minute I came out of the club I rushed to get on it. It was heading in the direction I had come from so I was confident it was the right one, but then it took an unexpected turn and seemed to be heading in the wrong direction. I thought about asking someone else on the bus, but why would my friend who had come on the bus and seen me get on it not have told me that that was actually the stop they got off at?
But after a few more minutes I became less certain, especially when I saw a W7 with the word's Finsbury Park on the front heading in the other direction. I decided to get out at the next stop and head back, but I was in a part of London I don't know and feeling a bit spooked and worried about being late. And the next stop turned out to be a long way away, up a long and winding hill with trees and maybe a park on either side and very few street-lights. At the top of the hill there were stops on either side of the road, but hardly anyone around and I felt isolated, like I was suddenly out in the countryside. I decided that better than hanging around on my own I should go back to the crossroads that I had seen the W7 at and catch the next one. But I was a bit scared now, having a bad feeling that something was going to go wrong, so I ran down the hill, through the dark as fast as I could, waiting for someone to leap out of the shadows at any moment and mug or stab me. I was running quite fast and just as I thought that I was bound to be killed and that fate had somehow lured me into this trap there was a noise behind me that made me jump out of my skin. It was a bicycle which for some reason was riding along the pavement behind me and seemed to want me out of the way. I automatically apologised, even though he was actually in the wrong and there was no reason why he shouldn't be on the road and for a few seconds I envisaged him mugging me as he passed and then speeding off into the dark night. But he just said, "It's all right" and went on his way.
I got back to civilisation from the dark, scary wood and felt a lot safer, though I don't suppose the streets of London are much safer than the creepy, unlit hills. And it had been good to get some exercise.
I made it to Brixton with an hour to spare and then went on late anyway. The band before me played so beautifully and hauntingly that I knew it would be hard to follow and indeed the gig turned out to be interesting but ultimately a bit shit. Last time it had changed into something a little special, but this time it was just eggy and weird and not so enjoyable. I was deliberately trying to make it strange and slow to see if something magical would happen, but nothing magical did happen, though I was impressed with my ability to do about 15 minutes in the middle without doing anything that could be considered material. "Take control" a bloke shouted as a few heckles flew in. "Oh, I am in control," I replied, "I haven't done a joke for about 15 minutes and yet everyone is still hanging on my every word." I slowed down. "I....am....in...control". And it was true for that minute at least. But ultimately the audience did nothing weird enough and I was tired and not funny enough and it wasn't as good as last time.
I left feeling a bit nothingy and still a little freaked out by my scary run through the woods, thinking something odd was going to happen tonight. A tramp came up to me and asked for 1p (one of the punters leaving with me told me he was the famous "Mr One Pence", but I hadn't heard of him. As he asked though he sprayed my face with a fine mist of vagrant spit. It was the perfect response to a disappointing gig. I gave him a pound. His tactic of asking for a pathetic amount, working in shaming me to give him something more. I hope he didn't have Hepatitis B. Yet the older I get the more I feel I am just a tramp with a house and a job which allows me to confine my mental illness to certain hours of the day. I was spitting on people on Sunday for my job and now he got a pound for spitting on me. There is some kind of cosmic balance to this. Somewhere.