Monday, 31 March 2014

Feed Me.

I’m seldom happier than when I’m stuffing my face.

I’m a fat man hidden in a thin man’s body; the polar opposite to Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor, or that bloke in Big Momma’s House*. My appetite knows no bounds; left to my own devices, I’d devour at least ten times my own body-weight in biscuits every day.

(Even more, if I could afford to fund the habit.)

Luckily, I have a metabolism that doesn’t mess about. I’ve somehow managed to remain at a weight that belies my massive intake. Until recently, that is, when I’ve started to career towards the mid-thirties, both in years on the planet and the inches around my waist.

For the first time in my life, I need to cut back. It’s not that I eat unhealthily, it’s just that I eat too much. I want to knock this on the head.  I’d like to keep my size in check, before the time comes when they have to lift me out of bed with a winch.   

(Admittedly, this is a fair way off.)




*only funnier.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Clockwise.


This morning the clocks went forward – and across the country, people struggled to remember which of their devices updated automatically and which didn't.

There was a time (no pun intended) when this wasn't a problem. Every timepiece would be wound forward manually. With our advance in technology came an element of doubt: what if every clock we adjusted also changed itself in the middle of the night?

What if we all made the same mistake? The world would be two hours out. How long before someone would notice?

(If News at Ten started at eight, I'd be a bit suspicious.)

Perhaps it would be best for everyone to stay up until 1am, which is when the clocks officially change. But which 1am? The new one or the old one? What if we fell asleep? Setting an alarm would be a potential minefield.

The person I feel sorriest for is Peter Duncan. He has to reset Big Ben.

(I may have misremembered this.)

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Tea-Leaf.


In the last few days I’ve rediscovered my love of green tea.

I used to drink it religiously (in terms of amount, rather than my choice of outfit or beliefs). I pretty much cut out caffeine altogether, and would be happiest with a mug of green, camomile or redbush in my hand.

(I know that green tea is a little caffeinated, but I’m sure you get my point.)

Then I started spending more time in coffee shops. This had the sort of impact on my choice of beverage that you might expect.  

While I enjoy drinking coffee, it sometimes has a negative effect. Too much of it can make me anxious. I have to get my daily intake just right.

(I have a similar problem with crack.)

Perhaps I should cut back on the dreaded black bean some more. My new-found taste for green tea can only help this.

I just wish I could stop eating so many biscuits.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Twisted Firestarter.


Matchbooks are unequivocally shit.

Their purpose, presumably, is convenience. Why carry a hefty box of matches when you can settle for them in book form instead? No-one wants an ominous and unsightly rectangular bulge filling up their jacket pocket (unless, of course, they do).

Sadly, the matchbook’s proportions are all it has going for it. Remove its slimline properties from the equation and all you’re left with is a handful of bits of wood that hold all the physical appearances of a match, without any of their fire-making potential.

The matches are too flimsy to strike without breaking. The strip on the matchbook isn’t coarse enough to create any friction. It’s a lose-lose situation.

The other day I tried to use a book of matches to light a candle with a wick that was too low down in the holder to reach by hand. After exhausting a whole row without success, I took evasive action, and set fire to the end of one of the matches with a lighter.

This defeated the object of the matchbook in the first place.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

All Aboard.

Today's been another day of train journeys. 

I'm currently on my way back from Milton Keynes; the sort of place that it's best to travel away from at speed. The weather outside my window is dreary. I'll be glad to get home.
 
We just passed through Leighton Buzzard. Sadly, there wasn't a single bird of prey in sight.
 
I had a casting in London at lunchtime, which went reasonably well. I then caught the tube to Euston, so I could take the first available train to the Land of Roundabouts to pick up my newly-repaired laptop. 

When it died a couple of days ago, I was worried that I'd lost a lot of data. Most of my personal photographs weren't backed up; I didn't fancy having to recreate them all from scratch.  
 
Thankfully, this hadn't happened, which was a relief. I'd like to profess my thanks to the God of Technology.

Things nearly turned nasty a moment ago, when I trapped my little finger in the gap between the tray-table and the seat in front of me. I only just managed to dislodge it before pulling into the station, thus saving myself any embarrassment. 

This sort of thing could only happen to me.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Gammon Ephgrave.

I'm sitting on the late-running 14:23 from King's Cross to Hitchin, in a carriage that's so hot, I'm liable to return to Hertfordshire slow-cooked. Call me Gammon Ephgrave.

At least the gradual nature of my baking will result in a fuller flavour. With any luck, I'll be served onto the hot plate of my local Toby Carvery before the day is through.

(With a surname like that, Toby was destined to work in the roast dinner business.)

While my journey home may be blistering, at least it's less eventful than the journey in. All the trains were cancelled between Hitchin and London, due to an overhead power failure. This meant an unscheduled trip to Luton, to catch the train from there.

Frankly, Luton terrifies me. Its stabby undercurrent encircles you from all sides. I spent the entire time watching my back (which gave me a very stiff neck). 

I'm not sure what would be worse: being stabbed on the way in, or cooked on the way back. 

Stick a fork in me: I'm done.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Door Dilemma.

However difficult your life may be, spare a thought for the man who had to stick the sign on this automatic door.
 
 
(I'm not being sexist. It could have been a woman.)

As far as jobs go, it's a pretty thankless task. How did they even do it? Every time you walk towards it the bloody thing would open.

This could carry on for hours. It would become a game of wits. You'd try every trick at your disposal: tiptoeing slowly; crawling on your hands and knees; pressing yourself against the adjacent wall and stretching one arm out; lunging wildly at it from a distance. Each technique would be met with a whoosh of mechanics and, ultimately, disappointment. 
 
Even if, by some fluke, you managed to get close, the sellotape could have lost its tack.

I bet staff dread looking at the rota to see they're on door sign duty. It must be the most unpopular job on the premises. Locking it probably isn't much better.
 
(Of course, they could just turn the power off.)  
 
I wonder if walking through doors made Jim Morrison self-conscious.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Heard it on the Jeremy Vine.

Today, I listened to Jeremy Vine discuss the contentious subject of building on greenbelt land on BBC Radio 2.

He sounded very angry about it. This wasn't particularly surprising: Jeremy always sounds furious, whatever the topic is on any given day. It's the default setting of his voice. He'd even fume if you brought him breakfast in bed.
 
(Particularly if he had no idea who you were, or how you got into his bedroom.)
 
The only show in which he doesn't spit venom is BBC2's Eggheads, which is surprising, considering the smugness of its resident team. Particularly Daphne. I hate Daphne.
 
Vine read out a few emails from his similarly irate listeners. I like to imagine each of them tuning in, incensed, then getting progressively wound up by the minute. By the time Steve Wright takes over, they're practically frothing at the mouth.
 
(At least his moustache will soak it up.)
 
Of the many incandescent internet voices, my favourite screamed: "The Government won't be happy until every inch of the UK has been concreted over."
 
Is this the Coalition's latest policy? If so, that's one hell of a proposition. I can't see it being very popular (unless you work in the cement industry). 
 
To cover every inch of the country would be madness. It would also take a lot of concrete. You won't catch me voting for that.

(Not that I'd support them in the first place.)

Sunday, 23 March 2014

How to Make Delicious Tea.

Where would we be without instructions?


I had no idea that I was making tea incorrectly. I didn't know about these three simple steps. Think of all the people I have made a cup for in the past; each one quietly seething as they pretended to sip politely.
 
 

I didn't know you had to yank the drawstring out at such a jaunty angle, while holding the teabag like a magician doing a card trick. There's definitely some sort of conjuring involved. The string has split in the middle. How is it staying taut? It must be done with magnets. 


I'm not sure why you have to hold your hand in a pincer shape while waiting for the tea to brew. Isn't this irrelevant? It looks like one of those claw-cranes you get in amusement arcades. 
 
The illustration peters out before it reaches the arm. Why? They've already drawn the difficult bit.
 
 
It must be very hard to pour water in a forked formation (though it would save time when making tea for two). 

I guess it's not too late to put my new-found wisdom into action. Now I've learnt how to make a delicious cup of tea, I'm going to scour the internet for instructions on how to drink it. 
 
(Do you have to use a mug without a handle?)

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Charge of the Mac Brigade.

Spinny, spin, spin, spin, went the colour wheel on the screen of my MacBook Pro. Spinny, spin, spin, spin. Would it ever stop?

The answer to this question, unfortunately, was "no". After watching a myriad of shades rotate for a good - or bad - twenty minutes, I started to panic. 

The time had come to put my money where my mouth was (not literally; unhygienic); to call out the big boys (again, not literally; homoerotic); to plump for that last resort taken by so many before me - and switch it off and on again. 

From this point, things went from bad to worse. After an hour's-worth of furtive Googling on various internet-enabled devices, the horrible truth slowly began to dawn: a large chunk of the work stored on my computer could irretrievable forever

(I'm being over-dramatic to keep you interested.)

The most important file I might have lost is mine and Glyn's stand-up show. The show that we're currently hawking around. A good couple-of-years-worth of work down the spout; no biggie, really. I can probably find a lot of the individual bits and bobs that make it up, but putting it back together could take ages

The problem is, a lot of our stuff is edited on the hoof. Because of this, I often forget to back things up as I go. That was my first mistake. 

(Idiot.) 

Hopefully, I'll be able to fix my Mac without losing too much. An emergency trip to the Apple Store on Regent Street today proved fruitless. I have an appointment at their Milton Keynes branch tomorrow afternoon; I'm keeping my fingers firmly crossed. 

If nothing else, this will give me an excuse to visit the location of the video shoot for Cliff Richard's Wired For Sound. Every cloud. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Sock of Shit.


One of the pair of socks I'm wearing is considerably baggier than the other. I’m trying hard to not let this affect my performance.

I don’t know why I felt the need to clarify that I’m wearing two socks. This is pretty self-evident. That said, the amount of purchase my right-hand (foot) sock has on my right-hand (foot) leg almost negates me even wearing it in the first place.

This garment is being held up by willpower alone. The gravitational pull on it is tremendous. It's similar to the affect the moon has on the tides, only very, very different.

Even though no-one else would know about right sock deficiency, it's making me self-conscious. It’s taking every ounce of effort not to walk with a limp.

I may invest in a pair of sock-suspenders. Either that, or I'll start wearing tights.

Mostly Herring.


Tonight’s Hitchin Mostly Comedy was fun.

Me at March 2014's Mostly (Photo by Gemma Poole).

I’ve always been proud of the club, but recently it's definitely had a boost. The acts we’re booking just get better by the month. It’s exciting to guess who we might get next.

Tonight we had Richard Herring, who is easily mine and Glyn’s favourite stand-up. His work ethic is immense. You can’t help but be impressed by how much he churns out.

Richard Herring (Photo by Gemma Poole).

We fitted in a nice relaxed chat for our podcast. Interviewing someone who is essentially ‘Mr Podcast’ should be intimidating, but he makes it very easy. 

We talked about his recent Leicester Square Theatre Podcast interview with star of The Simpsons and Spinal Tap, Harry Shearer; someone who we have also gigged with in the past. He told us how excited he was to be in the company of someone he really admires, which was ironic, considering the context.

We also had Matt Green on the bill, who is another excellent stand-up. His control of the room is impressive. Catch him if you can.

Matt Green (Photo by Gemma Poole).

It was also a good gig for us. We tried out a bit of new material that we’d worked up during the day, which has potential. We plan to get back into the swing of doing something new each month – and then working the best bits into our hour-long show.

(An hour-long show that currently clocks in at forty minutes.)

Next month we have star of  I'm Alan Partridge - and just about every comedy programme of the last twenty years - Kevin Eldon. Don’t forget to book your tickets.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Mr Gauche.


Today, my slapstick potential was ramped up to-the-max.

It was like this from the moment I woke up. Nothing massively awful happened; just a succession of awkward little moments. I only needed to attempt to lean on an upturned bar flap for my day to be complete.

(Didn’t Billy Joel sing a song about an upturned bar flap? I should probably look this up.)

I hate days like this. They're very frustrating. I often take it very personally: like the Universe is conspiring to make me look a dick.

(Not that I’m a megalomaniac.)

This afternoon I had a casting in which I had to purposely be awkward. “Bingo”, I thought to myself. “Let’s see if I can channel my current clumsiness and turn it into cash.”

I'm not completely sure that I succeeded. I haven’t had an audition for a couple of weeks, and boy, did it feel like it. It wasn't my worst performance, but it was by no means my best.

I sometimes feel like I’m permanently pushing on the pull-door of life.  

(Not only am I a megalomaniac, I’m pessimistic with it.)

What was it D:Ream said?: “Things can only get better”. Well, they can take their unnecessary punctuation point and FUCK OFF.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Waxing Lyrical.


I’m currently auditioning a new brand of hair wax.

It’s not actually wax, it’s clay. Applying it is an all-new experience. I feel like I’m taking Tony Hart’s friend Morph, crushing him between my fingers, and rubbing him into my hair.

(Watch out, Chas: you’re next.)

So far, I’m not convinced. It either looks all right, or I look like a dick. More than I usually do, that is.

The fact that I need a haircut doesn’t help. It’s just too unruly. Any attempts to resemble a Doctor-Who-era David Tennant come out more like a windswept Wolverine.

At least it’s keeping me off the street. It's also keeping me away from the potter's wheel; you can't say fairer than that.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Trundling About.


The man who attempted to nonchalantly push a trundle wheel past my kitchen window today didn’t quite possess the chutzpah to pull it off.

He tried his best to be casual, like he’d barely noticed he was pushing it himself. I think he may have been whistling. He even used it one-handed, but still I wasn’t convinced.

Perhaps it was just the context that made it seem unusual. You don’t see many trundle wheels about. I thought they were only used to measure the circumference of a school playground.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll spot someone dowsing for water.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Funny?


I attempted to start today’s blog a couple of hours ago, but gave up, as I was in the middle of what would be best described as a ‘food coma’.

This was thanks to an exceptionally large lunch, coupled with two glasses of wine, which practically knocked me out. Thankfully, I’m gradually emerging from this digestion-based lethargy – though it’s still slowing down any creative impetus.

(This is why I’m over-compensating with my vocabulary.)

I have a couple of ideas for material that I want to get into vague shape before meeting up with Glyn to sort out this week’s Mostly Comedy. I hoped to do this today, as this always makes me feel less pressured; I like to start the week with a rough idea of what we're going to do. I put together a rough slideshow the other day, but looking back at it now, I'm less convinced it's funny.

This is probably due to tiredness. There’s definitely a point in the day after which it becomes more difficult to write.

It may still be comedy gold. I’ll go back to it tomorrow and see what I think.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Ten Good Reasons.


While waking up with 'Too Many Broken Hearts' in my head this morning was disconcerting, at least I could rest safe in the knowledge that I was probably the only one.

There can’t have been many people with that particular Jason Donovan single on their mind. I could probably whittle the list down to five: Donovan (the Aussie, not the folk singer), Stock, Aitken, Waterman and me.

Kylie Minogue is another potential candidate, though there's only an outside chance. She’s got The Voice to think about.

I’m not even sure why this song was on my mind. I’ve not thought about Jason for ages (barely once since the therapy). Whatever the reason, it provided the perfect mental soundtrack whilst hoovering; my vacuum cleaner very nearly drowned it out.
 

Friday, 14 March 2014

Bury St. Edmonds.


If you think Noel Edmonds’ shirts are bad, just imagine his wallpaper.


It doesn’t really bear thinking about. I mean, think about it. Entering his house must be an attack on the senses (like being surrounded by a wall-to-wall colour-blindness test).

You’d be at an instant disadvantage. This is Noel’s home turf; he's adjusted to the sensory overload long ago, while you’re gazing into virgin territory.

He’d also be perfectly camouflaged. It’d be hard to tell where the wall ends and his shirt begins. It would be like being plunged in total darkness, while he stalked you in infra-red goggles: if it wasn’t for the high-waisted jeans, you wouldn’t stand a chance.

(I think I’ve confused him with a lion. It's probably because of the beard.)

If you look beyond Noel Edmonds’ shirt rather than directly at it, you’ll see a three-dimensional dolphin.

(No-one has ever said that before, so well done me.)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Badger Bodger.


Pray silence, for possibly the finest headline of all time.


How's that for a story? It has everything: a man behind the wheel of a high-speed vehicle, a glamorous female lead  - and a van full of dead badgers. How could it fail?

Brook’s boyfriend was even an ex-Gladiator (not in the Colosseum; on ITV). It just gets better by the second.

To be honest, the actual article was a bit of an anti-climax. It couldn’t live up to dizzying intrigue of its headline. The journalist should have just typed those fourteen words and be done with it.

It's nice to see The Independent running stories of national importance.

Up Where We Belong.


You know your career is heading in the right direction when your poster is displayed above a urinal.


That’s when you know things are finally on their way. Gone are the days when you had to fight for wall space. Suddenly, you're slam-bang in front of people’s faces (albeit while the more unsavory parts of their anatomy are in their hand).

Your reaction to this sort of publicity would obviously depend upon the context. You wouldn't want any old picture stuck up in a public toilet (particularly if it's accompanied by some sort of lewd tag-line).
  
I’m suddenly not so comfortable with the thought. It may be great to have a captive audience, but do you really want them in those circumstances? What if it provokes some sort of unfortunate Pavlovian response?

I’m already seen as a bit of a cock as it is.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Hairspray (not the musical).

This morning, I accidentally sprayed my left hand with hairspray. For a split second, I worried that it might seize up. 

Thankfully, it didn't. Even if had, it wouldn't have been too debilitating. I'm left-handed, so would have still been armed with my strongest and preferred collection of digits. I could've dialled 999 relatively unhindered.

I'm not sure which emergency service I would have requested. An ambulance, presumably. I'd probably also need a fire engine, to tackle any blazes triggered by my sudden flammability. 

If your hand caught fire under a glove, and you took it off quickly, would the sudden rush of air create a backdraft?

(If only I knew Kurt Russell.)

Monday, 10 March 2014

What's the Point?


Today, I watched the filming of two episodes of the BBC1 game show Pointless.

I was struck by how relaxed the shoot was. It was a world of difference from my previous game show experience, when I attended a recording of the Paul Daniels-fronted Nineties quiz Wipeout (I've never been starved for entertainment). That programme was filmed in a much larger studio at Television Centre (today’s was shot in Elstree) - and consequently felt like a much bigger deal.

Conversely, today's shoot was relatively low-key. I’m not saying that Armstrong and Osman were blasé about the job in hand (except for then, when I just said it). They were just completely in control of proceedings. It was like watching a well-oiled machine. A well-oiled machine that intersperses dry one-liners with trivia. 

(I'm not sure what would be the purpose of this appliance.)

The hardest thing was refraining from playing along out loud. This is perfectly acceptable at home; less so when you’re sitting front-centre in the audience, in the direct line of sight of both the presenters and contestants.

I didn’t do too badly in my mind, if I do say so myself. I managed to get three pointless answers: one in a round about Beatles songs, another in a round about Oasis, and one about 1984 (the year, not the novel). I also scored seven points with the British Grand Prix-winner Jackie Stewart. You'd almost be fooled for thinking that I know stuff.

I didn’t score so well when the cameras were turned on the audience for a few reaction shots. There was nothing natural about my performance.

(It's not as if I earn my living as an actor.)
 
I even briefly held a Pointless trophy. They’re tiny: about the size of two Crystal Maze crystals if they'd been melted into one. 

That was apparently the most universal scale I could come up with.

A David's-eye-view of the studio.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Invisible Man.


There’s a man who works somewhere that I often go for breakfast who’s terrified of life.

I thought I was awkward, but he takes the biscuit. Everything about his body language screams ‘don’t notice me’. I doubt he could muster up enough physical presence to trigger an automatic door.

It’s as if he’s unhappy with inhabiting his own personal airspace. If he could exist in a fraction of the room, he do it.

(I don’t mean to be unpleasant. It’s merely an observation that I've pieced together over many a scrambled egg.)

It’s probably just a combination of his age and situation. I think he’s still at school, and only works at the weekend for a little extra money. His hairstyle is far too flamboyant for him to always be like this.

I know what it’s like to work somewhere that makes you feel uncomfortable. I used to do a Saturday job in John Lewis' catering department, and hated every single minute. When I was there, I was completely devoid of personality. I had absolutely nothing to say; it was as if I'd had a lobotomy.

(I guess it takes one to know one.)

Perhaps I should give him a hug. Would that be crossing the line? It's probably not wise. I suspect he might be held together by surface tension - and I don't want to make him burst.