Thursday, 30 April 2015

How to End April (in Six Paragraphs).


Today has been a day of bits and pieces.

It started with me popping to a friend’s flat to feed her cats: something I’m doing for the next week, in my occasional guise as a cat-sitter. I then power-walked to the office with a mic-stand in tow (which has been sitting in my flat since last Saturday’s aborted preview), before sprinting for a bus to the station to catch the train into London for a casting; my life's always this thrilling.

The audition was my first one for the best part of a month: for some reason, they've just not been coming in. In some senses this is good, as it’s given me time to think about my show, but I’m always uneasy when there’s no immediate prospect of paid work (a reasonable thing to be uneasy about).

I think the casting went well. I enjoyed it. I generally do; it’s an environment I feel comfortable in. It was as random as ever; in many ways, it was more random than most: I had to perform in just a towel and a baseball cap. It’s a times like this, when I'm auditioning scantily clad, that I wonder if I have a cut-off point. What would or wouldn’t I wear? There aren’t many job interviews where a towel and a sports hat would class as standard attire.

I sped back to Hitchin after the casting (if you can call a forty-five minute journey ‘speeding’), to meet Glyn to record a promotional clip for our SG1 Radio show, ‘Doggett & Ephgrave: In Your Inner Ear’. We didn’t have much time to do it in the end, but we got what we wanted. I’m looking forward to starting the show. I’ve always enjoyed our off-the-cuff stuff - like our Edinburgh video diaries and the More Than Mostly Comedy Podcast) - the most. It’s nice to have the freedom to ramble. It will also be a pleasant break from all the work I’ve been doing on my own.

I’m now back at my friend’s flat, with a purry cat next to me; typing on a keyboard that's rapidly being covered with her fur. I’d better stop, before I lose track of which is which. I wouldn’t want to plug the wrong one in.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Flip-flopped.


If anyone witnessed me buying flip-flops and a baseball cap in Poundland this morning: THEY WERE FOR A CASTING.

It may surprise you to learn I have neither item in my wardrobe. Then again, it may not. I’m not a flip-flop-and-baseball-cap kind of person. It isn’t a look I can pull off, without resembling a cross between a William Hague-style photo opportunity and a cry for help: little difference there then.

I wasn’t sure where to buy them from, as they're not really in my remit. I didn’t want to pay a lot when I’d only wear them once. The only time I’d pull out this tasteless head-and-footwear combo again would be if I got a recall, which wasn’t definite. My initial attempts to find them weren’t fruitful: a quick Google of ‘cheap flip flops Hitchin’ brought up a pair in Shoe Zone for £14.99, which was more than I was willing to spend – and ‘flops’ kept being unhelpfully corrected to ‘floss’ by the search bar on Wilko's website.

While internet shopping is invaluable, you sometimes can’t beat going out on the street. So it was for me. It only took a two-minute walk from my office to Poundland and then a minute's worth of browsing to come up with the goods; in the same section, no less:



Perhaps the Poundland staff are psychic. Maybe they’d received the casting breakdown too and thought they’d cater to a very specific audience. Whatever the reason, I left their store with a smile on my face and some dubious clothing in my bag. It doesn’t get better than that.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

(Can't) Light My Fire.

I suspect the woman on the train wasn’t as interested in the subject of flame-retardant materials as the man sitting next to her thought she was.

This didn’t stop him ploughing on. It’s surprising how long someone can talk about non-combustible insulation without pausing for breath; in this instance, the duration of a train journey from King’s Cross to Hitchin, taking the slowest route. We’re talking forty-five minutes – or he was, more like.

That doesn’t take into account when we were held at a signal (the red light being a sign for the driver and not for him). It seems Mr Asbestos was hell-bent on filling every inch of available airspace with fire-resistant drivel; completely oblivious to ‎the monosyllabic interjections from his disinterested companion.

(I've swallowed a dictionary.)

That woman showed patience. It was probably imagining dousing him in petrol and setting him alight that got her through it. It certainly helped me.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Cock DJ

I caught myself singing along to Rock DJ today. It's official: I’ve changed.

As far as I'm concerned, Rock DJ is the nadir of popular music. It’s as bad as it gets. Yet there I was, joining in with it: happy as Larry, smug as Robbie. The voice of a man whose face alone is enough to evoke fury had seeped into my subconscious. The song had finally worn me down, fifteen years after its release. It had become an involuntary expression of inner happiness; something to hum as I jollily went about my business. That’s how they you: they break you over time.

I was in ASDA, in my defense: a soulless, vapid place where dross like Robbie Williams’ back catalogue seems like a positive release. Even bearing this in mind, there was no excuse. It was a lapse in judgement. If I were Catholic, I’d be in my nearest confessional, begging for forgiveness. At least it proves I'm fallible. The internal radio station of a monster supermarket had ensnared me against my will.

I’ll do my shopping online in future, whilst listening to Classic FM. Williams, Chambers, Andrews, Pigford and Paris' songwriting can’t get me there. How can five people be involved in a song's composition and none of them notice it's shit? Something to do with monkeys and typewriters, no doubt. 

Good Ship, Man

Glyn and I did a charity gig at The Good Ship in Kilburn tonight in aid of deafblind charity, Sense.

It was organised and MCed by a friend of ours, Katie Pritchard, who also took part in the Marathon for the charity. Today. She ran twenty-six miles AND hosted a comedy gig on the same day. Comparatively, I've done nothing. 

Despite being less active, I still felt exhausted; as did Glyn. I haven't caught up from Thursday yet, and the faff of going in and out of London for yesterday's no-show didn't help. Before the gig, I felt like I was being held together by surface tension alone; seldom the precursor to a great performance. 

Though neither of us were 100% on form, we enjoyed it. It helped that there was a good audio-visual set up at the venue, which meant we didn't have to use our equipment. We'd carried it there, of course, but such is life. It made for an easier pack-up.‎

Before the gig, we went for a meal in an Italian restaurant opposite the venue. The food was great and exceptionally cheap. I would have had a dessert if it hadn't been for the rush, which would have added a food coma to proceedings. I've no right to moan. I haven't run the distance from Stevenage to London today. I doubt I ever will in my lifetime; not when there's such a thing as public transport.   ‎

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The No-show Show.

We cancelled tonight's double-headed preview, on account of the fact that no-one turned up. 

That's not strictly true. One person turned up. Even that isn't accurate. Two people came: one who'd seen the show before and one who hadn't - and we decided, on balance, that this would make the show more uncomfortable than it would have been useful. It's conceivable to do a play to an audience you can count on one finger - I've had the dubious pleasure of doing this in the past - but not stand-up. There's only so much one-on-one (or one-on-two) eye contact that anyone (or two) can take.

(Still with me?)

It was frustrating to have to pull it (cue a Carry On-style sound effect). It was set to be my last preview before my Brighton run, and I had a couple of untested bits of material to try out. I'm not far off the required running time, but the show needs fine-tuning - and I'd craved the reassurance of having all my set-pieces aired before my first Brighton date. That said, it gives me time to hone the show as a whole, without rushing the new bits on stage when they're not settled in my head. 

The downside to cancelling tonight is the venue is a lot more suited to my show than The Market Theatre Studio (the site of Mostly Comedy) was. The Actors' Temple is very intimate and, as such, is the perfect setting to tell gentle stories. I was looking forward to using it to 'reset' my material, after adjusting it to work in a comedy club setting. If nothing else, tonight was an accurate representation of what it's like to perform on the Free Fringe; you can never be certain of an audience. If you have one, they often haven't invested anything in being there, as they haven't paid. If I can just lift myself to a vague semblance of celebrity status in the next two weeks, I should be able to assure a few bums on seats. Reality TV here I come.

Friday, 24 April 2015

The Late Late Show.


Today, I’m feeling my standard post-Mostly exhaustion.

It’s largely my own fault. While it takes time to pack up and then record the links for the podcast, and the show didn’t finish until gone 11:30pm, we tend to spend longer than we should chatting about how it went. It’s a chance to catch up. It’s also nice to have a bit of a wind down, rather than going home to silence.

The downside of the late finish is it impacts on the following day. I went to our office this morning to run some new material for tomorrow’s preview. I wasn’t at my best. I got done what I needed to, but didn’t get it as tight as I’d like. My capacity for concentration was nil. Even now, as I write this, I feel like I’m falling asleep, which as good a reason to call it quits.

I plan to have a quiet evening in with my wife and the cat, with no further thoughts of work. I have the preview tomorrow and a gig with Glyn on Sunday, so tonight’s the only night in this weekend. I’ll watch The Simpsons and Have I Got News For You. I may even clean the budgies out, which isn’t a euphemism.

(I think I've used that joke before, but I’m too close to unconsciousness to double-check.)

Barry, Phil and Me.


Tonight’s preview at Hitchin Mostly Comedy was both useful and enjoyable for me.

Phil Nichol, Barry From Watford and a poor man's Statue of Liberty.

Before I started, I was aware that I would essentially be acting as a physical barrier between the audience and the two acts they’d most likely come to see: Phil Nichol and Barry From Watford. I needn’t have worried. The crowd were lovely, and very receptive despite this.

I did forty minutes, which is the longest I’ve performed solo at my own club by a long chalk. I’m still learning where the laughs are and how to pitch it, but am pleased with how it’s coming together. It still needs a little polish and topping-and-tailing to make it a show, but there’s time for that. I’m looking forward to the Brighton run, as the intimate nature of the venue will suit the material and allow me to sit back on it. It will be fun, I’m sure of that.

Both Barry From Watford and Phil Nichol played a blinder. Barry’s an old favourite at Mostly Comedy, having performed at all four previous Hitchin venues, but it was Phil’s first visit (though he’s gigged at Lastminutecomedy in Hitchin in the past). It was also the first time we’d met. He watched my show and offered some useful feedback. Our podcast interview was a little rushed due to the late hour, but we still had an interesting chat.

It’s always nice to catch up with Alex Lowe (the man behind the Barry mask). He’s got a number of exciting projects in the offing. He’s taking the role of Bill Kerr in a live staging of BBC Radio 4’s brilliantly handled ‘The Missing Hancocks’ in Edinburgh, which I’ll definitely go to see. That would be my dream job. Git.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Long Overdue.


There’s something unsavoury about borrowing FHM from the library.

Not that I've ever done this, but if I wanted to, I could. I rejoined my local library last weekend, after a twenty-year hiatus – and on doing so, I spotted For Him Magazine on a spinny stand by the doorway (presumably positioned there to aid a fast exit). It’s not the sort of thing I expected to be stocked, which goes to show how much libraries have changed since I was a kid. I can’t imagine who'd want to take it out.

FHM isn’t exactly high literature, other than where you might expect to see it in an uptight newsagent's. It’s barely reading matter. If you’d sooner borrow a much-thumbed copy than pay £3.99 for an issue of your own, you’re as tight as you are brave. I couldn't face a librarian’s judgement.

The reason for my extended bibliothèque break was fear. The last time I tried to draw something out, I was accused of having kept hold of a book for months that I swore I'd never had. It was a manual for a make of keyboard I didn’t own. Why would I want to read that? It defies logic. From then on, Stevenage Library was a no-go area. I couldn’t even risk using the one in Hitchin, because it fell under the same catchment. Any book I read would have to be bought with cold hard cash.

I decided to bite the bullet on Saturday and try registering again. Maybe they wouldn’t link present day David Ephgrave with the David Ephgrave of the past. Unfortunately, they did, though they were happy to overlook it. I can now revel in the joy of taking books out again. I wonder if they've got anything good on Nineties' keyboards.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Bad Blog.

I've spent the evening writing a blog, which I've decided to abort at the last minute. It wasn't coming out how I'd have liked.

This illustrates perfectly what I said in yesterday's blog about acting on an idea quickly. While the essence of what I'd written had potential, I didn't attack it at the right moment. Consequently, it sounded forced. As it is, I've decided to leave it to another day; I may find a new way in on looking at it with fresh eyes. 

My day's been productive, abandoned blogs aside. I emailed the acts for Thursday's Mostly, tinkered with some new material (edging it slightly closer to the finish line) and ran my set for Thursday. At this precise moment, I'm acting as a bed for my cat. However little or much I've accomplished today, at least I know I've achieved more than her. All she's done is sleep, eat, sleep, eat, shit, sleep and eat. That said, she's probably got the balance right. ‎‎

Monday, 20 April 2015

Opening Gambit.


I had a little burst of inspiration this morning about how to get into my set at Thursday’s Mostly Comedy.

I have a habit of changing how I want to start a set right up to the last minute. I’ll often whisper an idea for an opening line into Glyn’s ear, just before we take the stage. It must be frustrating way to work, but he’s very patient about it. When we’re putting a show together, we’ll joke that we’ve got fifteen different ways to start it and nothing else.

It’s a question of energy. When I’m excited by idea, I’m enthused about getting it across. It adds fire to the belly. It gives me a little kick that sees me through. Doggett & Ephgrave have recently got into the habit of starting Mostly Comedy with three ‘questions’; basically an excuse to show and then discuss three slides that amuse us. There’s nothing new to the premise - they’ve done it at the top of Have I Got News For You for twenty-five years - but it’s a good way in. We'll usually write this on the day of the gig. It forces us to concentrate – and if the slides go down well, we can extend on them in the future. It’s like writing a blog every day; the enforced deadline forces you to come up with something and set it through. If it works, you can use it as a germ for some stand-up.

The trick is to act on an idea quickly. If you don’t, it goes stale and you  lose faith in it. Paul McCartney often recounts in interviews how his writing sessions with John Lennon were never longer than a couple of hours. Every time they met to write, they came out with a song. Some of them were pretty good.

(I'm not comparing my ability to theirs, by the way.)

At least I now have an inroad for Thursday's show. Where I go after that is uncharted territory.

Not a Strong Opener

Open mic comedy gigs are great if you like performing mostly to silence. 

Maybe it's just me. I don't think it is. They're so strung out. This is due to the amount of acts on the bill. It couldn't really be done another way - the point of an open mic gig is to give lots of performers a chance, with most acts doing a very short set, and for some it's their first time on stage - but you don't get a fair reading of material when the audience are exhausted from so much information, or it's entirely made up of other acts who are too busy thinking about their own sets. ‎

I don't want to sound like I'm talking the clubs I've played down. They've been lovely for the most part. I'm very grateful for the opportunity and for the stage time they give. As a promoter myself, I know organising the line-ups must be no mean feet. It's just not the forum for me. I prefer to be on at a shorter, more structured night, with fewer acts, and an audience who've paid to see it. Alternatively, I'd sooner be doing my own show (which is a bit of luck, as I will be in May). 

Five minutes isn't long enough to get your personality across and make an audience feel comfortable with you; least of all when you're on in the midst of nineteen other acts. The most we've ever had on a bill at Mostly Comedy is five or six. These days, we tend to have just two or three. There's only so many different styles of comedy you can take in one evening.

One open mic club I'd like to give special mention for being great though, is Touching Cloth at The Water Poet. It's exceptionally well-run and well-hosted. The promoter makes a point of giving every act an MP3 and a video clip of their set for free. He doesn't try to monetise it, which is generous. It's also not cliquey, like some other clubs can be. He also has a golden skull on stage, which is a bonus.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Now Then, Now Then.


These days, the Now! series isn't even trying.


When it comes to choosing compilation album content, that title doesn’t whittle things down. Anything with a basic verse / chorus structure and a running time of around two to six minutes falls under its criterion. It’s not a sign of quality. It also gives you no inkling as to what you’ll get. You could wind up with UB40’s Red Red Wine* recurring fifty-seven times, and no-one wants that.

(...except for Neil Diamond, who’d be quids-in.)

The franchise lost their way years ago. They’ve released 89 of their standard collections, plus a whole host of variants, from 'Now That’s What I Call Running' to 'Now That’s What I Call Drive'. That last one doesn’t even work. To whom does the personal pronoun in each title refer anyway? Is it Mark Goodier, or that pig on the early front covers? Answers on a postcard, marked Now That’s What I Call Bullshit. 

*The most recent number one I could come up with.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Flyering High.



I ordered the posters and flyers for my Brighton show today. It’s official: it’s happening.


Flyer front (proof)

Flyer back (proof)

Poster (proof)
They were designed - rather splendidly - by my comedy wife, Glyn. He did a great job. They make the show look like a real thing. Now, there’s just the small matter of finishing writing it.

The great thing is that most of the admin is now done. The press releases have been sent and the artwork is winging its way to the venue. I can now switch my attention fully to the material. I did a dry run of what I intend to do at Thursday's Mostly Comedy, which sat together nicely, and ran at about thirty-five minutes. This is more than enough for that environment. It’s also without an audience reaction, which will double the length. A mass boo can stretch a show’s duration immensely.

I plan to squeeze a few extra bits into Saturday’s Work in (Hope of) Progress date, which should take the running time up to about forty minutes. I then have just shy of a fortnight to finish up some other ideas, and polish the whole, so it feels less like a set and more like a show. I’d be delighted if the Brighton performances ran at fifty minutes, but would be happy with forty-five. I then have a couple of months to consider what I want to add or subtract before I take it to the Camden Fringe in August.

I imagine it will change by then. That’s okay. I see it as an organic process. It’s also an experiment to see what I can do. The main thing is to enjoy it. If I do, then others should as well. If not, I’ll threaten them with my improvised mace.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Two by Two.

A couple rode past me on a tandem this morning. My life is a 1970s sitcom.

It's not the sort of vehicle you expect to see in real life. I can't understand the benefit. What do you gain from restricting two cyclists to one bike? According to Wikipedia, a tandem has double the pedalling power of a conventional bicycle, without the potential to double the speed. This is a shame, as you'd want to get away from people twice as fast, after being on the receiving end of four times the usual abuse.

You have to be certain sort to ride one: either a Last of the Summer Wine cast member, or a Goodie. I suspect that Terry and June had one too. Or a 'one-two', depending on how you look on it. You need big balls to pull one off. Either that, or to be a massive penis.

At least you'd save money on bike locks. You could probably dispense with chaining it up all together. No self-respecting person would want to steal a tandem - and if they did, they'd need an accomplice.

I'm not sure if the Siamese cyclists I saw were aware of it, but they were heading towards a big hill. That's poetic justice. ‎

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

I New It.

I'm currently on my way back from an open mic gig near Spitalfields Market. 

I managed to exorcise the demons of my last spot on a new material night. I didn't have a good experience that night. It didn't help that there were no lights on stage, meaning the audience were better lit than the acts. The MC, while being funny, was very downbeat, so the show lost momentum. All of this conspired to throw me and I lost my way with my new material. When you're only doing five minutes, it's hard to claw things back. 

Tonight wasn't like this. It's one of the nicest open mic gigs I've played; tightly run, with a great host. I didn't get huge laughs - it's hard to when you're playing to a room of other comics who are more concerned with their own stuff - but I got across everything I wanted. The newest bit of all, which hadn't been tried before, got the best response of the bunch, so that's good. I also used my Caffè Nero loyalty card to get a free coffee at King's Cross station afterwards, so that's great. No hot drink tastes better than a free hot drink; that's a cast-iron fact.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Return to Slender.


When I saw this on my Twitter feed, I misread ‘overnight’ as ‘overweight’.



Bizarrely, both options are appropriate: the former in reference to his pre-army days and the latter to the end of his career. There’s a sense of full circle to my mistake. It’s nearly palindromic…don’t you think?   

(I’m channelling Alanis Morrisette because I’m down with the kids. Of 1996.)  

The shock of the King’s downfall hasn’t softened, though he died thirty-seven years ago. It happened so fast. With so much pressure aimed on one person it was unavoidable. George Harrison used to say the fact there were four Beatles kept them sane. If one got too big for their boots, the others could keep him in check. Elvis didn’t have this luxury. He was the only man at the centre of the hurricane. That’s a metaphor, by the way.

This isn't the only time my eyes have misled me. I misread the title of this book when I first saw it. I was very disappointed.


Monday, 13 April 2015

Pressing Matters.


I spent most of the day writing and sending out press releases for my Brighton Fringe show.

I’m pleased to say I got everything done that I wanted to. It's satisfying to set yourself a task and then complete it. Part of the problem with having no outside help is your attention is split. You're constantly changing hats, in a metaphorical sense; one minute you’re the writer and then the next you’re the producer. The minute after that you’re the technician and then you’re the performer. That’s four minutes’ worth of show prep and I’m not prepared to do it. It’s also makes for a clunky paragraph.

The next step will be to prepare for next Thursday’s preview at Hitchin Mostly Comedy. I intend to sprinkle a few new bits into last month’s Soho Theatre set, bringing the running time up to about forty minutes. I don’t want to cross that time limit; if anything, I may do less. I’m very aware that I’ll be a physical barrier between the audience and the two acts they've come to see: Phil Nichol and Barry From Watford. They may also not be in the mindset for work-in-progress, so I would like to keep my performance reasonably tight. I have another preview two days later, where the atmosphere will be more conducive to taking risks.

I’m doing a five-minute spot at an open mic gig this Wednesday. I’d like to try something untested, but I’ll see how I feel. I’d like a confidence boost before next week’s gigs and I won’t get this by doing something that may fall flat. Every gig is a mind game at the moment. I’m like a boxer training for the big fight; I'm less a featherweight, more a paperweight.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

.............................................................................tea.


I couldn’t order a hot drink at my local pub restaurant tonight because there was “a twenty-five minute wait on tea”.

I’d suggest they need to buy a new kettle. Either that, or keep it closer to the bar. The only time I’d expect this delay would be if they handpick their leaves from a plantation with a ten-minute commute.

The time frame was very specific. Not twenty minutes, or thirty, but twenty-five. This suggests past-history, or an antiquated tea-making procedure. Do they wait for the water to heat naturally? Do they warm it over a flint-lit fire? Do they have a travel kettle? If it takes them this long to make tea, imagine the wait for food.

The pub is five minutes’ walk from my flat. I could have forward-rolled home, made tea, drunk it and backward-rolled back with time to spare. This is a challenge I’d be willing to accept.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Not O 'K'.

Would it have been wrong of me to correct someone on their misinterpretation of the lyrics to Kula Shaker's Govinda today? 

I didn't do it in the end, which took all of my strength. I was working in the office at the time, when the culprit walked past, getting Britpop very wrong. Admittedly it's a hard song to get right, but singing 'Govinda Jaya Jaya' repeatedly doesn't cut it; you need to slip a 'Gopala Jaya Jaya' in at least. 

He didn't know a Kula Shaker fan was in earshot, to be fair. We're few and far between. I thought their debut album was excellent, as was their version of the Deep Purple song Hush. I bought their lesser-known single Sound of Drums, and saw them play a blinder at Cambridge Corn Exchange, without a swastika in sight. 

My old band supported them once in Bedford. Crispian Mills watched our set from the side of the stage, whilst wearing a stormtrooper helmet. He may have been a great guitarist, but he was a bit of a dick.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Rivalling Siblingry.


I think the concept of National Siblings Day is clutching at straws. 



This could be because I haven’t got a brother or sister. “Ich bin ein Einzelkind”, as my German doppelgänger would say. While I have no siblings, I can imagine what it would be like. I’d cherish it, despite the frequent frustration it would bring. Either way, I wouldn’t need to tell the world about it. I wouldn’t need a public holiday or a Twitter trend to express it. Our mutual respect could be kept between ourselves.

(...assuming we were of similar mindset.)

Siblings aren't an endangered species. We don’t need to fight for their rights. Before you know it, there'll be an In-laws Day. Scrap that, there already is:


Do we have to turn everything outward? You’re no better a relation for showing your relationship off. Life isn’t a press release; it’s what happens behind closed doors that counts (unless you’re feral).

I blame Facebook. It’s turned life into a competition – and one you can never win. People who feel compelled to document their day-to-day lives on a blog are even worse. I, for one, would never do that.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A Child is Born.


Today, I briefly forgot my own birthdate.

I was arranging a meeting with a friend, trying to find a time that was good for both of us. We threw a few options back and forth as we flicked through our diaries, nearly reaching a stalemate. In a last-ditch attempt to resolve the issue, she suggested the fourteenth of May. It was only on checking my phone’s calendar that I realised it was of significance. 


THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

At least it had come up out of context. Its personal import wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. It’s still a concern; if there’s one 365th of the average Earth’s orbit I’d expect to be ingrained on my memory it’s this. I shouldn’t need a device to remind me.

Isn’t this the sort of thing you’re meant to look out for? I hope it’s not a sign of decline. It’s more likely a result of tiredness: my brain has been fried by writing. Whatever the reason, I may invest in a Dymo Labeller. I’ll also buy a copy of this:


 There’s nothing wrong with the odd aide-mémoire about the house.

Radio Ga Ga.

I met with Glyn this evening to discuss the weekly radio show we'll be starting for the local station SG1 Radio at the end of May. 

I'm looking forward to getting going with it. ‎It will be a great chance for us to toy with the off-the-cuff banter we do on our video diaries and our podcast. It's the side to us that I enjoy the most. ‎We've always wanted to host our own show. We're now lucky enough to have the opportunity to do it, in a low-key way that should have little impact on our varying schedules (it can sometimes be hard to get us both in the same room). 

‎I'll be sharing more details about it here in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled. One snippet I can reveal is the title, which is ‎'Doggett & Ephgrave: In Your Inner Ear'. It's best said out loud for full impact. Don't attempt this after heavy dental work. ‎

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Ephgraveyard

I'm currently sitting in the graveyard near my flat, enjoying the birdsong. 

I needed a break from the office. While I like it there, it can be stagnating. I've spent the day tinkering with material, but found it difficult to concentrate.  I couldn't decide which bit to work on. There's also only so much being in a room that's barely bigger than my own volume that I can take. 

I used to visit this cemetery more often, but not lately. It's a good place to think. There's nothing quite like being surrounded by scores of the long-dead to give a sense of perspective. It's also very pretty, with lots of animal-and-birdlife to spot. I saw a pair of green woodpeckers here once or twice, which was exciting; I'm easily pleased. 

I posed for my actor's headshot here, whilst sitting on the selfsame bench. My wife took the photo, as she's a dab hand with the camera. She's also very cheap. She did it in return for a fish-and-chip-dinner, which was a good rate. It was technically a fiddle, as I ended up getting the food free from Glyn's dad's chip shop. It's good to have friends in high (or fry) places. ‎

I'll go home soon - but before I do, I'll take a moment to sit here and do nothing. I may even meditate. I hope no-one mistakes me for a corpse. ‎

Monday, 6 April 2015

Lazy David.


Writing is mostly about avoiding writing.

Every time I go into the office it’s the same. I’ll check my emails, Twitter, the sales for Mostly Comedy, my bank balance, the stat-counter on mine and Glyn's website, the Paul McCartney forum and then Twitter again, before I consider putting pen to paper (in an electronical, computer-typery sense). I’d repeat this cycle ad infinitum if I could get away with it.  If there’s anything I can distract myself with, I’ll leap at it like a man possessed. The closer the deadline, the longer it takes me to get to work. It’s not the most helpful approach. 

Not every diversion is self-inflicted. There’s often admin to wade through first. I’ve also not taken into account the many hours spent trying to connect to BT Openzone. You don’t get that time back; something I'm looking forward to mulling over on my deathbed. 

I may not be giving myself due credit. I’ve managed to keep this daily blog up for a year and a half, which is something to be proud of. I still love to avoid it. Working on ideas, particularly for stand-up, can feel like an insurmountable effort.

At least today’s been well spent. I recently felt I’d reached a bit of an impasse when it came to writing new material for my show. I couldn’t get past the halfway point. I’m pleased to say I think I’ve managed to overcome this. I’ve made a long list of things I’d like to include and have started to work my way through it. The trick is to not keep looking at my calendar, as the time frame becomes daunting. I’m still ahead of the game. I need to keep reminding myself this.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Curse Sir Walter Raleigh.

I'm struggling to come up with anything imaginative this evening, through tiredness. 

Today has been reasonably productive, despite the fact I got up late. I've had late nights the past few days and haven't caught up on my sleep. I'm feeling the brunt of it. I'm spending the lion's share of my time writing - or thinking about it - at the moment, so I'm a little creatively spent. 

I'll keep it brief tonight as I'm struggling to keep my eyes open, which isn't conducive to creative thought. It doesn't help that my cat is curled up on my lap, fast asleep; her body language taunting me to join her. Perhaps if I get to bed early I'll be on form tomorrow. Stay tuned to find out. 

This could be the shortest blog ever. Naughty, naughty David. ‎

Bringing Letters to Life.

Tonight's performance of Letters Live hammered home my deficiencies as a writer. 

This may sound negative, but it isn't. Watching the show was a beautifully enriching experience. It served to remind me how powerful, emotive and evocative a letter can be. It can act like a direct channel to the thoughts and feelings of people of the past; more than a list of dates or statistics in a history book will ever do. 

It made me mourn the near loss of the medium as a form of communication. You could argue that the email has replaced it - but there's something sterile and emotionless about an existenceless collection of characters on a computer screen, when compared to sheet after sheet of hand-or-typewritten correspondence. It's less tangible, and somehow less valuable for it.

It helped that the letters were beautifully read. A whole of host of familiar faces stepped up to the lectern (their bodies were there too), including Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliet Stevenson, Toby Jones, Matt Berry and Kylie Minogue. Each person brought their letter to life. The show wasn't about celebrity, despite the present A-list. It was about what they read. We weren't interested in the famous person in the room, but the thoughts of the person that they were priveliged to subsume, absorb and relay.

Some of the letters were shockingly private and intimate. All were performed tactfully and with respect. The fact that they were mostly read by actors made me connect with the content quicker and easier than if I'd just been reading them to myself. 

I was struck by how conversational they were. This could be to do with the method in which they were written; the restriction of writing longhand or with a typewriter made it more difficult to self-edit, resulting in a more honest, more stream-of-consciousness outcome, Not that there isn't such a thing as a second draft. 

The show reminded me that we're essentially all the same. The human animal doesn't change. We all have similar worries and desires. We're all connected by the same emotions. I just wish I could convey mine as succinctly as the unwitting authors of Letters Live did. 

I once received a letter from the actress who played Dorothy Burke in Neighbours. I was sad to see it didn't make the cut.