In what was the largest audience I’ve ever had for How To Win A Pub Quiz on Friday in Newcastle, I had quite possibly the worst kind of preparation.
I’d opted to drive, as the train tickets were £67 return and there’s no way I’m paying that for something I can do for cheaper and be less restricted by departure times.
I left Manchester at around 1.30pm and every route planner I’d looked at said it would take me around three hours. I’d booked a 24-hour parking space, so I’d have plenty of time to park up, then get to the venue to soundcheck for 5pm, giving myself a good hour and a bit to relax and prepare for the show at 6.30pm.
The one flaw in my plan was motorway delays. Lots of them. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so many. There were various moments when I was at a complete standstill, with the ETA on my satnav getting later and later, and the sun beating down on me just to make things even more uncomfortable.
The two-hour cushion I had to play with ended up dwindling into nothing and when I finally got moving, it was a race against the clock to make it to the venue in time for the start of my show. I’d been in regular contact with the venue and there was no option of starting 15 minutes late as the show on after had sold-out and they needed to get the room ready.
Throughout all of this, my bladder was getting fuller and fuller. In the end, I had to make an executive decision and piss on the grass verge in a lay-by in full view of passing traffic. The alternative wasn’t worth contemplating.
I reached the centre of Newcastle at 6.20pm and was driving around, frantically searching for a parking space nearer the venue than the one I’d booked, while doing my best to negotiate my way around a one-way system I’d never used before. At 6.26pm, I’d found my beacon of hope: a parking space.
I parked up and dashed to the venue in a sweaty and stressed mess. It was now 30 seconds before my show was due to start. Fortunately, the venue manager took pity on me and gave me five minutes to compose myself.
I had 76 people in, it was a decent show and they were good fun, but I can’t help think how much better it would have been had I not arrived at the venue in such a state mere seconds before the show was due to start. What worked in my favour was that I’ve done the show so many times now that I can just click into it. I definitely felt much better at the end of the show than I did at the start.
But next time, I’ll be getting the train.