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Archive for January, 2022

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Sinus woes

All I have to report this week is blocked sinuses. This nicely sums up life in the times of the Covid but puts me in a difficult spot to try and write something about it.

Will this be interesting? Probably not, but let’s give it a go. At this point on a Sunday evening, it isn’t something that concerns me.

I have a history of sinus problems. When I was 17, I had sinusitis and spent a lot of time either with facial pain or being sick. And for a paranoid 17-year-old, I was fairly sure what I had was terminal.

I went to the doctor’s and found out that it wasn’t quite as bad as my unqualified diagnosis. He recommended that I put my head over a steaming bowl of chamomile flowers for ten minutes. So that’s what I did, only to wake up in the night with pains akin to being stabbed repeatedly in the side of the head.

The flaw in my GP’s plan was that I discovered I suffered from a severe allergy to practically every type of flower and pollen. Hayfever season is obviously a blast.

I’ve used Olbas oil instead of the chamomile flowers quite a lot over the years when times when the sinuses have been causing problems. More recently, I’ve streamlined – pun optional – this and taken to smearing toothpaste under my eyes. It is surprisingly effective for clearing the sinuses, albeit with some blindingly obvious side effects. I.e. the obvious blinding.

Where did the blocked sinuses come from this time? I don’t know. I tested negative to Covid. It’s probably something allergy-based, but at least it’s given me something to fill the space on here this week. Writing on here will be much easier once I’m doing gigs again. I don’t know yet when this will be, so there could yet be more fascinating tales of sinus past.

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The Eternals

I watched The Eternals this weekend. I meant to see it in the cinema but never got around to it. It’s one of those films I’d categorise as not being one I’m motivated enough to watch it in the cinema, nor being one I’d buy it on the DVD. For me, it’s one of those films I’d probably only watch if I was on a long flight and it was on the film choices. Fortunately for this category, there is now Disney+.

It was watchable and featured some cool ideas. But it felt very much like a low-budget series you’d stumble across on a random digital channel late at night and watch it because there was nothing else on at the time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my book. I have watched many of these series over the years.

As for being part of the MCU, everything just felt a little off. There were attempts to include the trademark quips and verbal sparring, but it never really connected. I definitely think that the MCU needs to try different styles of filmmaking and genres to keep things fresh and interesting, I just don’t quite know what this film was trying to be exactly. In many ways, it felt more like a DC film with impressive visuals and cool costumes, but mostly flat characters. I didn’t hate it, it was just sort of there and happened.

If you study for three years for a film studies degree and get into £10,000 of debt, you could one day write some rushed thoughts in a blog on a Sunday evening that very few people will ever read.

At some point this year, I’ll actually do something interesting that’ll hopefully be worth reading about. But that day is not today.

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Aussie immigration rules

Australia’s strict immigration laws have been in the news this week. No one who’s ever been there should be surprised, as the authorities certainly make you put in the work to get in there. And by work, I mean filling in various forms. Admin is work.

I was actually in Australia exactly two years ago, no doubt complaining about how darn hot it was. Before the dark times, before Covid. And unlike a famous tennis player, I successfully avoided any issues with immigration. I achieved this by firstly filling in the forms myself; and secondly, by providing the correct information.

The Aussies don’t mess about when it comes to immigration, apart from seemingly this week when one or two balls have been dropped. The list of what you can’t take into the country is worded so strongly that it made me paranoid about whether I was actually breaching biosecurity laws without knowing it.

In 2007, I was staying in Australia for a total of one night on my way to an ill-thought-out trip to New Zealand. One of the rules said something about not taking footwear into the country that is contaminated with soil from farmland. Because the trainers I was wearing had some very small traces of mud on and I live near farms, I decided that I needed to declare it. So I spent probably the better part of an hour queuing. I got to the front of the queue and explained to the official there about my shoes.

I was expecting half-expecting him to call in the heavies, an alarm would go off, there would be red lights flashing and I’d be taken into detention. Or at the very least, my shoes would be taken away from me. But the official just nonchalantly shook his head and waved me through. The moral of the story is if you’re going to Australia then maybe plan the trip a bit better and don’t be a dick about it when you’ve cocked up.

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Too many projects, not enough focus

I have various things I want to write but have difficulty focusing on one project. As a result, very little ends up getting written. Or I do a bit on one project, then leave it and pick up another, only to put it down and then do something else.

I have ideas for scripts, novels, a certain musical, and not to mention a new hour of stand-up. One of the biggest challenges is deciding what to focus on. There is always the small possibility that the idea I choose to focus on ends up being the wrong option. One of the reasons behind staying back home a little longer was to use the extra time to write all these things, although there’s not much sign of them materialising so far.

The advantage of stand-up is that I have the experience of putting on shows and know the work that is involved. However, there has been a heavy reliance on the presence of a quiz in my shows that have been successful. In fact, every show I’ve worked on that hasn’t involved a quiz hasn’t achieved any level of success. The moral of the story here is that I need more quizzes.

Thinking about it, an hour of stand-up is the easiest of all projects to get off the ground. I don’t mean the process is easy, as it can be painful at times. I mean that I don’t have to worry about approval from agents, commissioners or publishers. It’s something I can pretty much just get on with on my own accord, and then have the target of getting everything ready to take to Edinburgh in August.

What makes this more difficult is that I currently have no gigs in my diary. So far this year, 100% of my gigs have been cancelled due to the latest Covid outbreak. Admittedly, I only had one actually booked. And technically, it has been pushed back to April. If I book a slot at a festival, I know I’ll then write a show. I’m not sure where I take novels or scripts, but I’m fairly sure it helps if they’re finished first.

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2022: what awaits?

At the start of every year, provided I remember, I like to write a post on here with my hopes and aims for the next 360-odd days. Part of the thinking behind this is that it will spur me on to actually doing something, or at the very least allow the version of me in 360-odd days time to read it back and think: “Haha. Oh, what a naïve fool. I can’t believe he actually thought that could happen.”

New Year’s resolutions are one means that I find helpful to getting me to do things and avoid being mocked by the future me. I successfully stuck to my resolution from last year to write an entry on here every for the year. I think I’ll continue to do this as I try to make sense of what is going on around me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to write more entries about performing comedy that aren’t referring to the distant past.

And I have also stuck to my 2015 resolution to stop buying meat. Another NYR also saw me learn Spanish throughout 2017 and into 2018, until I took an actual physical class that put me off after it was much harder than Duolingo.

Then there was the ordeal for everyone of my Joke365 challenge in 2014. I completed it, with my sanity severely diminished. In a similar vein to this, my plan this year is to write ten jokes a week. I don’t have to publish them anywhere, but that should make sure I keep writing throughout the year. Also, this will yield at least 520 jokes for the year, which will put the tally of Joke365 the shade – and hopefully the quality too.

Reading back through some of my posts from last year, I’m reminded that I appeared on Alison’s podcast and that set myself a challenge to turn off my phone data between the hours of 10am and 3pm to stop me wasting time, while also avoiding social media during these hours if on a computer. I remember how much clearer it made my head and the decrease in distractions meant I was more productive. So, I’m going to try and stick to this challenge for the full year. Obviously, this will be tricky if I go to Edinburgh, so I can relax restrictions then.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like Ross Kemp: The Musical will be happening this year. Development has stalled. By this, I mean that I haven’t done any work on it in months. It is fast becoming my equivalent of Axl Rose’s Chinese Democracy.

This year, I want to do more gigs. My tally of five from last year should be relatively easy to beat, although I’m aiming for high double figures. I’m not going to set a specific target, as I’m not entirely sure where these gigs are going to be. I will need to get on top of my admin and deal with my loathing of driving to gigs caused by the rising stress levels. This may have to wait until later in the year. Because doing plenty of gigs and avoiding driving to them is going to be much easier in London.

The plan is to move back there in September after Edinburgh Fringe, possibly even sharing a flat with a certain ex-comedy partner. My aim is to also start running a gig or two a month, where I have the freedom to mess around ideas and don’t have to worry about impressing the promoter. I’ve really missed this during the past six years.

Did I mention Edinburgh Fringe back there? Yes, I think I did. My plan is to take a new version of How To Win A Pub Quiz there this year and see if there are any industry doors that I can open from it.

Part of me does also wonder whether my ship has already sailed, which possibly embarked in 2016 or 2017. But I have set a date of when the final ship will be leaving the port, which may turn out to be full of holes and could sink before it reaches its destination.

The plan is to move back to London, try to do as many gigs as I can within the following two years and then see where I am with everything at the end of Edinburgh 2024. If I’m not where I want to be, or don’t have some exciting projects in the works, it might well be time to try and live the life of a normal civilian – or at least pretend to be normal. That’ll be the year I turn 40, which seems a ridiculous to write. But that seems as good a cut-off point as any. And if I’m going to achieve anything, a target always helps.