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Posts tagged ‘Brexit’


Return to half-formed

After a period of silence for almost two months, you, my dwindling readers, are due an update on what I’ve been doing since I last wrote anything on here.

A fair amount has happened, with my geographical location noticeably shifting multiple times.

At the end of September, I moved out of my flat in Manchester and back to Stroud. It took almost three days to clean what had been three and a half years of miscellaneous nonsense and dust I’d accrued.

I’d be lying if I said that my time living in the north of England went exactly how I’d hoped. Although I’ve done far more paid comedy gigs than in the six years preceding the move, there is very much a feeling – at least as far as the circuit goes – of underachievement, stagnation, and frustration, not doing myself justice or working hard enough in relocation. I added those last two words for rhyming purposes.

My move was a gamble that I’d not really thought through or researched before diving straight into. But you don’t know if a gamble is going to work until you give it a try. I think I just needed to try harder to give it a better chance of succeeding, which is what many gamblers also believe in spite of a lack of evidence. Nevertheless, what’s done is done.

I didn’t have any gigs in September because of something that I may reveal more details on at some point if the material for a show comes together. Cryptic.

My return to the stage kicked off at Swansea Fringe at the start of October, which was hugely enjoyable. I’ve also been in London and did a couple of rusty short spots at some nights I’d not been to in a good few years.

The difference between me performing HTWAPQ and a shorter club set feels very much like what happens after breaking an ankle. When it comes out the cast, it takes time for the strength to return. That unintentionally reads a lot like a Swiss Toni quote.

After breaking my right ankle on that fateful New Year’s also in Swansea in 2008, my dominant right leg still feels weaker even after almost 11 years. HTWAPQ is my left leg and was never meant to be so much stronger than my right, but it’s done a lot more work. There’s nothing weird about this metaphor. It makes total sense.

Then at just before 2am this morning, I got back from a few nights in the Czech Republic where I was doing a couple of HTWAPQs. I had a show in Brno on Wednesday that turned out to be fun, albeit with the language barrier making things a little trickier at the start of the show. But to be fair, there have been many audiences all over the UK who’ve not been able to understand what I’m saying either, so it’s not like this is anything new.

I was in Prague the next night for another small but fun show. Audiences of 13 and nine respectively for two shows are much smaller than I’m used to for HTWAPQ, but they gave me an excuse travel to another country I’d never been to. And I may even be able to write them off as tax deductible.

Originally, these shows were meant to be part of my attempt to do a show in each of the 27 EU member states before Brexit. But judging by my energy levels after a three day trip, I’m now quite glad these plans never got very far.

Aside from comedy, I’ve been getting a fair amount of freelance writing work with my previous company thanks to my old friend, staff shortages. This work may start to dry up a bit, so I will need to find other sources of revenue. If you’re looking for writers and willing to pay, then I’m willing to write. I don’t think I can just rely on leads from this site though.


Madeira, oh dear ah…

For the past few years, I have taken a tactical holiday in November or December to get some much-needed vitamin D in the winter months, when it’s also cheaper and not overwhelmingly hot.

I have been heading towards the equator where the temperatures are still decent, with Malta and Gran Canaria my previous two winter holiday destinations. Coincidentally, these also seem to be locations where old people go at the same time.

This year, I had a look at the map and chose to put a year of learning Spanish on Duolingo to good use by going to Madeira, where they don’t even speak Spanish. Fortunately, I was able to become 18% fluent in Portuguese before I went, at least according to official Duolingo records.

I signed up for a mountain bike trek. I hadn’t ridden a bike in 14 years, but you never forget. It’s like… something I can’t currently think of.

Most things I book through Expedia are full of pensioners, those are just the rules. On the plus side, it means I almost always have superior fitness levels to the rest of the group. So it was quite a shock to get in the van to go mountain biking and be surrounded by young Germans and Swedish people in professional cycling gear. Then there was me dressed in cotton shorts and a t-shirt, with old trainers.

But it surely didn’t matter, because I’d ridden a bike all throughout my youth, mainly at Center Parcs as I wasn’t allowed out to ride in the road where I lived until I was 12. And I should add that when I was 12, I had a mountain bike with five gears. Five entire gears.

It turns out that mountain biking had changed quite substantially in the 21 subsequent years and I didn’t even know how to use the gears on my bike. The guide quickly saw my ineptitude and prevented me from going on some of the trails.

Despite my legs seizing up with cramp at various points and other members of the group literally pushing me along at others, I somehow managed to complete the 40km trek. I was completely caked in mud, but I’d made it.

It turned out to be a perfect metaphor for Brexit negotiations. I signed up for something I thought would be easy, only to be find myself in an uphill struggle that was way beyond my ability, surrounded by much more experienced and knowledgeable European people who ended up taking pity on me.

The next day I was unable to walk properly, with my inner thighs red and swollen. I was also bruised from falling over a few times and am naturally pasty. So I was at least red, white and blue to embellish the Brexit metaphor further. There’s your patriotism.

I did at least get a couple of days of sun before the clouds took over towards the end of the week. Then I rounded my holiday off by getting a norovirus on my penultimate day.

No prizes for how I spent my final day. Of course, I went on a sightseeing trip of the island.

Okay, I didn’t. I signed up for a sightseeing trip, but after having spent the night vomiting at both ends, I thought it was probably best to change my scale down my sightseeing to the inside of a toilet bowl. I even saw some local wildlife in the ants that were living in my hotel bathroom. A norovirus did at least give an edge to the flight home, like Russian roulette of the arse. I can’t think why the woman sitting next to me moved seats.

I’m now planning next year’s holiday. This one is going to take some topping.