Crawley, birthday

Wonderful steak lunch at Rowley’s in town and birthday treats followed by the loveliest gifts and more treats from the crew. Dressing room decked out with balloons etc, and some really touching prezzies. On top of that a zillion birthday wishes from Twitter. Lor’ Lu’mme. Best birthday ever. Rather sleepy though: wine and champagne and cake has me now dozing off into my steamer as I type.

One particularly impressive gift was this Derren Brown Enigma action figure, made by Jennie and Iain. Amazing! I do adore my group of friends. If it’s your birthday too, have a wonderful one.

Last night (Fri) was terrific: Thursday’s first half a little under-par mainly due to nervous volunteers. Which can’t be helped, and the second was much better. Tomorrow Buxton!

On the road again…

Crawling still

Got to Crawley rather early today, after having arrived perilously close to curtain-up the last couple of nights. This doesn’t feel like proper touring, as we’re home every night and not sitting around with flaccid sandwiches and hard licquor making each other cry with laughter after the shows. On the other hand, I’m painting in the days which, as Coops would say, is a ‘tasty treat item from Mummy’.
The shows have been the best yet. This may be helped by the fact that the theatre have a free-for-under-26s policy, which means the theatre’s joy at the sell-out dates must be mitigated by my demographic. I’m hoping there’s some government funding going on to cover them. The other night brought in a raucously delightful A’ Level group, and I believe I got their teacher up on stage, which must have caused great amusement. Interestingly, one little bit didn’t work too well with her: doubtless to do with a lingering self-consciousness that her wards were watching her and may even follow an irresponsible example. Fascinating. For me at least. Possibly just bewildering and disappointing for the thousand or so watching. (Please no spoilers…)

What could have been an underwhelming preview venue has turned out to be a real joy. Just three nights left and then we’re off to Buxton and the proper touring feeling will recommence. I have also been neglecting my book-editing for my paints: this will enjoyably resume too.

Somehow in between these things, I’m looking forward to gettig stuck into Sarah Bakewell’s enticing volume on Montaigne:

How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

and must spend time with Iain working on a new TV special idea: such pressures do not leave me, not even in Buxton.

Right, I must begin my regular pre-show rituals. It is time. They are as follows:

1. 15 minute throat steam into the Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler. Gets the old nodes lubricated. A hydrated throatingtons is a happy throatingtons.
2. 9 seconds of self-disgust at the amount of saliva I have produced during 1, and which now covers the base of the VPSI.
3. Change into first-half shirt.
4. Make-up. Jen doesn’t always get much time, so generally I apply the foundation while she does my hair. This we call ‘helping Mummy’.
4. Clean my teeth.
5. Get changed all proper-like.
6. 15 mins of vocal warm-ups. These would have you lolling out loud and rofling on the floor laughing if you heard them. However, through their ludicrous means, they ensure that a suitable stage-voice is in place for addressing so many of you for so long with the requisite amounts of volume clarity and energy. Occasionally ruined by munching on a chocolate biscuit.
7. Iain comes in to check I have everything I need for the show, and to let me check a certain set of photographs that have been taken for a certain routine in the show. I say they’re fine, and he takes them away.
8. I leave for the backstage area.
9. 5 mins of merry-making in the wings, dancing to own theme-tune with crew etc.
10. Walk onto stage, realising flies are undone.

Time now to begin. Expect a lot of dribble all round.

Back again, Crawley

Crawley last night was much fun. After a mild concern that I might not remember all my words, I did indeed forget a few but enjoyed covering that up. Some minor tech issues for sound and lighting to sort for today, and tonight should be all super-duper.
A lovely little crowd at stage door made for a friendly end to the night. Crawley was the original preview venue, so it’s half the size of most of the theatres we’re playing, and hence this part was more personal than usual. Having said that, I’m likely to be rushing off quite quickly this week, as it’s a long journey back each night for us all. So do forgive me if I have to be quick. (Certainly tonight I must dash back to catch house guests before they leave, so please pardon if I scribble and run…)

Despite the smaller capacity, the crowd was lively and fun, so thank you Crawley. More of the same tonight. Met with some Israeli mentalists after the show (no, not Geller…) who were just delightful. And a very charming interview before the show: thank you Nick.

Currently stuck in traffic on way to Crawley. If I don’t make it in time, Iain has instructions to go on with an armchair and Sarah The Talking Ram.


Sarah The Talking Ram

First debauched video of the tour. This was late in Torquay, and features Sarah, a ram (?) bought from the Marble Museum gift shop, showing off her talking skills. This followed a gigglesome evening in front of YouTube, watching the talking cats and dogs compilation you’ll be no doubt familiar with (if not, watch first, otherwise this will be even more pointless). Iain donned Sarah, hid behind the chair and is doing the voice.

This may be a waste of valuable minutes for you in the cold light of day, but at the time we nigh on wet ourselves.

Torquay again

As imagined, a very couply audience, and rather quieter. Last night (Sunday) was the best show yet.
Today Iain, Jen, Simon and I went to the Marble Museum around Newton Abbott, and then for a drive across the moors to Widecombe, a village made entirely of gift-shops, for a great lunch. The Marble Museum is fun, though again more gift shop than marbles, and contains a number of astonishing runs built by Swiss artist Alex Schmid. Plenty of gifts bought for crew.
Rather full and snug following this afternoon’s gammon steak/toffee pudding, but will try to summon energy for the last night in this lovely place.

Must now begin the nightly steam-inhale-session. Looking forward to tonight.