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.