(From the Agingbooth iPhone app. How I feel with 4 months left to go…)
We all had a terrific time in Hull – thank you any of you who came to see it and formed a part of a really sensational audience. We had a great crew in the theatre, which always helps, and the changes I’ve been making to one of the routines seemed to settle in okay. Participants were largely bright and bubbly on stage, which makes all the difference. I noticed on a couple of occasions around Hull that when I said ‘Hello’ to a passing child, they cheerily waved and greeted me back: something that would never occur in the places I hark from. That must be a good and happy sign. It’s lovely to see a cheery, friendly city reflected in the mood of an audience. Thank you all hugely.
One thing that Hull did bring was an inordinate amount of generously chosen gifts from people at the stage door. This was a very lovely gesture from all the people concerned: thank you ever so much. I must, however, ask that if you are one of those few who are thinking of bringing a present or bag of goodies to a future show, please save yourself the time and money. I feel bad taking them: the reality is that it’s just not possible to take most of the gifts around with us, and even bags of the most gorgeous-looking sweets and chocolate tend to remain woefully uneaten as touring does not allow for such a diet. I hope you don’t mind me saying that it means more than enough me that you would buy a ticket or even bother to stand around in the cold just say a nice hello after the show. (On this subject, I know Coops and Iain are starting to develop an abreaction to Roast Beef Monster Munch, but I say keep them coming – they made their bed and can now lie in it, crumbs and all).
After another 5 hour journey, during which some great ideas were hatched for a future TV special, we’re now in Southampton, or at least in an hotel nearby. I’m having a coffee in the ‘brasserie’ of this gorgeous old hotel. It’s rather idyllic, and has a tranquility that will not be found as readily around the back of the Mayflower Theatre over the next few days, with its train tracks and Toys ‘R’ Us. This may be the first year we do not hit the toyshop with the enthusiasm of its younger demographic: previous tours have seen us eager to stock up on soft toys to throw, and remote control helicopters with which to amuse ourselves in the auditorium. Preceding years also saw us staying in the unhappy DeVere hotel nearby, which we all remember uncharitably as the ‘Let’s Get Ou-de-vere’. That’s tricky to make work in print, but you can see what we did.
Staying in so many hotels one after another turns one into a terrible, intolerant twot. Anything other than the warmest reception at the front desk immediately makes every aspect of the place feel unwelcoming, and seeing another teak-veneer desk unit or chintzy eiderdown makes the heart sink unnecessarily. One becomes hyper-critical of slow or indifferent service and far more ready to complain about a poor steak, purely because, through no fault of the hotel’s, one has grown sick of it in previous establishments. Hateful. On top of that, though we really could not be any less rock ‘n’ roll as a touring group (our production manager once spilt ketchup on a white carpet: that’s as mad as it’s ever got), we are usually the noisiest table in the restaurant and often bundle into the most beautiful old converted stately homes in the scruffiest, most embarrassing attire, immediately sending out a message that we may not be quite right for the place. To then catch oneself calling front desk with the back-catalogue of frustration that comes from calling ten previous front desks with the same point of frustration, is to realise that one has fallen prey to the curse of the privileged: expecting other people to have nothing better to do that fit in with your own desires and make your life easy.
The wealthier you are (or the more you get used to staying in hotels on tour), the worse this becomes. As Alain de Botton has said, it’s always the arguments at the first-class check-in desk that are the nastiest. Foul.
Having said that, I’m honoured to be with such a delightful and pleasantly-mannered group. And the temptation to take these hotels for granted is a good reminder to me regarding what we unfairly expect from others.
Oh for fucksake my sugar lumps aren’t individually wrapped again.