WARNING – all my blogs are hastily written on trains. Errors will abound (punctuation, spelling and sometimes judgment)
It has been commented on in the past, and will certainly be mentioned again in the present and future, that I can come across as being grumpy. To the casual observer, the furious and irrational reptile lump in my brain has too much control. In truth, I’m not as grumpy as occasional tweets and globules of stand up would suggest. My anger is quick, I hurl the glass jar at the wall then get the dustpan and brush. I have managed to cut down on many of the incitements that kicked my Komodo. I barely pick up a newspaper now, I don’t watch much TV, I avoid shopping centres, noisy pubs, nightclubs and the centre of ‘things’. Occasionally I am weak and find myself shouting at Question Time. Sometimes I open articles that have been tweeted to me by concerned individuals who think I should be aware of the fabricated opinion of a paid contrarian whose motivations for writing is self-satisfaction. Despite these few eczema itches (I gave up reading Melanie Phillips after I started scratching until I bled) I would have thought I am pretty content, frequently jolly, sometimes gleeful.
I have bumped into people who read my tweets and tell me “your Edinburgh sounded hideous” or “you didn’t like Kirkcaldy did you?” when out of many tweets written the “Fuck the Edinburgh fringe I’m leaving” were in the minority. I suppose they are just more noticeable than the “what a nice sandwich” and “it is sunny, good”.
Emotions are often exaggerated in 140 characters and can also be more vivid if you are spending a lot of time on your own with only the voices in your head for company. I write “only the voices in your head” , they are often very good company and come up with some pretty interesting scenarios, but sometimes, well, I don’t know where they get their ideas from.
Train journeys can seem as long as putting your hand on a hot kettle after a bad gig, or even an OK gig that you know wasn’t good enough. In midwinter you can arrive in a dark town that is cold enough to heat your paranoia, feeling like Spencer Tracy in Bad Day at Black Rock but with two arms and without the ability to defend yourself against any local Lee Marvins. It is at times like these you need to remember how lucky you are. Whether it is a full house or low attendance the people in the auditorium have paid to see you and want to hear what you say. Whenever I think of the digestive ailments and skin conditions made more vivid by a life of stand up or mull over some spat with a critic or facebook page that might have been dedicated to why I am the tumour that will kill comedy (don’t think that one exists yet, why on earth have I inspired you to create it – “lazy self-loather asks us to do loathing for them”) I remember everything else I’ve got from it.
This Tuesday was one of those day where I saw how lucky I was, the komodo in my skull only popped up once and was assuaged before anything was shattered.
I started the day checking on an event I am doing with the author and wizard Alan Moore. Alan is a man whose work I have been reading since my age was in single figures and continues to create tales of the imagination that enthuse me. Whenever I talk to him a thing on my shoulder intermittently reminds me that my brain is a pecan nut to his walrus mind.
Once on the train I listen to songs that I might play at Scared to Dance, an evening of lo fi, post punk and alternative music where I am going to be paid to play music I like to people. I have 90 minutes, will this be long enough to create a playlist that is popular enough to have people overcoming their fear of dancing but reveal rarities that show off how clever I must to play certain rarities?
Once In London I go to the BBC to work with my producer Sasha (do say hello to her, she loves being mentioned in blogs, it’s her Hitchcock moment) on a documentary about Bertrand Russell, a man whose work I have loved since I was a teenager. I am being paid to listen to archive of Bertrand Russell and then hopefully not say anything too banal between the clips of The Brains Trust and his Reith lecture.
Just enough time for lunch with Tim Minchin, the barefooted, back-combed and eye-lined troubador whose cunning disguise for day to day existence is to put no effort in. We discuss a scientific venture and decide not to risk a revolving door while holding a bowl of hot stew (a pity, I think Stan Laurel would have made something of that).
Then, as a rainbow appeared over Kings Cross, I got in a cab to visit Terry Jones. He had agreed to appear on Utter Shambles, a podcast I do with Josie Long that allows us to sit and witter away with people we admire. Terry made us coffee and we talked about Nocobobinus, flat earth myths, the war with Iraq, Chaucer and very briefly about Monty Python. Time to swig a glass of wine before leaping into a cab to go and hyper-kinetically mumble at Steve Lamacq on 6music as I do most Tuesdays. This allows me to play Ivor Cutler to an audience too.
Not all days are like this and I hope this hasn’t just seemed like a catalogue of showing off. As I came to the end of Tuesday I just thought how fortunate I am to have such a professional life, I mean, this my job (I know job is not the correct term). The 14 year old me would look on with wide eyes and weak knees that such a future would occur. So for all my whining and fury, I know that in reality I am a fortunate man who, unlike many other people, lives a life where I have the opportunity to do things that I want to do. It would be easy to look on with envious eyes at those millionaire comedians that play the O2 and have their own panel shows, but it turned out that I reckon occasionally eating fried eggs with Alan Moore in one of Northampton’s leading American style diners is more than good enough for me.
I imagine dramatic irony will kick in shortly after I post this blog – “shortly after writing this blog, Robin Ince died of total collapse of everything – the autopsy suggested the years of hauling luggaged filled with killer crabs novels and Mills and Boon arctic explorer novels across the UK had made his organs give up on themselves.
HAPPINESS THROUGH SCIENCE tour continues – Exeter, Glasgow, Dundee, Salisbury, Northampton coming up, plus 2012 dates now added to www.robinince.com
Robin Ince’s Bad Book Club is available from bookshops , websites and some Age UK charity shops
It all sounds good but if you had breakfast at buddies I will be truly jealous.
A damn good blog as per usual
Really enjoyed the show at Dundee – hardly stopped laughing all night! Particularly enjoyed the Heisenberg SatNav joke!
You are definitely blessed. You 1) have a job, 2) that you enjoy which is more than many have. Kick yourself if you find yourself comparing your lot to those who have more (money, attention, whatever) than you have. Consider that the vast majority of people have less. That should offer you some perspective.
And, because you’re a man, if you can’t quite squelch that competitive gene in you that wants to reach the top of the pyramid, you can “comfort” yourself that there are a lot of up & coming comedians who are eager to take your place. That should provide an incentive to be grateful and stay sharp.
It has a bit (seemed like a catelogue I mean). If you considered equality valuable, then more furious whining and less counting of your blessings would allow us all to feel that we might join you in the boat, even if it is a lifeboat on a storm-tossed ocean, at least it would be the same one.
You made me laugh and at this time of the morning, that’s quite a feat.
And I love Monkey Cage. I am the least scientific person I know, but it is great and I even sometimes understand what you’re talking about.