Filling Time in Sutton Coldfield

I love my job. The 17 year old me might not even believe it was a possible job, or he might be annoyed that I am not famous and in films with Bill Murray or driving through deserts high on peyote with tequila balanced on the windshield and Ralph Steadman sketching me from the bonnet. Frankly, I don’t know what he’d think. He’s dead now. My mind creates the illusion of a narrative through line. What would I say to him if I met him now? I’d say, “don’t tamper with time machines. Look what I have done now. I’ve met you and somehow created an anomaly. Damn, this is a 12 Monkeys situation waiting to happen.” 

I don’t have to worry what I’d say to him as that scenario just wouldn’t arise in this universe. I don’t know why I started contemplating it. Maybe I’d tell him to use less hairspray, though I think it was genetics rather than Vidal Sassoon strong ludicrous quiff spray that has led to the sorry state of my scalp. 

So, I am predominantly happy with my career, that’s what I wanted to make clear from the start. I am also happier that the sun does not go down so early now Winter is done. There is something that increases the sense of loneliness when arriving in a strange town and seeking out a venue you’ve never been to before. Walking through the streets illuminated by Superdrug windows and overhearing snippets of aggressive conversation from smokers and boozers that makes you fear you have come to a cruel town who will not like the cut of your jib or the shape of your ideas. I am now sitting in a darkening room full of stacked chairs in Sutton Coldfield. I think my gig will happen here. It may be a trap, only my Twitter followers know I am here, and maybe they’ve been in on this slow occult lure from the very start. 

I am a persistent tourer. Before one ends, a new one has begun. I once found myself closing one tour on a Friday and starting a new one on the Saturday. Each year I say the next one will be quieter. I’ll take that year off I have imagined since 2005, the one where I’ll write that book and lie on hillsides cloudbusting with my kid. Apparently, Mark Thomas and I are in accidental competition for hardest touring stand up, both of us seeking the year when we tour four entirely different shows and stay sane, at least to distant eyes. 

We both come from preacher stock, maybe that’s where the protestant work ethic comes from. 

This spring, I am finding it harder than usual. A little homesickness creeps in. I am arriving at stations when I should be spooning up remnants of Alphabetti Spaghetti and ferociously playing Star Wars Angry Birds with my son. I wonder what a life is like with pattern amnd structure, to work in the same town for weeks, even months. To know the names of all the people you work with, as opposed to meeting new people each day and finding your memory lacks the capacity for new forenames and your hearing missed it first time anyway and your self consciousness is to embarrassed to ask them to repeat it. 

Oh, to not fear the judgement of new strangers on a nightly basis…

But then… where is the fun in that? How soon bored I would be with the comfort of procedure.

For more than half my existence, this is what I have done. I show off for a living and, more often than not, I get away with it and I like it. I remember self doubt at 8 years old, it’s not as if a career in estate agency or market gardening would remove that. I’d fear the cauliflower blight then blame myself. 

Maybe I should take a little break, but hold on,I’ve got an idea for a new show, and there are a few towns I still haven’t been to, and you meet such interesting people on the late trains, and eavesdropping and staring out of windows is not often something that can be used professionally…and getting up at 6.30am is a very occasional interruption of not seeing the light until 8.49am.

It’s alright this.

I am on tour, sometimes making more sense, sometimes less. Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Southampton, Isle of Wight, Salford and many more. Details HERE

Next London Dirty Book Club is HERE

Next Northampton show HERE

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3 Responses to Filling Time in Sutton Coldfield

  1. 5affy says:

    Sounds busy – from the beginning, I was expecting a letter to yourself like Mr Fry did! I think some personalities can hack the same job in the same place and others can’t but the trend does seem to be tour hard and then have a break. Careful not to frazzle!

    Sarah/Saffy

  2. lanceleuven says:

    A very enjoyable read. I do enjoy these views from the other side of the curtain. It’s very insightful. Still, as Sarah/Saffy says, be careful not to overdo it!

  3. Au contraire – being an artist means keep at it or loose it. It’s frightening how easily you slip into oblivion no matter how famous you are in this impatient and fickle world. To take a break is to lose momentum and the come-back will be harder each time. One day it won’t happen at all – this is the cruel fact of being an artist of any discipline. There’s always someone waiting in the wings to fill the empty space you left behind.

    You are a true inspiration, Robin, your art and your philosophy of life which you share with us so generously are appreciated more than you will ever know.

    Still, I look forward to that book!

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