TED and Grace and Tow Trucks

I used the brief window of adrenaline opportunity that I had this afternoon, and now it is gone. But I am glad I got to use it. It is much easier to write about bad gigs, or gigs that you think you screwed up. It is an act of purging. You wish to vomit out the damage and confusion and a blog is handy for that. It can be a combination of a hairshirt and a tub of E45 to get rid of the rash you’ve only just made for yourself. It is the desire to share with an audience you fear are angry with their ticket purchase, that you too know it was not all it should be. You share their pain, though you may not share your ticket receipts with them.

I show you believe was a good gig is the reward, so to scrutinise and examine it is excess to requirements. They had a good time, and you did too. (though even after a good gig, by midnight you may still have started to create the image of a man from a Punch cartoon who was horrified by his experience to the point of his whiskers catching fire and his top hat imploding from the suction of skull rage).

I almost didn’t make the TEDx Salford. As Grace Petrie and I left Chapter Arts and approached her car, she said, “we haven’t had enough road trips on this tour yet, why not?” We soon found out.

“oh dear, I left my lights on”

Flat battery. A battery that sounded more like the angry pounding of a buried alive butcher with each attempt at ignition. We sat in the Chapter Bar, teetotal and cakey, while waiting for an AA affiliate to arrive.

One hour on, and the car was on the road. Grace’s eccentric satnav took us off in a few unwanted directions, but we eventually left Cardiff. We talked of love and death, and when we tired, we turned to one of her many Now! compilations from the 12 for £5 bins of service stations. Grace skipped Take That. The next song sounded odd, more like a car crying and dying.
It was her car crying and dying. As if the Satanic power of a spurned Gary Barlow had vengefully snuck under the bonnet.

“let’s get out’, Grace said, “I think it might explode”.

So we did. It didn’t.

We stood at the side of the M5 as truckers sped by.
Cold at 2am this time of year, isn’t it.

We sang neither songs of the old country or the Big Country to keep us warm. We were sub Blitz spirit jovial.

A tattooed man from another AA affiliate arrived.
“engine’s gone”

He towed us to a Beefeater near Worcester and the kindly night shift Premier Inn receptionist let us sit near the confectionary dispenser while we waited for AA affiliate number 3.

He told us about his Staffordshire Bull terriers while the process of dawn began near Hinckley.

At 7am, in a Leicester house. I slept.
Three hours is soon to be the average night’s sleep if this goes on.

I had already warned the TEDx Salford team that things had gone awry, and the combination of cold, sleeplessness and lack of preparation may see me returning home rather than joining the far more prestigious than me bill at the Lowry.

But I knew that was unlikely. Like a man seeking undeserved martyr status, I took the trains to Salford. I sat by the disabled loo, not out of choice initially, though I was soon comfortable enough that when seats were available, I remained in the vestibule, and made notes for what I might talk about over my 18 minutes TEDx talk.

Luckily, I wasn’t following the Noble peace prize winner, Tawwakol Karman, she was magnificent and received a deserved standing ovation. My plan is to always avoid following the Nobel prize winners, except maybe the ones that have won the Nobel Prize for Economics, I reckon I can handle that.

It was 40 minutes from arrival, hurried hot coffee, much spilt on my hand, scalding is a wonderful red-skinned slap into consciousness, to walking on stage.
A lovely crowd.
I never got around to asking what was meant to be the main question of my talk (or the one I lodged in my head 15 minutes before stage time0, “just how much do you deviate from the norms”, but I did end up finding myself in a Hitler pose and then turned this into a Germanic rallying cry against dogma, “we demand no dogma. Curiosity must be sparked. Than can be no switching off, Engage!” or words to that effect. 20 minutes since the Nobel Peace Prize winner and I was inciting the librarians to go to war.

Sadly, my schedule is such that I had to leave again for my next train, missing the joys of these gigs – the sitting and talking with 16 year olds who have come up with cures for pancreatic cancer (Jack Andraka) or plan to starstuff in jam jars (Jamie Edwards), or speeches on Cliteracy, complex systems, or the need of anonymity.

I am on another train. I hope, tonight, that I will sleep. But though the trip was short, I am still buzzing from TEDx, and I apologise to readers surprised by my positivity over personal performance. (if only that guy from the Liverpool Echo was there)

An anomaly, perhaps.

Now, I hope to sleep, as Brian and I are putting the band back together tomorrow and recording the first of the new Monkey Cages.

tour dates http://www.robinince.com – coming soon to Alnwick, Egham, Sutton Coldfield, Harrogate, Bath Spa, Bristol, GOOLE and BRIDGWATER (upper case as sluggish sales) and on and on (oh, and TEDx people, I will be doing Dancehouse soon)

and here is the silly podcast about music (volume 2) that I do with Michael Legge https://soundcloud.com/vitriolamusic

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4 Responses to TED and Grace and Tow Trucks

  1. Lisa says:

    The lack of sleep certainly wasn’t evident, fantastic performance! Thanks for making it through adversity!

  2. TEDxSalford was excellent and yours was definitely in the top 3 performances, my wife enjoyed it so such I think she might become an avid listener to the Monkey Cage as well, which is a great result! Amazed you had time to blog about it!

  3. bythewatersedge says:

    Presentation was great action research in (badly misquoted) Mehrabian study on public speaking. Was inspiring 7% and thanks for making it to Salford!

    Have added your blog onto my new feedly blog reader under category of “Energy” (as I’m putting together major new Festival of Energy) with the intention of changing the feedly category to “Energy and Science”. However, can’t see way of changing the category name so if you could do some blogging on energy, I’d be most appreciative! 😉

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