Return of the Cardigan – the impossibility of giving up

Written on delayed trains at midnight.

The retirement from stand up didn’t quite work out, but it is like an alcoholic going from 6 pints and 6 shorts to a glass of wine a night, maybe a large glass.

I did pretty well after June. I had a couple of gigs to honour, with the exception of that it was benefits. Everyone knew I was available for benefits, and it would be mean-spirited not to turn up and get to the crisps before Stewart Lee, especially if it helped a puppy or virulogist.
And there were a few corporates too, all pretty pleasant.

In a combination of the fortunate and unfortunate, I timed it well. Family illness struck, and sadly it didn’t turn out well. Even typing it now, the strange absurdity strikes. Those nights in the pub with Michael Legge and Dan Mersh that were suddenly curtailed by worrying news, and then how everything was bright again, and then the end.

Those sort of things extinguish any hankering to get back on stage.

I didn’t miss stand up as much as I feared I might.

I have been quite satisfied to sit and try and write a book, pop off and do the occasional corporate event, and record the Infinite Monkey Cage and spin offs with Prof Cox and our producer Sash.
I enjoyed recording those nine shows almost more than any other series. I didn’t arrive in the office with a rucksack on my back, having faced delays returning from an engagement in Falmouth or Stafford. I didn’t have to hastily repack my bag for Aberdeen and Preston. The next morning I would be up to take my son to school, it can seem like a steep hill, but it’s a lovely climb hand in hand as I am told incomprehensible story involving playing techniques of Angry Birds Epic.

After Christmas, I saw a tweet about Old Rope and thought how much I enjoyed performing there, but had finally stopped as I was continuously touring. Now I had no stand up to do anywhere, i could retire from stand up by trying out new stand up every Monday. It’s fun to have that damp neck of fear as you take a last look at your A4 pad before getting to the stage and think, “am I really going to serve this up”.
Now, I am back there every Monday.
There is no grand design in the stand up, no plan for it being used anywhere else.
And then I get an email from Chris Coltrane who runs the delightful Lolitics, a passionate room of diatribes that recalls those early alternative nights I witnessed as a teen.
Well, I’m free on that night, so why don’t I go along.
I hastily scrawl ideas on my pad. i won’t look at it once I am in the light, the scrawling is to try and inkily etch it in my brain. It comes together and I sit on the train home almost satisfied.

I realise now that I had overdone it. I’ll probably overdo it again. Too many solo shows in too little time. I was squeezing myself out of the fun (though I loved my last tour, and I am still not that ashamed of it now, over 8 months since it finished, which is unusual). Playing small, eccentric rooms, I am content to dick about, never lazily or nonchalantly I hope, but experimentally and oddly and noisily.

Stand Up Philosophy was a delight, a parlour above a pub really.

I have no intention to race back to the hubbub. I have enough to occupy me until August, and then I am off to carry Brian Cox’s coat and quiz him after the interval on his tour.

Should I tour alone again, I will attempt to do it lightly. There are still a few more walks up school hill to be done.

Obvious really, but I just needed to breathe.

I am off to XS Malarkey in Manchester HERE

and Sheffield on 23rd April HERE

plus Handmade Festival in Leicester, Life Centre in Newcastle and that’ll do for now

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2 Responses to Return of the Cardigan – the impossibility of giving up

  1. And you were as excellent as you’ve ever been (which is to say very excellent) in Hertford too, for which you have my undying thanks, not to mention my ongoing fandom, which I think you can pretty much take as read by now.

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