Saturday, November 06, 2010

Now is the winter of my 2-man tent

So anyway, I was reading the Guardian "Film & Music" section.
There was an article on Eli Wallach, best known for playing the part of "Tuco Martinez",
the "Ugly" in "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" spaghetti western.
Spaghetti westerns exert a strange power over me.
If I stumble across one on the telly while channel hopping, I will always watch it...even though I am likely to know the screenplay off by heart.
They are curious films, in that often some of the characters speak in English to other characters who are speaking Italian, but have been overdubbed in English.
Often the actors involved didn't understand any of the language that the other actors in their scene were speaking.
It must have just been a case of waiting for the other actor to stop speaking then get your line in.
I think this works in the films favour though, and gives the action that unique stylised stilted feel, which all we spaghetti western lovers know and love.
Anyway, Eli is 95 years young and still working in the film industry.
David Coleman would describe this as "quite remarkable!".
I was intrigued to read on and discover that he is also a prolific composer, writing some "50 operas, including mini-operas for children and full-scale works in the grandest tradition".
He also collaborated with Tim Rice on the musical "Blondel", which was a "resounding success'.
I was amazed at this secret hinterland of the scheming "Tuco" from "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly".
But then I discovered that in skipping from column to column in the article, I'd failed to notice that the Eli Wallach article had ended and the column I was currently reading was a memorial article to the late classical composer Stephen Oliver.
It just goes to show that folding a newspaper in a certain way can cause hilarious misunderstandings.
This was definitely the closest my life resembled an episode of a traditional sitcom yesterday.
Last evening I answered a knock at my door to find a slightly dodgy looking young man wearing a rucksack.
He was displaying something in his right hand which was obviously purporting to be some sort of official id.
The first thing I noticed was that it didn't have a photo on it, which is quite unusual for an id card.
On closer inspection it was just a piece of cardboard with writing on it.
I couldn't make out exactly what it said.
I inquired what he was wanting, and he replied "I'm selling things".
I then said that I was on the phone to someone in America (I wasn't, and I truly have no idea why I said that rather than just say that I wasn't interested in buying any "things")
He didn't say what the things were, but asked if he could come back later and I just said "no".
This was definitely the closest my life resembled and episode of "The League of Gentlemen" yesterday.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Why isn't October the 8th month of the year?

I'd parked my car in the Marchmont area of Edinburgh, and approached a ticket machine to buy a parking ticket.
On the machine I noticed that there were 3 parking tickets stuck on to it.
These tickets were yet to expire and had been attached to the machine by kindly motorists, who hoped that they would possibly
be re-used by people about to buy a ticket.
I found this sight strangely moving.
It was a nice bit of philanthropy in the midst of the usual I'm-all-right-jack urban mentality.
Something of a polite insurrection against the ridiculous parking charges now in force.
We were sticking it to the man.
I would have taken a picture of it, but I'd deliberately left my phone at home as an exercise in non-connectivity, to combat my
OCD internet excesses.
Anyway, I quite liked the way it was in the old days when people announced their phone number when they answered the phone.
Not only do I still do this, but when people knock on my door, I open it and then announce my address.
It's called "doing it right", ok?
Also, why don't they show old episodes of "Tomorrow's World".
It's be fascinating to see some of the ridiculous predictions and new technologies that they featured.
I wouldn't be surprised if the BBC had scrubbed them all.
Of course, they never predicted the rise of the Internet though. The idiots.
I remember being taken to Art Galleries as a young child and always being more impressed by the ornate golden frames than the paintings themselves.
I was baffled watching a heist film in which robbers cut round the painting with a knife, stealing it but leaving the frame in situ.
I thought they were mental, but apparently it was me who was in fact mental. So there you go.
Why has K2 got such a boring name for a mountain?
Has anyone ever had a pencil and kept using it until it was just a little pointed cone?
I was down in London traveling on a bus with the atheist slogan on the side, ie "There probably isn't a God, so just enjoy your life!".
I was quite comfortable traveling on such a bus, but would feel a greater sense of unease if the same slogan was written down the side of a plane I was traveling on.
I know it's irrational.
If you're worried about the threat of Iran developing a nuclear bomb, then I find it helps relax if you think of the Iranian Prime Minister as Mr Claypole from "Rent-A-Ghost".
I have gone 5 weeks without smoking, so my latest stopping smoking venture is going well.
As a reward for this achievement, I've treated myself to a reverse lipo-suction operation, and have had 2 kilos of goose fat pumped into my midriff (on the NHS, of course).
It's a good look.
My other idea is a show, with alternate endings to famous films.
eg Steve McQueen jumps over the wire in his motor bike and escapes in "The Great Escape" ;
President Charles De Gaulle gets his head blown off in "The Day of the Jackal" (ok, or maybe just gets his hat shot least that would be funnier)
"Thelma and Louise" fly away like "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" but then get shot down by Tom Cruise in his fighter jet;
The Nazis capture all the Von Trapps at the end of "The Sound of Music";
James Stewart rushes in to the house at the end and catches his wife in bed with Mr Potter on Xmas Day in "It's A Wonderful Life"
"Billy Liar" ; Tom Courtenay GETS ON THE TRAIN and goes off with Julie Christie...why wouldn't you, you idiot!
etc etc
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" they open the Ark and a big jack-in-the-box thing springs out which looks like Hitler.
Right, that's enough, I'm going to lie down now and hum to myself for a few hours.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good Afternoon.

I haven't written anything in this blog for ages.
However, as I'm languishing indoors with some kind of flu bug, I might as well take the opportunity to regale you with some fresh shite.
The Fringe came and went ; the usual cocktail of highs and lows, the usual emotion-themed rollercoaster.
In summary, I felt we put a pretty good show on.
It had all looked a bit worrying after Traverse-gate. (our first proper preview)
But anyway it's hats off to the Edinburgh Evening News for giving us not one, but two, bad reviews.
The first was one was our first preview at a free gig in a pub. They failed to mention that it was a preview, slagged us off and put a big 1/4 page photo of us alongside the review.
Tragically, neither of the reviews made it onto the internet.
Other than that we had a fairly typical mix of good and bad press coverage.
As of last year, it was a great honour and pleasure to again be part of The Stand's Fringe programme.
We had to work a bit harder for the audiences this year, compared to the 2009 sellout-fest.

I've just finished doing a little Scottish tour organised by the Gilded Balloon supporting Hattie Hayridge.
I was very flattered to be asked to do it, and I was obviously very keen not to make an arse of things.
I'm really happy with the way all the gigs went, and Hattie and Viv were a delight to work with.
All the gigs were on huge expansive stages which were totally crying out for some expressive, dance-based stand-up.
Maybe next time.

For some unknown reason, the film "The Naked Prey" came into my mind.
I remember watching it on television as a kid and being quite shocked.
The story concerns a group of British people on safari in Africa, going around shooting elephants for their ivory.
Some tribesmen appear and hint that they'd like some gifts as a payment for using their land to pursue elephant atrocities.
The safari leader tells them to piss off.
This turns out to be a bad move, as the tribesmen return and take out their vengeance on the hunting party.

It's the inventiveness of the executions which stuck in my head as a kid.
For one bloke a crowd of women dress him up like a chicken, chase after him, then dozens of them stab him with little pointy sticks.
Another is covered in clay then roasted alive in a spit over a campfire...
Then another is tied to the ground and a snake is scared by flames and then bites him in the face...
The rest of the film is about the surviving safari member being given a sporting chance to run away and then be hunted down..
(he was in favour of giving the tribesman a present at the beginning, so they are more lenient with him)

To my surprise, the whole film is on youtube.
It's disappeared from tv showings, that's for sure.
I think I was 8 when I watched it on tv.

I'm now suffering from some delayed Fringe-Flu lurgae type thing.
It's an injustice.

I've got a few new bits of pieces of stand-up which I'm trying to batter into shape.
I was trying to find a way of using my experience at the waxworks museum in Amsterdam.
I was in a "politicians" section and saw Margaret Thatcher.
I was quite transfixed by the Thatcher model (not in a sexual way) and just stared at her for quite a while.
As I moved away, I became aware of a gasp behind me.
And (I swear to god this is true), behind me was a Dutch man who thought I was a waxwork dummy, and was startled when
I suddenly moved.
(he established this through acting out a dummy coming to life)
Unfortunately, he didn't speak English (I Holland??? bizarre!), so I wasn't able to discover who he thought I was.
Denis Thatcher?
Another European political leader? Charles De Gaulle?
Anyway, I started telling this story at a gig recently, and people seemed to be liking it, but it didn't really go anywhere.
Like a broken down bus.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fringe Magnet

It's fair to say that after the first couple of "The Silence of the Trams 2" previews, I was seriously considering renting a Cessna 206 six-seater light aircraft, inviting the rest of the cast to join me, then flying it into the Scottish Parliament building.
It just seemed appropriate.
Of course I would do it at night when there was no-one working in the building.
I wouldn't want to be accused of having a selfish disregard for other peoples' lives.
It's just the symbolism I was interested in.
Anyway, after the wreckage of the Illicit Still and Traverse previews we had a cracking one in Burntisland, and another
at Stand 1 last Monday to an unexpectedly big crowd.
All of a sudden we were cock hoop!
It's such a fickle business.
Apart from last Saturday where we had a very low-energy, cold audience that you get every now and then at a Fringe comedy show, it's been ticking along nicely.
Yesterday a man who had apparently been drinking came down and sat beside me, hesitated, then asked if I knew of a nearby
I immediately worried that this was some kind of obtuse threat to my well-being.
But he seemed quite non-threatening, so I explained that I thought there was one in the Cowgate.
I didn't ask him why he was looking for a mortuary, or even make a joke saying the one at Cowgate is in the "dead centre" of Edinburgh.
He went way quite happy with my information.
Shortly afterwards, I was approached by incredibly grumpy-looking, elderly American tourists.
"Can you tell me where the tourist office is?" said the man, with a cheeriness reminiscent of the way Clint Eastwood asked his soon to be victims if they're "feeling lucky, punk?"
I started giving them directions which were quite complicated, given their current position.
I realised half-way through my speech that he'd mentally switched off.
He waited for a pause then said "Thank you" and headed off.
Surely he needed to run through what I'd just told him, to make sure he'd got it.
I felt like I'd been buzzered off on a kind of "Giving Directions X Factor" show.
I think the hotel that they book into are going to have a tricky time keeping these 2 happy.
As usual I am rapidly losing weight during the Fringe ; as usual I will put it back on after the Fringe as I become
Mr Creosote for a few days.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Hello again

There's been a bit of a layoff on the blog writing.
This is mainly due to working on computers during the day and consequently feeling uninspired to start typing on a different computer, at the end of the day, as Alan Hansen might say.
It seems all wrong on a number of different levels.
Anyway, I am feeling quite smug because I haven't smoked for 6 days.
No matter how fucking ridiculous and unwarranted the smugness is, I still am.
It's totally pathetic...
How many times have I been down this road?
I have by now now fully paved the road to hell with my good intentions, and am just concentrating on routine maintenance work these days.
I have no credibility in this area, and you are completely within your rights to sneer and guffaw in my general direction.
I deserve it.
This latest health stint is on the back of being a bit ill for the last week.
Emerging from a good prolonged bout of illness always represents an ideal opportunity to embark on a half-hearted new health regime.
I did 4 nights at The Stand last week, each night feeling awful, and genuinely concerned that I might faint on stage with the heat.
I had a really good run of shows though. There's obviously something intrinsically funny about appearing ill and slightly out of sorts.
Re the coffin nails, I was doing quite well, Oct 2009 - March 2010, not a single gasper.
The stress involved in doing a show at The Stand in Edinburgh then driving through to Glasgow to do a solo show at the Comedy Festival ended in a reckless couple of sneaky fags, and I've been back as an occasional puffer ever since.
I will obviously just have to avoid any unnecessary stress for the rest of my life.
I have also been giving thought to quitting booze as well.
I got rather drunk last week and crashed my bike on the way home.
I was ok but my bike was seriously injured.
The handlebars are now at a 45 degree angle to the front wheel.
Unless I manage to adjust them I will be unable to ever get anywhere on my bike and will just have to content myself with cycling in a small circle.
I could say that I'm hilariously satirising my life?
At least it'll still be good exercise.
I was really mad with myself the next day. I should have moved on from participating in this sort of fucked up behaviour.
Maybe I should just give up cycling.
The World Cup group stage was turgid crap, but the knockout matches have been excellent.
I think in future I'll just start watching it when it gets to the last 16, and avoid the preamble.
I felt sorry for Ghana last night.
The handball thing left a bad taste in the mouth.
The problem is that there is no real disincentive for the man on the line at that stage of the game to not punch the ball away.
He gets sent off, but the match is over anyway, so being reduced to 10 men is a meaningless sanction.
He gives away a penalty, but that's better than a goal and certain elimination.
I can't think of any other sport where you could deliberately cheat like that and ultimately secure victory for your team.
It's true that most players would probably have done the same thing ; although not if it had happened early on in the game, rather than the last minute of extra time.
Did anyone honestly think that Ghana were going to stand a chance in the penalty kicks?
Psychologically they were shot to pieces because they knew they'd missed a golden opportunity.
FIFA know that seeing someone who's just cheated and been sent off, being carried off shoulder high in triumph by his team mates, is a PR disaster for football, and they'll feel that a rule tweak may be required.
Mark Lawrenson continues to drive me insane with his whiney drivel, closely followed by Mick McCarthy and Chris Coleman, while Alan Hansen has really perfected his "clubhouse bore" persona.
Do they have jobs for life at the BBC?
Mind you, if you ever want to cheer yourself up, search on Twitter for "Mark Lawrenson" and "Alan Hansen" during a match broadcast, and be comforted in the knowledge that you are far from alone in considering them annoying bellends.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Eventful weekend

On Friday I set off up North for a weekend walking/camping up in the Highlands.
We were heading to Kinlochewe where the plan was to walk up to the banks of Lochan Fada to camp on Friday and Saturday ; do a couple of mountains on the Saturday, then do Ben Slioch on the Sunday and then head back down.
We decided to take wood up there as there isn't any around at Fada.
The walk up was pretty long (about 10k), and was tougher than I anticipated ; mainly due to my ridiculously heavy rucksack.
I had 8 logs of wood, 3 litres of wine, a tent and various other bits and pieces.
I found the carrying of this weight brutally hard work.
At the best of times I'm more of a "mountain snail" than a "mountain goat", so progress was slow and I found myself in my traditional backmarker role.
I had a map and stuff, and knew that we were camping at the side of the loch, and assumed that when I arrived at the loch it would become obvious where the camp was.
Of course you should never make assumptions of anything in this environment.
My overriding concern was just getting this ridiculous rucksack up the path, and nothing else was really occupying my thoughts.
There were quite exposed parts of the path along the way and a careful crossing of a steam in spate.
These moments would not normally be any cause for concern, but the destabilising effect of carrying a large pack on your back is something you have to be acutely aware of.
A slip at the stream crossing would lead to a virtually certain death as you plunged down the waterfall into the steep gully.
Eventually I reached the loch but became a bit confused as the path seemed to diverge.
At first I took the right turn (this was the correct way), and followed it down towards the loch.
I couldn't see the tents anywhere, so convinced myself that I should walk back up the path and carry on the left fork which headed up the side of the loch.
For about an hour and I half I walked up this path.
There was a series of dips and plateaux, and I kept convincing myself that when I reached the next plateau I'd be able to spot the camp.
I didn't.
I was as knackered as I can ever remember and it was starting to get dark.
No mobile coverage. Shit.
I blew long and hard on my whistle and waited for any response. Nothing.
I then had to take the awful decision that I'd have to take shelter and put up the tent while I still could see what I was doing.
It was a highly stressful time as I fully realised the anxiety that my non-appearance would cause, but there was now no alternative.
The forecast was pretty grim and I'd definitely have perished with exposure without the tent.
It wasn't a good place to camp.
I effectively put the tent up in a bog and was slightly submerged when I clambered into it.
A fog came down and it started pissing with rain.
I worried that the high winds forecast might blow the tent away as pegs in bog ain't that secure.
I didn't sleep..I was cold, wet and knackered but the stress of the situation kept me wired all night.
It's a very lonely and desolate place to hang out.
I just waited for light so I could get moving .
I started off at about 5.30 and began to head back down the side of the loch again.
At about 7.00 I clambered up a slope then saw me old mate Mitch pop up on the horizon.
"Jim?' "Jim Park?" he shouted.
"Yes" I shouted back.
It was very emotional when we met up.
He pretty much thought I was dead and must have fallen off the path.
Like laughter, tears are very infectious...and we both had a greet and a hug.
Then he told me that the mountain rescue were out looking for me.
I was absolutely mortified when he told me this...I hadn't anticipated this at all.
Then the mountain rescue man appeared.
Then over the mountains appeared a huge rescue helicopter.
He seemed slightly bemused when he noticed I was carrying 8 logs on my rucksack.
Must have thought I was a mentalist.
Then a flare was set off to guide the chopper in to land.
It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.
Although I was fine, I was told I had to get on the helicopter and get flown back down to Kinlochewe to report in and see if the police wanted to interview me etc.
2 of our group had headed back down the path in the middle of the night to get to Kinlochewe to dial 999.
I felt terrible about this, because by making this journey, they'd put themselves in a far more dangerous situation than I was in.
The helicopter ride was very exhiliarating ; although there was a sombre reminder of different outcomes when I looked at the stretcher beside my seat.
The rescue team were great though, and assured me that in the circumstances, the right decision had been made to call them out.
I got talking to a bunch of Jehovah's Witnesses out on a day trip, and explained to them what had just been happening.
They didn't miss the opportunity of reminding me of the God stuff, and handed me some leaflets and a magazine to read.
What was weird was that I had never really been in danger, but as as result of all this going on, I was beginning to feel that I'd escaped a near-death situation.
I was all choked up...and there was John and Dave at the rescue centre...looking as relieved as I was embarrassed.
The knowledge that your friends thought you were dead is quite upsetting.
I booked into a hotel, but then decided to re-join the rest of the gang as they'd decided to move camp to lower down.
We had a great night by the camp fire with exotic home-made curries, wine and whisky, then went up Ben Slioch the next day.
It was an unexpectedly sunny, warm day with the most incredible views.
So all's well that ends well, I suppose.
I made a sizeable donation to the rescue team.

Friday, April 02, 2010


I bumped into Kenny, the manager of The Stand, last night.
He'd seem me doing my main road walk in Barnton as he passed on his motorbike, and thought that I looked "highly suspicious".
There's no real privacy in Edinburgh. It's a village.
I was thinking that if there was any serious crime committed on Wednesday, within the vicinity of my main road walk, then I could easily find myself to be a suspect.
The "Crimewatch" reconstruction would mention that "a man with a vacant expression wearing a blue waterproof jacket was seen walking alone in the area at approximately the same time as the offence was committed".
The police would be urging this oddball to come forward to "eliminate himself from police inquiries".
I'd be reluctant to do that though, as I'd have to reveal to the nation that I walk along main roads as a recreational activity.
The police would find that alibi so unlikely, that they might stitch me up, thinking that my defence would get thrown out by any jury as incredible ; and I don't mean that in a good way.
I've just got to hope that there wasn't a murder near the Barnton roundabout on Wednesday.
I woke up this morning with the most appalling hangover I've had in years.
I did the usual vows to never drink again, or at least for a while etc etc
But then it dawned on me that alcohol has not passed my lips for 3 days.
What I was experiencing was the after effects of spending 5 hours digging in my garden.
I was aching all over and could hardly get out of bed.
This is what happens when a normally sedentary worker dabbles in hard, manual labour.
I'd imagine that my net-curtain-twitching neighbours found the sight of me digging for 5 hours to be "highly suspicious".
What with the main road walking, and the uncharacteristic, prolonged digging in my back garden, a compelling case is being built up against me.
I finished up quits on the Wednesday night football action.
I won on Inter Milan beating CSKA Moscow, but lost on my bet of Arsenal beating Barcelona.
The Arsenal match was a perfect illustration of why you should always consolidate your winnings if you are in a favourable position on a football match.
Barcelona were leading 2-0.
The match up till that point was like Brazil vs Accrington Stanley reserves.
It's very rare to see a team so comprehensively outplayed as Arsenal were, at this stage of the Champions League.
You could have got 160/1 on Arsenal winning at this point.
The people who betted on Barcelona to win must have felt completely secure about their investment.
But of course, the unpredictable nature of football comes into effect and Arsenal score twice to draw.
They should have been 5 down at half-time ; a draw was a totally ridiculous result, given the balance of play.
Of course, a draw is a great result for bookies.
Relatively few people bet on a draw ; the inclination is to back a winner.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Walk

I went for a 12 mile walk today.
I walked out to Corstorphine, then across Drumbrae to Barnton, then back into Haymarket.
No idea...I was a bit cabin feverish after yesterdays glorious weather and felt I needed some fresh air.
Walking along main roads is quite an unusual activity.
I didn't meet anyone else doing it.
I was wondering if I could maybe write a guide on great main road walks in the UK?
It's not very picturesque, and you are forced to inhale the exhaust fumes of thousands of vehicles.
However, if you get bored, you have the opportunity to stop at a bus stop and jump on a bus.
This is not possible when you are hillwalking in the Highlands.
One thing I noticed in the course of my grand walk is that I have a long-standing predilection to stop and look in the windows of fish shops.
I'm not sure why I do this.
The wares on display tend to be pretty constant.
Haddock,Cod,Halibut,Smoked Haddock,Whiting,Sole,Mussels,Prawns and that's about it.
One thing that annoys me looking in fish shop windows is when the fishmonger(s) stare at me while I'm doing it.
It makes me feel uncomfortable, and I probably spend less time looking in the window than I would ideally like.
It's the expression on their faces that gets me.
I imagine that it's a similar expression to one that somebody would do if you walked into their garden and pressed your face against their living room window while they were watching television.
Surely you should welcome people looking at your fish?
They should smile and wave at me...that way I'm more likely to come in and buy a fish.
I've come to the conclusion that I was a fish in a previous life.
This is the only rational explanation as to why I am constantly drawn to look into fish shop windows.
I'm beginning to think that the Fishmongers recognise this and see me as some kind of threat to their livelihood.
Perhaps they fear that I want to steal all their goods so that I can give all my brother and sister fish a decent burial, rather
than allow their bodies to be disgracefully displayed to the public by the evil Fishmonger trade.

Anyway, month 2 of my football betting system got off to a poor start when I bet on Rangers to beat Dundee United last week, but discovered just before kick-off that Walter Smith had slected a virtual reserve team.
Dundee United Won.
I got back on track by backing Liverpool to beat Sunderland.
Last night I hit the jackpot.
I was already backing Bayern Munich to beat Manchester United.
Man U scored after a minute.
I deviated slightly from my system by putting more money on Bayern to win.
I just had a gut instinct that Man U had scored too early and that Bayern could come back and win. (at odds of 8/1 now)
There is a bit of a history of teams scoring first in big games then going on to lose the match...most recently Aston Villa in the league cup final against Man U...
It can slightly discombobulate a team to score so early, and they end up surrendering the momentum of the match.
In the end Bayern won 2-1, and I made £366.70 on the match.
My month 2 situation is now £273 in profit.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Goldfish Bowl

To be involved with either Old Firm club either as a player or a manager, your existence will constantly be referred to by the media
as like "living in a goldfish bowl", in terms of the scrutiny you come under.
Celtic need a new manager now.
I think it would be a good idea to actually appoint a goldfish.
This isn't as idiotic as it sounds.
There are advantages.
For instance, the goldfish would be unlikely to get into bother with the SFA as a consequence of openly criticising match officials.
In a post-match interview, if the goldfish was asked about a controversial penalty in the first half, he'd already have forgotten about it completely, and would have no view to make known.
(yes it will be a male goldfish...the SPL isn't quite ready for a female goldfish manager)
Also, the goldfish can say that he will "take one match at a time" without being regarded as spouting managerspeak cliches.
At press conferences, the media representatives should be forced to throw a ping pong ball into a goldfish bowl before they can ask the manager a question.
The goldfish could also win favour with the hacks by producing a series of quotable, dreadful, fish puns...
"Are you expecting a big crowd at Parkhead on Saturday?"
"Yes, we fully expect to fillet"
"What's your favourite pop group?"
"Fishbone Ash"
The press will love all that sort of stuff and give the goldfish an easy ride in the tabloids.

I gigged at "Hamish's Hoose" in Paisley last night.
It was hard work, and the heckles were coming thick and fast, but I enjoyed the combative nature of the performance.
I always know now when it is going to be quite a tough gig.
I come on and say that I "specialise in impro-VISATIONAL comedy"...I raise my clipboard and shout "thank you very much" before the audience get a chance to respond.
Most of the time this gets a big laugh, as it all comes across as being a bit mental.
I usually have a good gig if they find this bit funny.
Occasionally, it gets nothing, and from that moment I know that it is going to be hard work.
It went ok in the end but a tough gig nonetheless.
It's a great room for comedy though, and it's always a pleasure to do a gig that fellow comedian Chris Scoular promotes.
He's one of the genuine good guys in comedy, and a very funny man as well.
There was a big crowd at the gig, but it was noticeable how dead the rest of Paisley was on a Saturday night.
There were boarded up night clubs and bars that previously had been swarming with hundreds of revellers.
It had a real ghost town feel to it.
I got back at about 3.00am (losing an hour in the process)
The only place I could think to go was the kebab joint at Tollcross.
It's weird being in a place like that when you're stone cold sober and everyone else is pissed out of their skulls.
The way alcohol makes everyone shout at each other is a fascinating phenomenon to observe.
Was alcohol ever called the "shouting drug" in its early days?
I was going to order a healthy kebab, but I couldn't stand waiting in this shouty nightmare, so went for the instant option of a large doner.
I haven't had a doner kebab in years.
I have to admit I enjoyed it, but 2000 calories just before bedtime is not ideal preparation, in terms of conditioning, for
a triathlon.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Catching Up

The poor old blog has been sadly neglected of late. I can't apologise enough.
Anyway, in hindsight my cunning plan of doing a gig in Edinburgh an hour before I did my solo show in Glasgow was
completely mental.
The normal stand-up has been going really nicely, but I wasn't happy with the solo show.
I decided not to include any existing material in it, and just wrote an untested hour of monologue.
Again this was probably more than a little mental.
Because the show had a narrative thread to it, I thought it would work by keeping the script fairly loose.
But on the night I seemed to be using all my energies trying to remember what I was going to say next rather than
breathing life into the story.
I was stressed out bigtime anyway, and that didn't help.
I even decided to smoke a few cigarettes before the show, thereby ruining my glorious 5 months abstinence ;
(back off them again though...I'll probably have to accept there may be an odd lapse every few months)
It was certainly a learning experience, that's for sure.
I was away in the mountains at the weekend with a pal of mine who informed me that the car he was driving used to belong
to someone who was killed in a mountaineering accident this year.
I'm not really superstitious, but the tabloid sub-editor in me could see a good "story" if the two of us managed to fall off a cliff on this trip.
"The Curse of the Car".
I've relaunched the Betfair football betting as an alternative source of income (hopefully).
It's going pretty well at the moment ; I've made £772 profit in March so far.
It's critically important to stick to the rules though.
My policy is to never have a bet "just because I feel like having a bet".
I must only bet on a match where I perceive there is some "value" in the odds.
I must always resist the temptation to make another bet immediately after a losing bet.
I only bet on matches which are live on television and facilitate in-play betting.
The other rule is that if the team I am betting on scores the opening goal, I must immediately lay off on the other team to cover my initial stake.
This means that if my team doesn't win, I don't make any profit, but I don't lose any money.
If my team wins, I make a profit with a deduction on the amount I've laid off against them winning.
You get so many games where a team goes into the lead, dominates the whole game but then loses a late equaliser.
The in-play bet guards against this coupon bustin' possibility.
The last time I got involved with this Befair malarkey, I ended up even over the long term.
I should have been way ahead but made some ridiculous, foolhardy bets chasing after losses.
I'm hoping I can make a decent profit if I stick rigidly to my system.
It doesn't really feel like a particularly honourable job though.
Am I contributing to society in a meaningful way?
Probably not.
Oh well, I'll be attempting to spread the gift of laughter this evening ; it being the best medicine and all that...allegedly.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Really? Well I never...

The first thing I heard when I woke up this morning was some blustering buffoon on a radio phone-in show complaining about the government "squandering millions" on a variety of "white horses".
It's nice to have a good rueful sneer to start the day with.
So I was waiting at a bus stop on Monday and along came a bus. Who'd have thunk it?
Anyway, what made this event slightly more noteworthy was the fact the LED display denoting the number and destination of this particular bus wasn't working.
The bus pulled up at the stop, the doors opened, and the bus driver shouted out "Number 44!".
He did not sound at peace with the world at all.
Having to shout "Number 44" at the top of his voice at every single stop on the route was undoubtedly taking its toll on him.
To make matters worse, after he shouted "Number 44", the woman in front of me in the queue asked him "Is this a 44?".
I found it very amusing that a few of the people at the stop who got on the bus seemed very, very cagey about the whole business.
It was as if they were deeply uncomfortable about getting on a bus without a number and destination clearly visible.
I sensed they thought it might be some kind of trick.
They had the demeanor of a group of chickens boarding a vehicle who'd just noticed that the driver was a fox.
The tailspin in enthusiasm with which the driver shouted "Number 44" at each successive stop on my journey was keeping me entertained big time.
In fact I'd say it's pretty much the funniest bus journey I'd ever been on.
I used my telepathic skills to get people at the bus stops repeatedly ask the driver that it definitely was a "44".
At one point he shouted "Do you think I would just make this up?"
In hindsight, I would have been tempted to bribe the driver and get him to shout out a completely different number at the next stop.
"Number 31!".
At this point I would jump out of my seat screaming "Oh my god! It's a trap! It's a trap! We're all going to die!", and then pretend to faint.
I'd then try to get a hold of the closed circuit tv footage and create a viral phenomenon on youtube.
Oh well, next time.
After my disastrous gig of 2 weeks ago, I had probably as good a gig as I've ever had anywhere at The Stand on Sunday night.
The most important aspect of it for me was that it was the "main support" slot, but the energy level felt like a 5 minute middle-of-the-bill spot.
It was bizarre to have such contrasting gigs at the same venue in a short period of time.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Tree

I thought I'd better do another blog.
It's maybe not a good idea to leave a shit review on the first page, even if it was penned by my good self.
I'll have to do another one pretty promptly after this one too as I've now referenced the aforementioned "shit review" twice.
Many people have emailed me asking for an update on the tree situation.
Well, what's happened is that a large branch (itself the size of a medium tree) just fell off the big tree one day.
I'm a bit worried in case the whole tree falls down, and I happen to be working in my garden pruning fruit trees.
it could land right on top of me.
The ramifications of such a tragic event would be unthinkable in the world of Scottish Comedy.
Middle-aged, alcoholic women in West Lothian would likely commit mass suicides in a chilling echo of the Jim Jones sect's demise in Guyana.
Anyway, I'm on the case.
The tree must go.
AND it blocks out the late afternoon sun.
However, this is primarily a health and safety issue, and the fact that the tree blocks out the sun and fucks up my TV reception, is purely incidental.

Monday, February 01, 2010

First Gig of 2010

I hadn't gigged since before Xmas, so was a little edgier than usual before last night's gig.
Unfortunately, my debut gig of 2010 was a far from joyful occasion.
I thought it looked a pretty good crowd initially, but it soon became clear from the compere's opening exchanges that the
stage was ring-fenced by a large group of pissed-up, spray-tanned, over-made-up, gobby, middle-aged women from West Lothian.
Scott Agnew went down very well with them, but my gut feeling was that they were really not my demographic and that this might well be a bit of a struggle.
I started off ok, but it soon became clear that I was a little too "out there" (or "not funny" ; whatever is most applicable for "The Friends of Subo" collective's comedy sensibilities).
They spent the rest of my set talking amongst themselves and periodically heckling.
I didn't really handle it all that well, and not having gigged in almost 6 weeks certainly wasn't helping.
There was another strange man who kept shouting out weird random comments from the back.
I couldn't really see him properly because of the lights, but when I clocked him at the interval, my first thought was "is he going to a fancy dress party as a paedophile, or are these his own clothes?" (he had a big bushy beard as well).
That might have helped my cause if I could have seen him properly during my set.
The problem is that the nature of my set encourages people to shout things out (although 99% of the time they don't).
It was an impossible situation, and the ladies succeeded in making the show about them.
More able comedians would have ripped them apart though.
Anyway, it was 15 minutes of pain, and immediately became one of my top 3 "least enjoyable gigs of all-time".
I could criticise the crowd, and call it a large-scale "Cunts Convention", but the other comedians had decent gigs, so I have to take the blame for not being quick enough on my feet to reverse the catastrophic progress of my performance.
Oh well, at least the "Daily Record" weren't in to review it (I don't think so, anyway).
I am feeling a bit wounded, but am trying to channel my genocidal impulses towards the people of West Lothian by throwing myself into writing with a vengeance.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Testing Times

I had a gruesome session of root canal treatment yesterday.
It was just not enjoyable on any level ; very disappointing.
I had a very sore face at the end of it.
If the dentist had spent 40 minutes repeatedly punching me in the face, it wouldn't have been any less pleasant.
It's the slow-grinding drill which seems to make your whole head vibrate that I particularly dislike.
The day had started badly when I missed the attempted delivery of my new astro-turf trainers which I'd bought on the Internet.
I bought them on the Internet because the trainers i looked at in all the shops in Edinburgh were shitty, gimmicky and craptastic.
I didn't want trainers that lit up or were fluorescent silver with embarassing slogans written on them.
Anyway, I checked the card...the Citylink man had ticked the box that said "customer must collect at depot".
The depot was in Livingston.
I drove to Livingston the next day, only to discover that the driver had ticked the wrong box, and that he was going to attempt another delivery that day.
I wasn't best pleased at this revelation, and resorted to my usual default setting of extreme sarcasm towards the Citylink receptionist.
I asked for the driver's mobile so that I could arrange to meet him in Edinburgh.
Apparently, I couldn't get this without his express permission.
I sometimes wish I would go completely ballistic in a situation like this.
I'm sure it would be immensely satisfying.
It's just not in my nature though.
They were having trouble contacting the driver, but my sarcasm eventually paid off, and they miraculously managed to contact him, and he agreed to meet me in Grove Street.
He wasn't apologetic about his idiotic mistake when I met him.
"Bit of a drag driving out to Livingstone chief!" was all he said as he handed me the package.
I was playing football that afternoon.
The trainers were too small for me.
This didn't improve my mood.
I then realised that the Internet shop was in Kirkcaldy so I just decided to drive across and exchange them.
I then went to Sainsburys.
I was walking down the steps into my flat when my baguette slid out my bag.
I didn't notice I'd dropped it until I stepped along the length of it in my muddy boots and squished it.
I wasn't happy about this development, but it was an exceptional moment of physical comedy that Rowan Atkinson would have definitely incorporated into his next hilarious Mr Bean adventure, if he had witnessed it.
In a more positive development, I have completed my self-assessment tax return a full 10 days ahead of the deadline.
This is unprecedented.
And 3 months of no smoking has now been achieved.
It's time to get the cigars's finally over...possibly.
I didn't drink for 2 weeks just after the New Year.
Worryingly, I found this much more difficult that stopping smoking.
It's the continual active encouragement to drink that makes it's still socially acceptable to pickle your liver.
Going to the cinema these days and watching all the ads is like being subjected to a massive alcohol propaganda campaign.
I think it's just a matter of time before these ads go the same way as the old fags cinema ads.

"Never Knowingly Underwater" Glasgow Comedy Festival Friday 12th March, State Bar, Glasgow.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 (time and a half)

Happy New Year.
I liked the way Gordon Brown referred to the current Ice Age as a "cold snap" today.
Nobody in the meteorological camp is sticking their head above the parapet and predicting with any conviction when this is going to end.
It feels like the Festive season hasn't finished yet.
It always does drag on a bit towards the end, but this is ridiculous.
The Park clan was split up in various locations this Christmas, so I ended up in a merger with some friends and friends of friends.
It made a really refreshing change to do the Christmas thing with a mix of relatives and friends.
I was supposed to be spending New Year up North but bottled driving up with the weather and all that.
I'm now viewed as "unreliable" though, and I sense that my personal approval rating has disastrously slumped.
My brother gave me the biggest laugh of the Festive season.
A few of us were round at my sister's for a meal, and a fair amount of wine had been consumed.
I was in the kitchen, and noticed my brother opening a bottle of Italian champagne which was part of a bulk mail order my sister had organised.
I tipped Ann off about this.
Once Gavin had returned, Ann talked about how she'd invested a lot of cash in a highly prized bottle of Italian champagne.
She's been specifically advised to invest in this brand, and it would reportedly be worth a 5 figure sum if she held onto it for 10 years.
The look on Gavin's face was priceless.
It was reminiscent of a "Tom and Jerry" cartoon in which the colour theatrically drains from a character's face.
She had him hook, line and sinker for a couple of minutes.
2009 was a real up and down comedy year.
The highs were fantastic gigs at the Hackney Empire and the Comedy Store.
There were also some really good reviews and also a lot of awful reviews.
(the Daily Record one stands out as the worst)
It was a great honour to be invited to do a Fringe show at The Stand.
We were mega-successful at the box-office, but took a severe kicking critically.
In 2010, I'm doing a solo show at the upcoming Glasgow Comedy Festival to drag me kicking and screaming out of my comfort zone.
I think I might finally have quit cigarettes for good.
That's nearly 3 months now, and I didn't really have any inclination to smoke during the Festive season ; traditionally,
a burial ground of ex-smokers.
Now, I can start thinking about taking the weight off (part of the non-smoking strategy was to allow gluttony)