I Drove All Night

I feel knackered today after my 4 and a half hour drive home last night. No wonder lorry drivers are always such miserable bastards. There is something about monotonous driving for hours that completely wears you out. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Technically you are sitting down, and I don’t usually get tired from sitting down. Unless I’ve eaten vast amounts, then I can get tired doing anything. Except sleeping. Although I have on occasion slept so much that when I wake up I’m still tired. That always leaves me in a conundrum as to what to do, because I want more sleep but if I have more sleep then I’ll feel like I need more sleep. I believe that’s how Rip Van Winkle started out. And people in comas. A four and half hour drive is bloody long. Thing is, no matter how long it might seem, I’m always reminded of talking to Craig Campbell who once told me about his 24 hour drives to gigs in Canada where after all that driving he would get out, do the gig and then drive back. I think its pretty lucky I don’t live in Canada or I might die. If it wasn’t the driving then I think it’d only be a matter of time before I got killed by a bear, moose or even a raccoon.

I’m not designed to live in any kind of wilderness as I discovered yesterday afternoon. I say wilderness but actually Eaglescliffe is less wilderness and less everything really. After being kicked out of my hotel at 12 (where I did say ‘I’m out’ as I left and it was greeted with blank stares of confusion. I had to just skulk off as though I hadn’t said a thing), I decided to head straight to Eaglescliffe to scope out the area for later. With a name like Eaglescliffe I naively assumed it would be an exciting place. It has the sort of name that sounds as though it was the location for one of the big battles in Lord of the Rings. I couldn’t be further from the truth. It has nothing. There is one street and everything on that street was closed till 6pm on a Monday, including the only pub in the area. I’m not good with being bored so after causing some confusion amongst the locals by walking around a bit – they all stared at me wondering why this stranger had arrived in town on a Monday – I jumped back in the car and headed to Egglescliffe nearby. Egglescliffe has a name which makes it sound like there is nothing to do there and at least this time it lived up to its name. I was going a bit crazy. I had at least six and half hours to kill time and had absolutely nowhere to go of any interest. I started to panic and drove to Stockton on Tees, which after a five minute drive around I decided just looked grim and so I turned back. I’ll admit that I am a man of little patience. Like a small time doctor. Arf. That joke really doesn’t work as well in print. Hmmm.

Finally I stumbled across Preston Hall and Butterfly World. It was a beautiful sunny day and so I decided what better way to spend my time than wondering around the surrounding park. I ran through my Edinburgh show in my head and had a nice stroll, feeling all a bit tranquil. This lasted about 10 minutes before boredom kicked in again. I looked at Preston Hall Museum, noting that their main exhibit was about the origins of Mecca Bingo and I walked straight out again. I was tempted to go back in pretending I was a strict Muslim and wanted to complain about the use of the term Mecca and its association with gambling but after my earlier failure with my Banatyne gag I decided against it. I do always think that Mecca Bingo is inappropriately titled. To think that those horrible buildings with yellowing wallpaper and people sitting inside slowly dying symbolize everything that some people are looking forward too when they die just makes me sad. It would however, really spur me into trying to live as long as possible. Maybe that’s all the government health warning ads should show? ‘Looking forward to an eternity of this?’ would make a few people eat more veg than they usually would I reckon. Then from Preston Hall to Butterfly World where I learnt very quickly that I find butterflies a bit scary. In this horribly humid greenhouse, there were bloody thousands of them and they were all big and flappy. Some people say butterflies are very pretty, but actually only the wings are. The big body bit in the middle is just as nasty as other insects and you don’t want it flapping in your face. They are the insect world’s equivalent of when ugly people wear flashy clothes. I did not spend very long in there at all, and felt so annoyed at wasting £3.50 to look at bugs that I spent five minutes irritating the box office lady by telling her I’d seen a butterfly flapping around the park and think one had gone AWOL. I explained that she should probably call someone, but she also gave me a blank stare that bore into my soul and dignity. It appears the people of Durham have no tolerance for stupidity.

Pete Firman and his girlfriend saved my afternoon by meeting me for coffee in the local retail park, where we spoke of magic, eating guinea pigs and jokes and I had too much coffee so that I was all jumpy by the time I had to go on stage. The venue was a very kooky looking vegetarian restaurant and it was filled with a similarly kooky looking crowd. There were some lovely people there including another Twitterer – Linzy aka @angryfeet, who was kind enough to bring me some rock from Whitby. A dangerous present for a diabetic and I do now wonder if she was trying to kill me. The gig was run by Neil Jollie, a lovely man who had gone out of his way to make the latter part of my weekend much better than the earlier part by sorting out the hotel and gigs, and it followed suit of his Darlington gig that I went to watch, by appearing to be really nice. And it was really nice, if a little tough at times. There were some much older members of the crowd and certain references went completely over their toupee covered heads. There was also one man who sat stoney faced throughout the entire thing, which is never nice to see. I was later told he was a regular and always does that, but it is still the face that is etched into my head from last night’s show. I hate people like that. If you are perpetually miserable, while I respect your desire to try and cheer yourself up and seek out the one thing that might make you smile for once, please don’t ruin other comedy shows until that day. I understand that realistically this means you might never find what you need to smile about, but I honestly don’t care. Stay miserable fucker. Overall though I really enjoyed it and a couple of new bits that I’d written after my butterfly attack seemed to work which was good. I left Pete to woo them with his witchcraft and journeyed home. Let it be said there is nothing to make a four and half hour journey less rewarding than finding no parking spaces on your street or any of the adjoining ones due to people that park like dicks. I am seriously considering setting up some sort of prison for people that have to park diagonally against the curb. They will be the first inmates. Miserable fuckers at gigs will be the second. There will be a go karting area in the prison so miserable fuckers can get sad at how badly the parkers put the karts back in the kart park.

Its Fat Tuesday tonight. Its a bloody great line-up and there are tickets left. This makes little sense as it should have sold out due to the quality of Carl Donnelly and JJ Whitehead. If you haven’t bought a ticket yet you should. Unless you are a miserable fucker. Tickets are at:

http://www.wegottickets.com/event/49201

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