I’ve just finished packing for my trip to Dublin tomorrow for the Dublin Fringe. I’m certain I have everything. Well except my toothbrush as I’ll need that in the morning and despite knowing I will definitely use it in the morning and therefore know I haven’t packed it, I still live in fear that somehow I’ll forget it. It’s a weird fear to have because I mean, what is the worst that can happen if I leave it? While attempting to buy another at the airport I suddenly find myself surrounded by the dental stock limitation team who insist that as I already own a toothbrush and with people in the world lacking the necessary bit of furry plastic to remove their plaque with, I will be denied the purchase of another? That somehow I’ll be forced to spend 4 and a half days in Ireland with no teeth cleaning equipment, mouth feeling constantly like I’ve willingly been licking bin juice then attaching carpet fluff to my teeth? No. Unless this one of the changes that will be rushed in by the government without parliamentary approval post Brexit, I think leaving your toothbrush really isn’t all that bad. Though most toothpaste companies are based in the US and GlaxoSmithKline might leave the UK, so I guess anything is possible. Sigh.
Otherwise I think I’ve got packing absolutely nailed. A couple of weeks ago when heading to Scandinavia I managed to squeeze everything I needed for the few days into my battered messenger bag (which I think is like a record bag but only for messages. Though now messages are mostly digital I’m surprised it’s not smaller). My travel toiletries are regularly left in the same see through plastic bag they’ve been in for years, things being replaced as and when. I am now that person, you know the one, who when in the security queue at check-in, huffs and sighs at the time it takes other people to de-bling and go through. I have shared several an eye-roll with the security staff as they’ve found a bottle of water in their bag despite the 4000 messages telling you not to on the way in. I still just cannot understand how someone can be impervious to those notices. They are in several languages, pictures and tannoy announcements and yet still, by the time they finally hand their bag in, they’ve somehow thought ‘I’m sure it’s fine to have a bottle of water in here but my barrel of beer and my truckload of perfume.’ No. You should not be allowed to travel. That’s it. You’re done. You now have to stay grounded until you can prove you’ve learned by taking a test that requires you to correctly identify whether a series of basic objects are solid, liquid or gas.
After 14 years of comedy, this is how I travel now. There was a point where I didn’t have a routine and a pre-packed transparent toiletries bag. There was a point where I was excited to journeying somewhere to perform and meet people and see things I’d not seen before. Yet I find myself now begrudging having to do it all. There’s the journey of the bus to the tube to the overly expensive train to the uncomfortable budget plane to the bus or transfer or cab to the hotel to the gig where I’ve had to amend material to fit the location I’m in. There’s the spending of money I wouldn’t spend if I was at home, there’s the lack of comfort because all I’ve brought is a stupid messenger bag (whatever that is) of things but if I hadn’t brought that I’d have had to lug around something larger. There’s the not actually seeing so many of the places I go because time limitations mean I see a room in a pub or a theatre or an arts centre or a festival and not, as I often would like, the sights or more often, the sea. I bloody love the sea. There’s the not being at home with my wife which is my favourite thing, and as parenthood is looming with both of us, that time feels ever more precious before it’s filled with a lack of sleep, constant poo cleaning and having to actually be responsible for someone else. Which is all very exciting you understand but it’s also yet another reminder that time is precious and all this travelling takes up so much of it.
But this is all before I go. I know that once I get to Dublin tomorrow I’ll be with acts I like, I’ll be excited about the shows and for tomorrow’s destination I’ll be really really excited about a proper Guinness. I’ll probably meet some interesting people and I’ll almost certainly have something happen to me or near me, or see something or go somewhere that will prompt thoughts for more writing and more material and a general wider view of the world. And I’ll feel very lucky that I have a job that allows me to do all these things in a way that often gives you a perspective on a place others might not get. The weekend will fly by and by the time I leave I’ll have felt like I was barely away. Unless of course I forget my toothbrush that is. Then every second I spend with the potential of un-scrubbed enamel will feel like a millennia as I ponder if it’s even possible to do shows with a closed mouth? Oh god. Think I’ll set a reminder on my phone.
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