Violence on the way to the theatre

It’s an arse to talk about travelling all the time but things are always particularly hectic in October and that means lots of travelling. I normally end up cancelling an event and leaving some venue high and dry and some kind promoter hating me for ever and a day and a bit.. This  roll call of unreliability happened for years as the wheel turned and October came. Though always unintentional I don’t do any favours by not calling the venue until the day after the event.

I have always put it down to debilitating depression which occurs around the time theclocks go back in October. Today!   But having stopped drinking has helped.  Jeez how much time has ben wasted on hangovers. How many days in my life and in my youth havebeen  shed in the name of incapacition due to alcohol poisoning.  In England we drink a lot. I am not one to make judgement of others. But of myself I find this year that I am moreable and alert and basically at ease with it all. 

Spend all day travelling – yes travelling -  from Bradford to London. Travelling by rail on a Sunday is a pain in the ass. I’ve done so many hours train travel the past two days that I am feeling slightly nutty. Last night I thought I would fall asleep on stage.  It was a good gig though. The train pulls in to Euston at 1pm and I get some afternoon shut eye at the apartment until 5pm.

So after the picturesque Inverness here I am waiting at the bus stop in Hackney London for the number 38  to take me to The Victoria Place Theatre near Victoria Station for Linda Smiths Favourite Things a sold out event, compered by Jo Brand,  for the launch of Warren Smiths beautiful Book  Linda Smith The Memoir. 

I take a drag on my cigarette and see in the corner of my eye a boy walking  towards me. The look on him and his walk  is unhinged and violent. No other way of putting it. The way he walked the way his face was screwed up. Violent as if he had just walked out of a fight that he had won.. I flick my cigarette away and turn away as he walks behind me and the bus stop.  A bus draws in. It’s just getting dark.  I take a look behind me, just to check.  The boy, about five foot ten in grey sweat pants and hoody. Is stood behind the bus stop facing the glass which seperates us, facing me,  his head and legs obscured by the Route Map and he is holding is hand out as if holding a gun onto the glass where the poster ends. I do not look twice. Whether it was a real gun or a hand. I catch the bus wherever it is going. He was pointing it at me. You know sometimes when you shouldn't catch the eye of the beggar. I caught his eye and then flicked my cigarette away. Maybe it was an agressive action that I did.

Walking into The Victoria Palace theatre is a bit special. I walk past Mr Bill Wymanwho has passed his guitar onto a fan and who is talking a picture of her on his instrument. Jenni Murray, presenter of Womans Hour, is sat reading her script and for the life of me I don’t remember her name until I am on the bus home.  Carol Grimes the amazing singer  is sat down gently reading her script, a perfect twinkle in her professional eye. We sitand talk about her memoir being written with the encouragement of Desmond Tutu's Literary agent who is hers too.  What a woman. Not Tutu, Carol!   John Hegley is  resplendent and lovely with his band  sat on the floor going through the set list.  And there is John Shutleworth, a fantastic comedian. “fifteen years ago” he says to me with a sharp eye memory. It was fifteen years ago that he interviewed me on his radio one show with Rod Stewarts wife.

But jeez does he go over time on stage. And I am following him.   The stage manager points me to my mic and after an intro  by Jo Brand I am on stage. It’s just a short blastof a set. But the mic is behind the monitors that are set up for a band and it’s out of the light. IT'S OUT OF THE LIGHT.   In other words something is wrong. Very Wrong. It’s a sold out audience and I am on the stage at The Victoria Palace Theatre and I am outof my light stuck behind a monitor with a short set.  I am mortified as half way through the second poem the lights come up, finally. The audience is appreciative and kind and Ileave the stage grab my coat and go home. I got to be up at 6 tomorrow to go to rochdale.

The number 38 bus goes from outside the theatre to my doorstep. Doncha just love public transport in London. I remember the advertsising campaign I did in buses in Manchester and on the bus I over heard someone say “he doesn’t actually get the buses though does he”.    I am home for 9pm and a pizza. Mmmm yes. More travel food! The journalist did make beetroot soup. But damn   Got to be up at 6am tomorrow and on train to  Rochdalenear mancehster in the North of England for a reading. Fortunately I will be staying at The Malmaison. Tonight I dream of Hotel Rooms swirling around me in a Tornado 

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