It's 9 o'clock in the morning and I'm still durrling (there's only a Scots word for the sensation, it's not quite tingling, it's not quite shaking, it's buzzing in a bad way) after last night's travelling.
It was an Edinburgh Preview at the Corn Exchange in Bedford, the venue that gave us our best preview and our best review in the run up to the Fringe last year. The journey from my home near Bristol to Bedford take 2 hours 50 mins according to satnav. I've done it in less, in good traffic. Yesterday wasn't good traffic.
Yesterday was the first Friday of the school holidays for the majority of kids in the country. (Not, I realise, in Scotland where they broke up three weeks ago, or in posh school where they've had at least a week off, or in some criminally mental schools who will still be teaching next week. I think I'm working at one on Monday) So Sally Traffic on Radio 2 was full of news of blockages, stoppages, crashes and holdups. She mentioned three roads that caught my ear, the M25, the A34 and the M40. Best avoid those I thought.
Now you try navigating from Bristol to Bedford without using those three roads. Whichever road I ended up on, and yes I ended up on all three of the above despite my best endeavours, I found myself standing stock still.
Having set out at 3pm, with an ETA of 6pm, plenty of time to set up for my gig starting at 7.30, come 5.30 I was phoning from the ring road around Oxford to say I'd be late. Which is when I realised my phone batteries were about to die. I hadn't charged them up in a couple of days and they were on one blob as I set out. Knowing they were about to blink out for good I rang Hev to try and get the number of the venue, I rang the venue, it was only the box office, I could only leave voicemails. Then I asked Hev to send Facebook alerts to say I was running late, then the phone died.
When at 6.30 or so I got to a motorway services on the M40 I then had the greatest fun looking for a payphone. When did you last need a payphone? I don't think I've used one in nearly a decade. Suffice it to say they're thinner on the ground than they once were. Indeed there are signs for them in the services which then turn out to have no phones underneath them (in this place they'd been replaced by internet terminals). There was one payphone, in the foyer of the motel next door.
Blah blah blah, having set out at 3pm on a journey that should have lasted less than three hours, I finally got into Bedford at 8.30. 5 and a half hours, and my audience had been waiting for the Socks to start since 7.30.
And they waited. God bless em the audience was so big and so faithful they actually all hung around in the bar until I turned up, set up at lightning speed, and started performing at about 8.45
The show was a blur, props all over the place, the wrong CD in the CD player, no time to even breathe before we started. But I think it went well. They liked it, they laughed, I've made notes, parts of the new show are excellent, a couple need tweaking, and the brand new James Bond routine (rewritten since I did the first draft as a YouTube video) worked, it stays. And the Excorcist line, new killer. This is the boring chaff that fills the heads of comedians. I drove away with mental notes like "first good laugh Ooweeooweeoo, first belly laugh Michael Jackson, need to move the Australian" blah blah.
Then the drive home. Surely hitting the road at 10.30 I'd miss the rush hour? So it was that at 20 to midnight I found myself Twittering from my recharged phone, from a standing still traffic jam on the M25. Oy vey (there's not a Scots word for that, only Yiddish). I got home nearly 2.30. Nine hours driving, one hour's performing, not a moment to rest or collect my thoughts. Durrling, I am. Durrling.
Thanks again to the good people of Bedford for being a fabulous and patient audience, I hope they'll have me back (though I may have to promise to set off 9 hours before the gig just in case), and to the people who passed on the Facebook message from Hev. I believe Pat Monahan's sister contacted him and he spoke to the promoter. Oh and thanks Pat, for letting me delay the start of his gig from 9pm to 10pm, an almost unforgivable comedy crime for which I hope he'll almost forgive me.