Comic Art Masterclasses and Scottish Falsetto Socks gigs, and not only writing and drawing for The Beano, but also a whole heap of travelling including the rare novelty of breaking down on the M25.
Yes, I've been driving a hire car for the best part of the last week, while my own car has sat in the garage in Bristol waiting for me to pick up. It's been ready since Saturday, but they're not open on Saturday afternoons, or Sundays, so it's had to wait until I was free on a weekday to pick it up.
The fun began when, after a weekend away working in Glasgow and Largs, I set off ungodlily early on Monday morning to drive to a two day engagement at a school in Croydon. By 7.30 I was texting to warn them that I'd be late, the start-of-the-week traffic on the M4 already having added 45 minutes to my eta. But that was nothing to the phone call I had to make at 8.15 as I stood behind the protective barrier on the M25 waiting for the AA.
(I was about to paste in a photo of my car waiting beside the M25 at this point but, frankly, it's a very boring picture. I've also got one of an AA man under the bonnet of my car doing a temporary fix-up job on the clutch rachet - don't ask me, they're just some words I wrote down - but again it's hardly worth framing).
So since then it's been blah blah drop keys off at garage after hours after sweating the journey home expecting the clutch to fail at any second... blah blah... taxi to airport, flight to Glasgow then three days including a school and four Socks gigs and back to pick up a hire car... blah blah... Croydon again for Saturday's gig, to Cambridge with Hev for 2 days at Histon school then back to do a party gig in Weston and home.
And the best thing about this hire car, a Peugeot 207 from Budget, is the revelation that DAB Digital Radio works in cars! I'd been under the impression that the digital switchover was going to be delayed indefinitely because no-one could make DAB work well in cars. I can confirm that, with this model at least, you can listen to Radio 4 Extra without interruption from Bristol to Croydon to Cambridge and back. I want one. Rather than have to listen to the variable-to-poor stuff that Radios 2 and 4 have at pre and post-gig travel times (some of it is excellent, but you will occasionally find yourself in The Organist Entertains zone or tuning to Moneybox) I have heard John Wyndhams The Kraken Wakes (play from the 90s) Saturday Night Fry (80s), The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy (70s), I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again (60s), The Goon Show (50s), an excellent selection of programmes chosen by Grace Dent on the subject of Growing Up A Girl, and Neil Innes curating a three hour selection on the life of Viv Stanshall, English As Tuppence. All in the car.
I am getting me a DAB radio for my car, and I am listening to Radio 4 Extra in my car till I'm sick of it. In the meantime, here's a photo of the Socks set at the party gig in Weston on Tuesday night. Yes, it was an unusual setting, with the birthday crowd rattling round in a largely empty nightclub, but I think we got away with it. The act before it was a woman who performed with an angle grinder and made sparks to loud music. You had to be there.