On Monday, coming home from Broadchalke School in Wilts, I thought I could hear a knocking sound in my car. (My new car, bought just two months ago in April, remember). Better safe than sorry, so on Tuesday morning I took my car into Bristol to the garage to see if they could find anything, and drove off in a courtesy car.
Drove, in fact, all the way to North Yorkshire, so the Socks could play a 90 minute show at Burnsall Village Hall as part of the Grassington Festival. Thanks a million to Gilly & Shaun Hart who arranged the whole thing, having previously had us to perform at nearby Appletreewick a couple of years back. Both gigs ranking high as our most remote rural gigs, and last night's a sellout, with a cracking crowd and a record take on the merchandise (£74).
After a lovely stay in Gilly & Shaun's astonishing self-built house (a converted barn which they have, literally, done themselves. They bought a JCB and everything) it was a drive back in the courtesy car, by which time I'd learnt that the garage could find nothing wrong with my car and I had, slightly fraudulently, put nearly 500 miles on the clock.
From there, after a luxurious day in the studio mending props, printing out DVDs, and relabelling t-shirts (we've been getting through them at a healthy lick this tour), it was three nights in a row bringing the Socks tour to a close.
The Bridge House Theatre in Penge, which hadn't even figured on our tour flyer, was a surprise last-minute booking. So last minute in fact, that I'd thought it was to be a 20 minute slot on a comedy club bill, so was chuffed to find we were doing the whole 60 minute show on an Edinburgh Preview double bill with Dan Antopolski, and were closing. Another lovely crowd who, though they weren't expecting the Socks and who drew a 100% blank when asked if they'd seen us before, gave us a great reception. Why, it's almost like it's a very good show that works with any audience.
Friday was Hertford Comedy Festival, doing the show at 7.30 in the Hertford Theatre, and going down a storm. What a good audience. Stingy gets when it came to the merchandise table (a little over a tenner taken) but not everyone can be Burnsall Village Hall.
And Saturday saw the tour ending (save for two nights at Camden Fringe in August) in Ludlow where I gave them a sold out Comic Art Masterclass in the library in the afternoon, followed by a swelteringly hot ram-packed Socks Do Shakespeare in the Sitting Room at night. A perfect end to our best tour ever.
When I took my car into the garage on Monday it had just rolled over the 6000 mile mark. When I came home on Saturday night I'd added another 870 miles to that. Which, with the 478 miles in the courtesy car, is quite enough driving for one week.
Imagine if next week were anything like that. Well relax, it's all schools next week. In Berkhamsted, Cheltenham, Romsey, Fordingbridge near Southampton, Muswell Hill, and North Herts. Bugger.
An upside of all this driving is that I got to listen to a hell of a lot of radio, live & on iPlayer, and podcasts. Here are the highlights:
The Rolling Stones Story. An excellent documentary, from 1973, presented by Alexis Korner and originally broadcast on Radio 1. It featured an incredible range of interviews, from Mick, Keith and Andrew Oldham on down through engineers, producers, gig owners, you name it. Given that there was little over ten years worth of story to tell at the time, this documentary managed to fill 6 whole hours with detail. I found myself more interested in the Stones than I've ever been, and come away much more informed. Recommended for as long as it's on iPlayer.
On The Town with The League Of Gentlemen. The original radio series from 1999, of which I only heard maybe one episode at the time (remember a time when, if you missed a radio show, it stayed missed?). It's stood the test of time with some sketches much funnier, or rather more comedic and less dramatised, than their TV versions. Still laugh out loud funny, and interesting to hear the characters who would go on to be developed across the TV series.
TED Radio Hour - What Is Original? Looking at the notion of copying and originality, from Mark Ronson looking at sampling and emulating styles, through the reworking of folk songs by Dylan and his ilk, to Steve Jobs and Elon Musk and how they've built on the technological discoveries of their predecessors.
Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Collossal Podcast. He interviewed Rupert Holmes, whose album Widescreen I've loved for 40 years and who I thought, for a long time, only I'd heard of. It turns out that, apart from his brief time as a pop star, he's been a composer and author involved in everything from the early career of the Jackson 5 to best selling Broadway shows, and most things entertainment wise. Great to hear him talk, for the first time.
Also listened to John Finniemore Apparently (his pilot sketch show from 2008), John Finniemore's Double Acts, Dead Ringers, Paul Sinha's History Revision, Mark Steel's In Town, Wordaholics, Cabin Pressure, and the usual range of favourites from More Or Less and The Media Show to Just A Minute and Feedback. With this lot, a bit of Radcliffe & Maconie and the news, I'll have notched up around 28 hours of radio listening.
August 16 & 17 Camden Fringe