Day 21 – Wellingborough
After the sell out gig in Nottingham, things are more normal and quiet in Wellingborough. A nice enough place, though the rear corridor of the Hind Hotel smells strongly of faeces. A good show is had despite low numbers, and Charlie and I go for a post show pint in the Cromwell, the pub attached to the hotel – which closes at 8pm. What? It is half past 10. “We close at 8” says the woman behind the bar as she pulls our pint. Charlie pops outside to use his phone then dashes back in as two drunk men wobble down the road toward him.
We leave the next morning.
Day 22 – Cheltenham
Danny Pensive did his first ever closing gig here at Cheltenham race course, so I like Cheltenham, and we’re not disappointed. A full house for the show and a great one too. I quick wander into the town centre past loads of fanct clothes shops and a giant bronze rabbit sitting next to a bull. A nice fast internet conection at the venue and I managed to download the first episode of Spooks and Merlin of the BBCi player, how showbiz. There is no phone signal at all in the hotel.
Day 23 – Brecon
Day one of the ‘Welsh Trilogy’. Yes, we’ve been to Wales already twice, but this time we stay in the same gust house for three days and sattellite to the venues to gain a modicum of consistancy before the last two dates of the English leg of the tour. We head direct to the unpronounceable theatre in Brecon where it rains, and rains, and rains. Cool stuff – my cousin Seb and his missus turn up to watch the show and catch up which is a much needed respite, as the crowd really are a challenge tonight.
Day 24 – Newtown
Consistency in the Welsh Trilogy is provided by Joan and David at the Plas Canol gust house in Newtown, Powys, a 3 star establishment where all surfaces are liberally covered by Laura Ashley patterns. I don’t have anytime to enjoy it, getting up at 6 and driving up to Chester for some Comedysportz corporate work, see the missus for lunch and head back. The Theatre, or Theatr, Hafren looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere, like Newtown itself, but the posters of previous tours clearly show different, and there’s a good crowd in to see the show. Afterward a walk in the freezing cold to a pub where they are playing darts. It is very Welsh indeed, and pleasingly so.
So I come stage, not a great one but still full of buzz, and walk upstairs backstage to the ‘artists bar’ because I deserve it, surely, and walk straight into Lloyd Langford and Rhod Gilbert. They were surprised and confused, I hadn’t put two and two together and came out with “Are you on tonight?” to break the silence. Blah, blah, blah. awkwardness. I walked back downstairs. Blah, blah, blah, anecdote, new act competition back in 2002 in York with me and Matt Reed where Rhod closed. Go and see Rhod, he’s on tour at the moment as too, and doing quite well.
Day 15 – Colchester
We were allowed to leave Croydon eventually and went to Colchester which is full of students. The Mercury Theatre venue was octagonally nice, and in lue of the whole town being over occupied for accomodation we holed up in it for the better part of the day taking advantage of free tea, coffee and wifi. The wifi was free but controlled by a networking jedi master called Colin. If you are a child of the laptop generation, know that Colin does not just give out the WEP key, Colin has memorised it, and also requires you to configure your browser to access the local network using a password, so that any internet signal you access is regulated by the jedi master to block out all questionable content. Some may balk at Colin and his overly secure old school ways, but I know my data-pipe onions enough to know that Colin is hardcore, and to be respected, standing like a bronze collosus over the mouth of the web-harbour preventing the fragile and innocent minds of the surfers at the Mercury Theatre from seeing adverts for naughty casinos and f***book.
Good gig, not my best though.
With no accom left in Colchester, we made our way via Peterborough to…
Day 15 & 16 – Hexham
We had time to take in some history and did hadrians wall, which was visally gorgeous if you’re into that kind of thing, which I am. Big vistas, rolling hills and ancient countryside – full of old people, stones and sheep. Steffan Peddie runs a gig at the Queens Hall Arts centre, as did Warren Speed and Neil Magee before him, dating back to the middle ages. I’ve played the venue loads of time but not the main theatre until tonight. It was bloody great too, and I got to sign some autographs with the pen I bought back in newport. Nice.