Hypnotism

Look into my eyes
I’m going to put you in a trance.
When I count to three
You’ll open your eyes and
you’ll be an audience at a poetry gig.
1,2,3.

Let me hypnotise this chap.
When I say the magic word, maybe
He’ll be the walrus
And I’ll be the narwhal
And he’ll nuzzle me,
Oh, how he’ll nuzzle me,
Nuzzle me you walrus freak,
You sexy feral walrus freak.
The magic word will be
Anne Widdecombe.

I tried to hypnotise my aunt
make her think she was a donkey.
didn’t work.
She just did her knitting.
I tried to hypnotise a donkey
Into thinking she was my aunt.
Amazingly it did some knitting
And looked just like my aunt.
then I realised I’d just
Hypnotised my aunt
Into thinking she was my aunt
Which is what she was.

I saw the man of my dreams
And I started my old routine
Pendulous pocket watch tick tock pocket watch
I know this might sound creepy
But you are feeling sleepy
On the count of three you’ll wake and see
That you should spend your life with me
And he replied
Do you want to go large
For an extra 65p?
I went home.

My friend Eric
Is really mesmeric.
And because he’s so mesmeric
He’s known as mesmeric Eric
He can walk into a fishmongers
And just the raising of an eyebrow
Can get him as much free hake
As he can shake a stick at.
He lives in Falmouth.

I asked my ex if I could
Hypnotise him.
I said it will be over before you know it.
He said, usual then.
I said, you won’t feel a thing.
He said, usual then.
I said, it might put you to sleep.
He said, sounds about right.
I said, parts of it will be a bit sloppy.
He said, story of my life.
I said, afterwards you might feel a bit humiliated.
He said.
We are talking about hypnotism, right?
I said, and then we might just kind of drift apart
And the next time I see you you’ll be with a much
Younger thinner more handsome hypnotist
Called Kevin
Who means everything to you
And you’re all over each other
And I wonder if secretly it’s because you’re trying to
Prove to me that I meant absolutely nothing
And then you introduce me to him and say,
This is Kevin, he’s an optometrist.
I don’t care what Star sign he is.

I told him a joke
About wheat
He said
It was corny.

When he used to work in a bank i once came in
And asked what do you with all my sultanas.
He suggested a currant account.

I asked him to think of a number
Between one and nine.
He said, Anne Widdecombe.

A poem about eyebrows

Nobody I know
Has more than two eyebrows,
Not even Jennifer.
And I’m quite content
With the two that I’ve got
Thanks for asking.

I looked at them through a microscope.
A thousand bristly hairs
On each side give or take,
Squint and your can really see
The follicles.

My friend Russell
Has really loud eyebrows
It’s why he’s called Russell
It’s because they rustle.

Mine look like punctuation
I don’t know what font
But it ain’t Times New Roman.
They’re like moustaches
That have migrated north.
Imagine them all over your manly torso,
Steven,
You’d look like a shaved Chewbacca.

My left one is called Daphne

But oh, I’m sure we’ve all done it.
Balanced a bottle nosed dolphin
On the top of my glasses
To hide my eyebrows from the casual observer
But my forehead kept getting moistened
By its blowhole.

I wake in the middle of the night
With eyebrow cramp.
Early morning mist clings to them
Whenever it’s damp.
I sprinkled them with glitter
But it looked a bit camp.
The security guard at the
Caterpillar sanctuary
Stopped me on the way out.
Just checking, he said,
Just checking.

Interesting fact.
If a sperm whale had eyebrows
They’d be big enough
To use as an ironing board.

The fortune cookie said,
‘A frown becomes a Glare
Without eyebrows there.’
Just because it rhymes
Doesn’t mean it’s true
Does it.

Geoff’s eyebrows are parabolic
They make me feel euphoric
With their eyebrow up down
Wriggle wriggle
Boom titty boom titty
Watch them jiggle jiggle
Naughty Geoff!
Naughty Geoff!
Your eyebrows are orgasmic!

An eyebrow fetishist
Wanted to lick them.
And the more startled I looked,
The more it turned him on.

I phoned him up
And rustled them on the speaker.
Apparently in the fetish community
This is called Just Browsing.

He came at me one night
And trimmed them with some scissors.
But I suppose that’s what happens with
Internet grooming.

Eyebrows, eyebrows, eyebrows.
Whenever I go on Google.

The elastic has gone in my boxer shorts

Something’s not right
It’s an odd complaint
There’s a certain looseness
Where there used to be restraint.
I get no joy
From my morning coffee cup.
The elastic has gone in my boxer shorts
And they won’t stay up.

The world has got such problems
With wars and such.
But there’s a certain sagginess
In my crotch.
I thought it would be fine
I guess I’m out of luck
The elastic has gone in my boxer shorts
And they won’t stay up.

Things just fall apart,
That’s entropy,
But now my only enemy
Is gravity
I rang the customer service desk,
They couldn’t give a toss,
The elastic has gone in my boxer shorts
And they won’t stay up.

Nothing lasts forever,
It makes my life hell
They used to be a large
Now they’re XXXXL
I hung them on the washing line
A squirell used them as a hammock
The elastic has gone in my boxer shorts
And they won’t stay up.

They twist and flop and tangle
Whenever they get the chance.
The man this morning is Tesco said,
Hey that’s a crazy dance
As I swivelled and gyrated
All around the town
The elastic has gone in my boxer shorts
And – oh no! – they’re down.

Robert Garnham Delivers a Ted (Style) Talk

Welcome to my Ted Talk
(My clicker isn’t working)
Welcome to my Ted Talk
(My clicker isn’t working)

How are we going to solve
Various big big things?
Three golden rules!
(Shame about my clicker)

Coming in to the coffee shop
I’m the bastard looking for
A power socket
Charging up my laptop
Charging up my laptop
Charging power to power my
Power point presentation
I have the power!

If I do this
(:::::::::::::;;;:;;)
You’ve just witnessed me doing it
And that’s an example of
POSITIVE THINKING!
Three golden rules!

1. Achieve the continuous
2. Apply it like a haberdasher
3. Can be split into twenty four subheadings

(This clicker is not working!)

If I put my hand in my pocket
And wander around
It makes me look more relaxed!!!

You’ve got to understand
That people
Always make
The wrong decisions.

Welcome to my Ted Talk!
Smug!
Life hacks!
(Fourteen different subheadings)

You can usually work out EXACTLY where
The bus will stop
And this will save you
TIME and ENERGY

There are eight different things I learned
SMUG BASTARD
When I lost my luggage while backpacking
(This clicker is just not working)

If I do this
(;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;)
It’s an example of sonic dissonance.

Madam, when did you last knowingly
Have spaghetti?

MY BOAT SANK!
And I didn’t even get slightly wet
My life is charged with a new purpose
I learned twelve new things!
Twelve new LIFE HACKS
LIFE HACKS
LIFE HACKS
LIFE SUCKS!

(This clicker is getting on my tits)

1. Technology
2. Murdering people is generally frowned on.
3. The power of positive thinking!
4. This clicker this clicker this clicker this clicker
5. I know six people called Ted and they all talk

Power point presentation validate it
Power point presentation validate jr
Let’s just validate if shall we?
This is an aha moment

Take on me!

You!
You fiend!
You bastard!

It’s a unifies mental model, Mrs McGough
It’s visual interaction.
It’s.
The.
Same.
As.
Every.
Damn.
Ted.
Talk.

This clicker
Definitely
Is not working.

Thank you.

I went on a tour of Rudyard Kipling’s flat

I went on a tour of Rudyard Kipling’s flat.
This is where we think he slept.
This is where we think he wrote.
It’s always good to commune with literary heroes.

I went on a tour of Rudyard Kipling’s flat.
This is where we think he read.
This is where we think he got dressed in the morning.
The years pile on with each tour of the sun.

I went on a tour of Rudyard Kipling’s flat.
This is where we think he did the washing up.
This is where we think he used to go to the loo.
There’s a gift shop at the exit.
We all grow old before our time.

I went on a tour of Rudyard Kipling’s flat.
This is where we think he wrote letters.
This is where we think he ate vegetables.
We’re pretty sure
That Rudyard Kipling used to live here.

I don’t even like Rudyard Kipling.

If butterflies could they’d kill us all

If butterflies could, they’d kill us all.
They might look pretty but deep down they’re quite cruel.
Their beautiful gossamer delicate wings
Hide a bitterness lurking down deep within
It’s just a good job that their brains are so small.
If butterflies could, they’d kill us all.

They prance and float and flutter and flitter
But deep down inside they’re incredibly bitter.
They move with such grace and their ever so pretty,
They’re terribly right wing, it is such a great pity
If you trust them for a second then you’re something of a fool
If butterflies could, they’d kill us all.

They like to lick dew from the petals of a flower
If you look at their face it’s a mean nasty flower
They look so serene yet they’re actually quite arsey
And one I saw yesterday was a self confessed Nazi
Just listen to me and heed my call,
If butterflies could, they’d kill us all.

Beauty ensconced in nature sublime
The average butterfly lives a life of crime
If they were human they’d all be doing time
I don’t trust them an inch and that’s why I’m
Wondering how they can demonstrate such gall
If butterflies could, they’d kill us all.

They symbolise peace but each ones a jerk
A fiend and a liar and a nasty piece of work
They float on the breeze and swoop and dance
Is squish Ken flag if I ever had the chance.
They live a life of Riley, they’re having a ball
If butterflies could, they’d kill us all.

You might think I’m petty, I assure you it’s true
The hideous things that a butterfly would do
If any had the power they’d say ‘Get out my way!’
It’s just a good job they live only for a day.
Our understanding of them needs a complete overhaul
If butterflies could, they’d kill us all.

My neighbour’s car sounds like a fart in a sewer

My neighbour’s car sounds like
A fart in a sewer.
Sure, it’s some souped up thing,
A hot hatch driven by a hot headed
Speed freak
But whenever it pulls up
It sounds like someone’s let one go.

He’s ever so proud with his shiny thrusting thing,
Washes it on Sundays wearing his
Backwards baseball cap
Slyly fondling it’s
Intricate spoilers and twin chrome exhausts
But the moment he starts it up
It sounds like someone’s guffed.

It’s a metallic hollow tube
It sounds like a follow through
He’s compensating for something
Cos the bonnet’s very long
He drapes a chamois over it
So that it sparkles in the sun.
Yet the moment he starts it up
I just want to laugh.

The other day he spent all afternoon
Adding yet another spoiler
Because you need as much aerodynamic force
As you can muster
In the cul de sac.
It’s got so many spoilers
Attached to its rear
When he revs the engine
It sounds like diarrhoea.

I don’t want to spoil his fun
And act like some kind of boobie
But he’s out there in broad daylight
Proudly polishing his Scooby
The look on his face is one of pure bliss
I imagine the pride that it brings
It’s almost obscene the love he gives
To that inanimate thing.

I suppose he’s never been outside of it
So he doesn’t really know
When he’s bombing along the bypass
With its turbo all aglow
Sure it’s nifty and nimble with
Every souped-up improvement
But at the end of he day it sounds just like
A painful bowel movement.

When the sun explodes (a joyful poetic romp about the end of the Earth)

When the sun explodes
And engulfs the earth,
Wouldn’t it be annoying
If you’d just put out the washing?

When the sun explodes
And goes supernova,
The tiles that you were grouting
In the bathroom now are meaningless.

When the sun explodes
On a Tuesday afternoon,
Some time in late February,
You wanted some winter sun.

When the solar winds pop
And blow away the atmosphere,
You’d have to laugh ironically,
That really is climate change.

When the sun exhausts its fuel
And begins to consume itself
You could knock me down with a feather
I just paid off the car.

When the sun explodes
Having just bought new curtains
‘The sun is in my eyes’, you’d complained.
Well, it is now.

Oh oh oh it’s a terrible thing.
Sudden annihilation on a Tuesday afternoon
Oh oh oh it’s a terrible thing.
Your dinner got burned and so did the whole of everything.

The molecules that makes us
Will eventually be vaporised
Some time in the next fifty million years.
Here’s a picture of a kitten.

The Ballad of a Lovesick Smurf

I feel blue most of the time
As blue as blue can be
The world is full of lonely men
But there must be a smurf for me

An acquamarine companion
Who’d run in the surf for me
Kissing like lovers on the beach
There must be a smurf for me

There are so many smurfs
They dance on the turf you see
It’s so bloody smurfing annoying
There must be a smurf for me

It’s my absolute conviction
A belief since birth you see
They’re blue and there are so many
There must be a smurf for me.

A dearth of smurfs is worse
Than a joke without mirth for me
I’ve wandered each corner of the earth
There must be a smurf for me.

Looking back at my first solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the Edinburgh Fringe and what a big part of my life the festival has become. This summer was due to have been my ninth visit, and my fifth with a solo show.

The current situation means that everything at the moment is up in the air, and several reports have mentioned the precarious position the Edinburgh Fringe might be in. I can’t now imagine a year without the fringe, and if it were to no longer be a part of our lives, then this would be a very big shame indeed.

Each year at the fringe, I keep a blog and this year I looked back to 2016, the year I took my show Static to Edinburgh. This was my first year with a show on my own, having been there in 2014 with Poetry Ping Pong, and 2015 doing guest slots at other shows and performing at the Burning Eye showcase with Monkey Poet.

What I didn’t mention in the blog, (maybe I was too embarrassed!), was that I left my passport on the plane flying up and it was lost. And I knew I was going to New York a few weeks later to perform, and at the back of my mind I was thinking, uh-oh, I won’t be able to do that now. So this was eating at me all the time during the fringe.

But there were good moments, too. Breakfast with a world famous performer who told me how to go snout the whole process properly. Killing it as a guest at a comedy night and then being recognised in the street by someone who’d seen me at that gig. It was a rollercoaster of emotions!

The other thing was that my show had moments of silence and prop work, performance art and movement, and my venue was the corner of a bar. So it was impossible to perform the show the way that I wanted it. By the end of the week, I really was thinking of giving up spoken word. I remember my last show was as a guest at Boomerang Club, and I genuinely went into that gig thinking, wow, this is my last ever performance!

Things turned out well in the end. Static at Edinburgh in 2016 was a turning point because it showed me that I had to work harder at performance poetry, and make it a career, and that I needed to be way more professional. The meeting with the famous fringe performer, which you’ll read about below, certainly changed my whole way of working and mindset towards the whole process. Indeed, maybe that was the turning point of my career. I still use his methods now, every single day!

So anyway, here we go. Time for a crazy adventure!

Day One

Well here I am then, on a train heading to the Edinburgh Fringe. Well, almost. First of all I’m going to Woking to spend the night in a room over a pub, and then tomorrow morning I will be flying up. It was either that, or fifteen hours on a coach. In fact it’s cheaper this way than getting the train. How ludicrous is that?

So how am I feeling about all this right now? There are several emotions. I’m nervous, naturally, that everything is going to go tits up. Nobody will show up for any of the gigs, and when they do, I fall into that age old trap of being crap. I’m excited, because this is the Edinburgh fringe and a lot of my friends will be there. I’m also grateful that I am able to spend an entire week immersed in art and culture.

I’m also nervous that the logistical arrangements I’ve made will fall apart. The accommodation, the travel, the train, the plane.

So here so am, then, on the train, and I’ve managed to get a high profile seat in first class. It was a whole three quid extra to get in here, and I feel privileged, because they don’t just let anyone in. That three quid means a lot.

And I’m the only one in here as the train leaves Exeter, which makes me feel kind of poncey. But then a lusciously blonde muscular lad sneaks in and plugs his mobile phone into the charger. A minute or two back he’s later to look at his phone. Then he slides in, commandeers the seat for himself. Good move!

And oh mamma, what a good looking chap he is. Amazingly he offerere me a Fruit Pastel, and then we get talking. Where are you going? Woking? Me too! Where do you live? Paignton? Know it well! What do you do? Spoken word artist? I’m a property developer. And we chat for ages, about books he’s read, his love of To Kill a Mockingbird, his skills as a weekend surfer, and then it starts to get embarrassing. Whenever I try to relax he asks something else, and all the time I’m looking at those luscious legs.

At Honiton he gets off and meets a man on the platform who gives him a suit in a bag. He gets back in and looks at the suit, the tie, spreading them out on the table. Very smart! We chat some more, and then the man comes to check the tickets.
You’re in the wrong section, he says. Please move back to the standard class.
I’ve still got two hours of this train ride to go, but I’m already thinking, ah, yes. The adventure has begun!

And will I still be thinking of this blond lad in seven days time?

Day Two

Heathrow

So here I am now at Heathrow Airport Terminal Five. I stayed last night in Woking, which is one of my favourite towns and a place where I’ve spent a lot of time. When I booked into the hotel I asked if it was okay to pay with a debit card. We accept anything, the receptionist said, apart from goats.

It seems kind of unreal at the moment that I shall be performing this afternoon in another country. Okay, that country is Scotland, but when you’re used to Torbay, anything north of Newton Abbot is dodgy ground. The coach driver from Woking to the airport was incredibly jolly and rather envious of my old suitcase, which forms part of the show. You don’t see many of those, he said.

I expect the baggage handling crew are saying that too, right at this moment.

Edinburgh

It was a weird day. I mean, they talk about the madness and the insecurity which hit some more than others. Has it already hit me?
The flight was fantastic. The stewardess who found me an empty overseat locker advised me to use it quickly as those who bring suitcases on board will nab it. She was one of the jolliest people I’ve met in a long while with an evident love of life and a loud booming laugh which echoed from the galley all round the plane.

The flight was 45 minutes. It took 30 to get my case at the baggage reclaim. I caught the bus to the city centre straight to my venue, arriving ten minutes before my show. The audience seemed to enjoy it, (both of them), but I treated it as a rehearsal and afterwards pondered on a raft of changes I might make for the rest of the run. I also need to be louder. Tomorrow will be an entirely different matter.

I walked the mile out to my student accommodation, then realised that I’d left my jacket at the venue!

It was great to see Dominic Berry and Chris White, and later on I bumped into Rose Condo, Dan Simpson and Rob Auton.
It’s going to be a mega week!

Day Three

I am deep into the Fringe, now. Yes, I know that sounds weird. But I’m into the rhythm of the Edinburgh Fringe and what it means to be here, which is to say, the usual routines of flyering, exit flyering, chatting to people, finding out when other people’s shows are, and that big contentious issue, the Bucket Speech.

What is the Bucket Speech? Well, this is the free fringe, so we don’t get paid to perform, but we don’t have to pay the venue either. Because of this, we are not allowed to charge visitors entry, but we are allowed to pass round a bucket at the end. Now I was having serious philosophical thoughts about this and I decided not to do a Bucket Speech, (the bit at the end of each show where you ask for donations), and instead make the whole thing free. Yes, really. Absolutely free.

I’m not yet sure if this is a good strategy. For me the joy is sharing the words and meeting people. There’s no way that I’d recover the costs of coming here. Now it must be said that I might change this philosophy, depending on how things go.
I have been flyering. But I haven’t really done that much. Yesterday I did lots of flyering in the Royal Mile, but then got bored, so I went to the museum and I had an excellent time.

I’ve met so many friends up here, people who I know from so many different parts of the country, like Rose Condo, who I met in Manchester, Dan from Bristol, and Sam Webber, who I know from Barnstaple. Today a friend is coming up from London. It’s like the annual meeting place of performance poetry.

The plan for today? More flyering, and I’ll be performing on the Royal Mile with some other poets. I haven’t even thought about open mic nights yet, or anything like that.
And the Fringe Flu? I haven’t caught it yet.

Day Four

My student accommodation is down the hill past the Scottish Parliament, turn left, then walk halfway to Glasgow. It’s a brand new building with one or two snags, the first snag being that it’s bloody hot even with the windows open, the second snag being that the sensor light in the bathroom stays on as well as the extractor fan for about an hour after use, the third snag being that it’s so far from the centre of Edinburgh. But that didn’t stop me being waken at seven this morning by what I thought was thunder, turned out it was a bloody cannon being fired. Is that normal, or are we at war? It sounded like they fired it right next to the building.

I’ve reached an odd point in the fringe, now. I don’t care if I don’t get anyone to come and see the show, now, because I’ve done it a few times and I’ve had an amazing time doing so. If nobody turns up, then I get an hour off! I mean, the way I look at it is that I’m offering to do a show at three o o’clock every day, and if no ones up for that then, OK, I’m all right with that.

I went to a few shows last night. Gary from Leeds, funny and as human as ever. Dominic Berry,enthusiastic and genuinely inspirational. I wore a tshirt advertising my show, and I thought, that’s a good move. The moment I stepped out the building someone yelled, in a. American accent, ‘Hey buddy, like the tshirt. Naaaahhht’. He’s probably a Trump supporter.

The agenda for today is a few more shows but first I’m off out in search of some modern art. Modern art is my passion and I want to see something inspirational.
Another early night tonight. I’m such a lightweight. The other night I went out with Dominic and Chris White, feeling like an old man. We didn’t even get to where we were going before I apologised and said that I really had to go home to bed, it was almost ten o’ clock. In fact, compared to all the other spoken word artists, I feel like a very old man. Even Gary from Leeds, baldies that he is, is ten years younger than me. I don’t drink, and I really can’t take these late nights. There’s an open mic at eleven pm every night by which time I’m usually in bed. Maybe that’s what’s keeping me sane?
I’m using the wifi in McDonalds to write this. I’m trying to see as much local culture as I can.

Outside my venue

Day Five

Well that’s another day done and dusted. I’m really into the rhythm now. The rhythm of expectations being cruelly dashed. Yesterday’s audience was a very minimal two. I asked them beforehand if they were there to see my show and they said, no. But do carry on. Don’t mind us, we’re just here for a drink and a chat. I did a couple of poems without any microphone and then took a couple of selfies. Can’t let an opportunity like this go to waste!

I made the mistake yesterday of going to the modern art gallery instead of flyering. I mean, I’m on holiday. There was an exhibition of Joseph Beuys, one of my favourite artists. I couldn’t spend a whole week here and not see it! The only trouble with Edinburgh’s modern art gallery is that it’s such a long walk from the centre of the city. So the whole trip took about two and a half hours.

Then an offer of a gig came through, representing Team Poetry at Stand Up And Slam, which is a poetry verses comedian slam. Everybody there was so young and whoopy, and the music was so incredibly loud, and the MC shouted and wailed and I couldn’t make head nor tail of it, but I went up and performed and the place went mad, I won my round and helped the poets win the whole contest. At the end we had to come out with slick jokes or short poems on a given theme and the theme was drinking, so I did the following haiku:

The man with no arms

Fighting in the local pub.

He was kicking off.

Which also brought the house down, and it was only afterwards, like, seven hours afterwards, that I thought about the Fringe joke competition and how it might have stood a chance in that. Had they not already done the competition at the beginning of the week.

So here I am, about to go out flyering and stuff. My legs are aching and it feels like I’ve lost two stone. It doesn’t look it, but it feels it.

Just a quick word about the show I saw last night, Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth. It was flipping fantastic! Storytelling and humour, camp wonderfulness and a celebration of the joy of living. Go and watch it!

My view while flyering

Day Six

Some of my performance colleagues here have been in Edinburgh for the whole three weeks and the fatigue is starting to show. There’s a certain numbness to them, as if they are kind of ever so dissociated from the world around them, a weariness, and most amusing of all, a slight loathing of anyone who’s just arrived. Last night I went to see AF Harrold at Hammer and Tomgue. AF is one of my favourite performers and a jolly decent chap too. He’d just arrived in Edinburgh and he was sharp, articulate, funny, alert. You could sense the love in the room.

I’ve only been here a week, of course, but a fatigue of sorts is finally starting to manifest itself. Having said that, I’ve finally got the art of flyering down to a tee. I spent the first few days oblivious to the fact that you have to make an impression and sell your show in about 2 and a half seconds. I’d spend the first two seconds of that time by saying hello. By which time they’d walked on. But now I just blurt out, ‘Free poetry show? Free poetry show? Free poetry show?’ And then act very relieved when someone takes a flier.

My legs ache like anything, I’ve been up and down that sodding hill so many times. I found a short cut the other day, it cuts a minute off the journey, and it was like the best thing that has ever happened. I’m starting to feel like a local. I see people making fundamental navigation errors and I’m thinking, Pffft, tourists! I’ve also built up this witty repartee with the man in the newsagents near my accommodation where each morning he pretends not to recognise me from the day before. Oh, how we laugh.
So there are two more Statics to go. But already I’m thinking of new projects, ambitious ideas gleaned from watching so many wonderful shows. I haven’t seen much poetry: the spoken word shows are storytelling in the main part, and very funny at that. However, I’ve found poetry in the best of places, such as Dandy Darkly’s fantastic Myth Mouth, which I really, really recommend. It’s perhaps been the most inspirational show I’ve seen while in Edinburgh, and the one that has really spoken to me.

It was misty and cool yesterday and I felt right at home. Today it is hot and sunny and I’m not looking forward to it.

I still haven’t seen any of my flat mates and the same packet of pasta has been in the fridge now for five days.

Day Seven

So the good thing about the fringe is that you see all kinds of different acts and the potential for being inspired is heightened. I’ve seen so much while here that I’ve got a very clear idea of where I need to be and how the show can be massively improved with just a few small tweaks. Yesterday I was very privileged to have breakfast and a long chat with one of my favourite performers, (who wishes to remain anonymous because of the trade secrets that he divulged thereat). We met at a coffee shop in the new town area and he took me through every aspect of putting on a show, from the logistical detail of publicity and accommodation, to the more fundamental aspects of rehearsal, writing, learning the damn thing. It was the most enlightening couple of hours I’ve spent in a long time, as he imparted information which an artist might ordinarily have to cough up a lot of money for. I bought him toast and coffee to say thank you. In fact, I was so inspired that I went away and did a little bit of writing right then and there.

Now, obviously I should have been flyering. And I did a lot of flyering yesterday, both in the Royal Mile and Cowgate. I flyered like you wouldn’t believe. And while I was flyering I was thinking, I shouldn’t be doing this. But it’s a necessary evil. Spoken word show? Hello madam, I’ve got a show today at three. Spoken word show? Spoken word show?

It’s a lonely business, flyering, even though you’re surrounded by people. You’re surrounded by all the other flyerers. And they’ve all got various degrees of annoyance, like the pushy ones, or the cheeky ones, or the ones who are just plain rude, and even those who insult anyone who doesn’t take a flyer. What’s that all about?

So I did all this flyering, and what do you think happened? No audience. I could only be philosophical about it, of course. I’m at the fringe, yes, but really I’m not that well known in the slightest. My show is on directly after Harry Baker, and he’s a world slam champion. And I’m also a slam winner. Well, second at the Swindon slam, anyway. Later on in the day I watched Gecko’s excellent show and he did a song about the painting that shares the room with the Mona Lisa and I thought, hmm, I know exactly how it feels!

But it’s all a great experience and a valuable learning opportunity. I’ve seen so much that has inspired me that I know exactly the manner and tone that I shall be adopting in my writing. And yes, I’m probably the oldest performer on the spoken word scene up here by quite some margin, but I feel all new and eager to get on with it.

My venue

Day Eight

So that’s it, then. I’ve done the fringe at Edinburgh with my first solo show. And I managed to combine it with a holiday, my first for a year or so. I think it was only in the last day when I thought, OK, better work at this. And wowzers, I spent four hours flyering. I flyerered in the Royal Mile. I flyerered in Cowgate. I went to other people’s shows and flyerered on the way out. I flyerered by mistake when I went in a shop to get some water and left my flyers on the counter. I flyerered like a machine which has been built just to flyer. And if all paid off, seven people came to the last show and they gave me money even when I did my ‘don’t worry, there won’t be a bucket speech’ speech.

Last night I had a feature slot at Boomerang Club. I’d been feeling a bit weird all day before that, what with all the flyering, and I even thought, hmmm, what if this is my last ever performance? I mean, last ever. What if I called it a day after this, after the Boomerang Club? It was only a fleeting thought, and it kind of mixed up with the knowledge that I would be going home, to make me feel unusually emotional. Plus if you’ve read my blog you’ll know that I’ve been having vision problems, which makes life difficult at times and has affected my ability to perform and read at the same time. So I did a set of all my favourite poems and finished off with my most favourite of all, ‘Plop’, which seems a good summing up of my performance career. But I also started the set with a brand new piece, which I call ‘Introduction’, a piece I wrote after my meeting the other day with a top fringe performer who really inspired me. And I thought, ‘If this is to be my last ever performance, ever, then why a, I writing new material?’ As I say, it was only a fleeting thought!

So here I am at Edinburgh Waverley station. I’m in Starbucks. And I’m feeling chipper about the future. Static is done and dusted but I’ve started rewriting it and I have a very clear idea of how it will evolve. It might still be Static, or it might be something entirely different, but it will be a different beast, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge of rewriting it, rehearsing it, learning it.

This has been the most incredible week and a huge learning experience. I’ve had so many adventures along the way and seen so much good stuff, and I’ve felt younger than I have in years, and also older than I’ve ever felt. I’ve got one or two projects on the horizon that I can’t wait to work on, performance art pieces and a multi-disciplinary piece which I’ve written and is very funny indeed, the music project, the novel, there’s so much on the go at the moment! It all makes me wonder what the next year will bring till I’m back here again.

And I remembered. Yes, I remembered. Do you recall my first blog, the one I wrote on the way to Edinburgh? I remembered the lad who came and sat with me, all those days ago, who charged his phone and we chatted. I thought I’d forget all about him, but I remember. I hope he’s had a good week, too.