A good gig!

I had a good gig on Wednesday night. In fact it was as good as it gets, because of several reasons. The first reason was that I practised really hard, memorised everything that I would say, and when it came to it, I didn’t forget a single thing. The second reason was that the audience was fantastic. The third reason was that the structure and the dynamic of the evening was perfect: a young audience, some of whom had trendy beards, and the fact that I was the middle poet, after a serious but incredibly good opening act, and before the main headliner. The fourth reason, and the most important one for me, was that several friends came along and I wasn’t naff, and that my publisher, too, was there.
Not being naff is the biggest contributory factor to a successful performance. I felt at ease with the material and with the props that I would be using. I started by dancing and saying, ‘I don’t know why, but I’m feeling really frisky tonight’. I then did a little dance. I don’t normally do a little dance, but the time just seemed right. This kind of set the whole thing up, and the audience were incredibly up for having a bit of a laugh. I think it helped that the person before me had been brilliant, but deeply serious and very poetic. I was the complete opposite. I ended the evening by dedicating this ‘car crash of a set’ to the memory of Victoria Wood.
So that was the gig, and it just went so smoothly. However, the feeling afterwards was one of mild euphoria mixed with the impression that perhaps every night should be like this. A young, youthful audience in a town where I don’t perform that often, and the feeling of being surrounded by friends. The best bit has to be the moment where I was chatting to my publisher, and someone came up to buy a book. At least that showed him that it was worth him publishing me!
The euphoria lasted all the way home, which was a long way, a two hour drive back to Paignton. There’s nothing better than the sense of a night coming together really well. As the lights of Bristol faded in the rear view mirror, we sped along the motorway passing sleeping towns, strange clusters of road lights and an empty motorway, the sort of place haunted by jobbing comedians and long distance lorry drivers, insomniacs, the perennially lost. I slept well and I was on a bit of a high the next day, until about lunch time.
That’s when the thought starts creeping in: Just what’s been going wrong at all the other gigs?

I have no idea why I’m apparently so popular in Brazil.

Hello Brazil.
I’m writing this because something unusual is happening, and extraordinary high amount of people who look at my website who come from Brazil. I’m quite pleased with this, because Brazil is a country which I know almost nothing about except for the fact that Ayrton Senna came from there. Another reason I like this is that the Pet Shop Boys are big in Brazil. So maybe we could tour together sometime. I mean, you never know.
Now I’m aware that there could be an error, of sorts. Perhaps it’s just one person in Brazil who looks at my website several times a day because he really likes whimsy. Perhaps I’ve got a friend who’s on holiday there. Perhaps there’s a mechanical breakdown which means that most of the people who look at my website automatically get registered as having done so in Brazil, and not Basingstoke. Whatever’s happening, I’m not complaining, because at least it means that someone is looking at my website.
But it allows me to daydream. Of a hidden fan base, and invitations to perform somewhere really exotic, like Manaus, in fact I’ve already written a poem where this happens. I try to imagine my book becoming incredibly successful there, and I’m asked to go on Brazilian tv and be genial and humorous while the translator does her work. I daydream of becoming a household name in Brazil.
I know that none of these will happen. But it’s good to daydream, and enjoy the moment while it lasts.
Thick dense jungle vegetation.
A circle of audience members in a hut by a swamp

By the banks of the mighty Amazon,

Peering at me, nervously, I approach

A microphone which buzzes, or maybe it’s the


wondering how I ended up here,

And whether to do my famous poem about Lidls.
Thirteen hours by plane from Heathrow, six hours

By internal flight to Manaus, seventeen hours

By pick-up truck then a boat ride followed by

Six hours trek through jungle vegetation led by

A man in a hat with a machete, to this place,

A hut near a mining settlement, only to be

Greeted by puzzled frowns, there’s been a

Booking mix up, they were expecting Pam Ayres.
Preliminary chit chat to break the ice.

Isn’t it annoying, I tell them, when you’re baking a

and it doesn’t rise properly?

The rainy season floods took my house away, someone

Helpfully pipes up, I decide not to perform

My new poem about temperamental vacuum cleaners.

I decide on a joke.

 ‘I hear you have electric eels here

In these parts’, I tell them, ‘I’ve heard about them, 

Sound shocking’.  
In the silence that follows I hear the

Distant hooting of parrots.

The relentless humidity causes beads of sweat

To roll down my face like the last lingering hopes

I once had that this would be a good gig,

Having taken with me through the jungle, on the back of

A mule which complained most vociferously all the way,

Twenty copies of my book titled 

‘101 Things Not To Do
At Junction 13 Of The M25’, 

plus the sudden realization

They my fee of sixty quid probably wouldn’t cover

The four days of travel from Basingstoke to here.

Headlining next month, apparently,

Is Kate Tempest.
Distant thunder rumbles.

Fat lazy drops fall from the sky

Falling on fleshy leaves like polite theatre applause.

I make a final effort to tell them some half-baked

Anecdote about a wellie-throwing contest at the annual

Village fete in suburban Surrey where I grew up, only

For the audience to respond with a smattering of applause,

Possibly glad of this sudden exotic interlude into my set,

The chance to learn about a different, strange culture.

The next act after me does some

Urban street dancing, and the audience loves

Every second,

It’s always difficult going on first.