Bromsgrove, Bracknell, Shrewsbury, Leeds & Worthing


Day 22  - Bromsgrove
We get a Darth Vader tonight, he's a massive bloke who also does Predator and Judge Dredd. I eat some real food, but it's not too healthy. I'm know since the tour started I've put weight on, and it's really hard not to. Bromsgrove itself is all a bit of a blur, though I do recall the dressing room having loads of mannequin head in it, as the Artrix venue doubles as a college. I don't venture into the town proper. Catch up on some more admin for gigs later in the year, and have a kip in a chair before the show. The show is good, back down the M4 tomorrow.

Day 23 - Bracknell
It dawns on me that the Park arts centre where we're doing the show is a venue I've played before, it's home to the long running and rather splendid Comedy Cellar, I meet with Katherine briefly who runs the gig, and as it's Friday they have a show on too. The tech's are great and we chat loads about gaming and portal 2, I eat a salad that feels healthy, despite being mainly greasy pasta. The show is an absolute belter and full, much back patting and ego rubbing ensues. We are staying in the nearest hotel to the venue, which just happens to be Bracknell Hilton. There is a pool and a sauna, and I make use of both on the morning that we leave. It might sound rock and roll, and it does feel it, but I just want to stop feeling lardy.

Day 24 - Shrewsbury
The sat nav is beginning to get on my nerves as it keeps sending us into dead ends and pedestrianised areas and then dying. The Citroen has the turning circle of a house and I'm easily annoyed by it. The satnav suction holder got lost ages ago, so the box itself has been suspended on blu-tak for the whole month. There is no horizontal surface, or cup holder even, on the dash of the car, so it's falling about all over the place. Must fix. Another sold out night and a great show at the Severn Theatre. We have three Stormtroopers and they are great chaps, really chatty. The bar serves the best pint of Addlesstones cider I have had in a long time, and two pints in I'm smiling like a clown at just how amazing I am for just being myself. Happy man. Happy drunk man. It is raining, I am wet. Happy soggy drunk man. Oh no,it is late and I am too pissed to understand anything going on in this weeks episode of Doctor Who.
My missus and some of the comedysportz gang are coming tomorrow, hope it's a good onr tomorrow too.

Day 25 - Leeds
These are the gigs. These are indeed the gigs. The stress of find the loading bay for the West Yorkshire playhouse is immediately dispersed with the arrived of Nige. Nige is a seasoned tech and stage manager, he is wearing a classic Doctor Who anniversary celebration t-shirt and has a tattoo of both the tardis and the USS enterprise on one arm. He is no-nonsense Leeds, and has clearly seen loads of incredibly cool showbiz genre stuff, but doesn't boast. Nige rocks my world more than he can know.
The WYP is massive, and so is the backstage. The show is sold out tonight to a capacity of five hundred, including my mates and missus, and it doesn't disappoint - everyone shines. The best thing about the night - new benchmark for the tour, is the ramp into the main stage. Unlike most venues where the act enters from the wings, there is a ramp leading out onto the floor level stage. Combined with the incredibly accute focused accoustics and the murmors of five hundred people it creates a very special feeling entering the stage. Like footballers coming out of a tunnel on match day. I feel like Elvis. The noise and mass of faces unfold into view. Whatever happend in that half hour on stage, I take the beautiful feeling with me, to be remebered.

Day 26, 27 - Worthing
A day off breaks up the long trip to the South coast, and we head to Oxford, staying in a sleepy village on the the outskirts. The guesthouse is has been named after princess Diana and is staffed by attractive Bulgarian barmaids. It is very, very local, and empty. We decide to get drunk. We discover pool table and old record player in the back room, complete with a box of LP's, soon it is working and belting out Herb Alpert tunes. I am too tired to dance and have lost all reason. The barmaids are clearly bored out of their minds here. There is a mug with a midsomer murders print on the on. John Nettles stayed here.

Day 28 - Basingstoke
I wasn't sure about Basingstoke. I thought it might be another Dunstable or Stevenage, but fortunetly not. Didn't get to see much of the place, would rather sleep. Did have another chat with Rich our stormtrooper, he's in a similar position to the one I was in about twelve years back, and the stress of it is effecting is eczema, and ability to get it under control. Eczema is a really misunderstood condition, mainly as its a fluctuating one, some days you're fine and no-one notices it, other times it's far worse, and can effect your public self-esteem. I tell Rich about my 2008 show, and we discuss moisturisers and their properties at length. The Show is surprisingly good, I was expecting a tough crowd, but no, they were ace.

John Cooper
Comedian & artist.
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