On Tour - Derry & Belfast


Day 30 - Derry/Londonderry
At Manchester airport I am frisked twice at security, maybe because I'm wearing Danny's large brown duffel coat to keep the baggage costs down. I'm not sure what to expect arriving in Belfast, but arrive at the Malone Hotel without incident.
One of my best mates is Irish and I lived with him for 3 years, so I should know the appropriate naming convention for the city in which we are playing tonight. I think Derry, but Charlie is calling it Londonderry and on the way there all the signs say Londonderry so I start doubting my knowledge and think I'm getting it confused with a brand of butter. So I start calling it Londonderry, then as we're almost there the road signs are all de-faced saying just 'derry'. Oh Dear, I sense an ill-formed faux pax on the horizon. The gig is well attended and the venue is lovely. I avoid hassle by simply asking who is "local" and "not local", I'd later find out that even the BBC have protocol for Derry. In the first instance it's 'Londonderry', in the second it's 'Derry' and after that it's refered to as 'the city'.

Day 31 & 32 - Belfast
For the few days in Belfast we are staying in an apartment thanks to Charlie - so we can do amazing things like use an oven or microwave. Charlie cooks an awesome steak, Kristina makes mashed potatoes, and I buy loads of ex-rental dvd's for 99p to watch, which is almost helpful. I meet up with Phil Topping who I've not seen in years and he takes me on a great tour of Belfast city taking in the town hall, the Crown Inn (where we meet some american tourists on a cruise) and the catherdral quarter. There is a church with a big metal spike instead of a tower. This is becuse some of Belfast is built on marshland, so anything really heavy sinks into the ground. Phil tells me Belfast is a new city in the last few years, and it certainly feels like a place on the up. Busy, pleasant and the venue we're in at the Waterfront Theatre is a big glass building with loads of venue spaces. We're in the studio which we've almost managed to fill on both nights playing there. Friday's gig is great, Saturdays is even better. Afterward, Phil and his mate take us on the drink around town, we hit a bar with a band playing, it is very loud and the drink is addlestones. I don't remember much after that, a top few days.

John Cooper
Comedian & Improv coach
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