Saturday, 1 July 2017

Adventures in Leicester

I was having a bit of a panic earlier in the week, as I had two gigs booked for Leicester and we still have no car. Public transport was fine for getting to both gigs, but getting back from one of them was going to be a bit tricky.

Frugalistas out there may raise an eyebrow... why do I 'need' to do gigs? No one needs to perform, true... but I love it, and this time round I seem to be making a bit of progress, getting through to the finals of a prestigious national competition a month ago (even if the critics hated me!), and getting some amazing opportunities to perform with my heroes. I'm moving slightly away from silly absurdism to more personal, thought-provoking material. My newer material is, I hope, good, and I would like it very much if it could do some good too.

Travelling to gigs is an opportunity for adventure and discovery. You can get to have a mini-explore of somewhere new, and whilst it's great to do that with OH, sometimes it's nice to have a wander by myself.

Leicester might not seem like far enough away to make an adventure of, but I think it is.

I got to go to my first gig on Wednesday by train, £19.40 return (couldn't find how to get it cheaper except by 20p with less flexibility). My little exploration took me past the Art Deco Turkey Café, isn't it pretty?

And of course, the clock tower, where I got my bearings...

Past the pretty shops of The Lanes...

And I paused by this beautiful gilding... and found myself outside an amazing chocolate shop. Just take a look inside. All of a sudden, I was Dame Judi Dench, as I found myself enticed inside for a hot chocolate and found it was the best, best chocolate ever! And had I been Dame Judi, I'd have hung around every day. I mean, look at this... I chose the house dark hot chocolate (£2.50), and it comes on a tray with the chocolate in a pot (one for the milk, one for my mouth...) and you whisk it up how you like it, plus you get a chocolate on the side. I chose Chinese Five Spice. A-ma-zing.

Perfect place for me to sit and scribble prepping for my gig.

Another really old place on Silver Street... a bar called Taps, which one of the Amore lads recommended.

And here is where my gig was... just the other side of the Cathedral, that Tudor building - that's the Guildhall.

And this is me, in front of the performance area in the Lord Mayor's Parlour. Look at that beautiful fireplace! And I don't mean my face.

That gig was to a small and bijou crowd, and was with organiser Ben Ennis, Smurf, Gary O'Donnell and Gareth Richards. I had to leave halfway through Gareth's preview show which was a shame as I was really enjoying it. There was a really lovely atmosphere and lots of joviality. We comics had a great time too.

Three trains home, but managed to make the last train an hour early, so I got to bed at a reasonable hour. This commonly counts as a comedy 'win'.

Last night's gig was out in the wilds of Newbold Verdon. I managed to get there by bus (single X7 £8.40 + 153 £3.10). Who doesn't love a bus adventure!

The bus journey went through Market Harborough and past lots of beautiful countryside.

Finally I arrived in Newbold Verdon and went for a stroll in it's 'Conservation area'... a part of the village that is chocolate box pretty. It's not all like that, but I loved this street, which ends in a farm.

And at that farm there were some cows. Ee-i-ee-i-oooh!

I'm not sure what kind of cows they are... they looked all white, with black noses, and long, curved horns... so I'm thinking White Park??? And yes, that is a cow, not a bull.

Anyway yesterday's gig was in the library, and was me, Smurf, Gary and Ben again, with the fantastic Annette Fagon headlining. It's a lovely place, and the community clearly value it... and yet it was one of the libraries that was 'closed' by the cuts and is now entirely staffed by volunteers. The volunteers I met are all lovely people with big hearts, and they made us feel very welcome indeed, but it absolutely broke my heart that if it weren't for these lovely people (mostly retired ladies and gentlemen) dedicating their time, and occasionally money, to keeping the place going there would be no library. During the comedy, MC Ben chatted about quaint-sounding local villages with only one bus a week, but after the gig one lady was almost in tears as she told me of another village nearby that had no library of its own was going to get its bus service cut... so that's another lot of people going to be totally disenfranchised from opportunities to leave the village to go shopping, or use the library. This makes me so angry.

A beautiful mural

Oh, Micthell... is that your name? I never believe anything on a bus these days.

These wonderful people, they gave us wine and pizza, they organised the room, they put up a stage with a glittery curtain, and then they laughed at our jokes as well. I felt I wanted to contribute something back, so I bought a book from their sale stand... and isn't it awesome?

Golden hands!

It's full of awesome patterns... including stuff I definitely remember wearing in the 70s.

I'd still wear it now.

I'm definitely going to make something from this!

Thank you Ben for the lovely gigs, and to our friend who lent OH a car so he could come and pick me up from here.

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