Monday, February 23, 2009
Crikey! Will the commercials never end?
So I started dipping my toe in the stand-up waters late last year. I liked it. Pretty soon I was up to my ankles. I'm heading for full immersion. I've committed to doing a proper tour. Well, I say "proper".
The thing is, it wasn't just the gigs I was enjoying. When I started, I'd take the tube, using the journey to give me time to look through my notebook and compose some thoughts. Then I started to get looser and stopped needing that much preparation so I started cycling to gigs instead because I prefer it to the tube.
I found cycling to gigs made me very happy. I'm not sure I can explain it properly, but cycling changed my attitude to the gigs. Suddenly it was all a bit lo-fi, hippie minstrel and - without changing what I was doing on stage particularly - that made things even more satisfying to me. It was like doing something but leaving no mark. That sounds a bit eco-warrior but that's not really what I mean.
Anyway, I was cycling home one night at around midnight, full of happiness, loving the feeling of being connected to the city I call home and everything about what I was doing made sense. It just seemed to be a perfect kind of existence. And I started thinking that a daily bike ride/gig combination would be enjoyable.
I made the mistake of saying it out loud the next day. And this is the result. A tour. Of the UK. By bike. Normally when you tour, the schedule is kind of random. You take in all the major venues you can. You end up doing gigs in odd, ridiculous sequences and travel from Portsmouth up to Edinburgh one day only to head down to Brighton the next. That's because touring is normally based on when the right sized venues are available. If you're going by push bike you can't really do that. So I'm not.
I decided we shouldn't pay too much heed to the size of venue. I didn't want it to become a tour that was all about business. I wanted to preserve the hippie-minstrel feel that was making me so happy as I cycled around London. So, I committed to a route - from the southernmost point of the British mainland to the northernmost, via the easternmost and westernmost (you can't say I'm not trying to cover the country) and then we started looking for venues at sensible staging posts. There are big venues - 2000 seats is the biggest - and there are small venues, too: 30 seats is the smallest. I've already received a dozen e-mails from people upset that I'm not playing their town. I'm not sure they've really understood the point of the exercise.
Anyway... it's scheduled for this autumn. 1500 miles. 32 nights. The details are on the live dates page of my site.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
It's a new edition. Some typos have been fixed but essentially it's the same words (and photos) but with a new cover and a friendlier price.
I've never had my name in shiny foil type stuff before. It's the publishing equivalent of having your name in lights.
I'm on Richard & Judy later today promoting it and I'm doing some readings in Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle and Lincoln soon. (All of which are in parts of the country I didn't manage to get to for a reading when the first edition came out.) See the live dates page for details.
Mind you... the publication date appears to mean very little these days. I saw the book on display in a shop last week and have received a few e-mails from people who've already bought this edition. One of them (and I'm paraphrasing) said, "Hey Dave... I bought your new book... but felt a bit foolish when I discovered there was a DVD available. Oh well."
I don't know how I'm supposed to react to this. Other than chuckling to myself at the implicit laziness... or the idea that a moving picture is inherently better than some words on a page. It honestly never occurred to me that anyone would think the film and the book were in anyway equivalent. (Which is short sighted of me because they're about the same thing, right?) I guess because I know how different the two are I just didn't stop to think how it might appear from the outside looking in.
I'm proud of them both and if it were a narrative fiction then I'd understand the idea of equivalence because when you make a film of a book, you try to convey the essence of the book on screen. But that's not what was going on here. I was making a journey, not a film. If we were dramatising the book, we'd include the scene where the police ran us out of town and the bit where someone pointed a gun at us and the bit where we... oh, you get the idea and I'm rapidly disappearing up my own fundament.
In other news, I discovered the existence of a Grindcore (?) duo called Sandpaper Condom this morning. Truly. Sadly, not being British, they have probably never heard of Dick Emery.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I didn't watch The Brits tonight. I wasn't really aware that it was on so obviously didn't have any sense of anticipation about it either.
Instead, I ended up spending a good deal of my evening at my desk and with Twitter twittering away in the background.
And I have seen a constant stream of people bitching about the show. I have no idea if their complaints are merited because I have no empirical evidence of my own. But reading hundreds of impassioned comments from people who have - for reasons best known to themselves - sat through something that they're not really enjoying has been a real treat.
Occasionally circumstances leave me following a football game via an online text feed. It always leaves me wishing I was able to see the pictures. But with this evening's Brits that thought never crossed my mind. The text was more than satisfying enough. I can't see how watching it would have made it any better. Twitteriffic.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
But then last weekend I did. Sort of.
It's a fishtank/toilet cistern - an idea we discussed in one of the radio shows some time ago.
If I remember the idea was supposed to have two benefits. 1) you no longer have to change the fishes' water because that happens whenever you flush. 2) as the water empties the fish panic and swim against the tide only to be reprieved when the water level rises once more: thus receiving exercise and excitement. Hmmm. I can't remember which show it was in so I've no idea what the Guest Genius made of it.
Anyway... this example (it's in a bar on Broadway Market) is purely cosmetic - the fish tank is mounted directly in front of the cistern and isn't really affected by the flush... but even so... it was a pleasant surprise to see something that manages to be utterly strange and utterly familiar at the same time.
Moments later I saw a man walking his pet miniature elephant down the road but I failed to get a picture of that.
Incidentally... I spent part of last week making trails and stuff for Genius so I expect I'll have a broadcast date for you soon. Ish. I'll be sure to let you know...
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
But even if I had the time right now - which I don't - I'd prefer to point you in the direction of another blog entirely. This one, from Ben Goldacre.
These things are important. Once upon a time, the uptake for the MMR vaccine in the UK was around 93%. Thanks in no small part to the media hyping up a scare connecting MMR with autism - for which there is no credible evidence whatsoever - that's dropped to around 75% (and is much lower in London.) Of course this has seen an increase in measles... and in some cases that has meant children have died. Unnecessarily.
Anyway... there's no point me rehashing the whole story here in a half arsed way when it's told eloquently over on Ben Goldacre's blog... the point is that someone broadcasting on LBC Radio stoked the anti-MMR fire once more - the kind of thing that spreads fear and keeps the uptake of the vaccine down - and BG uploaded the audio so that he could critique it. Then LBC's lawyers stepped in.
I suppose there's the potential for good here. If enough people spread the word that this is happening it won't matter that the audio is suppressed... because with sensible reporting, the greater truth will be carried on the coat-tails of this spat and more and more people will come to terms with the fact that no matter how many headlines there were over the years linking MMR with autism... there is no actual link. It isn't there. It isn't true.
This is one of the big problems with science reporting. Strawberries Cause Cancer makes a great headline. Strawberries Cure Cancer also makes a great headline. Strawberries Neither Cause Nor Cure Cancer But They Do Taste Nice With Cream isn't a good headline because it seems like non-news. So when a "scientist" makes a bold claim it gets reported as fact... and when it later turns out to be untrue, nothing gets written because there's no story there, right?
Monday, February 2, 2009
Surely there are two types of commercial establishment: those you'd expect to sell gravy and those you wouldn't.
Now obviously those who don't sell gravy - your local newsagent or a haberdashers, say - aren't about to start doing so and won't be needing a sign like this.
But who does need a sign like this? How do you end up running the kind of business where the selling of gravy might be expected but where the selling of gravy has been overlooked?
This is in the window of a pie and mash shop. What on earth were they doing not selling gravy? Surely they've always sold gravy... and surely people walk through the door expecting them to do so.
It's like putting a sign up in a pub window saying, "We now sell whiskey". Or like Jonathan Cainer advertising his new column on the basis that he now includes all twelve star signs... including, at last, Scorpio.