Sunday, 11 October 2009


Victoria, September 5, 2009

The luxury of a clear empty morning. After …

An early night. When I simply get on a bus and go home.

Well of course it wasn't that simple. I got on the wrong bus and had to walk well over a mile back to Gonzales Bay.

Yet it was a lovely night, under an almost-full moon … a purple in the blue-grey of the mackerel sky, perhaps … with a mighty chipper me, who had just wolfed down some great Peking duck in the Don Mee with Chris Gibbs, and then escaped Chinatown and downtown, with its Swans Pub and the whole everynightfortendays Broad Street FringeClub beerfrenzy.

Chris outlined a few ideas for his next show, which seemed hilarious and I can just imagine him doing all that to aisles chockablock with rolling punters. And before that, after District 9, I was down by the water with Rob Gee, who also had a great fresh idea for his show for next year…

So things are brewing already.

And an unmurky morning is a positive boon and luxury. Cos I've had five late nights in a row, and those are just the ones I can remember. Five nights of the Fringe Club, and its associated beering, until a 2 a.m. lift home from Lana Schwarcz, the van-owning Aussie puppeteer conveniently billeted nearby.

It's been a great week. I've thoroughly enjoyed writing these blogs (which are now continuing into the Vancouver Fringe … meaning I don't have to think of wrapping them up yet) … while my billets are great and I've jumped in Sooke Potholes, Lake Thetis, and a dinghy taking me out to dozens of transient Orcas in the Strait … plus I got an apology and offer of a rebate of 50 per cent of my festival fee from the Calgary Fringe. I've made my peace with some enduring grief, I've seen some great shows and I've had a great time doing my own show.

The Orcas were a laugh … 'cos I got a phone call from Jeff my billet, who had gone out in the dinghy with the female half of the Saucy Fops … and there's a buzzy urgency in his voice as he says jem, there's some transient workers, you want to see the transient workers? … and I thought, well, I dunno, what's, ahem, interesting about these, umm, transient workers? are they picking blackberries? Why is that fun and good to watch? … when I realise he's saying transient Orcas … which are unlike the resident Orcas, the pods of whales, or dolphins, or sharks, in the sound or the strait all the time, but ones passing through, or transient.

And excuse my perennial cluelessness but, what are Orcas? I'm confused, they use to be killer whales … then they were sharks … but are they now dolphins?

And now, Saturday, I wake feeling thoroughly rested: like I've not overdone the beer or the coffee, and I've actually eaten enough yesterday, which usually makes for a good today …

Because, whatever, I spend most of the summer feeling two meals behind par and in the end you simply get used to hunger. I know, I've been genuinely hungry, as in skint and therefore hungry, for a number of parts of my life … all, thankfully, long behind me, though hunger does have its uses. It's certainly good for writing … all that blood in the head, not the gut.

But now, this morning, I feel great. I've two shows left and it's still all to play for: I wouldn't say I've succeeded here yet, but shows have felt great, reviews have been great, flyering has felt positive, and it should be good … Bring it on.

Do you Canadians have the word … chipper … or the word dandy … or the word spruce???

Plus there's a cabaret tonight, there's all the last night partying tomorrow … there's a bunch of shows to see, so let's go.

Do you Canadians have the words … pukkah … or cushtie??

i as
but one pot
with but one spout
through which the mix,
the sum
of all the inpourings
poured out.
i the
of a thousand
and more
with a thousand and more spouts
and i but the vessel
and the spout
through which
the inpourings
and more
poured out

And smiling. Bloody smiling. People, Canadians of course, keep saying to me, smile.

When I am smiling already. But they still say it. The waitress in John's Place. Various punters. The Box Office manager. Smile.

But I think I am smiling already. I point to my immmobile face and say, look, I am smiling, this is me smiling, this is what passes for a smile around here.

But they, the actress, the comedian, the waiter, do not look convinced and repeat smile. When it's not fair for you Canadians to go on about it. Firstly you haven't had British dentists, who make smiling an entirely different existential experience.

But chiefly, we in Britain don't have smiling lessons from the age of five to sixteen. With the possibility of going on to take a Diploma in Smiling if you're thinking of going into it professionally.

Well we don't have that. No-one teaches us English people to smile. When we smile, if we smile, its because we mean it. Not because it was instilled into us for half an hour twice a week for eleven years at the least in some warm cosy Canadian smiling-gym.

I mean I've never actually been in a warm cosy Canadian smiling-gym but I know you have them. You must do. How else would you all be smiling all the time? What is there to smile so much about all the time? You're only doing it out of long-ingrained instinct.

I mean, I've never actuallly witnessed a group of small Canadian children being given smiling lessons. With all those megaphones and big scary sticks, and false promises of candy and puppies, and threats of injury to kittens and dolls and teddy bears. But I know you have them.

Because why else would you smile so much when you meet me? What's so great about me that you can't stop smiling? Answer that.

There is no answer. Well there's only one answer. Enforced smiling from the age of five.


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