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Friday, October 25, 2013

Comic Cuts - 25 October 2013

I haven't much to report on the work front. I'm still plugging away at one or two things that I'll be promoting shortly. One will be the Gino D'Antonio book, which I want to get back to as soon as possible. I had hoped to have it out by the end of the month, but the month has rather gotten away from me.

So... I figured out that the stomach problems I was having wasn't irritable bowel but must have been – must be, as it hasn't quite cleared up – a pulled muscle. I eased back on the exercise I was doing and things have been slowly improving. I'm still on a mixture of walking and using an ancient exercise bike and still burning up roughly 2,000 calories a week above what I used to burn sitting around all day in front of the computer. I haven't weighed myself for a month, so it'll be interesting to see if the bike has made any difference. I might be able to find out in a couple of weeks.

I have been to two gigs since last week's Comic Cuts: we went to see Lucy Porter on Friday. This was her first tour in some years as she has taken time off while her children were very young. It's great to have her back and her Northern Soul show is at least as much fun as her 2008 show, 'Love In'. The narrative had the audience engaged from the moment she walked onto the stage and we learned a lot about the attitudes of her father as she grew up in Croydon, the daughter of a Northern Irish shop owner. We learn, too, why Lucy wanted to attend Manchester University, what it was like working for Richard & Judy and what happened to her when she began on the comedy circuit. There are plenty of laughs to be had as teenage Lucy tries to find her place in the world after deciding that, although born in the south, she is spiritually a Northerner.

If Lucy Porter still hasn't found her place by the end of her tour, maybe she'll consider Colchester. We're not like the rest of Essex. (That should be the town's motto!)

Not that it's perfect . . . and this is a bit of an aside . . . because the council have been screwing around with the bus services again. The latest changes, I suspect, are down to an ongoing problem they had: a dozen different bus routes converged on a single bus stop located just after a point where traffic met from two different directions. At the top of the hour, at least three buses were due and only two could fit into the indent into the pavement where buses were meant to pull in. This, too, was where bus drivers changed, so buses would often sit, unmoving, for five minutes while the third bus waited, blocking all traffic, until it, too, could pull in to deliver or collect its passengers.

So now I have to walk twice the distance to catch a bus back to Wivenhoe from Colchester. It's not a major problem, although I did notice the other day that they've stuck in another bus stop about thirty yards further down the road from the original (still active). Quite how this is meant to help I don't know because there's not enough room to get a car or bus around the parked bus if it stops.

Anyway, back to gigs. Robin Ince would appreciate the irony that I've just looked up the name of his tour on the ticket and it just says The Importance of. Of what, damnit? Aaaaagh!

Of being interested, that's what. Ince asserts that we should never lose interest even if what you're doing seems mundane because that's how things are discovered. Twenty years ago, Richard Feynman spent a happy day snapping uncooked spaghetti and counting the pieces because he noticed that, when bent out of shape, spaghetti doesn't just snap into two pieces, as you would expect, but fragments into three, four or more pieces.

Richard Feynman is one of Ince's heroes: he helped develop the atomic bomb during WWII and helped develop our understanding of quantum physics. Here's his page on Wikipedia where I've just learned that he didn't speak until the age of three. "Why speak now, son?" his parents asked. "Because until now the wheels on the bus would have gone round and round as you described..." replied Feynman. . . no he didn't, it's a joke about Germans adapted for physicists.

Ince's jokes about physicists are better, I promise. He has energy and enthusiasm and a set of slides to present, some of which he has to dash through to fit the show into the allotted time (and it was still a long show). Like the PowerPoint presentation, the subject matter jumps around as each slide sends him off on a topic, whether it is Charles Darwin or naked mole rats. Ince's 5-year-old son, Archie, is a running, and I should say legitimate, meme throughout the show as Ince compare's his own reactions to Archie's. Anecdotes are accompanied by impersonations of Feynman, Mr Magoo, Brian Cox and others, a bit of shouting and a lot of passion. One of the strength's of the show is that Ince throws complex ideas into the mix without feeling the need for complex explanations. The ideas can be marveled at for what they are. I suspect that Robin Ince spends a lot of time marveling at things and we should all be grateful that he tours around the country letting us all have a glimpse at them.

OK... the photos... I tried taking a photo of Lucy Porter but there wasn't a single usable picture. Instead, meet Lucy the cat who I see every day as I do for a walk; and I managed to forget my camera when we went to see Robin Ince, which is annoying as we hung around after the gig and had a brief chat. As I don't have a picture of a Robin to hand, this is Fluffybum, who popped in for a visit a couple of weeks ago. I tend to carry the camera around with me and end up taking photographs of all sorts of rubbish. For instance, the road has been closed off nearby so some new pipes can be laid. I have photos of the road closed sign, the trench that was dug... why? Who knows. Every now and then I get a shot I'm happy with, such as the graveyard shot taken this (Thursday) morning. There was a low mist which layered the gravestones. It just looked nice.

The column topper was a series a four photos taken out of the upstairs window of a bus on Saturday... there's a lot of building going on around Wivenhoe and it's nice to see that there are still some views that are unbroken. Shame the weather wasn't better. We do get some big skies in Wivenhoe. The photo above was taken earlier this month down at the quay.

Well, that was a chatty column. We should have a book review tomorrow and we're back with those Magnificent Men and Their Flying (Saucer) Machines next week.

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