On the Road

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Although I’ve done my fair share of different types of show over the years I’ve never toured. This is my first time on the road, living out of a suitcase for weeks on end, performing at a different venue each day and unloading the set each time (it’s confirmed my suspicion that when it comes to props and staging stand up comedians have it sussed).

I’m enjoying sitting in the passenger seat, watching the road go by. I particularly enjoy the night time journeys, being driven down curvy country lanes looking out for rabbits, hairs and even the occasional dear.

Makes me think; I really should learn to drive.

Egypt

Spent a couple of days in Cairo, didn’t have net access ( think if I’d the choice between free water or free wifi, I’d go for free wifi most of the time!) so I’m writing this in the airport waiting for my flight home and won’t be able to post it till I get back. Waste of time, maybe?

Stuff floating in my head….
Taxi driving
Social ladders
Rubbish in the street
Middle classes
The sun
Political unrest
No photos of the police
Pepsi
Empty oil drums
Golf courses
Smoky bars
Unfinished houses
Drumming
Mix grill feasts
Empty plane…

Car
Tube
Bus
Walk
Home.

The four hour circus commute

Another drizzly Tuesday morning and yet again I am making the four hour door-to-door commute from London to Bristol to pack in a couple of days training with my circus partner, Lisa. By now I know the coach drivers speech by heart (along with the well rehearsed ‘jokes’), and have perfected the art of getting a doubles seat to myself (eat a banana, take off layers of clothing and spread them across the seats etc.)

Lisa and I take this journey on alternative weeks to each others cities to battle to keep our doubles trapeze skills up to scratch, while at the same time developing a new roller skating routine. Despite our marathon training sessions we never seem to fit quite enough in as it seems like every new job we get we have to change some element of what we do – the height, the character, the costume, the music…. People are so demanding!

However despite the schlep to the West Country, training in a different space does also mean training in a different headspace, which can be great. Knowing what an effort you’ve made to get there means we both work harder to make the most of our two days, and the slight desire to ‘show off’ to people who you don’t normally train alongside, pushes us both that bit further.

Our roller skating table arrives next week – scary! Suddenly we’re going to have to relearn our act within a tiny circle, and a few feet off the floor. A few feet may not sound like much, but when you are spinning fast by your neck off someone else’s neck and are quite disorientated it makes all the difference! But however scary the skating may look, nothing compares it to my least favorite 5 minutes of every week – jumping to feet. This is move where Lisa is sitting on the trapeze and I am hanging from it. I then have to swing my legs and let go and catch her feet. It is a move I have done safely for well over a year, and I have only ever fallen from it twice in practice, both times for very clear reasons, and yet it still has the power to terrify me. This mental block has been going on for about 6 months now and we still practice it every week, and every week it still scares me – sometimes your brain can be very irrational!

Another element of my regular visits to Bristol is a chance to see another side to circus life – one very different to London. The training spaces are dependent on volunteers and community support, with regular users all pitching in to run the training spaces and many of the shows.  Whether it means cleaning the hall, or calling out a locksmith when he lock is broken, or organizing a fund raising cabaret, it’s all a job for the circus community. And for the most part it runs very smoothly. I was first initiated into this when I moved to Bristol briefly a few years ago to volunteer at a circus school in exchange for training – my warm up one morning was doing the ‘shake and vac’ and hovering the huge training space room! Which actually, did warm me up pretty well!

Back on the bus again, this time headed back towards the big smoke, and straight back to watch the circus space graduate show, hopping from one circus community to another.

Tired, bruised and ready for a drink, but overall feeling like I’ve done a proper days work.

Barcelona to Chatham

Barcelona!! Such a beautiful horizon. Or so sang the beloved Freddie. Not wrong. What a beautiful city. The sad fact being that we only got to spend a day there. Rubbish. We were working for a company called the New London Consort performing as part of their production, The Fairy Queen. Originally they wanted us to travel out on the Sunday but we had teaching all day and it was the last day of term for our youth circus so we agreed to a ridiculously early flight on the Monday instead.

Up at 4am and on the plane at Heathrow at 7.10. Neither Lauren nor I are morning people and this was no exception. I insisted on getting the biggest cup of coffee in the universe before we went through security. No liquids. Lauren grumbled. A lot. The only think to appease her morning grumble was a Krispy Kreme donut.

I hate airports. I’ve hardly ever been in one and felt awake. I’m always there either at stupid O’clock in the morning, hungover or both. And they are so white. And the whiskey is not actually cheaper at all in the duty free.  Upsetting. And I’m always a bit later than I should be and Lauren is inevitably always with me and panicking about missing our flight – which is right to do, as we almost always nearly do. Anyway, we were the last ones through the gates.  Had a bit of banter with the two trumpeters who were also ‘deviants’ – meaning they objected to missing a day’s work for a badly paid job in Spain and so had also requested 7am flights.

Barcelona itself is a lovely place and the venue was like some crazy building dreamt up by a member of royalty. All murals and stained glass and statues. Amazing. It was called the Palau de la Musica. I’ve popped in a couple of pictures to give an idea of the space. It was truly breathtaking. Funny, the show is about the journey to ‘Arcadia’ and at a few points in the show we’re supposed to look up as if we are in some magical place. Up until last night our magical place hadn’t usually been that magical. Last night I almost forgot to stop looking around the magical place. Danger danger!

After the show went for a few beers in a bar called the Cat Bar. We managed, on our only night in Barcelona, to stumble in to a bloody English bar! We met with a couple of friends who hadn’t been to see the show as it was too expensive. Sandro and Maria. Hadn’t seen Maria for ages so that was really lovely. Had pretty heated – and by now somewhat classic – Cirque du Soleil debate. Would you or wouldn’t you. I wouldn’t. I’ll rant about it another time. Pretty cool though as two randoms on another table got involved. International bonding. Good to see Cirque are good for something. Sorry if that offends anyone reading this. Happy to argue my case, although I’m aware cirque fans will argue I’m wrong. I’m not. They are.

Went for one last beer after seeing them off and Lauren to bed. Was in another bar via another bar. Jose (Trigero, new found buddy and beautiful juggler) and Boldo (or ‘The Great Boldo’ as he’s known in the show!) were pretty ‘merry’. Was all a bit much for me after the epic 24 hours I’d had awake. Far too tired to deal with being extra nice to important people either so I left after one. Made a refreshing change.

Had to be out of the hotel at 8.40 this morning. Ggggrrrr. Considering the flight wasn’t for another two hours I did feel this was unnecessary torture. Such is life.

Got back at about half two this afternoon before having a brief cup of tea and heading out to Chatham for a rehearsal. Wonder how many other people have experienced the culture shock of a beautiful venue in Barcelona with a standing ovation to an empty plasterboard fake theatre in Chatham in the same day. Not many I bet. Crazy life.

Finishing now before yet another early start tomorrow for a cancer charity publicity stunt in South Bank and Manchester. Another long day but for a good cause and the other people doing it are lovely. And I get to have an endless stream of people standing on my shoulders. Pimp base.  Although I do have to wear a lycra ‘wall’ costume. Mmmmmm. May not be posting pictures of that.

Going to grab a bit of grub, have a glass of vino and then shoot off to bed for a very well earned kip.

Kaveh. So & So.