Video from Melbourne Comedy FestivalApril 19th, 2013
I have been away on a great fat adventureApril 15th, 2013
I have been away on a great fat adventure which I really needed and I really enjoyed – me and the old man went to Oz, I was gigging – it was a working holiday, the best kind of holiday, because you don’t come home totally broke and panicking.
I did a two week stint at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, its my third time doing this trip and it’s amazing, you get treated like Wagyu beef cattle, flown business class, put up in a nice apartment bang slap in the middle of town and all you have to do is gig, every night for an hour. Actually that’s the tricky part, persuading a foreign audience to like you is quite hard work and there were a couple of nights went it felt a bit ‘up hill’ but for the most part I had a ball, ‘Tour Eclairious’ travels well and I was terrifically pleased to be there.
FLINDERS ST STATION
Melbourne is a great city, its really grown up over the past decade, years ago I found it a bit provincial, possibly because I barely ventured out of my apartment, but because this time Geof came with me, so I played tourist during the day and stand up by night, with a nap between obv.
MUSEUM OF MELBOURNE
The biggest shock this time around was how expensive Australia is, whilst our economy has ground to a halt, theirs hasn’t, prices are almost double for many things and it’s a massive shock, especially as the last time I visited, we Brits were comparatively well off. Lets just say, there was a lot of toast eating in the apartment – though lets face it at a tenner for a posh loaf (albeit from a posh shop) we weren’t exactly on the breadline -ha-ha weak joke (jetlag- the best excuse for everything).
ACCA ART GALLERY
The apartment block we stayed in – The Adina – had a coffee shop/bistro/bar downstairs – ‘Rescue’ both by name and nature, the breakfasts were a triumph. Prices in Oz might be astronomical but portions are seriously huge and there were days when, after a big breakfast (the open feta omelets) – we didn’t manage to eat again until I got home after the gig.
The comedy festival in Melbourne is about twenty years old, I first went in 97, its still run by the same woman, the amazing Susan Proven who manages the whole shebang with such generosity and style – its no wonder us Brit comics are foaming at the mouth to get out there. The festival runs like clockwork, it’s a lot smaller than Edinburgh and the acts are a lot more molly coddled, we were looked after by the wonderful Katie Minchin – yes, sister of Tim – comedy is v incestuous.
COMEDY FEST BANNERS
There are times when being a stand up can be the best job in the world - especially when you are escaping a really shitty never ending Winter in the UK and Melbourne is still having days that nudge 70 degrees – of course the Ozzies think this kind of temp is chilly and being autumn out there it wasn’t uncommon to see girls in kilts and Arran jumpers! Whilst the tourists cling to their flip flops, Australians gets so few cold days that they get excited about wearing Winter gear and as soon as they can, they get their woolly tights and boots out.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but us Brits are a good deal more misshapen that our Antipodean cousins, due to years of good weather and crap tv the Ozzies have evolved into a beautiful race, by contrast we are pretty hideous, I don’t think I ever got served a coffee by anyone who looked like they couldn’t have been in Skins!
We were staying bang slap in the city centre, it was a ten min walk to my nightly gig at the Town Hall, but if we’d been staying further out then I’d have trammed it into town, Melbourne has the best tram system I’ve ever encountered, they criss-cross the grid of the city almost constantly – and similarly to London you can swipe yourself on with their equivalent of the Oyster card – the Myki, listen within a couple of days we had the entire system sussed and we can be incredibly dense, so that’s how easy it is.
ST KILDA LUNA PARK
So me and the old man trammed it all over the city, we did art galleries and St Kilda beach and groovy shopping streets in funky areas where all the houses have wrought iron balconies and we saw some great stuff in some great places and no one was ever horrid or rude and we found the trendy bars in ‘The Wallpaper Guide to Melbourne’ and ate dinner in a place where ‘everyone goes’ and generally played the oldest hipsters in town.
HOUSES WITH WROUGHT IRON DETAIL
Melbourne is a young people’s city, they are all over the place, scurrying around looking cool, there is of course an underbelly to the city and theres a chunk of Melbourne white trash that’s really scary, I saw more dangerous driving in the city centre at night than I’ve ever seen in London and I reckon there are places on the outskirts you wouldn’t fancy straying into alone in the dark. Even the smart Melbourne department stores have boxes in the loos for ‘sharps’ so that needles can be safely disposed of and although there was no sign of a drug problem on the street, its obviously been there.
As for food, we ate really well, its expensive but if you go a little way off the beaten track it gets cheaper and there’s a great burger chain called ‘Grill’d’ for quality burgers with gluten free buns should you so require. But apart from you basics, everything is quite flamboyant, they have a lot of Asian influenced dishes and they twist most things into something a bit more dramatic and different – I ate cuttlefish skewers and dukkha eggs and if I hadn’t been gigging as much we’d have done noodles in China Town – but in two weeks I didn’t have a dud meal and writing this is making hungry… I promise you, the sushi is massive, you cant fit the rolls in your mouth, sushi back here looks doll sized by comparison.
CITY VIEWED FROM ST KILDA
Anyway, work wise I picked up two 4* reviews for The Age and The Herald Sun and a handful of nice website reviews, including one that referred to me as ‘The Earl Grey Jaeger Bomb of the Comedy Festival’ – which I rather liked.
So a good fortnight, but now we’re back and fuzzy with jet lag and slightly sorry for ourselves, we both have to get our noses back to the grindstone and our breakfasts seem to have shrunk.
SO… MELBOURNE HIGHLIGHTS… apart from just being invited over to gig -
Breakfasts, The Heide Art gallery (look this place up and check out its back story and Fiona Hall’s work), St Kilda beach with cuttlefish skewers, the trams, Meyer and David Jones department stores, Gertrude Street, ‘Tarlo and Graham’ Reclamation shop (one of the best shops I’ve ever set foot in), walking around with no socks and needing just a cardi at night, the bars in Curtin House, bumping into other comics, inc some very old faces and doing the Gala gig at the St Kilda 3,000 seater Palais Theatre.
Cheers Melbourne, thank-you very much.
Hello dear neglected website this is your mummyMarch 11th, 2013
Hello dear neglected website this is your mummy, apologizing for completely forgetting to tend to you recently!
Not much of an excuse either, been a bit busy, been a bit up, been a bit down, been a bit sick of Winter and ready now for Spring and some new adventures.
ENOUGH OF THIS PLEASE
I’ve got a lot of writing on my plate at the moment, for lots of projects that may or may not happen, which I daren’t go on about in case I jinx them. I also have the onerous task of writing another novel- ahem-lets just say, I have a couple of ideas… lalalalala, * nervously blinks * with any luck my publisher don’t read my blog. Anyway, nicest job recently was doing the audio for Vanilla Slices, made myself cry three times, well done Jenny, you big wet lump. Oh yes, not such a big wet lump actually, I’ve cut down on drinking white wine and I promise you I now have the teeniest hint of a jaw line! Well I was getting so fat and I got to thinking, my diet is good, what can it be? Booze! The daughter girl told me to check out the wine cals on a drink aware app and – well , I tell you, if they wanted women to cut down on the booze, just stick the calories on every bottle, but does anyone listen to me? NO- the idiots!
Anyway, talking of the girl, she turned 24 and we went to Sketch for lunch, which was like falling down a rabbit hole and great fun and after to the Manet exhib which was bloody awful and boring and totally unrecommended, spend your money in Sketch instead, where even the toilets are amazing! Btw I had the amusing butternut squash soup with popcorn and sweetcorn ice-cream – yes really.
The Eclairious gigs roll on round the country, I even visited my own home town of Lytham, didn’t sell out mind – though I was told in no uncertain terms that Jason Manford had (in four hours). Who was it that said ‘never go back?’ Actually I had a lovely gig and some old school faces turned up and within minutes we were just twelve year- old girls again. Another bonus, I got to stay with my mum, thus saving on hotel fees! Though I do believe Mr George, my stage manager had a better breakfast at the posh little boutique B and B down the road than I got at my Ma’s.
Have had some really lovely gigs actually in the past couple of months, my old mate Dom Joly even turned up with his lovely wife (who is way too good for him) to witness my antics in Cheltenham – fortunately I didn’t disgrace myself – though he’d have loved it had I died on my arse. Just a few more gigs now before I nip over to Australia to do some dates at The Melbourne comedy festival – yes next time I blog, it should be from the other side of the world
MORE OF THIS PLEASE
THIS MONTH I HAVE
SEEN - The Manet (boo) and the Rosemarie Trockle at The Serpentine (pretty unfathomable) – desperate to see The Light Show at The Haywood but constantly sold out!
READ – The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (loving this) and Jonathan Harvey’s All She Wants (ace fun)
WATCHED – my mate Sadie Hasler’s ‘The Bastard Children of Remington Steele’ at Leicester Square studio theatre and Kick a sctatch event at Battersea Arts Centre that the girl has a hand in. Both proof that British fringe theatre is something that must be cherished – this is where all the off the wall and interesting ideas are.
ALSO - I’ve had lots of friends to stay, this has been wonderful and sad and happy for many different reasons, its also made me quite want a doggie!
Getting back in the swing of things…January 21st, 2013
Feel a bit more back in the swing of things, am writing and have done a couple of radios, I have also put together quite a lot of flat pack furniture, but that’s a long and complicated story that I can’t go into- as you would get very bored. However, I must say, there is something very therapeutic about screwing together an IKEA chair and then actually being able to sit on it without it caving in under your arse, well done me.
We also nipped down to Cornwall to see some old buddies who have gone rural on us, this happens a lot when you’re a Londoner, half way through your forties you realize a lot of your mates have fucked off and left you to fend for yourselves in South London. To be honest I love Cornwall but I couldn’t hack it all year round, so I’m best being left to rot in SE5, that said, we had a lovely time, with fine food and lashings of booze and a trip to the Tate at Saint Ives – where people were surfing in the sea and consequently stripping in and out of their wetsuits in the car park, thus I saw quite a lot of chilly looking buttock.
Saint Ives surfers
Work wise, my first radio job of the year involved nipping down to broadcasting house to play Sue Perkins Radio 4 ‘Dilemma’ game, ooh she’s ever so quick, Ms Perkins, sharp and funny and a really good host, the only down side of the evening was the utterly filthy state of the green room. Dirty like you wouldn’t believe, crumbs all over the carpet, crisps squashed into the furniture, it looked like a crèche had been in there, but apparently it was the News Quiz lot! It was just as grubby in the waiting area of Weekend Wogan, whatever the BBC can be accused of spending money on, let me assure you it’s not cleaners, on Sunday morning, the place was a pig sty. But who cares when you get to spend some time with Sir Tel, genuinely the first gentleman of radio, I adore him.
Book and tour plugged, me and the old man tried to get in to see ‘What Richard Did’ at the Brixton Ritzy – sold out, so we went a mooching in Brixton Village. Now this has been on my doorstep for eighteen months now, but today was the first time when we found a parking space, had some time and it was open. Fuck me, it’s incredible, it’s like being in the Greenwhich Village New York in your head, it’s like the coolest vibiest thing, a honeycomb of pop up restaurants and tiny vintage shops and stuffed with people who looked like they were working on a BBC Three sitcom or an installation or a ‘zine – we were the oldest by miles I reckon and we gawped, it was great. Not that we ate because we’d just shoved lunch down us at home, but we will go back and I’m going to gradually eat my way round the place and report back
Brixton Village treasure
I’ve been very good with my exercising so far this year, notching up a decent rate of Pilates classes and a few trips to the gym – I only really do the treadmill stuff so I can get to see Miss Phoebe who powers away on the cross trainer whilst I huff and puff next to her, now she’s moved six roads away, I will take any opportunity to see her – even if it means flogging my guts out in the gym, I then try and tempt her back to our house by having a fridge especially stocked with all her preferred tit bits, like a massive Smeg trap, the days I can lure her over for lunch or supper are my absolute favourites and I’m terribly aware how difficult I would find it if she was further away – I’d have to move so I could be nearer her (but never tell her this).
I’ve got the first live gig of 2013 under my belt with a ten min charity appearance for the Brook teenage sexual health charity, a lovely line up at the Bloomsbury with lots of familiar faces to have a gossip with. Being back on stage, even for a very short time, reminded me how much I love doing stand up – even if some of the audience looked a bit taken aback by the old bird with the potty mouth.
Me with large arse onstage
I came home in the snow – knowing I was going to have to get up early to catch a train to Bridport for Just a Minute – only we got snowed off and it was only when I got the phone call cancelling the gig that I realized how much I was looking forward to it! So, instead, the old man and I went to Tate Britain and bought new towels and hyacinths from Chelsea and came home for sausages, Splash and Borgen (series one on DVD- we are hopelessly behind). I thought Splash was hilarious and I’d do it in a heartbeat – I’d want to end up doing something off the five meter board, but reckon I’d chicken out at 3.5.
Anyway its gone snow mad here in London now and even Camberwell looks like a pretty bride – I’m meant to be going to Manchester tomorrow for Countdown recordings- I’ll keep you posted.
Snow from my study window
THIS MONTH I HAVE
Swimming Home by Deboragh Levy – it’s good but I don’t love it, it’s timeless and a little precious and I don’t think it has the heart or guts of Zadie Smith’s N.W despite it being Booker nominated (and Smith’s not).
The entire third series of Modern Family and now waiting impatiently for the 4th.
Borgen – time to see what all the fuss is about and so far the fuss is justified, its great.
I have also laughed a lot at this new series of Miranda and clenched v hard at the new series of One Born Every Minute.
Happy New Year!January 1st, 2013
Yes it is the 1st of Jan and this blog is such an obvious attempt at starting the New Year off properly, that it’s a bit desperate.
I don’t like New Year, it unnerves me, I always feel that the ‘clean slate’ thing, cancels out anything that I’ve ever achieved in the months and years/decades before and that I’m starting from scratch all over again and that all the books and plays and stuff I’ve written and all the gigs have all been wiped clean and don’t count for a hill o beans and that scares the shit out of me.
So we went to Margate to see the Alex Katz exhib, because otherwise I’d have sat around the house weeping in my new silk pajamas and missing Phoebe. Which is silly because everything’s ok really and I just need to get on with it, I’ve had a perfectly lovely Xmas and got loads of lovely present and now I just need to buck up, but starting new projects is quite hard and I like it when I’m half way through a lump of work and I kind of know what I’m doing.
Enough whingeing, this year I am going to sort out my dry cracked heels once those are sorted I shall work my way up my body, until by the end of 2013, I shall be smooth heeled, honed, toned and dandruff free.
Because I’m not really working til mid Jan – (apart from the usual ongoing writing stuff) I am making sure I see a lot of art, this is to give me a kick up the butt, I like the way a lot of artists just keep working and getting better and experimenting and don’t allow age to knacker or jade them – Hockney is a prime eg of this, just fucking keep going – do it bigger, do it bolder, just don’t stop.
So I have seen a beautiful hollowed out bronze tree at the Whitechapel, some great big David Nash sculptures at Kew and Alex Katz’s paintings in Margate – look all this stuff up and just to get you going here’s some photos from Kew.
Theatre wise, I’ve been to BAC twice in December with trips to see Josie Long who is charming and funny and immensely likeable on stage and Midnight’s Pumpkin – Kneehighs Xmas panto which pulled off the trick of getting even teenage boys up and out of their seats and yes I did get to wear the pumpkin outfit, because I was especially CHOSEN.
So last year, is last year and it’s not just me who will be thinking how on earth will I top 2012? I had some great adventures last year – from spending a fat whack of my first ever panto earnings on a trip to Miami, to losing the Loose Women gig! But to balance that out I did publish the best novel of my writing career so far, which, if you haven’t read – sort yourselves out and got Tour Eclairious up and running around the country!
So it’s time to plough on, some projects will take off and some will crash and burn – I’ll keep you posted, in the meantime I need to order a JML Ped – egg .
THIS MONTH I AM
READING – Richard Yates ‘Young Hearts Crying’ – not his best, am itching to finish and move onto ‘Swimming Home’ by Debora Levy – though the Amazon reviews are v mixed.
WATCHING – Lots of old black and white movies, inc ‘Woman in A Dressing Gown’ and some v camp Bette Davis oldies, plus lots of Modern Family. Normal telly over Xmas has been mostly pretty dreadful and now that ‘Made In Chelsea’ has finished I’m not sure what I shall do – though I have got some pretty gruesome Breaking Bad/Borgen box sets to wince through courtesy of my brother and Once Born Every Minute is back on.
LISTENING to The ‘Cazalets’ radio 4’s latest serialization, so far, so great .
Oh yes and because Ive never cooked them before and they were a bit touch and go for a while, here is a picture of my Puy lentils… correction, this is a picture of my left over puy lentils