Yesterday I drove all the way to Stoke. The one that is “-on-Trent”, rather than the one that is “Newington”, which would have been much closer and probably not worth writing about. I am normally quite a late riser, 7.30am being an accepatble time, 9.30am often better, but we had to be in the north by 10am, so 5am it was. It’s as if my schedule doesn’t respect my body’s desire to sleep.
The journey north was an easy drive as I’d picked up Ian Hawkins and Neil McFarlane and I had a bag of carrots. So that was the chat and the breakfast sorted. As we got further and further north, the clouds drew in around what had been beaming sun and the rain started to fall. This year that cannot be blamed on poor Stoke as the drive home last night took us back through steadily worsening weather until we hit what can only be described as a monsoon type downfall when we reached the M25. How very British to be talking about the weather.
We arrived in good time. Well, late, but it is always important to make an entrance. Teas and coffees were procured and, our numbers now swollen like the bloated rivers of this drought suffering nation to a grand total of 5, we all sat down with the newspapers. Today we were talking news. Today we were talking quite a lot of shit. Today we were laughing.
The other bodies in the room were Matt Wills and the man who’d organised this “Comedy made in Stoke” show we were on, Chris Douglas. The room itself was in the media studies building of the college there in Stoke, and had 4 mics hanging over the table that we were working at, with the sound man in the next door room. This setup made it very easy to work. The mics picked up our voices very well, we were all facing each other, and we had a table in front to have the papers and our notes on. With a few pints of beer it would have been even more superb (now there’s an idea for a show).
Chris had put together a list of story headlines to talk about, however most of them were football related, and the rest of us knew about as much about football as we did about Stoke’s great heritage as the centre of Britain’s of pottery manufacturing industry from the 17th to 19th centuries. In fact, having just googled Stoke for my facts, I probably now know more about that than I do about football. But football and pottery will never get you laid…
Although Chris had been putting together headlines for several weeks, after a short discussion we decided that new headlines of topics that were more current might work better, and this therefore also allowed us to come to them fresh. After a brief look through the various rags in front of us and a little warm up banter, we were away, and for the next 3 hours, with a few breaks, we then went through the headlines and interesting stories, brainstorming ideas and afterthoughts into the microphones.
We made a good crew for this, trusting one and other’s choices and ideas and coming up with some lovely laughs between us, and it was a fun few hours. Listening to it back, it will make an interesting and enjoyable show, with enough there for probably at least two fourty minute shows. However, Chris wants to use this as a calling card, and with careful editing, getting rid of some of the half formed ideas that really should not be broadcast (!) and selecting how he wants to structure it, he will, if he chooses, have an extremely strong 20 minute showcase, from which he wants to launch a course in the college next year. Good luck to him and have us back for the next one!
So, after a successful few hours of work, it was our time to head home again. Neil was staying north to perform locally, and Ian and I made our way through the weather back to London town, with her roads paved with gold and her palaces and castles and her bishops and dragons. It was Friday. That, I guess, is one way to start the weekend.