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London Calling

For those of you that have been paying attention to the blog this past few weeks, you will no dount have noticed how I pimped my trip to London. Well, now I'm back, and because I have a lack of better things to write about, I shall treat you to a diary of my trip.

Friday 2nd March, 2012:

Get to Wigan Station a little early and stand in the sun (with my big winter jacket on, I'm not an idiot, unless I've proven to you otherwise), until the train arrives. On the train and arrive at London Euston a little over two hours later, at 4pm. I walk from the station to my hotel but I misjudge the distance from Euston to Marylebone station (My Travelodge is just over the road) and I'm worn out from carrying a heavy back. Get to the room, dump my stuff, relax for a bit before heading out for the evening's entertainment. The Theatre, Darling! The Theatre. Over to the Geilgud Theatre to pick up my ticket for "The Ladykillers." The theatre is right next door to Les Mis. I'm a little early, so after getting my ticket, I walk past the theatre where Les Mis is performing. As I walk buy I get shouted at by a guy, but I ignore him and carry on walking. A few more steps and he taps me on the shoulder, insisting that he knows me, and that "we did stuff together last Sunday." As I carry on walking, I tell him he's mistaken and that I was in Manchester last Sunday. It's at this point he changes tactics: "What you looking for?" he says. "Jesus," I reply. He fucks off. I cross the street and circle back around to the Geilgud. I go in and stand at the bar. I buy a program, and settle in to watch the show. It was fab. I've never seen the original movie, though I should probably watch it now.

Saturday 3rd March, 2012:

Up at 9am and then out to Balham for an all day improv workshop with Hoopla improv Run by Steve Roe. My fellow course takers include a couple of familiar faces: Luis (who I know from Wow Improv in Bedworth) and Ravi (who's been to a workshop with Box Of Frogs in Birmingham). Improv community is a small world. To illustrate that point further, I went to lunch with three other people to a local fish and chip place, and when I was asked where I did improv, I said in Manchester, and he said "I went to ComedySportz, too." His name's Tim and he went to Bron's workshops between 2008 and 2010 before moving to London. Our paths must have only just missed in Manchester, as I started on May 1st 2010, but as I said, small world.

The class itself was really good. The topic was Genres. We did a bunch of different scenes with themes. The most challening was trying to do it in iambic pentameter for Shakespeare. That, and me introducing Transformers into Shakespeare made it a little more difficult. But in all honesty, when you think about it Megan Fox is the closest thing we have these days to a proper Shakespearean actress, so I wasn't totally off base. Hopefully it won't be too long before I can go back to one os Steve's workshops.

After class, I was shattered and that combined with the Victoria tube line being closed, meant I just didn't get around to going to the Hen & Chicken Theatre to see The Scat Pack. Sorry, Scat Pack. But at least we have now established a pattern game. I've missed your shows in Manchester and London. If you put on a show in Birmingham, I'll do my darndest to miss that one, too. So after not leaving the hotel again, I just simply read a book before falling asleep.

Sunday 4th March, 2012:

It was raining when I met her, but we were inside so it didn't matter. I finally met Jpops in person. She's awesomely fantastic. We (me, Jpops and her friend J) go to Camden Market, and get rained on. I'm lead to a shop "Cyber Candy" where I buy Australian Candy ("Violet Crumbles") and even some American stuff ("Peanut Butter M&Ms"). Sadly, there isn't any Tim Tams or Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts, so I'll have to venture to the Australia Shop in Covent Garden. We exit Cybercandy and it's still raining. It's bitterly cold and I keep having to dodge out of the way of all the short people with umberellas. We escape into a pub "The Hawley" for lunch after giving up getting soaked and poked, where I have the Sausage and Mash.

After we finished lunch it's about 3pm, so we decide to head to Piccadilly Circus. The Camden tube stop was exit only at that point, so we battled the freezing elements and made our way to Chalk Farm. A while later, we find ourselves in Piccadilly Circus. It's about 4pm and we have plenty of time to kill, so we venture into the M&M store (I've now been in both London and Vegas branches. I'm coming back for you, New York) and wander around the streets, until we get to the Trocadero. What a depressing shithole that turned out to be. My only knowledge of the place up until that point was they used to do the Presenter links on Nickelodeon from there back in the day.

We make our way to The Comedy Pub for some food and a few drinks. I had Sausage and Mash again, because I'm just that kind of maverick. I think I'm going to proclaim that for this day forward, Sunday 4th March 2012 will forever be known as Sausage & Mash Day.

And then it was time. The Comedy Store Players at The London Store. The London Store reminds me a lot of the UCB Chelsea Theatre in New York. It was a fantastic show: Neil Mullarkey, Richard Vranch, Josie Lawrence, Niall Ashdown, Paul Merton and Suki Webster had an amazing night. (It was probably just ok by their own standards) They even took my suggestion of "sausages." Highlights include Paul interviewing and translating for Richard's German expert (topics were "sausages" and "beer") and a long story "Neptune's Dream" where Josie played a character called Captain Lovely. At one point Josie gave a quite long justification as to why a mysterous planet might not have shown up on their scanner, at which point Paul just said, "No, it's because your scanner is fucked." Fantastic. I think this show has brought another two fans into the improv fold (Jpops and J), so yay for that.

Back to the hotel after that, and after expressing my thanks to the cast via Twitter, I get a response from Neil Mullarkey. Go to bed quite happy, but hoping that it's going to be warmer tomorrow.

Monday 5th March, 2012:

Up not so early and out to Covent Garden to find that Australia Shop for more expensive Australian sweetie goodness. On the Tube I ate a bagel and had a coffee (I'll say that I purchased them before I got on the Tube, I didn't just find them on the Bakerloo line. It was the ultimate New York experience, A coffee, a bagel, and a subterranean train. Just in London instead.) The shop is not where Google maps says it is. I spend half an hour wandering around trying to find it. In the process I lose my balance on the cobbles in the courtyard near the Disney store, hurting my ankle. I manage to find it eventually (both my balance and the Australia Shop on Maiden Lane) and come away with Tim Tams, Violet Crumbles, and cans of Solo.

It was at this point I decided to take my purchases back to the hotel, as they were too expensive to carry around the dangerous streets of London without an armed escort. I got back to the hotel at around noon, catching House Keeping in the act of cleaning my room. The House keeping guy doesn't look me in the eyes. This makes me feel shame, so I just decided to chill out for a bit. Around and hour later, I wandered around the streets of Marylebone looking for food. Or, more appropriately, places to purchase food, as my days as a pigeon mime artiste were long behind me. (I was ahead of my time when it came to the visual arts. The London Evening Observer called it "Inappropriately Long, and highly infectious [with disease]!") I found a place to eat in Marylebone station proper, and a cup of potato wedges later, I was nourished enough to go back to my room and chill out for a bit longer as my ankle was still hurting.

I decided to go to see a movie, so I travel on Tube to Piccadilly Circus and go to the Cineworld in the shithole that is the Trocadero. The cinema's quite nice, and the film "Wanderlust" is very good. After the movie, I head to McDonald's (Well, I had to at least once). I was going to go to the evening improv workshop, but my nakle hurt too much and I was just too tired, so I went back to the hotel, and just chilled out and read a book on my final night in London.

Tuesday 6th March, 2012:

So the day gets off to a little hiccup thanks to a miscommunication, and I don't do much until leaving the hotel, except of course have a little Twitter interaction from Captain Lovely herself, Josie Lawrence. At 11.30am head to the Taxi rank at Marylebone station for a trip to Euston for the train home. I just couldn't be arsed taking the Tube again, especially when I have to go so far out of my way to change lines. I get safely onboard the Lancaster bound train, ensconced in seat 7 of Coach B, anticipating a relaxing journey home in one hour and fifty five minutes. An hour and fifty five minutes of writing one liners for Newsjack later, the train makes an unscheduled stop at Crewe, where we are told the service going forward is cancelled thanks to signal issues in the Warrington Bank Quay area. Now I know why the journey home was only £12, as they don't take you all the way. We have to stand around for a while on Platform 6, and if you've ever had to stand on Platform 6 at Crewe station you know how scintilating that can be. For those that don't, I'll just say that it isn't like Platform 9 and three quarters, though there is a homeless Alan Rickman look-a-like who will show you his wand. So eventually, we get on a Glasgow Central service that is travelling via Manchester Piccadilly. I get off at Piccadilly, (and by that I mean exit the train, not masturbate out the window as the train hurtles past the platform) and catch the Southport service to Wigan, arriving back in town a mere two hours after I should have.

Later on, I get home and type up my Newsjack one liners and send them off via email with just three minutes to spare before the deadline.

And now, I'm writing this diary.

And that, ladies and gentlemen is a wrap on my London adventure.

Until next time, take it easy.


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