I think I learned something of the nature of friendship tonight. I have been learning a lot this week. First things first, though. I should detail what happened between leaving the last train I blogged from and arriving at the train I'm now blogging from. I should do this to give all the details and also to kill a bit of time. Do you wonder whether J K Rowling would have written shorter books if she lead a busier life?
At waterloo station I was in no rush to get the next train and so I took the time to charge up my oyster card. Lest you don't know what this is, it's a pre pay ticket for the London transport system which comes in the form of a magic card that you touch on special panels and they work out between them the most economical way to charge you. I also got some cash out.
Then I went to the venue. I was a good 45 minutes earlier than the previous two nights, so I had time to set up, tune the guitar more assiduously (it still sounded out of tune) and then get out and start the fruitless flyering. The other member of the show who flyers hadn't turned up, so I got a drink and relaxed first.
I found myself sharing my patch outside the pub with a drug dealer. Interesting. I was saying something like 'Do you want to see some comedy?' and then he was chipping in with 'you want drugs?'. It wasn't quite phrased that way, but it was equally odd.
Eventually the other flyerer turned up and we lost the dealer. This is one of those things where I'll look back and feel pointlessly aggrieved. There are three of us in the show. Two of us flyer. The other arrives 10 minutes before the show and he does sod all. With the exception of the flying guy's wife on the first night, I've been the only one using friends to fill seats and though I know the flying guy has made some effort to spread the word, the third chap simply won't. He doesn't care. It's disposable to him and there's nothing we can do to change that.
Flyering hasn't worked. Asking people to come has worked more than I thought it would. Earlier I'd spoken to a friend on Msn and determined that he was coming. Another friend was also coming. So that would be a playable audience of two. Playable just.
But friendship is a funny thing. The msn friend is an old school friend whom I've sporadically kept in touch with over the years. I think I often get in touch with him when I need something. I'm sorry about that. But he always comes through. . . I hope there's something in it for him somewhere and that he could call on me. My other expected attendee was someone I used to live with and whom I've stayed in touch with off and on. Mainly off. We have some shared history and he crops up in my life now and then as do I in his. It was good to see him and catch up with the last 19 months' developments.
Apparently a reader of this blog, hi there, a friend from university days also showed up, with his girlfriend. On the one hand it was a blast from the past. . . About ten years past. On the other hand it was two more for the audience. I was more impressed with the former. Honestly. Though I can't help but look down on the way I appear to sell tickets to my reunions with old pals.
Bizarrely, and I am not going to complain, I tried to flyer someone who was already planning to see the show. He'd picked up the listing from Time Out. Moreover we discovered another such 'muggle' in the audience. Wow.
So much for thinking that yesterday would be the last show. So much for thinking that no off the street punters would join the audience. Two did. And the show went along ok.
I could have asked to go on last, but I won't be that guy. I took middle position, reasoning that my friends would stay for me and wouldn't walk out two thirds through a show, where they might choose to if I opened and they didn't find the other acts to their taste. Sounds cynical, but I had yesterday's comments from audience members in my head and I think it was the right thing to do. I won't review my performance. I had a good enough time to build up some momentum and I tried one new joke which worked.
It's the post show thank you, which seems increasingly to be a nostalgic review of the times I shared with the friends I almost forget, that should not be omitted or underrated. I think I am lucky to have met many good people and shared a laugh with them, and the fact that they're prepared to put the effort in to come and say hi at a small theatre in camden makes me wonder whether I haven't been foolish almost losing touch. I resolve to make sure it's more than my desire to have an audience that links me to my friends.
The post show drink included the school friend and college friend, who also knew each other, and one of the other acts. We shared the stories, which relied on many in jokes and back plots to make them make sense, and we gleefully recounted these tales. It was fun.
I don't foster delusions of stardom or a belief that I deserve an audience for what we're doing in Camden. I can hope for some people to come and I really appreciate it when they do. Maybe it's good to have an excuse to gather your friends around you. Maybe I shouldn't need excuses.
Either way, this week has brought some familiar faces back into my life and I'm thankful.