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Cramlington or Bust

15 October 2004

Hoop-de-doo, I get to stay in tomorrow night.

And why, you wonder, is that well-known party animal Chaz celebrating the staying in of a Friday night? Canít be because itís the first day of Ramadan, he is not known to fast...

No, really, all it is, is that itíll be my first & only night in all week, and I do actually like being in my house with my cat and all. Monday, I went to the launch of a short-story project, and was read to by poets (please note, am resisting any temptation to say they were slumming; actually, I thoroughly enjoyed their work. But when is someone going to finance a project to encourage prose writers to turn to poetry?). Tuesday was Cosi Fan Tutte, and Wednesday was Manon Lescaut (the Puccini, not the Massenet of that ilk), for lovely Opera North is in town. I do adore being sung to. I was actually quite late coming to opera, and didnít get there till my twenties - not sure where that antipathy came from; given my family, teenage rebellion should have driven me straight into the arms of high art - but musicals have been a passion since I could first walk to a cinema.

Tonight I was in Cramlington, which is not quite the same (uh, itís a small satellite town, ten minutes on the train from Newcastle). They asked me to give them a talk on crime fiction, so they got an hour and a half of Chaz in his anecdotage, rambling in and out and around the subject vaguely. They seemed happy; I would have been entirely happy too (I will get paid, and actually I thoroughly enjoyed myself), but that there were only half a dozen punters there, along with a handful of library staff. That doesnít in itself depress me - Iím used to it, and it was a foul night to be out - but it set me thinking, or trying to think, trying to remember the last time I did a gig with a decent turn-out, more people than expected turning up. You know what? I canít remember one. Not one, in twenty-some years of public appearances. Granted that my memory is suspect, but it does seem to me that my entire career as a performer has been played out in front of disappointing houses. On a par with my book sales, really: just never quite meeting expectations. Hey-ho.

Tomorrow, as I say, I get to stay in and nurse my sorrows. Well, I would, if my cat didnít demand so much nursing. Sorrows may be small and black, but I doubt theyíre furry and Iím damn sure they donít purr. Then Saturday is Orfeo and Eurydice, with a party after, and on Sunday Iím reading an old favourite story of mine at Live Theatre, with Matt Thorne and the gorgeous Chrissie Glazebrook. And this is only the first week in a run of weeks like this, with stuff happening almost every night, and I am tired already...


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© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.