Had a tough few weeks on the road, pushing my body a bit too hard at times, with late nights and early mornings, and a few thousand miles traveled on bus, plane and car. Having done a talk almost every night for a week, including some 5am starts, my body had started to crumble, with a sore throat and general ‘ME’ style fatigue chasing me (I really felt for Goarge Michael, his tour cancelled due to pneumonia - although I don’t smoke, so maybe that had more to do with it!). Sleep becomes the overriding obsession, as well as staying one step ahead of illness (drank a lot of lemon and honey in hot water last week), anything in order to perform. Joe Simpson tweeted me to ask if I ever stopped talking and touring, and I guess the answer was no.
Anyway I guess it came to a head in Inverness this week, where I was well and truly knackered (got home from Southampton late, drove to Leeds, did gig, got home at midnight got up at 5.30am to get train to Manchester airport for 8.55 flight). I knew something was up as my mood was a bit odd, getting irritated easily (mainly with Karen) at little things. I guess I always give the impression that I’m laid back, and don’t give myself enough slack. Almost every date has sold out, and this little book tour has taken on a bit of a life of it’s own, and I felt people where expecting a lot more than I had in mind!
Anyway at the Inverness gig I seemed to start well, but for some reason latched onto this guy in the front who’s wife was Polish (she wasn’t there) and kept making stupid polish jokes all the time, the words seemingly bypassing any thought process. To make matters worse I made a joke about my son telling Leo Houlding (after Ella had told I was obsessed with him) that I was a racist - which got a big a big laugh. I then told the theatre he only said that because I said ‘Oh lets have a chinky’, which less people found funny, and then - from no where - (maybe I thought I was loosing people and had to come up with a real killer line), I said - wait for it - “oh and I’d stabbed thoes two Paki blokes”!!!!!!!
Lets just say I doubt even Bernard Manning would have spoken that line.
The weird thing is that every night I’d told the story about a Sikh guy buying me a cup of tea when I was in a very low point, and after that I knew I could never be racist. For some reason I didn’t tell that story (probably too busy basing Polish people), but that racist strand somehow got turned around - but not in a good way.
I heard to other day how General Patton, one of the most rightwing and aggressive generals of World War two, was actually a very thoughtful man, and how on leaving a unit he’s just chastised as being cowards, or threatening to court martial them all unless they gave him blood and thunder, he’d sit in his staff car and beat himself up about what he’d said, and in order to get over it he’d write a little prayer.
I guess standing on a stage with no real script, your brain junked up by a lack of sleep, the audience leading you on, there’s no wonder that I can be a bit edgy (I’m no Ricky Gervias). Throw in a disconnect between brain and mouth, ideas that form on the tongue, a hint of self destruction, as well a drop of torrets, then I guess that’s why things can turn out that way. Maybe I should stop trying to do anything but a normal climbing lecture.
Needless to say I’ve said a little prayer.
A Mars Bar bar costs 60p. Were these words worth as much?
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Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram