I’m lucky, of course, in the sense that the only real problem I have is that I’m trying to record an album of songs but I can’t seem to finish it.

(Well, only one real problem if you were to disregard the little matter of my bank balance. And, I suppose, the fact that I am currently homeless. And the whole thing of having an addiction to stand-up comedy that tends to pose a major challenge to all my relationships with other people. And…I’ll come in again…)

I’m lucky in the sense that the problem which presents itself most clearly to me is that I am trying to record an album of songs which I can’t seem to finish.

They aren’t funny songs or anything (not like Tom McDonnell’s smashing ‘Dr. Jones’ song that’s been circulating the internet); they’re just songs I’ve written. Which I suppose brings me out of the closet as – whisper it – a secret wannabe pop singer. But most of you probably knew that anyway; what stand-up comedian isn’t, deep down, either a failed pop star or a failed actor?

But it’s been four years since I finished the last album I did, and it’s about bloody time I finished another one. It’s frustrating because it feels so close to being done, but it just isn’t quite there.

It’s all because of perfectionism and fear, of course; I’ve spent so long on the bloody thing that I think it HAS to be brilliant, or at least as good as it could possibly be. The trouble is, I’ve spent so long on it that I’ve got new songs I’ve written queueing up to be recorded; but I can’t start on recording them because I have to finish this album first. I’ve possibly even developed a kind of Stockholm-syndromey affection for this fear; I almost don’t want to finish it because of the freedom it would force on me if I do get it finished.

But I really need to finish it and get it ‘out there’ by Edinburgh; beyond that and it will be too late.

So with that in mind, I brought my laptop and guitar with me today to Banbury where I met my Dad – and Jenny, my sister – on the narrowboat. There isn’t much to do on the boat, and we’ll be spending the next few days chugging quietly down rivers and canals through remote bits of Oxfordshire. Perfect conditions, I thought, for me to finish off this album.

Now I’ve arrived, I’ve realised that it’s not so perfect after all. There are lock gates to open every ten minutes; there is a constant chugging of a big diesel engine and the quacking of ducks; and I’ve forgotten to bring any plectrums…


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