day 4: ppp

The first thing I heard yesterday morning was the alarm ringing on a digital casio wristwatch. BIPBIPBIPBIPBIPBIPBIP, it went. An awful grating sound that made me instantly conscious of what had happened the night before.

I’m not expecting very much sympathy, of course, when I write about the horror of having an iphone taken – it does make me look a bit of an idiot. But it really does feel like a bit of my brain has been removed and I’m having to re-grow it. Particularly at the Edinburgh Festival, where everything moves at such a breakneck pace that not being able to call anyone leaves you completely impotent, not having a phone is a bit of a disaster. Still, after spending a fair chunk of the morning calling police, mobile phone companies, insurance people etc. on Fraser’s phone, I had to resign myself to the fact that I would have to spend a few days as a phoneless man.

Theoretically, The Carphone Warehouse have quite a good policy that if your phone is insured, you can go into a branch and get a replacement immediately. Annoyingly, my Iphone is now 14 months old, which means that in order to replace it, the Carphone Warehouse have to order in that especially old model that they don’t stock any more, and which will take at least another day to arrive.

“It might be more than a day,” said the assistant in the shop, “So we’ll call you to let you know when it’s here.”

“Okay,” I said. “How?”

“Good point,” she said.

The details of how the phone actually went missing are still pretty unclear. What I definitely do know is that before the show, I had put my phone into my jacket pocket, and that after the show, when I realised it was gone, somebody must have taken it out of the venue because there is absolutely no signal in the cave at all, and when Rik tried calling my phone it rang and rang and wasn’t answered.

I had to conclude it had almost certainly been stolen. But who could have done it? It obviously wasn’t a comedian because I also had my notebook of material in that jacket, and what comedy thief wouldn’t want that treasure-trove?

(Either that, or it was a very very subtle heckle – ‘I wouldn’t want your new material even if you left a book of it unattended’ – but I’ll console myself with the belief that they just didn’t realise the value of the notebook.)

To be honest, I didn’t realise the value of that notebook until yesterday, either. It’s a little brown leather-bound thing that my friends Natalie and Matt gave me for my birthday; it’s beautiful to write in, it has a soft leatheriness that feels comforting, and it smells nice too. But it made yesterday into the kind of day that I would have had in Edinburgh back before everyone had mobile phones; I had to wander round, unable to contact people, having to arrange to meet people in set times and places, making notes in my notebook of things I’d otherwise forget.

In some ways, of course, it was actually quite nice. Arthur Smith used to do a brilliant bit about how he uses an operating system which he calls PPP – it stands for ‘Pen and Paper Protocol’ – and it has a number of advantages against other operating systems, like how the batteries never run out, it’s incredibly portable, etc. I always thought that was quite funny, if a little smug, but spending a day trying to negotiate the Edinburgh festival with no more than a little notebook, I can see the merits of it.

There were two major downsides: Firstly, we found out at lunchtime that the Awards judges were going to be watching the 80s Movie Flashback that night, and I wasn’t able to call people I would have liked to come along and support us. I had a few brief moments of internet access in the afternoon, but that wasn’t really enough.

Secondly, I hadn’t been able to book a really good headliner for the showcase show, so that wasn’t as good as it could have been; Sarah Campbell and Patch Hyde were both excellent, but Rik, who I was hoping might headline the showcase, quite rightly pulled out to work on a new Flashback sketch that we were going to insert that night. I ended up having to get Manos and another act from the show next door, and not only did they both have fairly crap gigs, they both massively overran so I got in trouble with the venue manager.

Then, ironically, in the Flashback show the new sketch went all wrong anyway.

Still, the show was good – the cast are able to pick up the pace now when things start to drag, and it felt like a funny show. There’s still room to get funnier – but then, there always is.

As we left the venue, though, I felt in my pocket for my notebook.

And it wasn’t there.

I wondered for a brief, glorious moment if perhaps somebody did want to steal my new material after all; but then I went back to into the venue and there it was, leather-bound and unstolen, on the mixing desk where I’d left it.

As I came back out to meet the others, Rik and the others pointed out that that terrible moment of déjà vu had basically been like a very lo-tech version of what had happened the night before; the next night, was I maybe going to be losing a quill and some papyrus? Would it be distracting to have me spending the night after that chiselling out notes on a stone tablet? We’re already in a cave; at least if I paint on the walls then it can’t go missing…

And I laughed, and I didn’t stop laughing until we got back to the flat and fell asleep.

Showcase: audience 34 (felt half-full); performance 3

Flashback: pretty good…

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