The Technicolor Faded Fast

Robin Ince has dreams of betrayal

Last night, I had bad dreams; dreams of betrayal, my betrayal of other people.

I know they were vivid from the sensation in my stomach as I started to wake, but not vivid enough in my mind to leave many clues of their content or cast of characters. The Technicolor faded fast as the light shone in. 

I was in Portobello to collect the books I had left with my pal, Jo, after the Edinburgh fringe . 

I arrived at her flat in the early evening, having spent the day in Glasgow. I had started that day in Dalmuir speaking to proof readers and copy editors. I started talking for about 70 minutes at the unusual speaking time of 920am. The audience were warm and fun. I was comfortable in their presence. I particularly liked the summary of my talk as “hilarious but deadly serious”, I meant every word, but you can mean every word and still have jokes too. 

I had arrived early on Saturday evening, in time to enjoy the buffet followed by the conference quiz. There must always be one answer that you are furious to have failed to get right, knowing full well that it lived in your mind but had decided to hide under a blanket of Merlot, and that answer for me was Bad Guy by Billie Eilish. My hotel room had a connecting door which meant that I could hear my neighbour’s talking book – it involved “Rachel” and, somewhere after chapter one, some jewellery was found. Fortunately, I still had some wax earplugs left over from the Edinburgh fringe and I jammed them in my ear. 

The Sunday morning engagement was over so soon that I was able to join Josie Long and family in the park and then for Sunday lunch, followed by a thunderstorm. We talked of many things, from megafauna to the mass media. Josie is a pioneer and I think she is a major reason for many people’s careers, but those who came after seem to get more mass exposure than she does. 

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You have to be careful watching where others get to when you feel you don’t always get what you deserve, but it is fine to be infuriated on behalf of your friend.

I occasionally dwell on such things. I wonder why the enormous international success of The Infinite Monkey Cage has never led to the BBC occasionally thinking I would fit on QI or other television shows (just for the pay packet and possible increase in live ticket sales), but then I admonish myself and remind me that you just have to get on with creating things.

I arrive at Portobello by bus. Margaret Thatcher said that only losers takes the bus which is one of the many inspirations to take them more often, as well as a chance to see a little more of the reality of a city.  I am surprised by just how many books still need transporting – including a vast art book on the Black Mountain College, once home to Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham and John Cage. I may not be at my home, but I ova e night off and watch Sarah Polley’s Women Talking. It is a superb piece of filmmaking on every level. I know it will return to me soon. It reminded me of Suzanne Lacy’s filmed work of a circle of men in a bull ring – each one individually approaching the camera and then reading an account of physical abuse written by the female victim.

I decide to get a taxi in the morning due to the weight of luggage . It is driven by Ian, who moved from Edinburgh to London when he was 15 years old. Living in Earls Court, he saw an advert for a “magic bus to Greece”. A man laughed at him where he asked where Greece was, but he explained he was only a teen, but a teen that wanted to get moving. He told me about his traveling life – with stints in Greece, Sweden and San Francisco, as well as selling ice cream outside Harrods and being moved on by the police on a daily basis.

He now drives his cab for just four hours a day and gets the cheapest seat to a different destination once a week, sometimes to Gothenberg, sometimes to Tallin, sometimes to Budapest.

We also have a mutual acquaintance in Jenny, who runs Edinburgh’s Main Point Books, a regular haunt of mine.

The Monday train home worries me. This week is the first time in six weeks that I have time to be stationary, how will my body and mind take to that?

Books read on the journey to and from (none in their entirety) –

Armed with Madness by Mary M Talbot and Bryan Talbot

John Niven’s O Brother

Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister

The Pythons by The Pythons

My Life in Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler

Walking through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black by Cookie Mueller

Robin is bringing is award winning Fringe show Weapons of Empathy to Manchester on September 21st. Tickets here.

Robin Ince is a multi-award winning comedian, writer and broadcaster.  As well as spending decades as one the UK’s most respected stand-ups, Robin is perhaps best known for co-hosting The Infinite Monkey Cage radio show with Prof Brian Cox.  For his work on projects like Cosmic Shambles he was made an Honorary Doctor of Science by Royal Holloway, University of London. His latest books are The Importance of Being Interested and Bibliomaniac.

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