Yesterday I was in the Lake District in north west England. It is a lovely area but not for me. Cumbria is one vast hilly area widely bereft of WiFi or even mobile phone signals.
If the choice is between having WiFi, mobile phone signals and 24-hour supermarkets in a city… or living 20 miles from the nearest chocolate shop in idyllic countryside surrounded by the agonised howls and screams of cuddly woodland creatures ripping each others throats out every night, give me the city every time.
Cumbria is very pretty except for Barrow-in-Furness.
As an ITV researcher on Surprise! Surprise!, I once had to go there to talk to a blind man who wanted us to make his dream come true by helping him make a parachute jump. I saw Barrow-in-Furness in heavy drizzle. He was lucky to be blind.
We were going to arrange a (perfectly safe) parachute jump for him but, about a week after I met him, BBC TV managed to kill a contestant on Noel Edmonds’ Late Late Breakfast Show and we decided to abort anything which sounded even potentially dangerous.
Anyway, I was in Cumbria yesterday to see Martin Soan end his year-long reign as Fool of Muncaster Castle and hand the title on to the new Fool – chosen by a panel of experts.
Abi Collins aka Katinka won it – the first female Fool in the contest’s short history.
“What did you have to do all year?” I asked Martin.
“Absolutely nothing,” he told me.
“Wasn’t there something about beer?” I asked.
“The prize was free alcohol for the year,” said Martin, “but you had to be in Muncaster Castle to get your free beer and I live in London.”
Yesterday, he rushed back down to London after the day-long Muncaster Castlle event, to set up tonight’s Pull The Other One monthly comedy show in Nunhead.
“And then you’re off to do Pull The Other One in Leipzig?” I asked.
“Yes, on Sunday,” he replied. “… No! I leave for Leipzig on Monday! On Sunday, I’m writing a new show with Boothby Graffoe.”
“For the Edinburgh Fringe?” I asked.
“For this year?”
“No. Next year.”
“What is it?”
“It’s taking all the tiny little elements I’ve been working on for years and years that I’ve made part successful and I now want to thread them all together into a beautiful tapestry of well-choreographed nonsense, madness and chaotic, sublime comedy.”
“Ye Gods,” I said, “You’ve already written the PR blurb, then?”
“It wasn’t bad, was it?” laughed Martin, “but that’s exactly what I want to do.”
“Why with Boothby?” I asked.
“Because it’s a huge jigsaw puzzle, he knows me inside-out, it’s difficult to be objective and he’s very good at turning rubbish into sparkling gems.”
“I know the feeling,” I said.
I sometimes wonder if the blind man ever made his parachute jump.