The weekend of Tim Minchin shows that I blogged about the other day was the middle weekend of my two week induction placement in school – the very first school experience of my teacher training course. Going away for the whole weekend probably wasn’t the best idea but it was worth it. I was only observing classes in school, although I did do a little bit of teaching. And so far so good; I’m still pretty sure I’ve made the right decision to do this. I’m about to start a six week placement, back at the same school, and this time I’ll actually be planning and teaching lessons so I hope I survive!
Anyway, after the Minchin shows in High Wycombe and Birmingham I didn’t have too long to wait before I got to see the show again. Two weeks later on 8th October Tim played the first of his Scottish dates in Perth at the recently built Concert Hall. From what Tim has said these new venues, although great for the audience and very impressive to look at, are quite difficult to play as all the audience noise and applause is sucked away and doesn’t make it to the stage. The show in Perth was brilliant, despite an audience who did seem a little slow on the uptake at times. I had another front row seat which is great, apart from getting completely spotlit during If I Didn’t Have You and Storm when Tim is lit from behind. I think my favourite part of this show was the encore – there were lots of shouts from the audience for some old favourites and Tim treated to quite a few intros before settling on White Wine in the Sun. My shout for You Grew On Me went ignored, although when I complained that ‘it’s only just October’ I earned myself the finger from Tim and the assertion that it was OK to play a song about Christmas because ‘there are big socks in the shops’! I also met another couple of Angry(Feet) twitterers at the Perth gig – Helen (@glamlovinkitty) and Adam (@sturmwulfe) – which is always nice. I got a chance to have a quick word with Tim after the show too, where I gave him a birthday card which I had seen and couldn’t resist because of the quote on the front – ‘My opinions may change the older I get, but not the fact that I am right’. Pretty spot on I thought! We also had a bit of a discussion about whether or not Horton actually did hear a Who – provoked by my t-shirt, one of several I own with Minchin quotes on them.
The day after the Perth show came the show I had most been looking forward to in the whole tour. Tim was coming to The Alhambra in Dunfermline – not only my home town but the theatre where I volunteer as a steward – which meant I managed to get access to the theatre all day. Until the theatre manager decided I wasn’t allowed due to Health and Safety issues, I helped unload all the lights and set from the truck and get everything set up on the stage. It was all very cool, and Tim’s crew were all lovely. It must be a bit of a nightmare for them turning up at a different venue every day, never quite sure if everything they need will be there or not. Tim showed up with John, his tour manager, late afternoon and I was very excited to be able to witness some sound checking and warming up. I think the most surreal part of the day for me had to be actually scrubbing the ground at Tim’s feet!! There had been a show called ‘Vampire’s Rock’ in the theatre a few days before and there was still some fake blood on the stage which wouldn’t come off with mopping so while Tim stood at the mic singing a little bit of If I Didn’t Have You, I cleaned up the fake blood – surely not an experience that every Tim Minchin fan gets to have?!
The show itself was awesome as ever, apart from a ridiculous number of people with conveniently weak bladders getting up and down throughout the show (Tim had stopped and waited for a boy who got up and walked right across the front of the audience causing much hilarity, but unfortunately encouraging a lot of copy-cat wee-ers). Shell had come up for the show (and the Edinburgh and Glasgow shows which followed) so we went out for a drink afterwards as we weren’t sure whether Tim would come out or not (due to the presence of the legendary Karen Coren) and the fact that it was pissing with rain. The whole day was certainly a brilliant experience and one I felt lucky to have.
The third, and last, of the Scottish dates that was going to was in Edinburgh the following day. And it brought another visitor – Kate (@kateweb) came up on the train and after meeting her at the station we headed to a pub next to the very impressive Usher Hall. Before the gig we met up with Shell again, and also Helen and Adam who were back for a second dose of Tim. The venue was particularly impressive in Edinburgh – a big, round, concert hall which has recently been refurbished. Again it was great from an audience perspective (Kate and I had front row seats again) but from what Tim said after it was another venue where he felt a bit detached from the audience reaction. We hung around after the show and got a chance to have a chat with Tim again which was pretty cool – I do wonder if he ever gets fed up of us waiting after shows and wishes we would just leave him alone. If he does then he certainly hides it very well, for which I am grateful!
When tickets for the Scottish shows went on sale I convinced myself that three shows in a row was plenty and didn’t get a ticket for the Glasgow show. After the Edinburgh show though, and knowing that the others were all going to the Glasgow show I changed my mind! Unfortunately for me the show was sold out and despite my best efforts I couldn’t get my hands on a ticket. Still, I only had a three week wait before seeing the show again. On the 23rd and 24th October I went to two out the three sold out shows at the Hammersmith Apollo – the second of which was being recorded for a DVD. But before that I had plenty of other excitement planned – and that deserves a post of its own so for now I’ll leave this here.

The Return of The Blog

I know, I know – it’s been ages since I last wrote a blog. And it’s not because I’ve had nothing to write, more that I’ve had too much excitement and I don’t really know where to start!

On the 25th September I saw my first shows of the current Tim Minchin Ready For This? tour. I started writing a blog post but somehow got distracted and never really finished it but it took ages so I’m going to put it here now…..
This weekend it was finally time for my first show of Tim Minchin’s current ‘Ready For This?’ tour. It was way back in March when I started planning the trip – originally I was going to see four shows; Cambridge, High Wycombe, Birmingham and Coventry. Although they might seem like a fairly random collection of towns/cities they were selected in order that I could meet up with my fellow Minchin fans, and Twitterers, Liza (@wickedlibrarian) and Shannon (@MonaSmith) who were coming over from America (Illinois and LA respectively) to see Tim on tour. So, Liza and I booked show tickets, hotels and car hire for the trip….then I decided to pursue my, slightly last minute, plan to do teacher training. And it turned out the  mini-tour fell on the middle weekend of my first two week school placement. If I believed in fate or karma I might think that I’d done something wrong, but I don’t so it was just an unfortunate co-incidence which meant I definitely wouldn’t make the Thursday night Cambridge show, and after a quick flight check it was clear I wouldn’t be able to get home after the Sunday night Coventry show so that was ruled out too. Which left trying to get to High Wycombe from Scotland in time for the show after a full day at school. Easier said than done as it turned out. The best I could do was book a 18.15 flight and hope that I made it in time for the second half of the show.
With all the other things going on at the moment, the weekend kind of crept up on me and I hadn’t really had a chance to get excited but sitting at Edinburgh Airport on Friday night I couldn’t wait to get there. The journey was pretty uneventful despite a series of short but frustrating delays; the flight was 10 minutes late, I was sat towards the back of the plane and had to wait for everyone in front of me to get off first, the car hire guy seemed unable to use a keyboard, and then when I finally thought I was well on my way I hit stationary traffic on the M25. I eventually made it to High Wycombe and when I drove past the theatre to the car park I could see the audience in the foyer – meaning I must have made it in time for the second half…..and then I ended up in the very last space in the multi-story, on the ninth level!! I finally made it into the auditorium just in time for the first song of the second half; Bears Don’t Dig on Dancing. I hung around at the back until the song was finished then made my way to my seat on the second row (accidentally sitting in the ‘bear’s’ seat in the process as he was coming down from the stage and I was actually two seats further along).
It was really quite weird seeing just the second half of the show. I missed a couple of my favourite songs which are in the first half but I did get to see Storm which was brilliant as ever. Tim’s acting seems to have developed so much since the last time I saw it – and a very funny Scooby Doo accent has also made its way in! Darkside was bloody fantastic, the piano solo now is truly epic (although a callback to a joke involving Greensleeves from the first half didn’t make any sense to me). What was noticeable, having not seen the first half is that Tim does very little talking in the second half of the show – apart from the nine minutes of Storm that is. I was very pleased at the inclusion of If You Really Loved Me in this show, it’s always exciting for me to see a Tim song that I haven’t seen live before. Also, it seems on this tour that Tim is more open to requests for his encore (although I would guess he already has in mind what he’s going to play). We were treated to Not Perfect in High Wycombe. Now I’m not a crier but this song very nearly brought a tear to my eye. And I love that Tim is currently 33 and 12 months old. I know he has to sing it that way because 34 years old doesn’t scan properly (and actually he’s not 34 until next week) but it still makes me giggle!
After the show I finally got to speak to Liza which was another slightly bizarre experience. Not that Liza is in anyway odd (well maybe just a little bit!) but it’s weird meeting someone in real life and hearing the speak for the first time when you’ve ‘spoken’ to them a lot online before. It was also lovely to see Linzy, Shell, Emii and Simone again – having last seen them in Edinburgh. There was a small crowd at the stage door waiting for Tim to come out. Now he’s hit the big time and is playing much bigger venues he doesn’t appear to be doing official after show signings. Not that I blame him, he’d be there forever! The patient and dedicated few (well few tens) of people who made it to the stage door were rewarded with Mr Minchin’s presence. We hung out round the corner until he was done and managed to catch him for a quick chat before he headed home. I’ve not seen Tim since Dublin in June but it was lovely that he remembered me (even if he did accidentally call me the wrong name – which he apologised for the following night).
After retrieving my car from the top story of the car park I headed to the hotel round the corner where I was staying with Liza (Shell and Linzy were staying there too). Then after a couple of hours of chat and cold pizza we finally went to bed, where me and Liza proceeded to lie awake in the dark chatting for another hour and a half. It’s so nice when someone you’ve only communicated with via the internet turns out to be lovely in real life too!
The next morning after breakfast in the hotel and a quick wander round High Wycombe (which is a weird combination of pretty market town and crappy shops) with Liza we got in the car for the drive up to Birmingham. We had a very pleasant couple of hours in the car talking about religion and skepticism (and of course Mr Minchin!) – having mostly spoken to Liza on Twitter up until then it was great to have a conversation in more than 140 character bursts!
We managed to find the Travelodge relatively easily and after checking in went to the pub next door for tuna melt sandwiches and Liza’s first experience of pear cider. I was really looking forward to seeing the full Tim show that evening so the afternoon seemed to take forever while we waited to go to the show. We walked to the venue an hour or so before the show was due to start where we met up with Shell again, along with Misha (@howlieT) and finally we got to meet Shannon and her husband Jeremy, who had come over from LA. We also saw Tim loitering outside the venue with his crew and later found out it was because they had managed to set the fire alarm off with the smoke machine during the technical rehearsal!
After a quick drink we found our seats ready for the show to start. My original ticket was for the 6th row but Liza wanted to have a different perspective of the show so swapped me for a front row seat. The show was brilliant. It’s certainly stepped up a notch on the rock star scale since last year’s tour. After the show we hung out again and after the really quite big crowd (which had a large proportion of squealy girls) had finally disappeared we got another chance to talk to Tim (when he made a point of getting my name right!). Me, Liza, Shell, Shannon and Mr Shannon then headed to the pub for some post-show discussion and more cider drinking which was all pretty lovely. It turns out Liza really doesn’t need much cider to turn into a lovely, giggly drunk! Eventually me and Liza headed back to our hotel where we once again continued to chat into the night.
The next day, after a bit of a wander round Birmingham and some lunch we drove over to the concrete jungle Coventry. We eventually found the Travelodge which was somewhat inexplicably in the middle of a shopping centre and it wasn’t long until Nic (@nwoolhouseuk – who you may remember from my Edinburgh blogs) turned up to take over room mate duties from me. When the girls all headed off to the Coventry show I sadly had to drive back to the airport for my flight home.
All in all it was a great weekend and it was brilliant to finally meet Liza and Shannon. I can’t wait now until I get the chance to go and visit them on their home territory in the US. They are all part of my cunning plan to collect friends around the world so I can go travelling on the cheap – but shush, I haven’t told them yet!!
So with the first Tim Minchin weekend over I went back for another week at school – I was mostly observing classes but did do a little bit of teaching too. And now, four weeks later, I’m about to go back to the same school for another six weeks and my first chance to be a ‘real’ teacher. I really just hope it is everything I expect and wanted, and I don’t discover I made the wrong decision in going for this.

I think this will do for one post – I shall fill in the blanks from the intervening 4 weeks (which included another five Tim shows!) in another post.