Straya! Part 1 – Perth

Ok, let’s picture the scene. I’m currently sat at Kuala Lumpur airport after completing the first 7-hour leg of The Journey Home. Actually, I’m sat in a restaurant called ‘Grandmama’s’ in KL because the view is nicer than the other restaurants, they have free wifi and plugs. The curry Laksa isn’t too bad either! Although I have just bitten into something and I don’t know if it’s fish or vegetable..

I’ve got a cracked open copy of ‘How to Write Everything’ by David Quantik, open at page 4 where basically the advice is just write something! So I am. I have the inklings of show 2 running around in my head, and an email from Producer Nick suggesting we start cracking on with Slaving Away storylines. So writing anything right now would be a great start. I’ll try to include pictures, just to keep things interesting.

So. Here’s what just happened.

First and foremost, it’s important to note that finding myself in Australia took me by complete surprise.

Even though I had booked the tickets, paid my registration fee, took out travel insurance and filled in the relevant visa forms myself, it was still quite the shock. For the past six months it’s just been something nice to say, something to post about of facebook, an occasional irritant to get admin emails at 3am…

People asked me if I was excited, if I had everything prepared, and to a point – I did. I just never really believed it was going to happen. I was going to miss the alarm in the morning, my car was going to break down on the M3, they’d find something wrong with my visa and not let me in, border force were going to find miscellaneous seeds about my person and refuse entry. Something was going to happen – as it always does in my family – that would mean ‘A month in Australia’ just wasn’t going to happen.

But it did. And it was ace! For the most part…

I have to warn you, there will be some completely unjustified winging in this post. I’ve seen what people go through during fringes and I got off comparatively lightly.

I guess we should start with me bursting into tears when we landed in Perth. Like, literally…as soon as we touched down. I don’t think flying with Malaysian Airlines had filled me with total confidence, but they managed to not loose the plane or hardly any passengers! I think this relief and the dawning realisation that This Is Really Happening is what bought on the waterworks. The stewards patted my shoulder in pity and passed me a tissue, and I really wanted to say ‘I’m crying cos I’m happy!’ but I think what came out was just bubbly, snotty nonsense.

Before I knew it, I was off the plane, and even through customs without them accusing me of bringing in illicit flora (I didn’t bring in any, but I’ve watched ‘Border Control’ waaaay too much) and boom…I was in Perth! The bus was easy to find, and dropped me off in town, where it was a short walk to another bus, and then through the Perth Cultural Centre to my hostel on William st. Ok, I say short walks, but I was carrying about 30k of luggage in 30 degree heat having just left London on the brink of a hurricane.

So sweaty is not the word. This is the first picture I took as I was walking through the cultural centre to get to my hostel. So..trepidatious. I believe thats the word. Not one part of this face looks anything but.

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So..hostel arrived at, shower done, unpacking achieved and I explored the fringe grounds in the evening on the search for life, and something to eat. None of the restaurants were open past 10pm, so I ended up at the Budgie Smuggler (Which was the ‘artist’s bar’ / bit of decking by a bus) drinking a beer which went so straight to my head I could hardly stomach a second. I struggled through though. Cos I’m a little trooper.

The next morning, I was up stupidly early (5.30am early!) and made a plan of action – get food, see venue, find kangaroos. I caught a bus to Coles, and stocked up with far too much for just one week, but I was yet to learn that Australia is ALL about the eating out. I thought America was bad for it, but nope. And I don’t blame them, it’s just too damn hot to cook! I found my first packet of Tim Tams. The first of many…

Then it was time to explore the venue and have a tech rehearsal. Kangaroos would just have to wait.

I wandered up to the Pleasure Gardens, very pleased to note it was on a strip of road chocka block with strip clubs and porn shops – perfect! The garden itself was also a delight. All vaudeville and fairy lights.

(Sidenight – the manager at Gramndmama’s has just given me his card. Like…WTF? But hey…still got it)

pleasure gardens

(Image nicked from http://www.abc.net.au/)

Casa Mondo – my venue – was a 100 year old dutch theatre, and was perfect. A great size (95 seater) and Hannah and Tom who dutifully manned it did so with love and pride for the Old Gal.

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(By Old Gal, I mean the venue. Theatres are Ladies, dontcha know. Wasn’t referring to myself. Although I was nicely looked after too.

NOT IN THAT WAY!)

It was that evening I learnt the first lesson in Youth Hostelling – Don’t get pissed on your first night when you’re still off your tits on jetlag.One mislaid laptop (which wasn’t mislaid) and..well…let’s not talk about it…

BECAUSE THE NEXT MORNING THERE WAS KANGAROOS!!

So due to the ‘totally by surprise’ nature of my trip, I hadn’t looked for what to do whulkst in town. I had assumed it would be like Edinburgh Fringe where it was FRINGE FRINGE FRINGE 24 hours a day. But nothing Fringe started until about 6pm. Nothing.

I had the whole day free.

Unfortunately, the only resource I’d taken much notice of was the in-flight advert for Perth which was on the plane as we landed, which I’d seen briefly through my racking sobs.

But I did notice one thing. Kangaroos.

Free range kangaroos. Just hopping about on Heinessey Island – which was about a 10 minute bus ride from where I was staying! Water packed, lunch made, I walked off, and – despite my initial pessimism – ONLY WENT AND FOUND THE HOPPY BASTARDS!

And if you think that’s a few too many selfies to be taking with a kangaroo, you are WRONG.

Ok, ok…I guess stalking out local wildlife is one thing. The show itself is another – right? After all, I had no PR, no budget, none of my posters stayed up or uncovered for very long. No one had picked up the story from the press releases I sent…I was pretty certain I’d be in a hole.

I wasn’t. I sold out. Every night. (Ok, there were 2 nights where we got 94 out of 95, but that was still filled with fringe passes! So it counts…)

I even got nominated for a comedy award! I had great reviews. I was over the fucking moon!

AND THERE WERE QUAKKAS!

They’re real!

They all live on an island near Perth called Rockness. It’s an hour ferry ride away, and you’re not allowed cars, so everyones rides around on a bike; like a really good Sark. But admittedly riding a bike in 40 degree heat to find them was a quest in itself. Rockness is an amazing little island, but I think I bought the temperature of the Indian Ocean up by a couple of degrees when I had to dive in for a cool-off when the ole’ chub rub got a bit too much. Sorry, polar bears 😦

 

So that was my week – seeking out wildlife during the day, nap at 5pm, flyering at 6pm, show at 8pm…

(Ok…remember that whinge I said I was going to have? Here it comes. Because I just can’t  let myself be happy. And this upcoming bit is only the start. I know I’m going to have to cut this short because a) I’ve now been in Grandmama’s for about 2 hours, and it’s been weird since the manager gave me his card. I just wanted his wifi, not the BE his wifi…! *tumbleweed*  b) I really need to do some duty free shopping. There’s a couple of birthdays which have flown by and I’d really like to get them something better than a giant Toblerone and packet of mini ‘Daim’ bars. and C) I’m well overdue my 5pm nap. I’m tired…so I’m going to do Perth as Part 1 and Adelaide as Part 2….which is where the shit really hits the fan. Stick around, kids!)

So here I was, different country, new people, on my own. The youth hostellers didn’t seem to know there was a fringe on anyway, and because my jet lag was getting me up at crazy o’clock in the morning, I was very happy to get to bed after the show. I tried the artist bar a couple of times, but couldn’t really bring myself to say much to anyone unless there was a clear indication that a conversation was being started. A crippling self conciousness rendered me mute unless they started first. Also, I still needed to sort out an aussie sim card, so it didn’t help that it would be the only time I could find wifi and catch up with folks back home.  Just not really helping myself by staring at Whatsapp for hours.

And the one time I did try was with a group of guys doing ‘comedy rap battles’ and one of them just kept repeating ‘Oh yeah, we’ve sold out every night. Every night, sold out. Just..sold out..every night!’ And I do not want to be that guy. Ever. (OK, ok…I’ve mentioned it a couple of times on social media. But mainly for PR purposes because People Like What They Can’t Have. Apparently.)

It wasn’t until the last night I actually bumped into people I vaguely knew, or could at least start talking like an actual functioning human being…

In the words of one of the 21st century’s finest philosophers- that is just so typically me. Oh baby, baby…

But I would heartily recommend Perth in itself. (And not only because there are cut-throughs in the town which mean you can get from one end to another just by walking through air conditioned shopping malls. Godsend when even the Aussies are saying ‘Strewth, it’s hot today!’) The beaches were gorgeous – white sand and clear blue water. Great for snorkelling and general dipping. And I think I might even have been inspired to invest in a good bike! A good one, mind. Not something that makes my thighs start fires in my pants.

(It’s now a couple of hours later. I’ve bought a thoroughly illegal amount of dirt cheap cigarettes from duty free with the leftover aussie dollars I had. I’ve run away from Grandmama’s, and have had to put a stop to spending much more as it dawned on me that I still need to get a taxi from Heathrow, and get from London back home.

I really hope you’re enjoying these thrilling interjections…Look, here’s a picture of me as I write this. You can see it’s all gone downhill…

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As to why…well….I’ll explain that part soon. Maybe whilst I’m on the plane. I dunno..

For the first time in a long time I wasn’t able to check in online and therefore choose a seat without anyone next to me. I’m nervous about squeezing into a stranger for the next 15 hours. Not least because flying gives me gas. Really, really bad gas.

And I’m already sweaty.

And very stinky.

Ok. I’m going now. All I’m doing here is typing my inner monologue and that’s not helping anyone.

Until next time, batfans!

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