I’ve done some proper stupid things this year. I mean, not only this year but in my life, just particularly this year. I’ve had a self-destructive thing going on that’s been encouraged by certain elements in my life who have deemed me unworthy of any level of intervention or even acknowledgement. There we go, what can you do? Sometimes people show their true colours in the most ruthless of ways. I’ve been very conscious of my own self-sabotage, right up until yesterday, when I did something that I have since decided was subconscious destruction.
It was so stupid. At the present time if I ran down the street I would rattle, that’s how many pills are being popped. As I said the other day, not a big fan of taking any medication at the best of times, but I am using melatonin to sort sleep. I’m also taking multivits as they were a present off my not-girlfriend Angela Barnes, as well as Propranolol (and never was there a more apt last three letters – just ludicrous that I am on that) which is supposed to take the edge off anxiety. My GP got rather excited when he prescribed it, he said that he prescribes it to a lot to people in my profession. Even at the doctors you have to tolerate someone being all stoked that you are a comedian and feel that giddiness from them that they are in some way contributing positively to the spreading of laughter. I did explain that going on stage causes me little to no stress whatsoever, I don’t need calming down to go do comedy. If anything I need perking up to drag myself out of my normal maudlin state to go be a charming cheeky chap under the lights. I’ve no idea if they are helping or not, they might do more good if I got into the habit of actually taking them as regularly as I am meant to. My bad.
So what happened yesterday that was so stupid? Well, in a nutshell, a half hour before my show I decided to take a Propranalol and in an astounding lack of concentration took a melatonin instead. They’re not in similar packaging and they weren’t both in the same place, I just reached over, took out a melatonin, swallowed it, and then went into shock.
I knew what had happened as soon as I swallowed it, that was when clarity decided to pop up it’s head and announce to my brain what I’d done. I actually think the surge of adrenaline that followed in my panic was the only thing that got me through last night, because the ‘tolerance to melatonin’ that I boasted about previously was clearly as absent as my concentration levels. I ran through from my room to Ed’s hovel and told him.
My great friend Ed, he will calm me down, he will know what to do. Yep. I don’t know if you have ever heard Ed do one of his big laughs? He laughs a lot to various levels and it is always (I thought) lovely to hear, but he saves his proper big laughs for when he finds something extra funny… We have spoken about it this morning and he said he felt (unnecessarily) guilty about it as it was a “genuine crisis”, but in his defence I did go to his door like a little boy and say “Ohhhh, Ed… I have taken a melatonin by accident…”.
There then followed, between screaming laughter from Ed, a frantic discussion about what I should do. We talked about making myself sick, drinking lots of Coke, cutting off my arm (I was panicking) and I eventually opted to just lay face down on Ed’s bed whilst he shouted “No mate! Don’t lie down!”. I really can’t do justice to quite how surreal it all was.
Thing is, and Ed said the same, it has often occurred to me that I may do this. That’s why I am standing by my claim that it may have been subliminal self-harm. Those pills just sit there, by my bed, and are a comfort late at night when I am thinking how I’m not tired, I see them and feel relief that I have this other thing that will help, and as soon as you connect relief and comfort with something – be that a person, pill or drink – you are hugely likely to go near it when you’re stressing. I think, deep down, I knew I would make this mistake at some point. I clearly never will again, so at the very least that fuck up is done and out of the way now.
I wandered over to my venue in a daze, taking deep breaths was only making me more tired, tried to centre and calm myself but everything just seemed to further fatigue me (and we are talking about a person who feels tired for around 23 hours a day, the other one hour is spent manic and running around, which may explain the tiredness issue for the other 23). I felt like my eyes had glazed over, I normally politely decline flyers but yesterday I ended up with about thirty of them, a mute zombie accepting promotional material as he dragged himself slowly through the throng.
I decided to tell the audience at the beginning of the show, as by the time it got to my start time at 9:25 I didn’t really know where I was, it had really kicked in. I have a vague memory of speaking with Patricia Hodge’s son just before I went in but there is a decent chance I hallucinated that. Regardless my sentiment of sending my love to Patricia remains. It’s a really awful feeling to be speaking to a group of people who have invested their hard-earned into coming supporting you only to have to tell them that you are an incompetent human being who can’t tell the difference between beta-blockers and sleeping pills. I say that as if the rest of my show isn’t about me being an incompetent human being, but he lights on my face felt particularly bright last night.
For all the panic the show was lovely, and even if that is down to the goodwill of folk who are politely ignoring the slurring then I’ll take it. There’s a moment in my show when I talk about walking across a road (that’s not the point of the bit, I’m not so bereft of ideas that I have a routine about crossing the road. Although that would be funny. Especially if I talked about a chicken doing it. Can you imagine!? WHY WOULD IT DO IT???!) and I say “even as I put one foot in front of the other” as I act this out onstage. It was honestly like wading through treacle, I’ve never found it so difficult to move my own feet.
You’ve really got to be sharp on a stage, really got to have your wits about you. The best way of doing this is to get settled beforehand, to calm yourself down then perk yourself up, put your comedy head on and relax into it. I’d had almost entirely the opposite of that in my show preparation yesterday but I got through, it felt like an actual achievement, that I had been negatively doped but still managed to finish the race. I’ve no idea how obvious it was in reality from the audience point of view, they may have even thought I’d just lied about it for sympathy and that it wasn’t apparent in my show, certainly the venue staff and my stage manager Jade assured me that it didn’t impede the performance, but I really, really don’t want to go through that again. I don’t want to go through any crappy situation that I can’t attribute blame to somebody else for, and yesterday was all my own stupid fault.
Ed has put my melatonin on a high shelf now, I have to ask like a good boy if I am allowed to have one and he will decide. I suppose it depends on whether he is in the mood for a screaming laugh as to whether he lets me.
(oh and PS. I mentioned in a previous blog that you are not meant to start a sentence with “But”. I have just been sent an email from a friend informing me this is incorrect: “Many students are taught that certain conjunctions (such as “and”, “but”, “Because” and “so”) should not begin sentences. But authorities such as the Chicago Manual Of Style state that this teaching has “no historical or grammatical foundation“. Both myself and my friend have laboured under the opposite belief for many years, so it is a relief to finally find out that we had both thought the wrong thing… Especially as I almost always start sentences with one of those conjunctions. Turns out I wasn’t a dick in reality.)
RAY PEACOCK – HERE COMES TROUBLE – 9:25pm Underbelly, 30 July-24 August 2014. Tickets at underbellyedinburgh.co.uk or 0844 545 8252