Thursday, February 9, 2006


I've had a very enjoyable couple of days. I spent last night at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. I was there to present an award but really that was just an excuse to spend the evening in good company, witnessing some amazing live performances. It really was a pretty special night.

Tonight I spent the evening recording a panel show called Classic Comebacks. It's about old TV shows and was hosted by Les Dennis. I scared myself by knowing more about Prisoner Cell Block H than I thought I did.

I've generally been having a high old time of late and I've been trying to work out why these things are making me quite so happy. I mean they are fun to do but I think there's more to it than that and I think I've worked it out.

I am essentially self-employed. I write stuff and I perform stuff. That's it. I think I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to make a living in this way. But within the range of things that I do there are differing degrees of responsibility.

The Googlewhack Adventure for example carries quite a lot of responsibility. It's a show and a book about events in my own life that I wrote and that I perform. Although there are a lot of people who helped to make it happen at the end of the day, my name is on the book cover, my name is above the door of the theatre and whether or not the project works is going to come down to me.

In contrast the work I've been doing lately carries very little responsibility. I don't mean to suggest that I don't care about the outcome - I do - only that the shows I've done haven't been mine. It doesn't matter whether it's The Wright Stuff, Classic Comeback, Banter, BBLB, Morning Glory or The Culture Show each one is someone else's responsibility and I'm hired to slot into them in some way. They're less challenging than a one-man show but less stressful also. Somewhere between these extremes lies Genius. I host the show but it's put together by a team of people and it's a real collaboration.

I think in an ideal world I need to have a healthy mix of these things. If I have too much of one I start to crave the other. I love the excitement of a new project and to some extent I think I thrive on the pressure that goes with it. But I don't think it's healthy to have just that.

For most of the last three years I've been consumed by The Googlewhack Adventure one way or another. There have been diversions along the way but it's taken up a huge amount of my time. It's been very exciting at times but it's also prevented me from doing some of the other less stressful gigs along the way. Especially given the amount of overseas touring I did with that particular show.

So now that I'm back and that show has been put to bed I think I'm redressing the balance. I have no desire to take on any big new project for a while and I'm loving the variety of things that are available to me. None of which give me any sleepless nights.

On Thursday I'm filming some links for a BBC4 documentary I'm presenting and on Friday I'm recording a longer follow up piece about the world wide web for the Culture Show (assuming enough people decide that the world wide web is a great bit of British design) while on Monday I begin a two week stint hosting a show on 6Music. No wonder I'm enjoying things at the moment; the last four months of 2005 were high on pressure and low on variety and the first 38 days of 2006 have been the exact opposite.

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