Friday, October 14, 2011

Jabba, Jabba, Hey!

I'm getting a lot of emails from people asking me to play games with them when my tour gets to their town... but it's not proving very doable.

There isn't a lot of free time... or rather, there isn't a lot of predictable free time. Sometimes setting the show up takes two hours, sometimes it takes four. Sometimes we have a hundred miles to drive, sometimes we have three hundred. I can't accurately predict when we're going to arrive at each venue and when, if at all, we'll be able to duck out of there pre-show.

It makes it impossible to arrange a playdate in advance and means the best I can ever do is really a more spontaneous, pre-show game of darts... something I've managed in Norwich, Shrewsbury and, Aldershot.

In Aldershot I was delighted to discover a dartboard backstage. This was perfect for me because when the technical side of the show is being set up I have to be around but I don't have to actually be there the whole time. So I could play for 20 minutes, go and help focus a projector and then return to play. I played all through the interval. It's the perfect pre-show ritual.

I mentioned it on twitter (my apologies to all those people who seem to find the mere mention of darts distressing in some way) and mused that if every venue had a backstage dartboard I'd be a very happy man.

And my prayers were answered. Jamie Caven - Jabba180 on twitter - got in touch and said he was coming to the show in Derby and reckoned he could bring a Unicorn On Tour with him. I'd never heard of the 'on tour' but essentially it's a contraption that straps to a door and turns it into a mounting for a dartboard.

So last night my dream came true and Jamie turned up with an on tour - and some other goodies - and my dressing room became a darts room. I'm a very happy boy.

I'm also a bit of a fan boy. Because Jamie is a seriously impressive darts player. In that he's one of the top ranked players in the world. But you don't even have to be into darts to find Jamie impressive. I won't give you his whole life story... but I will tell you that he got stung by a bee when he was a kid... and as a result he's blind in one eye.

Blind in one eye. Professional darts player. That's just ridiculous. He throws tungsten arrows through 3D space... with vision in only one eye. And he's bloody brilliant at it. When he draws back his throwing arm he loses sight of his dart and only sees it again on the forward motion. Whether you're into darts or not, that is awe-inspiring.

Having set the board up he encouraged me to throw some darts. I was nervous - in that fanboy way - but they weren't bad. Especially for first-darts-of-the-day. I threw another three. The third one hit the treble twenty. I was relieved not to have humiliated myself in his company.

After a while Jamie took my darts off me and had a go too. His normal darts are 23 grams. Mine are 26. His are stick thin, like tiny pencils, mine are chunky, nubby, stumpy things. Within three or four minutes he'd thrown a 180. That's ridiculous.

Anyway... I'm hugely grateful to him and his wife Debbie (who isn't in the photos because she took them) and to UnicornDarts for the gift. Every theatre now has a backstage dartboard and this tour - already the most enjoyable I've done - just got even easier.

1 comment:

David said...

I'm pleased that you've got your portable dart board - I wrote to the Lowry in Salford last week, asking them if they would put up a board for you (I offered to provide one if they would) but didn't even get a reply.

Looking forward to your show next Thursday.