I bumped into some old friends today…

Actually, that’s not quite true. They bumped into me. And some of them came and found me deliberately, because they saw that the Just So Stories was up here, so they dropped by the venue to say hello to me.

Now, we are talking about some seriously talented people here. They’ve been working their comedy sketch show pretty much since we left Drama School, and they’ve got pretty big over the last couple of years. Not telly big – yet – but they have a top line management company looking after them, they’re well known on the London, Edinburgh and Summer Festival comedy circuits. The festival is absolutely plastered with their posters alongside all the comedians you’ve definitely heard of. They’ll be on your screens somewhere very soon, I have no doubt.

We had a good hug, checked in with each other, and generally had a good chuckle together. We agreed to meet in Brookes Bar at the Pleasance one night after their show and have a beer or two together. They, and I, went away with smiles on our faces, pleased to meet old friends again, and to still be privileged enough to be working in the industry.

And then I reflected a little on what we’re doing here. I do other jobs, because I have to. I don’t have another job on the side at the moment, but I’m lucky enough to have a wife who is supportive and understanding of my career choices, so we’re scraping through financially. However, if I don’t get something soon that pays then I won’t be able to service my debts, and that would be a Very Bad Thing.

Turns out that my old friends do other jobs too. I’d made the rather foolish assumption that because they had a decent manager backing them, that their posters were everywhere and they had prime slots all over the place, that they’d “Made It”.

They have made it, of course. Simply re-read the above paragraph to check. They have definitely arrived, and it won’t be long until they need only to do the job they love, and no other. They are serving the last of their time before the mast. Until then, however, they are still doing other ‘normal’ jobs in between, to pay the rent and bills.

I thought about that, and about something that Mrs B and I regularly talk about. She won’t let me give up, you see. She believes in me so much that she simply won’t allow me to give up. I am, most assuredly, an incredibly lucky man.

What we talk about, and she constantly reminds me of, is Helsinki Bus Station Theory. Go and read it now, and then come back to me…

Have you read it? If so, good. If not, please believe me and go and read it now, before I carry on!

At this point I’m going to assume that you’ve read it, and I shall continue…

There have been nights over the last decade when I have lain awake, a single parent staring at the ceiling, wondering how I would feed myself and my teenage daughter. I have worked in jobs I detested. At my lowest point, I had a breakdown in the seasonal goods aisle in ASDA, surrounded by fairy lights (having convinced myself that they were all that was needed to turn a show around that was clearly going down the pan in a very ‘full flush toilet button’ kind of way), and had to call Piers to get him to talk me out of the shop because I was no longer able to think or function. And yet, still, here I am – doing the only work I really know how to do. All I have to say to anyone reading this post, after bumping into my old friends after we’ve all been flogging away at this game for years now, is this:

Stay On The Bus.

Stay On The Bus, or risk forever being unsure if you could have “Made It” or not. If you Stay On The Bus, then at least eventually you’ll know for sure whether you could have achieved your dreams or not, and you won’t end up as a crumpled figure in the corner of a pub, forever reflecting on what, perhaps, you could have been.

Mrs B, whenever times get tough or I have doubt in my own abilities, simply tells me – in no uncertain terms – to Stay On The Bus.

I’d love for you to take a quick look at your lives, if you can spare me a moment. Someone, somewhere, is your equivalent of Mrs B. They believe in you. Whenever you get wobbly or afraid then go and find them, and make sure that they remind you that your only obligation to yourself, to your integrity, and to that special individual who does believe in you is this:

Stay On The Bus.

Mrs B – I love you, and I am an extremely lucky man.

Rafe

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