Flaws Mark Watson Tour 2014Hotel Alpha - the new novel by Mark Watson

Aberystwyth mon amour

I’m on the way to Aberystwyth. I’ve made this rail journey quite a number of times, without ever quite getting used to the feeling of isolation that comes over you when phone/computer signal die shortly after the Welsh borders, and stay dead for some time. With my flashy iPhone it might be a more ‘connected’ journey than usual, but I wouldn’t bet on it. So I’m not betting on it. I’m putting this online now in case I disappear into a blog black hole.

There’s nowhere quite like Aberystwyth. Every time I’ve been there, the wind has been blowing so hard it’s difficult to walk in a straight line. Boats moored in the harbour (if that’s the correct word, I don’t know, jetty or something, I’m not a seafaring man) creak and shudder like skeletons come to life. On the seafront there are classically dowdy B and Bs, and isolated beach huts which it’s hard to imagine are ever inhabited. Looking at them at night, trying to imagine the people who’ve come and gone in tiny moments in summers gone by, would give anyone the creeps.

Luckily, despite being the sort of place you can quite easily fantasise that you’re the only person alive – last time out, I stayed in the quietest, most obviously haunted hotel I’ve ever been – Aberystwyth also has a lively comedy audience, thanks mostly to its university. At least, I hope it has. If I get there this time and nobody’s there, I will be a bit cross. (One Watsonian, on Twitter, claims to be coming from Portsmouth specially for this – he left at 7 this morning – but I’m unsure whether it’s a wind-up or not. And even if not, it could just be me and him. Which would almost be worse than no show, I think, for both of us.)

Fingers crossed. See you when I’m back in England.

24 Responses

  1. Anji says:

    Well with the person who commented yesterday that’s probably 2 people and you! I’d say off down the pub and grab some chips on the way!

    Of course because I think you’ll be at more popular and have far more people there than 2, you might want to grab your chips first, wouldn’t want you starving.

    I’m saying ‘there’ as I always spell aberwotsit wrong, I love the place, and was there in April, was a windy day then too, so wish I could spell it properly, just know i can’t.
    But enjoy it there, I hope tonight is fab for you, and that if your staying there, that it’s less haunted!

    Enjoy!

  2. Kathryn says:

    I’ve never been to Aberystwyth/Wales but today seems like a perfect day for a long train journey with a good soundtrack. I hope the show goes well tonight.

  3. Shell says:

    Seems like a good time to be travelling on a train – London is cold, wet and windy so you may need a tether by the time you get to Aberystwyth! ‘Watson the human kite’ would surely make the news!

    It’s good to have you back in blogland, painting pictures of your life, this time mainly in weather and ‘atmosphere’.

    Hope you enjoy the gig – your audience certainly will.

    x

  4. Malc says:

    haha, so true. Don’t worry mate, My friends and I are coming tonight- so that makes at least 5 of us! I’m afraid once again it’s wet and windy here, but you missed the good weather by only a day this time, yesterday was lush! Not that I’m trying to make you jealous or anything.

  5. Ben says:

    Part of why I enjoy reading your blog is the writing, which I find to be evocative and atmospheric without pretension. Remind me to pick up your novels.

    Also damn you for going to Sheffield and not Leeds, especially as I have an essay due the day after and there’s no way I’ll get it done if I go down to see your show.

  6. Suzy says:

    I’m afraid it’s windy and wild again here (Aberystwyth – when you live here you get used to spelling it!). You probably won’t believe it but yesterday it was lovely – cold, but beautiful and sunny … you missed it!

    Excited to see you later :-D

  7. Suzy says:

    Oh and by the way – definitely way more than 2 people coming! I booked my tickets ages ago and got front row, but people getting tickets more recently are up in the balcony, so it sounds like it’s going to be a full house. :-D

  8. Tamsin says:

    You’re right there really is nowhere quite like Aberystwyth, but in a great way. It’s like a little world of its own :)

    I went to uni there and spent many an hour (or 3) on that 2 carriage train from Birmingham. Amazing views when you get to the Dyfi estuary; that’s what I imagine the view from the Hogwarts Express would be like (I’m not quite as sad as I sound honest!).

    Maybe I’m biased after spending 3 fun years there but despite getting battered by that welsh horizontal rain / wind combo, and the uni being separated from town by a hellish hill, Aber is still one of my favourite places on earth. My friends and I still go back to visit whenever we can.

    Sit back, get a cup of tea from the tea trolley and have a great trip!

  9. Misha says:

    I’ve not yet been to Aberystwyth, the signal is patchy enough out here in suburban Cardiff.
    And I can confirm that, to the best of my knowledge, Sam is on his way from Portsmouth the silly fool. He’s bringing pens.

  10. Lydia says:

    I’ve never been there, but I’m sure there will be more than one person at your show. I just realised the other comments confirm this. I can’t help trying to imagine you doing the show for one person. That would be pretty horrendously awkward. If only one person showed, would you still do it? (not that that’ll ever happen to you)

  11. amycool says:

    I got sunstroke in Aberystwyth. It was over 30 degrees and our hotel, which had a beautiful sea view, was facing the sun all day so I spent the night vomiting. Then we couldn’t get home because the trains were too hot to move. Or something like that. Sunbeams on the tracks maybe. Other bad things that happened were the horrible food served to us at the restaurant recommended to us by the dodgy hotel, and realising that the walk at Devil’s Bridge was atrociously steep and almost impossible to complete in one hour (weird train timetables). We did complete it, but almost died of exhaustion in the process.

    On the plus side, the beach in the evening was beautiful and a brass band were playing lovely music just down the road. The camera obscura was fun too. So not as bad as your childhood experience Mark.

    That was a ramble and a half wasn’t it? Hope the gig goes well and the weather wasn’t too bad.

  12. Alex says:

    A friend of mine spoke to you at the train station today. His Facebook status said so. He’s there tonight, so there’ll be at least one more person.

  13. Catherine aka Cathy says:

    Your description of Aberystwyth makes me appreciate this 80 degree F humid weather of South Florida even more, but it’s back to the frozen tundra of North Carolina Thursday. Technically it’s in the southern US, but still too cold to my liking.

    Have a great show in Aberystwyth and everywhere else. Hope you get lots of pens.

    Cathy x

  14. Ste says:

    I’ve just had an email from ticketmaster asking me to review the show (Fri night @ Manchester Apollo) – not sure if it’ll ever get published (might get veto’d by the Frankie Boyle mafia!!!) so thought I’d copy it here too…

    “Mark’s laid back and fluid conversational comedy made for an excellent night out. His self depricating style both engages and endears the audience whilst still delivering many a laugh all night long. From his unauthodox start to the show typing messages to the crowd on a large projector screen thru to the end of the night he delivered another great show. I saw Frankie Boyle 3 nights later and whilst undoubtedly funny, Frankie relies on crudity and vulgarity to get the laughs whereas Mark achieves the same results but in a much less abbrasive fashion utilising his intellect, timing and delivery to entertain. 5 stars!!”

    Seen you 4 times now and can’t wait until the next tour….

    P.S. You’re a lucky man to still be alive…. I almost ran you over in a car park in Canterbury Uni about 4 years ago – been meaning to say sorry ever since :-)

  15. Mariam says:

    I’m in a tiny town (Lampeter, if you want to give it a name) about an hour’s busride from Aber and the phone signal here is actually amazing. If you go about ten minutes outside of the town, though, it’s poo.

    Enjoy the show tonight! Let’s hope the uni students are full of energy.

  16. Tracey says:

    Hi Mark. I’m sure Aberystwth will be packed to the rafters! It’s windy and wet here in Scotland today with the rest of the week looking to be in the same vein. I think a lot of coastal places have that slightly isolated air about them during this time of the year. However, I’ve only been to Llandudno in Wales so my knowledge of it is not extensive! I’m sure the show will go great. Good to have you back, take care, Tracey x

  17. Natalie-Helen says:

    A very poetic post today!

    Never been to Wales which garnered gasps of shock and disbelief when I announced it at uni in Liverppol. They literally could not believe or understand why. Had to explain, I’m from London. In the South East. No where near Wales.

    In the mean time Ca Cellwair a Hawddamor! Which to the best of my non welsh knowledge means Have fun and Good Luck!

    ^_^

  18. Juliet says:

    I envy you so much, I wanna go to a deserted place and just do nothing.. I’ve been studying the whole day, I’ve got finals. This is so sad. Have a nice day Mark, Watsonians wish me luck!! xx

  19. Tibbs says:

    Has anyone ever told you you have quite a way with words?

    Aberystwyth (which just the other day I was able to guess correctly was in Wales and now was able to spell properly the first time I tried; go me) sounds nice in an eerie kind of way, but I’m not sure I could deal with a lack of computer signal; I go into internet withdrawal if I’m in the country for too long.

  20. Weaselspoon says:

    It’s been years since I’ve been to Aberystwyth, but I dated a girl there when I was at 6th form in Coventry and took that train journey every few weeks. One day I was sitting opposite an old lady (well she seemed old to me then, probably in her 60s) who told me that she occupied herself on that journey by counting the rabbits bouncing away from the train.

  21. Neil Smith says:

    12 female comments and 3 not sure ?? I never had Mark Watson down as. Fanny Magnet however he certainly tweaked Zoe’s buttons in Derby, or she was wearing feather knickers…. On Wales I’ve been once, for less than 23 hours, not my cup if tea…. I much prefere the countyside in the south west.

  22. Gary Reed says:

    Great Show in Aberystwyth last night! Saw you last year as well – all new stuff. Thanks for a fun show – loved the written comms at the start – very funny! :-)

  23. Rachael says:

    It sounds like growing up in Norfolk could all have been training for a trip to Aberystwyth, and I like the name.

  24. I was on holiday about 15 mins’ drive away from Aberystwyth last week, for a week; I was tempted to see if there were any last-minute tickets to see you but then I wasn’t well that afternoon anyway. Glad it went well :) All of this talk about phone signal makes me think you’re all on the wrong network(s) – I’m with T-mobile who have rubbish signal here at home, but in and around Aber it was brilliant! [Even though I rarely have need for it.]

    I love Wales SO much, for the scenery mainly, and the pace of life tends to be a little slower than here in Bedfordshire.

    @Weaselspoon Not only rabbits, but sheep running away from the train are also quite amusing :)

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