Saturday, 28 August 2010

Richard Stilgoe is all very well but... Jim Bowen?

I'm writing this from in my car. It's all right, I'm not on the A7, I'm parked up outside my old room. It's my old room because I'm changing rooms today. As I am changing rooms (I'm upgrading to an en suite for the weekend, ooh get me) I have to check out of one at 10am but I am not allowed to check in to the other until after 2pm. I am being penalised for giving them more money. Cameron's Britain... Cameron's fucking Britain.

I took my sub (Turkey Breast & Ham which was 40p more than I normally pay because it was not the filthytunabastardsuboftheday but a conventional one, retailing at £2.69) back to the room yesterday afternoon and lazed about for a few hours, reading "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" and enjoying a bit of "Me" time. Then I treated myself to a taxi around 7pm to go to see Belgrave & Manera's "Music Club" at the City Life Cafe. It's on the rival "Free Festival" to "PBH's Free Fringe" (The one that I'm on) but the only people who seem to care about it are the two blokes running the things.

It's a really great show. Two grown men dicking about with records, dressing up as women, singing awful songs and doing an impromptu quiz halfway through that I was astonished to find left an audience unable to answer the question "Which member of Belle and Sebastien is called Sebastien?". It's also in a really great room in a really good spot. I would have been jealous but their crowd was unfortunately small enough for me to feel for them more than anything else.

Anyway, I had a chat with Manera (They're both called Mike) afterwards about interviewing them for my podcast and he said he had to rush off but we could do it some other time. I buggered about for a couple of minutes finishing my drink off and then, on a whim, decided to nip up to The White Horse to thank Jools Constant for doing my show at lunchtime. When I got there Mike Manera was in the front bar with the bloke he'd gone to meet.  Jools asked me if I wanted to open his show as he was an act down (How often does that happen?) I was happy with that arrangement (I had a lot of time to kill) and as I was introduced saw Mike Manera sit down. I didn't have my guitar with me so just did a few minutes of stand up and buggered off down to Canon's Gait to do a bit of flyering. I bumped into Bennet Arron and we went for a couple of pints in Bannermans (Where we saw Mike Manera). It turns out that he's a massive sci fi nut as well. Two rapidly emptied glasses of Deuchars IPA later and we were writing a show together for next year. Hmm.

Well I'd eked out the day as long as I could - there was now no choice but to go up to Base, pick up my guitar and yomp up to The Meadow Bar which was two thirds of the way home for me even though I wouldn't be going home after it. I was booked in for an 11.30pm slot in their late night "Pick Of The Fringe".

The Meadow Bar is my sort of place. The Clash were on the jukebox as I walked in and the clientele most likely would not have ever described themselves as "clientele". It has  an upstairs room that holds about forty people and bizarrely is the only way to the ladies toilets so during your performance there is a steady stream (Sorry, maybe not the best word) of women walking past you with full bladders. No-one bats an eyelid.

Imran Yusef was compering the show. He's been short listed for a newcomer award this year.and will find out at 2pm today if he has won. I'm pleased for him, especially as I found this out later off his agent and not from the (rather humble) man himself. I was headlining which allowed me to have another couple of pints, one of which was bought by comedian Dan Willis who is a very smooth operator, is running two shows this year and is cleaning up, apparently.

Oh and Mike Manera was in there, watching.

The gig was a bit of a beauty as it goes and I sloped out of there about quarter to one, hot-footed it back to Base to drop my guitar off again and then retraced my steps almost exactly up to the Gilded Balloon for a potential last hurrah in the Loft Bar. On the way in I stopped briefly to say hello to a triumvirate of queer bedfellows - Terry Alderton, Tim Vine and Jim Bowen. Sadly none of them were coming upstairs. It was exceptionally quiet when I got there and the only person I even vaguely knew was Johnny Vegas. I went over to say hello but he was actually far more vague about our very casual and occasional relationship in as much as he couldn't remember who the fuck I was and just smiled and shook hands like I was one of his fans. I am as a matter of fact but we've also worked together quite a bit and if I hadn't found the whole thing quite so funny I might have got a bit upset.

No matter, Gareth Morinan appeared holding a glass of white wine (The ponce) and we settled ourselves on the bench of anonymity just by the door. We weren't anonymous for very long. Ed Byrne (Who I have not spoken to in a very long time) spotted me and we talked openly and frankly about how each other were wankers before shaking hands and I introduced him to Gareth, who was very impressed to meet Ed Byrne. I have half a dozen stories about Ed that are all pre-2001 so I'll not go into them now. I suspect he has one or two about me as well but we'll leave it there. Greg Davies came and went (He really does look and sound like a giant Rick Mayall) and it was very funny watching him talk to Gareth. Greg is (I think ) 6'7" and Gareth is 4'10" or something like that

Then Mike Manera walked in.

We had a gas for a bit and then Ed was seemlessly replaced by the mastermind behind "The Comedy Club" and one of the players on the UK comedy circuit, Ian Franklin. He had a very intense chat with me about getting my agent to force his booker (Leah) to get me a gig in Chelmsford. When I say "intense" I mean I stood there a little bemused as he badgered me to get myself a gig in Chelmsford. I'll acquiesce, of course. Anyone who wants me to go to Chelmsford that badly is not to be messed with.

I can't remember leaving but I can remember buying an Angus burger outside and using it as survival food to get me to The Newington for fish and chips. This was gluttonous in the extreme but worth it as Robert DeNiro was working again. He smiled at me as I walked in, held his hands out and said "Not you again" before closing his eys, holding his head back and smiling. He had become Robert DeNiro.. I burst out laughing and exclaimed "DeNiro!", everyone in the chipper looked up from what they were doing, looked at him and absolutely pissed themselves laughing. It was a truly beautiful moment to end a decidedly odd day, really. Oh I found out his name as well - he's from Northern Ireland (I'd guessed that by his accent) and he's called "Vaz". THAT I was not expecting.

I got into my room about 3am smelling of fish and beer. Fortunately, Mike Manera was not there.

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoying reading about your Fringe exploits - really makes me wish I was up there now. Next year!


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