Sunday, 26 September 2010

A mountain pass, "The Thing From Tring" and three manky chickens.

I'm going to a secret music festival next week. I shouldn't have even told you that. It's somewhere in the Mediterranean and until Wednesday I didn't even know where I was staying. That's when I got a call from an Austrian bloke called Oliver. This is a transcript of our conversation:

Oliver: Hi Paul! It's Oliver!
Paul: Hello my friend!
O: So I have you guys with two Germans and a Norwegian
P: Good
O: Do you get in at 8pm?
P: Yes
O: And are you hiring a car?
P: Yes
O: OK - drive from the airport in a straight line for twenty minutes until you get to (place withheld)
P: Then what?
O: Then call me
P: Why?
O: because there is no signal on the mountain pass
P: What mountain pass?
O: The one you are taking to (place withheld)
P: We were going to take the coast road
O: NO! The coast road is too dangerous at night!
P: And the mountain pass is safer?
O: Much safer - there are no drivers on the mountain pass
P: OK - where are we staying?
O: I have told you where you are staying
P: No you haven't
O: Yes I have - (Place withheld)
P: Yes but where in (place withheld)?
O: There are only ten houses in (place withheld)
P: Yes but which one are we in?
O: The one by the pizzeria where you are going to meet me
P: What pizzeria?
O: The only pizzeria. You will recognise me - I have very long hair and an even longer beard. See you on Wednesday. Goodbye. 
(Phone goes dead)

I take it from that we are staying in the house by the pizzeria in (place withheld).

On Thursday I went to do a gig in Romsey. Romsey is a lovely little picturesque place and quite clearly the home of Lord Palmerston, my favourite ever Prime Minister (he was cited as the co-respondent in a divorce case when he was 84 years old), since there is a statue of him in the square. There is also an abbey. To the front of the abbey is an HSBC and a Lloyds bank. This combination of the ecclesiastical and the financial leads me to believe that it is only a matter of time before the abbey is rebranded the "Santander".

Friday saw me make the (far shorter) journey to Langford, to do a regular gig that normally fills me with joy. It's in a social club called The Ivy leaf and is always completely mental, largely because the guy who organises the show tends to get carried away and finds it hard not to join in with me. This month he got a little over-excited (even by his standards) and heckled not only myself but also the other performers, who all did a sterling job of repelling his noise. The problem was that this month he was really funny and helped things along so it was difficult to have a go at him at the end of the night, despite the fact it would be better all round if he just buttoned it really. It's hard to explain to him that by heckling the people he is paying he could potentially ruin his own gig and he has such a joyous lack of regard for them that it is always a humbling experience for us otherwise egocentric maniacs.

I had thought heckling was something of a dying art at the shows I get involved in myself. Down the years I have actively discouraged it but I fear it to be on the rise again. I wonder if we are living in such desperate times that people really are angrier and (just like in the 80s) are taking their anger out on the people they pay to watch. There's a lack of subtlety about it that I haven't seen for fifteen years. This was no clearer than on Saturday night when I did my semi-regular show at The Pad in Bedford. Bless The Pad and bless its owner, Kev, who loves the comedy shows and is the only real reason I keep going back there. The audience are up and down in both number and character. This show scraped about 35 of them and they were their usual mixture of both friendliness and intellect. Most interesting was a couple from Tring who had booked a hotel for the night (Why they wanted to come to Bedford remained unresolved). The guy was fine but the woman was leathered - properly leathered - and began heckling within minutes of the show starting. Shortly before the first act she asked me if she could ask a question. I innocently replied to the affirmative. The question she asked was

"Why do you buy your clothes in Oxfam?"

This threw me a little, but got a big laugh which I played with. She then asked if she could ask another. I explained that judging by the last one I was reluctant to hear it but the audience laughed loud enough at that for me to say "Yes". her next enquiry was a little more surreal:

"Why are you trying to look like someone from New Kids On The Block?"

More hilarity and disbelief. As a man of forty years old, greying, receding and frankly looking like I've seen better days (And in an outfit apparently bought from Oxfam), I was a little surprised to find out I was attempting to impersonate a member of a teeny bopper's boy band. Anyway we never got to the bottom of that so I put the first act on and he struggled a little which was unfair because he's good.

We had a short break and then played a drinking game called "Roxanne". It involves downing a pint, in stages, to the Police classic over its three and a half minute duration. I thought (mistakenly) that it would be a good idea to get the girl from Tring (Now re-branded "The Thing From Tring" by a well-wishing audience member) to join me on stage. She was furnished with a pint of lager (She wanted a pint of vodka and red bull) and no sooner had we explained the rules and started than she just opened her neck and downed it in one, demanded another and then retook her seat when the demand was rejected.

The game over, I congratulated her boyfriend on having a girlfriend who could effectively deepthroat a pint.

Today I did little else than play poker online and look for a CD. The former resulted in the loss of two million imaginary chips. The latter resulted in my hallway being covered in hundreds of other CDs, but not the one I was looking for (It's by a band called 'Raw Poo' and I wanted it for this week's Punky! Radio). I also watched "The Secret Garden" by accident which is as camp a film as you can make with children without being put on the sex offenders' list.

Then tonight I went to my friend Jo's house for dinner. She has bought three 'Rescue chickens" (Yes I didn't know they existed either) and when I arrived insisted on showing me them. They are released battery hens with all the horrors which that entails. They are 75% bald, terrified of everything. stupid, ugly, mentally challenged and ABSOLUTELY LOVING THEIR FREEDOM! By the time I left one of them had laid an egg on the lawnmower.

Now that is 'free range'.

PS. If you have any idea why a woman from Tring might think I am trying in vain to impersonate a member of NKOTB, please comment below. I'd appreciate the help...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Kindly remove yourself and carry out your business.

The Hyena comedy club in Newcastle is one of the country's oldest provincial venues of mirth and this is something of a miracle, really, in that it has always been a disaster waiting to happen. That's not to say that the staff aren't ridiculously friendly, the bosses delightfully mad, the room potentially brilliant, the location perfect, the food good etc. etc. No - it has other issues.

There is ALWAYS a problem with the accommodation, normally one stag do too many, a P.A. issue, a spotlight not working, a broken chair, a woman giving birth in the ladies toilets, apparitions, unruly wizards or a power cut. It's also £95 return on the train from Hertfordshire or more than that in petrol so is not a particularly attractive financial proposition...

...And we begin on the train, last Thursday afternoon to be precise. I sometimes come up to Newcastle a day early. I really like the city and I also really like my mate Graeme who lives in a delightful little suburb of Wallsend called Battle Hill with his mental missus Barbara (pronounced BARBRA! at all times) who screeches at cats and makes delicious chilli without ever actually tasting it. He arranged to meet me at the station which was a relief because when I got there it was obviously chucking it down with the cold rain that only exists in the North East of this sceptred isle. Actually it was just a relief to get off the train - I had spent several hours being squashed against the fattest man in Christendom to ever book a seat next to anybody. He used me as an additional support and fell asleep within seconds of dropping his huge, wobbly, stinking torso upon me. He didn't even take his ridiculously massive puffa jacket off which just meant he slow-cooked as he slept and the putrid aroma worsened.

So it was a relief to have Graeme waiting for me in the most beaten-up sports car I have ever seen. Once he found a gear we coughed up to The Hyena so I could pick up my key to the world famous acts' flat, drop my stuff off and then hit "tha bevvies" with him. You will notice no small amount of Geordie vernacular in this essay - I got a book about it. All work achieved, we descended on Battle Hill (slowly, but without misfires), had said chilli, listened to BARBRA! screaming at a cat for a bit and all headed off to the pub. I can't remember its name but we had a couple of pints and half a bottle of red wine each and BARBRA! sipped delicately at a small glass of dry white and looked in vain for cats to screech at, before moving on to The Village hotel with a couple of Graeme's footballing mates, one of which had once won over four grand on a "wan poond bet" that someone would win 5 - 0 and Darren Peacock would score a goal. He told everyone.

A pint or two later and Graeme and BARBRA! were ready to "gan yem" as they had to be up at five in the morning because apparently some people have to be (And I suspect it's a very good time to screech at cats). I dropped them off at their house made of sweets and instructed my taxi driver to head "Fa tha toon". I had a date with triple whiskeys to fulfil.

"Madisons" is a subterranean post-comedy club drinking hole attached to the Hyena and on a Thursday night they do triple shots of any spirit for £2.95 ALL NIGHT. It is enough to make you screech at cats. I actually, physically cannot avoid this sort of thing so went in and had three in about an hour, got the toilet attendant to squirt me (Well I'd done a good enough job myself), promptly forgot everyone's names (I vaguely remember a bemused huddle at the bar) and careered in the approximation of said acts' flat. The next morning I woke up  (late), washed in ice-cold water (the boiler was of course not working and the place was freezing), dressed and nipped out to "Westgate Wines" to get milk so I could at least have a cup of tea. I also bought Cranberry juice, orange squash (With no added sugar) and a yoghurt. The reason I tell you this is because the young Asian shopkeeper (With a broad Geordie accent, which always tickles me) surprised me with the following statement when confronted with my goods:

"Well I never! All of your purchases are in liquid form!".

I didn't feel remotely guilty about ignoring solids.

Two cups of tea, a small glass of milk, a decent sized glass of cranberry juice, a huge glass of orange squash (With no added sugar) and a few dollops of yoghurt later I met up with a burlesque dancer called Bettina Spankenhaus and her little son Moss and we went to my favourite Chinese all-you-can-eat joint on Gallowgate, tremendously named "Ho Buffet" which always leaves me chuckling about smorgasbords of prostitutes. Both Bettina and her husband are redheads and I think they bred Moss as a pedigree. After the food we headed for the Discovery Museum so he could splash other children in the shipyard recreation and we could talk about exceptionally rude things in hushed tones and guffaw. Then I bought him a tank because I am worried he is a bit too camp for a four year old. I also bought a whimsical little booklet called "Larn Yersel' Geordie", hence the generous usage of said vernacular.

Back to the flat to be aware that there was another comedian in it. He didn't emerge from his room though so I could not be sure whether it was Geoff Boyz or Pete Johansen. I figured on the latter because the former is gregarious enough to not remain hidden for long. A couple of hours passed before he emerged, blinking and drenched from his room - I was correct in my assumption that it was Pete.

The Hyena had bitten again.

Whilst having his afternoon nap he had been rudely awakened by soapy water pouring through his light fitting. It would seem that the people in the flat above had left the bath running before flying to Brazil. I suggested he turned the light off (He had switched it on to find out where the water was coming from). I am no expert in these matters but am pretty sure that water pouring over electrics isn't that smart. He made phone calls and the venue agreed he could stay in a hotel instead. Flat 1 comedians 0. 

I got down to the gig around eight, sound checked (Surprisingly satisfactorily) and got re-acquainted with Mr. Boyz. We go back a long way and are relaxed in each others' company. The gig itself was relatively uneventful. Nice people, a relatively low audience (About a hundred) and a relatively early finish. We three amigos belted downstairs to Madisons and let people start buying us drinks. Not long in to the first I was approached by a younger version of me and his hot wife. He introduced himself as "Rastus", one of the regular listener/contributors to Punky! Radio (My podcast). We celebrated meeting each other by drinking heavily, I had an interesting chat with two girls outside who were smoking (But sadly I don't remember what about although it probably involved shoes), Pete retired to his hotel in Jesmond, Rastus + (delightful) 1 removed themselves and I apparently said to him as a parting shot that I was going to go "Doon tha toon" to find a woman to destroy. This isn't a turn of phrase I'm particularly happy with and certainly by that time, being already pretty much destroyed myself, I doubt I would have been in any fit state to carry out any such threat. Geoff and I instead travelled to a bar in "The Gate" where we drank some whiskey we didn't need and then took home a large kebab (him) and a half pound burger and chips (me) which we did manage to destroy. On the way home he gave a full packet of Rothmans to two blokes who appeared to be homeless and they then tried to give him half the packet back and pointed out that they were in fact just completely pissed and couldn't find Gateshead.

I think we went to bed about 4am but by that time Ice Station Zero was so cold I couldn't actually do anything other than hide and shiver under my duvet. It was so cold I was scared to roll over in case I chipped a nipple.

Morning came to consciousness of faint stale smells of beer and I made tea. Geoff got up and said he was hungry. It seemed sensible to go for lunch. We did and opted for fish and chips down the road and the fish was absolutely amazing and equal to the Newington Traditional Fish Bar in its greatness. That I was sat with the guy who does the best "De Niro" impression on the comedy circuit was not lost on me. I will now forever equate Robert De Niro with battered cod. For an explanation you'll have to go through my Edinburgh blogs, if you can be bothered. In the afternoon I watched England beat Australia in Athletics and a Michael Caine "Harry Palmer" film but I don't know which one as I kept missing the title in the breaks. Curse you Channel Five! It made me want to shout "Pint of lager - in a straight glass!" and click my fingers a la "Get Carter".

We managed to hang in there until nearly 8pm before we went down to the gig and discovered it was warmer outside than in the three-bedroomed freezer. I had earlier shaved by boiling a kettle, putting the water in a pan and putting the pan in the basin. One of the acts' flat's little foibles is that someone has mysteriously stolen all the plugs. I reckon there is probably a cub scout badge for surviving a couple of days in the flat.

Again, the gig was a pleasure and it was a little more full this time - probably closer to 150 and the extra energy was appreciated. Della (the manager) was incredibly helpful and just when we all fell in love with her (I always do when I go up there) David Hadingham showed up. He is a fine man, a very good comedian and sadly, her boyfriend.

Some hilariously large Jamesons appeared and then it was back down to Madisons for more ridiculousness. All working participants vacated and I was left to my own devices for a short while before being collared by a bloke from Scunthorpe, his girlfriend from Grimsby, a bloke from Stevenage, a bloke from Worksop and basically my past life. My eyes widened with every new recruit to this gang. It was as though they had been hand-picked to confuse me. I was in Newcastle after all.

I got a cab home because I couldn't see my feet and didn't trust them to do what I asked them after ending the night chatting with a couple of the barmaids about I know not what and drinking Mexican beer with fruit in the top of it like a bloody teenager. Newcastle had been its usual enigmatic self.

"Hadaway and shite".

PS. It takes a woman to solve the most basic of domestic issues. The combined talents of Geoff, Pete AND myself were not sufficient to get the boiler on at any point. Della went round to the flat in the interval on the Saturday night and switched it on. By the time I woke up this morning it was so hot my lips had dried up and stuck together and I was delerious with what appeared to be a fever. I'm never happy.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


So some basic housekeeping first. My car is still not fixed. My gig in Hitchin was fantastic and sold out. My gig in Letchworth was fantastic and not sold out. I have told a former long term acquaintance that he is no longer required in my life in any capacity, I have lost thirty million chips on facebook poker in the last 48 hours. I still have not given my mum the fudge I brought her back from Devon and Graham Taylor called my Dad's mate a twat the other day.

Never mind all that though - I'm here to talk about Guinarda.

Oh hang on - I will just tell you this though: On Friday night I enjoyed an hour or so in Chic Bar in Hitchin after my comedy show thanks to the excellent musical stylings of one DJ Roch and his brilliant "Shake Your Hips" night. However: I've been inviting my comedy audience down there (in exchange for free drinks from the bar) but they haven't really responded in enough numbers for me to justify our agreement. This led me to Bom Bora. I used to have a tacit agreement with Steve in there that I would bring my audience down there after the gig in exchange for a couple of free vodka and sodas. This only stopped when he started charging £2.50 to get in after 11pm. Since my audience typically got there about 11.15pm, I didn't think it was right to make them pay twice for their night out. Chic was free to get in, so we moved.

Or rather I did.

Some of the audience continued to go down there and we have started getting the show over with a little earlier so I figured it might be good to reacquaint myself with said Australian-themed over-priced knocking shop. Hence my midnight flit from The Churchyard to the taxi rank (You'll need a map of Hitchin to understand all this so it's probably easier to just go with it).

Anyway, several vodka and sodas later I collared Steve with my cunning plan. I took him to one side and said "Hey - if you let my punters in for nothing and give me free drinks I'll bring them all down here again". He said "No way, buddy" and buggered off. At least he called me "Buddy". In future I will make my machiavellian plans via email. Chic Bar it is - with added gusto.

Anyway, "Guinarda"...

I travelled tonight to Camden to meet up with my punky mates Johnny and Helen and then go to "Music Club", the London edition of the Edinburgh show I saw not once, but twice.Sadly Mike & Mike who run it had written absolutely nothing new so performed their Edinburgh show, which I have now learnt. Despite wearing my new hat (A short-rimmed pork pie) I was recognised and plonked on the front row. The gig was great - probably the best performance out of the three and everyone loved it. Myself and Helen particularly enjoyed it, because of the Guinarda.

The venue for Music Club is called The Black Heart on Greenland Place and is a rocking little boozer. It also has a "Rose Beer" on tap called "Rosarda". As a single entity it is rather too sweet for my liking. When mixed with Guinness, however, it is a drink of champions and can be consumed surprisingly quickly. Stick a drambuie in the top of it and you're hot to trot. Several pints and a small fortune later we had all been Guinarda-ed. This is not the only reason Music Club was great, but it certainly helped. I'll hopefully be back next month.

Oh and Hattie Hayridge (Hollie from Red Dwarf) was there and we had a hug. We always hug. She is always lovely. She wasn't drinking Guinarda, otherwise who knows what might have happened? The barmaid was Australian and had a problem finding the drambuie. She was called Clare. I have never remembered this many girls names on a night out. Guinarda is, in addition to being tasty and potent, a wonderful memory juice.

I also enjoyed a Lamarchun for the bargain price of £1.50. I'd never heard of one before let alone eaten one. If you didn't know, it's a kind of mince and salad roll constructed on unleavened bread and originates from Eastern Turkey. It's my new Camden snack of choice. I'm thinking of mixing it with a fruit-based beer and calling it a Lamarguinarda.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Three go mad in Holsworthy

A few months ago a mate of mine called Lee Sycamore asked me if I fancied doing a couple of nights down in Devon, one at his hotel in Holsworthy and the other (the night before) in a hotel in South Molton that he had linked up with so as to offer a "Weekend" for comics.

As agreeable as the financial package was, I was most taken by the offers of "An evening meal", "Free Accommodation" and "Hospitality". Having stayed at Lee's "Old Market Inn" (Camra regional real ale pub of the year 2010) and having only a vague recollection of the last time I had been in the townage (My word for a town that is barely more than a big village) I deduced that "Hospitality" equated free booze.


I also thought that a couple of lazy days in the South West would be the perfect antidote to the previous couple of week's madness in Bedlamburgh. How wrong I was.

My first mistake was to invite David Whitney and Robbie Bonham to come down with me, thus allowing Lee to sell the show as "An Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman...". The former has already renounced his Scottish heritage in protest at being told off by Scotsman for not sounding Scottish. The latter renounced his Irish heritage eight years ago when he stopped drinking. My second mistake was to tell them that I would drive them both there and back. Other mistakes would follow over the weekend but would not detract from its overall joy.

Robbie and I set off about midday on Friday (He was staying locally in some sort of internet caffy) and hit both horrendous and pointless traffic on the M25. We had agreed to pick up Whitney in Fleet (Where his mother lives) and I estimated a 1.30pm rendezvous. No chance. It took two hours to get around the M25 (About thirty miles) and then I managed to miss the turning for Fleet and had to come off at Hook and retrace my steps somewhat. This added on a further twenty minutes.

Twenty crucial minutes.

Oh by the way, if you are reading this from overseas, yes - I know - but Fleet and Hook are real places.

We drove straight past Dave and parked up at the station, despite the fact he had been standing in the middle of a roundabout waving at us. I was too busy looking out for David Whitney to pay any particular attention to a rather stout simpleton waving at people from the middle of a roundabout. I'm not a complete idiot.

Anyway, Dave located us and Robbie demonstrated no shortage of enthusiasm when we told him we would drive past Stonehenge. We then pondered over an old Eddie Izzard routine involving "Strawhenge" and Woodhenge" that had been destroyed by a fictitious Big Bad Wolf. This routine was obviously pre- the discovery of an actual woodhenge. That we then saw some hay bales stacked in a Stonehenge style was surely pure coincidence but it did lead to me remarking that it was now only a matter of time before we wasted thirty years on archeologists looking in vain for the remains of a giant wolf in the Hampshire/Wiltshire area.

The rest of the journey was terrible.  My twenty minute mistake left us lagging behind two crashes and roadworks down the A303 where we spent long periods not moving at all. We stopped off at services between Yeovil and Taunton and were subjected to a wasp attack that looked like something out of a cartoon. Dave got possibly the worst cheese and bacon pastry anyone has ever seen. smelt or tasted. The weather was uncomfortably hot and sticky, the drive tiring and the music patchy (A 5-CD "Alternative" collection that wasn't very alternative at all). Dave was also annoying me with his blackberry (I didn't need directions) but we all put that down to the heat.

The George Hotel in South Molton is lovely. We were checked into our rooms by the lovely Kathy and sat in the restaurant awaiting our evening meal within minutes. We had three lamb shanks. Dave and I had a couple of pints and then shared a bottle of red, despite his "Pre-show" protestations. It was robust. The following couple of hours saw a not particularly easy (but not unenjoyable) gig in front of fifty rather well-to-do and slightly more mature than average Devonians. I missed the majority of the second half because I nipped across the road to "The Coaching Inn" for a whiskey and a surprising conversation with a couple from Mansfield who ran it. After the show we spent a couple of hours signing posters and getting bought pints of Tribute  by South Motlon's great and good. Needless to say, I missed breakfast.

A slightly fractious forty minute drive further west to Holsworthy (Blackberry versus Eyesight - we'll call it a draw) was lightened by our arrival at The Old Market Inn. Lee had got the (excellent) rooms ready, bags were unloaded and I got stuck in to a pint of "Proper 'Ansome", a truly wonderful local brew that would become my companion for the day. Lee brought back a few memories of my last visit - apparently I was remembered in the town for being rather drunk at the end of the show and being far the funnier for it. To celebrate he had very kindly got a bottle of the very same "Walter Hicks" 70% rum that had so immobilised me on my previous visit and placed it on a table on the stage on a tray with two shot glasses. I swore at him.

A steak & ale pie later and the comedy caravan headed out to Holsworthy's very own factory outlet store. Dave was expecting a TK Maxx, Robbie was on the lookout for more ties. We split up on entry and after several minutes perusing the CDs I wandered over to the hammers from where I spied the shoe section - my gaze had been drawn to a tan pair of doc-souled, brogue-patterned chelsea boots that said only one thing to me.


If there has ever been a shoe more suited to the man then I'm yet to see it. I searched the store in vain looking for him before finally going over to the shoes in question. Of course he was standing by them the whole time, agonising only over how many pairs to buy. I christened them "The Whitneys". I bought a polo shirt with "Kooga" written on the sleeve, a union jack mug and two blues compilation CDs. Whitney bought the Whitneys and a shirt, Robbie was left perusing ties. A brisk stroll around the town insulting local shop keepers and flirting with their male staff (turns out one pint of "Proper 'Ansome" and I'm anybodies) before a return to the Inn for a Siesta. I watched The Time Machine then went down to sound check, my mind buzzing with Morlocks and Eloi. There were a lot more of them in the front bar. This gig was going to be fun.

It was. Flirty women on the front row, a heckly old Welsh bloke towards the back and half a dozen people from Stevenage stage left. Everyone had a very good gig indeed. The room is perfect for comedy. Whitney christened his Whitneys by tripping up on the way on to the stage. Everyone (Except Robbie) got ridiculously drunk. At the end of the night I dragged Lee on stage to down a Walter Hicks with me, seeing as he'd bought the bottle just to wind me up. Dave took this as an opportunity to rejoin the end-of-show wrap party taking place on stage by pouring a shot for himself (And me) so I had to do another. It tastes like gone-off diesel. He then kept pouring, handing shots to the front row (I can't help thinking he may have had an ulterior motive) before I pointed out that Walter Hicks retails at over £30 a bottle and we had done half of it. Robbie sat, bemused and no doubt thanking his lucky stars that he stopped drinking all those years ago. We made everyone salute the Whitneys and wrapped it all up.

The unofficial post-show party mainly involved drunk women walking up to us and telling us we were brilliant before having arguments with their (rightly) put-out boyfriends/husbands/chaperones who clearly wanted to drag them away from us.

Then Lee brought out the Walter Hicks again.

He would like my mate Steve.

Steve likes nothing more than to get me drunk on things I've never heard of/know I shouldn't have/are generally bad for me. It turns out Lee has a similar fetish. By 1.30am I was getting those all-too-familiar Hicks-induced wobbles and staggered up to Room Two (the same room I had stayed in before - Lee figured (rightly) that I stood a fighting chance of finding it having been there before). Dave headed for room one where he may or may not have enjoyed some additional Devonshire hospitality. Robbie retired to room three to (no doubt) go on facebook until 6am.

Obviously I missed breakfast.

We set off way before twelve into the drizzle of a return journey. There were some minor Blackberry v Road sign skirmishes (Which I this time won) and we got hungry all the way to Ottery St. Mary. I've always wanted to visit Ottery St. Mary. I always felt it should be twinned with "Ferrety St. Germain" or "Weasly St. Louis".  It's not. It does however offer an Otter sanctuary and a pub called "The Otter Inn" which has an "Otter Carvery". Sadly not the meat in question, just the name of it. Dave and I had carveries piled high like the mashed potato mountain in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Robbie had got up for breakfast so wasn't hungry. I did my otter dance in the car park (I didn't know I had one until then) and we got back on the road, not stopping again until way after Stonehenge (Which we did a detour off the A303 to both avoid a traffic jam and so Robbie could see it close up). When we did stop I enjoyed a "Bounty" drink (A taste of liquid paradise) that refreshed in the short term but over time sat uncomfortably on top of my vast carvery. Dave was dropped off around 4.15pm, Robbie just after 5.30pm and I was home before six. My calves hurt, my stomach ached but everything else was miraculously fine.

Oh and one last thing. Lee did one of the funniest posters I have ever featured on as promotion for his gig, all three of us wanted a copy and we all forgot to take one. Never mind. Despite outward appearances and inward habits, we are all adults.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Return to the developed world... and its usual crises

Monday in a nutshell:
Excellent breakfast, great food-thievery, ten hour drive via everywhere, first proper lie-in for three weeks.

Tuesday in a nutshell:
Dry cleaning - check
Washing - check
Car - new engine being fitted
PO Box - empty
Food shopping - check
Email lists updated - check
Press releases for next weekend's shows - sent
"The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" - finished.
Dinner in L'Artista - check

Walk home from L'Artista:
Seemed to be going all right until I walked through the park. There was a man laid out as if crucified on the ground. He was probably about my age, fat and (I thought) completely pissed. I contemplated going to see if he was all right but thought it might have been a trap and other fat men would jump out from the bushes and mug me or steal my chips or something.

Anyway, the two oriental teenage emos walking behind me could sort him out if they wanted to .

I carried on up the road but within about a hundred yards was beginning to have unusual pangs of guilt - what if he was in real trouble? WHAT IF HIS MATES ATE THE ORIENTAL TEENAGE EMOS?

I felt in to my front pocket for my mobile and was about to dial 999 when I heard a high-pitched "Paul!" behind me. I looked round to see one of the oriental teenage emos running towards me, clearly out of breath and clearly NOT AN ORIENTAL TEENAGE EMO. She was actually my next door neighbour. How I had mistaken her and her boyfriend for oriental teenage emos is beyond me but I can only suggest extreme post-Edinburgh tiredness and a rather full-blooded red in the restaurant. She and her boyfriend (Also not an oriental teenage emo) had tried to call the emergency services but their batteries were flat so he had despatched her to run after me to see if my phone was charged up.

I reluctantly returned to the drama. By now the guy had come round, was staggering about a bit and had some extreme wounds to his right arm. He was polite, apologetic and sat down on a park bench. I called an ambulance. They asked ridiculous questions before agreeing to send someone and asked me to wait on the road by the park to flag them down.

By coincidence, when I walked back on to the road there was a police car there and its lights were flashing. I walked over to the two young coppers (She was rather fit, by the way) and asked if they had responded to my call.

They hadn't.

They had been attending to another incident.

Note to self: Don't fucking approach rozzers without a very good fucking reason because it only gets complicated.

I walked them in to the park where they actually did a really good job. They talked to the guy in question (Who was clearly a disturbed fuckwit) and kept the man calm while we all waited for the paramedics. The Bloodied Antihero was becoming a little on the defensive and at one point pointed at me and said "I know you, don't I? I've seen you three or four times now - Are you a policeman?".

I thought it best to not say "No - I'm a local celebrity".

Anyway, he was in the main, calm, I had to do a fucking statement about what had happened which I wasn't pleased about  and then another police car showed up, this time filled with a couple of absolute wankers, the like of which let the force down, breed trouble, lead to arrests for abusing/assaulting police officers, aggravate situations and generally act like the fucking bell ends the general public take the police to be.

Idiot number 1 approached at speed and in a forthright manner holding his torch like an American copper. He steamrollered over the delicate discussions the original (And best) coppers had begun and started demanding answers from the claret muppet to questions that didn't need asking. "How much have you had to drink?" he barked, "What are you doing in the park?" he shouted. I took nice lady constable to one side and said "Can you get this guy away - he's really fucking things up and the man who was waiting for an ambulance is clearly looking for ways to escape the police - look - he's backing off".

Our poor, self-harming, bewildered loser was now becoming a dangerous, cornered animal, the hectoring from officer dickhead was getting worse and the situation was spiralling out of control. Eventually, I piped up and said "Look, we've called a paramedic for this guy and this is not a police affair - can you just calm down a little?". Cuntstubble Wankpot then turned on me "Are you a friend of this man - a good friend of his?". I replied that I was only his friend in so much as I had been one of three people who had found him in the park and was trying to do him a favour. All the twat heard was "Yes". He was so worked up it was ridiculous and turned his questioning to me - now the torch was in my face. He was unbelievable. I have never seen an officer of the law deal with a situation so badly. This man is an embarrassment to the force and people like him put policing back centuries. His primal fuckwittery had turned a minor medical emergency into a particularly hostile and potentially dangerous situation.

I saw the paramedics show up so walked away from his questioning. I expected him to bark after me but he didn't. I gave them a brief synopsis of events and suggested they got the injured guy in the back of their vehicle as quickly as possible before Sergeant Harassment actually caused an arrest by provoking the  rouged simpleton into a solicited attack. They could see what was going on and said that (sadly) they had dealt with this legally armed retard before. Said little Hitler then moved myself and the (not) oriental teenage emos along for our own safety. The other officers said goodbye and thank you to us. I could see in their eyes that they were squirming with embarrassment. I don't know what happened after that but can only hope the forlorn suicide-waiting-to-happen got the treatment he needed. If I am contacted by the police (they said there was a likelihood that I would be) I shall be making my feelings very clear - I might even let them read my blog.