Since little else I do involves societal norms, I figured I could keep playing until either I lost all my chips or I started going to bed again. I've decided to wean myself off late nights over a period of time, going to bed a little earlier each night until I'm approaching the hours of (relatively) normal society. This (extended) weekend was a case in point. On Thursday night I pulled a 5am finish when I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. Not too sensible as I had promised myself I would be bright and shiny to drive to Swanage on Friday.
As it was I got out of the house about 2pm. Even though it was Friday I figured I'd be around the M25 and down the M3 in plenty of time to miss the worst of the traffic. Wrong. It took me five hours - a particularly tedious five hours in which I was held up by the sheer amount of traffic on the road - no accidents, no roadworks to speak of, just traffic. FIVE HOURS. One hundred and sixty miles. FIVE HOURS. By the time I got to Swanage it was dark. No matter. I dropped my stuff off at my mate Dave's (He was running the gig) and his very organised 13 year old son walked me up to The British Legion where I was performing. It was a hundred yards away. The gig was part of the first ever Swanage Comedy Festival and went really well. I was really impressed with how they had managed to run three venues in one night like absolute clockwork and fill them all with exceptionally happy punters. I dropped my guitar off back at Dave's and then walked into town with some women who owned guest houses (Well it was Swanage) to go to East Bar where he and I were DJ-ing.
I was under instructions to "Not make it too alternative - Swanage isn't ready" so had a varied flight case of 80s gems from The Specials, The Cure, The Clash etc. thinking that the (expected to be busy after-show) party would like some vintage footstompers.
I walked in to a particularly slick bar that was playing Russ Meyer films on its large screens, had a smattering of cool people upstairs and the youthful Swanage glitterati downstairs. Dave was nowhere to be seen and there was a very cool looking dude already DJ-ing. I got a pint of Boondoggle (The South West is tremendous at naming its ales) and awaited further instructions. Various well-wishers approached to tell me how much they had enjoyed the evening and I struck up a conversation with Miles Crawford (One of the other acts) about what aftershave he was wearing. He thought he was clever by refusing to tell me but it backfired because I simply walked round the bar telling everyone he was wearing "Beckham", much to his chagrin.
Dave showed up and said to Ian (The DJ) that he could take a break. Ian (I later discovered) is a mate of Dave's and is also the resident DJ at the Cafe De Paris every Saturday night where he presides over their burlesque shows. Ian retired to the bar and Dave gave me the best line any DJ could hope to hear:
"let's share this spot. I'll have this CD player, you have that one. When one of my songs finish, you play one of yours - oh and there's free beer for us in that (pointing) fridge".
For the next hour or so we just played whatever the bloody hell we wanted and most present seemed all right with it. Dave got bored, Ian returned and took his place. The beer kept flowing and then the young barman came up and said we could do shots with him as long as we didn't tell his boss.
Well, I'm not a grass.
The boondoggles were now joined (intermittently) by these weird strawberry trifle vodka shots and straight Jack Daniels. These kept coming until the same barman came over and said "Sh*t! Make this the last tune, guys - I should have shut half an hour ago". Bless him.
We got a cab back to Dave's (It was up hill), he pulled out the lager and said "let's play with my toy".
I'd forgotten his wife had said earlier that he had a jukebox in his lounge and was momentarily a little worried, to say the least. Anyway, we played with it until we broke it and went to bed around 4am.
An hour earlier than Thursday - progress.
I woke up just before midday without having the first clue as to where I was. Fortunately Dave called just before 1pm to let me know it was 1pm and I was in Swanage. DAMN. I dragged myself up, carried out my ablutions, sank a cup of tea and was in the car and on the road again before two. It took less than three hours to get home - just long enough to hear Nottingham Forest lose 3 - 1 to Barnsley in the car. The highlight of the trip was the first fifteen minutes as I drove through Corfe Castle in daylight. I hadn't seen it in the dark the day before - now THAT is a castle:
When I got home around 5pm I called my friend Sharon to find out what time she was driving down to Duchess Divine's BBW show at Elixir Bar in Camden (Where I used to run a burly show myself). She said 7pm. I said something unrepeatable. I had to get ready and get to the station within ninety minutes so as to get a train to Hitchin to then walk to hers to get a lift. Exercise wasn't an option I was really considering and by the time I had showered, shaved, dressed, walked to Letchworth station, got the train to Hitchin station then walked up to hers I was actually ready for a little retch, before I went up her drive. Her husband was driving down and asked me if I knew the way or if he needed the Sat Nav. I answered to the affirmative. We set off (Also joined by the lovely Kim) and I got gassing, forgot I was giving directions, completely missed the A41 and took us all the way to bloody Archway before getting us back on a suitable road. I swore at myself, apologised when I took the wrong turn again just before the venue and directed with words like "oops" and "Leftish". The other occupants in the car agreed that Sat Navs are not known to apologise or use words like "Oops" or "Leftish" but maintained that they do however give you the best route to your destination and don't get angry with themselves. I bit my lip.
The bar was packed. Well, I say packed. It was a Big Beautiful Women show so there may only have been about fifteen people there but movement was severely restricted by the sheer size of some of these women. It's not really a hazard I have had to consider before. If you book a load of massive girls to do a show a lot of them will get in your way over the evening. It was all very good natured and I don't want you to think I'm being out of order. It's just facts. A lot of these girls were huge. Sharon took an awful lot of photos. Here's the lovely Duchess Divine in one of them
Sharon is very good.
Anyway, the show was a really good laugh, the kitchen appeared to do a better trade than the bar and no-one was surprised when the Ladies toilets got blocked before the Gents.
We were back in the car a little after 11pm and I was dropped off in Hitchin town centre shortly after midnight. I saw an opportunity to be unsupervised and wasn't about to turn it down. First stop was Chic Bar where I had a very reasonably priced Vodka and Soda (The owner, Jamie was serving), bumped into a few of my ex-students on a birthday party (It's always a bit odd when I bump into people I used to teach comedy to on a BTEC drama course, not least because most of them are rather odd) and then went on a voyage of discovery to a newly-reopened club in town called Bliss Lounge Bar. I first knew it as "Reflections" in the 80s. Then it was shortened to "Fleks" in the nineties before being revamped in the naughties as a particularly nasty Drum & Bass club called "The Penthouse".
Finally it is a really nice joint. Amanda on the door recognised me and let me in for free as she knew I had come to peruse the establishment with a view to starting a new burlesque show there (Even in intoxication, I normally have some Machiavellian plan). The hospitality didn't extend to free drinks though (I'll work on that) but I had a really good chat with her good self and the co-owner Kev before clocking my ex-girlfriend (Of a couple of years before) out with her mates. I approached her with trepidation as we hadn't finished particularly well. Our last words to each other had been as follows:
Her: "You don't like me very much do you?"
Me: "Not really, no".
Her: "Right, see you then".
Miraculously we have both been seeing the funny side of this for the last couple of years and I had a right laugh with her and her mates until the club shut. Plenty more booze had been consumed and we wobbled out of there around 2.30am. We said our goodbyes but I possess the "More booze" gene that means if there is more to be had I will find it. There was only one place available - the dreaded "Ivory". I faced a hefty admission fee to get one last drink and stealed myself for the worse. There was no need - the exceptionally friendly doorman took one look at me, chuckled to himself and said "in you go, mate - don't start any fights". I went in, got surrounded by huge men on steroids getting angry to dance music, scoffed a couple of vodka and sodas and left as they closed, only stopping to have a brief conversation with a bloke called Glen, better known as "Angrypants" on children's television who is a mate of mine and was on a social:
It cost me seventeen quid to get home in a cab, I somehow heated up a frozen pizza, ate it and collapsed into bed around a quarter to four.
Fifteen minutes earlier than the previous night - I told you - Progress.