Monday, 27 December 2010

A Big Yule Blog

Christmas is a time for giving, for reflecting on the year and for bringing people closer together. Not for me though - The Yuletide tends to be a period of booze, remorse, gambling, frustration and loneliness. Don't feel bad for me - I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday 23rd December;
This was an occasion to go round to my mate Limburn and Genie's house for dinner and she had even gone as far as to ask me what I would like to eat and I had suggested a lovely roast dinner as she really does do fantastic ones. Sadly however she had gone out on the 22nd and got properly leathered, spent the day in bed and he called me at 5pm to say would it be all right if he took me out for a curry instead? I have absolutely no problem with people taking me out for dinner, male or female and he met me in Bar 85 across the road for our restaurant of choice, Paprika. The only woman in Bar 85 was the barmaid Ami, who also works in the hair salon "Dubhe" where I get my hair cut 50% of the time. She is Lesbian at the moment but there are a few of us trying to talk her out of it as she is really quite gorgeous. We had a couple of pints of Guinness, before transferring to Molly Malones as we weren't really hungry yet. Someone always walks up to me in Molly Malones and says something odd to me. On this occasion though we just sat there and had a couple more pints of Guinness and listened to some quite attrocious turns on their desperate open mic night. Finally we were angry enough for curry so nipped back over the road to Paprika. I've never been there before. It was ace. We got a decent array of dishes, rice, naan etc and a couple of pints of Cobra lager for well under forty quid. I bumped into Stewart Dinsey (lead guitarist with legendary local band "Eastside Jimmy") who was really drunk. It was his birthday and he was out with his ridiculously fit wife. A more evil Paulyb may have tried to separate them in a past life but the ghost of Christmas present was very definitely in the room and we all had a thoroughly nice time. Obviously we paid up and went back to Molly's, working on the basis that it was on the way to the station (for me),two minutes from home (for Limburn) and no-one had said anything odd to me yet. I needn't have worried. This time round a Welsh bloke with whom I am barely acquainted kindly came over to tell me a joke to "use in your act", Trotsky the landlord approached with a series of bizarre quips that made no sense whatsoever and a girlfriend form around fifteen years ago who appears to have gone through a number of addictions and breakdowns came over to tell me I was mad. Limburn's eyes were starting to narrow, I was full of beer and the wish to wrap that f***ing folk singer's guitar round his f***ing neck was overwhelming so we said our goodbyes and I made the short walk to the station on the understanding that I could take the midnight train to Letchworth and walk from there (Well there isn't one to Georgia from Hitchin). The noticeboard said the next train was not until 00.39am so I grumpily walked towards the taxi rank. As I got in to a cab and resignedly said "Letchworth please", the midnight train showed up and then departed before I could jump out again. Curses.

"Molly Malones", Hitchin. The pub of the bizarre.
Friday 24th December (Christmas Eve)
A quirky little tradition in my sister-in-law's family has led to me joining them each year on Christmas Eve for a full Turkey dinner with all the trimmings. She's an excellent cook and it really is no chore. A couple of things to take note of though. My eleven year old niece has a homosexual school teacher and during our prawn cocktail starter she unleashed an unexpected homophobic tirade against said teacher that left myself, my mum and my dad speechless. I don't believe for one second she believed what she was saying and suspect she has been a victim of peer pressure at school but it was nevertheless vicious in its intent and a major surprise. Fortunately my eight year old nephew was there to come to our aid and after she had finished her diatribe he put down his knife and fork and said the following:

"Well maybe he's just the wife in the partnership".

...Before promptly going back to his parsnips. The atmosphere was removed, the niece chastened and the dinner the success it should always have been. I left about 8pm, came back to the flat and got myself a little present in the shape of online car tax, before heading to La Concha (ironically by the station I never got to the night before).

"La Concha" - fine wines and tapas attached to Letchworth Garden City Railway station. They have Burger king attached to Welwyn Garden City Railway Station. 1-0 Letchworth.
They had a duo on who were brilliant and specialised in 60s Kinks & Beatles classics. They also had a bloke in there who was eventually thrown out for "goose-ing" various women (that he didn't know) at intervals that were not long enough for him to avoid both detection and eventual eviction. The police were called and he was arrested after shouting at them for insulting police officers and not for the rather more serious charge of "common sexual assault" which I think they were going to let him off with in "The spirit of Christmas". I was in the company (first) of old friend Terry Cox and his current squeeze, (second) my friends Sulu and G (And her parents from Raddang*) and finally Pete (the owner), his daughter Sammie and a couple of bar staff. We saw Christmas in and hit the cognacs until we couldn't focus any more and I wandered home through the snow. It was bitterly cold.

Saturday 25th December (Christmas Day)
I'll keep this brief. Lunch at the folk's (Lamb - terrific) an afternoon/evening of telly and then a listen to The Ashes which is approaching its climax. We bowled the Aussies out for 98. BONZA!

Sunday 26th December (Boxing Day)
I woke up late, ate spaghetti, nipped over to my friend Jo's (The chicken lady - she had given me a jar of pickled eggs for Christmas and I wanted to thank her) and headed over to Steve's pub for promised goose sandwiches and the usual boozy over-indulgence. I've never had goose before (bizarrely for someone so interested in traditional British fare) and by the end of the night I still hadn't. I had however enjoyed an excellent ale called "Rudolph" that has similar magical properties to the mythical red nosed reindeer, two sorts of Baileys, Guinness, a huge argument with Steve and his young Rugby-playing Padowan who skilfully came at me from two different angles so I had to fend them off as if defending a two-pronged attack (They were both wrong of course on the subject of English sport), a variety of Tesco's "Finest" oriental snacks and half the English innings of 444 - 5 (At close) combating the Australians pathetic sub-ton from the night before. Lisa (Steve's other half - her words, not mine) revealed that she had a large amount of goose in the fridge for me, wrapped up in silver foil. As I write this blog, I am enjoying goose & mayo toasted sandwiches and they are lush. Finally, I've never been very good at festive best wishes but I can go as far as to say I hope you got what you deserved the Christmas.

*"Raddang" is how the locals pronounce the town of"Reading" in Berkshire. They don't believe they do but get them on the subject of marriage and at least one of them will eventually tell you about a "Waddang" they once went to.

Monday, 20 December 2010

The Highliners, mulled wine and some particularly unpleasant South African women

It has often been said that we make our own luck. I make my own colds. It has been below freezing all week and the snow has been horrendous but I refuse to let little things like the weather alter my plans. Hence I found myself last Thursday night on the (delayed) 6.05pm from Luton to St. Pancras International with my regular compadre Steve as we embarked on another drinkathon also known as The Highliners at The Gaff on Holloway Road. The Highliners are one of the most entertaining live acts out there and had a minor hit in the late 80s with a song called Henry The Wasp. Steve and I also have a personal relationship with a couple of the guys out of the band as we got them out of an (ahem) tricky situation involving mistaken nationality at last year's Psychobilly Meeting in Pineda De Mar. Anyway, the reason we were on a train this early was because we didn't want to miss the support band, Pussycat And The Dirty Johnsons who are also excellent. They were, on this occasion, also excellent at cancelling with less than a day's notice so, with time on our hands, We headed off to my favourite pub in North London, "Big Red" for a couple of pre-show ales.

There were loads of barmaids. Steve and I love barmaids. There was also a barmaid on her first ever shift. Steve and I love barmaids on their first ever shift. We drank Guinness and chased it off with shots, various shots, an unknown number of shots - my argument being that it was cold outside and we needed warming up. We left around 8.30pm, walked the two minutes over the road to The Gaff. ignored it, walked for another five minutes in arctic air and then realised that we had drunkenly missed an entire venue within ninety minutes of arriving in London. Oh well - in for a penny.

It was actually in for (the very reasonable) £7 and a further quid for the cloakroom. Overcoats dispatched, we again hit the Guinness, now joined by the 100% Psychobilly Darren AKA Burt Blood who will quite happily "Wreck 'em on the news so the whole world can see". I went up to the dressing room to interview Luke (Highliners Lead Singer) and somehow managed to accuse his lovely girlfriend Morag of looking like Cliff Richard in the process.

Myself, Luke and Sir Cliff
It was a good interview, actually and will feature on Punky! Radio in a couple of week's. By the time I got down again Darren appeared to be feeling the effects of the extended company of Steve. That he would (later on) prevent Steve from entering the wrecking pit at the front of the stage because he was convinced that Peter Andre was in there is neither here nor there.

Darren holds Steve back from a potential confrontation with a (typically enthusiastic) Peter Andre

The gig was brilliant, we all left extremely drunk and then walked back (in the freezing cold) to Holloway tube station. By the time we were at the bottom of the lift I had developed a serious bout of man flu, which remains as I write. We missed the train we wanted so had to hang about in the cold (Which didn't help) and then got to his South Bedfordshire pub in blizzard conditions that left us with no alternative but to get the ashes on and drink until 4am with the ever-understanding Lisa pouring the alcohol.

The real snow didn't land until Saturday. This (At least) meant that my Friday night comedy show in Hitchin wasn't decimated as it had been this time last year and we held on to a decent sized audience that greatly enjoyed the respective merits of Paddy Lennox and Brian Higgins in what was to be a trilogy of identical-line up gigs over the weekend. I headed for the safety of The Vic after the gig and enjoyed a couple of (medicinal) mulled wines before finally coming home with a kebab and falling asleep listening to a rapidly souring ashes test in far sunnier climes.

I spent most of Saturday afternoon sniffling through updates of the Forest v Palace clash at The City Ground (one of the few games to survive the weather) where the mighty reds won 3 - 0 and moved up to eighth in the table in the process. I was a little late to Letchworth Arts Centre for the gig that evening but not as late as the sound man, who didn't show up at all. Fortunately a member of the audience was something of a dab hand with a PA system and we got there in the end. Lighting was another matter and all I succeeded in doing in the first half was bathing the back half of the audience in glorious strip lighting whilst leaving myself and Paddy (the first act) in near-darkness. Brian (headlining) suggested turning the lights over the audience off and switching the lights over the stage on. He is a luminary genius. After the show we went to The Arena Tavern where I sneezed my way through a couple of "Rocking Rudolph" ales before cheekily hitting a few shots with my mate Sam as we pretended (to his preoccupied missus) that we were having difficulty getting served. Half an hour it took us - nearly as long as it took me to walk home through the deepening snow. We'd had about a foot. My mother had texted me to tell me she had got "Fourteen inches". That's not something you want to hear from your mother.

...And so to Sunday for the second show in Chigwell and a third night with the boys. For the first show, read here - it will give some background information. I set off ridiculously early - just after 4pm to make the (normally hour long) journey around the M25. I got there about a quarter to six which wasn't too bad considering the appalling driving conditions. These I additionally hindered by letting my screen wash thingy ice over so when I applied the wipers all they did was smear the grit and slush over the windscreen and reduce visibility to a matter of feet. Despite the weather, Stu and Matt at the hotel had done a great job of getting in a decent sized audience and the show was great...

Brian Higgins goes walkabout in Chigwell - It is every bit as daunting as anything Aboriginal adolescents have to contend with.
...There were no fights over chicken dippers and everyone left happy. I have a feeling I'm never going to just have a normal night at this gig though. On this occasion I:

Was accused of having small hands shortly after shaking the hand of an audience member with very small hands.

Was told I didn't have a manly handshake by a female member of staff who didn't have one either.

Was force-fed pints of Worthington throughout the gig.

Was told by one punter that I reminded him of Jean Reno in Leon.

Was dragged from the gig at the end of the night into a Christmas party disco by Matt who then left me with four of his beautiful receptionists who were having their own festive knees-up. Drinks were on the house and I kept being handed shots of Archers schnapps by these increasingly dizzy young women, one of which I obviously took the liberty of falling hopelessly in love with for at least three quarters of an hour.

Oooh Katie Gibson...

Then two of the receptionists had an argument with the DJ about I-know-not-what which led to him barking "You're immature - grow up!" at them before dashing back to his booth and putting on the Whigfield classic "Saturday Night" and jumping about like a toddler.

I really was having a good time and could finally relax after four nights of travelling, boozing and organising. That's when I caught the eye of the South African women. They had been tipped off that I was a comedian. Their opening gambit was (in those such lovely clipped tones of theirs) "Oh you are a comedian. Tell us a joke or you are not funny". They continued to badger and irritate me for a further half hour with other cliched idiot remarks until the (now less angry) DJ called time on what had been a nearly great night. By the end of it I wanted to punch them both clean out and retire to bed in the welcoming arms of a hotel receptionist, half my age and probably very adept with precisely the modern gadgets that drive me to distraction. I settled myself with finding my room (So far away from the reception where I belatedly picked up my key that it could barely have still been in Essex) and collapsing into snot-interrupted but badly-needed sleep.

In the morning I remembered to ask the hotel for a container of warm water to pour on my windscreen. Two of the lovely receptionists from the night before were miraculously working, the only tell tale sign that all was possibly not entirely well with them was the two enormous glasses of orange juice secreted just out of view of the general public. Finally, my annual festive wish: I hope you get what you deserve this Christmas.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Smoke machines, friendly Croydon traffic wardens and a sad demise

On Friday I drove to Southampton to headline a brand new gig called Comedy Boom Boom at Archers Bar on the outskirts of the city in the middle of student land. I had a bad feeling about it from the start - new gigs are generally problematic and the hell of Friday afternoon/evening driving in The South East is not to be under estimated. I got to Rickmansworth to pick up fellow performer Paul Ricketts at 3pm, as arranged. Paul arrived at 3.30pm, as expected. We hit the M25 at 3.45pm on a Friday, as dreaded. There was no traffic and we arrived in Southampton around 5.30pm. These bare facts are in themselves astounding. The gig itself looked to be another example of a pudding being over-egged. There were professional cameramen, a sold-out audience that looked particularly non-student, TV screens everywhere and an hilariously massive Ibanez amp for my guitar. Our dressing room was (of course) a cupboard and the organiser (James) had additionally arranged  a backlit smoke machine in another cupboard for the acts to walk out of, "Stars In Their Eyes" style, which the compere and first two acts (including Paul) had turned down. James and Rob (The smoke machine operator) looked downcast at this as they had spent all afternoon rigging it up. I, like the excited child I am over such things, agreed whole-heartedly that I would absolutely love the opportunity to be introduced onstage from a cupboard full of backlit smoke and what a decision! The show went ridiculously well, all things considered and I was introduced with the instruction "Look over at that cupboard - it's Paul B. Edwards! Loud rock music began, the door was flung open, smoke billowed out and I emerged like some alien statesmen travelling through time to enthrall the Hampshire throngs. I did. It was great. The whole thing was filmed in Hi-Def and I'm hoping to have some clips soon. Paul asked for a lift back to London Bridge. I reluctantly agreed. It took us an hour and three quarters to get there, it took me three and a half hours to get home.

Burger & chips, guitar, two chicks by my knees - it was the dressing room of dreams...
Saturday saw me heading back to South London to compere a Christmas party at Jongleurs Croydon. Saturday early evening driving through London is normally a pleasure. It wasn't. I was expected at 8.15pm. I left at 5.15pm. I got there at 8.30pm. A ninety minute drive took over three hours. I queued up at Staples Corner, sat in a traffic jam down to Mill Hill, got in a queue at Archway and another at Kings Cross. It took me an hour and a half to get over the river, then I queued up to Elephant & Castle, all the way through Brixton and hit a massive jam on Streatham High Road. Finally, I got lost in Croydon until I stumbled upon the venue and parked hurriedly in a loading bay. A telling off awaited and a parking ticket loomed. I walked in to the packed venue to find they were going to be late starting, no-one minded me being a trifle tardy and the excellent bill looked ready for a great gig. The sound man checked my guitar in double-quick time and I remarked that he was the best I had ever dealt with.




The show started at about quarter past nine, the mic fed back terribly, the audience strained and winced in turn and I got the first act on. The whole of the first half was dogged by mic trouble and was, to say the least, a bit flat. The interval was great, though.

By the second half most of the audience were leathered and difficult to control. We did however, and the headliner worked his socks off to make a show of it. Despite everything, everyone, acts and audience alike, left satisfied and I returned to my car to find the windscreen blessedly ticket free. I drove home in an hour and a half....

...and who should be waiting on my doorstep when I got back than the little tomcat who shat behind my telly. Now I'm a soft touch with animals and he appears to have been abandoned by the former occupants of the downstairs flat so I let him in anyway. I put a fleece on a beanbag thinking it would be a perfect cat bed for the little fella. I also vowed to keep an all night vigil if necessary so he could have a proper sleep but at the first sign of potential stool arrival I could kick him out. He jumped straight on the makeshift cat bed and had a fit, chasing his tail, biting himself and jumping about like a Mogwai in the verge of Gremlinhood. I stared, panic stricken. Then he jumped off, calmly strolled over to my sofa and jumped onto four silk cushions, spread out and passed out. He is clearly very middle class.

There he remained until around 4.30am when the cover fell off the extractor fan in the kitchen, clattered on the floor and scared the bejesus out of the pair of us. He jumped up, ran round the back of the sofa and jumped on my head. Petrified, I jumped up, sending him flying. We both ran to the front door, I opened it and he ran out in a blind panic. As I closed it behind him he looked round, realising that he was out for the duration and he gave me a look that I can olny translate as "ohhhhhh..... B***ocks".

On Sunday I drove to Mansfield to go to the last night of its premier venue, The Town Mill, which has now closed, much to the chagrin of the local music-loving population. As a grand hoorah they had amassed an all-day gig featuring some of the area's best bands, most of which seem to feature the same guitar player, Ellis. I hadn't been able to track anyone down to stay with so had to book a B&B, the Clifton Hotel, a stone's throw from the gig but a lot further back in time than its surroundings. It was run by a fantastic guy who called me en route to check what I time I would be arriving as he was going out to dinner. I said "About quarter past five" and got there at quarter past five. He was waiting in the hallway bedecked in cravat and 70s lounge suit. He was great, He also said there was no rush for me to leave in the morning. We bade each other well and I went up to my single room. It was a double. Nice. It also had a terrific state of the art music system attached to the wall. Check out THIS bad boy:

Sadly, I didn't even have time to switch it on because I wanted to get to The Town Mill as quickly as possible. It was exactly what I wanted, more so in fact. An evening of old friends reminiscing to great music. Highlights were Flying Blind On A Rocket Cycle, Resistance 77...

Resistance 77 featuring the multi-banded Ellis in incredibly silly hat

...and throwing bottles at the back wall with the departing curator, Kev, at the end of the night (A tradition developed in a previous life). I went back to my friends Sam and April's house afterwards where we drank cherry brandy until she said "Oh f**k! I've just remembered! I've got work in the morning!". She tottered off to bed and Sam and I had one last smoke on his front porch. It had been emotional. I woke up at 7am the next morning (entirely ridiculous), watched telly until about 10am, had a cup of tea and went to finally say goodbye to my two former grandmas-in-law as I never got the chance when my wife and I split up four years ago. I'd built it up into quite a big deal over time and viewed it with a little trepidation. Would they welcome me, slap me, abuse me, ignore me, refuse to answer the door? I needn't have worried -  Neither of them were in.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Fuzzy faces, fuzzier heads and The Fuzztones

In (I think) 1987 I went to see The Fuzztones at Bowes Lyon House in Stevenage. It was a good gig made memorable by the scenes of bare chested Psychobillies in the wrecking pit at the front lacerating themselves on the studded belted Goths that were hanging around the edge of it. I was only seventeen but did manage to get served in the bar and several pints of snakebite and black (my gig drink of choice) left me remembering little else, save them doing "Psychotic Reaction", which was brilliant, lead singer Rudi Protrudi asking for his "Air guitar... I must have my air guitar" in similar fashion to Chuck Berry saying "We must do our Alma Mata" at the start of "My Ding-A-Ling" and some amazing sideburns.

Fuzztones early publicity shoot. Please note bone necklaces...
...Cut to 23 years or so later and I noticed they were touring to mark their thirtieth anniversary and PRAISE THE LORD they were playing The 100 Club in London as part of the tour and it was on a Sunday which meant I could go! I contacted a few different people who I knew for one reason or another had been (or were) fans but only procured the buddy services of Mr. Felix (Who had been at the gig at Bowes but we didn't know each other then) and the trusty (and new convert to Garage Punk) Steve. It did occur to me that I had not seen The Fuzztones for longer than some of my more recent acquaintances had been alive but hey - stuff like that is not to be dwelt upon.

No Sunday Garage Punk frenzy is complete without three days of comedy in increasingly random circumstances in Bedfordshire however: I'll try and be concise...

Thursday: Ashcroft Arms, Luton. Steve's pub. Acts present: Rick Hulse, Paul B. Edwards, J.T. Taylor, Rayguns Look Real Enough. Audience number: 43 (ish). Everyone did well. Rick, Steve, myself and several members of the audience drank from 6pm (ish) to 5am (ish), including the latest random element to come in to the bar - Lisa's lodger Penny, who fared slightly better at "Spoof" than Tasha from the previous week. Ray Gun was resplendent in a tiger-striped wrestler-style one piece catsuit that left little to the imagination. 

Ray Gun, resplendent, as always and serenading a reluctant Holly...
Friday: ivy Leaf Club, Langford. Acts present: Rick Hulse, Paul B. Edwards, Craig Murray. Audience number 70 (ish). Rick had a tough gig. I did OK, Craig was marvellous. When we got home to Herts we went immediately to the pub where we drank heavily until it shut around 2am. We walked out into a blizzard so bad we had to get a cab the 400 yards back to Chateau Moi. When we got in, Rick introduced me to white port. It is my new friend.

Saturday: The Pad, Bedford. Acts present: Rick Hulse, Paul B. Edwards, J. T. Taylor, Craig Murray, DJ Roch. Audience number 20 (ish). At twenty past eight I was going to pull the show as we had only sold one ticket. Then nineteen people showed up at once and made the gig busy enough to do. We didn't regret it. Everyone had a great time and Roch dropped us off back down the pub after the show. Rick and I drank varying combinations of wine, Black Sambuca, Jaegermeister, lager and ale. When we came back I put The Ashes on. It really is too funny what's happening Down Under at present but I'm not one to gloat - I mean - if the shoe was on the other foot I doubt very much my Australian counterpart would get involved in even the gentlest of ribbing, now would he?

...And so it was Sunday. Rick left early and (happily for me) forgot to take his white port home with him. I cooked Lancashire Hotpot (I was already missing the big oaf) and generally pondered stuff for a few hours.I arranged to meet Felix on the 5pm train from Hitchin. He had to run to catch it. I had had to run to catch it from the station before at 4.54pm. We got our breath back around about Knebworth. We are not getting any younger. At Kings Cross my day travelcard wouldn't work at the barrier. I offered it to an inspector who said "November 10th" very slowly as his brain began to whirr. It was December 5th and I had tried to use a previous ticket that I had not only somehow not discarded but also managed to put in exactly the same place I had the correct one. I got the valid ticket out, successfully traversed the machinery and left the inspector to his own (whirring) devices. We got the Northern Line to Holborn and then the Central Line to Tottenham Court Road before walking to Cambridge Circus and one of my favourite London pubs, "The Spice Of Life". I offered to buy our barmaid a drink. She accepted on the basis that "It had been a long day". I asked her how long she had been working. She said "Two hours". The youth of today clearly don't know what hard work is. I lobbed back a pint of McMullen AK (which should probably be pronounce "Ay Kay" but I pronounce with a loud "Ack!") and waited for Steve, who showed up just before half past six. We enjoyed More "Ack!" - and little Jaeger shots as liveners. Then we walked (in a roundabout way) to The French House for red wine and halves of Guinness (they don't do pints - they are very civilised). As we left the barmaid was incredibly over-friendly in her farewell as if saying goodbye to old friends.

Where everybody knows your nom.
From there we went to another pub that I don't remember the name of. We were lulled in by the smell of mulled wine. Steve asked the barman if we could order three mulled wines. He said "yes you can - well you could except that we've just run out". The bar staff of Soho are quirky. We had interestingly titled beer that was delicious. 

Oh by the way - I was wearing a black suit, faux leopard skin brothel creepers, a black shirt, black jeans and a rather fetching costume necklace made of large black beads and plastic dinosaur bones. I am forty.

A brisk stroll up to Oxford Street (Steve was directing - if it had been me we would certainly have gone in the wrong direction because I tried to do exactly that before Steve turned me round) and we were in. The 100 Club is threatened with closure and it will be a complete bitch if it does lock its doors for a final time because it's a really great place to see bands and has a huge and unique history spanning jazz, punk, rock, ska, 60s garage, you name it, really and an A to Z of alternative music royalty. The first band were crap. We were drinking Guinness. I bumped into my beautiful friend Janine who informed me that she reads this very blog. Hence her being my beautiful friend Janine. I also bumped into the tall bloke who had been dressed as an Austrian scoutmaster last New Year's Eve at The Boston Arms who is friendly with my mate Johnny Codger but whose name escapes me. I also bumped into the Norwegian bass player from the Priscillas who pinched my bottom once (Also at The Boston Arms, actually) but she didn't want to talk to me. I must not have been looking pert enough.

Then out came The Fuzztones and they didn't muck about. They roared straight in to "1-2-5", then "Bad News Travels Fast", then "Actions Speak Louder Than Words" which was a bit of a bugger as they are my three favourite Fuzztones numbers. As time went on Steve and I agreed that their keyboard player was the sexiest woman we had ever seen. She is called Lana Loveland. Of course she is. As the gig wore on and the capacity crowd got ever-more frenzied the obvious thing for me to do was to go to the front. Curiously, the slightly less obvious thing for Felix to do was to leave early. 

Rudi Protrudi, Lana Loveland, Fez Wrecker et al rock out in extreme fashion, largely bedecked in paisley.
This left me in a marginal quandary that was easily worked out: I would travel home with Steve. After all - who wouldn't want to spend the night in a pub after the preceding three days I'd had. The band encored spectacularly well and inevitably finished with their classic cover "Cinderella". The audience went crazy and I became the monitor monitor, gallantly holding the thing on the stage as various punters threatened to send it flying in to the crowd. Nobody thanked me, but Steve noticed me doing it and he at least knew that without me the whole thing would have been blown apart and that ultimately I was responsible for everyone's well being.

When we got back to the tube station it had shut - they all had - early, so we had to get a cab back to Kings Cross/St. Pancras where we ordered egg sandwiches and then waited for the train back to Luton. It made a laborious hour-long job of a thirty mile journey that should have left us shattered but we still managed a couple of hours drinking and chatting with the (increasingly saintly) Lisa who had been looking after the pub in his absence. I fell asleep in his lounge listening to England continue to dominate the Aussies in the Ashes. I stank of beer, fags and ROCK AND ROLL and had a large black and white cat on my legs.