Monday, 31 January 2011

A mare with the Mayors and an innocent little drink in Cambridge.

A couple of weekend nights with differing outcomes, as described below...


The remit was simple enough - show up to the venue, wait for dinner to finish, get up and do a short set of local material.

The complications were legion - the venue was a local masonic lodge, the audience was made up of local dignitaries, council chairmen and all the Lord and Lady Mayors of the County. Dinner ran late and the "support" act was the local council chairman offering a heart wrenching speech and award ceremony, a prize draw and a blood-raising auction where local business figures attempted to out bid each other (show off) leaving bruised egos and no small amount of heightened bravado.

The result was obvious - I struggled and in doing so unwittingly insulted the audience table by table, walked off to the sound of my own feet and got the whole thing captured by the local press for posterity.

The aftermath was fabulous - several younger councillors gathered around to congratulate, the local chairman who had booked me remained defiant in his choice of entertainment and the High Sheriff was apparently tickled pink and apparently there was a certain amount of schadenfreude in the room at the look on the Mayor Of Stevenage's face.

The comment of the night came from a waitress at its death. A councillor asked her if she thought I would  like to come in to the bar for a drink. She said, quite damningly, "I doubt it".


The remit was simple enough - show up in Cambridge and have a few drinks for Tim's birthday.

The complications were legion - Tim had left for Cambridge at 1.25pm with ten or eleven other rowdies, I didn't get up before 3pm and didn't set off until just before 7pm. By this time the rowdies were dispersing, no-one seemed to know what pub they were in and my directions were "Walk down the main road to John Lewis and turn left, walk a bit further and phone us".

I got to Cambridge just after 7.30pm and started walking down the main drag into town. It's a very long way. Very long. By the time I got to John Lewis I was cold and annoyed. I turned left and then received a text from Tim which said simply "The Anchor, Silver Street, by the river". I don't know Cambridge at all well but I figured it would be further down the route I'd taken. It was, with a minor bit of jiggery pokery, and I found them around 8pm, ordered a pint and took in the group. I only knew a couple of them but (As is so crushingly and embarrassingly usual) they all seemed to know me. Tim was pleasantly pissed and joyously accepted my suggestion of a round of shots. Six rums were cunningly procured with mental dexterity that left the barmaid on meltdown (I ordered three discounted "doubles" and asked them to be put into six glasses), further pints were had and we moved on to first a bar called The Fountain which looked great, had great staff but sounded terrible and then a really nice bar (Whose name escapes me) where we decided to head back to the station. It had been a nice light one for me and I contemplated a pint in the Tavern (my local) and a short walk home.

No chance.

How many bloody times do I end up writing "No chance"?

As the carriage doors closed and the train departed I was accosted by a mob of galoots that I've known for two decades. They too had been out on a birthday celebration and were heading for "Afters" at Bar '85 in Hitchin. The train reached Letchworth and they didn't let me off. Well, I didn't take a lot of persuading, to be fair...

A brisk walk to Bar '85 was followed by a couple of pints of Guinness and some shots to finish a night off that had been beautifully soundtracked by the legend that is Charlie Frame, standing in as an "I'll play what you want" DJ to great effect. Those in attendance were treated to the B52s, Sisters Of Mercy and plenty of other 80s classics, as was befitting a bar of that name. We hit 1.30am and surely everything was over now? Wrong. Someone said the magic words "There's a reggae night on at the football club and there's a bar until 3am". It was cold so we got a cab the 400 yards to the gig and walked in, unchallenged, to a room full of the local Afro-Caribbean population, fantastic music and a huge array of West Indian delicacies served willingly by half a dozen old matriarchs. I filled my boots with a huge plate of spicy traditional cuisine that they let me have for nothing and scoffed another couple of pints in the company of Gareth the Welsh mentalist. He (astoundingly) recounted a story from a couple of years back when two girls had come back to my flat for reasons that genuinely escape me, one got high in the toilet (I didn't know she had any drugs), the other got more drunk and maudlin and I left them to argue amongst themselves when I went to bed. In the morning there was a note saying thanks for letting them stay and that they had nicked my vodka. What I didn't know was what happened next. Gareth filled me in - apparently they had gone directly round to his to settle whatever argument they were having but by the time he got to his front door to answer it they were having a full on fist fight and rolling around on his front porch, screaming at each other. He had the nerve to blame me for it! I supped up indignantly, bid him adieu, walked into a wall and then zig zagged  up to the taxi rank to get a cab home.

The lovely old Islamic taxi driver knew me and we talked fundamentalism and Hosni Mubarak for the three mile, twenty quid ride home, I'd managed to turn a quiet night into a massive one and judging by the pile of clothes on my bedroom floor when I woke up today, I hadn't made it into the lounge when I got home. Lovely.

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