"Lutterworth's other claim to fame is that Frank Whittle, inventor of the jet engine, developed some of the world's first jet engines at the British Thomson-Houston works in Lutterworth, and in nearby Rugby, during the late 1930s and the 1940s. The engine for the UK's first jet aeroplane, the Gloster E.28/39, was produced in Lutterworth. A statue of the plane stands in the middle of a roundabout just south of the town as a memorial. For many years there was a pub on Leicester Road called "The Frank Whittle". It was demolished in the 1990s and replaced with a car show room."
It's got a monthly comedy club in a refurbished sports centre bar at the top of a flight of stairs at the back of a car park not far off junction 20 of the M1. It's amazing. The guys who run it have done a fabulous job of making something out of nothing and a well-dressed audience of around two hundred people were sat at circular tables in a long room with a "surround sound" PA system and a bar to the rear. There is a sound man right by the stage (where they should be), decent facilities and a good bar. The audience get treated to "Grazing boards" of continental meats and cheeses, dips and breadsticks etc. You couldn't ask for a better looking room and a nicer looking audience and theoretically you'd be hard pushed to find a better infrastructure for a gig. The staff are friendly and it all looked geared up to be a great night.
Unfortunately the audience are not all facing the stage (because of the round tables) and so are prone to breaking out into little pockets of chat while the show is on, the volume controls for the sound are behind the bar (rather than in the sound booth) so the acts have to relay information to the back to "turn this up, please", the lighting is rather specific (you can't really move around or you are plunged into darkness) and the money spent on the grazing boards would be better spent on maintenance of the "surround sound" PA system as the back speakers don't actually work and there was a loud buzz reverberating around the gig for its duration. A waitress asked the acts if we would also like a "grazing board" and we said yes we would. It clearly was only an enquiry though, as said platter of treats never materialised. I asked the guy running the gig how previous shows had gone and he said "oh we've only had one act die - he was a musical act as well".
Anyway all the acts made a fist of the gig and although it didn't set the world on fire, it actually went all right and most people seemed happy enough with the outcome. I got a few "Well done mate" remarks as I left and a woman from Hemel Hempstead actually hugged me, which was nice.
That's not what I want to talk about, though. On arrival I chatted with the compere, Joe, who asked me if I was going to be doing The Edinburgh Festival this August. I recounted my story of how I had been really lucky to get The Speakeasy venue in Cabaret Voltaire, in a perfect spot between The Royal Mile and the Pleasance which was absolutely the perfect spot for me to take a free "Paul B. Edwards + guests" daily show for the duration of the festival. It was a fantastic time slot (7.30pm) and I really felt for once that I had landed on my feet. I'd gone to a lot of work to get it and had been looking forward to making some money for once (you pass a bucket around at the end of the shows like a sort of indoor-busking gig and it can be very lucrative). Sadly last week I found out that the venue was under new management and was no longer involved in the free fringe. Cursing my luck I resigned myself to ending up in a far inferior venue, or not going at all. Joe asked me what The Speakeasy was like. I said I thought it was a perfect comedy room in a great spot and anyone with a decent time slot would clean up in there. He thanked me, phoned his agent and confirmed the 7.30pm gig he had been offered in The Speakeasy, Cabaret Voltaire, for the duration of The Edinburgh Festival. There were three of us on at the gig out of the literally thousands of comics that permeate The British Isles. There are thousands of comedy shows at Edinburgh every year in over a hundred different venues. Shows run throughout the day from 10am to 2am throughout the city. I was in Lutterworth on a Saturday night and was talking to the man who was about to take the very room at the very time that I had worked so hard to get. It was through no fault of his own and he cannot in any way be held responsible for my own predicament. He hasn't usurped me - it's just been a bizarre chain of events. Joe asked Andrew (The other comedian) if he was doing Edinburgh this year. I beseeched of Andrew "Don't answer him, you'll probably find out he's nicked your flat!".
At the end of his first week in Cabaret Voltaire, Joe will do a gig on a Sunday night between 7.30pm and 8.30pm. At the end of the show as he thanks his audience and takes his bow, accepting the acclaim of the crowd, the plaudits of his critics and the respect of his peers, I am going to emerge from the shadows, shout out "This is for Sir Frank Whittle!" and shoot him in the face with an elephant gun.