Thursday, 10 February 2011

Paulmas Day

Saturday February 5th - Paulmas Day

I haven't had a party on my actual birthday for years and so the opportunity to go for it properly for once was a bit too tempting to turn down. The reason for me being free on a Saturday night was fairly straightforward - I had planned to relaunch my burlesque/cabaret show "Dollyremixture" at Bliss nightclub in Hitchin but at a few week's notice they had emailed me to tell me that they didn't want the show after all. This was annoying, to say the least, since they had approached me in the first place with a view to doing it. Seeing as I had already booked the acts for it and had failed to find another venue in time, I decided, rather boldly, to do it anyway, but do it in my flat.

Thus began my logistical nightmare. I needed to find a way of paying for everything, offering value for money and also making sure that everyone who came along had a terrific time. I eventually settled on a limit of 25 people (Down from an original 30 when I realised my lounge was simply not big enough) and a ticket price of £20 each. This included the cost of all the acts and all the booze. See the previous blog for the list of beverages I had accrued numerous bags of crisps and nuts over the previous few weeks so included them in the price because I am so magnanimous and excellent.

That achieved, I had to plan the room to provide ample seating and a sufficient stage area. A combination of two leather sofas, four dining chairs and a couple of pouffs accounted for the invited girls, with a plan to stand the guys in two rows along the back wall. Additional instructions to the invited guests included "Don't wear big frocks and underskirts" which wasn't a lecherous request but an appeal for minimal dress so as to maximise room, honest. I had a ready-made accomplice to run the bar in my mate Steve and had placed him in the kitchenette that opens onto the room itself. He was charged with keeping everyone's glasses full rather than having general scrums into the fridge etc. The eureka moment of plugging a microphone into my stereo solved any p.a. related issues and I used the desk lamp out of my office as a spotlight. The office itself was doubling as the dressing room for the acts and being an ensuite two-bedroom, two bathroom flat, the abode was equipped with a "ladies" and a "gents". The smoking area was out of my bedroom window and I was doubling that room as an impromptu cloak room.

Setting all that up on Saturday afternoon took ages, particularly as I was being constantly updated about the afternoon's football via Sky Sports. By the time Forest had successfully beaten Watford 1 - 0 and gone second in the Championship, my mother had been round and helped me put shimmer curtains up over the lounge door to create an air of mystery and glamour (in my head) and had also insisted on re-vacuuming the floors I had already hoovered earlier.

Steve arrived around 6.15pm. Lucy and Scarlett the burlesque dancers were here by 7pm, as was Owen Niblock (one of the comedians). The other comedian, Rob (for his third day on the trot with me) arrived around 8pm via Hitchin station and a three mile bike ride to add to the tennis match he had lost in the afternoon. He's the yin to my yang. By then everyone bar one (ex) couple (but arriving together) were there and sat down. Steve had brought over four bar stools and my friends Limburn & Georgie had provided two gas-lift retro bar stools fresh from B&Q which meant now only six people had to stand.

Logistics over, here's what I remember about the show:

I drank John Smiths (Smooth) at an alarming rate. Everyone else drank everything else at a more alarming rate. All the girls looked sexy (And sexier as the night went on). All the boys looked smart (And nothing - all right?). Owen was fabulous and everybody laughed.

Owen Niblock - very funny and not at all geeky
Scarlette O Harlette came out with an unnervingly realistic toy cat and did a routine based around stroking her pussy. We had a break and everyone went to the toilet, drank and smoked. I started the second section. I told Rob he would die on his arse. He went on and did fabulously well. He over-ran by five minutes like the typical show-stealer he is. 

Rob Heeney over-running like the unprofessional shmuck he is - harumph  (I'm joking, Rob).
I let it go because I am magnanimous and I realised it didn't matter - it was a gig in my flat for crying out loud, not The Comedy Store. Lucy Longlegs appeared in full belly dancing gear and finished without any of it on. There was another break. Things started to get a bit out of hand. I came back on. We played "Roxanne" and one girl got it wrong and downed a full glass of wine - good effort. We played a game of "Heads & Tails" to win an excellent prize that I had donated myself called "Nunchucker"* which was basically a catapult that fired tiny spreadeagled nuns a good twenty feet (they were plastic - it's fine). 

The game of Heads and Tails - an excuse for women to push their chests out and put their hands on their bottoms.
I pulled my trousers down to reveal a rather nifty pair of shiny gold leopard print boxer shorts. Scarlett came back on with a birthday hat made of candles that spanked of "Fire risk". 

Scarlett with my cake on her head.
There was another break. Steve warned me that the booze was going to run out. 


I spent £200 on it - how could it be running out? 

I suspect this was why the booze ran out - Steve let Carla, Sulu and Debbie in the kitchen when no-one was looking
His explanation was: "Everyone has been drinking like monkeys". I surveyed the scene. Everyone had indeed been drinking like monkeys. It was chaos. Noisy, fabulous, excitable chaos. One person had got so confused with it all that they thought they were actually out in a venue and informed me, the "venue manager", that "A man has just gone in the ladies". Scarlett got a lift back to the station with the one sober man in the room, Kris, who would prove to be even more invaluable later. Dave the upstairs neighbour showed up. I had invited him for socio-political reasons. He's a nice guy and I didn't want him complaining about the noise.

I know that this was before the end of the night and after the start of it because Dave the upstairs neighbour is in the picture.
We started the last bit. Owen was again fabulous. Lucy reappeared with an act that involves her roasting a pretend baby. She had asked me if I could hang about near the front to be used as a stooge. She explained that all I would have to do was lie on the floor when asked and she would pour a small amount of white wine into my mouth before pulling out a bust up red pepper from my pocket to suggest ripping out my heart. I explained to her that it was my lounge and nothing was far from the front and also that what she suggested was perfectly reasonable. 

It was only when said semi-naked 6"2' burlesque dancer had me lying on the floor with her foot in my mouth, surrounded by the stockinged legs of the girls on the front row and feeling the stinging sensation of a full glass of wine thrown into my eyes that it occurred to me that it might be as close as I would ever get to a "George Best" moment.

"So George - Where did it all go wrong?"
Dave the upstars neighbour disappeared, clearly terrified by all he had witnessed. Steve claimed we had now run out of booze. I pointed out that there were the six ridiculously cheap bottles of red wine still there. I was informed that they were that crappy half-the-alcohol booze that overpowers you with its budget nature whilst hiding your own folly in the small print. There was nothing left for it - we'd have to phone the pub. Kris (now returned) again stepped up to the plate and rang the Arena Tavern. I returned to the microphone to get landlady Sue a cheer when she said we were all welcome. We drank up and pretty much all set off for town.

Things I know about the rest of the night:

Sue's husband (landlord) Bob bought me a large Jack Daniels. Lucy and her crazy boyfriend Simon said they were going to Hitchin with Carla, Kaddar and Carissma to see Lemar doing a personal appearance at Bliss nightclub in Hitchin (So That's why they pulled our gig - they bumped us for bloody Lemar!) because she felt like she was on the set of The League Of Gentlemen. 

Lemar - I should thank him really - it's thanks to a ruthless nightclub owner booking him in favour of me that this whole shebang occurred. I still think he's a tit though.
The rest of us stayed until the pub shut and then walked home again. Something happened about 4am but I can't remember what. We listened to The Clash. We drank white wine out of the bottles because bizarrely hardly anyone had touched it all night and we'd run out of glasses. I went to sleep in my own room at some point with a few stragglers surviving beyond me. It was one of the best birthdays I have ever had. 

(Photos courtesy of Sharon K. Cooper and Carla-Jayne Mitchell)

*This had actually been a present from an ex girlfriend a couple of years before that I never got round to opening, to my shame - it has now gone to a very good home, so I have spread the love.


  1. Fabulous...if only you gave me update authority on this blog I could edit the post and add the photo of you in the shiny leopard print pants. Thats what the public want! Didnt put that on FB for fear of offending. Blogs are different, fair game.

  2. Actually I decided against that particular option - I think the photos here are damning enough...

  3. Post the photo's!!! Paul's made this sound like a civilised evening, the world deserves to know the truth!


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