Sharon had also gone to the trouble to dig out a couple of vintage mobile phones (They looked Russian, Delboy!) and was more than happy to lend me not only one of her husband's shirts (it looks better on me) but also a rather fetching summer frock that she claimed to have no further use of. Not being a particularly shy and retiring type, I'm quite happy to show you the fruits of her labour in composite form:
|The photo on the right has had a number of effects on people. Sharon herself has vowed never to wear the frock again and my mate Simon begged me to take it off facebook as it was hurting his eyes.|
|Since the closest I've come to writing a love song is the little known "It Takes Two To Tango (But Only One To Masturbate)", I wouldn't hold your breath on seeing this in your local record store any time soon|
Anyway, that all done and the woman paid, I came home for a couple of hours, ate some dinner and then journeyed back to Hitchin to again visit Club 85 to see yet more bands and what a great night I had. All three bands that I saw had members that were mates of mine in some capacity or other and I managed to (somehow) get myself organised enough to interview them all for the best music/comedy podcast in the world, with differing levels of difficulty. Badhead (featuring good mate and fine musician/producer/desk op Andy Davies) rocked out Husker Du style, The New Town Centres (made up entirely of ne'erdowells that at some point or other I've scoffed beer with) did a mixed set of old classics and new floor fillers with their usual lack of genuine success but ungainly brilliance and finally The Metatrons, (50% of which were at my birthday do a couple of months back) who delighted the smallish crowd with some bubblegum indie not dissimilar from The Primitives, not that they'd particularly thank you for pointing out the similarities.
Obviously all of this was washed down with a significant amount of a real ale that began being called "Reverend James" but ended up being called "That one!" and pointed at with a wobbly finger. There were a load of blasts from the past there and it was really great to catch up with all of them, especially my friends Sean & Sara who I see all-too infrequently. I was tempted to stick around for the hints of after-show parties but instead sensibly decided to wobble up the road to the station to catch the 12.50am back to Letchworth and a relatively early night as I had a big day on Saturday. When I got to the station I got in a conversation with five young guys, one of whom gave me a cigarette and we carried the conversation onto the train, chatting about music and clothes and girls and the things young guys talk about. We got off at Letchworth, walked up the steps, across the forecourt and towards the Arena Tavern where there was the outside chance of a nightcap on the way home. I'd had a really brilliant day, a great night and was looking forward to a fantastic weekend. Then the biggest of the five young guys dropped a yard behind me, jumped into the air and punched me hard in the back of the head.
Stunned, I just stood dead still. He punched me again, harder it felt, but I couldn't be sure. I turned to face him and as I did he punched me again in the side of the face, my lip split wide open, blood spurted into the air and they all ran off. I took a few seconds to assess the situation but remained utterly shocked. There had been no warning, there was no raising of voices, no altercation, no hint that anything bad was going to happen. They didn't try to mug me, the rest of the gang didn't join in, it was just pre-meditated, unmotivated, sociopathic assault. I collected myself, walked round the corner to the pub and saw Fat Paul and Vicky the Psycholezza who bunged me straight into a cab home and I was telling the police all about it (over the phone) within fifteen minutes of the assault occurring. Paul stayed for a cider and left. Vicky passed out on the couch, I left her to it, applied fresh tissue to the open wound on my face and buggered off to bed, still not quite believing what had happened.
I woke up naked on Saturday morning to find Vicky the Psycholezza asleep next to me (fully clothed), felt a pain in the head and a pain in my mouth and instantly thought the worse. She assured me that nothing had happened - she'd just woken up in the night on the couch and been cold so got in with me. She also reminded me that she was very lesbian and then chuckled as she realised she was still even wearing her flip flops. She departed in her usual state of general confusion and I got up, showered, shaved and waited for a comedian to arrive at 12.30pm.
I didn't really have any time to dwell on the attack from the previous night and forced myself to get sorted as I had to drive to Holsworthy in Devon to compere the final of the new comedian competition I have run throughout April. I was also giving four of the acts a lift down there. Chris was arriving at mine then we were picking the other three up at 1.30pm from Rickmansworth tube station. He was prompt. We drove down there for 1.30pm and sure enough there was one of the acts, Wouter, but not the other two. Luke was about forty minutes late, having had a bit of a mare on the rail network. By the time he arrived we were on the other side of the dual carriageway in a pub car park. When we saw him we motioned for him to stay where he was so we could make our way over. By the time we had driven there he had walked under the underpass and was now by the pub, looking a little helpless. First laugh of the day then. Last to arrive was Kate, who had made the short journey from Enfield via two wrong tube lines in the wrong direction and a taxi. We didn't leave Ricky until about ten past three and I was grumpy because I was now going to miss Doctor Who.
The journey was fairly uneventful and we got to The Old Market Inn for around half six, checked into the rooms and were lined up with beer and food within half an hour. Steph & Ignacio (The other two acts) were already there and Lee (The excellent hotel manager/owner/general good bloke) was in a particuarly generous mood. Free booze was clearly on the cards and if my last trip to the gig was anything to go by I could reasonably expect a bottle of Walter Hicks 9000% rum on the stage with a couple of shot glasses. I wasn't to be disappointed.
Over the next few hours the (sold out) audience were treated to six of the finest new comedians on the circuit and rounds of shots between each one, dished out by an increasingly inebriated compere (Me) who was picking someone at random after each act to slug back a shooter with. Couple this with the 5.8% porter I was drinking (delicious and potent) and by the time it came to announcing the winners I had already, effectively, blacked out. All I can remember thinking was "My face doesn't hurt any more!". I managed to get the order of winners wrong and then insisted on all of them doing a shot with me, some of the audience left, some apparently hung around and I finally gave up the will to speak around 2am, retired to bed and left Chris (who had been riding shotgun) the most incredibly incomprehensible voicemail I think I have ever left anyone. Apparently they all stayed up until 4am. On the one hand I was disappointed I hadn't stayed up with them. On the other hand, it was definitely a good thing.
I was woken up at 11am the next morning by two cleaners walking in to my room who thought I had already checked out. A simple "Good morning, ladies!" was enough to send them retreating and shrieking back into the corridor. I washed, had a coffee and rounded up the gang for a decent Sunday lunch in the hotel before we left. The day dragged as the miles were slowly devoured and we didn't get back until about 7.30pm at night. I went to my friend's house for dinner and told her the story of the attack. She was surprised that my assailant was unknown to me, working on the basis that there are enough people I know who are queuing up to punch me in the head as it is.
Monday came and went and then this morning a very nice policeman came to get my official statement. We talked for a bit, recognised each other from school/the old days/pubs/something like that and he assured me that they would do everything they could to catch the smiling teenage ninjas that had so calculatingly assaulted me. He then told me his name. He is called Michael Bolton. It's a curse, but it certainly cheers up victims of ABH.
This Friday is the 13th. Traditionally this is perceived to be an unlucky day. I hope it's a little easier on the back of my head and the side of my face than the 6th was.
PS. I have in the past been accused of being "particularly English". This has become no more apparent to me than last Friday night. I only said one thing during the attack, between the two punches to the head and the one to the face. When people get hit they shout "Ow!" or "Jesus!" or "Help!". I turned to my juvenile assailant and said quite sternly (for a person being hit repeatedly) "What on Earth do you think you're doing?".