Tuesday, 26 July 2011

dogs, whiteys and a rockabilly riot.

This might not be a particularly long blog, largely because I can be forgiven for not remembering much about the weekend. I'll explain...

I managed to get not one, but two gigs cancelled this weekend. Thursday (Liverpool) and Friday (Scunthorpe) were pulled at short-ish notice and I was left with only a show at one of my favourite venues, Alexanders Jazz Theatre in Chester. The lack of work availed FUN of course and on Friday I drove up to Blackpool to have a night out with my friend Mia and also to look at a venue that may be opening its doors to comedy in a few months. The drive was murder. I expected the traffic to be bad on the way up but I didn't expect it to take five hours. I hit traffic jams on the M1 around Milton Keynes, Northampton and Daventry. I then got on to the car park known more commonly as the M6 where I came to a standstill around Corley services before finally (and grudgingly) making it on to the M6 toll for twenty odd miles of freedom (for £4.80). it was worth the best part of a fiver. When I rejoined the M6 I stopped again at Cannock, hit a huge jam around Stafford and then came to another  halt at Stoke. The traffic didn't ease until I'd got past Manchester when it suddenly became plain sailing all the way to Thornton-Cleveleys. I got to Mia's around 8pm to be greeted by her insane dogs who barked, jumped and playfully licked me into a submission. Tired, hungry and a little freaked, I was then subjected to something Mia described as AK48. Apparently it's a finely tuned hybrid of AK47. That anyone would name an intoxicant after  Russian military hardware only begins to hint at its rarified successor's strength. We then went for a carvery, or rather she did. I embarked on a ninety (ninety!) minute whitey that left me muttering to myself as she giggled uncontrollably at my discomfort. At one point I uttered the phrase "There's actually no antidote for this!". At another I had a brief relief, sat bolt upright and said "It's passed!" before two seconds later collapsing back into despair as it came rushing back. I held my head in my hands for the duration of the episode. Mia said I looked for all the world like a gambler who had lost everything. I liked to think that anyone walking past would have looked at us and figured that she had finished with me and I was just not taking it very well. She had told me at the start that it was "Good for writing". I doubt I could even have held a pen, let alone scribbled anything down with it. What do you think?

At one point I tried to pick up a solitary pea with my fork. It fell off.
Everything passed as quickly as it had arrived, I recovered the spring in my step and we had a couple of pints, before getting the tastiest burger I have ever had in my life (I wonder what made it so tasty?) and retiring chez Mia for bottled mojitos and crap telly.

I woke up late. An hour late, to be precise and we had to hot foot it to the aforementioned venue to meet the boss and check it out. It's a beautiful old theatre, steeped in history and has the potential to be an amzing comedy club. I told the owner as much and gave him some advice on running shows. Whether he'll listen or not remains to be seen, but it's got real potential. I'll let you know as things develop. I left Blackpool about 3.30pm and drove to Chester via Manchester and a swift half with another friend, Nadia. She revealed to me that she could get very cheap holidays to Las Vegas. I now want to go to Las Vegas with her.

The gig in Chester was, as usual, lovely and I got out of there just before midnight. The three hour drive home was far superior to the one there.

On Sunday night I met up in Brixton with a friend of mine who works for radio 2. The reason? She had two tickets for "Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot" at The Brixton Academy. I had really wanted to go but had been put off by the £35 ticket price. it suddenly being free put a whole new spin on it though. On the train down I bumped into my mate Mark (Who occasionally cuts my hair, but don't condemn him for it). We had a pint at The Beehive (nearest pub to the gig) and bumped into Johnny and Angel who I had last shared a drink with in Pineda De Mar at The Psychobilly Meeting. Angel is approaching six feet tall, has brightly coloured hair and was resplendent in a 50s style union jack dress. When she went to the bar a man bumped into her and said "Sorry, I didn't see you". You could have seen her from space.

The gig itself was a really good laugh, not least because we had VIP tickets which got us in through the stage door and into a private bar so there was no need to queue. We came out front to watch support act "Jim Jones Review" who did their best to get someone else's audience going and are definitely worth a second look. Setzer took to the stage with his "Trio" and they did a few songs form his "68 Comeback Special - Ignition" album. That was followed by a couple of instrumentals from his new album before the highlight of the night (for me at least) when he wheeled out Slim Jim Phantom and did a Stray Cats set that raised the roof. What followed was a glorious mess. Both drummers stayed on stage, another double bass player came out and we got the "Rockabilly Riot" we had been threatened. I was expecting this to have been the whole show and just as it really started to kick off, it was over. As the rest of te band left the stage, Slim Jim Phantom ran to the front applauding and laughing hysterically.This was a repeat of the last time when I had seen him there when (after a Stray Cats gig) he ran to the front applauding, slipped, fell over and broke his arm in two places. Miraculously he still got through two encores but then had to cancel the rest of the tour. I like it when rock stars do things like that - it reminds us they're human. Then I bumped into my mate DJ Dave from Swanage who had taken his son along to the gig. His son is cool. Dave isn't - he's a plum. He's my kind of guy.

Finally, a little advert for myself. I'm doing The Edinburgh Festival this year from August 8th to 27th. Below are flyers for the two gigs I'm doing - I'd love to see you at one of them, should you be around. I'll also be blogging pretty much every day (As I did last year) for the duration of The Fringe, which (last year) was how this blog happened in the first place. Cheers!

Every night at 7.30pm. I've already got some great line ups for it and  I'm tremendously flattered by some of the comics who have asked to appear.

This could be brilliant. It could also be an absolute mess. Regardless, it'll be a bit of a laugh as I grapple with wig changes, accents, songs, stories, poems and even a rap. I am so street. It's on in Edinburgh's most haunted pub, which seems fitting. It will be a great environment for a show about fairy tales and I may even find the ghost of my career.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Beaches, towels, nightclubs and a crotchety Dutch woman.

Monday started like the rest of the days really - late. Lunch at Can Josep was followed by a bit of time in the sunshine and no particular rush to do anything at all. I finished off the novel I was reading concerning the siege of Malta and freshened up ready to go to the end-of-festival party at the beach bar - somewhere I hadn't, as yet, reached. In fact, it occurred to me that I hadn't even set foot on the beach in five days. Something had been troubling me in the bathroom since we arrived and I think it's best described with the photograph below

Close inspection of this photograph will reveal that the Spanish apparently  wipe their bottoms with their towels
To say this photo left me a little nonplussed would be an understatement. Anyway, I got a text from Marina asking if we wanted to walk down to the beach bar with her and her friends and we met up with them after another (rather nice) hotel dinner. That we didn't arrive until it was dark was no real surprise but it was an opportunity for another classic photograph

Day six and I finally set foot on the beach. This was met with a smattering of derisive applause.  As far as I was concerned , I was all ready for a moonbathe.
The night was fairly slow-starting but soon geared up into a quite ridiculous shindig. There was Titch resplendent in his Irish gear, a load of Russian women dressed as hula girls, Ant and his mate in matching yellow kaftans (but differing sombreros), Noel wrapped up in toilet paper running around like the little monkey that he is, a beach comb to find Lexy, some great music and the whole thing washed down with jugs of Sangria at nine euros a pop. At one point this happened

Yes I've got no idea what's going on here either but Kitty seems fine with it and Gwen  & Lexy appear oblivious to me feeding her Sangria. I'm such a giver.

It wrapped up around half past two but a few of the more hardcore amongst us decided to chance our arms at one last drink in a great bar called "The Golden Gloves" in Calella. Not knowing where on Earth we were going, we were relieved when our wine waiter from the hotel pulled up alongside us in his car to say hello. He pointed us in the right direction and we got there for last orders, with landlord Richie initially reluctant to serve us until the appearance of Chris and Sera (A lovely pair) who knew him and confirmed our drinking credentials. A Guinness later and he suggested he could get us all into the Memphis Disco. Fabulous! What better way to end The Psychobilly Meeting than in some late-night Tennessee-themed drinking hole. WRONG. He frogmarched twelve of us down there and got us in free to the MENFIS disco. That is only a letter "T" off something entirely different. I loved it. The music was loud, the drinks were awful and the people were over-dressed for that time of the morning (it was now almost 4am). It was like being at home, with one or two exceptions: I remained in the company of the lovely Marina, there were Psychobillies dotted around all over the place and in his infiinte wisdom Richie had decided to buy me shots on top of the large vodka and diet cokes I was knocking back. The following photograph resulted

You might call this three people jumping about like lunatics in a dubious Catalunyan nightclub at half past four in the morning. I call it FUN.
I got a cab home with Richie around 5am. Steve had walked on ahead. I beat him home by a good thirty minutes. Apparently he had his annual "Save a rockstar" moment somewhere between the Menfis Disco and the Aqua' Hotel. More, I'm afraid, I cannot divulge. I slept pretty bloody well, anyway.

Not being able to face a lot of food, Steve and I shied away from Can Josep on Tuesday and instead had a late snackette of "Bikinis" in a bar across the road from the railway station as we awaited Marina and Mellina in order to bid them farewell. To find out how that went, have a look here . As we walked back from the station we spotted Titch and Lexy again, who were already back on the sauce. That seemed like a perfectly good idea so we had a few lagers with them and various other people who were waiting for their shuttle buses  to Girona for their flights home. Titch again reminded Steve that he wanted him to play sax on his new album and no-one bothered arguing with him. I hope Steve is a quick learner. We headed back to the hotel for dinner and then met up with Russ, Owen, Priscilla, Maki, Pip and Alex for a leisurely last drink in The Buccaneer. There was a spectacular thunderstorm that lit up the sea with fork lightning and (more importantly) finally cleared the resort of the dust that had coated it for the last week. The bar shut at 2am. We were obviously still there. On our return to the hotel we sat on the balcony and had one last beer, whilst talking in hushed tones (I had all but lost my voice). These were not sufficiently low to prevent us waking our newly-arrived (and clearly light-sleeping) octogenarian Dutch neighbour, who crawled out of her bewildered pit to berate us in first her native tongue and then broken English, to the effect that we were apparently waking up the entire hotel. We pointed out that a. we weren't and b. she was lucky she hadn't been there for the last week - she really would have had something to complain about. I'll finish this little run of Iberian blogs with a final photograph - well, when in Spain...

Ay caramba!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Psychobilly Parrots? Bring forth the Norwegian Blues!

I think we headed back to Can Josep for lunch on Saturday but I can't be absolutely sure because by now things were beginning to all blur into one. If this is the first blog you've read on here you might want to go back a couple for things to make sense. To recap, the blur I refer to is the annual Psychobilly Meeting in Pineda De Mar, Spain. This was the fourth year in a row that I'd been and in all that time the only thing I appear to have learnt on this particular trip was to not drink red wine but switch to Sangria as there was more fruit in it. After lunch we headed back to the Irish Bar to watch England Ladies v France Ladies in the Women's World Cup quarter final. The French controlled a lot of the match but we had far the better chances and were unlucky to be only drawing 1-1 after extra time and thus inevitably lost the penalty shoot out that followed. That was two hours of my life I'll never get back. During the match we had four pints of guinness and were subjected to a loud busker who murdered just about every rock classic that's ever been written. Towards the end of the game he declared "I think it's time to move this gig inside" to which several people in the bar exclaimed simply "No it's not". He gave us a good excuse to leave. We grabbed some dinner in the hotel and then nipped round to the Norwegian ladies' apartment in Nostre Mar. They were a little surprised to see us but furnished us with beer anyway. They're very accommodating, the Norwegians. They also helped me out on a few of the many gaps of the previous few nights. Linda, for example, reminded me that I had called her a polar bear on a bicycle. I'm putting that down to Cannabis Absinthe and I'm sticking with it.

Linda the polar bear, Parrot shirt (2) indicating that this photo was taken the day before. I also appear to have grown an extra head out of my right shoulder which looks remarkably like Steve.

I think we went to Janet's quiet bar again but I can't be sure. What I CAN be sure of is that we were VERY late to the festival and missed half The Polecats' set. It also meant that Parrot Shirt 3 (My favourite) didn't get the response I felt it merited (I'm such a little queen, sometimes). That we then largely ignored Nekromantix at the end had more to do with the fact we were just having a really good laugh in the seated outdoor area with what appeared to be a huge amount of friends, many of whom I wasn't aware I had befriended on the ill-fated Thursday night when I had got vino tinto-ed. This was a late one. I don't think we got back until about 5am, but you know - it's all a bit patchy.

Parrot shirt 3 (Indicating Saturday) and two VERY good reasons to not bother watching Nekromantix

For Sunday lunch we returned to Janet's, and then bumped into our friends Helen & Adie who were departing to return to their lovely life on the Cote D'Asur. They gave me their tickets for the Sunday night and I bought them a bottle of Cannabis Absinthe. It was rude not to. We hit on the idea to give the slightly beleaguered Janet one of the tickets so she could have a rare night out. We'd taken her under our wing since the incident when Steve had ended up working in her bar for a bit when her waiting staff had failed to materialise. I left Steve to his own devices while I took a stroll up to Hotel Paradis to meet up with the band Restless. I've got to know Rob the drummer quite well and we had discussed me interviewing them. The fact that, as usual, my voice was hanging by a thread didn't perturb me but I got up there and we just had a beer and a bit of a laugh. They went for a lie down (they're not getting any younger) and I headed back to the Aqua, successfully negotiating the Irish bar without stopping. I must be maturing. Another shower, another shave, another four course meal in the hotel (life really had been tough) and we were on our way again to "The Tent On the Beach" for the last night of bands and it was a great one to finally get there relatively early for, in that we were there in time to see "Koefte & The Deviators" do a special tribute set to "Torment", one of my favourite Psychobilly bands from the 80s. They were absolutely brilliant.

Koefte Deville & The Deviators. Photo again courtesy of Billy Tombstone seeing as  my camera had run out of batteries and Steve is refusing to hand over any of the ones he took because he is a prissy little madam

The tent's not always that busy for a band so early on the bill but it was packed, great and arguably a highlight of the whole thing. I say "arguably" because I've missed so much of it I can't be sure. Parrot shirt 4 was also going down rather well and even had parrots on the collar and sleeves (A nice touch). The next band up were "The Griswalds" - another blast from the past who I had never seen live. They also did a really good set and played a few of my favourites of theirs but sadly "Robbie Robot" and "Gay Barndance" were not amongst them, more's the pity. So much Sangria had been consumed that the festival had run out of it (We played no small part in this) so Steve had the idea of getting us in to red wine and coca cola. By the time Restless emerged it was my drink of choice. Restless were, in my opinion, fabulous but a highlight of the gig for me was a bit they actually messed up. Mark (singer/guitar) messed up a line to the classic "Long Black Shiny Car", realised his mistake and stopped what he was doing, floundering to remember what it should have been. From the front row I helpfully screamed "She's found someone else who's richer by far!". He thanked me, did the line and said "Was that all right, Paul?". I nodded to the affirmative and felt very smug for the rest of the set. I stayed at the front just in case he needed any more help. He didn't.

On reflection, maybe it's not so surprising that Restless front man Mark (centre) messed up a line.

I kept seeing this guy who always appeared to be on his own. Knowing what that's like (I travelled alone the first time I came here in 2008) I went over to him and introduced myself. I offered to introduce him to a few people and he readily agreed. When we'd done a circuit he said "Thanks for that - right - I'm off to talk to my French mates", walked off and left me by myself. Typical. Janet thanked me for the ticket and said it had been the best night she had had in ages. Rob the drummer came out for a beer with us, everyobdy got a little emotional that the gigs at the fest were now all over and at some point we went home. Oh - Janet and I discovered we have a mutual friend, the comedian Lewis Schaffer. I'll leave you with a photo of him because it will caress his ego to know he has made my fabulous blog (!).

Lewis Schaffer. Bless Him. He's the only other Nottingham Forest fan on the comedy circuit. He's also very funny indeed.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Pineda part deux: More parrots, less brain cells

Look, Breakfast doesn't happen. Breakfast occurs rarely enough at home (I'm a lunchtime riser, to be honest) and it only happens abroad on departure day if I have managed to pack in time. Breakfast certainly didn't happen the Friday before last, largely because I didn't get up until gone 2pm. The boiling Costa Bravan sun shone threateningly through the open patio doors from the balcony, where Steve sat drinking KAS limon. We discussed lunch. We were both famished. I showered, dressed and we made our way to the lift. Being on the fifth floor was both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand it was gloriously quiet. On the other, waiting for the elevator was something of a chore. The lift at the Aqua' is worth the wait though, being as it is made of glass and ascends/descends the front of the hotel. This means it is very easy for a man as childish as myself to think it is a good idea to stand facing outwards with arms crossed and legs apart, rather like Yul Brynner in "The King And I". In this way (I imagined) people would marvel as their god descended and I would be met with supplication as I glided to the ground floor. I kept it up all week. I was completely ignored. I never saw whether Steve was rolling his eyes or not - he was never in my line of vision.

Imagine this man in an Hawaiian shirt, combat shorts and sandals, with a beard, sunglasses and a short quiff , standing in a lift and, well, you get the idea...
We headed left out of the hotel in search of a Can Josep style Menu Del Dia. We found a restaurant that shall remain nameless. It was very busy (Always a good sign) and we chose to eat in the air-conditioned  inside. Admittedly, the following was all for eleven euros but we had: Gazpacho soup (in a tumbler), a particularly onion-y salad, a plate of indiscriminate meat stew, an omelette and a creme caramel, agua con gas and a cortado. My conclusion was that soup should not come in a glass, salads should not be over-onioned, I like to know exactly what sort of animal I am devouring and omelettes should not be on Spanish menus - not even Spanish ones. It was no Can Josep. We walked in a diagonal line back towards the hotel, missed it entirely and ended up joining an already inebriated Titch, Lexy, Jason, Hugh, Koefte and Steve (another one) for a drink in an Irish bar on the front. It very quickly became an exercise in shots, guinness, more shots, lager and danger. Titch spoke to Steve about him playing Sax for Titch's band Klingonz. he's mad keen for Steve to play sax for them on their new album. The only problem is that Steve doesn't play sax. he doesn't play any musical instruments. Titch refuses to believe this and thinks that collectively we are all on a wind up to stop him getting Steve's amazing sax playing talents onto his new album. Steve can now say to people that he is "The sax player with Klingonz". When people say "But Klingonz don't have a sax player" he can say simply, "Exactly"

This is Titch - to be fair, he doesn't always look like this - sometimes he doesn't wear flip flops.
Titch & Lexy had managed to screw up their airport transfer far more than we had. From what I can gather it involved two bottles of spirits, being evicted from a shuttle bus (twice) for putting their bags in the wrong place and a 120 euro cab ride. Oh he was sick as well, bless him. We left them far later than we should have done, ate late and decided to have a quick beer on the way up to the festival. We hit upon a bar with only one group of people in it, thinking "This won't take long". It became apparent that the proprietress (Janet) had been let down by her waiters so was doing everything.  While Steve was in the bathroom I mentioned to her that he ran a bar himself. Within seconds she had roped him in to pull a shift. For the next two hours or so he waited tables, poured drinks and entertained the customers (A table of (mainly) Irish girls) so Janet could concentrate on the food. We had three half-litres of sangria. She gave us one of them free by way of thanks. I considered this a result. I'd done knack all and still got a free drink. I love hanging around with Steve.

We didn't get to the gig until gone midnight. I can't remember anything about it anyway to be quite honest but here are a couple of photos to suggest I had fun...

Day two on the parrots and I need a couple of hot chicks to calm down my obvious aggression...

That's better

Long Tall Texans closed the show and were absolutely brilliant. I'm afraid the Sangria put paid to any other significant memories.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Psychobillies, Parrots and Cannabis Absinthe

Well, where to start...

On Wednesday 6th of July, Steve and I went to The Psychobilly Meeting, Pineda De Mar, Spain. On Wednesday 13th of July we returned. What happened in between is to say the least, sketchy.

We set off all right - the taxi to the airport was painless, the online check-in had proved successful and the bag drop was almost mercurial. The lengthy queue for X-ray was marginalised by the happy accident of Steve's mate being on passport control who effectively "arrested" us in the line and frog-marched us to the very front with a wink. An excellent bloody mary later and we were on the plane, where we were joined by Pip and Alex (organisers of the Bedlam Breakout festival). The flight itself was early, our bags were some of the first off and we even had time to indulge in a glass of wine before our train arrived. Then we forgot to get off it at Barcelona Sants and forty five minutes later, still deep in conversation, we were travelling at no inconsiderable speed into the mountains. Fortunately for us a Cuban bloke knew where we needed to go, procured us two women who were getting off where we needed to and they led us to a taxi rank. Fifty euros later we were at the hotel. I'm just glad there were four of us: I normally get stung for the whole thing.

It's the third time I've stayed in the Aquahotel Promenade and I have to admit, I do like it. It's a stone's throw from the station (very useful if you actually manage to arrive by train), right on the sea front, a stopping off point for the "Xinu Xanu" tourist road train and less than a ten minute walk from the festival tent (particularly useful at 4am). We booked in without incident and in a rare flourish of generosity I let Steve have the double bed in the room and settled for the single. He was suitably impressed. I normally commandeer the larger mattress when we share a room, arguing that I spend a lot more time in the thing than he does. This led to him sleeping in the lounge in Fuerteventura and in a dog bed at my feet in Sardinia. This time around was literally his day in the sunshine. We successfully located our own balcony (At last year's festival I hadn't realised I had one for the first five days) and looked out across the pool to the rather more run down "Nostre Mar" apartments which resembled a Psychobilly Celebrity Squares, with people we knew directly above each other on three floors. We ate dinner and took a walk over there, beginning on the third floor with Marina (My adopted German daughter) and her friends. We had some Sangria. Then we went down to the first floor to see Kitty, Gwen and Laurent. We had some vodka. Then we got a cab to Magma Disco. The one drawback to the Aqua' is that it's miles away from the first night of the meeting which is a Spanish Psychobilly night. That'll be another eight euros, then.

I immediately hit the "Vino Tinto"s. Red wine is just about the only bargain in bars in Spain because they can't fathom why you would want to get pissed on it. As a result half a pint of it is the same price as half a lager. I spotted this loophole on my first trip to Pineda. It's a bargain all right, but it's dangerous. Within an hour I was legless and even made the official photographs, such was my demeanour

The comment underneath this photograph (form Billy Tombstone, official photographer of the festival) said simply:  "Paul - you look wasted - don't forget we are only on day one!"
Virtually all the usual suspects were there - Russ the jammy Yorkshireman and Priscilla the unlucky Brazilian (And friends), Therese and the Norwegian girls, Gaby & Jasmina, Marina, Laurent (Minus Kristina who has buggered off back to New York), Gwen (Minus Sticky who has just buggered off), Kitty, Ant & Hannah (Who are rather like Tom & Barbara from "The Good Life"), Sera and Chris (Who would feature prominently on the last night) and a variety of other roustabouts who I was frankly too drunk to remember talking to. Steve wanted to see a band called "Punkats". We missed them. I wanted to see "The Brioles". We did, but I don't remember a lot about them. Tradition has it that at the end of the night I jump into a taxi with two women and they tell me about it the next evening. Tonight was no exception. We got back at an unspecified time, slept soundly and awoke the next lunchtime to bright sunshine.

Thursday was a day of revelation. Steve revealed he is still prepared to strip to his speedos at the first sign of the sun. More importantly, I had been hinting to anyone who would listen that 2011 was "All about the parrots". Steve and Ant had taken this to mean I had bought a parrot shirt. I hadn't - I'd bought four. This stratagem was multi-purpose: It would be a minor talking point, it would piss Ant off when he realised that the one he would undoubtedly procure (in direct competition) would pale into insignificance and most importantly, I would be able to identify which night was which in the photos of the festival by which parrot shirt I was wearing. I know - I'm a genius. We had lunch in "Can Josep", a regular haunt of Psychobillies in the know, insomuch as they do four courses with booze for eleven euros. I was adult enough to only drink agua con gas as I had made a pact with a certain Simon Nott not to drink during the day. Steve hit vino tinto y gaseosa because he is a MAN. He spent the afternoon by the pool and I ventured out there for about forty minutes in blazing evening sunshine which was enough to send me scurrying back inside again to continue a book I was reading about the siege of Malta called "The Religion". It is a graphic piece of historical fiction and there is plenty of bloodletting and bowel voiding - just how I like 'em. Having had rather a lot of Kitty & Gwen's vodka the night before, I felt the need to replenish their stocks but was stopped in my tracks in the mini-supermercado by a drink that filled me with awe - cannabis absinthe. Not any old absinthe but  cannabis absinthe. I only have one previous experience of absinthe and it was on the back of an all-day session in Prague several years ago when we had been drinking litres of dark ale with bottle of red wine chasers. The results of one shot of the green faery had toppled me into lunacy and I had vowed that it would be a cold day in hell before I had another one. Still, a warm night in Spain was considered close enough and anyway it allegedly had cannabis in it as well which we considered should soften any black mood I may descend into. It was also only five euros for a quarter bottle. How could we turn it down? One bottle procured, we headed back to Nostre Mar and sat on Kitty's balcony again for far too long.

Here are Laurent and myself demonstrating the varying effects of the bottle in the  centre of the picture. Please also notice my rather fetching parrot shirt, indicating "Thursday".
Eventually we got around to leaving to go to the festival, where my Austrian babies eagerly awaited. My Austrian babies are called Sabi and Miri. Sabi is in fact Serbian by birth and doesn't find this joke particularly funny.The first time I ever went to Pineda I jumped in a taxi with them after Magma disco (see above) and spent the next four nights not remembering their names when I saw them. Since then we have become firm friends and I was a very proud daddy (I adopted them prior to adopting Marina) when they visited the UK last year and let me show them around London. I got a text from Sabi bemoaning the lateness of my arrival, accusing me of being "Too old to party". She mistakenly thought I had not got up until 10pm because I was some sort of a lightweight. I put her straight.  Ten drinks tickets were procured for twenty five euros and here came revelation number three. I HAD NO DESIRE TO DRINK VINO TINTO. For the last three years it has been both my best friend and my worst enemy at the festival, getting me drunk on a budget but also leading to general ill health, blackouts and a number of unspecified events I wouldn't really wish to recall if I could. Aged forty one years and five months, almost to the day, I had grown up. I ordered Sangria instead.

Fifteen sangrias later I couldn't remember a lot about The Coffin Nails or The Ricochets, other than they were both brilliant and the former played "Blubbery Love", one of my all-time favourite songs. here they are in action

The Coffin Nails - and yes, they are wearing grass skirts!
Mercifully, we got in before it got light and slept, unsurprisingly, rather soundly. I'll fill you in on Friday and Saturday presently.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

five nights out, two comedy gigs, the same pub three times and, of course, a Goat's Gash.

Seeing as I am going to Spain tomorrow to The Psychobilly Meeting music festival for a week I figured the best thing to do was to spend five of the previous six nights going out on the lash.

Last Thursday I took my semi-regular trip to The Arena Tavern in Letchworth. Thursday night is band night and there are normally a few roustabouts there and fun to be had. This was no exception. There were two bands on, the latter of which were "Aces Down" who I had seen before. This time I didn't really see them at all. There were too many people in front of me so I had six pints of "Young's" and spent most of the night outside talking to women half my age.

Last Friday was my comedy show in Hitchin. Numbers were down a little (There was a lot else going on in the area) and there was no set plan for an after-show party as the nightclub that had put on a night particularly for us had just gone quiet on us. Fortunately my mate Roch texted me to say he was DJ-ing at Bar Absolute so myself, David Whitney (One of the acts) and a few of the audience gave it a try. The music was excellent but the volume wasn't really condusive to conversation so we moved on to The Kings Arms, which was too packed to be of any real use so we headed for The Croft, which was, to say the least quiet. We managed to drink everywhere we went but the real fun started when we got back. Dave passed out about 4am, by which time we had drunk a bottle of red wine and got stuck in to some vodka as well.

Saturday afternoon Dave and I headed into Letchworth town centre to a. pick his girlfriend up and b. go to the annual festival that was taking place in Kennedy Gardens. In amongst the various charity stalls, a live stage featuring mostly terrible folk artists, live sheep-shearing and a hot dog stand was a concession from the "Tring Brewery". I didn't know Tring had a brewery. I certainly didn't know that one of its ales was called "Fanny Ebbs". We both delighted in ordering pints of Fanny.

There's a funny little story about the lady in question here

His girlfriend called to say she had arrived so we went to the station to meet her. Handily, the station is annexed with a little bar called La Concha and it was rude NOT to stop for a quick spirit & mixer. We then showed Liz (The GF) around the festival so as to order another Fanny. In the evening we headed for Letchworth Arts Centre for my monthly comedy show there. Numbers were again a little down but it didn't stop a good proportion of the audience joining me once again in the Arena for another two hours of unabated madness in the shape of "Goat's Gash" cocktails and Young's. I don't  remember going home, or what happened after but in the morning when we got up there were the remnants of a bottle of Disaronno, little vodka, red wine and inroads had been made into a bottle of gin.

This gives you some idea of a. what "Goat's Gash" looks like and b.  what it does to you.

There was also very little food left so we went out for a fantastic lunch at The Three Horseshoes in Norton (with sadly, on this occasion, no opportunity to say "I love man beef"). in the evening I drove up to Biggleswade to help celebrate my friend Eammon's 50th birthday. I figured the best thing to do was just have one soft drink, give him his card and return home as I had a lot to do. I was persuaded otherwise. I finished talking to his common-law father-in-law at about 5am. He looked very similar to my Uncle Larry who lives in Lansing, Michigan. He is in his seventies, fascinating but (As warned by Eammon's girlfriend, Sarah) has a propensity for the odd racist remark. This is not unusual in a man of his age but his choice of language is.  The only example I can really remember is his opinion on mixed-race marriages. He said simply "You wouldn't mate a sparrow with a finch". The argument is utterly redundant, of course, but I do have a grudging regard for the expression and if I'd been taking notes I could have written a new Edinburgh show for Al Murray, not that I would have been able to read them.

Getting up at 9.30am the next day to beat the traffic wardens was no picnic but it was achieved and I got home with three hours to kill before my friend arrived from London. She has been rather stressed recently and said she needed a day doing "F**k all" and I would be the obvious choice to accompany her. Setting aside the myriad of things I had to do before I went away, I of course agreed - a friend in need is a friend indeed. We spent most of the afternoon drinking sparkling rose wine, went to the Arena for one (I might as well get my mail redirected there) and then went to L'Artista for chicken Cacciatora, Penne Alla Vodka and an argument about responsible parenting. Obviously we went home after the meal and drank. It was exactly what she needed and the last thing I did.

An excellent place for a meal, some wine and a minor domestic argument.

Today I did all the things I should have done over the last five. It's now well gone 3am. I'd better start packing.