Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A lot of Wivi but a lack of Wifi, Snurd!

By five o'clock on Thursday afternoon I'd had enough of the M4 and so decided to take a cheeky detour down to my destination the wrong side of Taunton and came off the motorway entirely to head to Wiveliscombe via bath, Bradford-On-Avon, Frome, Shepton Mallet and Wellington. Sadly, so did everybody else and the snail's pace I had enjoyed since setting off not long after two continued until I reached my destination around seven. It was worth the drive. The gig was in the converted skittle alley of The White Hart Inn, where (handily) I was also booked in to. This had two results: A great maiden gig for the pub and a particularly beery night for yours truly. I don't remember going to bed but briefly I enjoyed:

A delicious plate of bangers and mash
Several pints of real ale followed by several pints of cider follwed by at least a couple of JD & cokes
A capacity crowd that laughed at pretty much everything


A woman who laughed so much at me that she cracked a rib.

That's never happened before.

Apparently she has a rare condition that leads to her bones being easily breakable. It's probably a good job I'm not any funnier than I am - the poor girl could have been in real trouble.

I woke up late and left the hotel later, managing to leave my key in the room. I hoped that was all. I spent the rest of the day getting to Plumstead. I wasn't really looking forward to the gig, if truth be known and this became more apparent when on arriving in S. East London I point blank refused to find it I drove around Woolwich, Greenwich, Blackheath and at least one place I've never heard of for what seemed like an age before stumbling upon a pub I had been in once before, many years ago. I asked them if they knew where "The Pavillion" was. A man pointed out the of window at a dark shed on the rugby field opposite and said "it's there, mate". I got my stuff out of the car and wandered over. It was in total darkness on the three visible sides. Not feeling particularly comfortable, I continued into the darkness. Side four had some fairy lights on and an open door. I walked in to find a full crowd eagerly awaiting what turned out to be a really top night. My cousin Neil had shown up with his wife Becky (They initially couldn't find it either) and this compounded my eventual relief: Something always goes wrong at my gigs if there are family present. Nothing did, though and it was another beauty.

When I said my goodbyes I went back to my car to find it unlocked and also no sign on the laptop I had stupidly left in the boot. I cursed my luck but then figured I may have just left it in the hotel and never packed it all. This, I decided was more likely as there was actually other stuff in the boot of some value that would have been worth nicking. Considering myself an idiot, I spent the ninety minute drive home chastising myself for leaving the thing in the extreme West Country and hatching plans as to how I would get it back. This would not have been a good week to be without a laptop. When I got home I parked up and found said laptop in the foot well of the passenger seat. Why I had put it there is beyond me. The euphoria I cannot explain but suffice to say that when I woke up on Sunday I was momentarily still convinced that I would have to drive back to Wivi before remembering and being euphoric all over again. It certainly made the day go quicker...

...Which was good, because I had a date with four Norwegian women, a Frenchman and a Coventry Psychobilly exiled to Ashford.

And here they are! From left, Therese (looking happy), Kine (using her hands for once),  Heidi,  Adam, Linda and Laurent  (What's he so pleased about?)

My surprise was that after a weekend at the Bedlam Breakout psychobilly weekender they would want to go for a curry. Curry it was - you don't mess with Norwegian women. I found this out in Spain. Confused? So was I when I tried to find their hotel. I came out of Warren Street tube OK and walked directly to where their hotel should have been according to Google Maps. it wasn't, so I walked back to Warren Street tube, which was where their hotel was. They were all clearly suffering the effects of a weekend in Northampton and despite hurrying the pace along I failed to get anyone to have more than three drinks. They're pussies, Vikings. The curry was fantastic and I have to congratulate Laurent the French guy. He made up a joke, on the spot, in English. One of the girls, Kine, was accused of being an expert toe-painter, as in, she paints with her toes. There is a convoluted reason to this but I didn't really get it. Anyway, Laurent explained that her work was so good that it was currently being exhibited in Holland in the Vincent Van Toe museum.

Laurent (Still smiling), myself and Therese (Either doesn't like having her photo taken or just LOVES my jacket...)

He's a legend.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Travel and hen parties, obviously

What I planned to do this weekend - and indeed what had been planned for me - wasn't exactly what happened. I had originally been a Jongleurs spare. This is a slightly odd phenomena in comedy but involves having your weekend put on hold by the organisation who effectively pay you potentially not to work. If someone drops out of something, you're called in to take their place, wherever that may be. It wasn't long before I'd been put into their Birmingham gig. I quite looked forward to that. Then they dropped the Friday so I only had a gig there on Saturday. Then they moved me to Portsmouth. Then when they confirmed me on Wednesday they told me I was going to Croydon. This still left me without a gig on Friday. That was sorted out on Thursday when Mirth Control asked me to go to Weymouth to do a gig called "Moby Dicks". Confused? You will be.

I set off for Weymouth around 3.30pm and expecting a long and regularly interrupted drive, I was not disappointed. My first traffic jam was on the A414, less than twenty minutes into my journey. It took that long again to get past the accident. Already behind schedule I didn't get on to the M25 until around 4.30pm. I didn't get off it until 5.30pm, largely due to a crawl between the M40 and M3. Then I hit the usual mess around Winchester so stopped at services where I turned down the opportunity to buy a cheeseburger from Burger King at its madly inflated price of £3.24. Surely one day service stations will learn that if they offer value for money they will make money. Oh what do I know?

Winchester Services (Southbound). Home of the ripoff burger.

The M27 was traversed without incident and then I hit another jam behind another accident on the A31. This added another half an hour to my journey. After that it was clear all the way to Weymouth, well until five miles before it when an unexpected diversion added yet more time onto my journey as I was forced to go via Wareham. I got to the gig around 8.15pm. Happy days.

The gig itself was a surprisingly good laugh, not least because other than Iszi the compere, everyone on the bill was not only called Paul but also exploited their middle initial for their stage name.

Moby Dick's - a basement pub venue that has fantastic food - I opted for a "Hot Rock" steak with mashed potatoes and a salad with a fantastic dressing on it.

Thus Paul T. Eyres was followed by Paul B. Dennis and then finally yours truly, Paul B. Edwards. The poor girl did an excellent job of compering but our introductions were too much for her and she successfully managed to get my name wrong three times. I sympathised. I remember compering a bill that included Yianni Agisalou, Angelo Tsaroukas and Dan Evans. I spent so long learning Yianni and Angelo's names that I forgot his completely and made a right fool of myself. The gig centred around a largely friendly hen party who were very keen to get involved with the show (As was everyone else, to be fair) until two minutes before I finished when half of them stood up and started saying their goodbyes to the rest. This was rude, incredibly disruptive and I barked at them to be quiet. They weren't. It turns out they had to leave to get their last bus. They could have left quietly. Anyway, the rest of the audience was on side and everything finished smoothly. Other than the remaining diversion on the way out of Weymouth, the roads were mercifully clear and I got home a shade before 2am. Nearly five hours there, three hours back. I got paid £200. Sounds all right? I'll break it down:

£200 fee
15% agent's fee puts it down to £170
Petrol @ £60 we're now at £110
Food & drink £10 and we've hit a ton
20% tax drops it to £80
Time out of the house: 11 hours
80 / 11 = £7.27 per hour.

You may well be wondering why I bother doing this. I do myself, sometimes. I comfort myself that the rest of the bill were probably on that between them. Why they do it really is beyond me. It must be love.

Not really wishing to get in the car again on Saturday, I plumped for getting the train to Croydon. This seemed like a good idea, particularly when I saw how quickly I could potentially get there and back using public transport. I took notes on the journey and they are transcribed below, to the word:

Gary Numan - here not in his car. I wasn't either. I was on the train.

"Obviously I have bumped into Paul and the lads (And Sean) at Letchworth Station. The former are on their way to see Gary Numan. The latter is going to Finsbury Park for a twelve hour shift on the railways. On way to Kings Cross make unilateral decision to not get the tube to Victoria and get the train from there to East Croydon but instead walk over to St. Pancras and get the direct train from there. Obviously the St. Pancras platform I require is closed so I have to get the Northern Line to London Bridge. Obviously I get a cheeseburger at Burger King for £1.99 - a more acceptable price than Winchester Services. The train to East Croydon is on time, has plenty of room and I get here early. Obviously I walk entirely the wrong way out of the station and get to the gig late for the 8pm start. Obviously the gig is starting at 9pm so no drama.  Obviously I am offered food and drink. Obviously it then takes an hour to arrive, by which time the show has already started. Obviously my sound check involves a sound man who has "never had to plug in a guitar before". Top notch then. Obviously there is a hen party in. obviously they go as far as to clap along to my songs.

Tiger Tiger, Croydon. This is the home of Jongleurs and also the home of "very late" but to be honest, very tasty Thai Curry.

The rest of the smallish audience don't and the whole affair stinks of damp squib. Obviously despite taking five minutes to get back to E. Croydon station (rather than the half an hour getting from there to the gig) I miss the 10.03pm back to London Bridge. Fortunately the 10.09 to Victoria is late so I catch that, hop on the Victoria line and get myself back to Kings X for 10.47pm.


My plan is to get the 11.15pm "Cambridge Express" (first stop Letchworth) which will get me in at 11.40pm and in The Arena Tavern by 11.45pm. This train is also the one that the Gary Numan Posse are planning to catch. I spy the 10.53pm to Peterborough and realise I can get off in Hitchin and possibly get an earlier train to Letchworth and thus beat them to the pub. CHILDISH MORAL VICTORY? No. Obviously the only available seat is by the toilet. Obviously my entire journey is permeated by the stench of urine and excrement, rather like my "career". Obviously I get to Hitchin at 11.20pm only to find that the next train from there to Letchworth is at 11.47pm. Rats. I can't bear to watch the Cambridge Express sail past me with the Numaners on board so get a cab to the pub. Result! In there by 11.30pm".

It was worth it to see the look on their faces when they strolled in fifteen minutes later and I was already on my second pint. Ha! I met up with Phil who had organised the Amnesty comedy show that had taken place in Letchworth Arts Centre in my absence. Apparently an aging female heckler drunkenly threw a punch at another audience member who had told her to shut up. I don't know - as soon as my back's turned...

...next weekend I have a similar set up when I travel to Wiveliscombe on Friday and Greenwich on Saturday. I expect very different outcomes. Let's see what disappointments can befall me then.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Music, loss, laughter and some conversation dégoûtant (part three)

I didn't have to be up particularly early on Sunday morning, thankfully, but I'd still arranged to go to lunch with a friend that became a wild dash to The Highlander in Hitchin when we realised they stopped doing roast dinners at 2pm. We did the fifteen minute drive in ten and got there in the nick of time for a fantastic roast beef dinner washed down with a pint of bitter shandy, that proved to be absolutely the correct choice.

The Highlander - A tremendous place for a Sunday roast and amongst their  fine wines may I recommend the bitter shandy.

The late arrival also however made me late for my next appointment, namely - a 4pm trip to see a new band called Dirty Parle (There is an acute over the "e" but I can't figure out how to type it on my laptop), who are the brainchild of a former comedy student of mine called Jade. They were playing at Balstock. Balstock happens every year. I've never been before. It is a weekend-long music festival in which pretty much every pub in the town has bands on all day. It is one of the biggest free music festivals in England. Rhythms Of The World in Hitchin used to be THE biggest, but then they made it a fiver. I only could be there because my own gig in Biggleswade had been cancelled (And is, as a result, no more). Robbie had opted to sleep all day so I was resolutely alone but only for seconds. As I got out of the cab I was immediately joined by Jade herself and then Sulu, Tim and Daryl who had gone to The White Horse to see a band themselves. The problem for them was that we were at The White Lion, but they stayed for a bit anyway. Dirty Parle were terrific - considering it was only their fifth gig they really woke the place up. They're kind of an 80s Goth'n'Roll band I suppose - catchy as hell, musically excellent and I'm looking forward to playing them on my podcast, Punky! Radio very soon.

Dirty Parle - featuring not only lead singer Jade smoking an imaginary cigarette but also the drummer playing from within the pub - within a sticks length of the bar itself. Great forward planning from the man at the back.

 I had a pint of real ale and then Jade and I hit the JD & diet cokes. She had no other plans than to go and see some other bands, neither did I. We left the pub and picked the only significant downpour of the day to walk to "The Hen And Chickens" in. there we planned to see a punk covers band. Instead, on arrival, it was so packed that we went out into the beer garden where we saw a dogfight instead. I will never understand why people buy aggressive muscular dogs but these two evenly matched sinewy death machines did sufficient to scare most of the kids out of there so it wasn't all bad. Next stop was "The Engine" where the legendary Kunt & The Gang was playing at 9pm. I say "was" rather than "were" because there is only in fact one of him. We had another couple of drinks in another pub first (Whose name escapes me) before reaching our destination, where I immediately bumped into Kunt himself. I've met him a couple of times before, notably in Edinburgh where this year his exploits became the stuff of legend. By the time he began we had rejoined the rest of her band and I'd bumped into Matt from The Bleach Boys, Soapy my occasional helper at the comedy club in Letchworth and a few of the local punks (including the lovely Elaine) who were all becoming a bit blurry. I introduced Jade to Kunt as my girlfriend. He didn't bat an eyelid. I was secretly quite impressed but didn't let on. During his fantastic show he dedicated "Men with beards (What are they hiding)" to us and it suddenly all looked a bit creepier. 

Kunt And The Gang in action. Quite wonderful.

Never mind. Everything wrapped up around ten and the band very kindly gave me a lift home. By the time I made it back Robbie had actually got up. I suggested we watch Doctor Who. His viewing was impaired slightly by me constantly saying "This is rubbish". When it finished I made myself egg and chips, thus completing a four day run of booze, fast food, takeaway food and convenience food, music, comedy and about as much fun as a guy can have while still technically working. I went to bed, again, at some point and woke up on Monday exactly when I wanted to - late.

A lovely photo of myself and Kunt. We both look very pleased we had it taken.

PS. Sorry about the text in this blog but it's some sort of glitch whereby if I try and put it too close to a photo caption it all becomes the same size as the text in the photo caption. Naughty blogspot.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Music, loss, laughter and some conversation dégoûtant (part two)

I had to be up early because I had stupidly agreed to pick up Irish comedian Robbie Bonham in the morning as he was flying in to Luton airport to perform at my comedy clubs over the weekend and, well, it had seemed like a good idea at the time. Five and half hours after collapsing in bed it didn't seem quite so good when he texted me to say he was on his way to the pub. Miraculously I had the wherewithal to go downstairs and let him in, have a large glass of water and sit there quietly for twenty minutes before deciding I was fit to drive. I picked up the posters and flyers for the next month's comedy shows on the way back as well as the tickets for my next "Dolly's Barn Party" which is on October 1st but that can wait, obviously. I dropped him off back at the flat, made fish and chips and then went back out in the car to put all the posters and flyers out for next month's shows in Hitchin town centre. I also dropped £100 worth of 50p pieces into the Vic. That is also another story. By the time I got back Robbie was, of course, asleep. I got on with a bit of work then woke him to tell him he had forty minutes to get ready. Twenty minutes later I woke him again to say he had twenty minutes to get ready. He eventually got ready and we got a lift down to Woodside Hall where there was, of course, no sound man. I texted the only number I had to be told that it was OK - our sound man was just a bit late. Actually, everyone was a bit late and the audience were very late. This was largely because the local council had closed the road at both ends that the venue was on.

The audience, resilient as they are, arrived with no small amount of Dunkirk Spirit, the show was excellent and we retired back to The Vic where I played catch up with the rest of the audience. People were already buying Dolly tickets out of there (I was pleased to see - but that can wait, obviously). Having only an hour and a quarter before the pub shut, I decided a quadruple JD & Diet Coke was in order. It came as something of a surprise to the barman but certainly did the trick for me and the rest of the time flew by. Robbie and I got burgers on the way home and so my third meal in a row was fried. I was working my way through fast food, having had fried chicken, fish & chips and now a half-pound burger with chili sauce. I hit the sack about 2.30am - I had an early start.

My alarm went off at 9am. I called it names. I got up at 10am, thus missing the first half of England v Argentina in their first game of the Rugby World Cup. This was no bad thing, as England were rubbish. I knocked on Robbie's door to tell him we had to leave in three quarters of an hour. I then managed to shower, shave, print off directions and make a cup of tea. I knocked on Robbie's door to say we were leaving in twenty minutes, feeling a pattern developing. At ten thirty five I told him to get the f**k out of bed as we were going to be late.

Be late? But to what? To Rick Hulse's "Autumn NABDness" bike rally of course, which I had organised 4/5 of the comedy for - namely, Craig Murray (who was the other act on at my gigs), Robbie, Myself, Mandy Knight and another act procured separately called Ruff Daddy, who are also very brilliant. Robbie somehow got in the car by eleven and we were on our way, taking the cross country route to Enstone Airfield via Milton Keynes, Buckingham, Bicester, Gallifrey, Lilliput, Neptune, Trumpton and a surprisingly large section of the B4030. It was allegedly thirty miles less than going via the M40. It didn't feel like it. England had a great last ten minutes and won the Rugby. The usual greetings with various members of the biking community were exchanged (A particular "Hello" to Rick and BJ) and the show kicked off with Rick compering in his inimitable style which did little to settle the nerves of bike-rally virgins Craig, Robbie and Mandy. They needn't have worried. Over the next three hours we all had tremendous gigs, as expected by yours truly, largely because BIKE CROWDS ARE THE BEST CROWDS ON THE PLANET. Yes they look terrifying, yes they look like they will heckle you and failing that eat you, yes the gigs should never work because they start at lunchtime but yes they are always a pleasure.

Craig Murray in action at the bike do. The railings are there to remind them of what they hit when they fall off their Harleys.

 Just before my set I ordered fried noodles with curry sauce from a van. Wellllll... I fancied a vegetable. Craig asked "How can you EAT before you go on stage?" I was too busy scoffing to answer. We were paid up and back on the road by 4pm. Nottingham Forest lost by a late controversial goal after two stick-on penalties were turned down by a blatantly bent ref who was probably from Southampton and we got back with only an hour before we had to go out again. I ordered a cab, made pizza and got my things together to go to do my Letchworth show. Robbie opted to stay in the flat and have a nap. The gig was remarkable only in that we had four ruffians show up who freaked everyone out pre-show but actually were OK during it. Whether they'll show up again I doubt, frankly, but it still managed to be a cracker. Craig was again excellent and Robbie had his best show of the weekend.

Afterwards we went to The Tavern for our traditional post-show drinks with the audience. Instead of working the room and pressing flesh, thanking everyone for coming down and generally trying to be a good egg, I instead, on this occasion, got settled down with a bunch of rowdies who were playing a drinking game involving an entire pack of cards, a bewildering array of rules and a tray full of goats gash. One card involved was a "subject card" where the owner of said card would begin by saying "Names of (insert subject here)" and a couple previously in the game been "Darts Players" and "Colours". When I landed the card I decided to up the anti. My own subject was "Names of theories attempting to prove that alternative universes can exist in conjunction to our own" and began with "The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle". It didn't go beyond me and the person to my left had to drink four fingers of their beer. Ha! Revenge! By then they'd got me absolutely leathered. I got in at some point and did something before going to bed but I can't remember what. Part three of this epic four dayer will follow shortly, honest.

Music, loss, laughter and some conversation dégoûtant (part one)

I need to take you back to last Thursday. Actually I need to take myself back to it. The last four days proved to be fairly full on and I'm hoping recollections will be prompted as I walk (Well, I say "walk") my way back through what I laughingly describe as my career. I'm mates with a bloke called PJ who runs a record label called "Dirty Water". He is not to be confused with another bloke I know called PJ who lives in South London and according to my mate Terry, looks like he might have been in "Dances With Wolves". PJ the former had let me know that one of my favourite bands, King Salami & The Cumberland 3, were playing with a Japanese three piece called Minnesota Voodoomen (Of course) at The Stags Head in Hoxton. On the map it only looked a stone's throw from Essex Road station so I hatched a cunning plan to drive over to Steve's pub in Luton, drag him down there and then on our return stay over as I had an ulterior motive. Steve is also a fan of KSATC3 and took little persuading. My car had been serviced and MOT-ed earlier in the day and miraculously had come in at  under thirty grand so that was transport over to Luton sorted.

I got over to the pub a shade after six to be met with a bizarre groaning by pretty much all the regulars in the pub who then talked about me rather loudly to each other in the hope I would join in the conversation. I'd not been in there since before Edinburgh and clearly they had missed me. Mex (The one gentleman among them) bought me a Guinness. Steve and I left before half past and got to Luton bang on time to get the 18.42 to St. Pancras International. It arrived. It then spent ten minutes at every subsequent station because of signalling problems at Blackfriars. I hate that journey at the best of times as it's a real dawdle into London (not like the magical east Coast line that I enjoy to and from Herts & Kings Cross) but this was made particularly bad by one of the most extreme eejits I've ever heard get on a train. He was with two women. It became apparent over the (hour and ten minutes plus) long trip that he was a trained chef, lived in London, had been single-handedly responsible for the success of some barbecue thing on Brick Lane, had ripped a guys ear off, bitten another guy's nose off, didn't exactly speak the Queen's English (When "like" became "lark" I have no idea) and was liable to go off at any point, man, but thanks to a combination of therapy and having to take some very strong tablets for the extreme acne he had suffered as a teenager he could now use his brain and exploit his interpersonal vocal systems to talk his way out of extreme violence. His words, not mine. No one else on the train was expecting the line interpersonal vocal systems, believe me. Most worryingly of all the girls hung on his every word, even when he told them that he had only ever hit one woman himself but she deserved it.

Things improved when we got off the train. We were straight on a tube to Highbury & Islington, immediately onto a train to Essex Road and then immediately walking down the road towards the pub with time to spare for a rumoured 8pm start. Obivously I had led us entirely the wrong way. Obviously when we then got back on a bus back to where we had started we overshot our stop. Obviously we very quickly gave up trying to be clever and got a cab. Obviously our taxi driver wasn't sure where the pub was. Obviously Steve came to our aid with his iPhone thingy (I still hate them but this one got us out of a pickle) and obviously when we did get to the pub we walked in to find King Salami had just finished sound checking and wouldn't be starting until 9pm. Panic over then? Not really.

The Stag's Head is great. The beer is really good and (for London) relatively cheap. The bit where the bands go on is a pretty tight spot but (right down the front on the right) there's a handy little table to put your beer. There's a lovely big outdoor bit with a massive orange Opel Manta in the middle of it. It's also a very good place for Steve to drop around sixty quid on the floor and it unsurprisingly vanish, presumably into one of the regulars' pockets. We didn't notice that had happened until after King Salami though, who were suitably brilliant. Ooh look! I took photos!

King Salami And The Cumberland 3 - yes they are THIS bizarre.

And Seb the lead singer is good at pretending he has severely injured his right leg

And sometimes they wear comedy Native American headgear - you can only get these photos if you have gone to the front so there is somewhere to put your beer.
After they'd finished I went into the beer garden to have a chat with Eric the drummer and his wife, Maki. It turns out they are fans of "Paul B.'s Last CD" and particularly like the track "Skegness". He gave me permission to chat her up (He had once chatted up my wife while in a band called The Parkinsons and when, a year later, I told him we had recently split up he said simply "Great - now I can chat her up legitimately"). The universe was once more in balance.

Eric, Maki and myself - she was quite genuinely a rose between two thorns in this photo.
Steve and I then returned inside where I explained to the rather voluptuous assistant manageress that he had lost his money. She felt so sorry for him that she would later give me a hug when I left. He lost all of his money, I effectively copped a feel off the bar staff. Some guys get all the luck. We didn't like the second band as much as we thought we would so we left early, got a cab to Old Street tube and had a ridiculous (and vaguely drunk) conversation that can't be repeated but was found very entertaining by one particular woman sat behind me. I can't go into more details than that, sorry. Another terribly slow train later we got to Luton where we got the remaining chicken from a budget KFC substitute, took it back to the pub and scoffed it like pigs. The long-suffering Lisa was there to furnish us with booze and around 4am I told Steve that no, I didn't want any more red wine and buggered off to bed. I had an early start.

Monday, 5 September 2011

This Year's Scottish excursion finally wrapped up.

OK - I know - I need to wrap Edinburgh 2011 up. Sorry it's taken so long to get this thing moving but I was waiting on a couple of photos and more than a few memories to return. The last two days were bittersweet insomuch as both gigs, both days were fantastic and I didn't really want to stop doing them.

Here's some proof that I was not making up the "Tweeting Beauty" show. here I am resplendent in medieaval  bling performing "Rap-Unzel"

And here's the last night's audience at The Lastminutecomedy Club. Next year's show promises to be even bigger and better. Thanks to everyone who came along to it!

I'd had an early night on the Friday in preparation for something of a blow out on Saturday and I did  not let myself down. I spent most of the day being successfully avoided by Jasmine Birtles who eventually showed up to the Buffs Club about 9pm. By this time I had done my last show, had my free pint of Guinness off Frank the landlord (for being "Such a help", I think he had me confused with someone else) and got stuck into the red wine. I didn't realise she didn't drink. She runs the rather excellent Money Magpie website which has previously led me to acquire a set of professional kitchen knives for £1.99 amongst other things. We hadn't seen each other for several years and she was up in Edinburgh with her family who had bought tickets for a load of things she hadn't really wanted to go to which meant she missed the things she did want to, namely, my shows. Anyway - she was there now and bless her because she spent the next four hours or so watching me get drunk as we chatted about various things that became increasingly blurry. I think we ate in the Turkish place and drank in a couple of places on route to the Loft Bar where I had promised her comedians aplenty and blasts from the past to natter with. There weren't any. As time went on we saw a few of the usual suspects and I think she had a good time but I can't be sure. She made her excuses and left around 1am (I think) by which time I was a wibbling idiot. Baby sitting duties were taken on by a Swiss Yoga teacher who was a friend of someone I don't really remember talking to a week before but recognised me and then I think wished she hadn't as I accused her of really being American (And not being Swiss at all)  for the next two hours at least. My apologies to anyone else I have forgotten to mention. Jools Constant was definitely around and there were several other comedians/agents that I chatted to but I don't think it did any of us any favours. I got a cab home, eventually.

The next morning (flatmate) Susan woke me up at about half past ten with a cup of tea and a spring in her step. To say I didn't need that would be an understatement. I dozed and grumbled until nearly 1pm and then drove her and her mate up to The Stand before going back to Buffs Club to oversee the dress down of the gig (As venue captain I was in charge of making sure everyone showed up to help). Obviously Princes Street was closed and I was taken on a variety of diversions that left me forty (Forty!) minutes late. Obviously everyone else had shown up, finished - and left again. Frank again thanked me for all my hard work (I'm starting to think he was taking the piss) and I drove back home, via the Newington Fish Bar for one last (brilliant) fish and chip dinner. It was Pollock. It was amazing. Packing was easy enough and I had got lucky in my part of the flat clean up in that I only had to vacuum the hallway. I managed it, had a fatherly chat with Grainne (other flat mate) and set off for Stonehaven, where I had my first "proper" gig for three weeks, compering the Town Hall's monthly show.

My refusal to get a Sat Nav is based on (I think) sturdy principles. I think they make you worse drivers, I don't think you learn anything about where you're going when you use them and most importantly I don't like being told what to do, particularly by posh women. A Sat Nav would, however, have come in handy as I tried to get to the Forth Road Bridge. I drove around North West Edinburgh for the best part of an hour before happening upon a sign for it and as I headed North the beautiful country opened up and I was soon in places I'd never heard of that were also areas of natural beauty. Stonehaven itself was also a lovely little place, the hotel was nice and I enjoyed the gig so much I offered to buy a pie at it. The people running the pie concession were enjoying what I was doing so much they gave me one for free and so I had my first ever mince & black pudding Scotch Pie. I'm not generally a fan but you know what - it was lovely. After the gig myself and Trevor Lock got better acquainted and successfully dodged the questions/requests of a succession of alcoholics as we chatted to the sound man who had stayed behind with us after the gig. He was fascinating, a local historian of some repute and it became apparent during our conversation that he had formerly been something of a rock star in his youth. I should have taken his photo really but forgot. Trevor used to work with Russell Brand and had a couple of interesting tales that are sadly unrepeatable here but were very entertaining at the time. We retired to bed not unduly late and I even made it to breakfast at eight. To find out what happened the next day, have a look at my unofficial openings blog as I don't really want to repeat myself here. By lunchtime I was ready for a good, if long, drive home. Eleven hours to be precise. Eleven glorious hours.

Performing "Tweeting Beauty". Mother is so proud.