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.

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