Sunday, 23 October 2011

Banana cabaret, bananas behaviour and a bananas match

There aren't that many comedy gigs that you genuinely look forward to playing in London but The Bedford in Balham is one of them. It plays host to Banana Cabaret and I've mentioned the show, the pub and the area in several previous blogs so am not going to go into massive detail here. Suffice to say I was on with (in no particular order) Simon Evans, Tim Clark and Dave Johns. They are all consummate professionals, pretty much bald and if you add me into the occasion I reckon we had the most experienced (if follically challenged) line up in old London town. Our combined time in the business covers (I deduced with the lovely Mirian who curates the show) over ninety years and I don't think a comedy crowd could have been in safer hands. Both nights were a delight and I had the added bonus of being on first so I could scoot off early to hotfoot home on the 10.15pm Kings Lynn via Cambridge service, first stop - Letchworth. Sadly, I missed it by two minutes. This left me hanging around for the 10.36 service via Finsbury park and what appeared to be every town in the South East that wanted to move on its unwanted via rail.

A word about Dave Johns - He tried to convince me on Saturday night that the now World famous "Edwards chord", namely Emaj#9-ish, was in fact Eaug7. After research into Eaug7, I have corrected him via his facebook "fan" page. He might be a very funny man, but HE WILL NEVER TAKE MY CHORD!

Securing a whopper meal (with coffee - I'm classy) before boarding, I settled into a five seat scenario all to myself towards the front of the train and as the doors closed I thought "Maybe this won't be so bad". Wrong. As the train took off an enormous Indian guy slumped across the three seats opposite me, put his feet up on the seat next to me and essentially surrounded me, trapping me at the same time. Fortunately a friend of his got on at the first stop and sat in the seats behind me. This prompted massive Indian bloke to jump up, career towards him, give him some skin ghetto-style, sit down and fall asleep. I had my five seats to myself again and settled into my delicious haute cuisine. Whilst chomping, I began to hear the conversation of the three girls opposite. Well, to be fair, everyone did. They were slagging off their boyfriends and pretty much anyone they knew who wasn't present. It turns out Kim is the biggest slag in the world and Carl ain't wurf it, should you be interested. I wasn't.

These are not the girls in question, but you get the idea.

Everything changed when we went through a tunnel. The "thump" of the pressure change was sufficient to make massive Indian bloke wake up, sit bolt upright and projectile vomit all over the carriage floor. The Shakespearean three bitches upped sticks with a group "Oh that is dis-gus-ting". Pretty much the whole carriage emptied in fact. People moved away from the vomiting giant and the outcome was to leave me for the rest of the journey with ten seats to myself and my nose firmly stuck in my coffee cup. it had become unbearable by Hitchin and I was about to move to the carriage in front when I saw a girl throw up on the platform, smack her boyfriend round the face when he tried to help her and then get on said carriage herself. I decided to grin and bear what I had. Massive Indian had got off in (of course) Stevenage and at least his vomit had already dried up a bit and wasn't shouting at anyone.

On reaching Letchworth all I had to do was vault the technicolor yawn and negotiate the four extremely drunk, extremely posh young men by the door. Problem: The drunkest and poshest was at the front and was too inebriated to operate the door release. Time was of the essence (We had to get off before the train took off again) so I leaned through them and hit the thing myself. As the door opened he rounded on me and accused me of pushing him. I didn't have the time or the inclination to talk to him but even I surprised myself when I said to him

"Get off this train you f&$%£^g posh £$^t and get out of my f*%^&*g way while you're doing it"

It's safe to say he wasn't expecting that and, stunned, he moved aside. Feeling like a combination of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Vinnie Jones I strode purposefully to the Arena tavern, boldly retracing the steps that had led to my previous run in with young oafs. I was met by a smiling Bob the landlord and a pub full of middle aged men in denim waistcoats who were the detritus from a "Hamsters" gig at The Plinston Hall over the road. I quickly tired of hearing about ABVs of the perfect real ale and the merits and demerits of various obscure blues guitarists so walked home.

On Saturday the gig was great, I caught the 10.15pm and everything was all right.

...Oh and then I got a cab home before driving over to Steve's pub and stayed up drinking real ale with him and probably talking about obscure blues guitarists, among other things. My tooth fell out while I was there. it's been wonky for ages and I've been loosening it with my tongue for the last week. I tend to only lose teeth during important moments in my life. The first I lost the day after my wife and I split up. The second I lost two and a half years later on the day our Decree Nisi came through. The only thing of significance that's happened with this third one is that Manchester United lost to Manchester City 1-6 in Sunday's remarkable derby. I hope that's not it for this tooth. It's going to cheapen the stories surrounding the necklace I plan to make out of them.

I'm sure these little beauties will look every bit as attractive around my neck as they did in my mouth. The roots are at the bottom, by the way - I'm not a vampire - although saying that I do work similar hours.

I'm giving this a go so make sure you click it - It's a really friendly little blog community

Thursday, 20 October 2011

I didn't so much wake up and smell the roses, as the rosé

I'll try and be brief about last weekend because I want to get to Monday. Thursday saw me begin the monthly three day event called "my comedy gigs" at The Ashcroft Arms in Luton and it was, of course, messy. Landlord, bon viveur and general good egg Steve had amassed a large audience who laughed at pretty much everything myself and the other two acts (Martin Beaumont and Rudi Lickwood) said. No idea why, but I think the huge amounts of booze consumed by all had something to do with it. His latest barmaid acquisition is a girl called Riannon. I haven't seen her for eleven years. She is now twenty six years old and was formerly (aged fifteen) a kitchen hand in a pub he used to run around the corner. At that age she was ripe for me taking the mickey out of her and generally making her life a misery by pursuing her around the bar with various glasses of fluid threatening to throw them over her. She is now an exceptionally beautiful young woman. The mistake I made was to bring this up at the gig (approximately half way through the show) by saying "This is Rhiannon - I haven't chased her round a pub since she was a teenager".

Rudi Lickwood - Luton loves you!

Friday witnessed a packed house in Hitchin at my oldest (and frankly best) comedy show at Woodside Hall. Martin and Rudi were again brilliant and I suggested to the audience (in customary fashion) a drinking hole for us to attend afterwards. We picked on Bar 85. We were the only ones in there. We had one drink and made our way to The Vic. It was only open for another half hour after our arrival so we went to The Kings Arms. That only offered us forty minutes before it too shut. As it did I got a text from my friend Lizzie to say that she was in the newly refurbished Remix nightclub (now called something else). I didn't read it properly and took my remaining (small) gang to Bliss nightclub instead. We attempted to climb the stairs to it as the fight that had already occurred within it spilled past us. The door staff told everyone to leave. That was that then. needless to say, when we got in, I forgot I had put a pizza in the oven and only alerted myself to it when I said to Martin "Do you smell burning?". he said "Yes - it's the pizza you were cooking". I said "What pizza". he said "Exactly".

Martin Beaumont - An excellent comedian but a little too relaxed  around the smell of burning to suggest he would make much of a fireman

Saturday night brought us down to Letchworth Arts Centre for the conclusion of the trilogy. It was again busy (but not packed) and the audience were once again delighted by the show. Everyone really outdid themselves. The boys who had potentially been trouble the month before returned with more friends and were a delight - don't judge a book by its cover. We headed over to The Arena Tavern and stayed there with a good percentage of the audience until Sue the landlady had enough of all of us and called it a night. Martin left on Sunday before I got up. Well he'd have had to if he wanted to get where he was going before it got dark.

...And then Monday happened. Monday October 17th. Remember the date, because it marks the beginning of what may prove to be the best thing I've ever promoted but most likely will prove to be the most ridiculous waste of time of money I have ever got myself in to. Basically I've started promoting a gig in London, Highbury Corner to be precise, at a venue called "The (Relentless) Garage". Sponsorship from the Red Bull derivative does not however extend to my comedy show, which came out of my own pocket.

The Mini Bar. Sorry this stock photo is the only one I've got but I of course had forgotten my camera on the night

This was a shame as we only amassed three paying customers for the first night. The rest of the audience was made up of friends. other acts, hangers-on, dates and general London types who all blagged their way in for nothing somehow or other. I didn't care nearly enough after the weekend I'd just had. I put first act Craig Murray on and the most noticeable thing he did was alienate a woman he already knew by not recognising her and asking her questions about her other half. This was particularly odd as he also knew her other half. The interval came and went and she was placated with a pint of cider. The middle section featured three acts doing short sets. The first had tried to drop out at 5pm that day. I should have let him. The second was a brand new act I met in Edinburgh and had accused of being American all night despite her being Swiss-German. She went on stage in a very fetching white dress, did thirty seconds with it on, whipped it over her head and stood there in her pants and bra. Everyone's attention gained, she then sat on a stool, put her right foot behind her ear and spoke to the frankly nonplussed audience about why Vikram yoga was evil. She's probably going to be very famous very quickly. The last act went on and confused as much as he incited guffaws. it was supposed to be a competition with the winner getting twenty quid. I called it a draw and gave them a tenner each. After the second interval Rick Right came on and said "Look I can't really be bothered to do my act but I know every song ever written so just shout them out and I'll play them". The audience did. He did as well. It was very impressive. Everyone should have gone home happy at that point but we didn't. It being a Monday, we all stayed and got absolutely legless. The bar shut long after the tube system had and we were left to get taxis back. I got mine to Battersea with my friend Harriet, it being only exactly the wrong direction to Letchworth. We picked up a bottle of Rosé wine on the way home and sat on her back patio and drank it as the rain fell around us (We were under partial cover). She suggested I attend the sex addiction clinic she had been going to, despite not being in the least bit addicted to sex. My suggestion that I hadn't pulled in a while so it was probably a great idea as if you couldn't get casual sex there, where could you? did not get all the laughs I was expecting.

Monday, 10 October 2011

An odd situation by The Sea, a watch full of firemen and a final penny-dropping on Twitter

Every time I do someone a favour it seems to backfire in some way or other. I'm toying with the idea of becoming resolutely unfavoursome in the hope that my life gets a little less complicated. My latest instance of misplaced public spirit and resultant botheration came last Thursday in the shape of standing in last minute to take the place of goth/metal/geeky/confusomedian Andrew O'Neill at an outwardly lovely little gig in a sea-front hotel on the Kent coast. The money wasn't really good enough to get me there but I'd never worked for the promoter before and well, you never know, do you?

The gig was described as being in "A little place called Sandgate, near Folkestone". At first I thought they had said Sangatte and was a little worried about crossing the channel to play at a controversial refugee camp made up largely of Asylum seekers.

Not my first choice audience, to be brutally honest

When reassured that the show was in fact in a basement bar of a small and homely hotel I hopped into the ol' Mondeo and began a frankly hellish journey to the seaside. There were traffic jams, roadworks, road closures and tailbacks everywhere and a two-and-a-bit hour journey took four. Never mind - I'd left early and when I walked in to the show a shade before 8.30pm it looked to really be my sort of gig. The compere was not the one I was expecting and the support act had stood in for someone at a mere three hour's notice so the entire bill was not as advertised. No-one seemed to mind though and the organisers were very pleased that we had all come down. One woman in the audience wasn't, however. It became apparent within the first five minutes that she was drunk, a school teacher, out with her boyfriend on his birthday and going to be a problem. Well she ruined the first half with random acts of shouting nonsense that the rest of the audience were clearly getting increasingly angry about and was told by the organiser to shut up. The opening act than proceeded to start asking her questions and didn't even give up when her boyfriend reminded him that she had been told to be quiet. This only further alienated the audience who then began to feel a little sorry for the birthday date from hell. In the break I was asked if I wanted them out. I said that no, I didn't want to ruin his birthday any more than it had been already and that she would probably calm down after a bit of fresh air and be OK. WHY DO I DO THIS?

The second half began. So did her conversation. This time not with an act but with her boyfriend. They spoke in what they perceived to be hushed tones throughout my act and were clearly upsetting the people in front of them and and putting me off my stride. I had no choice but to stop what I was doing and ask them, as politely as possible, if they wouldn't be better off going upstairs into the bar as they clearly weren't listening to anything I was saying and were becoming rather rude. Other members of the audience (A group of "mature" women) decided enough was enough, apologised to me, and walked out. This encouraged another couple to up sticks and depart. The couple themselves then stood up and she told me I had been very rude, before staggering out into the bar as I had suggested. I offered the rest of the audience the opportunity to leave as well. They actually took a vote on it and decided to stay. Afterwards I sold a CD to a young bloke in the crowd and the organisers told me I had been "awesome". I cannot begin to think what the other gigs down there have been like. I can only say that if Andrew O'Neill had been there, I don't think it would have gone any better. Sangatte may indeed have been less odd.

The weekend itself was spent in Leeds at "Mr. Bens". It's a terrific little purpose-built comedy club on Albion Street smack in the middle of the city. I'd never played it before and agreed to compere it as I had a gap and they needed someone. The Friday night featured a particularly small crowd made up more precisely of a group of eleven fireman on a night out and a couple on their fifth date. The gig began trickily enough but I got everyone moved to the front two rows and we made a fist of it. As the show went on the laughs increased and by the end of it everyone had such a good time that I got the entire audience onto the stage for a shot of Sambuca and a group photograph

The only girl in the crowd is to my right (pictured left) front row.  Well I wasn't going to be pictured with just men, was I?
I was particularly impressed with the owner's (Ben) attitude to complimentary drinks for the compere and by the time I was picked up around 12.30am by my mate Silky (Who I was staying with) I was suitably relaxed. All in all, a great night. When we got back to his Chapel Allerton pied a terre I was greatly amused when he repeatedly told me to whisper as his common-law fiancee was asleep upstairs before retiring to bed and effectively coughing up a lung for two hours in her ear as he descended into the malaise of a particularly chesty cold.

The following lunchtime I was turfed out of my decidedly comfortable abode as it also doubled as girlfriend Jo's massage treatment room and she had an appointment booked. This left me in the lounge with said balding and talented comedy/musician and we got involved in a thing on twitter. I've never really got to grips with it but we got stuck into a hashtag thing that was trending (Yes I don't really know either) called #moviebands, described basically as film titles with the added name of a band in. Well we went a bit nuts and I did twenty five in about fifteen minutes, ten of which were eventually featured on the "trend". Here's a few of my favourites:

The Velvet Undergroundhog Day
Beyonce Upon A Time In America
Saving Private Ryan Adams
The Empire Strikes Bachman Turner Overdrive
 Abbapocalypse Now


 Men In Blacker Bilk

Well it kept me occupied. Anyway - I might go on twitter a bit more now because for the first time I did actually quite like being involved in it for a while. That night I found myself back at Mr. Bens for a really brilliant night in front of another small-ish crowd this time made up exclusively of couples, some of whom were from Middlesbrough. Now I know Teesside quite well and they were delighted when I confirmed their area as "The home of the parmo" and discussed its merits and demerits with them.

The Parmesan or "parmo". A huge slab of processed chicken covered in breadcrumbs and bechemel sauce, with a giant side order of chips. You can also order "Half a parmo" if you don't think you could get through one of these (No-one should be able to). To give you an idea of the Teesside mentality and attitude to this particular (And sensible) course of action, I will tell you simply that slang for this half-sized portion is a "Lady's parmo". You can laughably get salad with it as well. Finally, the first time I ordered a Lady's parmo I forgot hold the box flat and carried it home under my arm. When I got back I had half an empty box and an enormous squelchy mess. I still ate it, obviously.

One of the men in the group swore blind he had lost twenty quid. His girlfriend swore blind he had spent it on booze. He refused to believe her, thus pretty much confirming that she was right. His friend also claimed to have had twenty pounds removed from his pocket. He further went on to claim that the devilish thief had confused him by replacing the note with a sachet of Mayonnaise. I decided to leave it there. Finally, here's a rare photo of me just smiling happily. It was taken at some point on Saturday night and I'm glad it was. See - I can be nice...


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A bizarre absence of glitter and an auspicious TV appearance

The best thing about Saturday daytime was the simple fact that Nottingham Forest didn't play a game of football so I didn't have to get ridiculously angry and/or burst into tears at about ten to five. The second best thing (Also football related) was that East Fife were playing Forfar. Every football fan with a sense of mischief longs for the result East Five five Forfar four but it's obviously never happened. It normally doesn't even get close. It did on Saturday. It got to East Fife four Forfar three, which although not perfect, was close enough for legions of tweets (including my own) to bombard cyberspace. My one even got re-tweeted and that made me feel clever. There's something reassuring about getting re-tweeted. It means that a. at least someone out there is paying attention to you and b. they don't think that everything you're writing is utter dross. I am going to re-tweet more things now in an attempt to spread love and joy across the cyber cosmos, because as you know, I am an extreme hippy.

To be honest I really just dossed about on Saturday until about five o'clock when I booked a taxi to Hitchin and started getting ready to go to Dolly's Autumn Barn Party - the latest in a series of cabaret shows I organise that normally involve me being by far the most out-of-order man in the room and also getting covered in glitter. Not this time, sunshine, not this time. The honour of the former was reserved for my mate Felix who was celebrating his fortieth birthday. This had turned the gig into as much a celebration as a serious comedy and burlesque evening featuring two comedians, two burlesque acts and a comedy-magician. Oh who am I kidding? The capacity crowd didn't care - they had a ball. There were a few eyebrows raised when we didn't start on time but that was because the birthday boy was fashionably late to his own do. Bad form? Yes. Forgiven? Of course. He was too much fun while he was there for anyone to mind too much. The problem was that by making him the centre of atttention I had unwittingly set him a challenge. We're both a pair of show-offs and trying to out-show-off me at my own gig (even if it is also sort of your party) is foolhardy in the extreme but if there's one bloke who can do it, it's Felix. He did - spectacularly - but his mistake was to do it during our locally-famous drinking game "Roxanne". The basic premise of "Roxanne" is that every time Sting (Or The Police) say or sing the word "Roxanne", you have a sip of your drink. Over the three minutes of the song it is reasonably easy to drink an entire pint. In this time of austerity and global accusations of "Binge Britain" it is perhaps fitting that we still carry on like this regardless. We've been playing the game for a couple of years at these events and it's always a laugh, not least because there is a point half way through the song when you think that Sting (Or The Police) are going to say/sing "Roxanne"...

...But they don't.

Anyone caught  taking a sip of their drink at that point is honour bound to finish the rest of their drink off in one go. It's amazing how keen their mates are to grass them up. The mistake Felix made was to (when invited on stage to share the limelight with additional birthday girl Sophie) bring three pints of cider with him rather than the usual one pint of beer.

Official photography shows us on stage all drinking sensibly...

Guerilla photography from crowd reveals that Sophie and I have finished but oops! Felix is still working his way down his third pint! That might not be such a good idea.
Later on I tried to get him to stand on one leg with me to re-create the famous pose of fish-obsessed annoying prog rock flautist Ian Anderson but he actually couldn't without falling over which really annoyed me because I wanted a funny picture of us and it didn't happen and grr.

I didn't realise he was leathered. Five minutes after the show finished his wife very sensibly took him home. It was her birthday as well but she hadn't really made a big thing of it. The show itself was a little up and down but ended magnificently with Wayne The Weird offering some classic comedy magic (And anyone who knows me knows how hard it is for me to admit that) and Dolly Rose performing her classic "Weight Loss" burly turn. All that was left to do was to carry on drinking, so we did. When The Vic shut we were understandably not let in to The Croft (I rarely am) but did manage to get as far as The Kings Arms (known locally as "The Armpit") where apparently The Face Of Croatian Toni & Guy repeatedly shouted at me to get my attention but I was too busy looking at/talking to/leaning on anybody else.  I thought I'd talked about her before in these blogs but I obviously haven't and can't be bothered to explain. Look - she's called Emma and she works in Sainsburys. The rest of it is too involved to get in to. I got home at some point and judging by the detritus in the flat the next day, I may have had a burger and I may  have carried on drinking.

I took it easy on Sunday, nipped round my mum's for a cup of tea and then headed off to The Harlow Square to do a gig. It's a great venue, the crowd are always brilliant, the sound is fantastic and on this occasion I was also being interviewed for Harlow TV. That's right - there is actually a station called Harlow TV. I'll say it again Harlow TV. When I got there John the compere said "Ah I'm glad you're here - you can help my son Joss set up the Scalextric". I wasn't expecting that. Anyway, we couldn't get it to work so walked over to the garage for more batteries. On the way over there I asked him about a guitar chord that I play but can't find out what it's called. Joss is sixteen. I am forty one. I have been playing guitar for twenty six years. He is already teaching guitar.

I know.

The point is that this chord is an open "E" with an additional little finger on the third fret of the high E string (The G position). Joss scratched his head a little. I explained to him that I had gone through every photograph/ tab of E-chord variations on the net and couldn't find it anywhere. He asked me to repeat what it was that I was playing. I did. He said it was a sort of a major thing going on with a sharp ninth but it didn't really make any sense because it was a (And then my eyes glazed over). I said it had to have a name. He replied

"It has"

I said "Well what is it called then?"

He said

"A strange chord".

batteries procured, we walked back to the gig. I carried on with the line that it had to have a name but he was still non-committal. It was like hearing a scientist tell you he might have a cure for something terrible but didn't want to say he definitely had for fear of derision/failure/redundancy when he finally snapped at my constant bothering and said

"Well if I had to give it a label I'd call it E major sharp ninth ish)

So there you go. I play a chord in my set that is E major sharp ninth ish). This can be shortened to Emaj#9ish and obviously I'm now building a set around it. I was interviewed by Harlow TV's Clare (lovely and gorgeous) and I think it was all right. They also recorded a bit of my act. If it ever reaches the internet I'll let you know as I think it could be quite funny. She's ever so sweet. The scalextric was there to decide the running order of course and after a competition that all twelve of the crowd got to see from on stage, I went on in the middle.What can I say? What a terrific gig! I exploited Emaj#9ish throughout and dreamt one day that it might become known as "The Edwards Chord".

When I got home I had an email from Joss the guitar teaching sixteen year old Wunderkind. In it he offered the following link: and I was momentarily crushed. On closer inspection of said article, however, there is no reference to the actual chord that I am currently playing in my excuse for an act. Maybe it is The Edwards Chord after all.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A thousand miles of good road and a slate cleared.

It's a long way to Tipperary. It's a longer way to Falmouth. Well, normally. I was out of the house before 11am and at Ash Vale station picking up comedian Jessica Fostekew dead on time off the 12.14pm train. Ash Vale is just off the M3. We were just off the M3 and on the A303 a mere twenty minutes later. I promised Jessica we would stop for lunch. She seemed a little over-familiar. It was only when I started talking about my other blog that she reminded me I had talked about it in Edinburgh. In Edinburgh? Apparently during the festival we were in The Library Bar for quite a while with a certain Mr. David Whitney. Apparently we had quite a long conversation and found out all about each other. Apparently I need to cut back on the red wine. Jess is a very entertaining woman and the time flew, so much so in fact that we hit Falmouth without a single stop not long after 5pm. There was minor consternation concerning the location of the hotel (And its lavatories) but we eventually found it, checked in and had time to go to Rick Stein's laughable over priced fish and chips restaurant before getting a cab up to the gig that night, at The University of Exeter (Falmouth Campus). Yes I don't understand that either. It's a good hundred miles from its parent university. Mind you, we do still lay claims to The Falklands, so what do I know?

Rick Stein's laughably overpriced Fish & Chips restaurant
I'm not going to deny the hake was exceptionally tasty, but the chips weren't anything special and at a tenner a plate for the basics I forewent the mushy peas. 
The gig was a challenge to say the least. The best part of two hundred (eighteen year old) "Freshers" with their lives ahead of them and their hopes and dreams yet to be dashed by the cruel world that awaits them. Obviously I closed the show with a bit of middle aged nihilism and via a very kind offer of a lift to the pub from the (stand in replacement understudy last minute person-instead-of Johnny-on-the-spot fifth attempt at getting someone in who could get himself there) compere it wasn't long before Jess and I were in a pub that used to be called The Pirate and isn't any more with a mature student called Terri who'd been at the show and Rich (the organiser of the event). We got pints of cloudy cider and went outside to drink them (it was a warm night). A security emo on the door said "Sorry no drinks outside after twelve thirty". I looked at my watch. It was midnight. I said "but it's only midnight". He said "Yes - the landlord has changed his mind". I couldn't handle this logic and gave up. It didn't look like anywhere in the town was open and I've been thrown out of enough bars recently to simply doff my cap, go back inside and order Jaegermeisters to compensate. It shut sooner than we expected, Jess and I returned to the hotel and I spent an hour failing to get online to check emails. Apparently she spent that time throwing up cloudy cider and Jaegermeister before enduring what my mother describes as "Whirlypits". I wouldn't know.

The minor heatwave the country enjoyed/endured on the weekend did not extend to Falmouth on Friday morning where a sea mist prevailed. Having witnessed this many times on the South West coast I decided to head inland to see my old mate Lee at The Market Inn in Holsworthy. It was an excellent decision.

Whilst the rest of the nation was melting in balmy morning sunshine, I got this.

I got there just after one o'clock, parked up, hoped he would be there and obviously bumped into him in the doorway. Whatever he had planned for the next hour was cancelled as he looked at me in astonishment and asked me what the *&^% I was doing there. Lunch was on the house (He's a legend) and I plumped for a rather tasty slice of chicken pie on the specials board. I figured I could forego the usual fish & chips that I have on Fridays (I'm a traditionalist) as I'd taken out a mortgage on Rick Stein's hake the night before. I explained to Lee my real reason for stopping off at the hotel - I was en route to Wiveliscombe to return the room key and pay the bar bill from the week before...

Lee Sycamore. Proprietor of  the fabulous Market Inn, Holsworthy.  His name  is easily changed around to  A More Syclee, which is what I normally am after drinking with him.

...And so it was that I hit the road again and what a road! The B3227! All the way across North Devon! to Wiveliscombe! It took absolutely ages as I rarely got above thirty miles an hour but it was well worth it - really beautiful. Sadly the events at the destination were rather anti-climactic. Simon (the boss of The White Hart Inn) wasn't there but they did at least thank me for returning the key and settling my fifteen quid. It was a shame that he was absent (He, like Lee, is rather entertaining) but I had felt guilty all week about not paying off that bad boy and I certainly felt like Karma would at least be coming back on side.

Backwards and downwards, then, with my last task of the day - namely, getting to Dorchester. That involved another brilliant drive and Corn Exchange located I waited patiently for an hour or two until getting on stage there to open what proved to be another excellent show. I was relieved to find that I was performing largely to adults. Another full crowd helped me have another really good time. I was out of there just after nine, home before midnight (Just another hundred and forty miles had stood between "Dorch" and home) and ready for a big day on Saturday, well, a big night anyway.

The Cornish Riviera during an Indian Summer. Typical.