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...


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