Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A 20th Anniversary, banana spirit and an idiot.

On Saturday I got on stage for my twentieth anniversary gig. It's been a long time coming - twenty years to be precise. Over the last two decades I've played all over the world, performed at music festivals, comedy clubs, corporate gigs, private parties, birthdays, weddings, raves (One very bizarre lunchtime) and even the World Nettle Eating Competition. I've done pubs, nightclubs, working mens clubs, village halls, theatres, arts centres, even a couple of peoples houses (And in fact my own). I've found myself in Marquees, boats, the back of a truck, TV studios, radio stations, universities, colleges and one or two public schools. I've worked with pretty much every comic over the last decade who has become famous in the UK with varying degrees of success, from Harry Hill to Peter Kay to Ross Noble. I've supported Jack Dee, Lee Evans, Graham Norton, Jack Whitehall and been on the same bill as Jimmy Carr, Johnny Vegas, Jo Brand, Chris Addison and a whole host of other great comics who may or may not have graced your living rooms on a Saturday night. So how on Earth could I commemorate this achievement? Simple - I completely forgot about it and went on in the middle at The Frog & Bucket comedy club in Manchester with very little fuss at all.

it wasn't really even very good if truth be known. The audience were largely made up of birthdays, stag parties and hen parties. The compere spent most of the night asking them to be quiet and not to talk while the acts were on. The first act had a bit of trouble with a heckler but dealt with him very well. After the break I went on and banged out my latest set, unveiling a song especially written for the gig in Manchester a few months back (that I only learnt about fifteen minutes before going on stage). I was very well received and had a group of girls come up to me afterwards telling me I was "hilarious", "lovely" and "amazing". Do you know what I remember though? The drunk bloke on the balcony who three minutes before I finished my set decided, for absolutely no reason at all, to shout "F*%k off - you're a t%*t". No-one in the lower area of the room (the majority) heard him. A few people on the balcony laughed. Most looked round at him like he was weird. I just ignored him. I heard him though and if I could have wrapped my guitar round his neck there and then, I would have done. I'd told the audience about half way through that it was my twentieth anniversary on stage and they applauded - not because I was incredible, or brilliant or astounding - but because I opened my heart to them and carried on regardless. They won't remember me but they might remember having a good time with me. That's all I've ever wanted really - for every audience I ever get on stage in front of to have a laugh with me. One bloke didn't though and sadly - it's always that one bloke that you remember.

The money wasn't even very good.

The night before I had played the same venue and done OK before heading back to my mate Rick's as he had very kindly said I could stay over. Sat in his lounge after a long drive and a long night, I settled back to chat with him and his lovely girlfriend, Francesca. They'd been at the show, as had fellow buddy BJ (who I gave a lift home to). It's funny, but knowing they were there this weekend really meant something.

Anyway, that's enough of that - I want to talk about the drinking. I'd stayed sober until we got to Rick's (I was driving) but he did a very good job of helping me make up for lost time. First out came the white wine. That was followed by shot after shot of what I can only describe as "random booze of the world". The best was a green translucent liqueur that he brought out with the words "See if you know what flavour this is - every single person who has ever tasted it has got it wrong: They recognise it but can't picture it". I took a sip and said "Bananas".

It was. He called me a show off. There's no pleasing some people.

Oh and go and vote for me here - I'm fighting the housewives!

(I beat the housewives!)


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Nothing to do on a Tuesday night? Fly to Prague!

I had a quiet Tuesday in the diary this week so when I was offered a gig in Prague I jumped at the chance. I've been to Prague twice before and both times had a bit of a nightmare to be honest. It's a beautiful city but it has been known to bite me. In 1989 I visited (again for a day) as a particularly green nineteen year old boy. It was still part of The Eastern Bloc then and as we reached the border town of Gmund NÓ our train stopped and I was interrogated by Czechoslovakian border guards for four hours after being accused of cocaine smuggling. The second time I went was in 2005 with a group of friends. While the girls went shopping the blokes went for a drink. This turned into a wine tasting, a very cold stein of lager outside (it was late November) and then a bar that was so cheap we had steins of dark beer with bottles of red wine chasers each. This was topped off with shots just before the unsuspecting girls arrived back. Everyone had Slivovitza except for yours truly who was sneakily thrown an Absinthe. On their arrival I turned into a monster. The Green faerie tipped me over the edge and like a drunken idiot I told everyone I hated them and walked out into the snow, only to get lost. There is more to this story but suffice to say I was persona non grata for the rest of the trip. Surely nothing could go wrong again?

Having a morning flight and deciding against sleep, I played scrabble online until 5am, showered, shaved and got in the car to drive to Heathrow. I got to the long stay car park just after 7am and was in the terminal building by quarter past. I was too early to check in so bought a copy of the "I" for 20p, read it and then checked in my guitar the minute I was able to. A very friendly Frenchman on the desk said that he would personally make sure it got priority for the plane. Happy, I went to the nearest departure lounge bar for my traditional pre-flight Bloody Mary.

Here I am rather sadly taking a photo of myself drinking a fantastic Bloody Mary at around nine in the morning - ah - the perks of the sleepless international traveller...
I didn't see the other acts (Martin Davies and Andrew Watts) until I got on the plane. We were booked in next to each other and chewed the fat for the duration of the shortish flight to Prague airport, which landed, on time at 2pm. Sadly, my guitar didn't. When I got to the baggage carousel there was a message in big letters that said

"Edwards, P - go to lost luggage".

That wily Frenchman had failed to actually put the guitar on the plane at all. I suspect he is still seething over Agincourt. I told the lost luggage desk in no uncertain terms that a lot of people were going to be very upset if I didn't get to perform my fabulous act and they promised me it would arrive on the next flight at 7.30pm in the evening. Problem - I was supposed to be on stage at 8pm. Dominic, our guide (and compere) showed up around half past two and drove us to the hotel. By the time we got there it was an hour later and we only had two hours to kill before he would be picking us up again to take us to the gig. The boys opted for a couple of hours' kip  but I wanted to get some local currency and go for a beer. Just down the road from the hotel was a cashpoint. Not knowing the exchange rate (well done, Paul) I plumped for the third highest amount offered on the screen as was presented with a 2000 Koruna note. The nearest bar was only a few doors down. I ordered a Pilsner Urquell and drank it. It was 35 Koruna. They had to empty the till to give me my change. "Someone", I thought to myself, "Is going to be getting very drunk tonight".

Martin Davis (pictured left) and Andrew Watts (right). I was the cash monitor  and at the end of the night paid our bills in Koruna, agreeing that they would give me the equivalent in Sterling. Andrew had bought a diet coke, a coffee, a packet of fags, ten Starupramen lagers and a couple of shots. His bill? eighteen quid. Martin had been taking it easy. He had consumed five cokes, two coffees and two beers. His bill? £6.50. Sweet.
The show itself was the fifth one in a new series of gigs called "Crown Comedy". The venue was brilliant, the staff amazingly friendly and Dominic couldn't do enough for us. Miraculously, my guitar arrived before 7pm and it occurred to me that its revised arrival time had been lost in translation and it had actually got in at 17.30pm rather than 7.30pm. Sweet relief. The show began, Dominic went on and warmed up the crowd and the next thing I knew I was sat on a chair at the front of the audience holding a radio mic and trying to get a woman to tell me her age. I had asked her a quick off-the-cuff question as a way in to the joke and when she refused to tell me had decided to pursue it further. It was a minor mistake and soaked up valuable minutes of my set with only a modicum of laughs. I got back on stage, stopped mucking about, got the guitar on, rocked out and buggered off. it had all gone fine and I was pleased that sporadically I had got big laughs from the whole audience. This was no mean feat as they were made up of probably 70% English-speaking ex-pats and 30% young Czechs so I was happy enough to get them all laughing at the same things. All in all the show was a good one but the woman who I had questioned became something of a centre of attention. Dominic discovered her name to be Petra. Andrew also had a slightly difficult time with her but did well, regardless. Dominic then went on after the break and got her doing (along with a couple of other people) motorbike impressions. Martin (On last) featured her throughout his own performance. At the end of the night we all had to go on stage and take a slightly awkward bow. I took the opportunity to photograph the audience.

The audience. They all appear to be a little blurry. I have no idea if that has anything to do with my late-night camera-holding abilities or whether they were in fact all a bit out of focus in real life.
Petra then came over to tell us all what she thought of us and was rather forthright. I was surprised to discover that I had been her favourite. She could have let her face know while I'd been on.

Here's Andrew with Petra. She is terrifying
After that there was nothing for it than to get stuck in to some serious drinking until the bar had emptied out sufficiently for three Russian girls to take a minimalist shine to us old soaks. They didn't want to give us too much information about themselves as they were working in Prague illegally (Well - they certainly hinted as much). I suggested they look out for Petra who had also been rather unforthcoming and at one point I thought might have been a spy.

I can only remember the name of one of these girls and that's only  because she wrote it down so I could point them in the direction of this blog. Hello Russians! I must also at this point say hello to Yolanda and Martina, two of Dominic's colleagues whose space we had unceremoniously invaded at the end of the night. Well - you can't blame us. They were gorgeous. We had been drinking beer at a quid a glass. It was like a dream I tell you - a dream.
All that was left to do was to go back to the hotel. We got there around 2.30am, got three hours' sleep, got up again, didn't get the breakfast we had been promised (nobody's fault) and I went outside to take a photo of the front of the building. This is what a (very nice) hotel in Prague looks like around 6am in November.

I tried to take several shots of this but they all came out the same. It's called The Carlton Hotel and is really rather plush. My bed was so comfortable I could really have used more than three hours sleep in it
The trip back to the airport was painless. I took great steps to make sure my guitar would indeed travel with me on the same plane this time, landed back at Heathrow a shade after 10am and I was home by midday, guitar and all. What did you do on Tuesday?

Oh and vote for me via the lovely folks at lovelinks - lots of blogs by housewives, from what I can gather!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Abnormal service is resumed

The last thing I needed after five consecutive nights out (three of which were to London) was to have a night out in London but that's where Tuesday sent me and what a fantastic night! Under the (frankly spurious) auspices of being on official Punky! Radio business I had been invited/invited myself along to The Dark Shadows only London gig on their latest world tour. I've booked the band myself before and also played them on said podcast on many occasions. They have even collectively stayed in my flat before so it was a no-brainer to nip to Tufnell Park to see them at a venue I'd admittedly never been to before called The Hideaway. Add to this the fact that their main support on the night was coming from Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons. I again have seen them on several occasions, played them to death on Punky! and got to know them relatively well - so well in fact that after one particularly drunken night in Bristol I got dubbed "The Fifth Johnson". Add to this the fact that the opening band were called The Voronas (A band I have also often played on the show and whose bass player, Glen spent a week with me in Spain at The Psychobilly meeting a couple of years ago) and it would have been awry of me not to go.

I got the 7pm train from Letchworth to Kings Cross and nipped onto the Northern Line up to TP, arriving at the venue around eight. Walking into the front bar I could have been forgiven for thinking I was in the wrong place, but for the smattering of likely gig goers that were hanging around the bar. There was no sign of a stage, no sign of any bands and no information to suggest there was a gig going on anywhere in the building. There was Simon Nott though. Simon is a friend of mine, a friend of The Dark Shadows, a music writer (And racing expert). He explained the room where the gig was hadn't opened yet. Phew. We were quickly joined by Ant Thomas (Drummer from Demented Are Go) who explained that a. he was currently for hire and b. no-one would hire him because his drumming was so distinctive and no-one else sounded like him, due to his distinctive rhythm and lack of the use of a hi-hat. He moved along as Rob Tyler (Drummer form "Restless") showed up. I was expecting to see Rob but it did mean I was briefly standing between two of the finest drummers I have ever seen play. Simon and I had got into a round and the Guinness was flowing. I nipped outside and saw a couple of The Johnsons. Then I saw Pussycat herself. Then Ned from The Dark Shadows came over to say "Hi". Then Carly from the same band came over for a hug and I remarked on her hair looking beautiful (it did). She very sweetly said that she liked my "little quiff" as well. I melted a little but regained my composure as Glen from The Voronas appeared. Feeling pretty showbiz, I made my way downstairs to the gig. I got charged £7 to get in. Suddenly not feeling quite so showbiz any more I was cheered up by another Guinness winging its way via Simon.

The Voronas were brilliant.

The Voronas - at this point I still had my camera on the right setting.

Carolina the lead singer is an eccentric, statuesque, stick-thin mentalist who likes standing on a packing case, goose stepping into the crowd, playing maracas and hooting out bizarre lyrics, accompanied by the band who trot out some really fantastic (and catchy) songs that had all of us clapping and cheering at the end of each number. In the break I caught up with them. Rob and I both thought their drummer looked a bit like Kim Wilde. On the way up the stairs I walked past Ant and said to him "She drums just like you". What he called me was unrepeatable. I arranged to interview them in the next break. Guinness kept happening. I had a brief chat with Cavey Nik in the outside-bit-that-looks-like-the-inside. He's the mastermind behind the "Dead & Buried" goth/metal nights that are on the verge of moving to the Hideaway after a short hiatus. What a lovely bloke. The Johnsons went on and were fantastic.

Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons. Lead singer Puss appears to have dropped a contact lens. By now I have managed to change the setting on my camera without trying.

A characteristic of the gig was that a lot of the people there had maybe seen one band but not the other two. In typical circumstances this would lead to a room never being full as fans showed their support to only their chosen band. Not on this occasion. It remained full all night. I interviewed The Voronas (As promised) and they were as entertaining to talk to as they had been to watch. The Guinness kept coming. The Dark Shadows eventually kicked off and I couldn't get anywhere near the front to watch them so stood at the back behind very tall people.

Brigitte Handley (Dark Shadows). I couldn't get the whole band in because of the way they were positioned. It's like she knew I was taking this one though and almost wated to be in it!
A tap on the shoulder  later I was gassing away with Karen from Rattlin' Bone. They are yet another band we've played on the show. Now the Gunness was being accompanied by shots. Before I knew it rounds of shots were being consumed. The Dark Shadows finished to huge cheers and applause. We did more shots. I missed the last tube.

I always miss the last tube.

I said my goodbyes and began walking back to Kings Cross, thinking I'd pick up a cab at some point. All I achieved initially was to pick up a kebab. I sensibly asked for it to be "wrapped" so it wouldn't go cold. I was halfway back (A good mile) before I eventually hailed a taxi and (bless him) he dropped me off round the corner from the station for a mere fiver. Since I'd hemorrhaged cash up to that point buying rounds for skint musicians it was a minor result. The last train to Letchworth is the 1.06am and takes about an hour. It did. I needed that long. The kebab was huge. I'd asked for a "small doner" but the guy in the shop must have taken pity on my wallet because he'd loaded up the pitta bread so much with that classic combination of two-day-old lettuce, tomato, chilli sauce, chillis, onion, red cabbage and that non-specific greying meat that could only ever have sat on a pole that the bread itself had disintegrated under the pressure. I had to eat it hunched over my insufficient train seat table like a starving cave dweller that had found half a dog. It at least ensured me a seat to myself.

A few more photos to finish:

Carly from The Dark Shadows (proving I took photos of all of them)

...And Ned - completing the line up. She drums a bit like Ant Thomas from Demented Are  Go, you know.

Rob Tyler - good drummer, excellent drinker

This looks for all the world like "Dirty Jake Johnson" (pictured centre) has lobbed his beer over "Filfy Antz" Johnson and doesn't appear to care in the slightest. They are such a naughty band.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Well, there were certainly fireworks...

The thing is, it doesn't always go well. I did the comedy cafe last Thursday, or rather, the comedy cafe did me  - good and proper. It's a famous old venue that I generally enjoy playing and I've spoken about it in glowing terms previously in this blog. Noel the proprietor is a good friend of mine, a genuine eccentric and one of the people I think the world needs. What I didn't need was what happened on Thursday. I have to start by saying that I am about to give a list (as long as your arm) of excuses as to why I didn't do well on stage on Thursday and ultimately the buck stops with me. A section of the audience didn't like what I did and let me know in no uncertain terms. Could I have done different material? Yes. Could I have acted differently? Yes. If given another opportunity to play the same crowd could I have got them onside? Probably. I didn't though.

The compere set a particularly aggressive tone to the evening as he launched into several different "targets" at the top of the show. The first act was of a similarly aggressive nature and had also interacted a lot  with the crowd. End of part one and they had done well, to be fair and worked very hard. Start of part two - Paultime. Again, the compere did not hold back in berating sections of the crowd and again whipped them up into a not particularly nice state before bringing me on. I was tolerated for about ten minutes but it was always hard and I didn't want to further get involved in conversations with the crowd. I wanted to do my material. They, however, did not want me to do my material. Here's the big reveal: Sixty of them were from an insurance company. I don't know which one. I don't care. All I know is that one table of them decided to boo me. I know. It's 2011 and I was getting booed for doing nothing other than trying my best. It was hilarious, really. I tried reasoning with them to no avail and eventually vacated the stage to muted applause. I left shortly after with my tail between my legs.

This would have been easily get-over-able had it not happened again on Friday. This time round the subjects changed but the outcome was the same. The compere wound up the crowd, the first act demonstrated downright animosity towards them, I went on, tried to be friendly and a section of them hated me for it. I changed tack, did different material and really did give it my best shot. Another all-male table of drunks sat stage right in exactly the same spot as the insurance types had been the night before and started shouting things at me before I'd even begun. I had attempted to acknowledge them and got laughs for my responses to them but that wasn't enough for them. I had to stop the show and ask them to be quiet because everyone around them was getting pissed off. They took this very badly and just started talking very loudly to each other. Again, the whole right hand side of the room had stayed with me throughout and if you'd been at that end you could have thought I'd had a good gig. I hadn't. It had been another horror show. Again I left to muted applause.

Roll on Saturday, I thought to myself. Saturday is always the best night at the comedy cafe. The room is transformed from an audience full of drunk office workers and stags to couples and birthday crowds and no matter what's happened over the three days you normally end the weekend happy. I didn't get this chance because I was dropped entirely from the bill. An element of this was obviously the audience reaction of the previous two gigs. An added element was that they had messed up the booking and got three musical acts on the bill for the last night. The irony is that had I opened the show on Saturday the atmosphere would have been far nicer for the second act because there would only have been half as much audience bating at the start. It makes no difference. The decision was made, there were no hard feelings, I look forward to going back there in the New Year when I am booked myself to compere and the best bit of the whole thing was that it meant I effectively got paid to watch fireworks on a Saturday night!

...And what a display! Blueharts Hockey Club in Hitchin host an annual firework display on bonfire night. Other institutions will do their display on a weekend night to ensure a bigger crowd. The Blueharts display is always so brilliant that they couldn't get a bigger crowd. The place is always packed and it seems like half the town shows up for it. I certainly bumped into people I haven't seen in ages, lost the friends I went with within minutes of  getting there and by the time I finally fought my way into the clubhouse afterwards the last two nights had evaporated in a puff of barbecue smoke. I had been getting stuck into real ale (at three quid a pint - well done Blueharts!) and continued on the tradition as the night bore increasing fruit and then something happened to put everything into perspective. I bumped into the sister of my childhood sweetheart and she told me the sad news that her mother had passed away suddenly several months ago. I had had no idea. It stopped me dead in my tracks really. There was me bawling to anyone who'd listen about how my life was so hard and their family had dealt with all that? I had a fantastic drink with her dad (who was outside and who I had not seen for over a decade) and we reminisced about what on reflection were considerably happier times. Then I went down The Victoria (my default drinking hole), got absolutely banjaxed and woke up at 5pm on Sunday afternoon not knowing where the bloody hell I was. That was explained to me in no uncertain terms by a friend of mine who promptly turfed me out. I had an hour to get home, freshen up and get over to mother's for Sunday Dinner. That was heartily devoured (I hadn't eaten for a day) and then I was off back to London to do a gig at The Kings Head. I always saw that show as being a potential antidote to The Comedy Cafe and it proved to be exactly that. A lovely audience reminded me that I was indeed funny and that was repeated on Monday night at a fantastic gig in Northampton. I've now got a couple of days off before my own monthly shows this weekend and I'm spending tonight going to see three bands with female lead singers who all know me. I'll try and blog about that later in the week. Sorry about the lack of photos in this one, but I've spent the last few days with either a car steering wheel, a guitar or (most likely) a drink in my hand and no-one I was with appeared to be in the mood for taking snaps either. This will be rectified tonight. Honest, guv.

Oh I'm going to be involved in this link every week as well - it's a group of bloggers who are spreading their readerships and there might well be something of interest there for you, should you have the time...

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Barnstaple, Bill Bailey, Burgoyne School and banks

Just before we begin, please return to this link at the end as I'm involved in this blogswap thingy that's full of nice interesting people - have a look! Cheers and enjoy this week's rubbish...

This is another exercise in getting from Friday to Monday. It would make sense to start with Friday. It would have made sense to not have done what I did on Friday, namely - drive to Barnstaple. Barnstaple is a very long way from Letchworth, particularly on a Friday. The nine hour round trip was worth it though because the gig was so utterly fantastic. It's in a venue called Boston Tea Party and the organiser, Wendy can't do enough for you. She was a little worried about numbers on the night because Bill Bailey was playing in Ilfracombe. She needn't have worried. It was packed. I told her bearded musical comedy would never amount to anything. The audience were brilliant and included amongst them a stag do from Nottingham who had come down because I was on (Ha ha, Bill who?) and one of them had previously (at a gig in Nottingham) accused me of looking like the white Mr. T.

It would be fair to say I am not normally mistaken for this man
I got home around 3am, hitting the sack (finally) around five. Fortunately all I had to do on Saturday was pick up (Child friendly) Ian Cognito and drive him to a middle school in Bedfordshire where we were performing at a "fundraiser". I get asked to book the show every other year and the gig's always a pleasure BUT A NIGHTMARE TO FIND. How any child gets to finish that school astounds me. I can only imagine it's a little bit easier to locate in daylight. This was my fourth trip there and I was immediately lost on entering Potton (the town it is allegedly in). Unsurprisingly, (opening act) Simon Clayton got so lost I had to walk out of the venue to try and find him on foot (I didn't trust myself in the car). I followed the directions he was trying to give me so I could walk towards his location and then when he did eventually find me he drove up behind me. It was another excellent show (I've been a bit blessed with audiences this weekend) and we (Cognito and I*) were back at my flat and in a taxi to Hitchin before half eleven. I had two parties to attend, both birthdays, both across the road from each other and both (as it turned out) rather fabulous. Nick's was in "The Long Bar" - somewhere I have never previously frequented. It's great. It's above the Market Theatre (down Sun Street) and is relatively salubrious. It was a particularly well dressed party so I was pleased to be particularly well dressed that night, myself. It was already beginning to thin out a little when we arrived so after one drink I made my (temporary) excuses and nipped over the road to Bar Absolut to Debbie's party. The bar was beyond packed, Roch was DJ-ing and Debbie's little gathering had shrunk to a mere three of them. I suggested that we pool our party resources and, wishing for a change of scenery anyway, they agreed to bring  their party to Nick's party so I frogmarched them back over the road and the two parties collided in particularly happy fashion. Red wine started flowing well enough for me to then suggest Que Pasa. Que Pasa used to be The Corn Exchange. It was bad then. Now it's horrible. Packed, overpriced, full of idiots and just the most terrible music I think I have ever heard. I lasted one drink and then got the hell out of their, leaving the girls clearly enjoying themselves**

...And on Sunday I rested...

Because Monday was the day I was gearing up for - a night out at The Bloomsbury Lanes, just off Russell Square, for "Frankenbowl" a Hallowe'en party including live Misfits Karaoke and one of my favourite bands, Zombina & The Skeletones. Not wanting to drink too much, I didn't get the train until 8pm. While waiting on the platform, imagine my surprise to receive a call from my mate Limburn saying it was his 40th birthday on Tuesday and was I up for drinks. "Here we go again" I thought to myself.

I found The Lanes easily enough and headed to the bar where I was accosted by Kevin and Sara.

The quite excellent Kevin and Sara

I've never met Kevin and Sara. Kevin listens to Punky! Radio and was so enamoured with my descriptions on the show of my mate Felix and Farley's Hair Salon that he drove up to Hitchin to get his hair cut. Kevin works at The Natural History Museum where he has, for the last few years, been studying the DNA of various beetles. He's not over-keen on beetles and prefers weevils (He likes their noses). He has over fifteen thousand beetles in his allocated fridge. Zombina herself was located and interviewed (Should be aired on Punky! Radio in a couple of weeks)

When I dress for Hallowe'en I think it's the little accessories that make the outfit. This year's accessories were a skull necklace and the lead singer of a horrorspacedinosaurpoppunkgoodtimeband. Zombina herself has entitled this photograph "Me and the white Mr. T."

Kevin also knows how to buy a round, as does his girlfriend Sara and by the time Zombina took to the stage (An hour after they should have done) I was suitably relaxed. Relaxed enough in fact to (once again) miss every available train home and have to spend yet another night in South London.

Zombina & The Skeletones in action
Limburn's 40th (Tuesday) was a really good laugh and was in The Victoria Pub. I finally got Vic to acquiesce to my demands for Dolly's Barn Party (we've been having trouble getting dates we agree on for 2012) and also had a good catch up with my mate Buff. He and I put the world to rights and had two rival (but valid) ideas for ending the current banking crisis. He advocates a one-off "Patriot tax" for Britain's super-rich which he reckons could wipe out two thirds of the nation's debt in one easy payment. I prefer a rather more extreme idea that (I think) is brilliant in its simplicity - we get the whole world to tell the IMF they're skint and aren't going to repay them. The IMF then declares the whole world bankrupt, all debts are cleared and we all act a bit more responsibly in future. When our friend Laura came over to talk to us we asked her what she thought of our ideas. She said simply "I don't watch the news" and walked off again.

Finally, Mr. Limburn had just returned from a birthday weekend away in Ireland with about twenty mates. While he was there he somehow ended up sponsoring a horse race and on Saturday 29th October 2011 at 5pm at Naas racecourse the "Paul Limburn 40 With Friends (Pro/am) flat race" took place. It was a race for horses that had never won a race before. It was won by Cossack (the 2/1 favourite), ridden by Miss N Carberry. The programme described what would happen after the race brilliantly well. It said simply "Mr. Limburn will present the winning owner with a trophy of no intrinsic value".

*This would be a far scarier film than Withnail & I
**A couple of days later I got a text from Debbie saying that they had absolutely hated Que Pasa as well and only lasted about fifteen minutes longer than I had.