Last of the Winter Whine

APRIL 2013

Last of the Winter Whine

Hello! Hasn’t it been a long, dark miserable Winter and a pretty dismal Spring so far? That was a rhetorical question, so don’t rush to your keyboards/ ipads / tablets to respond. There’s no point. I’m not in. This blog was written days ago and I’m now ensconced in the Ritz hotel, London, in a sumptuous room which for some reason the management has let me have for a ridiculous knock-down price of fifty quid a night. I don’t know who the last person was to occupy the room, but I have an idea it must have been a very well-thought-of park warden, because I keep getting deliveries of flowers every five minutes. All very charming, but also annoying when you’re trying to cut your toenails in the bath. While I was in the bath I read in the medical section of my newspaper that new research (who pays any attention to old research?) revealed that eating one packet of crisps a day is like drinking five litres of cooking oil a year. This shocked me so much, I made a life-changing decision. Never again will I read the medical section of any newspaper.

Some poor sod of a scientist must have volunteered to swallow five litres of cooking oil to prove the theory correct, while his lucky co-worker only had to munch his way through a packet of cheese and onion crisps every lunchtime for 12 months. For that you don’t need a University degree. You need 42”- waist trousers and to start going on long healthy walks. Not that I find long walks healthy. After traipsing through the woods, muddying my new Hush Puppies (£5.99, Macarthur Glen Outlet) and catching my mustard-yellow & cerise, suedette-style zip-up Primark cardigan ( a Christmas present from a friend with a slight visual impairment and absolutely no fashion sense ) on brambles, I’m creased. As is my mustard-yellow & cerise, suedette-style zip-up Primark cardigan. Mind you, years ago I was an enthusiastic weekend walker. In fact I considered joining the Ramblers Society. So I ‘phoned them and they went on …and on…and on! That was around the time when I played in a local rugby team and as we were travelling along the M4 to play a match somewhere near Bridgend, the coach suddenly broke down. Without warning, the poor man just started sobbing uncontrollably, because we were such a crap team.

Talking of unexpected things happening while you’re travelling, there was a time, many moons ago, long before reality TV became a terrible reality, when it was common for comedians to start their act by saying “ Ladies and gentlemen, a funny thing happened on the way to the theatre tonight!”. Sometimes, if the audience were in a mischievous mood, a wag in the cheap seats might immediately shout back at him “Well there’s nothing very funny happening in here!” The performer would then go into his first joke which would be something along the lines of…‘As I was driving here, I ran over a chicken. A great big cockerel he was. Well, I could see a light on in a farmhouse just off the road, so I went up and knocked on the front door. This big, burly farmer opened it and said “What do you want?” and I said “I’m terribly sorry, but I’ve just run over your cockerel and to make amends I’d like to replace it”. The farmer looked me up and down and said “Suit yourself. The hens are round the back!”

Obviously that hadn’t really happened to the comedian on the way to the theatre. The odds on him running over an escaped farm animal six nights a week and just before his Wednesday and Saturday matinees would mean he was having a fantastically stupefying amount of chicken-related bad luck. No, it was merely a device to get into his first joke.

I was thinking about this the other night as I was driving to a gig, and realised that not once in all my years as a working comedian had anything remotely funny happened on the way to a club, theatre, hotel or conference centre where I’ve been due to perform. And I just know that, if I walked on stage and pretended that something funny had happened on the way, they’d all know I was lying. Imagine that. A comedian, making things up, purely to amuse the audience! The idea’s just laughable.

But on several occasions, annoying, irritating and downright uncomfortable things have happened to me on the way to a gig….and when I’ve arrived there…and during the performance. Some of which I will share with you next time around.

In the meantime, enjoy the Spring weather when it arrives (I think it’s due late August) and do some healthy walking. In which case, you might be interested in a nice mustard-yellow & cerise, suedette-style zip-up Primark cardigan going at a reasonable price…