Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Same Time

I met a guy from Sydney who was born one day after me. What time were you born? I asked him. 5.45 in the morning, he said. I was stunned. I didn't even need to go and check the time difference on google. I realised what that meant. You weren't born on the day after me, I told him. We were born on the same day! At the same time! Ah, no we weren't mate, it says on my birth certificate, he said before it dawned on his face much like the sun on that blessed day. What time were you born? he asked. I told him: 6.45 in the evening! He paused to think. Was that GMT or BST? he asked. BST! I replied. Fuck me! he said, we're like star twins! Fuck! Amazing! What's your favourite colour? How do you like your tea? Do you have a friend called Nigel? He paused. No hang on a second, he said, it needs to have been GMT. Mate, sorry, we just weren't born at the same time. Close though. I thought about it for a minute. Well, at least the same hour, I said. It'll be hour little secret, he told me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chequered, mate

It was when I was in Scotland that I first noticed the chequered shirt. I think it was Jim Jeffries wearing one on his poster that started me off, but once I started noticing them I saw them everywhere, like conspiracy theories. For some reason I couldn't get my head around it - what were people trying to say about themselves when they put on a chequered shirt? I even took to drunkenly asking people in late night boozers: "what do you think your chequered shirt represents?" Mostly they didn't know. It's just a chequered shirt, after all. You don't think too much about it. In fact the chequered shirt is like anti-clothing. It's clothing that says: I'm not thinking about my clothing. It's the everyman's shirt. The lumberjack, the plumber, the delivery driver. It's the equivalent of being called John. It's the clothing choice for the I'm a completely normal, tax-paying, non-boat rocking type. It's zebra stripes for humans, allowing them to blend in with their environment. It's the "mate" of tailoring, the satorial equivalent of Fosters. It's Borehamwood with buttons. The chequered shirt has false consciousness embroidered into its fabric. The chequered shirt spends its weekends watching Sky Sports. The chequered shirt is Adrian Chiles. Any day now the union flag will be redesigned with a red, white and blue cheque and we'll salute it singing the theme tune to Top Gear. Any day now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mod cons

I phoned up the AA today and the automated system did that thing where they pretend to answer the phone and the call starts costing money, and then it starts ringing again. Then another, presumably more senior, computer answered, put me on hold and told me I was in a "high-priority queue". Brilliant! What more could I want, than to be on high priority hold? What do they tell the people in the low-priority queue? "Your call is not very important to us, you might as well hang up." My guess is that you go in the high-priority queue if they think they might get some money out of you, and the low-priority queue if they think you're trying to get money out of them. What do you mean there's no low-priority queue? You're not telling me that those words are superfluous nonsense, the equivalent of no-value calories, bulking up the meagre dinner of modern life? I refuse to believe it.

I imagine this has started a bit of an arms race in the phone-queueing system world, because now if I phone someone up and they say just "your call is being held in a queue" I'm going to be like "what, not a high-priority queue? Well I'm off then, to somewhere I can wait in more gilded comfort." Soon you'll be held in a "highest-priority queue" and then a "luxury-priority queue" and then your call will be held in a waiting room with a jacuzzi and masseurs, with Aveda bodywash products and free tea and coffee, while you continue to fester in a dreary council two-bed, wondering when you can book some driving lessons.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

so eh how about it

While I was in Scotland someone told me about this ad they used to have up there where a lad practices his chat-up routine before he goes out on a Saturday night. He fancies this one girl, Sarah, and he tries out what he's going to say, tests out various lines, until finally, washed and brushed up, he hits upon his tack, a smooth, sophisticated, gentle, friendly tactic: "Sarah, you know I really like you." Cut to the party, a typically Scottish alcoholistic affair, and our lad, well pissed, spots young Sarah in the kitchen. She looks hopefully at him, touches her hair, and he seizes his moment. He lurches toward her, and over the blaring music delivers his now degraded epistle: "Sarah, I really fancy you so ... eh ... how about it?" Cue repugnanted revulsion by Sarah and Cupid's bow is once again at rest.

The message is, of course, that you don't need to drink 15 bottles of Buckie before you mingle with the opposite sex, in fact you might be better off drinking only 10. Or 11, but no more than you need to keep out the cold. But the Scots didn't much go for that message and instead claimed this advert for themselves, and so "I really fancy you so ... eh ... how about it" became the number one chat-up line round the country, especially used by schoolboys on their teachers. The slogan even has its very own facebook page. I seem to remember that the Heroin Screws You Up campaign of the mid-eighties was said to have given birth to junkie chic. Perhaps government adverts are just always going to go wrong.

anyway, even though I barely remembered the relevant line, the internet still served me up the ad, and here it is

Bonus Scottish health education catchphrases

"It tastes boggin!"
"He jus doesny know when to stop"

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Edinburgh roundup & awards ceremony

Cos 7,500 words on the matter wasn't enough, here is my Edinburgh roundup, filled with awards and prizes and also hot tips for people who might go to Edinburgh some day.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Edinburgh Diary part three

Edinburgh sunrise

On my last Sunday I was invited to an open mic in the garden at the Pear Tree, where I got up to try out my stand-up routine, such as it is. Having been rehearsing it during my many drunken walks home late at night, it was mostly fresh in the memory, and I mostly pulled it off. The crew I was drinking with loved it, as did one Cammy Sinclair in the crowd, who straightaway got me two gigs for that night, both at decent venues. One of the gigs was at a small comedy showcase and the other was with him and the well-known Phil Kay, on their Cammy and Phil’s Late Night Nonsense show. We sat boozing in the afternoon sun and he told me that “your problem will be when you get successful, you’ll have trouble keeping up the devil-may-care attitude.” I told him that was a problem I was prepared to put up with.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

He's a superstar

Friday, September 03, 2010

Edinburgh Diary part two

Read part one here

The next night I was inveigled to come along to see Camille O’Sullivan, and I stumped up £18 for a ticket on the grounds that with so many good reviews she must have something. Famous for her interpretations of songs by Nick Cave, Jacques Brel and Tom Waits, her posters featured a six-star review from Time Out, plus a heap of five star reviews from other worthy publications; inevitably I found the show disappointing, partly because my expectations, such as they were, were way off the mark, but mainly because I just did not get it. I’d hoped for someone to update cabaret, but she spent too much time giggling at herself to maintain any sort of spell over me at least, although the rest of the crowd, for what it’s worth, loved her.

what makes a good headline

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Edinburgh Diary part one

I went to the Edinburgh festival because I was offered a job playing accordion for a singer in her cabaret show. The band consisted of me, Sandy the bassist, who got me the job, and her boyfriend Luke, who played the drums. The singer, Gus, turned out to be the daughter of cabaret-comic Kit Hesketh-Harvey, of Kit and the Widow fame, and we spent a few days at their rather pleasant abode in Norfolk rehearsing. The set consisted of a couple of rock covers (Black Keys and Dead Weather), some French chanson (Francoise Hardy and Piaf), some covers of songs Amy Winehouse had covered, and some of Kit’s songs from a show he’d written about Rasputin, which were not really comic enough for him to do in his own show, and were decidedly odd even in our show. The rehearsals, and even into the run, were frequently livened up by father-daughter bickering over how she should present his material.