I had my last gig in Liverpool last night and went back to the hotel for a good sleep. The hotel is also a recording studio and private club so late at night music blasts constantly straight into my room. Normally that would annoy me, yet the music was awesome and after 15 years of having lived above a bar, it kinda soothed me to sleep no worries. ..
This morning as I was packing to catch a train home ( I was so desperate to get home and see husband and Ashley, I have really missed them) I had that sinking feeling of sitting on a train for ever…then Neil Shackelton called me. Neil is a stand up and was in Liverpool for a family party and was driving home to Glasgow! Did I want a run home? YES!
So I shared the journey home with one of the funniest and loveliest men you could meet, he and his best mate Will made sure I got home safely. WE laughed the whole way in the car as Neil and I reminisced about our days when we were comics together, Neil hasn’t done stand up in a few years and is thinking of getting back into it and he should, he is fucking hilarious.
Neil and I once did a gig way up in the North of Scotland maybe nine years ago. The gig was held in a small working man’s club, it was awful from the start, and the people came out for the night to enjoy the singer who was on before us.
The singer was ‘sixty-something’ year old man who had jet black dyed hair the same ebony matt black you normally paint onto tyres to make them look shiny and fresh- his face was covered in fake tan that never actually reached his deep wrinkles and this left brown flashed stripes down his sagging face. He resembled an old tawny zebra!
His bright metallic red shirt was open to the waist revealing a thick silver curly chest and nestling there was a disgustingly large gold necklace in the shape of a lion….I am not joking….it was a LION made of gold.
His tight hip hugging white synthetic trousers were so flared they almost covered the gold plastic shoes that peeped just out of the bottom, like gilded tongues that flashed when he walked. When he came into the back room to say hello, Neil and I could not even begin to make eye contact for fear we would laugh up a kidney.
I watched the man glide around the main room with the confidence of a constantly elected President, his people cheered as he picked up his guitar, the place was electric when he plucked the guitar and his voice resonated throughout the small community room as he burst into the worst hammy version ‘Jailhouse rock’ that I have ever heard in my life.
I swear I thought I was taking part in a spoof movie; surely these were a cruel people that egged on the crazy pensioner who couldn’t sing?
Neil and I just sat there in impending horror, if these people loved him they were going to fucking hate us, which was all I could think.
As we sat at the side of the dance floor watching this trippy scene as the locals got up to dance. The people there were dressed like something from the 1960’s, I know this sounds like a unfavourable lazy stereotype but there is no other way I can explain this.
There were a group of women to our left all wearing the thickest traditional Fair Aisle woollen jumpers in the brightest colours, it was very cold outside I grant you but all that small gathering of women were wearing clothes that were too small, the sweaters were pulled snugly over rolls of fat and barrel chested breasts…they all looked like Buddha’s in sheep’s clothing.
Then to the other extreme, there were a small clutch of younger women to our right wearing the cheapest version of the latest styles, gaudy red nylon tops with plastic glittery straps or yellow polyester shirts on top of the biggest jeans I have ever saw stretched over the fattest asses I have ever seen.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not the thinnest of women, I am over weight but under no circumstances would I wear jeans if I got to that size…now way EVER! That amount of fabric could house nine people at Glastonbury under a marquee.
The strange thing was- the women who were slim looked underweight and sick!
They were either extremely fat or dangerously skinny…were we about to perform at The TITTY TWISTER from the film From Dusk Till Dawn?
The few men that were there were exactly the same! A whole bunch of fat, brightly dressed farmers with ruddy cheeks or thin dying- looking pasty men.
And still the aged rocker sang on…..
Then it was time for us to get on stage, I have to say it was the hardest gig I have ever done, people stared as I told funny stories….tales that became un-funny as each word left my mouth, each punchline faltered and died as it left my lips, like saggy balloons on the brink of deflation falling from my tongue…even my breath felt empty as I tried to suck air in standing on that wooden floored room.
I walked off to the sound of my own feet, clumpy hollow noises followed me….the fat/skinny people looked relieved but not unperturbed that we failed, it was as if they expected such an occasion, before I could even reach the end of the room, the scary shiny old man struck up his rendition of “Beyond The Sea” and the whole place burst back into life. I was merely an interruption in their fun pack pensioner loving cabaret.
Neil and I sat together after being paid for the worst service in the world. Just then one of the fat woolly women came over and asked him to dance….Neil looked horrified but she stood there demanding he danced with her. She smelled of sweat and cheap beer.
I looked at her and said “I am sorry but he wouldn’t be able to hear the song because the sound of your cloven hooves on the wooden floor would drown out the music”
At that we ran out of the place, started the car and drove off out into the coldest night in the remotest part of Scotland. Black roads, no lights, gravel paths and Oasis blasting out of the sound system as owls and other night birds flew past the long strobe of the headlights. We laughed like mad clowns, with a mixture of fear and bewilderment until we reached civilisation or at least a motorway that we recognised.
We finally stopped somewhere outside Fort William, we got out of the car and looked up. The thing I remember so vividly about that night was the sky….honestly it was awesome, with no city light pollution and the clear conditions, there was every star and constellation known to us, just hanging there sparkling above us like a dark carpet sprinkled with glitter, the night air was so fresh and we lay on the car bonnet with our backs warm from the engine and gasped at the stars.
We agreed that we might never become great comics, but we both knew we would never be ancient cabaret singers dressed in shiny satin and that somehow made us feel ok.
Neil and I talked again about that night today and we laughed all over again, both of us spluttering and giggling, feeling shameful for slagging the wee awful singer who in actual fact did entertain those people better than we could ever have hoped.
So I am finally home, sitting in my own house on my own sofa and happy._