The Proustian rush from the smell of Egham took me back to that first doorstep I sat on and copiously vomited up cheap white wine.
Fleur De Lys was it’s name I think.
I sat in my boxers, forlorn and confused. the boyfriend of a housemate put a blanket around me. Later, I would go to bed, and wake up the next morning surrounded by a moat of sick. At some point in the night, I believe I had urinated on my record player. The confused, barely human, uneducated drunk zombie thing had stumbled to a thing with a lid and made the guess that this must be some form of toilet. It was lucky I only needed a wee or I could have suffered spindle damage. Sadly, I didn’t learn, I continued to get drunk repeatedly for at least 17 years more, the boozing dwindled as the 21st century advanced.
I was in Egham to perform at the TAPRA conference, in a bar populated by theatre academics who could scrutinise me. I was confused as it had been the longest gap between gigs that I can recall, an entire 23 days. My last day of gigging had contained 7 gigs in a row, then, nothing. After a week, I had even stopped scribbling things in my notebook. For almost two weeks, I was a man playing mini golf, not a comedian.
It takes as little as five days of non-performance for me to start to consider that the idea of standing in front of people and and waving about while doing silly voices is a preposterous concern. It takes about a minute back on stage to remember, “ah yes, this is my life and what I do”, before descending into miming something nonsensical.
As I walked through the town of my old college, I did not only remember the drunkenness. I was late to inebriation, toying with it occasionally until I was twenty, then suddenly it became a full time pursuit. I had spent my late teens being politicised by teetotal Australian feminists, but by my second year, they weren’t about so much, and the slip road to confusion and shouting, and nights forgotten, and hats lost, was opened.
I walked by the shop window that some men tried to throw me through after they had spied me in their van and thought, “that is the sort of student that should be hurled at plate glass”.
I reached what had been the off licence I had run to for cheap toxic whiskey after being made to kiss a girl in a play.
There was the road where the “eccentric” students lived. They were the ones you were warned about, the under 25s league of Alastair Crowley. What shenanigans happened in their Victorian pile? Dressing up and all sorts.
There was the building where we protested about HJ Eysenck, deemed a racist by a student campaign group. Though I hadn’t done the reading, I joined in. It was all about the badges and the T shirts then, the reading and background research would come later, and even then, sometimes be forgotten. Taking a position before I knew why, perhaps I should say yes to going on Question Time.
And then, I stood in the quad where I played a rude mechanical. I was Thisbe. It was my comedic Olympus for some time, a training square for silly voices that still come in handy now.
There is no end to this post, it was just some sentences. This isn’t journalism. It may not even be typing.
I am doing some silly voices in a town near you – from Goole to Dublin, Newcastle to Exeter, via Sheffield and Finchley (and many more). Details HERE
There is a horror/comedy evening to celebrate the publication of Dead Funny on 2nd November, with Charlie Higson, Stewart Lee and many more HERE