Questionable Behaviour

“Well…we’re back…in the car again…”
“At least we’re out of the tree”


So we’re here once more. It’s 22.5hrs later, almost to the minute.

My life now, it appears, has now become a series of long waits in pub gardens. At least for the summer.

We’re back in The Grey Horse. Next day. It’s much warmer. I’m at a table for two now. The booths are all reserved or packed with groups and families. My rickety table tonight is near the back, by the toilets, next to the rusticky barn/shed area, thick with black-tar paint and planks, where baps and burgers are sliced and diced. There’s an Eastern European chap in the catering standard navy pinstriped cloth apron.

I love a standard. I do. I have odd rules about standards. Certain things always being certain ways. Claire thinks this is ridiculous as she lives much more for the moment and in the moment. If you like it…why not?

Which is nonsense in my head. Because wet weather wear should always be that fisherman yellow shiny canvas; fender Stratocasters must be red, as too must Harrington Jackets; leather must be black; jeans must have turn-ups; lighters must be Zippos; wood furniture should be dark; bathroom suites must be white (as should toilet paper); washing up liquid must be Fairy; E-Type Jags must be green; chinos must be fawn/beige; plan t-shirts must be white black or grey. As must underpants; jewellery must be silver; crockery must be white. And on and on.

So the point I’m labouring here, is I like the chef’s apron. It’s like one from a children’s book.

Blimey it’s much warmer tonight.

It’s not the candle, one of which dances in its oil in a little cropped red jam-jar on my earthy table. It’s September and it would appear that July has arrived late due to traffic congestion.

I’m smoking again. (Will make another Alan Carr attenpt to quit soon). Camel Blue, in that shit green-brown packet. I have a third of a warming pint of Estrella in a branded glass. There are 2 butts in the tray.

I’ve been here 45 mins.

The laptop has taken a jabbing as I’ve spent the time so far typing up my notes, the ones scribbled in an ugly rushed scrawl in a Rymans A4 lined hardback pad (not a moleskine, but try telling her that). The notes I made in the stand-up class we talked about last night.

I’m back here to do it, rather than at home because

  1. I don’t need an excuse to sit in a pub garden with a pint and a laptop. (Will quit drinking soon too)
  2. I’m hosting the Grey Horse weekly pub quiz in about an hour. So here is where I have to be.

The quiz is in the same darkened venue we were in last night. The Ram Jam Club. A room I first went to back in 1990-something (Phil would know) to play in the short-lived Witpop acousticy cardigan-bedecked twee-fest that was my first band. The Understudies, we were punchably called. Talk about a name that suggests second rate. We thought it was apt. It was.

We, were me (guitar and vocals and show off); Neal (guitar and very much deliberately no vocals, like he was Johnny Marr or something); Arnold (bass and vocals) and Phil (drums and vocals). We were kicking around as summer teenage boys do when girls haven’t been invented yet. Silly schoolboy songs and mugs of tea in various sitting rooms and bedrooms in North London.

An ACTUALY musically gifted school pal Jimmy (splendid guitarist and the first person I ever knew who OWNED a red Fender) had his band playing in this far off Surrey pub that summer, and somehow one of us convinced the other that The ‘Studs (as exactly only Neal ever called us) could support.

So we clambered into Phil’s dad’s car and drove the 30 miles south, to set up in a dark, black-bricked back room of a pub called The Grey Horse.

We were shit. Under rehearsed – as our moniker hinted – and played everything too fast and a bit wrong, teetering on the front 6 inches of stage, in front of Jimmy’s band’s pre-sound checked monstrous kit. They had spare guitars on stands. And keyboards. For fuck sake

Anyway we hurried through the silly set to no applause, I said something spiteful into the mic about Phil missing a cue (which drove him red with rage as he was using the gig as something of a sexual lubricant for a nice girl [a girl?!]) And I’d embarrassed him at a song end deliberately to get over the fluffed ending.

I don’t think the evening closed with him getting a fluffed ending, a state of affairs I am certain he still hates me for.

Why am I telling me this? Oh yes. The Grey Horse.

Now home of the Crack Comedy Course of last night. And home now to the Ram Jam Club Weekly Pub Quiz. Which, as I say, I am hosting in about an hour. A gig I’ve had for about6 weeks seperated by 2 COvid-filled years.

I’ve done all the quiz prep: written the questions, created the picture sheets, drawn up the answer pages, printed and stapled and such. I have a 10 track “music round” on a Spotify Playlist that I’m hoping the host/barman in the venue will be able to plug in and play when we get to it.

It’s a radio mic gig, a dozen or so dark tables. They serve beers and wines and whatnot and the aforementioned greasy rustic pub fayre. Lots of BBQ sauce and napkins.

Don’t know if there’ll be much of a crowd. They’ve done little to no advertising. Not even a poster on the wall. A small icon on the website, I checked this afternoon flags up the “RAM JAM RECORDS SUPER QUIZ!” 8pm Every Tuesday.

I’ve wangled a deal with the owner that, if I do 5 weeks of quizzes for free, he’ll cover the fee of the stand-up course. So it’s win win really. No money changes hands, I get 2.5 hrs of learning to be funny on a Monday (more about that later) and 2.5 hours of practising the funny in front of an audience on a Tuesday. Then just 5 days to roll around to wrack myself with self-doubt about the whole thing.

I haven’t really talked about what all this is. I was thinking about it as I walked home last night after the first lesson.

Why now? Mid-life crisis? Boredom? Impending death? Lost dreams? Final hurrah? A new “thing.” It’s a bit of all of it.

Fuck this table is low. Yesterday’s was too high, but this is basically at knee level and I’m having to sort of bend over the low table to type. Fine when one is on a roll, but once in a while – like now – my spine coughs and ahems and asks if I wouldn’t mind budging up a bit to make room.

Arse. Should probably take a break. Don’t want to spend the Quiz doubled over.

Although, what with my clumsy schtick, it’ll be the only doubling over that happens.

Ooooh. Stand up. I must stand up. There’s a pun in there I can’t be bothered to make.

Is there a book title about a greying comic called “remember to stand-up” or “it hurts to Stand-Up”. No, it would appear there isn’t.

7.02pm. Another fag (I’ll quit soon) and I’ll go next door where it’s cooler, I can set up the tables a bit and hopeful find a table not designed by the Lilliputian branch of Heals.

Here we go. Round one. Entertainment.


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