Lattes and Lunches

“Three cigarettes in an ashtray…”

Pasty Klien

Righto. Well given that nobody but nobody is reading this, you’ll have neither card nor noticed that 2 weeks have passed. I know it’s two weeks, as my last entry was about hearing I got a gig in Hammersmith for the 4th Nov. Which was 2 days ago. It’s come and gone. I did it.

We’re back in a chillier afternoon today. Saturday, 12.27pm, outside the Surbiton Grind. I have my laptop and latte combo. A half pack of smokes (I know, I KNOW! Piss off. I am not happy about this either. Beginning to wonder what it’s going to take to get me off the dumb fucking habit and the nicotene addiction). Had some harmless “Viagra” based bants with the nice staff as I ordered. They’re going to put a fried egg, free of charge, in my Bacon and Cheese and Tommy Toe Toastie. Claire is at home doing her course for the rest of the day. And I am, pretty much, fancy free once again.

Have been back in the office a week. Previous week was spent in Glasgow. A long long train journey there and a fuck of long train journey back (10hrs, due to floods and rockfalls). 2 days of training Operations Managers on the official 121 Coaching Process of our organisation. It’s a tiring, quite intense 6 hour session, but I have it under my belt now so I can relax and try and enjoy the back and forth. I have another 3 weeks of delivering the same training session in Kingston approaching. SO that’s pretty much my November.

Oh. As I was typing just then, a chap (ordinary blokey bloke. Puffery jacket, jeans, trainers, balding, holding takeout coffees) stopped at my table to say he “really liked my style. My clothes and everything…” Which was terribly unexpected. I have literally rolled out of bed and slung on leather jacket, hoodie, white tee, jeans and bike boots. Maybe the half assed quiff and the NHS specs added to it. But that, plus the fact my sandwich has just turned up, ain;t too damned shabby. MMmmm, that fried egg gives it some juice.

Another latte ordered.

Winter has arrived. Clocks have gone back so it’s a grey and blustery afternoon here on Ewell Road, Surbiton KT6. Cars and bus glide and thunder past on their way from Kingston or to Tolworth. I see the Prince Of Wales just over the way which might offer me a lunchey-time pint of bitter. But that will lead to a nap and then that’s the day gone. Not sure what the evening holds. I know there’s some French tennis going on. We watched some extraordinary drop shots and passing shots last night as I munched chicken & leek in white wine and sipped tea and fucked about on Instgram.

But what’s the story, morning glory? Well a couple of incidents. Three perhaps, are on the agenda.

First up, my second Pub Quiz gig.

I may have mentioned (although my Find/Replace WORD function suggests otherwise) that I got approached by a young lady a number of months ago at The Grey Horse pub quiz one night as I was packing up. She was young and had a heavy fringe and was all doc martens and scruffy dog so I gave her the time of day. I can’t help that. But she told me she worked in The Foresters.

Actually, I did mention this back on Oct 19th. I spelled Foresters wrong in my word-search.

SO lah-de-dah, the calendar rolled around and finally it was Nov 1st, which was my date to go to The Foresters in Hampton Wick and knock them out a pub-quiz. I trundled to the pub the night before to check all was good with the room and the lights and the landlord and such. He pointed out a “dining area”ina sort-of curtained off bit of the pub. Some well laid tables for 2 (napkins and glasses and cutlery and menus) and some tables of 4.

Looked like it say about 30 people. Explained this would be the “bit.” Showed me how to turn the PA music system down in that area for when I was speaking. Checked his booking system to say they already had 3 teams who had “reserved in advance” which was encouraging. And I pumped hands and smiled and was terribly upbeat and professional.

And then Monday night was upon us. As is trad, it was dark blue tuxedo jacket, blue embroidered tie from Vietnam (a lovely gift from Claire and one that oft gets compliments), jeans and doc boots. Got there and started sorting my papers and pens. Had brought my tiny 10w Philips iPOd speaker to run my phone through for the music round. Hoped it would be loud and clear.

And lo, the Hampton Massive began to mill in. The staff had to start rallying around and we were finding spare chairs and asking people to “budge up” and splitting tables of 4 into table of 2. When 8pm (a late start, but they’re going for the “after-dinner” crowd) rolled up, we had a tight packed house. Tables of 6, of 5, of 4, some couples. About 40+ people crammed in, all humming and buzzing for what I assume they hoped would be a fun night.

And what a night it was. The whole thing went gloriously smoothly. I was tremendously in charge, authoratitive, cheeky and playful as you would of course hope and imagine. There was some great back and forth, heckly laughs and cheers and boos as answers came and went. Music went fine. Speaker nice and clear in the packed room. The bodies helped. Lots of clapping. And I wired up Queen’s “We Are The Champions” to blare from the speakers upon announcement of the winners which makes a great triumphant close.

It would appear that either I really really know what I’m doing, or Hampton Wick is like SummerIsle and they don’t get this sort of “fancy London entertainment2 down their way. But the crowd were hugely appreciative, pumping handshakes and well dones and “that was greats” and “great night!” as they all left.

One chap, which it seems is now becoming deregur (not the spelling) approached me about my – ahem – business model. A youngish, fresh faced chappie-m’lad called Luke. Said he was something of an “entrepreneur.” Asked lots of eager questions. Was I a staff member? Was I booked through an agency? How does this all work? Where do you advertise? And all sorts of guff like that. It seemed clear to me he’d sat through the night watching plate after plate of expensive food being ordered, tray after tray of wine and beer being handed out, punters handing over £3 a time. All just to be entertained by one man and his photocopies. Lots of money in, very little cost. Which I guess is true.  We eager;y swapped numbers and I think (I’d had a beer) he said he’d be in touch to “talk.” Probably nothing. I may sling him a text.

But I had thoughts earlier (I may have bored you with them) of the idea of a roving pub-quiz agency. Book a comedian/quiz-master through a website. Get a team of reliable UK local ex-actors or stand-ups. Set up a site. Landlords can then book in advance. All the questions and whatnot are already written (I have to date, I think, well over 1000 in the bank). And one could get a tidy little business running.

But the overheads? I mean I don’t know what printing costs. To do it “privately” – through a copyshop or whatever – has to be 5p a sheet, minumim. To run a quiz as I do requires £10 worth of copies. So add travel costs to wherever the quiz is. Plus enough for the quizmaster to make it worth 3hrs of their time. And then a cut for the business of, what, 15%? You’d be charging each pub £80-85 pounds. Is that reasonable? How would one EVER find out? I suppose you could offer (or would HAVE to) a discount for multiple block bookings? Oh I don’t know.

Anyhoo, that’s not for here, (as the german stand-up Lucas once said). They have booked me now for 3 more before Xmas. 22nd Nov, 6th Dec and 20th Dec – the inevitable Xmas special. So that’s marvellous.

In the meantime I still plug away at The Grey Horse every Tuesday. Last Tuesday’s was particularly rowdy with some cheeky heckley backchat from a table of bar-staff from the Canbury Arms who I know from….well, from drinking in The Canbury Arms. Plus they really need to do something about the lighting in that room. It’s dark and atmospheric enough for cabaret-style comedy nights and theatre. But when EVERYONE in the room has to get their phone torches out to see the quiz sheets? Hmmn. Some neat battery powered table lamps might be in order. Amazon has them at about 20-30 pounds each. 12 tables? Fuckinell. I can’t see Leigh at The Grey Horse springing for them.

Yay! Claire just responded to my text and has swung down from home to join me for an iced-latte and a chat about Psychosynthesis concepts of Pragmatism and Mysticism. Plus psychological emergencies and disturbances. All good lunchtime lightweight chat…

So. Where were we? 3 mins to 2pm. We were talking pub quizzes. Well that’s all there is about that. Have just check the ole’ Samsung and I can see I have Luke’s number saved under “Luke Foresters.” Will I text him? Time and embarrassment and courage and feeling the fear and doing it anyway will tell.

Think I need a poo now. Back in a bit.

Better. Have ordered another coffee and I;m going to start a fresh one of these. As I did another gig and we need to talk about it. We really, really do…

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