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Monday 12th June 2006

Happy Birthday Angus Ashman.
I turned up for the Fortnight Club having done very little preparation, pretty much assuming that with the World Cup and the sunshine no-one would want to sit inside watching half formed comedy. But bizarrely over 20 people confounded my expectations and I was forced to go up and give it a go. It actually went pretty well and I was pleased with myself, until I watched the crowd responding to the other comics and realised they were guffawing at feedlines and other strange points, like they were the insane inhabitants of Bedlam. It became clear that a combination of alcohol and sunstroke had turned them into the greatest audience in the world (for any other occasion, actually the worst audience in the world for anyone wanting to try out new stuff and find out if it was funny).
There was clearly madness in the air tonight. We went for a post-gig drink at a pub up the road and stood outside. Within minutes of us arriving there was a scuffle behind us. Some inebriated football fans had had some kind of disagreement and were being kept apart by some equally crapulous (but less violent) football fans. It wasn't too scary and was what I believe some might call "handbags at dawn" even though it was just after dusk and there were no handbags, just some pushing.
It was slightly surprising to realise that the man at the centre of the trouble was disabled. Sarah Kendall had just done a great routine about how realising a young girl had only one arm had changed her perspective on her(from slut to feminist icon) - and what a hypocrite this made Sarah and now the same thing was happening to me. The guy it turned out was an Italian thalidomide (which itself, incorrectly seemed a surreal juxtaposition) and for a second it seemed strange that he would be getting into a fight, or indeed that anyone would try to fight him. But of course there is no reason why that just because someone is disabled that they don't get drunk or angry or that they piss off other people. In an equal society hopefully people will be taking punches at disabled people every day and the disabled will attempt to attack them back with whatever limbs are at their disposal. I have a dream.
It reminded me of a time years ago when me and Stew saw a blind man on a train platform shouting and swearing in frustration at having just missed a train. Again it seemed strange, but this strangeness said more about us and our preconceptions than the man. We in our foolishness were expecting the man to be more saintly and patient than we sighted people, bearing his disability with dignity. But of course just like anyone he could be. And if you think about it, he had more right to be frustrated than most people.
Similarly just because someone's arms are a bit shorter than average that doesn't mean he doesn't sometimes want to hit people. On this occasion his friend managed to take the drunken Italian out into the Islington night and no serious violence occurred. I thought about showing my solidarity by going up to him and punching him in the face, saying "See mate. I understand", but thought that might send out the wrong message.

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