Off to Bristol today to do a bit of stand up at a friend’s 50th birthday party. Also on the bill was the wonderful Barry Cryer and his partner in crime Ronnie Golden performing their old fogey rock songs. It was lots of fun as always hanging out with these veterans of British comedy. We had a curry before the show along with Graeme Garden, a quiet and reserved but very witty gentleman. The Goodies were another of my early influences and I loved their cartoonish antics as a child, particularly enjoying that episode where they did a wild west parody using ketchup bottles as guns and the Christmas Jack and the Beanstalk special with the goose laying golden eggs. It’s hard to remember that this unassuming man was the sideburn-sporting, glasses wearing prof of the group, but every now and again I would do so and feel slightly thrilled.
Doing stand up at a party is a bit of a weird situation. There was a big mixture of people and most of them didn’t know who I was, and I suspect many of them would have preferred to be chatting, but they listened politely and I managed to find 20 minutes of mainly clean material. Barry and Ronnie did a lot better than I and even got an encore. Witty, corny and toe-tapping in equal measure, their irresistible hit “Peace and Quiet” in which they yearn for a world without noise, but then gradually build the volume of the music until it’s an almost ear-piercing cacophony is remarkable in that even if you’ve seen it before or have managed to work out where it’s heading, it’s still massively funny. And an ear worm of epic proportions. I was pretty knackered after another 5.30 start (and again, not because my daughter had woken me up, just because this is when I seem to wake up now) and a tough drive down the M4 and I went back to my hotel early, singing the song to myself, looking like a madman.
On the drive over I had stopped at a service station to steal a single pick n mix (and also have a coffee and some chocolate to keep me awake). I was amazed to see someone carrying away one of those cloth scarecrows that they sell in WH Smiths at service stations. There’s usually a big container of them out the front of the shop, but I have always wondered why and who would buy one and what they would do with it (use it to scare crows presumably, but it doesn’t look that hardy and is a bit cartoony but it’s too big and unwieldy to be a toy). But surely no one ever buys them. If you’re looking for a cartoon scarecrow then surely a service station isn’t the first place you look for one. And it’s a weird impulse buy. But a middle-aged couple were carrying one out of the service station and didn’t look embarrassed, or like they had a large field of corn seeds that needed protecting. I was astonished. But then when I went into WH Smiths to steal a single pick and mix, I saw another lady carrying one of the scarecrows. She hadn’t bought it yet,but she was on her way to the counter. After years of no sales there was a rush on the things. Perhaps she had seen the other one being bought and thought “I’ve always wanted one of those, but been too nervous to buy one, but now I am going to.” Perhaps this one purchase was going to snowball until everyone decided that a cloth scarecrow was the new must have item, like the Apple Watch, but a bit cheaper and less shameful to be seen with.