I did my first official "stand-up" gig in a club in London for over a decade tonight and it went really well. It was at the Happy Mondays club in New Cross which is well worth a visit if you are in the New Cross area (which let's face it, you probably aren't). It was well organised, well attended and the other comics I saw were extremely proficient. And it only cost £4 (or three if you are a student). So go and see some stuff there.
I think this was the first time I've ever been on a stand-up stage and felt like I belonged there and afterwards I felt hungry to do more. When a gig like this goes well it gives you an amazing feeling of power and confidence. It's not surprising that so many comedians are dangerous egomaniacs.
Fuelled with a pint of Guinness (and another pint from before the gig, which by this stage would add up to about one and a half pints in total, which regular readers will know is the perfect amount of alcohol to bring about happiness), plus the narcotic powers of the adrenalin rush, I travelled home with my senses heightened and seeing beauty in the world wherever I looked. An Irish man on the tube was on a phone to a friend, talking about a girl he had met tonight, "She's a flying girl. She's really feisty. She's blary as fuck!" he enthused. I was rapt by his passion and his choice of language. I'm not sure what "blary" means (I'm guessing he's not comparing her to Tony Blair), but it was exactly the right choice of word. Like me he was firing on all cylinders and excited to be studying at Goldsmith's college after four wasted years in Acadmeia.
I had also been given a little art catalogue at the gig which had portraits and poems about mothers in it, which in my non-drug adled state I was also finding incredibly moving. There was a part of me that was aware that I had reached this plane of lucidity due to the egotistical act of going well on stage, but that still didn't dampen the spirituality of the feelings too much. OK, so I can only feel glad to be alive when I have been involved in the false world of entertainment, but it's still valid on some level.
When I changed tubes there was a copy of the Daily Mail right by my seat. I thought that things were so good that even this horrible paper couldn't curb my enthusiasm. But as I glanced through it I was struck by something strange that took a while for me to put my finger on. The news stories were familiar but somehow distant. I looked at the date and the paper was from the 29th September. And yet the paper was in good condition. It looked like it had been read once at most. What was this paper from almost three weeks ago doing sitting on a tube train? It clearly had only just been put there, so why had anyone been carrying around this old paper. It felt like maybe it had been placed here by some unknown force to test me in some way, or give me some insight into the meaning of life. It just seemed too bizarre to have been something that could have happened by accident (maybe by someone finding it in some rarely used pocket of their briefcase and deciding to dispose of it). So I looked through to see if there was some cosmic message for me to learn. I'm not sure there was, though it was strange re-reading old news with the benefit of hindsight. The peopel of the 29th September 2004 were living in a time when the release of those Italian hostages was giving fresh hope to Ken Bigley. Which from my futuristic perspective was a sad and misconceived wish. Prince Harry was helping kids in an inner city school in Walsall, unaware that very soon he would be accused of cheating in his Art A level. Maybe not such an extreme reaction to this one.
At Bond Street tube I noticed that the poster for the film "5 Children and It" which features an ugly cartoon of the "It" which is green and has strange tenatacles and stuff. But someone had graffitied it by adding an arrow pointing at the beast and the words "Doug Taylor". I laughed to myself. They'd certainly shown Doug Taylor. Even this was beautiful.
And on my Central Line train home someone had dropped a half finished can of Stella on the floor. As the train jerked forwards it spilt a stream of its yellow liquid onto the carriage floor. Even though it resembled nothing more than a rivelet of piss, even this seemed strangely beautiful. Then as the train braked as it came into the station the stream changed direction and rolled back to the can and beyond. All the time the remaining beer in the can was sloshing at the brim, belching towards freedom, but usually staying inside the tin, as if the can was throwing up in its own mouth and then swallowing again.
That I found this strangely beautiful and fascinating shows the power of the drug of adrenaline mixed with a small amount of Guinness (and if I'm right, last time Guinness gave me such joy I had just won two games of Risk in a row so was similarly pleased with myself).
I'd seen another poster in the tube for Nigella Lawson's book "293 ways to celebrate life". A burping can of Stella, satirising its own urinary nature is surely one of these. And if Nigella hasn't got it in the book, then she must add it for the next edition "294 Ways to Celebrate Life".