Monday, March 31, 2014

Haven't You Got Enough, Elton?

Last Sunday my boyfriend of two and a half years asked me to marry him. I gratefully accepted his proposal and we quite quickly set a date for next Summer and prepared to tell our families.

Our parents were all delighted: my parents think Tom is great and his parents are impressed with my birthing hips. All in all, we are made for each other, literally: he can earn a better wage than I can and I can merrily have his children until I either die or become too old, at which point we can discuss if he's got enough children or might want to pick someone else.

It's been quite an exhausting week to be honest! Who knew getting engaged would so quickly escalate into such a planning debacle?! Thankfully Tom was quite reasonable about what he was expecting as he's been living with me for a year and a half and so he said that as he'd "tried before he bought" so to speak, he could cut us a good deal. My parents don't have immediate access to livestock (my dad's a builder and my mum's a teacher) so scraping the dowry together (even with Tom being so lenient) has been quite a challenge!

Luckily my parents live in the West Country so we at least have access to farmland and there were a couple of farms nearby that had runts they didn't mind selling and a couple of cows that are on their way out. Tom agreed that those and a PlayStation 4 would be enough to ease the difficulty of agreeing to be my husband and we got them in a lorry.

Obviously, finding somewhere to keep them in our one bedroom flat in Brighton has been the trickiest part. So tough these days to keep marriage values true, isn't it? The goat is in the bathroom and we've sort of pushed the sofa out from the wall to make sure the pigs stay away from the cows as the cows are quite distressed by being tethered to the mantle piece and so they're a bit kicky and anxious. I just don't what we'd have done if Tom wasn't such a modern thinker.

We want quite a traditional ceremony so I'll be carrying a bouquet of garlic and dill to keep the plague away, and I'm thinking of asking my Godfather to check that the marriage has been consummated properly after the wedding night - family is so important to me. I'm not sure what to do about a dress: I guess I want to keep it very traditional wedding style so I'll have a veil to keep the devil out of my head until the last minute when I have a husband to protect me. Man, I really hope Tom is good at keeping evil spirits at bay. I must remember to ask him when he gets back from walking the heifer.

Tom got down on one knee to propose to me, which was INCREDIBLE! I really cried; like, really cried! He had a ring he'd picked out and he opened the box and it was just so beautiful. It's the most beautiful ring I've ever seen. I double checked with him that the diamond has no certification of having been sourced properly. I'd hate to think we'd broken with tradition and not participated in the brutality of the diamond industry in some way. I just think it's so important to keep marriage how it's always been. That's the most important thing for me; not changing. It's a shame that it means Africans are dying and stuff like in Blood Diamond, but marriage is marriage, so... what can you do?

I've been planning my wedding since I started dating Tom. I have known he was the one for me since about 3 months after we started dating. He's perfect for me: patient, caring, loving, so funny, genuine, concerned, tall, strong, optimistic, generous and beautifully spirited. I have been looking forward to being his wife since he started dropping clues that he might like that too. I'd love to spend the rest of my life with him, have his children, paint a house together; just be a grown up set of people that make decisions together. For me, the most magical part of last week was the immediate hour after he'd proposed where only we knew and I felt like it was "us". I felt like I was part of an "us" that did things independently of the rest of the world. It was incredible.

Sadly, it's all over now. On Saturday, barely 6 days after Tom had made me the happiest woman in the world, it all fell apart. What was the point in any of it? All the goats, cows, dead Africans, thousands and thousands of pounds in deposits, promises to obey him no matter what I thought in my silly brain... what did any of it really MEAN any more if the gays could do it too?

It all just felt a bit stupid and unimportant once it was not just men and women that could do it. Why do they need to be able to do it too? I mean, it's not like every single heterosexual couple under the sun since Roman times hasn't played Elton John at the reception? It's not right that he should actually be able to have his own wedding too. He's already a symbol of love, romance, marriage and devotion: why does he need to be able to have the same rights as us to marry too? You were going to be at my reception, Elton, isn't that enough?

Having had all my plans for a marriage and a wedding completely undermined and devalued by the intentions of gays this week, I've taken off my ring and Tom and I have agreed just to keep on living together and loving each other for the rest of our lives instead. I know it's unconventional and it's not at all what marriage is about, but now that being his purchased servant has been ruined for me, it just feels like the right thing to do.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


I'm in a special sort of hell right now. I'm locked in a flat in Islington that has tea bags, a kettle, mugs,  and tea spoons... but no milk. I am tantalisingly close to the only thing between me and a tiny breakdown but it is just ever so slightly out of reach.

No one should be reading this thinking, "Jesus, get the press out of Crimea; there's a flat in Islington that needs some attention." Stand down, fans. I'm just a tad grumpy due to the lack of caffeine and freedom. Probably going to pen a song about how I relate to Mandela in a bit.

Why am I locked in a flat in Islington? I stayed over here last night after getting back in from a gig at roughly 3am and not being able to get back to Brighton. I'm lucky that I have amazing friends in London who will always let me in at an obscure hour to stay on a sofa. Unfortunately this morning a small key mishap means I'm stuck in my wonderful friend's flat until she gets home tonight.

This is my comedy reality. Some people might watch Apollo or Roadshow and think: "Cor, I'd like to do that. Comedy looks great."

It is great.

It's also fucking horrible.

In the last 2 days I have travelled 1,022 miles for the pleasure of performing to a grand total of 58 people.

That's a lot of miles and not a lot of people. That's what comedy is actually like sometimes.

That's 17.5 miles per person I've played to. I could have driven all the way to Romania (I've checked) and stopped every 17.5 miles and told my jokes to a person and it would have been the same.

I could have gone to Madrid for the same amount of miles. I could have gone to Frankfurt and back, to Warsaw or to Stockholm. I didn't. I went to Carmarthen and St Helens.

When you put it down on paper like that, it is a sickness. Stand-up comedy addiction is a sickness: I COULD HAVE GONE TO MADRID. But I didn't, and, given the options again, I would do exactly what I did again because even for 18 and 40 people over two nights and 1,022 miles; it was worth it.

So, just in case you're ever looking at those TV shows and thinking, "I might give that a go..." Don't. Just don't. Don't realise how bloody great it is because it's truly awful.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Biscuit Dilemma

Me: I'd like to eat a biscuit.

Me: Go on, then, eat a biscuit.

Me: I shouldn't eat a biscuit - they're very sugary and bad for you.

Me: Yeah, but you want one and it's only one biscuit so it's no big deal.

Me: Oh, but it won't be one biscuit, will it?

Me: Why not?

Me: Because it's biscuits. It'll be all the biscuits I can find.

Me: Yeah, I suppose so. How many biscuits do you have?

Me: Well that's the problem, I'll have to go to Co-Op and get some biscuits.

Me: So, it's a case of eating all the biscuits you can find in Co-Op?

Me: I imagine it won't be one packet.

Me: I see. Well, it's not like you've eaten anything since breakfast so that's not too bad is it?

Me: No. But I have only been awake for 2 hours and I had a bacon sandwich for breakfast.

Me: Yeah, but you can eat what you want in the mornings, can't you?

Me: Yeah, and in your 20s. I don't want to hit 30 and suddenly wish I'd eaten more biscuits today.

Me: Yeah, all those memes always say you never regret the things you did do, just the ones you didn't - don't they?

Me: Yeah! Who's ever regretted a biscuit?

Me: Diabetics?

Me: Let's go and get some biscuits.

Me: Yeah, and maybe a cake.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Comedy Firsts: Scaring Myself

I've just come off stage from my first ever solo hour of comedy. I don't know how I feel: somewhere between humiliated and elated, I think. Parts of my body are dying to get back on the stage and do it again and a lot of me wants to cry. What a strange feeling.

When I woke up this morning I had no idea I'd do this today: I was booked here at Portsmouth FC to do 30 minutes as part of Joe Wells' World Record attempt at the longest ever comedy gig. This gig has been going since Saturday; longer than most of my relationships. At about midday today I got asked if I could stretch my 30 minutes to an hour as they needed more people to do time and I thought... if I just text back and agree to this now then I have to do it and then I have to do it. So I did and I had to do it. Now I have done it.

It went OK... considering it was to 12 people at 5:30pm and those 12 people had been watching comedy all day it went OK. It lacked structure, confidence and a few jokes in places but it was an hour of stand up comedy. How funny to just realise a bit of a dream on a Tuesday afternoon.

I'd guess most of the people who will read this won't ever bother doing an hour of comedy but if you're interested this is how it went for me... It went by extremely quickly but at the same time every time I looked from the clock to my list of remaining material it seemed like I had no way in hell of making it to the end of the hour. It made me feel vulnerable: out of my comfort zone of my secure 30 minute set. I kept apologising to them because it wasn't perfect but at the same time hoping they'd know from my eyes (?!) that actually I was quite confident in myself and material.

As soon as I came off I wanted to do it again and I had ideas for how to; what to rewrite, what a better themed thread through it could be. I am so relieved I can do it. That might seem weird; but holding people's attention for an hour is so different to a normal comedy set that there was a certain amount of nervousness in my mind that I just wouldn't know how to do an hour and it would be AWFUL. It was a solid 5/10.

I've got a few shows booked at the Camden Fringe this year to perform my hour (with 5 months of polishing and writing) and August now can't come quick enough.

It's been quite a week of firsts for me: at the weekend I MCd a "weekend club" for the first time. That was another big thing that was looming on my mind horizon as a hurdle I needed to jump that I was intimidated by. Again, with that, I got a call the day before to see if I could do it and I thought I ought to agree very quickly before I could talk myself out of it.

I went up to Camden and I was nervous. Now, I don't get nervous normally for gigs any more but in that moment before the offstage announcer called my name and I had to walk up on to the stage, I KNEW I couldn't do it. I just knew the audience would hate me; they'd think I was flimsy and shrill, my throat wouldn't work, my face would flush and my legs and hands would shake. But I had to walk up on the stage and so I did, and it went well... it was hard but I did it and the audience liked me. I'm not going to pretend I broke any moulds but I made a man in the front row stop doing his finances during the gig (genuinely), and I dealt with a table of men who wouldn't even face the stage at the start of the gig (I didn't say anything clever, I just threatened to kill one of them in his sleep - but I won).

The promoter from Camden rang me today and booked me for another gig in a few weeks. A woman from the audience today has just asked if I'll come back and play the Theatre Royal if she gets in touch.


Comedy is difficult and alien and it's so consistent in its judgement; whether it's the audience at the time, the audience talking within earshot afterwards, the promoter and either their feedback or abyss of silence which says it all. Sometimes you have to just jump and hope and think about it later and deal with the fallout once you've signed yourself up. What's the worst that can happen?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Jesus' First Pint (As We Know It)

Jesus was holding a pint and looking extremely pleased with himself. He'd decided it would be a good idea to get Hamish on his own. Man to man... or, as close to that as he could achieve: deity to man. Singular. Deity to mankind would be a whole different ballgame and he really didn't want them all to have a pint in their hands if he ever attempted that. He wasn't even entirely sure he'd get away with referring to them as mankind anymore - it felt outdated given the direction the human race had gone. Personsapathetic might be more appropriate.
Hamish was also holding a pint and grinning broadly at how happy Jesus looked. It was like having a nephew or a God-child, excuse the pun, who had just turned 18 and you had the honour of taking him for his first pint. Jesus had sampled each of the ales Derek still had running before selecting the Doombar and leading Hamish over to a small table with two stools. Jesus was insisting on using a coaster and looked utterly delighted with proceedings.
Jesus had decided that he needed to hear from Hamish his own version of the issues in the Gilmore/Stewart household. He slightly suspected that Sarah was hiding something and before he got them all in a room together he wanted a bit of time with Hamish - he liked Hamish, and it was always interesting to talk to atheists. For him, it is a bit like you sitting down to a dinner party with someone who doesn't believe in people who read books.
"So..." Said Jesus, with a grin bounding back across his cheeks.
"So!" Said Hamish, mirroring the smile and wondering how much this looked like The Ring of Bells' first gay date.
"So, you proposed to Sarah?"
"I did." Said Hamish, and looked down at the table. Jesus was blunt.
"Very honourable."
"Really? I would have thought I should have done it years ago for it to be honourable in your opinion." Hamish tried to keep his tone chatty, he didn't want to seem accusatory - it was interesting to have the source here rather than a disciple. Once in an afterlife time experience.
"Times change. If you don't think religion moves with the years then you're a little stubborn. That's my opnion. I often wish the Bible had been a magazine rather than a book - it'd be a blog by now I suppose. The letters section would certainly have made more sense if it had been a magazine. The psalms could have been detachable... Hmm. I'm getting off topic, what I mean is it would have helped so much with keeping things up to date."
"So it's not set in stone?"
"Well, except the Commandments. Really, how hard is it for you lot to follow? The bits that are set in stone we literally set in stone. We just thought that was foolproof."
"I guess now I think about it. Yeah."
"So, back to the point. You proposed to Sarah?"
"I did."
"And she said...?"
"She hadn't said anything. You know, when the world stopped. She hadn't said anything yet."
"How long had it been?"
"Since I asked?"
"I don't know... a few seconds?" Hamish felt squirmy, unsure where all this was going. He knew that his and Sarah's relationship had brought Jesus was here but he felt distinctly uncomfortable now he was actually having to discuss it.
"Were you expecting her to wait a few seconds before replying?" Jesus asked. Hamish faltered.
"Um, no. No, I wasn't really." He paused but Jesus remained silent so Hamish sallied forth into the conversation. "It's not like I was expecting her to leap into my arms and be overcome with excitement, Sarah's lower key than that. But, I did think she'd say yes instantly. I know she was going to say yes - I know she was. But, I suppose the pause was unexpected. But then the Apocalypse happened and that really messed with things. Maybe she wasn't going to say yes at all."
"She was." said Jesus, simply and swiftly. "You can tell. No, it's the pause I'm interested in."
"Right." Hamish sipped the foam on the top of his beer.
"Why do you think she paused?"
"Waiting for a better offer?" Joked Hamish. Jesus frowned. "I think it would have to do with her father. Has she told you about Frank? Her Dad?"
Jesus shook his head. Even this miniscule, so whiter than white it was bordering on transparent lie made his stomach churn.
"Frank, Sarah's father, doesn't seem to really approve of me. He, well, I think he doesn't like that I am black."
"You're what?"
"I'm black - you know, coloured skin?"
"I thought you were Scottish." Jesus looked puzzled.
"I am. I was born and raised in Scotland, it's my mother - she's from Jamaica. How she swapped Jamaica for Edinburgh I don't know but she did and she met my Dad, who is Scottish, and white, and they had a family." Hamish felt like he was narrating a very poorly thought through children's book about the birds and the bees.
"Right." said Jesus, thoughtfully. "And that makes you black?"
"What? Well, yes, I mean - look at the colour of my skin... it's darker than everyone else here? Except you, obviously. Yes?" Hamish confusedly held out his forearm to show it to Jesus.
"Right. OK. That is good information. Put your arm away, no use showing it to me - I don't see colour. Don't look at me like that, I mean that literally. It turned out to be a side effect of squashing a God into a human body - you lose some strange things. I can't sneeze either but that is less helpful to a peace loving spectre than the inability to see race." Jesus giggled to himself conspiratorially and leant in towards Hamish, "Sometimes I daydream about being like one of those Apple geniuses, and downloading an upgrade into you lot where you can't see colour either! Wouldn't that be smart! Steve Jobs is my idol."
Hamish felt his spine chill - you got half a pint into Jesus and the all powerful thing really showed new dimensions. Hardly surprising, given he'd stopped the world over a moment's hesitation. What would have happened if she'd said no? Or, had he stopped it because she was going to and he didn't want to deal with that. Hamish swallowed.
"Yeah, that'd be useful!" he was far from convincing.
"So, you think Sarah paused because her father doesn't like you?"
"I don't know that he doesn't like me... I just think he has a slight issue with me, not that he's ever been rude or awful, but he's clearly not sold on me and, and Sarah picks up on that. She knows something is wrong. He just doesn't think of me as one of them." Getting these words and thoughts out was like trying to hold 50 pomegranate seeds in your mouth and recite Richard III backwards with a different regional accent for each character. Hamish picked his way awkwardly through the staccato sentences, his eyes fixed on Jesus; trying to mitigate the impact of his words.
"And you think it must be because you're black?" Jesus continued his questioning.
"What else could it be?"
"That you're Scottish?"
"Easy! Well, I suppose it might be..." Hamish laughed, "No, they have Scottish family. No, it's not that. He just... well, he says odd things sometimes. He once asked me what 'my sort of people' do for weddings, when Sarah and I had been together a few years. He says things about my upbringing and I overheard him ask Sarah once if the school I'd gone to had 'covered even the basics'. I mean... that's rude, isn't it? Maybe it's just ignorance... I suppose it usually is with this sort of thing. But, I think it's influenced Sarah. I suppose she just had to weigh up what marrying me would do to her relationship with her Dad."
Jesus was thoughtful. It certainly sounded as though Frank Gilmore might have something to do with the problem.
"Surely," Jesus countered, "By marrying you, Sarah is leaving her family behind? Shouldn't she have been making up her own mind?"
"Well, yes..." responded Hamish slowly, "But she's still going to see them every year and she's very close to her parents. Listen, I don't think she was going to say no. Do you? Are you supposed to make sure we get married? If she wasn't going to say yes then why would she be staying here now?"
"I'm here because there shouldn't have been a hesitation. This should have been the simplest situation in the world. I happened to have been paying attention, something felt wrong, I looked a little closer and I saw a problem that seemed ludicrous. If you two had a hesitation, then someone else would have had a screaming row and if something as perfect as your love wasn't flawless then the worst problems have no chance. If I can't make this village work, then everywhere else is doomed."
A crack of lightning and roll of thunder wouldn't have seemed out of place to Hamish in the pause that followed. If Hugh Grant had been playing his role then he'd have had an awkward quip on the tip of his tongue ready to go, but unfortunately the weather wasn't on the payroll and neither was Hugh.
"Right." Said Hamish, wondering if 'What Would Hugh Do?' bracelets could catch on amongst men left floundering by the recent migration to metrosexuality. "Where do we go from here then?"
"I've invited Frank and Katherine down to Norton Fitzwarren." Jesus polished off the rest of his beer and swung his legs round the stool to go and fetch another.
"How does that work? With the pausing?" Asked Hamish, "There's no electricity or anything... is the whole country stuck like we are? Does everyone know the world's paused?"
"Yes." Said Jesus, pointing to the Doombar pump and winking at a delighted Derek. Some landlords decorated their pubs with the C-Listers who'd deigned to sip a Chardonnay, the Ring of Bells would have a real star on the wall. "I've paused everyone, I thought it would be simpler, but, everyone else is a little more relaxed about it. I've let a peace settle on most places."
"A peace?"
"Yes. There's a rather lovely little trick that I have at my disposal where I can lay a peace across a place. It has a beautiful effect on humans - it makes you so serene and clear about things. I use it quite a lot over Christmasses for groups of people, I try to get it to the 3rd or 4th hour after a new baby has been born, it once worked absolutely heart breakingly during what you refer to as the 2nd World War, it's one of my favourite parts of the job. As it is, I'm using it over the rest of the world to keep things in a state of happiness until I decide what we're doing here."
"Right. And, Frank and Katherine... what do they know?"
"They just have a desire to get to their little girl. It's quite natural. I left them out of the peace to see what they would do and I am just delighted that this was their inclination. It means we're off to a great start."
"But they don't know that it's anything to do with Sarah and me?"
"No. Not as yet. Human parents can struggle a little with their children being involved in saving the human race. Mary was alright but Joseph really struggled sometimes, personally I always felt he had a rough old ride of it. Solid chap."
"Wow, so, when they get here... what then? Are you planning for us to have it out with them face to face?"
"Not quite," replied Jesus, "I've planned a series of elaborate physical and mental tasks for you all to participate in. You'll be working in teams, in the specially built arena I've had created called the Diamond Labyrinth. And the shell suits should be arriving tomorrow."
Hamish blinked three times in rapid succession. Jesus looked disappointed.
"You're not very good at getting jokes, are you?" sulked the deity. "Yes, you'll be having a chat. But if that doesn't achieve the results I'm looking for then I really can source shell suits."
Hamish laughed.

"I'm not joking."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pancake Love

When I grow up I want to be in love with you,
Today I made you pancakes, tomorrow I want to make you laugh.

When I grow up I want to hold your hand,
Today I couldn't think of anything nice to say to you, tomorrow I want to choose a dog with you and love it until it dies.

When I grow up I want you to eat the food I've cooked,
Today we watched a film I thought was boring, tomorrow I want to watch our daughter go to school.

When I grow up I want you to be in the lounge when I get home from work,
Today I made you a cup of tea in bed, tomorrow I want to choose a house to buy.

When I grow up I want you to take me on holiday,
Today we went to Sainsbury's for 2 for 1 pasta, tomorrow I want to do that again.

When I grow up I want it to be you at the end of the aisle,
Today you complained you have very few pants left, tomorrow I want to kiss you again.

When I grow up I want to make you pan cakes again every year.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Imaginarium of Lady Parnassus

The lack of female comedians on panel shows is neither offensive solely to women, to female comedians, or to comedians. I'd like to put forward the argument that it's quite offensive to everyone and to the concept of an enlightened British public. Here goes.

Last week I tuned into 8 Out of 10 Cats and found that of the 7 guests only 1 was a woman. The woman was Deborah Meaden.

I then flicked across to A League of Their Own and the only woman on the panel was Claudia Winkleman.

The only female representatives on either show represented nothing related to the shows they were on. Ie, Deborah Meaden isn't a comedian like her fellow panellists and Claudia Winkleman is neither a comedian nor a sports person like her fellow panellists. They are on the show to help balance the female:male ratio (which is great) without freaking you out by showing you a female face you are not familiar with (not great).

Dara O'Briain is a bit wrong when he says far more men want to do comedy than women, if he had been to an open mic gig recently I think he'd see the gender split early on is fairly even. They are not reaching the top because somebody somewhere decided that famous faces are better than qualified ones. No offence to Deborah Meaden or Claudia Winkleman, I'm a big fan of both, but they are not comedians. They have not learned or trained in the art of joke writing, telling and performing.

Why is this offensive to you? If I transcribe it across to another profession you'll see how stupid it comes across.

"Hello! We're really pleased you decided to have your open heart surgery at our hospital today. How are you feeling? Great. That's excellent. Now, just to reassure you, we have a crack team of surgeons available today - we've got 7 male surgeons and 1 female surgeon. Now, looking at your chart I can see you've got the female surgeon - ooh, please don't look worried. Are you worried because she's female? Don't worry, a lot of people feel like that. We have to have a female surgeon to keep in with guidelines, however, we know it can cause distress to our patients so what we've done is schedule your heart surgery to be performed by Caroline Flack today. No, she's not technically got any experience in open heart surgery but she is easily recognisable and quite fashionable at the moment. She's never had any surgical training or held a scalpel but you do know who she is, so that's a bonus. She's got experience with a knife and fork and cutting up things other people have already cut up and she's very popular so we really felt that was preferable for you to a woman you've never heard of. We'd hate for you to be faced with someone without shiny hair. Feeling better? Good. We'll see you after your surgery."

"Hi, how was your surgery? Ah, you feel like your surgery wasn't as good as the other 7 people who had open heart surgery today? You've got scars because Caroline Flack didn't know how to do stitches properly? She didn't really seem to be getting involved very much and you feel like she may have felt out of her depth while the male surgeons were in their element? Ah, you've come to the conclusion that male surgeons are better than female surgeons? Would you consider trying again with a woman, but this time one who's surgically trained? No, too disappointed on this occasion. And, you're saying this would actually put you off visiting a female GP in the future? Well, we're sorry about that. But, were you at least comforted that it was a familiar face disappointing you?"

Do you see now? That is the level of intelligence that the makers of these shows expect you to have. To be delighted you know who the woman is, rather than interested in finding out about a previously unknown funny woman.