Gigs

Domestic Extremist

Last Wednesday Mrs A and I were out and about again. We headed off from the sleepy shire into the sprawling urban metropolis that is Leicester, to see Mark Thomas’ new show Trespass.

After parking the car and before walking down to The Curve to catch the show we stopped off for a curry at Kayal on Granby street. We’ve eaten there a couple of times in the past and the food is always good (for which they won an award in 2008, as the gently ageing sign tells you). One of the many things I like about Kayal is that there is no chicken korma to be seen on the menu. I ordered something from the menu I’d never heard of before, the waiter looked vaguely alarmed and told me what to expect, which I took to mean it might not be quite what customers generally expect and he was heading off complaints before the food arrived. we pressed on anyway.

Mrs A ordered an aubergine dish and a paratha bread. The food arrived (mine was a chicken curry with rice dumplings in some kind of spicy coconut stew) they were both lovely. You should go, trust me. Just as good now as 2008.

After food and a couple of pints of Kingfisher to the good we made our way down to the theatre. Mark Thomas came on stage and headed off as he meant to continue by haranguing the venue for the exorbitant percentage that they wanted to take a commission on his merchandise. He told us that in order to stick it to The Man he was going to head out into the street at the interval and sell to anyone who wanted a “Domestic Extremist” teatowel they could get one then and the commission that would have gone to the venue would go into a hat for a charity helping refugees in Calais. Perfect.

So the show passed in a blur of right-on, expletive-strewn, thought-provoking laughs based around the awful move towards selling off public spaces to big business and its impact on Joe Public. One of my most favourite bits was the photo of him being wrestled to the ground by bank security guards whilst dressed as Sean The Sheep beamed onto an enormous screen behind him. He looked deadpan at the audience and said “it’s hard to tell who’s lost the most dignity here, isn’t it?”. I laughed like a drain.

Come the interval, and after the show too, he was indeed outside flogging teatowels and generally chatting to people like a regular human being. It was great, although a highly developed sense of social conscience and comedy timing clearly doesn’t translate to supply chain skills as he’d run out after about 5 minutes. We never did get one…

I’ve been a fan of his since I first saw The Mark Thomas Comedy Product back in the mid 90s and he’s just as funny today. Mrs A is now worried however, that she’ll get a call at some point asking her to collect her sheep-outfitted husband from some police station.

North & Deep South

So after the adventure of Riga, a jaunt across the town to take The Boy Wonder swimming and a single night in our own bed (oh, the joy of sleeping in a temperature of less than a kazillion degrees!), we were straight back in the car and driving North to Glasgow for a catch up with the in laws.

Time is recalling its dues on them.

Whilst we were there we stayed in a couple of hotels, one new and one old friend. The new one was a real find, called Goglasgow urban hotel. It was ferreted out by Mrs A for its location and turned out to be a refurbishment of an old hotel that was a bit down at heel. The staff were really nice, the décor was brilliant with an overall industrial/shipyard theme (really appropriate to its location) and the place had just the right kind of bonkers going on, with one of the dancing Tunnocks teacakes outfits from the commonwealth games opening ceremony on the wall in reception. If you don’t remember this quintessentially mental piece of history, here it is:

They even had teacakes on the coffee tray in the room (sadly only normal sized).

Best of all, we found out chatting to the guy on reception that the the hotel is owned by a small Scottish company and they donate a healthy percentage of their profits back into micro-local causes and charities. If you’re there I would recommend them entirely. Here’s a link to their site:

http://www.crerarhotels.com/goglasgow-urban-hotel

After a day visiting with the in laws and taking Eldest son and his girlfriend out for dinner we headed back for our last night in Glasgow at One Devonshire Gardens. We absolutely love this place for its memories and for the fact that it is such a beautiful place. If I had the money I’d just move in (and turn down the heating…..)

The following day we drove back down south, ate our tea and then headed straight back out to Stamford (possibly the only sleepier town than ours in a 50 mile radius) to see Rich Hall. It was the funniest hour and a half of standup I’ve seen in a long time and is definitely one of my favourite gigs. He was sharp and funny and had both Mrs A and I in stitches for the whole show (even the songs were funny). If you get chance to see him, go. And take his advice on online gambling.

July 2015

July was a good month.

We arrived back to sunshine and a lack of the 6am alarm. Early doors in the month was sports day for TBW, I arrived in plenty of time and mooched around waiting for the athletes to appear. I’d learnt my lesson from last year’s experience and had been deliberately cagey about the parents race. Imagine my joy when I spotted my name on the whiteboard (clearly TBW had a plan, mine was first on the list). As the afternoon wore on someone had added Usain Bolt (didn’t see him myself but I suppose he moves pretty fast). Later, odds were added. I’d been listed at 5/1 so I took that as a compliment.

There was a tree in the garden that needed removing in order to make room for a shed and as our eldest daughter was home for a couple of weeks she offered to help. Here she is. Helping.

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There was no need to climb the tree, I just wanted to see if she could. There’s an access to the neighbour’s house that runs just behind the fence. Next door’s youngest (who is TBW’s bestest mate in the whole wide world) was wandering past and stopped to say hello. This is how the conversation went:

TBW’s mate – “Hello”
L –  – “Hello”
“Why are you in a tree?”
“Mr A bet me a biscuit that I couldn’t”
“Oh. Ok.”

I’m not really sure what to make of just how easily he accepted the frankly ridiculous explanation of how a 24 year old primary school teacher came to be talking to him from halfway up a tree.

I also got bitten pretty hard by the mountain bug again. My self and my Hiking Buddy eXtraordinaire had been plotting a trip for a very long time and finally the planets aligned and we found ourselves in the shadow of Scafell Pike on a gloriously sunny day. It was as close to a perfect day in the mountains as I’ve had, sunshine and crags and views all coming together on God’s big checklist.

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After we’d got back down in one piece (something I usually insist upon), we headed off to the campsite for my first night under canvas in *ahem* years. I wasn’t sure how that’d go, given the several additional years of wear and tear on me since the last time I’d spent a night with only a thin layer of foam and down between my arse and the grass. I was expecting the worst but wanted to see how things went as a precursor to persuading HBX to go for a full-on wild camp hike in the future.

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We set up the tents while the beers cooled in a small river just behind us, sat down and planned the next day’s route (Haystacks, one of Wainwright’s favourites) before heading off to a nearby pub for another beer and a burger. The burger was rare, just as I like them. Cue ominous music soundtrack.

The next day, after a surprisingly good night’s sleep, I woke early and got breakfast on the go. HBX appeared, we ate and packed. I started to feel rough and then started with the vomiting.I continued with the vomiting on the drive to Haystacks and eventually, in the carpark at the foot of the mountain, dehydrated and shaky, I had to admit defeat. HBX offered to call off the hike and head home but I told him I’d just wait in the car.

He disappeared into the wilds and I threw up again before falling asleep in the car, waking several hours later to find the car surrounded by sheep. I have no photographic evidence of this so it may have been a hallucination. We drove home. I ate a pie.

Mrs A and I also went to see Kevin Bridges at a local(ish) venue. We’d been to see him before in Nottingham, just as he was starting to hit the big time and he was hilarious. We had high hopes.

The gig started really well and there was a bit of good natured and quite funny heckling from the audience, but this seemed to really throw him off his stride. Self doubt crept in and the gig went downhill rapidly. It was a real shame.

Also, I bought an old apothecary jar that I was intending to use as a whisky decanter. Through a combination of stupidity and physics, I managed to convert it to this whilst cleaning it, by means of explosion:

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The flying glass took chunks out of the plaster, dented the spaghetti tin on the other side of the kitchen, sliced a nice neat hole in my T-shirt and put a dent in Mrs A’s beloved Smeg fridge. I was not popular but miraculously uninjured.