Monday, 3 November 2008

Tuesday October 28th

The only real thing of note to happen to me on Tuesday, was to go for lunch with three of my comedy chums. I appreciate that to many people, going for lunch is hardly note-worthy, but as I have alluded to in previous blog entries, my days are typically Bristolian in their thrill provision.

To say that I have little in common, aside from a sense of humour, with many of my friends on the comedy 'circuit', would not be unfair. With few exceptions, the people that I have met in comedy circles tend to belong to the, 'make the bully laugh or be assaulted' population of the Venn Diagram, which I have just imagined in my head. (Best place for that sort of thing.) I, on the other hand, was in the other, much-maligned, population. I was the person in the playground doing the threatening, waving the carrot of a non-beating, should my prospective victim make me laugh. They rarely did, and violence often followed. But in hindsight I see that, far from being cruel, playground bullies, such as myself, acted as a Darwinian force of nature. By separating the comedic wheat from the badly bruised chaff, insecure big boys, such as myself, did much to drive up standards in British comedy. The anti-bullying, nanny state, culture that has been allowed to flourish in this country in recent years, is at least partly to blame for the decline in comic standards. Show me an unfunny comedian, and I will show you a chancer who wasn't sufficiently bullied during his formative years.

But I digress. I merely wanted to challenge the accepted logic that bullying is always a bad thing.

The restaurant chosen for our lunch, patently not by me, was the Vegetarian Restaurant in the Grangetown area of Cardiff. My fellow diners were laughter-inducing Camarthenshire yarn-smith, Elis James, new-age, poker-faced funnyman from Cornwall, Henry Widdicombe and the highly amusing, Shipman-esque, Ben Partridge. Immediately I felt out of place. Not because I was a committed carnivore in a Vegetarian restaurant; not even because I weighed as much as my three friends combined; but because I was the only member of the group not sporting a beard. I think the problem is that I came to comedy later in life. I can try to be grunge, but it never looks convincing. For example, I'll favour that I am the only performer on the 'circuit' that was a member of the Young Conservatives in the 1980s. This may have been a poor choice politically, especially after my coal-mining grandfather found out, but the Labour party were always so scruffy. There really is no excuse for someone to go out in public looking like Michael Foot.

The four of us sat, laughed, chatted, and tried to out-anecdote each other. I probably looked like a lecturer trying to be cool by going for lunch with three of his students, but fortunately there were no other diners in the restaurant to witness this. Bearing that in mind, I could find no discernible reason why it should take a full hour to bring us our dishes. An hour! Poor Henry, who is the only person in full time employment (although he 'works' from home a great deal) was concerned, but too polite to mention anything. He also let me know that one of my trademark altercations would not be appreciated, as this was one of the few restaurants in the city that catered for people with his food disability. I agreed not to make a scene.

When the food finally arrived it was okay. There are about a hundred items on the menu, but one spiced, Indian, vegetarian item in batter, tastes very much like the next one. Henry and I have discussed the vegetarian question before. Henry, like many of his ilk, points to things such as the human appendix as evidence that we are not natural meat-eaters. I point out things such as canine and incisor teeth, as evidence that we are. These, however, are apparently signs that we are omnivores. We have pointy, sharp teeth to eat fruit, vegetables, berries, shellfish and, if necessary, meat. Hmm. Even if this were true, and it is a big 'if', meat undeniably tastes very nice. I had a heated debate with a vegetarian girl once, who stated that my love of lamb was despicable. Lambs are slaughtered when they are still babies, she was at pains to point out. I replied that, whereas I had some sympathy, they tasted amazing,

'But they're babies!' she reiterated, increasingly animated.

'And if Snickers gave birth to baby Snickers, I'd eat those too.' I assured her.

I was so pleased with my retort, that it almost made up for missing out on the sex that had been in the offing, before the issue of dietary preferences had been raised.

On finishing our meals we waited for the bill. The proprietor casually announced that 10% would be added to the total. My three chums nodded. I asked if that was the service charge, he replied that it was. I wanted to point out that it had taken sixty two minutes for the staff, who outnumbered the diners five-to-four, to serve us our meals. But, not wanting to upset Henry, I smiled and tried to look grateful for the opportunity he had given me. Namely, to sit and wait for an hour in his restaurant for my luke-warm jalapeno pepper in batter.

After lunch I said my goodbyes to Elis, Henry and Ben and headed home. Near the Canton branch of Boots the Chemist I spotted Beelzebub, in customary blue and beige apparel.

The rest of the day passed without incident.

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