Friday’s are exciting, aren’t they? The beginning of a weekend of possibilities. The start of a couple of days of freedom to do whatever you want. To break loose, go wild, be whoever you really are deep in your heart. Mind you, it’s mainly full of sick. Friday night is basically 6 hours of sick no matter where you are or how you spend it. A charming evening at The Ivy drinking champagne with Stephen Fry sounds lovely but never forget that you have to get the train home later. A train full of noise, idiots, fighting and sick. Just so much sick. In bins, on seats, in your hair. You stand on it, you walk through it, you fall in it, you breathe it in. And that’s just the beginning of the weekend. You have another 48 hours of this and look at you already. Surrounded by sick. But that was your Friday night. How was mine?
It started brilliantly. I’ve worked apathetically to get where I am today and I totally appreciate it when that total lack of focus and drive pays off. I was booked to play the excellent Tattershall Castle on Friday but, due to a double-booking error, was told that I didn’t need to turn up and would still get paid. This is every idle bastard’s dream come true. It doesn’t matter what I do on Friday night now because I’ll be getting paid for it. Staying in on my own watching Weekend at Bernie’s II on video? AND GETTING PAID FOR IT? It’s almost too much to dream of. Surely life could never be that kind? Well, you’re right. It couldn’t. I was asked to perform at a charity do. FUCKING HELL! I mean, I had big plans already made concerning me, a cheeky bottle of Blue Nun and a certain little corpse called Bernie but, once again, life drills a hole in the back of my skull and fornicates with my head. I mean, who in their right fucking mind would ever say yes to a charity gig? THEY DON’T PAY. But the person who asked me knew I was free that night and getting paid for doing nothing. What an evil bastard he really is. Organising a charity benefit to raise money for someone who needs medical care and then asking me ON MY PAID NIGHT OFF to do it. Sigh. I couldn’t say no. Damn.
The gig was in a place called the Irish Centre in Camden. This will suit perfectly actually because my agent, Kate, was off to see another of her clients perform a one-man show at Camden’s Roundhouse so I could hang out with her afterwards. Brilliant. I would go off and basically save a man’s life with my comedic genius, then go out and get elegantly wasted with Kate. For the first time ever, I left the house without looking at the address of the gig (I might have done this a few times, to be honest). That was OK because I was told it was in Camden, I’ll just check the address when I get out of the tube. I have plenty of time anyway because I got to Camden 50 minutes before the gig was due to start.
Balls. It’s not in Camden. It’s in Kilburn High Road.
I ran back down to the tube and headed for Euston where I could get a speedy overground train to Kilburn. Easy. Except all the trains cancelled. AAAARRRGGGHH! It was getting closer to the gig’s start time so I ran back down to the tube and took the long, multiple-changes journey to Kilburn. I got there at 8pm. I was due on stage at 8.05pm. I ran (walked quickly) up Kilburn High Road to Quex Road where the venue was. I’m just in time. I can go straight on stage as soon as I get there. Or I would if the venue hadn’t been demolished.
Cancelled gig and then a demolished venue? Look, if you don’t want me to perform just say so. No need to be rude about it.
There wasn’t much I could do about it. I’d been given the wrong address and I was far away from the Irish Centre. There was nothing left to do other than get back on the annoying tube journey to Camden and get drunk on my paid night off. I got to the Roundhouse just before 9. Perfect. It’s a one-man show so it should only be an hour long. I’ll just check by asking a member of staff. Hmmm. There are no members of staff here. Anywhere. I’ll ask the guy at the desk of the dance studio next door. It’s connected to the Roundhouse, it’s part of the Roundhouse and the dance studio and main Roundhouse venue have connecting doors. This will be no problem at all.
“Hello. Could you tell me what time the show in the Roundhouse ends, please?”
“Sorry. This isn’t the Roundhouse”.
“Oh, I know. But you’re connected. I was just wonderi…”
“You’ll have to ask a member of box office staff”.
“There aren’t any around. Could you call or ask someone in there, please?”
“I can’t leave this desk, I’m afraid”.
“But you could just open the door there and ask”.
“I have to man the desk”.
“But the door is 6 feet away from you and there’s no one but me here. You could just open it and ask those people in there”.
“I can’t, I’m sorry”.
“I could shout and they could hear me. If you could just…”
“I said no”.
Wow. I mean, I have met some FUCK YOU people in my time but that was just incredible. An absolute refusal to walk 6 feet to help just in case the second his back was turned a thousand 12 year old Glee fans would turn up begging for dance lessons. And with that I was invited to leave.
I finally found a security man who, after asking two other people, told me that the show ends at 9.45. Not as short a show as I’d hoped. That’s OK. I’ll go for a pint. I walked across the road to Joe’s, a very nice bar with a good atmosphere and patronised by glamorous late 20’s types and fashionable people wearing trucker clothes. It looked nice but maybe too trendy for the likes of me so I walked away. That’s when I heard someone calling my name. It was really nice to see a face I recognised. And that’s where the problem lay. I recognised the guy, I know his face so well, but this was out of context. Who the fuck was he?
It’s not like I don’t know him. I do. But from where and how and, oh for God’s sake, who the hell is he? I tried my very best to get it out of him. “How’s things?”, “What have you been up to?”, “Keeping busy?” NONE of those got any information out of him. “So, you working?”, I said. “Yeah”, he replied. “Here”. Right, that’s good. He’s a bar manager. Come on, Michael. THINK. How many bar managers do you know? None. OK, let’s thing of something else. “So, what’s new?” I said. “Well”. He replied. “I work here now”. HE GAVE ME NOTHING. But he knew me and I know that I know him but my brain is dusty and cluttered and I’ve just found out that a charity gig would rather be bulldozed to the ground than have me perform at it so my head is all over the place. If you’re reading this then I’m so sorry and I know when the penny drops I will kick myself. He’s probably my brother or someone. But he gave me NO CLUE. Instead he gave me a free beer and I thank that kind stranger that I know well for it. I took my beer and sat down. That’s when one of the truckers joined me.
This guy was very thin, and like a few people in the bar (including one of the barmen), he had a huge beard, a plaid shirt with the sleeves cut off, mirror sunglasses and a trucker cap on top of his mullet. He also had a surprisingly well-spoken English accent. He asked how my night was, what my plans were for the evening and he offered to buy me a drink. I pointed out that I had just started drinking my pint so I was fine, thanks. He seemed happy with that and went on to talk about a couple of bars that “we” should go to or some clubs if I was “into that sort of thing”. It was confusing. Eventually I said “Are you chatting me up?” He laughed and said that he might be but the funniest part was when I thanked him for the flattering thought and told him, regrettably, that I was straight and his response was “Oh, shut up”. It was like I had just told him that I had Roger Moore’s foot in my bag. The very idea of me being straight was just ridiculous.
I mean, do I look gay? What does a gay man look like? I’m not sure but there’s one thing I do know and that’s gay men just don’t look like rednecks. You just don’t get redneck homosexuals. Well, you do but they just get angry and violent about it, they certainly don’t offer to buy you a drink in a cool bar in fashionable Camden Town. All I’m saying is, don’t assume I’m gay if you’re going to appear THAT straight. That’s cheating.
After drinks with Kate, that was my Friday night over. It is a confusing place. I’m actually happier working and keeping away from real life at the weekend, I thought as I got on the train home and stood in some sick.