A brief sojourn in Bristol means I’ve fallen a bit behind.
Funny word chippy. So … being belligerent or touchy, coming from the more specific resentment or over-sensitivity about being perceived as inferior aka having a chip on your shoulder, related to the by-product of the work of a carpenter, aka a chippy, rather than batons of potato of the deep-fried variety. Never mind the derivation of the North American meanings of a promiscuous woman or, more extremely, a prostitute, their chipping sparrow is a cute little bird, its persimmon-red cap in the breeding season (I just looked it up) making it a more colourful creature than our common or garden variety. All of which has little to do with my wishing to sing the praises of the ethically sound Fish Bar – “purveyors of the finest fish and chips” even if they say so themselves – in Stoke Bishop, Bristol 9. Exquisite crispy batter, but with a choice of fish cooked therein that I’ve not encountered before: sea bass, mackerel, hake and more, along with the usual. I’ve had better chips, mind.
Also in Bristol, in the grounds of the Blaise Castle Estate – big dramatic parkland with river gorge and some spectacular trees (especially at this time of year) – was good to be re-acquainted with the metal dog, even though I’m not generally a dog person. Shame it’s unattributed (or at least I found no hint of who or when it was made from old bits of machinery). Was lucky for the time of day to be able to catch the shadow in the same photo.
And now the catching up. Alan Davies at the theatre with his Life is pain show, the Sunday before last. Good natured, fairly filthy in parts, always fun and at times very funny. He’s hit the being-a-dad stage that most stand-ups go through (“So many stairs“) and made good use of his chosen text, Oliver James’s How not to f*** them up in a wide-ranging couple of hours took in deck quoits (not what you’re thinking of at all), his Essex childhood and his father (“There is no such thing as an accident“) and much beyond. Living in Milton Keynes one always hopes roundabouts will not feature too much in a stand-up’s opener; it did, but in a neat way. “How many roundabouts are there between the M1 and the City Centre?” he asked, “Nine?” Followed up with, “I’m not knocking it, just seeing how well you know where you live. I picked the number off the top of my head.” He then went on to ask a specifically reasonable and acute question about where exactly is the city centre in MK? Inevitably no response, because how could there be when you put an out-of-town shopping centre at a city’s heart? MK has its own qualities despite that, and Alan went on to make Leighton Buzzard the urban butt of the evening to be kicked, feeding off some odd defences of same from the stalls. Why, I wonder, on occasions like this, do we always seem manage to be sitting nearby someone who laughs too affectedly, too loudly, too readily, throughout? Despite that, a good night.
October’s Scribal Gathering was a bit bitty, truth be told. Featured musician Pat Nicholson, billed – probably without his consultation – as Pat the Hat (for reasons that should need no explanation) wittily turned up in a bulky flat cap and kicked off with Freight train as a test of the ages of the audience. Featured poet, the buxom Kezzabelle, made ballads out of her boobs and other aspects of her interesting late-liberated life. There was a lovely acoustic version of Cyndi Lauper’s beautiful Time after time from Glass Tears, all two of them.
- I love this photo of Heather Watson winning her first big deal tennis final. It was in all the papers, has an AP byline, and I’ve mucked about with it a bit using the posterize function in PSP. It’s her sheer simple delight in winning that I delight in. None of the usual fist-pumping, no triumphalism or showboating. just her moment … Hey!
- On the other hand, is there anyone who actually thinks Victoria Coren’s jokes are funny?