I found myself on a trio gig at a famous restaurant in St James’ at the weekend. This was one of those really pleasant gigs that come up from time to time where the music’s gratifying, the audience appreciative and the staff friendly. We were fed the most fantastic lemon sole in the break – fine dining indeed. I’m still talking about it nearly a week later.
Chatting over dinner, I reminded Sally, the pianist, that the first time our paths had crossed was when she used to be the ‘tame’ accompanist for the open mic night in my local pub. We used to go across to the boozer occasionally to witness this spectacle, and found it immensely entertaining – for all the wrong reasons…
At the time, the pub did little trade in the week until Friday night when the wannabe singers from the local adult institute jazz school would turn up en masse to display the fruits of their week’s labours. With their name duly added to the ‘bill’, the excitement would grow almost tangibly in these enthusiastic amateurs as their item approached the top of the list. Then, when their turn came, they would approach the podium, leadsheet quivering in sweaty hand. This was it – their five minutes of fame. They had planned this meticulously since last Friday night.
Well, as I’ve said, you can’t polish a turd, and many of these performances were hysterical (in every sense) and toe-curlingly, hilariously woeful. Another thing you can’t do is to weaken the resolve of a determined amateur enthusiast. So, with their music retrieved from the piano, and looking every bit like an opening batsman who’s just been bowled out for a duck, the defeated novice warblers would take the walk of shame across the pub and back to their seat. This they did full in the knowledge that next Friday they would put themselves through the self-same traumas and embark upon the same emotional roller-coaster ride.
I’ve taken to doing early-morning bike rides. I ride for about 40 minutes before breakfast at an easy pace, the science being that moderate exercise in a fasted state encourages the body to use fat as fuel rather than glycogen.
The easy pace means I’m in a kind of ‘look at that’ world rather than a ‘did you see that’ universe and have noticed lots of interesting phenomena, about which more in a subsequent post. Sunday sees me go out just a little later and take in a slightly longer loop. It’s during these Sunday rides that I observe people taking the more traditional walk of shame. This, I’m sure you understand, involves people returning home early on a Sunday morning still dressed in their Saturday night clothes having enjoyed a couple of hours of drunken ‘Egyptian PT’ with a relative stranger in leafy Suburbia.
Despite my having once seen a man at a bus stop in full evening dress, it’s ladies taking the walk of shame that seem to me to be much more readily identifiable. I don’t mean to sound remotely sexist here, it’s just that they often seem unable to stop themselves looking slightly furtive. Of course, the naughty schoolboy in me has begun to call a cheery “Morning!” to well-dressed ladies in Sunday-morning bus stops and, yes, some of them blush… Some of them tell me to “Fuck off!”
Until the next time…
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