The Walk of Shame



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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4 thoughts on “The Walk of Shame”

  1. Good God, Sir: it was *you*, was it, who whizzed past like a mosquito on two wheels that early morning. If your bicycle had been equipped with a basket on the front I might have begged a lift home instead of waiting at the bus stop, oyster-card in my reticule along with my elbow-length gloves. Cheeky fellow!

  2. Reminds me of my own walk of shame, many many years ago, having played a gig at the Notre Dame in Leicester Square!

    After the gig, I quickly drove my kit over to the guitarist’s bedsit in Primrose Hill (it was a hovel) and headed back into town for a night visiting the sights before ending up in a sleazy Soho illegal bar with some very unconvincing transvestites ’til the early morning.

    By the time the guitarist and I had made it back to Primrose Hill, both dressed like a couple of dishevelled 50’s Las Vegas pimps, it was about 8am and ‘normal’ people were waking up and enjoying the bright summer morning. The guitarist decided we should visit the local patisserie for a coffee and together we made our way into the small independant coffee house for a brew.

    By this point I was aware that we were getting a few sideways glances, and in the time honoured fashion of a drunk man trying to appear sober and non-threatening, began over compensating by being overly polite and friendly to the staff and customers. If it had been a scene for a film, Link Wray’s, ‘Rumble’ would have been the perfect soundtrack!

    Anyway, to cut a long story short, we had our coffees and cakes, knocked into a few tables and chairs as we unsteadily walked out of the place, and later realised that we hadn’t paid for the drinks and cakes (he thought I’d paid and I thought he had)! Sadly, I think the staff were too terrified to ask us for the money and now I think back with shame!

  3. Sir

    In me yoof, I once spent over an hour queueing up in one of those zig-zagged, elevated walkway things to board The Big One at Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach. This wait, along with the thunderous cacophany of screeching metal-on-metal and blood curdling screams, and the occasional downpour of loose change, naturally afforded one enough time to ponder the fact that you would soon be doing a near vertical drop of over 200 feet towards terra firma, in a contraption being controlled by a small group of spotty teenagers who had no doubt been up all night and were now viewing the world through a technicolour, Red Bull haze.

    Having nearly reached the front, a man who would then have been about the age I am now, not unreasonably decided that if he was going to die suddenly, then there were better places to do it than Blackpool, and decided to opt out of the imminent thrill on offer. He sheepishly and laboriously worked his way back though the quiet, snaking queue, eyes downcast, muttering “‘Scuse me.. sorry… sorry, ‘scuse me… er, sorry… sorry…” – surely the ultimate Walk of Shame. The scorn of the young crowd was almost palpable, poor chap.

    Of course now, I’d do exactly the same now. Here’s what he missed:

  4. It was late July 1977. The man upon whom I chose to sacrifice my virginity let three of the four bedrooms in his house.
    Following a night of surprise and disappointment, I stumbled downstairs to the loo asking direction of the -unsurprised -blokes sitting at the breakfast table. “Through there”, one of them said while I passed by, flame-cheeked.

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