Friday, March 30, 2007

I Love Paris In The Springtime (Part 1)

Soooooo there I was 'aving a faaaaag outside the Gare du Nord, drinking a delicious coffee at 5pm last Monday. The trip on Eurostar was painless, much easier than schlepping to the airport. I jumped into a cab and managed to get him to take me to my hotel in spite of my dodgy French which kept veering into Spanish!

The hotel was small but perfectly formed, nice big clean double bed, little balcony overlooking the street, and in an ideal location slap bang inbetween The Louvre and the Pompidou Centre. Unpacked and dashed out to explore. I headed over to Les Halles, bits of which were like the shitty end of Oxford St, but enough bars and cafes to satisfy. It was sunny and warm and as I sat people watching and studying my guide book I reflected on what a great decision I'd made.

A bit more wandering and I stumbled on a Thai restaurant, it was about 9pm so I figured I should have dinner. I went for the two course 'Prix Fixe' option - chicken satay, sweet ribs with sticky rice - tho of course it was waaaaaaay too much food for the new me. I ate two of the satay sticks, and three tiny pieces of rib along with a mouthful of rice, and that was me full up! The waiter gave me an odd look as if to say 'what's wrong with our food?' I said how good it was but I was full. He just smiled and took the plates away.

I can tell what he was thinking. If I was a size 0, you just know they'd think 'fair enough, she's obviously anorexic' but while I am considerably smaller than I was three months ago, I aint exactly skinny, and you can see them thinking 'full, yeah right! who does she think she's fooling, she'll probably stop off at Maccy D's on the way home!'

I found my way back to the hotel and put the telly on. Hmmmmm according to the channel guide there's a couple of english speaking channels available, but unless the weather's really turned since I left this lunchtime, there's nothing but snow! I ended up watching the various French channels available while I chilled out and made my plans for Tuesday. Perhaps I'll soak up some of the language via the telly.

I was up and out by 11-ish on Tuesday, and went for breakfast by the Pompidou Centre. The sun was blazing as I sipped my Cafe au Lait and nibbled on a croissant (Cliches R Us!). This american couple came and sat by me but moved when I lit a fag - we were outside ffs!!!!! The irony is, they finished their coffee, then went and watched some dodgy old street performer doing tricks with cigarettes and gave him money when he passed the hat around! They coulda sat next to me for free!

Walking down to the Isle de la Citie and Notre Dame, I was struck by just how beautiful Paris is, breathtakingly so. The church was heaving with tourists, most of whom were ignoring the 'no photos' signs posted everywhere, as well as the signs asking them to be quiet as there were people actually in there trying to pray. People's insensitivity astounds me at times. Notre Dame is a gorgeous building, the stained glass windows are amazing, I'll bet it's even lovlier when it's empty!

I left there and carried on wandering, found a great little cafe for lunch, again what would've been a normal sized portion to me before just seemed like a vast amount of food for one person. I ate a bit of it and worked on not getting a complex about not clearing my plate.

It was time to use my Metro pass and somehow I managed to negotiate my way over to The Cartier Foundation, for the David Lynch show called The Air Is On Fire. I was dead proud of myself as their maps aint as clear as our Tube maps. The space was filled with his paintings, in sets designed by him with a very Twin Peaks-ian type soundtrack thundering ominously in the background. The work is pretty much what you'd expect of him, very dark, very odd. I think he's a bit like Marmite, you either love him or hate him. I have to admit I love him. There was even a little cinema where you could watch some bizarre early movie about a little boy who grows a woman from a seed on a bed (typical) I was about halfway through it when I realised I'd seen it before at some retrospecitive at the Scala I think, but the seats were so comfy I stayed and watched it till the end.

Then it was back out into the blinding sunlight and over to Rue St Honore to see 'lifestyle' shop Collette. According to the guidebook it was the best shop in Paris. What it actually was, was a more expensive Urban Outfitters. Full of very expensive fripperies for people who have tons of wedge and dunno what to do with it all.

I decided to go somewhere more within my price range so walked over to Galleries Lafayette. What an amazing department store, its like the best of Selfridges and Harvey Nicholls and Harrods all rolled into one. I saw lots of things I could spend my dosh on but as I'd wisely left my credit cards back in the hotel safe I resisted temptation. The food hall is astonishing, jars of all kinds of delicious looking weird stuff, displays of cakes and chocolates guarenteed to make your mouth more than water, it was like food porn for me! I enjoyed everything with my eyes and not a single calorie was taken in!

I was thoroughly shagged out by then so I hopped in a cab back to the hotel for a cup of green tea and a relax before dinner. By now I was getting a bit fed up of paying 20 euros for a meal I was leaving so I ended up having a pastrami beigal and a coffee at a little pavement cafe not far from the hotel, well I say a beigel, half a beigel is the truth.

Another wander to walk it off then it was back for a much needed soak in the bath. I don't think I've ever walked so much in my life!

Part 2 to follow when I've got more time.


Sunday, March 25, 2007


So Friday and Saturday night were spent travelling to Oxford to do gigs at Jongleurs.

These were fairly last minute gigs as in an ideal world I should have been on my travels in South-east Asia now. However the rushed operation meant that I had to forgo my travel plans.

Oxford or Angkor Wat...where would I rather be? Tough question but as it turned out, Oxford was pretty damn amazing. I was doing sets rather than MC'ing, which always gives me a touch of nerves but both nights I royally kicked comedy ass! I loved being onstage, I loved the laughs I got, and I loved the fact that I am lucky enough to have stumbled on this as a career.

Mindful of Reg's coments about doing 'fat' jokes when I aint that big anymore, Friday saw me wearing baggy clothes in a stupid attempt to look bigger (how mad is that? Major surgery to lose weight then hiding the fact!) I had a cracking time inspite of my wardrobe schizophrenia, and the journey home was enlived considerably by bumping into Alfie Joey at Reading station.

Yesterday tho I thought 'bugger it' and wore an outfit that showed off the weight loss. The trousers were from four years ago, the last time I lost weight, and were like new. I'm glad I kept em now! The top was a new one from Wallis that was a tad tight when I got it a few weeks ago but is now lose and lovely. It was really odd, I found myself walking taller, holding myself differently.

The MC's last night were the divine Chambers & Nettleton, two of the most wonderful women I've ever met, and I walked into the dressing room to a barrage of compliments... it was fabulous! We had a rushed catch-up, its been well over a year since we were on the same bill, then it was showtime. The opening act both nights was someone new to me, Mr Cee. He was wonderful to watch and has this really easy persona both onstage and off.

Then it was my turn. I walked on, a little apprehensive, my body image is definitely distorted at the moment, so there was a brief flicker of fear as to whether the outfit was suitable, if it would affect the gig. I needn't have worried. The confidence losing weight has given me is making my comedy soar to new heights! I had a blinder.

Mr Cee and I got the train back to London together and the journey passed in the blink of an eye. One of the many things I love about this job is the incredible cross-section of people who do it. We all have our stories to tell, and it's fantastic to hear how each of us got to this point.

All in all a fantastic weekend of gigs, great people, and acquiring some self-knowledge. Even better, it's my birthday this week and while I had to pull my big travel plans, I am off to Paris tomorrow for a few days. It's been over 20 years since I was last there. That time I was taken to interview Dave Gilmour, so didn't see a whole lot of the city. This time I have my vague itinerary, the Louvre, the Pompidou Centre and David Lynch's paintings at the Cartier Foundation. Not to mention lots of time spent wandering the streets discovering the city, drinking coffee at pavement cafes. The one thing I am glad about is that I'm still not small enough to fit into the designer fashions that Paris is known for, at least I won't be maxing out my credit cards!


Friday, March 23, 2007


Soooo last night I went off to High Wycombe to do a gig at the Town Hall.

I got it last minute, and the money wasn't great, but I was free so I thought sod it and accepted the booking. I've only done it twice before, and the last time was about 5 years ago. As I walked out of the train station I got my bearings. I remembered the steep hill from the station to the gig, and how the last time I played there myself and Adam Bloom had to run up the bloody hill to make our train! Needless to say Adam was way ahead of me, and I remembered shouting to him to lay on the tracks if need be so that I didn't miss the train. Such extreme measures weren't needed in the end, but I think I only stopped panting as we pulled into Marylebone!

As I walked down the hill I began to fret about having to dash up it again tonight but managed to put it out of my mind. The bill was fantastic, Glenn Wool and Ian Cognito as MC. The last time Coggers MC'd me was my birthday four years ago at The Glee Club, and at the end of the night he walked on in only a pair of boxer shorts with a cake for me. It was a great birthday present.

That's almost exactly four years ago as it's my birthday next week, so it was brilliant to see him again and a great chance to take stock of how far I've come on my journey in that time.

Coggers arrived and was looking really well, he even had a suntan from sitting outside his local pub for six hours the day before. Must be the Italian blood in him.

When the show started Coggers was like a bloody hurricane, the poor audience were a bit stunned at first, especially the young students at the front, it was funny to watch their faces. Before long they got the gist of what was going on and relaxed. He's on terrific form at the moment, and it was a joy to watch him.

He brought me on and you could see the audience thinking 'oh god another scary old bugger'. The beauty of having Ian Cognito opening the show is that I felt there was nothing I could do or say that would shock them, it's very liberating. I had a cracking time, really enjoyed myself and so did most of the audience I think!

Just before I went onstage Reg D Hunter came by to say hi, I haven't seen him since Edinburgh last summer. When we were in the dressing room in the interval Reg said to me 'Why are you doing jokes about being fat when you aint fat?'. The answer to that one is simple, I'm loosing weight faster than I can write new material! The compliment was much appreciated tho. Thanks Reg. I had a little chat with the guys then headed off to catch the train home. The thoughts of that hill daunting me.

Guess what? Not only did I climb it with a minimal amount of breathlessness, I also managed to run across to the platform where a train to London was just arriving, and catch it! Best of all, I got my breath back before we hit Beaconsfield! I must be getting fitter eh?

Off to Oxford Jongleurs tonight and tomorrow, if you're there say hi. If not, have a great weekend.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Frozen North

So the 'heatwave' ended rather abruptly didn't it?

I'm just back from spending a few days up north both working and visiting my old Pa, and I cannot remember ever being soooooooo cold!

Last weekend's gigs were great, I did The Castle in Wellingboro on Friday night which was just lovely. Huge love and thanks to Greg Burns and Danny Buckler both for making me laugh and giving me rides to and from the gig respectively.

Saturday saw me on a train from Euston to Manchester to do the Comedy Lounge. It's a relatively new gig and my first time doing it, so I was a bit apprehensive.

I upgraded to a first class seat, and it was pretty empty, so you can imagine how peed off I was when this couple chose to sit opposite me rather than taking one of the many empty spaces available. I sulked for about five minutes, then put my music on and buried my nose in the latest Vanity Fair reading all about The Sopranos.

The journey was endless! For some reason unknown to anyone with a brain all West Coast trains are going via Birmingham at the weekends, so a journey that's two hours in the week, takes three and a half on weekends. Add to that, the inevitable delays, the total travel time was almost four hours.

About three hours into the trip, I'd turned my iPod off to hear the latest excuse for crawling slower than a three-legged donkey and I heard the woman opposite talking. I realised I recognised her voice and when I looked at her, it was only blmmin' Lisa Stansfield wasn't it????? I left the music off and noticed from time to time she would hum a tune to herself - not 100% certain but I think it was 'I may not be a lady, but I'm all woman'.

When I got off the train, I was dashing up the platform and practically walked straight into John Thompson. I haven't seen John for years, but we did share an incredibly drunken night at a party at Malcolm Hardee's house many years ago, and he's always dead friendly when I see him. I have to say how well he looked, tanned and in really good shape, obviously living in Manchester agrees with him.

The club I was at is within The Printworks complex in Manchester, and I'd never set foot in the place before. The Printworks is a collection of bars and clubs and the whole place was heaving despite the cold, wet weather. The bill was great - Junior Simpson, Andrew Lawrence and Brian Higgins as well as yours truly. I was meant to be closing but somehow ended up MC'ing. It was great fun for everyone, but the biggest revelation was Andrew Lawrence who I haven't seen for a couple of years, boy has he come on! He was fantastic, a real joy to watch.

I'm all over the shop again this weekend, but looking forward to it, I'm really loving gigging at the moment. I'm much more confident onstage these days, influenced no doubt, in some small way, by the continuing weight loss... 44lbs and counting!

Life is good.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Four Days In A Row!!!!!!!

Blimey the London heatwave continues!

Yesterday afternoon was spent in fabulous company. It was John Fothergill's 40th birthday booze up, and it wasn't until I was on the tube heading towards Picadilly Circus that I decided to go! I was on my way to Sainsbury's, but thought 'sod it, be spontaneous' and I'm so glad I did.

Over the course of the day various people came and went, but the hardcore posse of Michael Smiley, Mickey Hutton, Rich the soundman from Reading Jongleurs, Johnny Candon, John (of course) and his brother, seemed to be out for the day. We went up to Chinatown for some food and more and more people arrived - Adam Bloom, Ed Byrne, the list goes on. It was just the best fun hanging out with these guys, even if I technically wasn't 'out' out. On leaving the restaurant we bumped into Andre Vincent and Jim Jeffries and wandered off to another pub.

Everyone noticed my weight loss which was a nice little ego boost, even if I was dressed in my 'grocery shopping' clothes and not my 'going out' clothes, I didn't even have any make up on!

When I left at 7.30 the guys looked like they were settled in for a long one, but by that time I'd had enough orange juice to last me a lifetime! The perils of being a non-drinker!


Monday, March 12, 2007

Summer's Here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Or at least Spring is!

Yesterday was just gorgeous, wandering round Camden market in the sunshine, warm enough to go out without a coat and scarf for the first time this year...bliss!

Even better today, I'm getting my 'natural blonde' re-touched then off for afternoon tea with a good friend... does life get any better?

Yeah it does, I have now lost 3 stones in two months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Secret Lives

Sooooo I was at Up The Creek last night and what a cracking night it was! There was a terrific bill - Dave Haddingham (who's expressing his mid-life crisis by growing his hair, and looking really good on it!), Andrew Bird who I think is just fantastic, and Alastair Barrie who's really coming into his own as a comedian these days.

As great as the comics were tho, the real stars last night were the audience. It was a real cross-section, from pensioners to pre-pubescents - the back of the room looked like a creche! - but there was a gang of people in from Kent celebrating their mate's 40th birthday who were just priceless. I didn't do a single stock line last night! I had the best fun just chatting and taking the piss with people who 'got it'. Thank you.

The lovely Will who does the sound at the club gave me a heads up on these great little clips from Paramount, either c&p the link below or click on my heading to see em. They're hilarious!


Thursday, March 08, 2007

When The Euphoria Fades

Hmmmmmm what a week so far. I've spent every day until today doubled up with the most excrutiating pain in and around the site of the op.

Sunday I was up with the lark-ish and all set to wander around Camden Market, when the rain came down and cancelled that idea. I went out anyway, down to Spa NK in Westbourne Grove on a quest for Dr Brandt's Water Booster drops (supposed to be as good for you as 15 cups of green tea), when out of nowhere I had this stabbing pain in my stomach.

I really mean stabbing too, it was like someone had come up behind me and plunged a knife into my belly. I couldn't breathe, could barely walk, I was feeling sick and shakey. I quickly turned around and headed home, to lay in bed with the papers and try not to think of what it could be.

As we all know by now I can be a bit of a drama queen, so I laid in bed in agony convinced that the staples had become detached, that the bit where they attached my small intestine had come away from the new tummy, all kinds of horrific scenarios.

I tried eating and not eating, but neither made a difference and by Monday I was really scared. I rang the hospital and left word for one of the doctor's to get back to me. Five hours later I'd still heard nothing, so I called the ward I was on and got someone right away. I described the pain, and was told to take two paracetemol. God bless the NHS eh? All those years of training weren't wasted!

To cut a long story short, it culminated with me spending most of yesterday in bed, dosing up on dissolvable pain killers, and reading horror stories on the net about the negative side effects of this op.

This morning however, I feel f**king amazing! I've lost another 2lbs, and the pain has gone completely! Now that that I can think rationally, I suspect it was something to do with perhaps the internal stitches dissolving, and just generally the scars from the op settling down, after all it has only been four weeks since it was done. I do also think there's an element of the post-op euphoria fading, I've been on such a high since it happened. I reckon that at the first sign of anything being less than perfect I was bound to freak out!

I'm dead chuffed it's stopped as I am off to the seaside later, I'm doing a gig in sunny Southend tonight - not been there for a while! Then tomorrow and Saturday I'm doing my favourite London gig - Up The Creek - I can't wait!


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Motorway Madness!!!!!!!!!!!!

So this weekend I have been mostly gigging at Reading Jongleurs.

I was MC'ing again, which I love but it's now been about 6 weeks since I did a set and I am not even sure I can remember my material! The line up was strong - Quincy, Dom Carroll, and the ever-wonderful Jason Wood.

Thursday night seemed to be 'works do' night, and quite clearly some of the people there had no idea what they were coming to. Still, most of the audience enjoyed themselves and that's what counts.

Friday was much better in terms of people coming to a comedy club to have a laugh and we all had corkers, while last night it was just fabulous!

I was very blessed to get a lift home all three nights from Jason. Sadly he seemed to have misplaced his satnav, so it was three different magical mystery tours of the London orbital road system, Friday found us veering towards Watford! Still the company was good and often I find car journeys make room for great conversation...after this weekend I reckon me and Jase have sorted out all the world's problems!

The weight loss is just continuing unabated, I worked it out and counting the weight I lost before the operation I've lost 35lbs in 50 days! It's amazing! The pile of clothes for the recycling bin is growing again, having dumped 4 bin bags already, and I can feel my confidence returning by the bucketload.

From tomorrow I can eat solid food again apparently, but I have to admit I am a little scared in case it blocks the new intestine bit, but after nearly four weeks on soups and purees I do miss chewing something!

Jason was asking me last night what I fancied for my first solid meal, and after some thought I came up with a soft boiled egg and toast soldiers! How frightfully un-rock'n'roll of me!