Smile

So, we went to Brighton, and the sun shone, and the chips were soft and hot, and the seagulls were massive, and the cottaging opportunities were probably plentiful, and the first ever, paying, non-charity, ticketed Collings & Herrin Podcast (number 65, officially) at the Duke Of York’s Picturehouse, was, I think, a roaring success, thanks to the pink pound and some patient babysitters. We drove down there, parked in an underground car park that was letting one car in at a time as another car left, checked in at our chosen faded, past-its-prime hotel, went down the Pier for some greasy potato-based food and – yes! – some pear cider in the blazing heat of late afternoon (Bulmers, not Magners, no idea why, but Richard Tweeted the comedian Mark Watson, “the face of Magners”, to tell him it was his fault), having dropped our merchandise off at the splendid cinema, and the nice man who runs it: Jon. Just to keep Jon on his toes, and to cause him to worriedly Tweet the fact at 7.15, we took our time sauntering back up there to his cinema for soundcheck, by which time the tiny buzz I got from the pear cider had worn off and I was no longer drunk. (Damn that pear cider. Damn that Mark Watson)

This is us at the venue, which is a cinema, with a balcony and everything; the stage itself was deemed solid enough to work with; and backstage, not only did we find a handsome rider of sandwiches, Maltesers, cereal bars, posh crisps, Mars bars, chilled white wine for the lady and chocolate stars, but a whole carton of oat milk, just for me. (I was touched by this gesture, and I think I have Shahnaz to thank for insider knowledge, so thanks.) I admit I turned into a small boy the moment we touched down in Brighton, and became childishly excited by all aspects of the trip, from the car park to the Pier to the large poster of us that had been put up outside the cinema. This is a photo of it, taken after the gig, with various well-wishers poking out from behind it, and Shahnaz herself.

We supported ourselves and did 20 minutes each, solo. Because Richard is a professional comedian, and I am not, I did not attempt to match his seasoned repartee and instead taught the audience how to do Secret Dancing and gave a short lecture about the Mitford Sisters. This went down remarkably well. Then Richard came on, tried out some new material, said something shocking about Madeleine McCann and drew the most laughs by saying the words “wank” and “wee” (thus, finding the level of the sophisticated Brighton audience). After a short break, and a brief panic about an extension cable during which I had to be my own roadie, thus breaking down the fourth wall, we came back on, sat at a table with this laptop on it, and recorded the podcast in the traditional way – while soundman Chris recorded it professionally through the desk. We may release the professional version as an “extra” at some stage, but for now, the traditional podcast is available as usual. In it, we play up to the paying audience of 250 people a bit, admittedly, but still manage to cover Susan Boyle the “Hairy Angel”, the resemblance of Kim Jong-il to BBC2’s Stewart Lee, the allure of cottaging, the self-defeating genius of glow-in-the-dark monkeys, the perplexing but inspirational lyrics to Take That’s Back For Good, the sex lives of Clare Rayner and Edwina Currie, and the return of Dane Bowers, 29.

Say hello to yourself if you were in the audience. Many of you stayed behind after school to join in the first C&H Q&A, which was fun and spanned subjects as diverse as Telly Addicts, Fawlty Towers, Jim Davidson, biscuits, Tibet and Michael Winner, by which time the chilled bottle of white wine had made Richard even more cruel and belligerent and insulting to me, but I can take it. One or two people left around the 11pm mark, but we are assuming it was because of prior arrangement with the babysitter; the majority stayed until the bitter end and, unlike Phill and Phil, who appeared here on Saturday, we did not embarrass ourselves by doing “a DJ set”. Instead, we sat in our chairs as if they were thrones and signed things for the hardcore. And, from that session, here’s a snap taken for Misty2K (aka Dee) by someone else in the merchandise queue:

Thanks to Jon, Chris, Shahnaz and the Duke Of York’s for a splendid night out. We hope that those of you who weren’t in Brighton enjoy the podcast and don’t get jealous. If there is any demand for it, we might release my 10-minute lecture about the Mitford Sisters as a podcast extra.

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