Janey's Blogs - Febuary 2011
Tuesday the 8th of February 2011
Piccadilly is my home
London is one of my favourite places to be; I have had some of my best experiences in the capital and it never fails to surprise me. As soon as the plane lands and I get onto the Piccadilly line, I feel I am somehow at home. The angry, odd, frightened, worried and sad people on the tube always make my imagination run wild.
I like to make stories for the people I observe. That old woman with the sad face who is rubbing her calf with gnarled fingers? I bet she was a sexy cigarette girl in her youth, she was as hot and curvy as the women painted on the pistons of American Bombers, she probably dated the Prince of Monaco before Grace Kelly got a look in and she no doubt dated Sinatra when he came to London. She now lives alone in a high rise flat next to a crack dealer with a dangerous dog and a youth-based hip-hop dance troupe, who keep her awake with music that can only be described as really fast screaming.
See that woman with the exhausted face, bunched up skirt and thick dull hair staring at the young black guy? She is dreamingly wishing she didn't have to face her fat annoying sweaty husband and instead she is off having a secret meeting with the tall black guy in the sharp suit; they don't make eye contact here in front of people, but they are off to some sexy hotel room overlooking Hyde Park, she has a negligee in her big bag and her demanding kids and useless husband will melt into nothingness as soon as he strips her naked and presses into her warm body against the cold tiles in the master bathroom. Afterwards he will feed her strawberries and champagne then, as the dusk settles over the city like a washed-out ruined duvet thrown over the sky, she will contemplate the awfulness of her situation and she will creep home to Dagenham and assess the mess that is her broken life. But at least she had that moment with the young man and London will keep her secrets safe; it never spills them out. It tucks them all away into the tall white stucco turrets that scatter across the night sky.
I can get quite lyrical on a train can't I?
After I make up lives and stories for people on the tube I love getting into Piccadilly and just standing there letting the whole hub of the city whirl around me like a stuttering noisy spin cycle: the lights, the traffic and even the screaming nutters make me feel like I have truly come home.
Lots of things happened on this trip: for one, I got to eat at Heston Blumenthal's new restaurant 'Dinner' at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I am so very lucky that I know Heston and got to sit with him as I ate his stunning array of food. The wondrous head chef Ashley Palmer Watts served me the meat fruit which was a chicken liver parfait inside a tangy mandarin puree, then I had the steak and chips followed up by the tipsy cake. I am not doing any of this amazing award-winning food any justice but I was just astounded at the tastes and shoved it all in to my mouth with unbelievable glee. Heston, is a cracking lovely man; that's all I can say and I am blessed he is a friend. By the way, whilst am talking food, if you live near Nottingham you simply must check out Sat Bains' place up there: the man is a genius.
My favourite club is in Soho and they have bedrooms upstairs which is just as well because, after one morning of meetings, auditions and a live radio show, the amazing people at the Groucho Club let me go upstairs and nap before I went on to do my late night comedy gig! I wasn't staying there as a guest but they are the best folk in the world. Now you know you are very old when you hang out at a private members club and need a nap to get you through the day. Bless them! I woke up refreshed and raring to go. A power nap on Egyptian cotton sheets with a high thread count does make all the difference. Oh! - and big pot of tea waiting for you when you wake up also helps; all that was missing was the young black guy and the slinky negligee.
Just to prove to you that I am not some star-struck snob who is full of high-falluting ideas, I stood on the streets of Soho and munched down a steak bake and the gravy ran down my neck and burned my left boob. Yes, I am a classy, eh?
All sorts of things happened when I left Glasgow. The computer broke and took with it the podcast episode Ashley and I had recorded together. She simply re-recorded the episode on her own and I am very proud of that! Husband had to buy a new computer and it seems he lost lots of vital information, but he spends his entire life telling me to back stuff up and never really did it himself. I was full to the brim with 'I told you so' but kept my gob shut! There is nothing worse than when someone makes a situation worse by being smug and that's not me.
Tuesday the 15th of February 2011
That was Singapore
The flight over was fabulous as we got four seats to ourselves and managed a bit of a sleep. Ashley was super excited as she had big plans for our arrival in Singapore; what she wasn't expecting was the furious heat that melted her face as she got out of the airport. Oh by the way in the airport, as I collected my bag, I slipped on some vodka from a broken duty free bag (not mine I don't buy booze anywhere) and almost did the splits in my flip flops. Ashley turned round and there I was legs akimbo holding on to a trolley. I survived.
Just so you know - whilst am writing this blog in the hotel lounge of the Ibis - there is a musical combo making me sad. She is 'quirky' (which you know I hate, nobody should wear fat Mary Jane shoes over the age of ten) and he is a bad guitarist who is prone to sticking out his tongue in a 'look at me being cheeky' style when, in fact, he is really bad on the strings and she sounds like a owl being sexually assaulted in a sack whilst being battered off a wall.
Anyway, on landing in Singapore, Ashley decided after we checked into the tiny room of the Ibis which was like a caravan with ingenious ways of using the space to take two beds. Ashley decided we would head down to Sentosa Island and hit the Universal Studios. (Oh shit! The singer is attempting a big ballad, business men are throwing her dirty looks and the tongue sticker is laughing) Anyway I digress.... we went to Universal Studios and it was 9am.
The sun turned us both into wet flabby sticky people, but Ashley was super excited and ran immediately to the Battlestar Gallactica roller coaster which isn't actually opened yet but they were 'testing' it and Ashley being a super freak didn't mind risking her life for something sci fi and fast. I didn't go on; I stood in the shade with other people who were melting. She LOVED Universal Studios and ran about sweating and sitting on fast rides.
She convinced me to come on a ride with her so we walked to the area where you put your bags in an electronic locker system. As Ashley was entering her pin number on the self service machine a wee Asian guy in a bright green tee shirt behind her said, "Press enter," and Ashley snapped her head round and said, "OK, so you watched us put in the pin? Right, so we will change it. Stand back and don't look over my shoulder!" Now you have to picture this scene. She is at least a foot taller than everyone and has hips and a big giant head, albeit sweaty and full of bushy hair despite getting a haircut last week. I stood quietly watching the wee guy trying to look mock affronted at her obvious accusation. The locker area was rammed full of people.
So we finally got locker F34 and deposited my bag which had our credit cards and cash in. We walked to a queue for a ride then both looked at each other and decided "we don't like the locker bag thing - we are going back to get our bag". So, as we entered the locker area, THAT wee green tee shirt guy was stood there with a staff member who was dressed like an 'explorer' (don't ask - it's Universal Studios). Anyway, she was over-riding the computer and I stood beside her and right beside my locker door F34. I watched her enter F34 on the computer and my door opened and I reached in and grabbed my bag. "Why are you opening my locker?" I asked her and she was startled at this. Mr Green tee shirt looked anxious. Ashley barged over and shouted, "Why did you open our locker?"
The assistant was now confused as she had us claim our bag without any ID and it made me worry: what if we hadn't walked over at that very precise moment? Would she have held our bag to that wee green tee shirt man? So am now demanding why she opened our locker and then I started on green tee shirt boy: "What the fuck are you playing at? You looked over our shoulder, then you asked her to open our locker!" The assistant was a very confused explorer.
(The singing combo in the hotel lounge are now screeching Torn, which I wish they were)
So green tee shirt man gets all flustered and says, "I asked her to open F24, MY LOCKER" and the explorer said, "You said F34". She was now exhausted with her exploring job at Universal Studios and at no point in her training was she told to expect Ashley in a big Scottish accent demanding an explanation and threatening to punch near her beloved lockers.
Green tee shirt man tried to explain about his locker and how he wanted to get his stuff out but the computer wouldn't work and me and Ashley shouted big Scottish obscenities at him. I thought I was going to snap him, but I managed to stop myself.
So me and Ashley just walked off with our bag and, to be honest, the explorer never challenged us. We could have been in cahoots with green tee shirt man and working a bag stealing scam. To cut a long angry story short we went to the admin of Universal Studios and demanded an explanation, made a big long-winded complaint about their stupid locker system and got free passes and express passes for our return visit when we come back from Adelaide.
There we have it.
So we caught the trolley bus to Palawana Beach which is the southernmost point on Asia and has an old gun battlement and a very busy shipping lane on the horizon. It was stunningly beautiful.
Ashley and I explored central Singapore and discovered that, despite overwhelming evidence, pedicure shops are not in abundance and the ones you do find don't open till 1pm. We have decided that manicurists are lazy and don't like work. We did come across at least 39 shops in three blocks that sell Buddhist icons. Imagine if you will the amount of 'Oh Holy Mary Mother of God' statue shops near Lourdes and then treble that and you have idea of how many shops sell statues of Buddha in Singapore. Then they have fortune shops that tell you if you and your husband/partner are compatible and if not they sell you trinkets to make you both happy or you can get moles removed to help you stay faithful or spells cast or uncast, the sheer amount of auspicious and suspicious stuff made me giggle. Which is probably racist of me not respecting their culture but seriously, if they have a cure for everything, then why can't they cure gambling or superstition?
A man walked over to us and begged cash. I said no but everyone near us handed him cash. Ashley said, "What if he is a bad luck man who can cast spells if you don't give him cash?"
"Well, he is homeless and begging. How much fucking luck has he got and if he is the destiny-giver then he is totally screwed, isn't he?" I replied.
Friday the 25th of February 2011
This place is wild
So, I have been in Adelaide for a week now. I have learned a few things about this city. Firstly there are random signs written on buildings all over town that say POLITES. I didn't know what it meant: turns out it's a Greek bloke who owns half the town and likes marking out his property portfolio and, if rumour is to be believed, he buys drinks for young sexy girls. That's me out of the picture then.
Each night after my show, Ashley and I head down to the Fringe Club which is basically a garden with a make-shift bar and tree lights which annoy the bugs. The lights in the tree annoy the bugs so much they hurl themselves at my hair and face every fifteen seconds: that's in between angrily battering themselves off the lights until they get angry enough to hurl themselves at my face. There are so many performers here and cabaret/burlesque is huge in Australia; basically any 'resting' actress/actor who is thin enough to fit into a leotard or belt and braces, has a repertoire of ditties from Berlin, will don a jaunty hat and sing a funny song with bad make up on their faces will do that and charge money. That's after they do a free performance on my downtime. They stand up on a chair and say, "Tonight, for your delectation"... then nothing is to my delectation, am annoyed and feel cheated to be honest. Unless they are actually funny, dirty and sexy, I am not impressed. They end up drunk and screaming at the girl with the powder puff backpack with bunches in her hair and getting into fights with wandering homeless Aborigine folk who also don't need or like burlesque in their city.
Then there are the many young people who 'theme' dress. I know I sound surly and grumpy, but I have done 15 festivals and am old and dressing like a 50s housewife is so....1998.
Everyone under the age of 25 seems to have white face powder, a red curly hair-do with a dark red lips and a short shift 1950s dress as they try to smoke and look like they walked out of a Doris Day movie. One woman doing that is amazing and interesting and a real commitment to an arty lifestyle; heaps of girls doing it is annoying. The bugs don't even bother them - they are too busy hurling themselves at my grumpy Scottish skin.
The Aborigine people wander around town. I have seen loads and they don't always wear shoes. They look sad/angry/drunk/messy/angry and sometimes shouty. I am a big advocator of homeless as readers of this blog will testify, but it seems nobody talks about the Aborigine issue and I haven't come across an Aborigine comedian. Unlike in NZ where there were heaps of Maori comics on the scene. They are just a weird backdrop to the city landscape and that irks me. I attended the mayor's reception and didn't see one coloured face in that room; all the council attendees were as white as a tea dance in upstate New Hampshire.
I know... Me coming here and mentioning one thing that I know nothing about but it is disturbing, especially as they collectively hate my daughter Ashley and chase her with sticks as she walks home at night. She tries to be nice but the hissing bothers her. She thinks it's because she has a white moon face and that's upsetting to most people.
The show is going great. I am getting good reviews and nice houses and just wish there were more people up at the Town Hall so I can feed off other crowds. But that's not happening. The shows up there haven't yet established a busy crowd going scene. I am also happy that I am not at the Garden Of Unearthly Delights as the noise leakage from venue to venue is horrific and that would bother me no end.
The Rhino Rooms comedy night is awesome and you should go there at weekend nights where the shows are cracking fun. I love doing the late night gigs there.
Ashley and I are not coping well in this heat. It's over 100 degrees most days and we just die in the direct sunlight. The city is amazing though. Really, I do love it here: the ordinary Adelaide folk are smashing and I adore their feisty attitude. I am hoping by my next blog I will be over the bugs and the burlesque people and will have made friends with some Aborigine people.
Monday the 28th of February 2011
The Plague is here
Adelaide is a beautiful city, full of awesome architecture albeit ‘new world’ and the people are feisty and funny and it also gets a plague of locusts. Did you know that? No I didn’t either, but these things are over an inch long and crunch when you stand on them and make a rattling noise if they get caught in your thick Scottish hair.
Am horrified and disgusted and scared of them and the Fringe Club is covered in them, the trees are full of them and the fairy lights make them INSANE. You would think flying into a light for four hours would be enough for an insect to recognise that battering itself is useless and it’s time to ignore the light and go to a locust dwelling and have a wee sleep? No, they don’t do that; they seem to senselessly just drive themselves mad at a street light then finally swoop down to street level, all dizzy and angry and confused yet still addicted to street lights. They are mental.
Am shit scared of them and spend most of my time screaming as I walk the streets of Adelaide, people stare at me as I screech and flick yet another locust off my face, they like sitting near your nose.
The show is going great, I am really loving it, I also love the amazing Japanese students they keep giving me as front of house staff. They have trouble understanding plain English and with my accent they stare and giggle and after we communicate by the form of physical dance and mime we muddle through! Awesome! Thank God I have Ashley to do everything needed. Please don’t take this as me criticising people, it’s not - am just exclaiming the odd things that happen, most of the other volunteer staff are painfully shy, I think their parents have told them to do some voluntary work to get ‘involved’ and they come to work at the theatre. Some of the kids do that thing where they whisper or start a sentence then let words drop as is they can’t commit to a sentence and confuse you, they do this with panicked eyes, I feel so sorry for them and then wonder why they are allocated as the fire marshal, yes a kid that can’t talk much in public is in charge if a fire takes hold! I love Adelaide.
The room is a safe haven of coldness with the air-con blasting full time, as outside feels like someone is chasing you constantly with a flame thrower, the heat blasts you like you had opened a pizza oven door instead of your hotel door, who lives in this heat? I now feel sorry for those ‘Ten Pound Poms’ who came here from Aberdeen to be faced with that scorching unrelenting heat, they must have just been exhausted. I don’t know how people can get up and go do a full eight hour shift in this heat, thank God am a comic and only work an hour a night!
I feel incredibly guilty about not going to the beach and not going on the trams and not going to the parks, I cant...am exhausted its 100 degree heat every day and night time is blistering hot as well! Am a whingeing pom!
The show is hard work up at the Town Hall as I thought it would have hundreds of people milling about between shows, but it doesn’t! People haven’t yet got used to the Town Hall as a venue yet and some shows had been pulled due to lack of numbers- it’s a rotten feeling but luckily and with huge hard work on Ashley’s flyering part, not my show! It hasn’t been cancelled once (fingers crossed) I am a trooper and the Adelaidians are awesome.
Australians have a crazy deep sense of gleeful doom, every time you say “I love your city” they say things like “yeah, well, it’s going downhill fast” and they are quite upfront rude as well. Whenever I hand out a flyer men especially say “Fuck you look good there, how much photoshopping did you do in that image? You are rough in real life” nice eh?
Good things have happened as well people have been going onto www.talkfringe.com and registering and voting for me at The Adelaide Fringe! The other good thing that happened was Michael Buble is in town and he stopped Ashley and asked for directions, got chatting and carried my flyer up the Rundle Mall. How awesome is that?
This weekend I am going down to Rundle Mall to do some book signing at the Book Boys shop. Do come and buy a copy of my autobiography.