The Prestwich Papers

The gig is close by, five minutes down the motorway and you’re sorted so hoorah for that says the lazy driver to the mineral water drinker, or in tonight’s case a pint of tap and some ice will do nicely thank you. So I arrive a little later and miss the sound check, but I’m only travelling light, an acoustic guitar and a tuner, not exactly a live sound audio challenge. I can do the necessary one two one two ritual just before I go on. I’m met by promoter Strat who provides running order and beer tokens and set about making small talk. The venue is a church affiliated social club; I think this means that the guy with his name over the door is a Bishop. I found this out whilst looking at the notices in the glass display cabinets in the foyer advertising various activities, social meetings and discussion groups. It reminds me of my youth. It’s a smallish gig this one, but incredibly well formed, I can tell this from years of practice, trust me; I’m am accredited ambience detective small venue specialist. There are three other acts on tonight’s bill, all very different and all are incredibly good. I’m not just saying that in a witterish it’s easier to be positive kind of way; it was a genuinely uplifting night’s entertainment. The first band were called Vagina Wolf a local three piece noisy rockish white striped velvet affair, two drummers, eyeball to eyeball, one of them played guitar as well but not at the same time. All male, average age 14, it was impossible not to warm to such infectious tribal clatter and raw energy. The exuberance of youth never had it so good. Drum machines are dead; the kids are back on the kits. And so say all of us…

Chris Stokes was next up, a comedian who’s droll west midlands accentuated monologues [I could be wrong about his accent] crept up on each and everyone present with his slow burning progressive build up style thing [that’s a terribly lazy way of putting it…sorry], he told us how he was once mistaken for a paedophile, because he shares the same name as someone who is accused of just that…I googled it to be sure. He’s right. And he made us laugh about it. Next time I see a twinkling metallic light late at night beyond a bus stop and imagine it’s a small kitten in distress I will think of him and of a scrunched up can of Stella Artois. I’m not very clued up on the comedy scene but I know when something works and this guy has something and it works incredibly well, a most intelligent comic; people really warmed to him and I was no exception.

We’re running out of time so after a ten minute pub quiz the next act is performance poet Domonic Berry who’s like one of those people in the wrong time zone but in the right way, San Francisco 1959 maybe. I’m saying that because his delivery reminded me of Allen Ginsberg, his subject matter too, homo liberator queer celebrator vegan emancipator…that sort of thing. He was terrific. . He did four poems, most were self deprecating rants on coming out and staying in to please your mother. He fronts a poet’s open mic at The Green Room in Manchester every month. I promised myself I must go along.

I was headlining but really any of these acts could have done. For no good reason I didn’t feel quite right in the head . Mostly just over tired and lacking in focus. I have the odd gig where I don’t feel I’m really there and this was one of them. Still my mental health shouldn’t concern you. It’d been a long day. The reaction was, all things considered, pretty good, but you know when your game is a little below par and last night, for some reason or other, I felt mine was. Oh dear…not the self destruct button again, please, oh dear, oh dear, oh no, I blame the beard, VP

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