Idle Eye 191 : The Showgirl

It’s time to scotch a rumour, now that we’re safely ensconced inside a new year and you’re vaguely listening again. And, unlike the usual ephemera that does the rounds on the social (only to rapidly disappear up its own euphemism), this one concerns yours truly and the highly improbable premise that things have taken a turn for the better in my private life. Worse still, that it may involve a certain Jenny Vegas, who has been in my employ for a few months now and, to be perfectly honest, really not my type. This kind of hearsay is not only unhelpful, but also deeply unprofessional; to the point where I had to make an awkward call to Miss Vegas in person and make an complete tit of myself:

Me:  Jenny, can you talk?

Vegas:  That you, Dougie?

Me:  Er…no. It’s Idle Eye. From the Broken Biscuits shows.

Vegas:  Aw, hiya! Did ya have a fab Chrimbo?

Me:  Yes, thank you. It was most pleasant.

Vegas:  What you doing calling mi in’t middle of t’night?

Me:  It’s 10.15, Jenny…AM. And there’s something urgent I need to run past you.

Vegas:  Is it Hollyoaks?

Me:  No, not exactly. It’s a bit more delicate than that.

Vegas:  Gi us a clue then. An don’t tek all day.

Me:  I’ll come straight to the point. There are certain, how shall we say, insinuations flying about at the moment about you and me. Have you heard anything?

Vegas:  In…sin…yer wha?

Me:  Insinuations. People are talking.

Vegas:  Eh?

Me:  Look, this isn’t easy for me. But the word on the street is that we’re somehow…entwined.

Vegas:  I only ‘ad a few Lambrinis…an’ a whiskey chaser. I were holdin’ back!

Me:  We’re not talking alcohol, Jenny. This is the hard stuff.

Vegas: I don’t do that neither. Not since rehab.

Me:  Ok, I’ll spell it out. They’re saying you and I are a couple. Romantically. As in going out together. And you have my full…

Vegas:  Whose seyin’ that?

Me:  No one in particular. But you know how the rumour mill works.

Vegas:  Yew…an mesen?

Me:  That’s about the sum of it.

Vegas:  Are yer fookin ‘avin a laff?

Me:  Deadly serious, I’m afraid.

Vegas:  Well, Mr Eye! Altho’ I am a woman of great bewtay, talent an intelligence, not to mention a consummated professional, I don’ av time for owt like tha. An even if I did, I do have mi reputat…repit…image to think abaht, yer naw.

Me:  If it’s any conciliation, it was nothing to do with me.

Vegas:  That’s right, never is wi you blorks. Nah piss off, I’m busy…

And that was that. Whilst I’m no stranger to the odd rebuke, this was one of the oddest yet; particularly as I shall be working with Miss Vegas for the foreseeable future. But if you ask me, the lady protests too much. They usually do, the little minxes…

Broken Biscuits No.9.

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Right. Christmas and New Year are behind us at last, so now we can get on with the mucky business of making 2017 everything 2016 wasn’t. And the best way I can think of is to put on a mighty BB9 at Komedia Brighton, ‘mighty’ being a woefully inadequate narrative for this one. I mean, look! It’s beyond huge, as three of Brighton’s comedy giants straddle the same stage for your delectation, immediately after Idle Eye splutters into first gear with a fistful of Kalms.

Lorraine Bowen, the undisputed queen of kitsch, crumble, cheesy keys and off-the-wall hilarity, will be giving it some. I know! Word has it that she owns the largest polyester wardrobe in the UK, so expect some 60s chic as well. It’s an embarrassment of riches, I tell you.

And then there’s Joanna Neary. An absolute must for anyone who cherishes character comedy colliding with the somewhat surreal, her sublime, very British quirkiness is, at times a cross between Joyce Grenfell and Celia Johnson, and at others Björk giving it all that about house prices in the South-East. She’s razor-sharp too; don’t be taken in.

Mr B, the consummate gentleman of Chap-Hop and the banjolele, has a superb new record out called ‘There’s a Rumpus Going On’. So we might be treated to a recital or two from that, or possibly something from current project ‘Absinthe House: Chapstep Vol.2’. And if he does The Crack Song as well, my year will be complete. In January.

But it just gets better: Nick Hollywood and Joss Perring, the dream father/son team who transformed Komedia last time we were there, are doing it all over again! With St Leonards’ finest Kate Tym as compere, and Dan Laidler‘s Windy’s Farm animations doing their thing, BB9 must surely now be considered a night not to be missed. Unless you miss it. In which case, it doesn’t really matter.

Broken Biscuits No.8.

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BB8 was the usual heady cocktail of madness, hilarity and confusion, only this time we had an angry poltergeist along for the party as well. Not that anyone heard or saw anything, mind, but she was definitely there. And it is a she; we checked.

David Farnan stepped in for James Cook (who sadly couldn’t be with us) at the eleventh hour, and knocked out a repertoire of effortless, self-penned acoustic swagger: with a vocal rasp that would have Liam Gallagher running for the hills. Lovely stuff!

Now here’s a challenge: I defy anyone to listen to the attached Jenny Lockyer song and not well up at the end. She has that rare ability to fuse humour and pathos in equal amounts, all mixed in with a touch of the surreal and a voice to die for. And I’m delighted to announce that she’ll be joining us yet again for a big show in April next year. More on that another time…

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a seasonal address from our very own Jenny Vegas. Unlike the politicians, she cuts through the crap and tells it like it is, all dressed up as a sexy Santa. This is how you get the word out, Theresa: think on it! Actually don’t (can you imagine?) In the meantime, we wish Cabernet Vegas all the very best in rehab, and let’s pull a collective cracker for little Chardonnay, whose tag gets removed in January. Huzzah!

As promised, Idle Eye also had a pop at something seasonal. No hats though, just a rather sad, out-of-character cameo as a Pizza Flyer Delivery Boy in the style of Alan Sillitoe. No jokes, neither. Because who wants them, FFS? There was some other stuff, but unless you were there (and let’s face it, you weren’t) there’s not a lot of point banging on about it. Wasn’t too bad, though.

Well, that’s it for 2016. It’s been a curious journey – from blog to book to the live shows – but I wouldn’t have it otherwise. I’ll write up one of those End of Year thingies after the Big One, but not until: I’ve got a £10 Majestic wine voucher that runs out today & I know where my priorities lie x

Idle Eye 190 : The Big(ger) Picture

X:  2016 is coming to an end. I think it’s time you and I had a chat about what you’re doing.

Me:  Sure. What about it?

X:  Well, for starters, what exactly are you doing? A year ago you said you wanted to be a writer. Now it’s all about these shows and you haven’t written the blog since August. You need to be clear about your end goals because no one else is.

Me:  I wouldn’t worry about that. No one reads it anyway and I needed a breather.

X:  That kind of attitude will get you precisely nowhere.

Me:  I’m already precisely nowhere. Which is why I’m doing the shows.

X:  Okay, let’s take a different tack. Are you making any money from them?

Me:  Absolutely none. In fact, I fork out quite a bit to make it all happen.

X:  So what’s your projected business plan then? Because it’s not looking too crash hot at the moment.

Me:  I don’t have a business plan. Actually, that’s not true, I do: the plan is to keep doing stuff until something gives. Sort of like ‘paying your dues’ when you’re in a band.

X:  Bands don’t ‘pay their dues’ any more, for god’s sake! Your head’s somewhere in the 1970s. And if you don’t come up with something a little more concrete, so is your career.

Me:  I quite fancy a 1970s career, now you mention it. It was all a bit more clear-cut back then.

X:  If you’re not going to take this seriously, don’t come crying to me when you can’t pay the fucking bills.

Me:  All right, all right! Jeez! Well, the way I see it is as a package. The written stuff feeds the live stuff and the audio stuff, I get to meet some great people along the way and eventually I sell the concept.

X:  Who to? Santa? The Magic Fairy Godmother?

Me:  If you’re not going to take this seriously, don’t come crying to me when I can’t pay the fucking bills.

X:  I am serious. Who on earth is going to shell out for your ‘concept’, seeing as it’s doing so well right now?

Me:  Santa.

X:  And what if Santa only wants one of your acts? That Jenny Vegas, for example: you seem to be putting your back into that one.

Me:  You’ve just proved that my concept works in a single sentence.

X:  How exactly?

Me:  Because you mentioned Jenny Vegas.

X:  So?

Me:  Until today, she’s only been part of the shows. But now you’ve put her into the writing, and we’ll probably record this as well. And then I can sell it all on to Santa as a multimedia extravaganza and buy a house in Beverly Hills.

X:  You wrote this, not me!

Me:  Are you saying you don’t exist?

X:  You’re really not at all well, are you?

Me:  I’m fine. The back’s playing up a bit though.

Broken Biscuits No.8.

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Last show of the year, so get yer ya-ya’s out and head off to the coast again! This time it’s at Bognor Regis’s magnificent SeaFiSh, the brainchild of Sean Bw Parker (who has kindly agreed to compere the evening) and inexplicably under threat from Arun District Council. It’s a venue that embraces all forms of the arts and is very much a cultural hive, so to lose it to jobsworths would be nothing short of criminal. Sean has set up a crowdfunding page here to help with legal costs, so if you can help in any way, please do.

Jenny Vegas and Jenny Lockyer are back for this one (in a curious J² BOGOF deal), and James Cook is flying in specially from Berlin to be with us once again – it’s not often you get to write stuff like this. Windy will be getting a look in as well, and the grapevine informs me that there will be a Christmas address, so Idle Eye will be digging deep to find something appropriate to the season. I know, I know. There may even be hats, heaven preserve us! All in all, not a bad way to end a particularly gruelling 2016, so very much worth making the trip for (unless you’re travelling on Southern, in which case we salute you and will arrange in situ councelling as you leave the train).

Broken Biscuits 8 – Fortifying the over forties for tea. I thank you x

Book Update No. 16

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Remember this? If you can’t, please allow me to bring you up to speed: almost exactly one year ago, following on from an intense yet successful Kickstarter campaign, Amateur of Life and Death was released into the world via my very own little publishing wing, Ward 10 Books. Twenty brilliant artists from disparate disciplines and locations all contributed two illustrations, it was beautifully designed by Ursula McLaughlin and it became a hardback as we raised £1000 more than I had originally pitched for. It sold quite a few copies to begin with, but then came the inevitable slowdown and the impenetrable wall of the big stores was never adequately scaled. This upset me at first, but it lead onto the alternative route I have adopted since April; live performance and the Broken Biscuits shows. Which I adore, but the book is still a very real thing, still available and I am immensely proud of it.

As we prepare to enter the season of goodwill, may I humbly suggest the above as an adequate token of affection for a loved one, a colleague, a pet, an accountant or anyone else who knows you. It is quite easy to wrap, has pictures if you don’t like the words, and it fits under most doors. Simply click on the link below and I will sign it & send it to whoever you wish. If the link doesn’t work, could you let me know in the comments please? I’m a bit shit at this stuff which is why I’m not rich.

I thank you x

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Broken Biscuits No.7.

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Once more unto the breach, people of Hastings! BB7 is coming back atcha, because we love you to bits and you deserve it. This time, we’ll be at the Palace, right bang on the seafront (near the pier) and newly restored to its former splendour. Can’t wait!

We’ll be bringing Jenny Vegas with us (can’t keep her away), with her unique brand of celebrity culture gone a bit wrong, all squeezed into a character you can’t help falling for. Not quite sure how the Bernard Matthews Celebrity Tour of Norfolk is managing without her, but I’m sure we’ll get a letter soon. In blood.

David Quantick‘s back too! And we have it on good authority he’ll be doing a new piece called 20 Joan of Arcs By Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. Anyone who was lucky enough to catch him last time will know that this is going to be quite something. Do not miss it; seriously.

And as if all this isn’t enough, we’ve managed to pull off something of a coup: The Magic Wizard (aka Dan Laidler) is going to out a few tunes for the first time ever. His work with Tiger in the 90s cemented his status as one of the UK’s most enigmatic singer/songwriters, and now he’s back. Thank the bloody lord, it’s been a long wait.

Yes, you’ll be getting the Windy’s Farm animations as well. And Idle Eye, now that we’ve worked out how to use the desk and put in funny noises. Also, this time we’ll have a proper compere! St Leonards’s very own Kate Tym has kindly agreed to step in and save me from embarrassing myself in public as per. Worth the ticket price alone.

So, all in all not a bad night out. It’ll be great, actually (I know we always say that but it’s true). See you there x