Broken Biscuits No.10.

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We love Antenna. Clearly, as we’ve done four (count ’em) shows there now and there’s plenty more to come. As we had but an hour to transform the room, things were a little (lot) hectic but we got there somehow and it was packed to the rafters. Seriously, it was. Thanks to everyone who pitched in, bought merch, turned up on another vile weather day, and drank the bar dry. Palace, you did us proud!

Our magnificent compere Tim Suturist was drier than a manzanilla sherry in the desert; in direct contrast to the elements outside. And Jenny Vegas treated everyone to their own personal Valentine Lovescope; in direct contrast to her own car crash of a love life. How she got conned into giving a Boyzone tribute act one is anyone’s guess. Except hers. The lady protests too much, methinks.

Awanyu were nothing short of extraordinary. As if gossamer vocals that soared, swooped and almost shattered over a beautifully subtle acoustic wash weren’t enough, our man certainly knew how to make an entrance. The lamé cape and feathered headdress, removed to a live Eric Satie intro, will not be forgotten in a hurry. Think a male Kate Bush, or Antony & the Johnsons gatecrashing Bowie’s theatre period and you’ll still be miles off.

How to describe the sublimely batty Vivienne Westnorwood? Perhaps, in keeping with the headdress theme, that she rocked up in one fashioned COMPLETELY FROM JAMMY DODGERS!!! Or that she’s so livid about getting on a bit, she managed to punk up the proverbial menopause with a banjo that begged to hold a note. Or that… it really doesn’t matter: this is one kooky lady that had the audience in stitches and is probably still bewildered by the whole thing. Vivienne, we salute you!

As is customary, a mention should be given to Idle Eye. Bless him, he did try to keep up, and some new material was aired. But the real stars of his pitifully short set were his guests – Callum Hughes and Jenny Vegas – who breathed a little life into the twitching carcass of his world view. There is a crowdfunder doing the rounds to send him on a holiday: let’s make it a long one.

There’s going to be a little breather until BB11 in April; to write, to do admin and maybe even go away for a few days. Cabin fever and burnout are the deciding factors, coupled with an ennui that will not heel: I don’t make the rules. Finally, a word out to Mr Donald Ross Skinner. Sadly, he couldn’t be with us for personal reasons and he was sorely missed. Don, hang in there buddy – we miss you, we love you and our thoughts are with you right now xx

Idle Eye 192 : The Grate Sex Guide

Traditionally, I tend to shy away from comment on sensational media stories. They’re usually clickbait, or cooked up from deep within the well of fake news, tailored to have us frothing at the gills over piffle we’ll have forgotten about long before they’ve come up with the next lot. No no no. I subscribe to a couple of respectable broadsheets, which conveniently afford me the illusion that I can filter out any such dross, arm myself with a succinct, accurate world view and lie guilt-free in a bed of my own smugness. For which I make no apology.

Occasionally though, something slips through the net. And today it concerned a young man from Romford, Essex who tried to have sex with a drain cover in the middle of his street. Initially, my curiosity was piqued by the use of the word ‘romp’, as I wrestled with the mental image of a Bacchanalian tryst ‘twixt man and wrought iron, with any neighbouring traffic juddering to a halt in front of the star-crossed lovers. But then I considered the trajectory of the event: there must have been a fulcrum point at which 33-year-old Florin Grosu (sic) was so swollen with lust for his intended, asking it back to his place was totally off the map. Perhaps the grate had gotten coquettish? Or that, in a blaze of white-hot alpha masculinity, our Florin had rushed towards the object of his desire and thrust himself upon it. Which spawned the obvious leading question: how?

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been in a first date scenario, but from what I remember and in all fairness, it can be tricky navigating that initial moment of consent. But when he knew for certain he had a green light and his trousers were ankle-bound, the options available to young Florin became multifold. Which must have been perplexing in the extreme to someone in a presumably altered state, and to whom time was of the essence. Now, I’ve seen stock shots of your average drain cover and, to be blunt, there are approximately twenty inlets. Twenty! So what was the poor boy to do? Select at random the most alluring, or systematically make his way through each one in turn until his manhood had been whittled to a shadow of its former self? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Then must have come the inevitable wave of post-coital self-loathing. When it was brutally evident that the bond between street hardware and human being is platonic for very good reason. But imagine, if you will, there was something more to it. That, after many years of thwarted forays into the quagmire of romance, Florin had finally found something of value and was expressing his gratitude in the only way he knew how. Not so funny now, eh Romford Recorder? Shame on you! For as they say: true love, like proper news, is a battlefield.

Broken Biscuits No.9.

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Another great night. And despite my phone bricking as we were setting up (meaning no one could get hold of me at all for soundcheck info et al), it just added to the wonderful jumble of mayhem that seems to characterise these shows. Almost predictably, Southern Rail robbed us of Joanna Neary (although she has kindly agreed to join us at the Brighton Fringe, more on that another time), and compere Kate Tym was stricken with a virus and held at bay in St Leonards. But we got through it! Here’s how:

With the mighty Mr B, of course! The voice (and banjolele) of reason in a sea of madness, his immaculate set, attire and bonhomie were a joy to behold, as we all knew they would be. And he played The Crack Song, which I will be grateful for until my dying day. We Need To Talk About Kanye was another killer: seek it out and love him forever. This is a gentleman of substance you cannot afford to miss.

With Lorraine Bowen. Her Casiotone-fuelled, endearingly confused mix of pop, fashion and laughter had the house eating out of her hand the minute she stepped on stage. The Crumble Lady herself gave us tunes to die for, moves to watch and learn, and low fidelity acumen to shame the new kids on the block. Seriously, we had a party like it was 1969 and we didn’t want it to stop. Now that’s showbiz!

With Jenny Vegas. Once again, she delivered a blazing set with less than 24 hours notice, this time treating us to a reading from her new book 39 Shades of Brown. Which is as fabulous as it sounds. And she crushed the rumour that she and I are…well, you know…with the most damning words her vocabulary could muster. In front of a live audience. Don’t mess with this lady, she tells it like it is.

With Idle Eye and guests. This time he put a bloody jacket on and looked halfway respectable, let down somewhat by three pairs of reading glasses worn simultaneously. If he learns his lines and comes up with some decent between post banter, it might be worth coming to see his offerings at some point in the future. You heard it here first.

With Joss Perring and Nick Hollywood. Who once again transformed the Komedia Studio into a magical den of light, vintage film and great music. It’s always special to watch this father/son combo at work, particularly when they’re made up to the nines and sporting attractive hats. And Callum Hughes, who stepped in as compere with minutes to spare and masterfully ruddered our kooky ship through the entire evening. And Dan Laidler‘s Windy, who is fast becoming the unsung hero of Broken Biscuits. Hola Windy!

Thank you, Komedia Brighton, that was fab. BB10 is back at Antenna Studios in Crystal Palace on Saturday 11th February. Yes, that soon! Info post comin’ atcha after this. And sleep and red wine. Over and out x

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.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.7.

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BB7 then. Last time we did Hastings, it was Brexit; this time it was Trump. So unsurprisingly, we were given the full might of the elements in return. Horizontal rain and the tail end of a hurricane did their darndest to whip our scrawny arses into submission, but we weren’t having it, no siree; the show had to go on…

Kate Tym, our compere, kicked off the night with this and had us all squirming in our seats. Really, Kate? Really? And just as we were trying to rid ourselves of the mental image of a President Elect’s ginger moobs, The Magic Wizard cast his spell with the finest drone pop since…well, Tiger, actually. Dan Laidler is back, on form and not before time, ably assisted by a couple of blokes he found in Wetherspoons.

David Quantick singlehandedly proved that by changing one word in Bob Dylan’s Wikipedia entry, the entire course of music history as we know it could be seismically altered. In “The Day Bob Dylan Went Disco” we got our Judas moment all funked up; because that’s what he would have wanted.

Idle Eye adhered to the old mantra ‘something old, something new, something borrowed’ etc… There was a bit of quality swearing from his potty-mouthed satnav, samples, spot fx and a rather fetching new teeshirt kindly donated by Magda Archer. Yes, his life is crap; get over it.

To round it all off, Jenny Vegas allowed us a rare glimpse into the rigours of being a consummated professional. Her acting coach, Ophelia Cordelia Bagshaw-Smythe, clearly had her work cut out. Sadly, what happened to Miss Vegas did not stay with Miss Vegas but she soldiers on regardless, bless her…

Windy’s Farm hit the big screen this time. Bloody huge, it was too! Our thanks to The Palace for putting it all on, to everyone who ventured out on the gloomiest of Sundays, and to Brooklyn Lager for aiding and abetting. The last show of the year will be at the wonderful SeaFiSh in Bognor Regis on 15th December, hope to see some of you there. It may or may not have a festive theme, but I’m trying not to think about that just yet. Bah! x