Thursday, 25 November 2010


You've heard the one about the Englishman, the Irishman and the Scotsman walking into a bar.  (With the barman turning around and saying 'What's this?  Some sort of a joke?)

Well, with the author of this blog as ever dedicating her daylight hours to comedy (the hours of darkness are a bit of a bloody joke as well, nice of you to bring it up again), it befell me (an Englishwoman) to enter one such hostelry last weekend with an American, a Canadian and a Polish woman.   There was free jazz playing, and we're suckers for anything free jazz.

But interesting point.  (Hey!  The first one since 1984!)  My friends here in Nice hail from all over the world.  There's a British Greek Cypriot married to a Norwegian (and, funnily enough, a Norwegian married to a British Greek Cypriot...that's a bit of a coincidence), a Cuban married to a Dane (now I come to think of it, I'm also acquainted with a Dane married to a Cuban, well, well, well), a Russian, a couple of Icelandic folk (not married to each other, even slightly), a smattering of Americans (why DO they have to smatter all the time???), some Eastern Europeans, some Western Europeans, a Swedish woman (who seems to be the only person on the planet to understand Swedish - frankly it's all Greek to me), a few Italians...even, possibly, the odd French person (don't tempt me).

It becomes more complicated still when I tell you that the British Greek Cypriot/Norwegian couple are currently living in Qatar (bless you!), whilst the Cuban/Danish pair have settled in Nova Scotia for a bit. (A bit of what, I can't tell you here, children might be looking in). Not to mention the Swedish woman having hared off to Dubai.  (Shh! Don't mention it!)

And so here's me, one lonely weekend, left solely with an American, a Canadian and a Polish woman.  (I actually met a man the other month - this is true - who told me his ancestry was English, Irish and Scottish...see?  Everyone's a comedian!)

Santa (the American, you've met her before in these pages) called me up to tell me about the free stuff jazz, and we arranged to meet at the tram stop close to where we both live before hooking up with the others.  (Not that we're hookers.  No idea how to play rugby at all). After we'd greeted each other I asked Santa about Felicja, the Pole, whom I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting before.

'Well,' Santa offered.  (Always a bad sign).  'She's a little...erm...avant garde'.

Right.  One of those evenings, then.

'And she's always, always late'.

So we waited.  It was a clear evening, not too cold, stars twinkling in the black sky.  

La la la.  

[Feel free to make a cup of coffee at this point, Felicja is going to take a while longer to get here.  But make sure you don't spill anything onto the keyboard when you get back.  They're a bugger to dry out.]

Seen any good films lately???

Oh!  Here she is now!

From external appearances, Felicja didn't look that avant garde.  Two arms, two legs, nose in the right place (Picasso might have had to rearrange her features a little to include her in one of his efforts), a ready smile.  And a hearty laugh.  More of which later.

Finally, we found Veronica (the Canadian), and, having the full joke quota, entered the bar.

The jazz was very good.  A trio: singer and rhythm guitar, guitar and double bass.  Three sets, a real bargain for the price.  (Erm, that is, had there been a price, which there wasn't.  But then, that depends on what the price would have been, had there been one, as to just how much of a bargain it would have been...gosh, life is complicated.  I blame the Euro).

But, whilst the music was great, even better entertainment was Felicja. She speaks no English whatsoever - which is fine, this is France, after all - but while she's lived in Nice for 14 years, her French accent can best be described as 'Polish' (don't try this at home; nobody will be able to understand a sodding word you say), and she bursts out into very loud, raucous laughter every 13 seconds.


Santa looked at me.  I looked at Santa.  Santa looked at Veronica. Veronica looked at me.  

(Why me???  I wasn't the one looking at her!!!)  

'Would you like to try my Guinness?' Santa generously offered Felicja.


'The decor's nice here, isn't it?'


'Oh, I heard this song on the radio this morning.' 


I read once that Peter Cook, the innovative cult British comedian, bemoaned the fact that dinner parties were a complete bore, thanks to everyone assuming that whatever emanated from his lips was some sort of exceedingly witty joke.  So whenever he said: 'Pass the salt,' everyone else around the table would fall off their seats with laughter, clutching their stomachs in pain, when actually all he wanted was for them to pass the salt.  

When I say this was fine entertainment, the first hour or so was amusing enough, after which time it began to pall a little.  And then the whole evening started to go south.

The female singer/rhythm guitarist announced a guest singer/rhythm guitarist.  Clap clap clap.  Onto the stage climbed a somewhat vertically-challenged man (took him 5 minutes with a ladder) who proceeded to strum and sing completely out of tune.  (Too short for the high notes).  And he showed no sign of relinquishing his 15 inches of fame.

That would be time to go, then.  The waitress brought over the bill.  

I have to relate that it was exceedingly dark in the place; when we had been perusing the menus earlier on in the evening we couldn't make out a damned thing, but the waiting staff just stood there looking at us, impatient for us to choose something from a list of items we couldn't see.  Could have been a brochure from the local fishing tackle suppliers for all we knew.  However, we ordered our drinks and a couple of bowls of fries (I hope) to share between us.  (Doesn't matter anyway - whatever they were tasted very nice with mayonnaise.  Even if they were wriggling around in your mouth).  A while after we'd ordered an older couple joined our table, menus in hand, at which point the lights were suddenly turned up.  And after they'd spoken to the waitress, guess what?  The lights were dimmed once more.


Anyway, now, as we endeavoured to decipher the bill in near total blackness, Santa got out her mobile phone in an effort to shine the light of its screen onto the teensy piece of paper with the faint printing on it, the rest of us leaning forward in order to peer at it, when all of a sudden


She'd unwittingly taken a photograph of the till receipt, making us look like a bunch of bungling 1972 Watergate spies.  We all dissolved into fits of uncontrollable laughter, to disapproving looks from the other clientele, who were concentrating hard on trying to discern just how out of tune the short guy with the ladder actually was. (Exceedingly).

There then followed an argument with the waitress about said bill - however much money we gave her, she kept telling us it wasn't enough - and this took ten minutes to resolve.

Worse was to follow.  For on emerging from the joke hostelry, we found that it was teeming down.  Not only with rain, but with Very Wet Rain, my least favourite kind.  Felicja and I had each brought umbrellas on the off chance the weather would suddenly deteriorate (we grew up in Northern Europe, it's part of our training), and with these (teensy, handbag-sized) pieces of nylon we endeavoured to keep all four of us dry.  (We failed).

After the twelve minute swim to the tram stop, Felicja suddenly looked at Santa and burst out with:


Santa looked at Felicja.  'Whose name's Kevin???'

Felicja looked at Santa.  'That guy!'

'WHICH GUY???'  Santa was a little discombobulated now.  


'The guy we were talking about on the phone last Wednesday!'


A bit later we all separated, which was good news for Felicja, because Santa was on the verge of separating her from her bits in ways she might not have enjoyed.  Santa and I were the last to say goodbye, and I attempted to recombobulate her before she had to paddle home in what was now a torrential downpour.

I live five minutes walk from the tram stop.  I didn't mind, I was wet already, the streets were well lit and I had fun dancing around the puddles.  The evening had been going downhill for the last hour or so, but hey, I was nearly home now, what else could happen?

I reached my road and looked forward to setting foot inside the lobby of my apartment block.  All of a sudden I heard CLOMPCLOMPCLOMPCLOMP behind me, heavy feet approaching me quickly.  I turned around in fright, to espy none other than Monkey Woman running through the precipitation.  She passed me and got to the apartment building first.  And SWEARWORD hell, she held the door open for me!

I muttered a grudging 'merci', and whilst she went to the lift, I fiddled about opening and closing my mail box.  Dammit, the lift took an age to arrive, and I couldn't spend a second longer pretending to sort the non-existent letters, and so I walked to the back of the foyer.  Monkey Woman got into the lift, I veered off to the right and walked up five flights of stairs.  Believe it or not (I'm not making this up, honest), we got to the fifth floor at exactly the same time.  Monkey Woman got out of the lift and quickly went towards her lair, I passed the back of her (breathing in - I hear exercise and diet can be very effective for that area) and opened my own front door.

Home, if not dry.  Exhausted from the laughter.  Worried about the little guy probably still trying to clamber down from the stage.

Always wondered what it would be like to take part in a joke, and now I know.


A sausage goes into a bar and orders a pint of beer.  The barman says 'Sorry, we don't serve food'.

A white horse walks into a bar and the barman says 'I stock a brand of whisky with your name!'  And the white horse says 'What?  Eric?'

A man walks into a bar carrying a roll of tarmac and says 'A pint please, and one for the road'.

(And you thought my jokes were bad...)

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Please be nice, but not funnier than me. Thanks.