“That’s a very Georgian beard,” a drunken artist said to me recently, and then when I looked like I might be about to thank him, he clarified; “That means weak.”
I went away and thought about what I should have said. A few suggestions came to mind in the first 10 minutes:
“You, sir, are drunk and fat, and I shall be-” this is where I would falter and look at the floor – “weak bearded in the morning.”
No, Churchill couldn’t help me. What about:
“It’s not a beard, it’s pubes,” and as this sunk in, I’d add; “So, what you think is my body is actually my penis.”
That was too scary an image even for me. A month later, it came to me as I was having a shower:
“You, sir, have a Tudor physique.” And as he worked through his monarchical history, I’d save him the trouble: “That means morbidly obese.”
It’s so-so, I know. The best comeback I ever came back with was effectively handed to me on a plate. I’d bought some Prince-style high heel ankle boots from an ebay shop that catered to women with really big feet (men) and had just managed to make it to the bank machine in Spar before my night out.
“I like your shoes, mate,” came a voice from behind me and I turned to see a ten-headed man-pack. “My mum would like them,” Head No. 1 added, “I’ll give you her number.”
His face fell as he said the last bit, the words drifting over the cold tiled floor towards me like balloons towards a birthday boy.
“Thanks,” I said genuinely. “But I’ve already got it.”
Game Over. He didn’t even pretend he was going to beat me up, he/they just nodded and left.
Mostly though, while everybody else is on twitter-time, bouncing ideas around as fast as they can think them, I’m still posting my ideas by pigeon mail. Only the other day I was trying to sing a love song to Esther but I couldn’t remember the words:
Me: ♬ You’re the something something something of the something something, oh baby, oh baby… ♬
Esther: I like that, is it Steve Martin?
Me: No, it’s Stevie Wonder, I just can’t sing.
I’m well jel of the way stand up comedians can riff endlessly on the spot like action figures with longer than normal pull strings on their backs. Noel Fielding is a prime example. The other week I asked if I could interview Noel as he was passing through Sheffield on his solo tour. His PR asked me for my number and told me he’d be ringing me at midday on a Thursday for a 15 minute interview. Ringing me! Unfortunately, I had lots of students booked in that day, so I swiftly told them all to jog on so I could have a 2 hour gap just in case, you know, we became BFFs. Finally, at 5 minutes to 12, after having emptied my bowels and bought a cappuccino to sip as I was talking to him – no biggie my casual slurps would say – I received a text: ‘Really sorry but Noel has cancelled all interviews today’. Arsecockles! Three hours later, I got another text saying he could ring me at 6 if still convenient. Well, I’m still not going to say no, am I? The next half an hour was a frantic scrabble to keep up with someone who’s mind is a rhinestone-studded random idea generator, where every other line is a comeback to himself: Noel: Hello, is that Sheffield? Me: Hi Noel…I mean, is that London calling? Noel: (giggling) Yes, this is London calling.
Me: Do you mind if I record this? Noel: What, for training purposes?
Me: Ha, no I’m not a very fast writer…
Noel: Is it so you can touch yourself listening to me later?
Me: Haha, (silence as I actually consider it) erm, can I then?
Noel: Ooh I just dropped my contact lens and it killed a passing flying ant… Me: Oh (taking it half seriously) – you’d better pick it up. Noel: No, it was actually a bottle lid, it landed on a small boy’s face… Me: (Giggling) erm… I guess with celebs the smooth stone of their personas is created by the social encounters that flow over and round them every moment of their waking lives. I guess once you give up the idea that you’re ever going to be left alone, you can start having some fun… Or as Johnny Rotten put it when I asked if it was him:
It’s Farrrrrquharrrrr Farrrrrtybottom. I’m here, I’m ready, I’m free!
One day I’ll think of the perfect comebacks and I’ll ring the buggers up to tell them…
Me: You know that time you said that thing…
Them: No. Who are you?
Me: Well what you said was…Hello? Are you there? Come back, I know what to say now!
It seems I’m the Prince Regent of Comebacks.
So on second thoughts, I’ll take Tay’s advice and shake it off!