I farted in work today.
And not just a little silent one like the kind that girl’s do. I’m talking about a long, sustained rumble of a fart. The kind that makes you take a large breath in through your nose just to be sure. This happened just as I approached my colleague’s desk to pass on a phone message. Of course it was a female colleague. It’s always a female. It was a female the time I fell out of my chair on the threshold of the exit to the building, why wouldn’t it be a female when every last breath of wind escapes through my back passage in one go?
This is clearly an acute embarrassment. Mortifying. We both somehow managed to ignore it but we both knew. It was an unspoken truth. We just got on with talking about what I had gone over to talk about but it was there, lingering, like a fart does. Had it been a male colleague we might well have been able to laugh it off, gently jabbing each other with a fist and shouting 'har-har' like Edmund and Bob in Blackadder II. In my defence it is not my fault. I have no idea this is going to happen until I hear the beginnings of the sound itself. By then it is too late. You could shove a cork up there and it would be like the story of the boy with his finger in the dyke or whatever it was. King Canute trying to stop the tide. Steven Gerrard trying to play as a holding midfielder without Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge to keep the ball at the other end of the field for him. A fools errand.
I don’t want to tar all disabled people with the same soiled old brush. The reason I don’t know about this before it happens is my disability but it is just that…my disability. We’re all different and Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard does not claim to represent all disabled people. It is based only on the experiences of one disabled person in particular. And not a particularly well adjusted disabled person at that. Not everyone has my shortcomings. At the same time there are people who are worse off. On Sunday I spent a good 15 minutes with a good friend of mine which mainly consisted of anecdotes about various people of varying disabilities soiling themselves in ever more impressive and amusing ways. At one point I was falsely accused of shitting in my own hair in an incident that can only be described as a shite shampoo. It wasn’t me but I sympathise with anyone who has had this happen to them. As my wise friend said, it’s not whether you shit yourself, it’s how you deal with it. If this amuses you it’s ok. Incontinence can be funny, it just takes a few years or so for the person suffering the incontinence to join in with the joke.
Incontinence is sort of linked to what I really wanted to tell you about tonight which is Nights On Broadway…The Story Of The Bee Gees. Only the incontinence there was mostly in the audience due to their average age. The show was staged at the Theatre Royal in town and that, owing to my previously positive experiences of theatres, was enough to persuade me that it might be worth a go. It’s not cool to say so, but the Bee Gees were brilliant. Their body of work rivals that of anyone you can name. Yes, even that of Cheryl Whatever Her Name Is This Week. As songwriters the Bee Gees were peerless and prolific so I am well acquainted with their material. On the other hand my previous experience of the Theatre Royal extends to my participation in a school production of War Of The World’s which must have been held there some time during the early to mid 1980’s. I can’t remember what part I played. I was either a Martian or a tree but frankly what is the difference when it comes to wheelchair dance? All I can recall is the gruff narration of Richard Burton and the haunting soundtrack. If we performed it now and you came in expecting Tom Cruise running around shouting you would be gravely disappointed. I’m not exactly proud of my performance, put it that way. Or of the production as a whole. If I was to summarise it I would say that it was marginally more embarrassing than farting in work, but slightly less embarrassing than shitting in your own hair. I imagine.
First of all I would take issue with the title of the show. Nights On Broadway. Emma and I have had a few Nights On Broadway and they were nothing like this. Though it was cancelled due to an invasion of Philistines, the Rocky musical was utterly, jaw droppingly fabulous while the Motown show we saw was chock-full of people you had never heard of who nevertheless had bucket loads of talent. That these performers remain anonymous while middle aged women from GodKnowsWhere achieve fame for baking a cake is a fact which makes my eyes bleed. As such we will end the discussion there before I have another accident. Oh, and Bee Gees Story, you say? Story? This implied that we might emerge at the end of the show having learned something that we may not previously have known about the Bee Gees. That would have required acting and dialogue, of which there was precisely none. What we had here was effectively a tribute band, and a very iffy tribute band at that. This lot didn’t need the Theatre Royal at £17.50 a clip at all. They were strictly Chicago Rock on a Wednesday night, By Jovi, Robbing Williams, Zoo 2 material.
Barry Gibb was played by Bjorn Borg, I’m sure of it. Aswell as being a Swedish tennis legend Borg is known for the fact that he doesn’t bother getting out all that much these days. It is unlikely he would subject himself to attempting to replicate Barry’s famous falsetto. Yet the man playing Barry was a dead ringer for Borg. Barry-Bjorn’s falsetto jolted you out of your seat as he screeched to find the smoothness with which the real Barry delivers his vocals. Robin was probably the most competent singer of the trio but probably the one who looked least like a Bee Gee. Which is saying something when you consider that you have a five-time Wimbledon champion playing Barry. Maurice looked the part but rather like the real Maurice, that was mostly down to his ability to grow a beard and wear a hat and then just blend in.
When Emma pointed out to me that they weren’t even playing the instruments they were holding, and that the only truly live music was coming from the band at the back of the stage I was starting to think in terms of a refund. The guitarist may or may not have been our own Johnny Vegas but as for the others, I couldn’t see them due to the location of the accessible seating. Should you have the temerity to turn up to the Theatre Royal without the ability to walk you will be placed at the end of the row and in your eyeline there will be a large speaker blocking the screen behind the performers on stage. Thankfully, all I seemed to miss on said screen was an inexplicably inappropriate Kenny Everett sketch from his 1970’s television show in which he mercilessly lampoons the Bee Gees while ironically remaining blissfully unaware of his own shiteness. Saying that, when I was about six the sight of Everett crossing and uncrossing his legs and saying ‘all in the best possible taste’ at every opportunity was the very height of comedy as far as I was concerned. But I was six years old and I do fart in work.
The lack of any acting or actual story may or may not have been compensated for by an attempt on the part of the band to sound like the Bee Gees when they were talking to the audience in between numbers. But they were Irish. So Irish were they, in fact, that they sang ‘true’ instead of ‘through’ and ‘dis’ instead of ‘this’. At various points along the way they repeatedly mentioned that this (dis?), humble old St.Helens, was the last stop on their UK tour. Where the bloody hell else had they been? My mind whirred with the possible permutations. But don’t worry, they told us, they would be available in the lobby at the end for photographs and to sign copies of the DVD. The DVD? At this point my thesaurus isn’t up to the job. They have a DVD? The Bee Gees did a live show in Las Vegas or New York or somewhere exotic which can often be seen on Sky Arts and indeed, with some irony, was broadcast by that channel again on Sunday night just past. You would have had a far greater Bee Gees experience, and learned more about the band and their ‘story’ by staying at home and watching that show than we did by going out on a damp night in November.
Afterwards we stumbled bewildered into the nearest pub and unexpectedly found Stillia, a local band made up of teenagers with loud guitars, playing live. They were very good as it turned out and you can see them again this Friday night at The Glass House in town if you are so inclined. They play everything from George Ezra to The Killers, The Stereophonics and some of their own stuff. No Bee Gees alas.
But for us, at that particular point in time, that was a good thing.