On the run from Andi Peters following a misunderstanding about cruises, Melissa begrudgingly agrees to follow her friend Joanne (and Joanne’s 17th century throwback ‘life partner’ Fax) to the Edinburgh Fringe. While leafleting for Fax’s dreadful stand up show about faith healing and vegans, Melissa endures the highs and lows of pretentious student plays, ‘street typing’, and the knowledge that her shop has been left in the hands of someone who doesn’t understand tills…

Crap Comedy is the follow up to the 2018 novel Crap Holiday. Read it here.

I’m sitting in the Co-op, trying to decide if I should bother getting an umbrella. I don’t own one, and I have no idea if they sell them in Scotland. They might all just not care about rain up there.

This is the least I’ve ever looked forward to a holiday, and I’m even including that bloody festival of lavender and BO in that. At least then I sort of wanted to get away for a week; here I have no choice because the police, the FBI and Andi Peters are all after me. This is somehow Joanne’s fault, it always is. And even though it’s nothing of the sort, that’s not going to stop me angrily eating this crunchie that I must remember to pay for later, if I remember.

The plan that I’m vaguely forming in my head is to get to Edinburgh, find out what kind of flea-bitten hovel we’re staying in, and stay there for the next seven days, eating crisps and playing freecell on my phone. That’s my kind of holiday. I have no interest in bagpipes, interpretive dance, or poems about how vowels are fucking racist.

Right on cue, she texts me.

‘Hello Melissa, this is Fax texting you from the telephone.’

Still hasn’t figured out how we communicate in this dimension, I see.

‘I just wanted to remind you that if you have some obsidian, you should definitely bring it to Scotland.’

He doesn’t say why, nor does he say that he knows I don’t have any fucking obsidian.

‘If you want to reply to my message, you can press “reply” on your phone.’

What is wrong with him? I can’t cope with this. Instead of replying, I bury my phone at the bottom of my bag, and go back to my crunchie.

I still haven’t asked Kay to cover the week for me. I know deep down that she will if I beg and plead enough, because she feels sorry for me. Karen always felt sorry for me, and those two still do things like go out for prosecco together. Plus, I’m the manager now, I can offer to pay her a million billion quid an hour if she says yes, and then that’ll be head office’s problem, not mine.

Why can I never just do normal shit? Why can’t I just have a nice week in Majorca with pina coladas and lilos? My brain reminds me that I could have gone on a cruise in Abu Dhabi. My brain is clearly only bringing that up to piss me off.

Right, let’s have another crunchie.

‘Morning boss!’

I’m not his boss. I’m just someone unfortunate enough to have to deal with him when he loses his fucking trousers. I mumble something half-assed and go back to my crunchie.

Instead of sorting out the milk then immediately leaving, like I wish he would, Saif comes to the counter and puts what looks like a child’s exercise book on it.

‘I’ve been working on a business plan for the Co-op!’

‘What, the whole company?’

‘Yeah!’

Why can I never just die like I want to? Those pages are gonna be full of mental ideas like ‘free tin of sauce’, only this time they’ll have bullet points next to them. I know what business plans look like, I’ve seen The Apprentice.

The idea of Saif on The Apprentice makes me laugh while I’m trying to swallow my crunchie. I almost choke to death, but sadly I don’t.

‘I’ve got some ideas for marketing. I found this company online that will do a marketing campaign for the Co-op in the growth market of Brazil for only £25 million!’

‘You know what, I think the Co-op’s OK for marketing. Thanks anyway.’

He’s not listening. ‘Can you get me a procurement form that I can send to head office? And a stamped addressed envelope.’

Out of morbid curiosity, I open the exercise book. He’s written his ‘business plan’ with what looks like a pink glittery gel pen.

‘Is this your pen?’

‘No it’s my sister’s. She said I could use it because I told her I was doing a dossier on the Brazil growth market.’

‘I see. How old’s your sister?’

‘Six.’

Today isn’t working out very well for me, I’ll be honest. I have a hangover and if I could trust Saif not to sell the shop to Brazil, or whatever the fuck he’s planning to do, I’d go home.

I take the exercise book and put it in my bag. ‘I’ll have to see some other people about this. I’ll be in touch.’

He stands there looking at me, not understanding that this bit of our conversation, enjoyable as it was, has come to an end.

‘Can you go sort the milk out please?’

‘Can do!’

When he’s out of earshot I phone Kay. She answers almost immediately.

‘Don’t ask me to do it again Mel…’

I could tell her why I’m so desperate. I could tell her about the cruise, and about Andi Peters, and about the 0.0000001% chance that I might even get to meet Andrew Lincoln, even though I know that’s a load of balls. But I don’t think she’d understand about Andi Peters being after me.

I could come up with an elaborate excuse, like my Uncle Jeff has died of leprosy, and the funeral is in Greece and it’s going to last a week. Probably shouldn’t use that one again though.

I take a deep breath and go straight for it –

‘I’ll give you half of my wages for the week if you do it.’

‘What? Are you really that desperate?’

‘Yes.’

There’s a pause. ‘Why?’

‘It’s complicated, but it involves not being able to be at home for a week or so.’

‘Have you murdered someone?’

‘I wish!’ That probably came out wrong.

There’s a longer pause. ‘I’ll do it on one condition.’

‘Name it.’

‘You have a word with Saif before you go, and you threaten him with death if he tries any of his ‘business’ shit while I’m there.’
I don’t tell her about the exercise book.

‘Plus, you’ll be on the phone 24/7 if I need you to talk him out of doing whatever shit it is he’s bound to come up with.’
‘Agreed. You’re a superstar.’

‘And did you mean that about half your wages? Only I’m looking to get a new cooker…’

Well, that was my own fault I guess. Can’t back out now. ‘Yes, I’ll give you half, and you can get a bastard aga.’

That’s that sorted out then. I serve a couple of customers, accidentally eat another crunchie, then I pass five minutes by dreaming about kicking Saif in the bollocks.

We’re all going on a summer bastard holiday.

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