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.
We make our way through the park. I’m still muttering ‘80 quid’ to myself over and over again, so I don’t notice the park has become a market until Joanne and Fax start going ‘Oh look, Himalayan salt lamps!’ I look up from my self-inflicted misery to see stalls selling ‘hand woven dream bags’ (whatever the fuck they are), ‘goat soap’, and crystals. It’s always fucking crystals. I guess we’re not having dinner for a bit then.
They’ve stopped at a stall called ‘The Psychic Hedgerow’. ‘Ooh, tourmaline!’ says Fax. ‘Would that help with potential stage fright?’
Joanne gets a tiny book called Crystal Prescriptions out of her bag, and they pore over the best remedy for stage fright that involves holding a rock.
While Joanne and Fax shit themselves over ‘septarian flame’ and ‘rough agate’, I browse the other stalls. There’s really annoying clicking noise following me wherever I go. With any luck it’ll be my bones giving up, and then I can just lie here in a heap and die quietly. 80 fucking quid. At this point it might have just been easier and cheaper to hand myself over to the Andi Peters QVC Police.
I try to distract myself by looking at dragon statues and handmade cards with pictures of fairies on them. I recognise the fairies as part of the ‘Dawn Bibby Fairy Enchantment Collection’, which they sell late at night on Create & Craft. I told you, I have a problem.
Deciding there’s nothing at this market that makes me want to part with any more money, I go sit on the grass away from the stalls. I’ll catch up with those two when they’ve finished buying pebbles. The clicking noise follows me. I’m struggling to tell if it’s still going on, or if it’s wound me up so much I’m just imagining it now.
What the fuck is that clicking noise? It almost sounds like a typewriter. No, it sounds exactly like a typewriter. I’m so confused. I look round but I can’t see anyone selling typewriters, like that would somehow be a fucking thing anyway. But I’ve got to get to the bottom of this, if only to make it stop. Like a pig hunting for truffles, I follow the noise until I find its source. I cannot believe what the fuck I am seeing.
In a corner of the market under a canopy, a man is sitting on a stool, typing on a typewriter. There’s a sign next to him that says ‘Street Typing £10’.
Street typing. Fucking street typing. He’s wearing a top hat. And I don’t think he’s even typing any actual words, I think he’s just trying to drum up trade.
That’s it. That’s fucking it. Today is not going well. I’ve been rained on, and shouted at by a man in a dress, and then I had all my money stolen, and now the king of the hipsters is sitting here typing specifically to mess with me and annoy me. I march up to him, feeling like it’s a boss fight.
‘What is this?’ I mean to say ‘What are you doing’ but I’m still hammered.
He looks up. ‘Oh hello. Would you like a bespoke poem?’
‘No, unless that poem is called “Stop that Fucking Clicking”.’ Shit, I really am hammered. Oh well, in for a penny. Somebody was going to feel my wrath today, might as well be this Monopoly Man with his keyboard. ‘You could write a poem about how you’re a twat, and that you don’t even know the right buttons!’
Now he looks confused. ‘The right buttons?’
‘You with your fucking horse and your hat.’
‘I suppose it was your girlfriend who stole my money, because you all know each other all you fucking hipsters. I’ve got enough on my plate being chased by QVC!’
Then I start crying.
‘Can I help you?’ he suggests. I plop down next to him, and tell him about my day so far.
He doesn’t say anything, but he looks like he’s thinking. Then he starts hammering furiously on his keys.
He hands me a piece of paper and I read it, thinking it’ll say ‘Get fucked you bitch with a face like a Corsa’, but it doesn’t. It’s a little poem.
I’m sorry you got fleeced on gin,
But you’ll feel better if you grin,
Not everyone’s a ‘hipster twat’,
My name is Tom, I own a cat.
This isn’t actually bad, it rhymes and everything. This is a proper poem, not like that tits and ovaries shite from the other day. It’s like something Pam Ayres would write. I stop crying.
‘That’s very good actually, thank you.’
‘I’m glad you like it, it’s on the house, and I hope you feel better soon.’
After this show of kindness, I don’t feel like shouting at ‘Tom’ any more. I thank him and heave myself up off the floor.
Just as I’m sorting myself out, Joanne and Fax approach. They’re carrying a bag full of crystals. They must have a lot of illnesses that need seeing to.
Joanne looks at me. ‘Have you been crying?’
‘Yes, but it’s all OK now. I was crying at that guy, but then he was nice to me so I stopped crying.’ I point at Tom the street typist.
Joanne is intrigued by the idea of street typing. My distress forgotten, she goes over and studies him.
‘Fax, come and look at this!’
Fax follows her, but he seems reluctant.
‘This is my life partner Fax, he’s a poet too!’
‘Oh cool, nice to meet you man’ says Tom.
Fax doesn’t seem that excited at meeting a fellow poet.
‘Typewriter hey?’ he says. ‘I use a quill.’
‘Oh. OK.’ He looks at Joanne. ‘Would you like a poem?’
‘Ooh yes please!’ Joanne roots round for her purse. I sneak a look at Fax. He looks like someone just insulted his cravat. He pipes up before Joanne can hand her money over. ‘Actually I would like a poem. I would like a 64-line poem about Quetzalcoatl, in iambic pentameter, and every other word has to rhyme.’
Tom stares up at Fax. ‘That’s probably a bit beyond my pay grade dude, sorry.’ He laughs. Clearly he’s used to nutters. Fax is smug now, all thoughts of having to fight this man for Joanne’s honour forgotten.
Joanne is oblivious. She hands over a tenner. ‘Can you do me a poem about being in love with Fax?’
I think she means a poem about her being in love with Fax, not Tom being in love with Fax. He puts his head down to work, or hide his laughing, one of the two.
‘Fax writes some beautiful poetry for me,’ simpers Joanne. Then, to my horror, she starts to recite his latest masterpiece. I’m giggling too much to catch all of it, but I catch the lines ‘Oh M’Lady’s bosom, warm and comforting as a tin of custard, after it’s been warmed up…’
I can see Tom’s shoulders shaking as he types. Jesus Christ, even the guy in the top hat doing ‘street typing’ thinks Fax is ridiculous.
When he’s finished, Tom yanks out the paper and hands it over to Joanne, still trying to compose himself. She reads it aloud:
Belov’d by Joanne
Oh his name is Fax
He wears a scary kilt
And those are all the facts
Fax seems mollified. At least he’s convinced Tom isn’t trying to steal his ‘M’Lady’, since his poem didn’t include ‘leave that bellend and give me your number, I’ll take you out for a curry’. As if there was any chance on earth that he would do that.
‘What a wonderful poem!’ she swoons. If I didn’t know better I’d think she was swooning at Tom, but I do know better, and I know she’s swooning over Fax. The only reason she loves this poem is because it’s got the word ‘Fax’ in it. I would try to explain this to all parties, but there isn’t really anyone I wouldn’t offend in the process:
I’d have to say to Tom ‘she doesn’t really like your poem, it’s just got the word “Fax” in it,’ and then I’d have to tell Joanne ‘Tom’s poems are much better than Fax’s poems, which are shit,’ and then I’d have to say to Fax ‘as if any fucker would ever try to get off with Joanne. Apart from you, obviously.’ At which point everyone would be crying, and I might have a typewriter inserted in me.
I decide to wisely say nothing, apart from ‘Shall we get some dinner?’ To my relief, they agree to this and we carry on away from the market and through the park. As we’re walking, it occurs to me that the bit about Joanne isn’t actually true. Last year her friend Spoz (with his pink Mohican, leather trousers, Grange Hill-style bully demeanour), decided he was going to fight Fax for Joanne’s honour. Let’s just say it was me who ended that fight, and I don’t want to think about it.