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.

Oh Jesus Christ not again. Right, brain, what did we do this time?

‘Me?’ snorts my brain. ‘Don’t look at me, this is your stupid fault. You know I can’t talk to you when you’ve had ten gins. I had an early night last night, so don’t come asking me what you got up to.’

I don’t need to open my eyes to know this is bad, I can smell the cough medicine. However, when I do finally open my eyes I discover I’m alone in the bed. Small mercies, I suppose. Eww, my foot just touched a sock.

I go through yesterday morning’s routine of crawling to the bathroom, being sick, then sitting on the loo trying to remember the night’s events. Christ, is this my life now? Am I doomed to repeat this cycle for all eternity? Or at least until Sunday. I hope not.

I’m pretty sure we both stayed at the Kilderkin until closing. Couldn’t tell you any more than that if you threatened me with a red-hot poker. As I’m sitting there, glassy eyed and staring at nothing in particular, my eyes focus on a box of Tampax. My brain is still mad at me, because it doesn’t come up with anything other than ‘huh’.

Back in the bedroom, I notice a flash of something pink and lacy mixed in with the pants in the laundry basket. Further investigation reveals it to be a bra. ‘Huh, look at that,’ says my brain. ‘A bra.’

I guess Lee’s downstairs, because Radio 1 starts up again. I pull my jeans on and sit on the bed, hoping he doesn’t come upstairs and try to hug me and offer me tea again.

What feels like two weeks later, my brain finally decides to start talking to me again. ‘Jesus you’re such a dunce sometimes. Look for more woman things.’ I do, and then what I’m really amazed by is my previous failure to notice certain things. The pair of earrings on the bedside table. The high heels in a tangled heap next to the wardrobe. The pair of tights poking out from under the bed. The issue of Cosmopolitan next to the toilet.

Suddenly, going downstairs becomes something out of a James Bond film. I scan my surroundings for anything that might either confirm what I think, or alert Lee that I’m awake.

Just as I’m on the middle step and cursing myself for having left my bag in the kitchen, he opens the door. ‘Good morning, you will have breakfast today won’t you? I’ve made it specially.’

I follow him into the kitchen. My eyes have now become military scanning devices. Not that they need to be, the evidence is all around me in the light of day. Letters on the fridge addressed to ‘Mr & Mrs Hart’, some jewellery and a tub of Olay cream left on the worktop, the shifty look on Lee’s face as he clocks my expression.

‘What’s up?’ he doesn’t look at me as he asks this.’

I’m not in the mood for pissing about with some guy I don’t even like and have no interest in seeing again. ‘Are you married?’

He doesn’t say anything, he just shrugs.

Well. Welly welly well well. I’ve never been in this situation before, so I’m not entirely sure what the correct thing to do is.

‘She’s away for the week.’ He says this like it’s no big deal.

Part of me is quite flattered that he thought shagging me was a good use of his week.

‘Hang on, why did you tell Joanne you were my boyfriend?’

He shrugs again. ‘I thought that’s what you wanted me to say.’

‘No not really.’

‘Oh.’

We stand there for a minute. Lee offers me a cup of tea.

‘No I don’t think I will, I think I’ll just head off.’

‘Fair enough.’

He doesn’t see me out, and I’m too tired and hungover to be mad at him. I’m mostly just relieved I don’t need to wake up next to his balding face again. Holiday romances are definitely overrated.

The only thing I really regret is that I never got to have a go on his Soda Stream.

Joanne and Fax just look at me and giggle to each other when I stagger into the kitchen. No doubt they think this is the start of something beautiful. Actually, what it is is the start of a hangover, and possibly cystitis.

I decide to head them off before they can start making jokes about rowan trees, and before Joanne starts offering to infuse condoms with moon energy for me. ‘I won’t be seeing Lee again, he’s married.’

I don’t need to turn round to see their expressions. I don’t bother explaining that, actually, this makes me very happy because the whole thing was an accident in the first place. After a minute, while I fanny about making coffee, and listen to Joanne trying to hiss silent orders at Fax, he jumps up from the table. ‘Must go check I’ve got enough obsidian left.’

Enough left? What’s he doing, fucking eating it?

He’s out of the door just as I’m lowering my creaking bones down onto a chair. Joanne looks at me.

‘What?’

‘Do you want to talk about it?’

‘Joanne, did you kick Fax out of the room for this?’

‘…Yes.’

I’m touched. Being away from Fax must be giving her all sorts of indigestion.

‘I appreciate the thought, but really, I’m fine. I mean, I’ve got a bastard hangover, but apart from that. It couldn’t have turned out any better if I’m honest.’

Her reaction to this reminds me that I never actually explained to Joanne how I met Lee in the first place, and that I only went out with him because he looked like a pound shop Andrew Lincoln a bit, after a few gins, if I squinted.

‘It was after you’d gone to see that gorilla flinging its own shit about.’

She tuts. ‘That’s not what it was. It was an art piece.’

‘Whatever. I was watching this balancing guy, and he was stood next to me, and we just, sort of… got talking. You know how it is. I was bored.’

‘And you’re sure you’re OK about this?’

She actually looks concerned. ‘Honestly I’m perfectly happy with it. I don’t know what to tell you – the whole thing happened by accident.’

To change the subject I start telling her about the queue I accidentally formed. Her laughter is clearly a sign for Fax that’s it’s OK to come back into the room, because the ‘women things’ are over. Fuck knows why – he’s more of a woman than I’ll ever be.

We decide to spend the morning knobbing about and seeing what’s on offer. I like the sound of this. No leafleting, no fighting off unicycle men and students, no getting kicked out of pubs for ‘hate speech’.

‘What would you like to do?’ asks Joanne, in what I think is a first for our friendship. When I just shrug, she gets a pile of leaflets from the living room, and spreads them out on the table.

‘We were quite keen on this one…’

She hands me a leaflet.

‘Romeo and Juliet told from the point of view of falcons…’

I hand it back to her, shaking my head. She tries again.

‘Bagpipes and Ballsacks – a look at toxic Scottish masculinity…’

One of the leaflets does catch my eye – a live performance of Nonsense!, which I used to watch all the time when I was a kid. It was one of those ‘answer questions, do stupid shit, get gunged’ shows, possibly on ITV. My excitement grows as I read the leaflet.

Fucking hell, it’s presented by Dave Nonsense! He must be knocking on a bit now. When I was a kid, I never once questioned the legitimacy of the name ‘Dave Nonsense’, and assumed it was just a huge coincidence. Thinking about it now though, I’m sceptical of the claim that anyone on the planet is genuinely called Dave Nonsense.

The leaflet promises ‘a nostalgic afternoon of giggles, games and gunge for kids of all ages’. We must go to this. I hand the leaflet to Joanne without a word. She studies it.

‘Oh I think I remember watching that.’ She doesn’t seem suitably enthusiastic. Tough shit, because I’ve decided that is what we are doing.

‘That’s tomorrow anyway.’

‘Oh is it?’ Of course it is. Of course it’d be on a Saturday morning. ‘Fine, that’s what we’re doing tomorrow then.’ I try to arrange my face so that it says ‘I am nearly excited enough by this to shit myself, and if you stamp on my dreams I will never forgive you, and also I will flush your weed down the loo’. I think it works.

‘Fax, this OK with you?’

Fax doesn’t strike me as someone who watched TV when he was a kid. Fax doesn’t strike me as someone who’s ever been a kid. I feel like he was born like that. To my surprise, his eyes light up as he scans the leaflet. ‘Oh marvellous! I’ll look forward to this!’ Joanne looks as puzzled as I feel, but I guess that’s that sorted. In the meantime, what are we going to do today?

‘How about we just go out and see what’s on?’ I suggest. If nothing else, we’ll get to watch another guy balancing on one finger, or setting his dick on fire for coins.

Well?

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