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.

The train carriage smells of wee. For some reason I keep thinking going to the buffet car would help with this problem. It might help for all I know, but I’m never going to test that theory since it involves moving. Better to just learn to live with the wee smell.

Joanne and Fax were still in bed when I left this morning. This was good because I didn’t have the embarrassment of them coming to see me off like they’d threatened to last night when they were smashed (Fax said something about a hankie). On the other hand, I did have to hold in my puke and judgement long enough to go into their bedroom while they were in it.

I inched my head around their door, nose first; to my relief they weren’t engaged in copious amounts of farmyard grunting and I Gave My Love A shitting Cherry, they were just asleep. Joanne was snoring.

‘Guys, I’m off now.’

No reply.


No reply. At least one of them farts.


Joanne wakes up. ‘What?’

‘I’m going now.’

‘Going where?’

‘…Alton Towers.’


I’m going to the train station aren’t I?’

‘Oh right yeah.’ Joanne thinks for a minute. ‘Will you get me a sugar free Red Bull while you’re out?’

‘Yeah.’ I don’t bother explaining to her why this is not going to happen. I’m too hungover and late for my train to start going over the finer points of energy drink logistics.

I didn’t think I was going to be this hungover but here I am. I should have known really. Once we’d got around the initial surprise of the red sauce in the shim-shams, Joanne and Fax decided they were actually quite nice and demanded I make more. By this point I’d not only had a shim-sham, I’d also had a million billion pitchers of “Assblaster” and a load of god knows what. I was in no fit state to make a glass of water, let alone a shim-sham sequel; I couldn’t even remember what I’d put in them.

We were out of Halesowen dry gin. We were out of wine. We were even out of red sauce. I was a bit stumped. After some thought, I decided to improvise by ‘borrowing’ a bottle of something I found in Stefan’s cupboard. It had angry looking Polish writing on it, and it smelled like something my mum used to clean her shoes with. Perfect.

Shim-sham version 2.0:

Polish furious liquid
That’s it

My gamble paid off, I’m pretty sure they didn’t notice the new and improved recipe. As an extra-clever piece of thinking on my part, I stuck a note on Stefan’s now half-empty bottle before I put it back in the cupboard –

“Yo, I drank this – Joanne”

That’ll learn her.

Anyway, that’s why I’ve now got a hangover.

I think I might have identified the wee smell. There’s a small boy sitting across from me with his mother. I suspect it’s the boy who smells of wee, not the mother. He’s yelling at her, a non-stop monologue about something called an ‘end dragon’. Fuck knows. The mother’s nodding along while trying to be asleep at the same time. He doesn’t seem to notice. To be honest, I think she could be dead and he’d still keep talking about this dragon thing.

‘Muuummm, pay attention! This is important – you need to know about ender pearls!’

‘Callum, that’s enough Minecraft. Mummy has a headache.’

‘But I was telling you about ender pearls!’


He folds up into a huff. For about four seconds. Then he sees me looking.

‘Do you like Minecraft?’

Oh shit he’s talking to me now. I do not want this to happen. I try desperately to catch the mother’s eye, but she’s determined to sit there with her eyes closed. Serve her right if I throw her son out of the window.

‘Do you like Minecraft?’


He rolls his eyes and sighs, the little shit. ‘Mine – craft!’

Right, I know this one. I’ve heard of Minecraft. I know it’s a video game because occasionally we stock this magazine that claims to be full of ‘tips and tricks’ for it. But I’m fucked if I’m going to let him have a conversation about it at me.

‘No, I hate Minecraft.’

He looks at me like I’ve just told him Santa isn’t real. Might do that next actually.

He doesn’t say anything; he’s clearly plotting his next move. I must be on my guard. The battle lines have been drawn by my not liking Minecraft.

And now the man’s coming with the trolley. Shit, I promised myself I wasn’t going to have anything on the train. I was going to arrive back home all fresh faced and vibrant, and maybe pop in and show my face at work on the way, just to check Saif hasn’t accidentally hosted a Forex seminar at the Co-op. But that was before I had this 6 year old debating partner.

‘Two Smirnoffs and a Gordons please.’

I down a vodka and feel like more of an intellectual match for the kid. He’s decided to keep talking about Minecraft despite me telling him I hate it.

‘…and then I got a diamond helmet. Even if you played Minecraft you’d never get a diamond helmet, none of the girls in my class have ever got any diamond armour at all…’

Time for the other vodka. I start to wonder how Curious Cathy would have handled this. I know Bozo the clown would have just called him a fat bitch then gone to the pub.

‘…and I bet you’d never get any netherite. Emily Crawford out of my class said she got a full set but she never did, because…’

Time for the gin.

‘… she just tried to build a house out of melons instead…’

The trolley man’s still our carriage, thank god. I get some more gin.

‘My mummy says that’s what bad people drink.’

I look at the mother. I think she’s legitimately asleep now. I wish I was. I don’t know what to say in reply to that, so I don’t say anything.

‘You smell funny now.’

Why am I still on this train. Maybe I should offer the kid one of my miniatures. His mum might be a bit mad at me when she wakes up, or she might thank me, who knows. Deep down I know I won’t really do this, because they’re like a fiver each. I’ll just have to endure his monologue about Minecraft, “Emily Crawford”, and me smelling funny.

My phone pings. It’s Joanne. ‘Yo, where’s my Red Bull?’


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