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 must have fallen asleep myself, because next thing I know we’re pulling into Knutsford services. I know this because Fax, despite his earlier aversion to speeding and subsequently ‘being oppressed’ by the police, has decided to drive the van over the speed bumps at 200mph.
‘YAAAY!’ screeches Joanne. I think something might have just actually gone up my arse.
Despite this, I’m very happy to be at the services. The services means coffee and a wee, and maybe a Ginsters sausage roll.
Fax has another sniff of his poppers. ‘Right, does everyone have some obsidian on their person?’
I don’t know why we need obsidian, but it’ll be some bollocks like ‘to cleanse the aura of the hand dryers.’ I’m not that convinced we’ll make it to Scotland alive.
‘Yes of course,’ I lie, and get the fuck out of the van in order to not be in the van for as long as possible.
‘I’m off to the loo, I’ll catch up with you in a minute.’
‘Yeah, so are we,’ says Joanne, and her and Fax both head towards the men’s toilets. I don’t bother shouting after her.
I sit on the loo for a long time after my wee, staring at an advert for Feminax on the back of the door. Maybe I’ll just live in this cubicle for the rest of my life. I can come out at night, when it’s quiet, and forage for food.
This plan is interrupted by Joanne yelling. ‘How dare you imply that my life partner and I are not a oneness!’
She got caught in the men’s loo didn’t she? I heave my carcass up and head out to see what’s going on. If they get chucked out of the services, I wouldn’t put it past them to forget about me and drive off in a fit of oppressed rage. Still, at least that would free me up to move into that cubicle.
Some poor guy with a mop is trying to point Joanne in the direction of the ladies’ loo, while Joanne yells and flails. People are looking. Fax is nowhere to be seen. Presumably he’s still having a piss.
‘Madam, the ladies’ facilities are right there…’
‘I hope you realise you’re propping up the patriarchy with your refusal to validate Earth Spirits! This is how Hitler got started!’
I’m pretty sure it’s not.
‘Fine, I’ll obey your divisive and hateful regime!’ and Joanne stomps off towards the loo. The guy stares after her, then shrugs and goes back to cleaning the men’s loo. A couple of seconds later, Fax reappears.
‘Where is M’Lady? I tried to defend her honour but I was still wee-weeing so I couldn’t. It would have gone on my sandals.’
‘It’s OK, she’s in there.’ I point to the ‘divisive’ and ‘patriarchal’ ladies’ loo. He goes and stands outside the door, attracting a few worried looks from old ladies. Right, let’s go buy all the food in the world.
Unfortunately, buying even 1% of the food in WH Smith would cost approximately three billion pounds. I settle for a Meal Deal for seven quid instead. And even that’s a fucking lot for an anorexic sandwich and some Hula Hoops. Oh well, services, what you gonna do.
Maybe I’ll buy something to read on the way. That might help to block out the pain. Weirdly, all the books seem to be hardback, expensive, and inappropriate. Oh Christ of course – WH Smith’s book section is mental. Last time I bought a book from Smith’s it was three autobiographies for a tenner for my cousin’s wedding. I know it was a shit wedding present, but I’d forgotten to get anything so I had to make do with what I could find at Nottingham train station. Plus, my cousin’s a bitch. I giggle out loud at the memory.
Right let’s have a look. No, I don’t really want Nigella’s 58 Ways with Lard or a road atlas. Magazine it is then. I could get one of those puzzle books, they’re always good for passing an hour, as long as you know words like ‘epee’ and ‘qi’. I choose the one with the free biro taped to it. On my way to the counter I notice a spinning rack full of ‘souvenirs’. If I wanted to, I could buy a fridge magnet with ‘Knutsford Services’ written on it. Thinking about it, I do want to. This might be because I’m still a bit pissed, but oh well.
There are also personalised glittery alice bands. Surprisingly, they don’t have ‘Fax’.
Speak of the devil. I can smell those poppers again. Before I turn round, there’s a huge dramatic gasp. Fax is gawping in horror at a shelf of mixed nuts. Joanne joins him and starts fondling his head again. How these two haven’t been kicked out for that toilet stunt is fucking beyond me.
‘What’s the matter my love?’
Joanne says this to Fax. I don’t say this to Fax. I do not love Fax.
‘These… these prices! They are stealing from the public to line their capitalist pockets!’
Joanne looks at the nuts. ‘Oh my god! Mel have you seen this?’
‘No, I must have missed it. What?’
‘These Nobby’s Nuts are £3.50!’
OK, that’s pretty steep. But what do they expect at a services?
Fax grabs a bag of nuts and marches angrily towards the bemused looking woman behind the counter. ‘What is the meaning of this?’
She stares at him. ‘Sorry?’
‘What is the meaning of this capitalism and oppression of the poor downtrodden… poor?’
‘Erm, I don’t know love. Do you want to buy them, or…?’
He goes to slam the nuts down on the counter, but misses and ends up chucking the bag on the floor. He picks the bag up and goes on with his manifesto. ‘How can you prop up such a fascist, capitalist dictatorship?’
Did Fax just call Knutsford services a dictatorship? At least I’m stood a bit away from them, so the woman doesn’t know I’m with them.
He spins round. ‘Melissa, how much of your money are you being forced to hand over for your food?’
Oh for fuck’s sake. ‘I’m not getting involved in this. Anyway it’s not her fault, she just works here.’
‘I bet it’s 50 pounds isn’t it?’
Please just let me pay for my Meal Deal so we can get back in the van and then hopefully be involved in a pile-up.
‘Sir, if you don’t want to purchase anything would you mind letting me serve other people?’
‘Right!’ yells Fax. ‘I’m not going to be oppressed by Moto Services! This is an extortion, and I am going to stand up for the masses! GANDHI!’ He storms out.
‘Yeah!’ says Joanne, and storms out after him.
She looks at me as I go to pay for my Meal Deal. The fucking prawn sandwich is warm now. ‘Are you with those two?’
‘Oh god I’m so sorry’ I mutter. My cheeks are burning with the shame of having to be in the same sentence as Joanne and Fax. ‘They…’ I stop because my brain can’t come up with a suitable excuse. They’re what? Socially conscious? Actors? Escaped mental patients? ‘They’re a pair of dickheads,’ I finally manage. ‘Please don’t think this has anything to do with you, I’m sure you do a great job.’
We keep chatting for a bit since there’s no one else in the shop, and I’m in no real rush to go find Gandhi and Mrs Gandhi. We just talk about the weather (‘It’s a bit too muggy for me’) and our holiday destination (‘Ooh the festival! Lovely!’) I think the Edinburgh thing mollifies her a bit; no doubt she’s now imagining Joanne and Fax as a fair of genius performance artists, when in reality they’re just twats.