By Paul Lester
November 13, 2008
I've done some stupid things in my time. Forgetting to switch on the tape recorder during an hour-long interview with Blondie's Debbie Harry is way up there at the top of the list. Getting engaged in my first year at university to a girl from Clapham must merit contention, not because she was from Clapham - although the north-south divide did cause havoc with communication - but because it was, you know, my first year. At university. And I was about 10 (and therefore could barely afford a tube of Rolos, let alone a £20 ring from Zales). And going to meet my rabbi for counselling just after my divorce last year has got to be in the top five ("rabbi" in Hebrew means "teacher", not "expert on inter-personal relations with specific reference to psycho-sexual collapse").
But one of the dumbest decisions I've ever made was to invite a lady to join me at a performance by the comedian Sarah Silverman.
Now, I never take anyone, male or female, to gigs. There are good reasons for this. I dread running out of things to say in the car and even keep a list of conversation topics in the glove compartment just in case. During the concert you have to shout in your companion's ear because the music's so loud, and I hate shouting (and don't get me started on ears). Then there's the fear that you're going to bump into someone you've known for years but whose name you can't remember, and you've got the embarrassment of introducing them to each other so you have to turn it into a joke and make out you've forgotten both ("Hi, Thingie!" I usually say. "Meet Wotsit!").
Mainly, I go to concerts alone because of the one-in-a-million chance of meeting a girl. OK, one-in-a-billion. But it has happened. Once. Sure, it was a long time ago (clue: the Berlin Wall was still up), but it led to a long and glorious affair (translation: we met up twice for coffee before religious differences became an issue - I'm Reform and she was, well, a Gaian ecologist obsessed with biogeochemical conditions on Earth, so I had to pretend my Renault 5 Turbo belonged to my brother, and I don't have a brother).
So, no, I didn't pull at the Sarah Silverman show, nor did I get the chance to because I was already with someone. But my lady-friend did, or at least she met someone she knew. Oh, yes. Before we'd even sat down she bumped into an old flame who she'd spoken to a few months ago but who'd neglected to tell her that, in the interim, he'd got married. She wasn't very happy about this, a fact she spent the evening making fairly clear. How?
By banging on about it all the way up to our seats in the gods, throughout the performance, down the stairs at the end, and all the way along Bayswater Road, Finchley Road, and back to her flat in West Hendon.
That's right - it was me who sorted the tickets, me who drove all the way from Bushey to Shepherd's Bush while making the grand detour to stop off at her place in NW9 to pick her up, me who forked out the exorbitant, credit-crunching sums for the large bag of Maltesers and two fizzy drinks, and it was me who had to shlep her home. Meanwhile, she got to spend hours moaning about her miserable love life, sex life, and life per se, which is particularly annoying because I was going to do exactly that myself.