The Day Of Fun progressed almost exactly as I had hoped it would.
I met Dan at about two near to Oxford Circus, and together we walked to meet Luke in a pub in Soho. Because everyone knows that the point of Days Of Fun is going to the pub early and laughing at other people when they have to go back to work.
It was raining and cold, and I, of course, was wearing inappropriate shoes and not enough clothing. I was wearing some clothing (it wasn't that kind of a Day Of Fun) but just not the big hatscarfglovessensibleshoes that the warm-looking rest of the world had on. I also had a suitcase because I had just come from Eastbourne, too much lipstick because I got bored on the train and a pained expression. The pained expression was because by the time Dan met me on Argyll Street a man had set a rug down, donned a curly pink wig and a pair of flippers and started dancing to a tinny recording of Mambo Number 5 which was being blasted out of a stereo, for no apparent reason about a metre away from where I was standing. My pain was due simply to the fact that I really wanted to dance along, but my dignity prevented it. My dignity does not kick in very often so I do try to listen to it when it does. For nostalgia, if nothing else.
Dan, Luke and I went to the pub and drank some wine. Then, as I recall, we went to another pub and drank some wine. Then, and this was a bit of a curve ball, we trundled off to another pub and drank some beer (it was cheap). Then we ate.
By this time it was about seven in the evening. We had discussed our own lives, those of mutual friends and mutual enemies. We had speculated about the nationalities and sexualities of many of the London bartenders, talked briefly about politics, hair-styling choices, our jobs. Or lack thereof. I told them about my crazy week of negotiating with people who seem to want to make me into a popstar (my favourite bit: "please, do not mistake a pretty face for weakness.") (said, but maybe you got this, by me.) People who call me 'unmanageable' and 'stupid' because I have my own way of doing things. Luke told us about his current (and temporary) role as an estate agent and how one lady nearly brained him because her cat ran out between his legs when he opened the front door. As she stood there screaming bloody murder at him the cat meandered up and sat on the doorstep, idly licking its paws and looking up at him blankly for about five minutes as she continued. We had a great time. I had a great time, but all this drinking and talking doesn't really explain how I ended up on stage three hours later, doing sambuca shots and singing "Hey, Big Spender!" with a transvestite called Kimberley.
After we ate we decided to go to The Edge, four levels of gay-bar on Soho Square (although just the one of us is really gay, the other two of us were gay in the other way - high-spirited - so it counts). We found somewhere to sit on the fourth floor, and as we went in I noticed a small stage in the corner next to a big white grand piano. That stage, I thought to myself, has a microphone on it. Interesting.
About an hour and a few more cocktails later, out came Kimberley. Six foot something, wearing a black sparkly dress and four inch red patent heels, enormous hair and nails like surfboards, she teetered up to the microphone. In a faux-New York accent she introduced herself, and opened with a hearty rendition of "I Will Survive". In this vein she carried on, flirting with everyone in the bar, boys and girls ("did you know I'm secretly a lesbian?") and belting the hell out of every anthem she could, whilst a timid-looking man raced along with her on the white piano.
She left the stage ("a short break, my daaaaahlings") and ten minutes later staggered back on. Raising the mic high in one hand she careered back and forth, singing bits of songs and laughing raucously. By this time everyone in the room was laughing along with her, the alcohol was pouring out of the bar and people were dancing. Luke had gone to ctach his train and Dan was at the bar, pricing the sambuca. Two girls who had been flirting with some businessmen by the bar got up on the stage. Outrageously winking and shimmying they grabbed the microphone and began to shout the words to Big Spender down the microphone whilst gyrating together and looking meaningfully at the overweight and salivating businessman. Opposite me a man looked over in my direction and we rolled our eyes at each other in mutually exaggerated horror. As the caterwauling continued he looked over at me again. Then I realised he was mouthing something at me. "PLEASE" he was saying. "Please do something!" I looked at him and thought "Alright".
"Alright" I said, and walked over to the stage. I saw Dan at the bar looking over and laughing in an itwasonlyamatteroftime sort of a way, and stepped up onto the stage, was handed the microphone and finished the song. As the last few bars rolled around I glanced over at the grinning pianist and he started the song again. I cannot now recall exactly how many times I sang "Hey! Big! Spenduuuuuuuur!" but it was more than would usually be expected on a Wednesday night.
After that Dan and I got rolling drunk with Kimberley (who took to smothering me in her enormous bosom every thirty seconds) and everyone else in the bar. There were, as it turned out, quite a few people who were writing musicals or looking for singers, and they all gave me cards and took my email. The two girls took a moment to drag themselves from the sweaty-pawed clutches of their businessmen to tell me they ran a 'modelling agency' and to invite me to be one of their 'models'.
It was a brilliant night. On the way out the doorman gave us an umbrella and Kimberley extracted a promise that I go and sing there on a regular basis and whispered to me that she was actually a construction worker by trade.
The next day as I staggered around in a hungover mist like a drunken transvestite in four inch heels, I thought to myself that all of this studio stuff, all of this negotiating, worrying and writing, it is all just so that at some point in the future I will be able to stand up on stage every night and do what I love to do. I don't really care if it's to twenty people in a bar in Soho or fifty thousand in an enormous arena. I just love it, and it's the best fun in the world.
We had such a good day and evening, it was lovely to hang out with two of my best friends all day, and it's good to know that if there is a microphone around the place I will, at some point, almost certainly end up singing into it.