Date Night #8: All The Fun of the Fair
Ah date night. That wonderful night when you screw your courage to the sticking point and put yourself out there for one more spin on the merry-go-round of love. This one took place at the Blythe Hill Festival, where we went to check out some Scummy Mummies…
So I was pretty sure I was about to die. The path ahead was hazy and shimmering from the intensity of the midday sun as it bore down on top of us. Even though I was already down to the bare minimum of clothing, I could still feel the sweat pouring down my back. I’d half-heartedly tried to make a sunhat from my socks, but it was a totally wasted effort. Earlier on that day, the fan in the living room had exploded with a loud bang and a flash of flame, preferring to commit suicide rather than endure the heat any longer. I took a swig from my beer, and decided that this was it. On the hottest day of the year, I was going to die halfway up a hill in South London, on my way to a village fair. How humiliating.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Why would a man risk his life on the hottest day of the year to go to a village fair?”
The answer is, of course, friendship. A few years ago, one of my funniest friends, Ellie Gibson decided that it was time to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a stand-up comedian. It’s in her blood after all – her dad was the notorious 80’s alternative comedian Jim Barclay. Brilliantly, using the clockwork sense of comic timing her sets would become known for, she managed to coincide this bold new career direction with the birth of her first child. Nurseries and comedy clubs probably aren’t that different, mind – after all, they’re both filled with mewling brats desperate for attention. Anyway, while on her comedy odyssey, she met Aussie comic Helen Thorne, who was also a young mum, and they quickly clicked, and started the Scummy Mummies podcast, which has quickly become one of the most popular parenting podcasts on iTunes.
Now they were taking their show on the road, starting with an appearance at the Blythe Hill Festival, which was why I was dragging myself up a hill like a French Legionnaire abandoned in the desert. Of course, it only took one look from my girlfriend V. and I picked myself up and walked the last few yards up the hill to start our date. And what a wonderful sight greeted me. A solitary fun fair ride! A single food truck! A beer table! The world’s saddest cakestand, filled with nothing but the melted remains of someone’s baking hubris! To be honest, ‘festival’ was a bit of a stretch – minutes before I’d been worried I might expire from the heat, and now I was faced with a fête worse than death.
After queuing up for several thousand hours for a pint (ok two pints. Well. Six.) of over-priced beer, we stumbled over to the “Hidden Stage” (they weren’t kidding), where the Scummy Mummies were about to perform. Helen and Ellie seemed in good spirits, despite the fact that in true Spinal Tap style, they were second on the bill to a Punch and Judy show. Not that you’d know it though, as the audience lapped up their confessions of Scummy parenting (Ellie: “A yummy mummy feeds her kids an organic quinoa salad for lunch.” Helen: “While a Scummy Mummy feeds her kids fishfingers. Sometimes not even cooked.” Ellie: “Or as we call it, Captain Birdseye Sashimi.”). The mums and dads even provided some of their own scummy confessions, with the highlight being a submission from a child who’d scrawled on her card “That time my Daddy was sick in a bin.”
Despite the heat, the duo belted through their material as if they were headlining the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, complete with a rousing rendition of “I’d do Anything For Love” with deftly reworked lyrics to finish. It was a fantastic performance, stuffed with great jokes, winning performances, and some great wig work. V. and I obviously aren’t parents, but we loved every minute of it.
The Punch and Judy show after was pretty good too.
I guarantee that by this time next year, these two (Er, Ellie and Helen, not Punch and Judy) will have their own chat show, a fistful of awards and a sponsorship deal with Birdseye, and that’s not just the six beers and the sunstroke talking – trust me, it’s fête.
*Admittedly, you’re probably actually thinking “Why is this man so chronically unfit that he can’t walk up a hill in the sun without turning into Swamp Thing?”
** In fairness, it was a pizza truck called “VanDough”, so bonus points for that.
If you’d like to try a date in the company of the Scummy Mummies for yourself, check out their official website where you can download their hilarious Podcasts and check out upcoming tour dates.
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