Just got back home from a rehearsal with the band in the Cellar of Joy and I'm a bit pissed, as I took along a bottle of finest South African Sabernet Cauvignon from Lidl (only £2.99 because of the typo on the label). I've just had a lovely evening playing through our set for tomorrow's gig at Volupte, and I must say I thought we sounded better and better as the evening went on and I got through more and more of the bottle. Even though our new bass player Warwick "the thumb" Johnson didn't make it. He rang up to explain he was trapped because he lives in Finsbury Park and there was an Arsenal match on which meant that he couldn't drive in or out of his street without sitting in a queue of traffic for an hour. He told me very apologetically he'd had no idea there was a match on tonight when we booked the rehearsal.
It was only when I got to the rehearsal and passed on this news that Sir Fitzroy informed me that The Thumb is a massive Spurs fan, and Spurs just happen to be playing Arsenal tonight. I was shocked - surely you don't mean he might be watching the match? Fitz, who is also an ardent Spurs fan, just raised his eyebrows quizzically. But I wouldn't think that of The Thumb for a moment, as Spurs fans, in my experience, are men of honour. I know absolutely nothing about football, but my dad is a Spurs fan, and of course he is the man my heart belongs to, and what's more I have been dumped by not one but two avid Arsenal fans, so I know which team I'll be offering my services to should they ever require a jazz singer at any point to do a spot of scatting for morale purposes.
Tonight we were determined to break the mould of Slinktet rehearsals and bash through the set list in an efficient and focused manner instead of pissing about and telling bizarre anecdotes. We were doing fairly well until Connie Vanderlay came up with the game of putting "you b***ard" after every one of our song titles:
Peel Me A Grape You B***ard
Should I Stay Or Should I Go You B***ard
Why Don't You Do Right You B***ard
Sweet Dreams You B***ard
and so on.
Then Fitz started an anecdote about a trombone quartet him and his mates once decided to form called "The B***ards" (pronounced to rhyme with cards or shards) because they were always calling each other b***ard. I was unable to ascertain whether this level of rudeness is exclusive to trombonists or applies to all brass players. (Maybe they should form a group called The Brasstards.) This prompted our arch anecdotalist Earl Mysterio to remember a story about an elderly waiting punter telling the man next to him how much better it was using a ticketing system rather than having to queue - because some "cheeky bitches" had pushed in front of him in a queue the day before, so he'd spat on them, so they'd called him a "b***ard", so he'd asked them if they had any evidence that they'd been born in wedlock themselves.
By this point the conversation had moved a very long way away from what we were supposed to be talking about, which was whether the stabs were on the beat or ahead of the beat in My Side of the Bed. Miraculously however we did manage to get through the whole set by quarter to ten and hit the road. I left the last glass of wine for Mysterio so I could cadge a lift home with Connie, who has just dropped me to my door because it was cold out and she is an angel.
Do you know, this band has been together for four and a half years now and I still love hanging out with them - in fact I love hanging out with them more than ever. Rehearsals are getting to be one of my favourite things, even when they're conducted in a subterranean cellar with no heating and walls that shed chalky white deposits on your clothes - because when I'm at a gig I'm running around looking after the guest acts, or chatting to the audience, and I don't actually get any time with the other slinkers. But when we're rehearsing I get to be entertained by Mysterio's frankly surreal stream-of-consciousness stories, and Fresh's bon mots from behind the drums, and I get to actually look at my fellow slinkers instead of having my back to them the whole time like I do at a gig. And I even get to sit down.
You lovely lot, you were sounding well groovy tonight. And that's not just the Sabernet Cauvignon talking