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We will never drink again.

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I’m very lucky to have several great friends. I’m also lucky that as least some of them are close enough to go drinking with. Last weekend, Nick and I went out into Guildford, put the world to rights over a few pints of beer – and then ruined our bodies and our memories in Harpers nightclub, drinking for England and dancing for Britain. We were so drunk, in fact, that we got a taxi the 25 miles back to his house in New Haw and then remembered that Nick had left his house keys back in Guildford. That was an expensive taxi ride, let me assure you.
And then, last night, Jac and I painted the town a slightly mauve colour. Again, I have declared I an never drinking again – at least until next time. Our bodies are wrecks, our heads are pounding. On the upside, we met a very nice guy in a hat – who turned out to be Galileo from the hit West End musical We Will Rock You, out on the town with his minder and tearing up the dancefloor. However, that’s one of very few memories. Jac has just summed it up nicely in an email to me, titled “Never Again”:
“Dear Simon,” it begins.

“Just a quick note to let you know that I am never EVER going on a night out with you again. Not only do I have barely any recollection of being in Harpers at all and absolutely no idea of how we got home, but I have felt decidedly awful for the entire day. It was all I could do to not vomit on the platform at Guildford station and the smell of Burger King fries on my half eight tube journey made me so close to vomiting that a fellow passenger asked if I was feeling ok.
To make matters worse, I appear to have given my phone number to a stalker. Assuming it is a she, she is probably an ugly stalker too. I have had eleven text messages and two calls this afternoon. I didn’t answer the calls and only replied to the first couple of texts. No doubt I am going to have to get Orange to block her number. Just great.
Next time we are going to sit in my flat in Putney with cups of herbal tea and discuss carbon footprints, the wispiness of Boris Johnson’s hair and the LBW rule.


Open Mike with Chris Evans. Oh, and Sparky.

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“Open Mike tonight if you’re around.”
For the last few years, the Cranley Hotel has played host to Sparky, Open Mike extraordinaire. As labouriously detailed in Sparky – The Final Encore (with flash goodness too!), his songs light up a darkened room, raise the roof and could bring a tear to a glass eye, all at the same time. He semi-retired from singing over a year ago, but his fanbase demanded more. Much more. So he’s become an unofficially regular feature back at the hotel, and his text message was enticing. The idea of a night listening to his songs battled with a strong desire to do absolutely nothing. Another text message, 2 hours later, instantly made up my mind.
“Currently sitting about 2 foot from Chris Evans.”
Shunta was at the hotel watching Sparky, and by sheer coincidence so was Chris Evans, presenter, broadcaster and millionaire good-time guy. The chance of Open Mike and a celebrity appearance was too much, and Michelle and I rushed out the door. We were eager as beavers.
Unlike my car. The flashing tyre light has been on for a number of days, and like a buffoon I’d ignored it. My car was plainly peeved, choosing this moment to throw a tyre-based strop, flashing a big red warning light and forcing me to stop.
And so it was that while friends and Mr Evans were living it up in Cranleigh, Michelle and I were sat at the side of the road in Guildford, pumping air into my right rear tyre. Luckily, within twenty minutes we were back on the road, and steaming towards the hotel. We rocked up at 9pm, just in time to see the last dregs of a Chris Evans-sponsored sambuca bottle draining into the mouth of Shunta. They were all plainly drunk, and my original plan to drink little and drive home went out of the window as quickly as a defenestrated slipper. We drank, listened and clapped along with Chris and his small entourage, who was plainly as taken with Sparky as we are. He was also plainly very drunk.
Shunta was on good form, fresh from a rather vicious barbers. His off-the-cuff suggestion for a made up song – titled “I wasn’t born here, I’m just here for the cheese” – was one of my favourite moments of the night. A bit later, eyeing up Mr Evans, he hatched a plan. “If you can sleep with him,” he asked his fiance Lucy, pointing at our celebrity, “we’ll be quids in.” Lucy agreed, the game girl, and after a quick touch-up of makeup, managed to get a seat at his table. She had stiff competition, mind, from Chris’s girlfriend. And worse luck was to come – his girlfriend was plainly so drunk that there was nothing for it but to leave. We managed not to be too disappointed and continued well into the night with song, dance and The Only Gay Eskimo.
So now, thanks to Sparky and Shunta, I can now say that I’ve been drinking with Chris Evans. The evening was also a winner for Sparky, not just because of his sensational singing (ably backed up, by the way, by Shaun, who appears to be getting worryingly good). Chris Evans was impressed enough to invite him to host nights at a pub he’s about to buy in Chiddingfold. It’s a small step to stardom, Sparky…

Nicholas de Stacpoole

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I’d grown bored of virus questions. I’d tired of fixing the catalogue database, and plugging and unplugging network cables. I wanted a change. I wanted a challenge. I wanted to talk to a random call centre customer.
So, I answered the next call. I listened intently to his query, and politely asked him his name. “Nicholas de Stacpoole”.
Now, my surname isn’t common. Far from it. We had a book commissioned that was devoted to finding all the Stacpoole names it could. And I feel sure Nicholas de Stacpoole wasn’t on it. 20 minutes later, we were still chatting – he was a bit-part actor, had recently been on television, and was moving to Chelsea. He has three sisters, Virginia, Auriol and someone else. Here’s his particulars.
What are the chances of randomly picking up the phone and ending up talking to a distant relative I’ve never met, from a family that is sparse at best? Well, I was chuffed. Especially when it was hot on the heels of an email from another unknown relative, with EXACTLY the same first name and surname. We must be the only two in the world…
It was probably the last I’ll hear of them, of course.

Stacpoole Music

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Good lord, a relation I didn’t even know existed has popped up in the charts in America. Here he is! Thoroughly talented family, us.

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