Tuesday, December 08, 2015

My Life With A Man Who Has Aspergers (Updated from 2013)

Had two sleepless night due to my husband being awake turning the house upside down, clearing out stuff, it's driving me mad. I wrote about him annoying me and got some stick from people, saying I should be more understanding. Well read this thing i wrote in 2013.

"Who washed the dishes?" my husband asked last week.  
I put up my hand and said wearily "I did, what did I do wrong?" he sighed, rolled his eyes and brought me through by the hand to show me that I had stacked the plates facing the right instead of his preferred left. I promptly fixed them as he stared at them closely to check they were done right. He gave me a lecture that I was putting 'the plates wrong, they could fall and break and the knives and forks need to be facing down" He still reminds me of this daily.

No, am not married to the bloke from Sleeping With The Enemy, though I do say that onstage. I am married to a man who has Aspergers and now has been recently told he may have low spectrum Autism.

I watched him as he stood in the kitchen with me, 33 years of marriage down the line, I recall the sixteen year old boy who put a diamond ring on my finger one month and pretty soon after that, he tried to commit suicide as he 'felt out of his skin'. Not something the doctors of Glasgow Royal Infirmary understood in 1980. Not something his hard -nosed gangster father who had six other sons could make sense of either -which is understandable.

I try hard not to think of the sleepless nights of the 80s where he ranted, raved and would develop violent rages that left me exhausted and terrified. I try hard to recall the young man who tenderly held his baby daughter moments after she was born and asked a bewildered midwife if he could 'now take the baby home and I could follow when am ready' (he was convinced Ashley would hate the feel of the hospital sheets).

The memories of the social awkwardness when he would ask the strangest questions of people like "Do you like boiled beef?" in the middle of a normal business conversation as that thought had just popped into his head, still make me shudder. Or the times when he would deliver a monologue on his favourite Roman Emperors as I am trying to tell him I have a lump in my breast. And then me laughing as he gave me space to explain the breast lump and the minute my mouth shut he explained Claudius in depth and ignored my concern, still make me giggle.

Loud sudden noises, velvet, courgettes, aubergines, lemon flavoured cakes, people being factually incorrect, Princess Diana, public displays of grief for celebrities, reality shows about talentless people, people who don't pick up litter, pets in small apartments, large cutlery, square plates, comedy oversized glasses, clowns, Michael Jackson, speaking to people, comedy where people have to join in and clap or stand up etc, people who cycle through traffic lights, audio libraries that release part 5 of a series of ten and not the previous four books are just some of the THINGS he HATES.

Black pens, lists, opera, poetry, buying five pairs of his favourite shoes, Roman history, audio books, history books, collections of elastic bands, soft fabrics, warm coffee cakes, mint tea, babies, doing anything with numbers, driving, photography, small cutlery, china cups- are just some of the things he loves.

His Aspergers can control his basic emotions, for example when my beloved step mum was dying in a hospital bed, he sat with her for hours and when she finally passed he was distraught as he couldn't feel the same sadness as everyone. We were deep in grief and he announced to the gathered family "I dont feel anything, what is wrong with me?" I ushered him away from the sad group to explain "that's not nice to say to people who do feel stricken" he nodded and walked away bewildered.

His need to walk to the right shop and buy the milk that is cheapest, the exhausting way he associates words I am saying into the line of a song he remembers, his compelling drive to wake up and move everything about in the cupboards as it has 'been bothering him all night' can be so frustrating to live with.

Imagine living with a man who had done so many hurtful things that are seared into your memory, yet you can't recriminate as the majority of them are due to a syndrome he lives with? There is no marriage guidance for a man who doesn't understand  what he did wrong and his only answer is "leave me then, am damaged".

This is the man in 1996, who demanded we all sit in a darkened hotel room at Disney Land Orlando and not turn the TV on as he wanted to sleep and me and his ten year old daughter weren't to move. I can still recall the tantrum he took when we walked into the sunshine and left him behind. I still recall the tears of confusion as he tried to explain why he behaved like that when we returned. Our daughter will have her own tale to tell and I can't speak for her here. She loves her dad.

I love this man and yet when I see other women sit round dinner tables at events I attend to do comedy or go to a night out, I feel a deep pang of jealousy. My husband will never dress in a dinner suit and pour me wine and chat idly to the guy on his left, neither did he see me collect any of the comedy awards that I won, as he can't cope with those events.

He sat in the car near a beach in Troon on the day his daughter graduated university as he was worried he would embarrass her in front of her peers. He listened to his favourite Roman book as she walked off the stage. I watched other proud parents hug each other and I felt alone, yet relieved he wasn't in a situation that would stress him.

My husband in his younger days was very sociable, he ran a bar and used to regularly take customers on European bus runs and host events in the pub. Having spoken to his psychologist it turns out he was 'role playing' the part. Is he 'role playing' being my husband? Is he 'pretending' to be a father?

I don't believe he is. I believe that his role playing was his 'coping mechanism'.
He faked to the world that he was regular member of society and inside waited for the world to catch him being the fake he always felt.
It is no surprise his mental health suffered, and explains his few suicide attempts and his struggle to make sense of a world where he doesn't feel he can fit in.

The upside's are he is completely accepting of every race, creed, colour and sexuality. He doesn't think lateral he thinks literal, and doesn't understand why anyone would discriminate against people for no good reason.

He was a feminist back in the early 80s when men in the East End of Glasgow were worse than radio sport commentators of today. He takes people as he finds them and doesn't have a single Daily Mail bone in his body, as that attitude doesn't make any sense to him.

He is also great when I need someone to run my comedy past, as he can immediately tell me if he doesn't understand the joke or what am trying to say, and makes me reword stories so they make more sense.

When asked to describe his Aspergers he said "Every day I fight with emotions and feelings I can't control, I suppose it's like being homosexual and trying to pretend am straight to the world, or I feel like my skin doesn't feel right and my brain wants to take me into a place I can't get out of. Sometimes there are so many things to cover up in one day, my dyslexia, my depression, my inability to make eye contact, my disdain of other people, my obvious disinterest when someone talks to me and I don't want them near me anymore...it's hard to hide all that inside....and the knowledge of all the things I did to you".

He just sounds like a grumpy old man, but he isn't he can be hilarious and loves that I joke about his syndrome on stage. He can be funny with people he trusts and they are very few, he can be a constant font of information as he retains screeds of facts and figures. His advice on relationships to my girlfriends is utterly genius "he doesn't call you because he doesn't like you enough, get over him now and find a man that isn't indifferent to your needs". (they prefer his advice over mine every time).

The array of nieces and nephews love their uncle and as they got older understood he was 'a bit different' but always found him loving and helpful.

Last year we had booked a Disney on Ice for our wee niece Abigail, I got ill and couldn't take her. Husband stepped in and sat through a giant arena of screaming kids and Disney caterwauling. She was over the moon and explained later "Uncle loved it and sung along with every song" he told us later it was utter hell, the seats were velvet and he faked the whole evening to keep her happy. That's one of the many reasons I love him.

Our daughter is very proud of her dad and her mates come to him for support and advice and even stay over when we are both out of the country on tour, as they enjoy his company and like to hang out with him.

If you are ever in need of someone to face a dilemma with my husband is the most practical, helpful and rational person you could find. He cuts through all emotion and sorts the problems.
When asked what he is happiest about, he often says "that my daughter can read, write and is educated"

I once asked him if he was relieved that Ashley doesn't have Aspergers and he replied "That's a stupid thing to say, she doesn't have it, why would you ask that stupid question, as if you would consider your kid being any other way than the way she is" and that is a brilliant Aspergers answer. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Watched 'Brief Encounter', that old Lovely Black and white film by David Lean and written by Noel Coward.

Starring Celia Johnston and Trevor Howard.
It really is a fantastic film and so well shot.

Although I cannot stop laughing at the whole thing, poor Celia plays a well kept middle class woman who lives in Bromley (Somewhere like that), her husband is a banker who wears a full three-piece suit at home (including waistcoat) and looks around 67 although he is probably only 26! 

He likes to stand near the open fire dressed in an axminster suit sweating buckets and puffing on a pipe.

They have two kids, a boy and a girl, both have cut glass English accents that I swear to God -Prince Charles would have struggled to maintain, I have never heard such upper class pronunciation!!

Celia also has a cook and house keeper. It seems her only duty is to go shopping for some vegetables and wander round Boots in a tight constricted wool coat with big buttons. 

Sweating lots is a feature in this family.

Can she do this locally? 
NO fucking chance she has to get a train into the nearest town.

In the station there is a proper tea room with a slovenly older woman who flirts with that bloke who played the working class dad in My Fair Lady...him that sang "I'm getting married in the morning" there is a coal fire (there is an open fire in almost every scene).

 The very common people in the train tea room are the only believable characters in the film.

This woman takes a train and picks up some shopping, a few books from 'Boots'?? Then she goes to the 'pictures'. 

The 'pictures' being the movies...this lazy bastard picks carrots, books and a movie...then stares at some local statues round town, then wanders home to eat the cook’s dinner.

Anyway one day it all goes very different.

She meets a doctor by chance at the well frequented train station and gets his attention as she gets a 'bit of dust in her eye'. 

He pokes the corner of a hankie into her eyeball....all being a metaphor for his cock and they are suddenly .....staring at each other.

Before long they are meeting up every week as she goes shopping and then off to the 'pictures' with her new friend.

I have never seen so many smokers in my life as in that picture house, (Jesus the smoke is so thick I am surprised that people can see the screen). It was like a smoking competition.

They start to get excited about meeting up despite both of them being married; Trevor explains that his wife is very small, dark and very frail. 
Which suggests he cannot have sex with her in case she breaks, but he never explains her illness, which is weird as he is a doctor. He could have told us the secretive bastard.

This is in the social era when if a woman 'looked' at another man in any sexual way she gets sent to a mental health sanctuary to get 'electric shock treatment ' Yet despite the social taboos they continue to keep each other company.

They meet up and they go into the country for a walk, have a wee boat ride, in which he falls into the water-then they both go to the boatyard to dry off and of course MAKE TEA (as if to go a whole day without tea would have been insufferable). 

She dries his sodden smelly socks over the hot stove (yet another coal fire) in the boat house as the poor boat house attendant sits in a bad mood as posh people have hogged his heat. 

They fall in love over the steam of wet woollen socks.

He tells her that their affair has driven him to leave England and live abroad as they can never be together. 

He suggests going to his friend's apartment for some quiet time and a last goodbye-(yeah right mate!) and leaves her to think about it when she refuses to come along. Celia strolls around the station debating whether or not to go with Trevor; it was a big dilemma for her.

Her head was saying “Go home bake cakes"

But her pussy was shouting “Eat Me!!”

Eventually she ends up in the flat (which was very swish and YUPPIE-ish for mid- 1940's) and sitting there with her doctor friend, the sexual tension was palpable...Just when you think they may actually touch knees- they are interrupted by the doc's mate (Who incidentally is the gayest man I have EVER seen in my life).

Celia flees the apartment by the back door in a running hysteria (how awful when one has to leave by the service entrance) and goes running through the streets hysterical, dishevelled and ends up sitting in the park smoking and crying pulling Kirby grips from her hair (this appears to be such unruly behaviour in Bromley that even a policeman stops to comment and check on her!)

She eventually phones her husband at home and lies easily about being out so late without an escort, (She should have fucked her doctor, she was a competent liar and could have carried it off).

She then walks to the railway station soaking wet and sad and meets Trevor in the tea room (he had been looking for her all over the statues and benches of Bromley frantically) and now is saying his final goodbye as he is going to emigrate to South Africa (Hopefully not to buy a farm coz that will surely end in tears, posh English farmers don’t fit in well, especially with a weak sick wife).

They are interrupted by a 'beastly but kindly? Woman friend (who talked too much-that would be my role in that movie!) 

Therefore, they don’t get to say goodbye properly! (they drink four cups of tea; I am convinced it's all the fucking caffeine that's making them so highly strung).

Trevor simply squeezes her shoulder as he leaves the tea room to catch his train home to his frail skinny wife with a nameless wasting disease.

Celia gets so upset she dashes onto the platform. The express train comes hurtling through and she contemplates suicide! 

But she can't do it as she is too posh and English also she knows there are dishes to arrange for summer picnics and socks to mend by a roaring fire.

(seriously lady -go home and touch yourself woman, get a grip)

Finally she goes home to her husband who is still wearing a three piece Wooster thick tweed suit sitting trying to do a crossword in a house with a roaring coal fire...(fuck he must be sweating & dying to strip off and sit in his vest like a Northern unemployed man that he has read about in the newspaper).

Celia sits and darns socks as she looks kindly at her fat woolly husband and thinks to herself...."I am just an ordinary housewife in an ordinary house...how did this happen to me?".

I will tell you why, you fancied another man, the thought of sleeping in twin satin covered beds with a man who is clad in wool and smokes a pipe who cannot fucking finish a cross word without interrupting your private thoughts was KILLING you. 

You wanted a blonde skinny dashing doctor who loves the movies, smokes fags and seems to work a three day week for the NHS and had time to hang out on boating lakes, and took you for champagne lunches, he even had a fancy Pied- a -Terre and a snappy gay friend....it's OK to admit it!

I think I will watch "To kill a Mocking bird " next and give my version of that?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

I still have a daddy

There can’t be many milestones in life other than getting married, having a baby and putting your dad into an old folk’s home.

I have now done all three.

The first two were easier than the last one.

For those who follow me on facebook and twitter you will already be aware of my dad’s slow slide into dementia.
Dad has lived alone for seven years since my step mum succumbed to cancer.

I have heard him having a stroke whilst we were chatting on the phone when I was in Los Angeles and managed to get him swift care. Since then the sly sneaking horrible bastard that is dementia has been crawling around his brain looking for wee spaces to hide in and reveal itself whilst he was at his most vulnerable.

Nothing is more soul wrenching than watching your dad feel terrified that he is a factory and nobody will help him get out.

We tried being with him everyday in his own home and the social care from Glasgow NHS and Glasgow council has been utterly brilliant the NHS mental health people are fabulous. Dad’s care worker Mark even counselled me when I sat in floods of tears outside my venue at Edinburgh Fringe. Dad had a bad day and called me hysterical. Mark called me and reassured me I was doing the best I can.

Dad was escaping his house and upsetting the neighbours with his constant vulnerability. My dad has great neighbours and they have all grown up together so it was hard for them to see the wee proud private man look confused outside their door.

I got emergency respite in a care home 66 steps from my front door. I can see him 5 times a day or more if I please. He looks peaceful and feels secure and now when he gets a dementia ‘attack’ the staff and I are usually there to reassure him.

Tonight I went to see him before I went onstage. He was lying on his bed listening to his radio; he smiled when I came into his room. I slipped my shoes off dropped off my jacket and climbed up beside him and he shuffled over. He hugged me and we listened to Dr Hook and Eagles songs.  I nearly feel asleep!
 “Janey you need to get to work” he said.

He seems ok. I feel ok. I still have my daddy.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Dementia Sucks

It’s 7am the phone rings. My husband immediately sits up and answers the phone. He is quiet, I can hear my dad shouting down the line and husband says “look, am on my way calm down”.

My husband has his clothes and shoes on the floor, ready to run like a criminal on the lam. He is dressed in seconds, his hair stands on end, he doesn’t brush his teeth and he belts out the door. He is going to sit with my dad who is convinced that today he is in a factory and is being held hostage. I have to get ready for a radio comedy show. I can’t go with him; I have to be funny in a wee while.

My dad has dementia. The smart wee Glasgow man who has blue twinkly eyes, who could build a radio from scratch when he was eight years old, who raised four kids and built a skateboard for me in 1967, was slowly having his memory and cognitive abilities eaten by a rabid shitty greedy thing called dementia.

The man who carried me over puddles, who explained sea weed couldn’t eat me despite my big brothers telling me it could, the man who tried to make sense of my mum being murdered in the early 80s and his second wife dying from cancer six years ago….this wee working class man who achieved 34 years of sobriety was crumbling in front of me. My heart is breaking.

It’s been two years of a quick sand effect of watching him struggle with the world interspersed with him locking eyes with me telling me how much he loves me and how proud he is of me. I still climb halfway onto his knee and let him rest his soft warm palm on my cheek as he sings “My wee Janey Paney” to me. He is still my dad.

Today we had to organise emergency care respite as he has been wandering outside and making everyone panic. Despite alarms and constant care attending, the minute he is alone he is out that door. He will soon move to a full time care home.

My heart hurts. Go fuck yourself dementia.

Monday, August 31, 2015


I recall standing outside the Pleasance Dome flyering my show a few years ago.

I was exhausted and knew I had to fill a big room and faced losing cash so I was anxious and desperate to make sure people came to see me. 

I had rented a good flat and paid for amazing posters and had what I believed to be a fabulous show.
Then I spotted a couple of people who had seen me at a showcase show and had taken my flyer after the gig as they liked my stuff. I brightened up and as I approached them I watched a comedy promoter hand them two free tickets to his latest newly signed act's show. 

They took them. They were FREE.

He had a HUGE wad of free tickets and was giving them to people all around the Pleasance Dome. I lost the sale. I watched and my heart sank as people didn't give a fuck how funny I had been at the 1pm showcase show. 

They had free tickets.

Free shows are part of the fringe and belong in the free venues.

No doubt this year the BIG Four will release the BEST EVER SALES AT THE FRINGE and sit back as they manipulate the figures and the PR will spin it good. It was a fair year I think but it wasn't a bumper.

I know that the figures aren't always true, for ONE BIG SELL OUT there are hundreds of smaller shows underwriting them in the big venues and those comics were doing it on their own cash in the hope of a crowd.

They go home skint, owing money and artistically broken.
I have no issue wth the big paid venues, I just see issues that the Free Festival can resolve.

On the last weekend of the fringe I watched BIG NAMED ACTS give away TWO for ONES on the last Thursday and Friday. That's not a great financial sign and was I aggressively flyered for a comic whose face graces the BILLBOARDS to buy tickets for his 'EXTRA SOLD OUT SHOW' which is a weird oxymoron. It can't be sold out and still have tickets to sell. 

People were so scared of losing face.

I was glad I chose to take part in Alex Petty's Free Festival at The Counting House. I considered it last year and checked out the venues and looked at all the options.

Me and Ashley had a BUMPER run and played to full rooms every day. I had people sitting on the floor of the ballroom and Ashley had people standing in her wee room. 

They put cash in the buckets. We left with a profit, a very good profit if truth be told. We also told the crowds if they donated silver and bronze coins we gave that to the homeless and later on we dished it out fairly round the city's street collectors.

The Counting House had its own set of challenges but were daily overcome by Big Brian and the staff. Me, Ashley and my own front of house staff Andrew and Helen ushered, crowd controlled and helped other acts audiences get into shows. We self managed. We directed people, we unblocked toilets, we mopped up spilt beer, we lifted up posters and flyers, we collected glasses and we even served beer when it got busy. We were a team.

I encouraged comics and acts to get up and pitch their shows to my big comedy loving crowd. I tweeted about other comics gigs and helped flyer for other shows. It felt like THE FRINGE.
We hung out in the independent comic book shop DeadHead Comics next door to Counting House. WE periscoped and tweeted and showed them how to manage their social media.

They gave us a set of keys and we ended up weeping buckets as we exchanged gifts and hugs when we left them to head home.

We had a fringe family.

The people who came to the shows were brilliant.

Ashley loved her first hour and she was also in a big musical event show at the Assembly that ran for two weeks. So she was on the Free Festival and the Big Venue festival at the same time.
 A great experience for her. She also did some BBC radio Four Extra live work and I did Just a Minute for BBC Radio Four. It was brilliant.

Dealing with hard cash was weird. I felt like a mid price hooker, I haven't had that much money in my bag in years. We generally don't carry much cash as a society now. It reminded me of when I owned a pub and used to count the takings.

People no longer see the Free Festival shows as 'well it's free it must be shit' and I don't believe they ever did. This is a nice neat rumour and label put on it by the same people who resent the free shows but have no issue giving out free tickets at a paid venue for a show that can't shift a ticket.

Tax was a well worn phrase when talking about the free venues.

"Yes, but do the free festival comics declare their takings?" one comedy promoter asked me.
I don't think anybody has the right to assume anyone is fucking their taxes based on a dislike of their business model. If you have an issue with people not paying their due tax please go check Gary Barlow, Michelle Mone and some Tory peers before you nitpick at comics you avaricious cunts. While you are at it please make sure the big venues who boast "BEST YEAR EVER" are not putting their profits into an offshore account to avoid taxes in UK.

I pay my tax.

I love the fringe and this year I loved it more. It felt like the old days. It felt good and it felt fair.
I encouraged the people who were skint and living under austerity to come see our shows for free. I also encouraged people who saw the show to take money OUT OF THE BUCKET if they needed some cash. 

Poverty isn't shameful.

Comedy rocks.

Thanks everyone.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

My Dad - I will be home.

He is 83 years old and has been the rock of my life. 

His twinkly blue eyes, his impatience with things that take too long to happen and his ability to paint unusual water colours are just three of the things my dad imprinted my DNA with.

Jim, my dad. Twice married and twice widowed. Father to four kids one deceased (My eldest brother Jim) Step dad to two, granddad and great grandad and great great grandad to a heap of kids all who are good at unusual water colours - that's my dad.

The Man who always has a clean laundered handkerchief in his pocket (thanks to his ever attentive son in law who cares for him daily, runs his house, washes his clothes and does all his major care needs ).

We are close, always have been. 
He was and still is a brilliant grandpa to Ashley my daughter. 

He took her holidays, took her swimming, took her to stare at squirrels and helped raise her alongside my beautiful step mum who passed away five years ago.

I called him two years ago from my pals flat in Los Angeles and I heard him having a stroke on the phone. His speech was slurred and his questions were bizarre.
 My heart clenched and I had to hang up on him (not sure if that was the last time I would hear his voice) and contact my husband in Glasgow who took him to hospital and sat by his side for 34 hours. 

I am blessed with good men in my life.

He recovered. Got more frail. No more would he get off the Glasgow subway tube and meet me at the stairs. 

No more would he sit in a cafe with me and flirt with the waitress. 

He was too frail , he became housebound.

Now as time has passed he is slowly succumbing to dementia.

The proud, funny and stubborn old bastard who laughed at my filthiest jokes now calls me to ask when he is going home. "You are home dad" I gulp down the phone standing outside a comedy gig at 11pm at night. People around me are happy and laughing and my heart just feels as though it's cracked like a fragile crystal bauble.

"Well if you won't help me, then that's up to you" He shouts, his voice filled with anxiety and he bangs down his phone.

I have never let my dad down before. Now I am letting him down by assuring him he is safe. I blink tears in the street and run to get a cab to his house.

I hug him when I get into his house. He grabs my hand tight and looks into my eyes and says "Am sorry Janey, I hate being a burden, I love you" and then he puts his warm old hand and lays it on the side of my face and kisses my head. 
My daddy. 
The man who carried me over puddles is back.

"I am off to the fringe for a month dad, please be safe and don't wander outside when am gone I will worry" I say to him.

He smiles and tells me "My legs are fucked, even if I do get outside I can't get far and my son in law will keep an eye on me, get onstage baby it's where you are happy"

Be safe dad. Stay there till I get back. I will be home.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Not Normal

I remember being normal. I was young and worked in a bar and watched normal people do normal things. 

Things like other normal people did. Normal is good, it's a safe place to be. It's the majority.

There were normal people working in normal jobs and who saved up for a yearly holiday and bought washing machines and normal stuff. 

We all came from the normal people, we didn't really know people who did anything different. Maybe the guy who lived in the bus shelter and liked to sing in the style of Al Jolson, he was a bit different but nobody wanted to be him. We liked being normal.

Then one night Jerry Sadowitz walked into my bar with brother Jim (who died a few years ago). Sadowitz did comedy.

This was early 80s nobody did shocking comedy about the Hungerford Shooter. He did. It was funny. It wasn't normal. 

It was literally hysterical and many people claim to be there that night Sadowitz first played the Weavers Inn. 

It became stuff of legend. 
They weren't there. I was there and three other people. It was a normal Tuesday.

He was a comedian and a magician, he did amazing stuff and people loved and hated his jokes. Mostly loved.

He went to the Edinburgh Fringe and did a show. Normal people went through to Edinburgh for the day and watched stuff and came home. He stayed there going onstage every night. 

Who does that?

Years later I stopped being normal. I gave up normality and became one of those people who check mic's and walk behind the stage and talk to people in charge of venues. 

I swapped a yearly holiday and started going for a whole month to someone else's house to stay (which was completely abnormal as I didn't know them) and started getting cold sweats standing onstage saying stuff. 

It wasn't normal. I met artists, actors, musicians and people who also never did normal jobs but travelled about the world talking to audiences and making money standing on stage.

Can you imagine walking onstage and seeing your favourite pop star or actor waiting to hear you speak? 

It's totally not normal. Billy Connolly watching me onstage as he sits with Ashley sharing a pot of tea will never leave my memory.

My daughter Ashley barely recalls normal. Even at thirteen she went to Edinburgh and stopped being a normal kid and became a comedian. 

She never went back to normal. She lived in a world where she understood phrases like 'black out curtains' 'Door splits' '60% in your favour plus a guarantee' and 'green room' that was never ever painted green.

When her teen pals were off to Ibiza for summer hols....she was organising flyering teams, helping the Underbelly guys in the press office and directing a play we wrote in my living room. 

At 16 she was interviewing Russell Brand and Ricky Gervais and getting Meryl Streep mixed up with Glen Close in a dark alleyway on the Cowgate. Poor Meryl Streep her son was in an Underbelly show and Ashley was to get a quote from her on camera....I often wonder what she thought of the tall Scottish teenager who asked her if she has spotted Glen Close.

My husband was never really normal, he quite happily upsticks and moved house for a month every year as he has some gypsy in his blood. He knew the words 'put up' and 'pull down' having been in a caravan carnival family before.

I love being a comedian.

I recall the thrill of standing in a room being nervous with a famous person off the telly being nervous with me. The normal people never see that.

So yet again we are off to Edinburgh Fringe. 

Ashley and I both have shows. 
We will do stuff normal mum and daughter's don't do. 

Like help each other get our room ready for a show. 

Like move into the 18th temporary house of our life. 

Watch each other onstage and organise each other's press release and record our weekly award winning 'only mum and daughter' comedy podcast.

In fact I have just realised.

We are normal...you guys who come to the festival and pay for tickets...that's abnormal you know why? 
Our shows are Free! 

See you in August.

Ashley Storrie is at 6.15pm and am at 7.45pm at Counting House.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

She lives in a Tenement

Five kids and she lives three floors up in a Glasgow tenement.

The old toilet on the landing is shared between three families, so that's 24 people with one cold, spider ridden Victorian loo with a flaky wall and a big key with a never ending queue and no sink to wash your hands.

Some keep it clean, some shit on the floor. Life in a tenement.

She can't leave the pram downstairs, so she makes the four toddlers hold hands and promise to walk slowly up in front and not to drag each other. She keeps an eye on them nervously as the wee one is not great at stairs.

She bumps the big pram up all the stairs, it wakes the baby. The baby is screaming. Two kids need a pee. The toilet is being used. She promises they can use the potty when she bumps up the pram.

The toddler wets himself. The potatoes under the pram fall out due to the bumping and she sighs.

She will need to send one small kid down to pick them up and hope he doesn't run off as she has to calm the baby, change a toddler, get the kids sat down and start peeling the potatoes for dinner.

The kids finally all get into the one bedroom flat. The baby is teething, they put her in the recess bed behind the curtain, that mammy alternates between watching the potatoes boil, keeping an eye on the sausages in the oven and making sure her two year old doesn't drown in the sink as she washes him one handed as she holds back a toddler from the oven.

She needs to drain the potatoes, she can't as the kids are getting washed in the sink.

The baby wakes up and all the kids need the toilet at the same time. They all take turns of the potty, and as the potatoes sit going mushy in the pan and the baby screams and the kid pees in the sink, the mammy holds in a scream.

She gets them all fed. She starts boiling water for the dishes as she has no hot running water, no washing machine and a two ring cooker with an oven. She sometimes heats up the kettle on the coal fire.

Her man comes home from work. He needs the dishes out of the sink and the hot water for a wash. The dishes go on the floor the toddlers start playing with greasy plates and knives as she soothes the baby and prises cutlery from sticky babies hands.

The kids all need washed again. She wipes them down, serves her man his tea, as she walks about with four toddlers in one room and baby on her hip.

They all need the toilet and she runs down the landing with four kids following her holding the greasy cutlery yet again and her with a full chamber pot and a screaming baby with some ripped up paper to wipe bottoms.

She makes the kids sing songs in the landing as she waits for the loo to get empty and starts the sluicing and letting the kids use the toilet. Two scream as they see a spider and she needs to change the baby.

She goes back into the flat, he has finished dinner.

She puts on more hot water to wash the dishes and to wipe the kids again.

Her man goes to the pub as he has been working all day.

She changes the baby, wipes down the toddlers and has to wait till they are all asleep before she washes herself and can manage to have a pee.

She hangs up the wet nappy's the clothes and the towels over the cooker tucks four kids into one bed and takes the baby through to the bedroom and when her man finally comes home drunk and falls asleep, she gets to breathe out.

The baby wakes up and her husband needs a pee. She is exhausted as she has to get up at 6am and take all the kids to her mammy's house so she can go clean the big houses till tea time.

She can't get decent wages because she has an Irish accent and she wonders if one day Irish immigrants will be able to get a fair days work.

She hopes her kids get a decent education and maybe one day they will have an inside toilet and hot water.

Good on all the wee Glasgow granny's and great granny's who worked and raised kids in the toughest of times.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Just had a fabulous time at Glasgow Stand comedy club.

It's a brilliant comedy club and comics who know the circuit adore it, we all love doing The Stand Comedy Club. 
The sell out crowd were fabulous, the swell of laughter and applause lifted my spirits. I love my job.

I walk off stage and stand at the bar waiting to speak to the staff.

I am elated, it was a belter of a gig and I feel great that I did a good job.
A young man comes over  - I can see it in his eyes...he is going to say it and he does. 

He smiles, grabs my hand and blurts it out -
"My girlfriend at the bar" he points to a young woman in a blue dress who is waving at me "She normally HATES female comics but she loved you" He stands back and waits for me to be amazed at this news. He waits and I stare stonily at him.

My stomach sinks, he is smiling...he is expecting me to throw my arms in the air and yell "WOW I MADE YOUR SEXIST GIRLFRIEND HAPPY....FUCK ME AM SO GRATEFUL THAT SHE LIKES ME".
I stare at him and reply "She HATES ALL women comics? Even the ones she has never seen? Has she ever said 'I HATE ALL male comics?' has those words ever came out of her mouth?" 

He looked stunned "No, she has never said that, she likes male comics". He looks crestfallen that I am not utterly grateful.

I reply "She has never seen a male comic bomb?? Has she seen every male stand up and loved them all? Or does she generally just not like women in their chosen profession?"

"I am trying to give you a compliment" he whines with a hurt face.

"No, you aren't" I explain "First of all she can't speak for herself she has you to speak for her, so this isn't your opinion so am sorry I am saying this to you, but that isn't a compliment. Basically it means she HATES all my friends and my daughter who is a comic and she hasn't met them"
At this the woman comes over. 

He tried to make a face to tell her not to.

She doesn't read his expression as she is too excited to tell me how much she hates all women who tell jokes but not me.

I suspect her surname isn't Pankhurst.

Before she can speak I ask her "What do you do for a job?" she tells me she is a hairdresser as she touches my hair.
I shrug her off and say "I HATE ALL female hairdressers, every single one of them".

She is stunned. Her face is closing in on itself.

I say to her "It's awful isn't it when someone hates what you do for a living without ever seeing your work but just based on your gender? You're the woman who HATES ALL FEMALE COMICS"

She tries to explain "But I do HATE female comics but you changed my mind" She smiles hoping I am going to hug her for this news. Maybe we will swap friendship bracelets or punches...who knows? 

I stare at her and wonder how that can happen? How can a woman HATE all female comics and take the chance on coming to live comedy clubs and not worry she might be faced with a whole night of women comics....THE THING she clearly HATES. 
I am joking....nobody ever wanders into an all female comedy gig at a regular club, THAT never happens unless it's a charity night or something.

I say to her "Can you hear yourself? Why do you HATE all female comics? Did you see one woman who wasn't funny and you just judged a whole gender of comics based on that one experience? Have you ever had shit sex with a bloke and that one guy who ejaculated too quick made you judge all men based on HIS SHIT performance and that made you HATE man sex?"

She blinks and says "I don't think I like you any more".

I reply with a smile and throw up my arms "Good that's you back to HATING all female comics, I wouldn't want you breaking your golden rule of hating women now would I?"

I think I need to learn to deal with this better, but it happens to me and heaps of other female comics every week. I get exhausted dealing with it.

Way to Go SISTER.

PS- She also managed to tell me her female hero was singer from Girls Aloud Cheryl Cole (Ferndandez Versini or whatever man's name she took), the famous toilet boxer that got arrested for attacking a black female toilet attendant over a lollipop incident.