This evening me and my dad went out scouting for new venues in which my dad can, and I quote, "assault the ears" of the general public - we went to an open mic night at a pub in a quiet corner of greenwich behind the edifice of greenwich town hall (Pointless Fact: it has a nuclear bunker underneath). It was interesting passing through greenwich now that the smoking ban in public places has gone through, there were lines of damp smokers huddled around the entrances of the many pubs we passed along the way, especially outside the Auctioneer, which was always an unpleasantly smoky pub.
In the pub we went into (I can't remember the name off my head, but it was quite nice) it was strange, but quite cool, to be able to stand around in a small, crowded pub and not be wreathed with smoke like the beginning of an amateur production of Macbeth. I'm not a particularly militant non smoker; unless it's really heavy generally pubsmoke doesn't bother me, yes, it makes my clothes smell bad, my hair smell bad (when there was enough of it to smell) and often leaves me talking like Barry White the next morning but I'd never really given it any thought. That's just how I work - I accept things as they are rather than getting huffy about what I'd prefer them to be. So the way I feel about the smoking ban is roughly the same as the way you feel when someone makes the tea that you so badly needed before you even realise that was what you were after.
but yeah, the open mic night was interesting, some quite good people, the overall quality wasn't great, but it wasn't that bad - some good singers doing good covers and some passable original stuff. The only downer was the odd bloke.
Allow me to explain, whenever you get a gathering such as this one there will always be the one odd bloke (it's always an odd bloke in my experience) - one guy with a complete tin ear and/or useless guitar playing who, due to the fact that he lacks important social skills, is completely unable to read the looks of dread which strike the faces of the regulars when he walks toward the stage as a hint that he should stop.
This guy set off alarm bells with me when he wandered in the way of the person performing at the time and produced a case with 'Ibanez JEM555' written on a handwritten label on the bottom. I have no huge objection to that guitar, other than the fact that it is a little tarty and out of place at an open mic night, what worried me was the label on the bottom - only two sorts of people have to write labels on their guitar cases; people with more guitars than they know what to do with; and weird obsessive types who have to arrange everything neatly. Niether of these possibilities bode well for a musician in my opinion. This guy launched into a rendition of erm, something, which was lacking in skill and soul and half drowned out by his horribly oversaturated effects.
It wasn't the bad playing that distressed me particularly, I've heard myself play way to many times to be bothered by that, it was the fact that he was so completely oblivious to his own inability - it didn't even seem to dampen his enthusiasm when the compere abruptly ended his song early. The problem for me is that when I encounter people like that and I can't get this thought out of my head:
'If I was like that, I'd never know... perhaps I am like that'
I don't think I am, but i know that I'm very bad at reading people and can be a bit obsessive when I'm interested in something, often to the point of driving people around me nuts. I wonder if perhaps I'm a nutter who has learned to do a passable impression of sanity through sheer effort.
Then I remember that I've never done anything by sheer effort in my entire life, and calm down.