Misguided Tour 2008
Forgettable, dull, missable, unpolished, tuneless, witless, artless, avoidable, execrable, incapable, thoughtless, odious, pitiful, pathetic, plodding; comedy and music at it’s worst – just some of the press reaction to performances by Bill Smarme & The Bizness.
Buoyed up by this critique, Bill Smarme, the Pie-Eyed Piper of Widcombe, and his Band will be leading a Misguided Tour, starting at 7pm by Widcombe Locks and wandering erratically to play in the Social Club Car Park, The White Hart, The Ring o’ Bells, the Chip Shop, the Launderette, and anywhere else they may stumble into, ending up with a free gig in The Ram at 9.30.
Ten Fingers and One Drum hastily leave the Ring ‘O Bells
Here’s what Bill wrote about the Misguided Tour on his web site:
On the evening of 3rd June 2008, I lead a Misguided Tour with me band The Bizness, following in the footsteps of meself on a typical night out in Widcombe, Bath. I do, of course, come from Twerton, but like to have a night out in Widdy from time to time. The tour started by the canal Locks because I had arrived in me luxury cruiser which I moored round the corner out of sight of any riff-raff.
On hand were the Fabulous Smarmettes serving Lambrusco and kisses, whilst Colin the Bus Conductor and Mr Turner took up their positions as stewards. Kirsten told us all to be careful crossing the road because she was providing her professional services (or something).
100 years ago, we might have had a lot more fun as there were 15 boozers between the Locks and Southgate footbridge, most of which were demolished in the 1960’s when Rossiter Road and Claverton Street were built or rebuilt. Just over the road, The Canal Tavern and Prior Park Tavern were pulled down by The Baptist Church when it was built a century ago. (Boo! you cried).
Nearby is The Menzies Hotel, known previously as The Bath Hotel, and for a while The Bat Hotel when the ‘h’ fell off.
At 7.30 we moved off to our first port of call – the Widcombe Social Club covered car park where we played a song to the assembled throng. A romantic place for me as each column brings to mind a particular girlfriend, the widest column reminding me of Lola, the woman I married. (Lola Lash, exotic dancer and model of lingerie for the fuller figure.)
Many buildings in the areal were built by Ralph Allen in the 18th century. This was built by Ralph and Len, a pair of cowboy medieval builders who buggered off before it was finished, leaving just a bare shell without your typical medieval decoration. This makes Widcombe Social Club the oldest building in Widcombe – it was a medieval great house. The columned car park was once the cloisters where all the monks from miles around would gather for a stroll and a fag. (cigarette?)
We moved into the lower room, known today as The Lakeside Suite. Entry was gained by kicking the door three times which is how I would normally get in. This ancient room would originally have been where the animals and servants slept, belonging to the master of the house. Today it is used as a bar and has hosted events such as “Three Nights in the Smarmes Arms” starring me and the band. It is also where the animals and servants sleep, belonging to Bob the manager.
Up the grand staircase we went, past the Skittlearium where locals in traditional costume of Umbro leisurewear could be seen practising their ancient pursuits of Skittles and Beerswilling.
And into the Great Hall (now used as the main bar) where the medieval family would gather for gurt feasts and that, and where the beer would flow, and the kitchens (still working today) would produce more burgers and chips than you could shake a stick at. The head of the household would sit on the grand dias at the far end (now used as a stage and darts areal). Here we sang another song to the gathered masses whilst they availed themselves of strong drink at the bar. (With a fine range of keg beers – much more satisfying than all this wishy-washy so-called real ale stuff. What is needed in a beer is plenty of bubble and sparkle…..but I digress.) I was reminded that this room is regularly used by me rival Ralph le Bonbon for his regular goings-on in the field of cabaret. I had a pint of Liebfraumilch and a chip butty in an attempt to console meself.
Then on to the players gallery, now used as an outdoor smoking terrace for a fag break. I’d lined up some entertainment here in the shape of Nick Steel and his Rockin’ Pramophone who spun the shellac to play us sounds of yesteryear and beyond. Nick had kindly bought me another pint of Liebfraumilch so I settled down for a fag and a pint whilst the throng swayed to Nick’s mellifluous melodies. Nick informed us that he’s available for weddings, funerals, and 60th birthday parties, so long as there not his own.
Fag break over, we carefully crossed the road and moved on in the direction of The White Hart boozer and gastronomic emporium. I had to make a brief stop at the Smarmerection (Building for Nobs) Call Centre to take a call from a disgruntled customer complaining that I’d installed his fireplace upside down. I promised to send round a couple of the Fabulous Smarmettes in recompense and he soon shut up.
We trooped into The White Hart, which is always me next stop on a night out, where we sang a love song to the diners and then out into their lovely garden where I told of times gone by. Gone now is Wally On The Organ on a Saturday night when Wally would play songs of the war years and the assembled blue-rinse lovelies would sway and sing along. (One of whom I recall looked remarkably like a younger Lady Margaret – could it be? – surely not.) Gone is The Metronome Jazz Club which occupied the skittle alley, now the accommodation wing. (Mind you, I can’t stand jazz – only one thing worse – folk music!) We sang another song and proceeded out through the gate.
Over the road and into Prior Park Cottages. It’s about this time on a night out, after a few beers, I can feel the sap starting to rise, and I regularly call on an old lady friend of mine, Tamara Flesh (ex stripper). I’m unable to divulge her exact address but it’s in this general areal. Unfortunately, 5 times out of 10 we get disturbed by her hubby, Reg Flesh, returning early and I have to make a hasty exit. In fact the remainder of the Misguided Tour followed me escape route from Tamara’s to The Ram public house where I’m usually able to hide until the heat has died down.
So along the back alley we go, behind Ralph Allen Cottages, where I would normally be struggling to get me kecks back on as I run, and to the end of the alley to have a look at a building job what Smarmerection done some years ago and is named after me – a housing development called SMARME’S COURT. Sadly the sign is always being vandalised and usually reads ARME’S COURT. It’s at this moment that an unholy racket started up which turned out to be some local hooligans playing highly amplified FOLK MUSIC fer chrissakes!! – some blokes I’ve encountered before who are always creating a disturbance. A shouting match ensued, but they refused to belt up so we carried on to our next port of call.
Which was The Ring o’ Bells. In through the back door which is me normal mode of entry escaping from Reg. We tip-toed downstairs in order to surprise Dave who was having a birthday meal. And he was surprised by 150 people singing “Happy Birthday”. Especially as it turned out not to be his birthday at all but someone else’s. So we had to sing it all over again to the right person (Tom).
We then went back out into the night to view me art collection, the Smarmerection Collection sponsored by me building firm. The gallery space was kindly donated by Grapevine Telecommunications just down the road. The artworks displayed are shown on me Art page. Everyone gazed in awe for at least a few seconds, but we could smell chips and beer and knew that our journey would soon be over.
Over the road to The Manhattan Burger Bar run by Tony, the coolest dude in Widcombe. Except this was his night off so his coolness could not be properly judged. But his excellent chips were, (arguably the best in Bath), and were handed round by the Fabulous Smarmettes. I would normally have had a double chilli burger and large chips with a selection of dips and onion rings on the side (and maybe chicken nuggets) about now, but time did not permit.
I usually pick up me service wash next and sure enough next door at The Widcombe Launderette, more Smarmettes were washing and preparing my stage outfit for the imminent gig. As they were hung out to dry, the crowd was asked to choose an outfit for me to wear later. I was pleased that my brand new bright yellow shirt was chosen and gold lame underpants, which for a special treat I agreed to wear over my sequinned trousers.
And that was it. It was all over. We bade our farewells and departed to play our gig in The Ram. I and the band would like to thank everybody for coming and we hope you learnt something new about Widcombe. Not that any of it is the slightest bit of use, but it helps to pass the time on a Tuesday night!
I and the band, Micky Tenfingers, Cactus Suzie, and One-Drum, would like to thank all the following for their help on Bill Smarme’s Misguided Tour : Martyn Dormer, Alan Dorrington, Hannah Edwards, Kirsten Elliot, Sophie Hunt, Brendan Jones, Bernadette Kenrick, Jo McConochie, Nick Steel, Andrew Swift, Graham Turner, Rosie Wilks, Natural Theatre Company, Bob at Widcombe Social Club, Jo at The White Hart, Fred at The Ring o’ Bells, and Michelle at The Ram.