Thursday, 15 August 2013

A Brum do

Yesterday evening saw me on stage at The Victoria Theatre Bar and Deep South Diner in John Bright Street, Birmingham, at a Skeptics in the Pub event. I've done quite a few of these and have quite a few more still do to this year. They're small, intimate gigs with beer. What more could a chap want?

The Victoria is a very cool venue. They run all kinds of events there from Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art Club (still-life drawing vs burlesque) sessions to pub quizzes and Whisky Clubs. The place is nicely decorated in an eclectic Victorian theme with old sepia-toned photographic portraits of people with out-sized animal heads. The decor was organised by Davindi and the 'animen' portraits are by Kai Design.

It's all quite odd but it works. I also liked this quirky image of Gilbert and Sullivan by artist Stina Jones:

The food was good too, being a mix of gourmet burgers and Southern US delicacies like jambalaya, corn bread, catfish and various Cajun or chipotle-spiced meats. I ate well and washed it all down with a few pints of Butty Bach. It's also nice to find a pub that's still independent of the major breweries, it being part of a small local chain called Bitters 'n' Twisted.

Anyway, I did my talk and it all went well. It's the first one I've done since my tumble in Edinburgh but it was okay. When the swollen ankle started to ache a bit, I simply leaned on a strategically positioned table and carried on.

(Photos: Brumplum)

The audience of Birmingham Skeptics were so attentive that I ran on a little bit longer than usual, doing around an hour instead of 45 mins. We then had a break for 20 mins and returned for a Q and A session that lasted a further hour. They had so many smart questions. Great bunch of people.

I left the pub around 11.30pm and headed back to my hotel. My short walk took me past the Old Rep Theatre and The Electric - supposedly the oldest cinema in the UK:

What a curious place the Station Street Comfort Inn is! It's amazingly old-fashioned. First thing you notice is the lift. It takes two people at best, or one Stevyn Colgan. My hair was almost brushing the ceiling; it was like travelling in a vertical coffin. And the clanks and clunks and rattles were extraordinary. It also had one of those manually operated concertina doors to get in and out of.

Having tried this unique experience I got to my room which was small but reasonably appointed for a £29 a night hotel. £29 doesn't buy you a view either. This was mine.

You could step directly from my window out on the fire escape, which, I'll admit, made me wonder about whether to leave the window open at night. Then I thought ... 'Ah, there's probably no access to the fire escape from street level'. Then I noticed the small pile of Special Brew cans in the left hand corner - just out of sight in that pic. Either the guest in the room next door was chucking them out of the window or the fire escape was a popular drinking spot. Classy.

But not as classy as finding a box of tissues on the bedside table. Come on Comfort Inn ... we all know that they sometimes get used for things other than a snotty nose, but put them in the bathroom please. Show some subtlety. That said, comfy bed, value for money and the place was clean and tidy - so no complaints.

A fun day away and lovely people to hang out with.

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