The highlight of the weekend - other than the Rapture of course - was seeing Karl Spain and Ed Byrne, the Irish stand-up comedians. Other than Stewart Lee and perhaps Ted Chippington, I'm rather indifferent to going to see stand-up, but we had free tickets because Karl is Emma's cousin.
I'm glad we went - both men were very funny, and even when the subject matter was unpromising (e.g. "I've just had a child, isn't parenthood funny and amazing?' - Byrne), their masterly grasp of comedy technique - how to build up expectations, when to go back to an earlier gag and so on) meant that we were carried through effortlessly. It was also brilliant hearing your friend namechecked in a gag, and her family stories being recycled in sharpened form to the amusement of several hundred people.
After the show, we hung around to chat to Spain and - it turned out - Ed Byrne. On stage, he looks like a trendy, friendly and well-paid professor of creative writing: nice jacket, ironic Robocop t-shirt, floppy hair and specs. When a guy dressed as Kevin or Perry (complete with reversed baseball cap) joined us, I assumed it was a roadie - it turned out to be Byrne himself, paying tribute to the spirit of the early Beastie Boys.
That's when it all got a bit weird. Gradually, we were encircled by a wary group of what looked like escapees from the Teen Goth Ward of the local sanatorium: barefoot, weirdly made-up and clearly coping with a range of Voices. We edged away, they edged in. In very British fashion, the nutters formed an orderly queue to say weird things to their idols.
It struck me that for Ed and Karl, staying faithful to their partners while on the road was rather easier than for, say, Keith Richards. Their groupies are the perfect contraception.
Here's one from Ted Chippington's high point: