Peter Hammill in Glasgow
I was thinking about thinking but it didn't really get me very far, so I thought, "My waist's too narrow, I could swell it with some boozing at the bar."

My local pub is the bar of the Cottiers Theatre in the west end of Glasgow, and being a Saturday evening it seemed a perfectly reasonable objective to make my way there with the intention of downing maybe 12 or 13 pints of calorifically rich Guinness, which would have the desired effect of bloating my midriff.

I put on my going out clothes, La Mademioselle De La Goat donned her red dress and out the pair of us went. Upon arriving at Cottiers I realised that it seemed to be much busier that it would normally have been at that time of a Saturday evening. Also, it didn't seem to be the normal crowd. Instead it appeared to be populated by a mixture of old hippies, Belgians, layabouts and a myriad selection of other ne'er-do-wells.

I fought my way through to the front of the bar, kicking shins and nudging ribs as I went, and succeeded after a while in ordering a pint of Guinness for myself and a pint of Babycham for Goat Girl. I enquired of the barman as to the reason for the multitude of people in the bar tonight. He answered that somebody called Peter Hammill was giving a concert in the theatre.

"Peter Hammill, eh?" I mused to Goat Girl. That rings a bell. I was dredging the depths of my memory, but I just couldn't seem to remember where I had heard that name before. Goat Girl, ever resourceful reminded me, "Peter Hammill, isn't that what you get all those e-mails about?"

"That's it exactly!" I exclaimed. "The PH7 list, that's exactly what it's about, somebody or something called Peter Hammill. I read all those e-mails that come in never having a clue what they are all about."

"Now's your chance to find out," smiled Goat Girl, "let's see if we can buy a couple of tickets."

"Better still," I said, "let's see if we can sneak in without paying." And indeed we managed to bluff our way past the lax security, by posing as music venue seating inspectors from Glasgow City Council. I flashed my casino membership card. Goat Girl flashed her Organ Donor card and in we went.

We chose two seats not far from the entrance passageway. Before long two old guys got onto the stage, one guy, quite skinny, with white hair sat down and played guitar & sang. The other guy, a bit chubbier, remained standing and scraped away on a violin.

Honestly, neither me nor the Goat Girl had ever heard anything like it. These guys played a number of songs and I can tell you if my son was playing this stuff in his bedroom as loud as that I would be shouting upstairs "How many times do I need to tell you, turn that bloody rubbish down you festering cretin! And do your homework!"

The concert only lasted for about 90 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. The screeching, wailing and caterwauling was a continuous assault on the eardrums. Goat Girl and I looked at each other incredulously. About 60 minutes in, Goat Girl was foaming at the mouth, suffering a relapse of her bovine agorophobia, which she first had exhibited during the terrible Foot and Mouth epidemic of Y2k.

Round-about the middle of the concert the white-haired guy abandoned his guitar to play electric keyboard for a few songs. I hoped that things would maybe become better for a while, but my hopes were soon dashed. The screeching and wailing continued, just with a slightly modified noise. The other pudgier guy continued screeching away on his violin.

After a few songs the skinny old guy went back to his guitar and played some more noisy jagged songs. One particularly tortuous one he introduced with a dedication for some people with sore feet. "For people with sore ears, more like." quipped Goat Girl wittily.

We couldn't leave early because of the primitive seating system within Cottiers. We were hemmed in to the front, rear and both sides by crowds of the aforementioned hippies, beatniks and layabouts.

To aggravate matters, the heating in the Cottiers Theatre seemed to consist only of a few two-bar electric fires strung from the rafters, and given that the temperature outside was sub-zero, the temperature inside probably wasn't a lot higher. We were freezing.

As Goat Girl exhaled, the vapour in her breath instantly froze on contact with the air, forming lumps of wispy stuff like thin & vacuous Babycham-flavoured candyfloss.

Eventually the evening came to an end, the lights came on and we managed to grope for the exit.

We made a beeline to the nearest pub with central heating, complete with Guinness and Babycham on draught, to resume our quest for calories and alcohol. "I'll need to pay more attention to the emails I receive in future." I said.

"You had bloody-well better," exclaimed Goat Girl, shooting me a furious glare, "one more trick like that and it's the divorce court for you Goat Boy, incompetent moron that you are."

Anyway, in the time between leaving Cottiers and the final chucking-out time at the pub, Goat Girl managed to consume the best part of nine pints of Babycham, and I would estimate that she probably only vomited approximately two pints up, so I actually think that she forgot about the whole thing. With a bit of luck and a following tailwind, my marriage is safe for the meantime. I'd better just not go pulling anymore stunts like that one for a while.

Le Garcon Du Goat