Farewell old friend.

I’m off to Snobs in a bit.

If you’re a Brummie, you’ll know.

If you’re not, allow me to explain. It’s dark and dingy. Hot and sticky. An underground sweatpit, frequently overcrowded with hordes of monumentally pissed people. A shithole. A complete and utter shithole.

Oh, I nearly forgot. It’s also one of my favourite places in the entire world.

I’d never been hugely into nightclubs. I’m still not. Dresscodes, crap music, pissed up twats, all that jazz. But the moment I walked into Snobs, it was like an epiphany. I fell in love. I was home.

I was 22 that first night, and ended up there after an afternoon of drinking whilst watching England getting knocked out of the World Cup. Hearing that the plan was to hit a club, I popped into Tesco to buy the cheapest pleather shoes and collared shirt I could buy, assuming fully that the usual restrictions that typified my city centre nightlife experiences would be in place.

What I found instead was a utopia of people dressed how they wanted, and not like a walking advertisement for Burtons’ smart casual collection. “This is promising”, I thought.

Then there was the music. My word, the music. A smaller room, a little emptier, playing sweet sixties soul, with a dash of The Who, The Kinks, things of that ilk. Moddy. The stuff my dad played for me as I grew up.

Through the mirrored corridor was the main room. A hedonistic temple of indie rock’n’roll, a catalogue of the genre, journeying from the Stone Roses to Oasis to Babyshambles, and everything in between. A place to sing along, loudly, even though you didn’t know the words. A place to lose yourself. A place to forget about the fact you were wearing a truly terrible shirt and shoes combo.

I wish I could say that was the start of an era where I became a regular visitor. Lamentably, that’s not the case. Thinking about it, I’d estimate that I’ve certainly been there more than 10 times, but probably fewer than 20.

Why so little? I’m not sure. There’s certainly been occasions when I’ve wanted to go there, but found myself in the company of people who refused point blank to accompany me. Weirdos.

In many ways, I’d compare Snobs to the blue Gap hoody that’s been in my wardrobe since I was about 16. Something that I could go months, perhaps more than a year forgetting about, before slipping it on and enjoying its warmth and comfort.

It’s a place that never changes, that’s exactly the same now as it was when you first set foot inside. Somewhere that you feel eternally young, because, after all, if nothing around you is any different, then neither are you as a person. Does that make sense?

One thing that’s certain is that tonight marks my final ever visit to the old place. This weekend, it closes its doors forever, making way for some development of a hotel, or offices, or some crap like that. I don’t even know.

By pure coincidence, this is happening at a time of seismic change in my life. At the age of 30, and I’m sure to the delight of my parents, I’m finally moving out, and going to live with a real life girl, as if I’m an actual functioning adult human being, or something.

As for the blue gap hoody? It’s currently sitting in a recycling bag, ready to go to the charity shop. Essentially, I’m in the midst of waving goodbye to my youth. It’s like fate is saying “Snobs is gone. Time to be an adult now”. And there, by the grace of God, go I.

Of course, I should point out that the spirit of Snobs goes on, and it’ll open the door of its new home next week. And while it would suit the purposes of this coming of age narrative to declare that I’m done with it, I’m certain that, in time, I’ll squeeze into my skinniest jeans once more and pretend I’m a man in my early twenties. In the main, though, it’s time for the young’uns to create a new legend.

Before that, there’s still tonight. So I suppose I’d better go and get ready. And to retrieve that hoody from the bin liner…

Snobs is dead. Long live Snobs!

You know it is. It really is.

P.S. The brilliant pictures above have been stolen from Jack Spicer Adams. Click the link for more. Here are some bonus pictures of me snogging the wall of faces – my personal Snobs tradition.

An Olympic Encounter

As I boarded a Birmingham bound train in London this afternoon, joining me and my boss Paul on the Virgin Pendolino was a genuine real life Olympian, resplendent in her Team GB tracksuit and lugging three quite sizeable holdalls.

The sight of the homecoming hero led Paul and I to daydream for a moment as to how it must feel to perform on the biggest stage, which naturally spawned speculation as to the sporting discipline which could have propelled us to stardom. It was at this point that I loudly asserted one of the chief observations I’ve made during this epic summer of sport.

You see, as something of a frustrated sportsman myself, I’ve been examining the options which could, potentially, lead to me representing either Britain or Ireland as a 32-year-old in 2016 – and the specific role I highlighted as the easiest in the entire Olympic Games was that of the Handball goalkeeper.

The theory is sort of sound, in my humble, and most likely incorrect, opinion. With teams regularly chalking up over twenty goals per game, it seems somewhat apparent that the goalkeepers can hardly be blamed for poor team performances. While in sports like Football, where a goalkeeping error can be fatal due to the comparative rarity of goals, in Handball, it would seem, you might just be able to get away with being… well… a bit crap.

You already know where this is going, don’t you?

As we exited the train, I eyed up the young athlete once again and managed to clock the name on the accreditation pass that still hung proudly from her neck, resolving to Google our esteemed fellow passenger to discover exactly what she’d been up to in the last couple of weeks.

The name: Laura Innes.

The position: Team GB Women’s Handball Goalkeeper.

You feckin’ IDIOT, Parker.

So, Laura, on the off-chance you’re reading this, and if you heard my ill-informed outburst on the train, I will offer you this crumb of comfort:

While you were representing your country at the biggest show on earth, I sat here, wrote about it, and ate crisps. I think it’s clear who’s the winner here.

You know it is. It really is…

My name’s Tom… and I’m a karaokoholic.

The best part of The X Factor each year is invariably the audition stage, and without fail it tends to boast some poor bloke who assures the judges that he’s ‘brilliant’ at karaoke before the inevitable tuneless drone is met by the boos and jeers of the baying crowd.

I fear the day will soon come when that poor bloke is me.

Last month my mate Perksy arranged a night at the Tap and Spile karaoke in Birmingham as a pre-Christmas gathering. I sang a couple of duets, had a laugh with friends, and looked on in amazement as Rachel New stole the show with a frankly magnificent performance of White Lines by Grandmaster Flash. It was wonderful.

That would have been that, except it awakened something in a few of us. Perksy, Kerri, Sarah and I went back. And then again. And this weekend we racked up our fifth trip to the karaoke in little over a month.

We’ve developed significantly in that time. Kerri and I have finely honed our performance of ‘The Bad Touch’ by The Bloodhound Gang, I’ve shed the initial nerves to the point where singing several songs without copious amounts of Dutch courage doesn’t particularly concern me, we’ve become well known enough that we were entrusted with the compering of the midnight countdown on New Year’s Eve, and ‘Karaoke Richard’, our master of ceremonies, has bought us drinks.

However, amid all the considerable fun we’re having , I must confess that I do have a lingering concern that we could be becoming those karaoke people. The ones who show up every week, the ones who take it really seriously, the ones who develop a high opinion of their own ability… the ones who end up getting carried away and audition for X Factor. Oh God…

While jovially I’ll always steadfastly insist that my singing is worthy of any stage, the truth is that my limitations mean that I’ll generally perform something between spoken word and parody opera. Only, I must be honest, there have been occasions recently when I’ve tried to actually sing. Y’know, properly, like. I know that Perksy has too. What is becoming of us?

Kerri and Sarah, on the other hand, are perfectly accomplished singers, so I’m less concerned that they might end up embarrassing themselves. However, their in-depth summits during the process of song selection suggest that they too might have been afflicted with the mindset of the regular karaokist, let alone the occasions when they’ve continued to sing the refrain of a song acapella long after the backing track has finished. Milking it, obviously.

Our most recent visit, though, made me think that we may seriously need to take a look at ourselves and work out if things need to brought under control.

You see, midway through the evening, spots of water began to drip through the ceiling, which soon gave way to several significant streams of water. As beer buckets were brandished to catch the errant liquid, I realised that it kind of looked like piss. And it kind of smelled like piss. And it kind of… WAS piss. Real life, genuine human piss, coming from a flooded toilet upstairs. With that in mind, spare a thought for Karaoke Richard who, in the initial confusion as to what could be causing the leak, had decided to TASTE the mystery liquid. Bless him.

At this point, you may imagine that with the bar covered in significant puddles of human waste, the pub would have closed immediately due to environmental health concerns. You’d be wrong. As fairly cultured and intelligent people, you might imagine that we would have made a collective decision that a pub with piss literally raining down from the ceiling wasn’t the place where we should be spending our Friday night. Sadly, again, you’d be wrong. We just bloody love karaoke so much, and if it takes an inadvertent golden shower to do it then that’s just something we have to put up with.

It’s time to admit it, we have a severe problem, and we can only get through it with your unwavering support.

Until then, I would like to sing ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’, please.

You know I would. I really would…. BABY BABEH!

Here’s a little bonus feature for you, dear reader.

After reading this blog, you’re probably anxious to go and do karaoke now. It’s OK, I don’t blame you.

As a self-appointed expert, though, I do have some tips for you to follow. Take heed of these, and you too could become a world-class entertainer.

1. Only sing songs you actually know

It may seem like a very obvious thing to say, but there’s an incredible amount of people who get up to sing a song without seeming to have the first clue how the song goes. Yes, we all know the chorus of ‘Especially For You’, but if you don’t know the verses you can eff off, tbf.

2. Only sing songs everyone else actually knows

Some lad a couple of weeks ago got up and sang some obscure death metal song that was eight minutes long and which nobody else had ever heard of. Everyone was bloody well pissed off.

3. If you want to feel like a rockstar, sing Oasis

There’s something about Oasis songs which makes everyone want to sing along with you. Feels nice, man.

4. If you’re not a great singer, just make it funny

A humorous ad-lib has saved many an average singer. On the other hand, there’s nothing worse than somebody getting on the mic and thinking they’re hilarious when really they’re just a loud annoying pisshead. All about balance, isn’t it? Needless to say, I’m ALWAYS hilarious.

5. Don’t be shy

At the end of the day, it’s a laugh, and nobody is going to think any less of you for taking part. Well, they might, but they’ll have forgotten about it tomorrow. Just have a drink, grab the mic and have fun.