09.03.2005 13:15 - In-Flight Cabaret
I\'ve spoken before about the joys of alcoholic Scotsmen to be found on Euston station in the eighties. However, I have not yet expounded on the endless mirth of their brothers-in-arms, the public transport loony, or \"Camel-job\" as Jasper Carrot named them.
Jasper Carrot\'s famous \"Nutter on the bus\" monologue strikes a chord with me, as I used to have to travel to Aston in Birmingham every day by public transport. It was on this train that I first set eyes on the legendary \"Mad Ramsey\", whom I believe the monologue was originally based upon.
Mad Ramsey was a tall pensioner, tidily-dressed in a mac and a flat cap, who used to frequent the Lichfield-Sutton-Aston line. He looked a bit like a tall William Hartnell. Once he had boarded the train, he would walk continuously up and down the carriage, as though looking for a seat. He never actually sat down, just walked up and down, mumbling to himself, whilst everyone else cringed and preyed that he wouldn\'t sit next to them.
At some point during the journey, Mad Ramsey would stop, look up, usually at some poor, shivering wretch who had a seat free next to them, and address a single comment to them.
Something along the lines of :
\"If they\'re under forty, I wouldn\'t trust the lot of them!\"
\"That Tony Blair, he ought to be shot!\" (a remarkably foresighted comment for 1994)
Having delivered this insight, he would resume his pacing, until the train reached his destination.
I encountered another looney years before that, on Wolverhampton station, whilst returning from a holiday in Wales. This one was more tramp-like, wearing a hat and a dirty, ill-fitting suit. He wandered up and down the platform, looking through the bins for fag-ends, stopping only to address an imaginary friend with one of two comments :
\"Yer not Prince Charles, yer Ponser!!\"
\"Cut you up on a surgical table!!\"
This he did at some length, until a policeman arrived and gave him a very reproachful stare, whereupon he raised his hat, said \"afternoon!\" and left.
As a connoisseur of this \"street theatre\", I have discovered, with great pleasure, that my adopted home is also home to many performances on the underground. These range from a rather strange young chap who sat next to me, talking to himself all the way to Bonn, to the classic \"drinking couple\", also witnessed on a tram to Bonn. This performance began with a couple, clearly the worse for wear thanks to long-term alcohol abuse, boarding the train, bringing a six-pack of Aldi\'s cheapest with them. He was greying, and wore a greasy pinstripe suit that had clearly seen better days and better owners. She favoured the sporting look, with a tracksuit made out of one of man\'s more daring experiments in artificial fabrics. They sat smack bang in the middle of the train and proceeded to drink the Aldi sixpack. Once they had, a loud argument somehow started, presumably about who had drunk the last can, and they then split, and went to sit at opposite ends of the carriage, occasionally hurling abuse down the length of it at each other; something that they kept up for a considerable time.
Avant-Garde Theatre is alive and well in Cologne, but not in the theatres....