A Novel About Show business

by Dave Thompson


 The Nineteen Nineties

Chapter One
I love squeezing Mummy’s knife, because after a while it feels like her warmth is flowing from the knife into my hand.  It’s a German pruning knife, and the blade is folded into the brass-lined groove in the wooden handle.
My left hand cradles it, nestling in the front pocket of my jeans, as I walk to the plane.
My earliest memory is of sitting in Mummy’s lap, looking out of an aeroplane window.  There were fluffy white clouds, and I felt I was in heaven.  My tummy churns with excitement now, because I’m about to fly, and I’m performing tonight.  My love of flying and doing stand-up comedy makes me want to skip like a spring lamb, as I emerge from the shadow of the terminal building.  The sunlight hits my eyes.  It’s a short walk to the plane, and I let go of the knife in my pocket to put my sunglasses on.  I can see the pilot through the cockpit window, preparing for the flight to Jersey.  The sky is bright blue.  It’s perfect flying weather.  Savouring the spring smells of the Sussex countryside mixed with aviation fuel, I climb the steps into the plane.
Wow!  The flight attendant is young and blonde and fresh.  The red airline dress hugs her lush figure.  My friend Neil Gosling would consider her fat, but he hates women.  To me she’s cuddly and fertile.  Our fingertips caress as she checks the stub of my boarding card.  I hope I don’t look pretentious in my sunglasses.  Otherwise, I feel confident about my appearance.  Trainers, blue jeans, and a black long sleeved T-shirt.  My hair is brown and short.  I’m 6’3” tall.  That’s 1.91 metres.  I’m used to writing my measurements down on casting forms when I go to auditions.
“Seat 1D.  First row on the left,” she beams.
My leather business class window seat looks wide and inviting.  I’ve chosen the starboard side of the plane because it affords the best views during the flight.  I remove my notebook, a pen, and a novel from the flight bag, and deposit them in the pocket in front of the seat.  This is my standard procedure when flying. 
After stowing my black leather flight bag in the overhead locker, I settle down with ‘High Wire’.  I’m sure they won’t be able to start new airlines soon, because they’re running out of names for the in flight magazines.  Glimpsing through ‘High Wire’ to kill time before the tug pushes the plane back, I silently swear.  Arnold Shanks smiles from the glossy page.  I don’t know what it is about flying that makes people’s fingers get very greasy, but when I hold an airline magazine I have a nagging urge to wash my hands.  The slick, shiny glamour they try to project is undermined by the sordid, greasy edges of the pages.  This well-thumbed, travel-worn quality is in perfect accord with the face of Arnold Shanks, who, the magazine informs me, is the “Maverick owner of London’s most exciting comedy club”.  I recognise the “Why not me?” emotion that all comics feel when we see one of our peers in the media.  But Arnold isn’t a comic.  He tried to do stand-up, and died painfully during all four attempts. 
After that, he realised promoting comedy is a lot easier than doing it, and got into running gigs.  Three years later, he’s made enough money to buy the lease on a derelict warehouse, and convert it into a comedy venue.  Now he’s using it as a hook for his own self-promotion.  Remembering to think positively, I tell myself that Arnold getting interviewed in a small airline’s magazine is good.  The fact that I know him means that I’m closer to the success I crave.  Better to know the subject of a magazine article than not.  I’ll read it later.
Outside my window the baggage handlers are still loading the luggage into the hold.  I can hear the thud of the heavier cases as they’re thrown in.  I flip to the next article.  It’s about how nice The Isle of Man is.  Unsurprisingly, the airline flies there.  My eyes open wider as I see Kev Knight, a stand-up on the comedy circuit, wrote the article.  That’s amazing.  Then I remember that Kev was a freelance journalist before moving into stand-up comedy.  Even though Arnold Shanks books him to play his club, and the other venues he books for, Kev is still keeping his hand in with the journalism.  Hence this article in ‘High Wire’.  Arnold’s venue is handy for Heathrow, which explains why the airline features it in their magazine.  I bet Kev introduced the editor to Arnold.  The media is a cosy little club.  It’s getting in that’s difficult.
A man outside with a talkback plugged into the plane guides the pilot as the tug pushes us back from the parking place.  A Boeing 747 looms over us as it sidles past the terminal building, on its way to another gate.  I wonder if anyone famous is on board.  The man with headphones disconnects his wire from the side of the plane, and waves the pilot goodbye.  The engines get louder, and we move forward towards the runway. 
I can’t understand why my friends complain about how much flying they do.  For me, the novelty has never worn off.  I love flying, especially on sunny days like today, with a beautiful girl demonstrating the emergency procedures about three feet away from me.  I watch the demonstration for the first time since I last fancied the flight attendant like mad.  I remember the flight, even though it was a month ago.  KLM to Amsterdam.  Her name was Sylvie, and she had a clear complexion but for one pimple on her forehead.  I felt for her.  Aircrew work long hours.  It’s a lifestyle that invites pimples on faces that don’t deserve it.  The in flight magazine has fallen open on my lap.  Arnold Shanks smiles up at me.  Now
there’s a face that deserves pimples.  If that face showed Arnold’s inner beauty, it would be an open sore, oozing puss.
We lurch along the runway, and Gatwick airport drops behind as we head west.  Shortly afterwards, we turn south, and I recognise the waters of Southampton as my reverie is interrupted by the delicious young flight attendant as she offers me refreshments.  I take a small bottle of champagne, and smoked salmon sandwiches.  The Isle of Wight is entirely visible as we climb to our cruising altitude of 24,000 feet.  It occurs to me that I’m having a champagne breakfast.  I look at my watch.  It’s half past twelve in the afternoon.  I was up until three, and didn’t feel hungry when I got up this morning.  What a fantastic evening I had with Sunita.  I love her smooth Asian skin, and brown doe eyes.  And that perfect figure – smallish hips, but generous sized tits.  She really is the best girlfriend I’ve had.  I adore making love with her, but after coming, I also love falling asleep in her arms.  And, more importantly, I love waking up beside her in the morning.  This relationship could be the big one.  We’ve been with each other a year, and I’ve never been unfaithful to her.
“More coffee, Sir?”   My God this flight attendant’s beautiful.
“Mm yes please.”  She smiles as she pours coffee into my Business class china cup.  There’s something about the energy of this girl.  She pulsates with vitality.
“How many flights have you done today?”
“This is the fourth.  We started in Antwerp this morning.  We’ve done Antwerp to London City.  London City to Antwerp.  And Antwerp to Gatwick.  When we get to Jersey the aircraft will change crew and go to Zurich.”
“Wow.  It must be very complicated, working out the timetable.”
“It’s beyond human capability.  Only a computer can do it.  It’s so complex a computer programme had to write the programme that writes the schedules.”
“I thought the same planes just shuttled back and forth between their home airports and their destinations.”
“They do where they can.  But often the plane might fly to several destinations in one day.  And spend the night in a European airport.”
“So you’re staying in Jersey tonight, then?”
“At the Hotel Bristol.”
“I am too.  I might see you there.”
She smiles shyly and moves on to offer coffee to a fat, ugly businessman two rows behind.  I’ll swear she made her tits wobble slightly before leaving me.

Copyright: Dave Thompson 2011
All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. Copyright theft is stealing.  No paragraph or picture of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with written permission from the author or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, or under the terms of any license permitting limited copying issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, 90 Tottenham Court Rd, London, W1P 9HE, England.Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. The author has asserted his right to be identified as the author of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988.
 Disclaimer: This story is a fantasy from and for the imagination.  It’s not an instruction manual on how to behave.  Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
Acknowledgements:I’ve worked with many comedians in lots of countries.  I’d like to thank them for the laughter and happy times. Some have given encouragement by paying me to write, perform, or both.  I’m particularly grateful to these comedians: Ben Elton, Harry Hill, Al Murray, Jim Tavare, Boothby Graffoe,  Sean Meo, Dominic Frisby,  Stewart Lee, Geoff Whiting,  Phil Nichol, John Moloney, Charmian Hughes, Bob Slayer and Paul Zenon.
 First Published July 2011 using Print On Demand from Lulu
ISBN: 978 – 1 - 4476 – 9515 – 8