I can pinpoint the exact moment that Saturday night's mascara began to slide down its cheeks.
We'd been carousing for a few hours, celebrating the performance of Ben's show and Ro's imminent slip down to London. (It seems we are leaking Mancunians up here. Watch out South, the North is coming to flatten both your caps and your vowels.)
Ben, Dan and I (aka Geddes Loom) had been rehearsing all day, were extremely glad at the end of it to take a breath and a beer and head to meet our friends and see the show. We knew we had a busy day the next day, but could not be deterred in our party spirit. Moving to another bar after the theatre we all sat round a big table, talking, laughing and taking increasingly indulgent selfies with flattering filters.
At midnight my watch beeped, as it is inexplicably wont to do. I raised my head from my trough of white wine, vaguely surprised. A dour, tweedy part of my brain glanced up from its improving book and muttered something about early starts, but the larger part of my brain, sporting a garish Hawaiian shirt and a cap with beer cans attached to it, elbowed it hard.
An indeterminate amount of time later I was talking earnestly to someone about something important when Rachel and Dan appeared in the periphery of the table, bearing one large tray and two wicked grins.
"Shots!" they called, joyously.
"Hurray!" replied everyone, wonkily.
This, I should think, was where it all drifted. This, not the twelve drinks beforehand, was the reason for taxis slept in, chips cried over, love declared and QI squinted at.
The following day Dan, Ben and I reconvened to continue our rehearsals for that evening's inaugural Pen:Chant, which we were not only organizing but also hosting and performing at.
When Dan arrived we exchanged looks and he shook his head, slowly so as not to disturb the angry bats that had taken up residence therein.
"OK?" I said, squintily.
He took a deep breath as an answer, and we all made some more coffee.
But think of it! I kept reminding myself. We get to see Fi tonight! Fi who was our roommate in Edinburgh and who is excellent. And all we have to do is go to Three Minute Theatre, put on a show with two excellent acts and hang out with a tiny dog called Mandy. This, surely, is the best hangover cure in the world?
I tell you what, it really was.
There was no part of it that I felt stressed or unsure about. Unlike loads (most) of the things I've done this year I didn't even slightly wish that I would get a tiny bit hit by a car on the way so I would have an excuse not to go. It's a lovely place run by lovely people. Mandy the tiny dog is tiny. Tiny! Gina and John run the venue and they are lovely and generous.
Hannah in the Wars (Hannah, Fi and Rosie) were really epic and cool. Three fierce, serious, funny, talented women being great all in a row. (Also Rosie lent me her cello. I am very grateful to her for that, partly because her cello is nicer than mine.) Here they are:
Our other guest act was Jon Bennett, and he was brilliantly funny, as well as managing to be a little bit poignant as well. He did a shorter version of his show, Pretending Things Are A Cock, and we felt very pleased with ourselves for snagging such a good comedian for our first show. Ben and Dan had hung out with him when they swanned (swun?) off to Australia to do the Perth and Adelaide Fringe earlier this year. At first I was a tiny bit intimidated by him as he seemed a bit cool, but then, after talking to him, I realized he was normal and a bit weird, just like everyone else. Here he is:
We had four people on the open mic section (two women, two men) who were lovely, funny and thought-provoking. Our audience was made up of nice people who were attentive and clapped in the right places. They even didn't seem to actively mind when I made this joke:
Q: How do you make a duck into a soul singer?
A: Put it in the microphone until it's Bill Withers*
*This joke doesn't work written down because of the apostrophe. This is a grammar joke!
To be fair I was introducing Fi onto the stage to sing "Grandma's Hands" with Ben on beatbox and me on backing vocals. But I suppose to be fairer it is a terrible joke**.
**No it isn't. It's a great joke.
So we have discovered a great hangover cure! Put on a night, make terrible jokes, sing some songs. Play with a tiny dog called Mandy.
Here we all are together (I am holding Mandy):
(Next Pen:Chant is on Monday 9th December at Three Minute Theatre)