The Whisky Tasting Club

Another day, another whisky tasting

How important are first impressions? Everyone tells me how nice Muswell Hill in London is, but my first experience of it is a hotel bar with just one customer, and he’s drunkenly telling the Asian waiter that nobody messes with him and if the Muslims are cutting heads off they’ll get worse from him big time.

After five minutes of bullshit and bigotry he says he needs to find somewhere more comfortable to sit. But as he leaves he says “we’ll carry on this conversation later” and three things strike me at once: this is a threat not a promise; two, he wasn’t having a conversation, he was having a rant; and three, there won’t be a later because he won’t be standing up.

Unfortunately, his idea of finding a comfortable seat means crossing the entirely empty bar and sitting with me. I’m waiting for Eddie Gershon to take me to his home where 25 very rich and very Jewish friends are expecting a tasting.

It doesn’t take the man long to explain that his wife has thrown him out (no surprise there, I’ve known him five minutes and know exactly how she feels) he’s between houses and he can’t rent because she’s got all his possession including proof of ID. There’s something faintly ridiculous about this story but I go with it because the man in front of me is a pathetic, sorry, soggy mess.

Then he claims that as a hobby he performs as a stand up comedy,  “performing material from the dark side.” He starts on a long slurry ramble about feeding the pigeons next to a sign saying it’s an offence to feed the pigeons then trying to get himself arrested “by the community filth, the ones who couldn’t get in to Hendon”.

It starts to dawn on me that this is part of his act. Now to be fair he wasn’t having his best of days but if you read the above and don’t find it funny, imagine what it was like coming from a man who has a sort of manic intensity that axe murderers have in movies. It’s positively scary. And he gets worse.

“I’ve thought a few times of killing myself,” he says. Bet you’re rolling on the floor now.

“I’ve rung the Samaritans. Most of them have become Samaritans having needed The Samaritans themselves. so what’s the worse thing that can happen to them? Nobody rings them when they’re on duty! So I ring them at 3am and say how can I help you?

“That’s the sort of dark comedy I do,” he says. “About half don’t laugh because they don’t get it (really?), some shout out and object, and some laugh. They’re the ones with the black sense of humour.”

And thankfully Eddie turns up and I’m out of there.

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  • I would like to say that I found this account ‘funny’, but tragically it hit a touch too close to the bone. Having had my own run-in with an implaccable ‘manically intense’ individual on a train during my Scotch Odyssey whose company I was obliged to endure for 45 minutes – and after a very stressful 5AM start – I know it can leave you feeling rather as if you had been assaulted!

  • The nutter on the train/in the pub is a great british tradition. A personal favorite was a 9 am 2 hour train journey with a nutter literally just released from prison on a mission to drink all the stella on the train and a gripe against women

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