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He's back, terrorising the stages of the West Midlands with his trademark dry wit and grouchy persona. Laurence Inman's return to stand-up prompts musings on the split personality of Kings Heath. There's also a sly reference to a certain local derby.

It's been an interesting couple of weeks.

I've decided to get back into regular stand-up. I don't know why. It's certainly not for the money. I seemed to spend a lot of time between 2000 and 2005 travelling to some spot at the other end of the country, doing my twenty minutes and then coming home at three in the morning, after having walked from New Street with about thirty quid profit nestling temporarily in my pocket.

I've done two gigs locally in the last few days.

First was The Laughing Sole at The British Oak in Stirchley. This was excellent fun and it was good to see Janice Connolly at work again.

Then last week I blagged my way into The Retort Cabaret, a show put on by Brett Rehling every first Sunday of the month at the Kitchen Garden Café in York Road, Kings Heath.

It's a great place. They sell plants, bulbs and various other things (as did York Supplies, whose premises these used to be.) There's a bar and you can get good food during the day. I think the layout is perfect, with odd nooks and corners everywhere.

They hire the rooms out for various things, including Yogabugs, yoga for kids, every week. The Sunday breakfast is quite an event and I'm assured that the Sunday organic roast lunch is unbeatable. Dinners are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

I did most of my usual material. Andy White was there as well. I noticed that he broke what I regard as Rule Number One for stand-up comedians – he presented new material before his old stuff had been seen by everyone in the country. His Charles Aznavour rendition of It's The Flintstones was superb.

There were some local bands on and a performance-poet, Big Bren, who was brilliant. His rant against Christmas shopping was a work of genius. He's like Charlie Chuck, only better, and with more literate material. You can catch him regularly at the Market Tavern off Digbeth on the last Sunday of every month.

What's happening in Kings Heath at the moment is very interesting.

The High Street continues its steep slide into Chavdom; the latest casualty is Johnstan's the Butcher, who will shortly be relocating into In-Shops, along with the bling stalls and the blokes selling small electrical accessories.

The side-streets on the other hand (particularly York Road and Poplar Road, on the nicer side of town,) are gradually being Moselified. You can't go five yards without your nostrils being assailed by whiffs of continental or exotic breads, confections, curries and elevenses-type snacks of the kind you might once have encountered only in the mewses of Notting Hill or the street-cafes of Highgate.

Any celebral hankerings are amply catered for by the second-hand bookshop just up from Brett's place and the Polar Bear, over the road. And if you still need the odd bit of hardware, York Supplies are now further along, in Waterloo Road.

They are the only people I know, or have ever known, who will sell you single nails ands screws.

They will never fob you off with stuff they know you don't need, just to make a few bob. I went in the other day looking for a fixing plate for a Yale lock. They don't sell them separate and the full assembly kit costs nearly £30. The bloke in there (there are two blokes) spent ten minutes looking for a part to give me.

I don't know the blokes' names and have just phoned a mate to ask if he knows. He doesn't, but he told me three stories about their generosity, the trouble they take to get exactly what you want and the time they devote to you, even if it means phoning round other suppliers.

Does all this mean that Life is not getting steadily worse ?

I'll leave you with another thought which might help to answer that question…..

I was watching the football on Sunday when I got a brilliant idea for a short story. It's a bit vague at the moment, but I see an individual, or perhaps a group of individuals, who are told by their ‘leader' that, in spite of their total lack of ability, they can survive and prosper in the new environment to which they have been ‘promoted.'

It's a classic formula, which probably goes back to Homer. Their hopes are never dashed, even though they are ritually humiliated every week.

He Just Stood There And Let It Bounce Off His Knee.

That could be the first line, or the last line, or perhaps the title.

Readers, especially if they live in or near Small Heath, might want to offer their suggestions.

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