FIRST OF ALL, an apology. Many of you may have bought the Gazette last week eagerly anticipating the long-overdue opportunity to read my column.
But for reasons beyond my control, it was not forthcoming, and in this space instead you were forced to read a review of the opening of the very latest and equally long overdue 'Mmm Tasty Tasty Chicken Innit Bruv Do-You-Want-A-Great-Big-Dollop-Of-Mayo with that Chicken and Chips takeaway shop. (Needs a snappier title I feel)
You see, the internet was down at home. Never mind, not one to be defeated by small obstacles, I resolved to visit one of the many internet shops in the area. Surely it would be a simple matter to pop in there in this age of swish technological miracles, quickly churn out the column and send it to the editor. Job done? But hang on there just a minute...
You see, what had to happen first, before anything like that could unfold, was that I needed to be plunged into a nightmare world, where nothing made sense, and where no one and nothing could help. Where people screamed down mobile phones in strange tongues, and where you were forced to listen to a cacophonous combination of the wailing Koran from one end of the room while fast industrial reggae blasted out of someone’s headphones, from the other. And that was just the staff at the Hell Hole internet cafe.....
As you tried to get your bearings in this war zone, to grab hold of some map of reality that made sense, the pungent odour of someone munching on something evil that the dog brought in from Tasty Tasty Innit, (Innit) wafted round the room like a vulture from hell, mingling with other evil, nameless odours, forcing you to breathe only through your mouth as you tried to balance on the tattered, knackered swivel chair which had long since given up swivelling and was now stuck permanently at the height for a two year old dwarf.
Welcome to West Ealing. This is a report from the front line.
So there I am with my nose on the table staring up at the computer screen and longing for something more comforting, like Chinese water torture or an all-expenses-paid trip to Guantanamo Bay.
Anyway, I take a deep breath of foul air and try to compose myself for the composing of the column.Ha ha. Did I just hear the devil laugh?
You see, even if you should manage to have one single clear thought or fleeting moment of peace or clarity in this environment, all will soon be lost. Because just when you are getting into a good old rhythm with your frenzied, inspired typing, there will be an immediate and devastating computer breakdown, the first of several.
In the meantime, you make several polite appeals to the enemy asking if they perhaps wouldn't mind terribly, turning their music down ever so slightly, or perhaps talking at slightly less volume than a foghorn blaring from an immense Nordic merchant navy vessel during a raging storm in the North Sea or a stampeding herd of castrated rhinos on acid. Perhaps they might even consider turning down the ring volume on their mobile telephone with it's lovely soothing ring tone?
But all you get is a vacant stare and a headache. Which is the cue for the following message to appear on the screen from the Great Computer God is the sky: "This programme is not responding and needs to close immediately because we don't like you. Oh dear, it is most unfortunate that you have not saved your work, ha ha."
Two hours later, after the 15th infuriating computer malfunction, you give up writing the column, and dream of finding a nice big juicy sledgehammer to give the screen and keyboard a gentle and affectionate tap.
Oh well, to cut a long story short, I got the column done in the end, which was a triumph for madness over technology.
Next time: a tour of the best and worst Fried chicken shops in Ealing, including a look at the four exciting new ones due to open near the clock tower in Hanwell. Don't be late....
In case anyone is interested, Phil Zimmerman is resident comic Downstairs at the Drayton. Next great show Friday March 19. Info 07853 664 877.