Dear Reader: How I let down comedian Andy Hamilton

Coming to Harrogate Comedy Festival - comedy writer and stand-up comic Andy Hamilton.
Coming to Harrogate Comedy Festival - comedy writer and stand-up comic Andy Hamilton.

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

I forgot to phone up clever comedian Andy Hamilton earlier this week for a pre-arranged interview about his appearance in the forthcoming Harrogate Comedy Festival.

Though not a household name, this backbone of BBC comedy on radio and TV, who’s quietly been responsible for the likes of Outnumbered, certainly deserved better.

My only excuse is a simple if unimpressive. I was busy.

With the best will in the world it’s impossible to avoid making the odd mistake no matter how hard you try and it always hurts.

And with a mistake comes a complaint, though nothing in journalism is 100% clear-cut.

Back in the days when I was out and about reviewing the local music scene on a weekly basis I’d occasionally come face-to-face with someone who disliked a particular article.

There would be threats, usually of a verbal nature, though once or twice they did imply some physical retribution might be imminent.

It never worried me much, I always felt it came with the territory.

Over the years, I’ve rarely been surprised by anything until, that is, last week when I was interviewing two stalwarts of Ripon’s highly-regarded St Cecilia Orchestra about its 21st anniversary over a cup of Earl Grey and a chocolate cookie.

“Do you know anyone who has a replica canon?” one of the two asked me out of the blue.

The fact the request was part of the orchestra’s plans to perform Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture didn’t make my reply any easier.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from following the local music scene over many years is that musicians are a different breed.

I say this having met hundreds over the years, from the famous to the unknown.

Whether performing in an arena in front of a crowd of thousands of people or in a sweaty pub in front of 25 people, what makes them different is that music comes first for musicians.

Somehow this little characteristic seems to affect most things in their lives.

Some I’ve known tend to focus on a shining career goal.

Others are happy playing for their own pleasure in the loose collection of bars and small venues which make up the local music scene, unsung heroes who are also unpaid.

Once in a while, however, a musician comes along who confounds expectations.

Someone like thoughtful singer-songwriter Lewis Fieldhouse.

Having studied at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts under Paul McCartney, he got tired of playing the circuit and upped sticks for California.

Living in a fleapit of an apartment in LA for several months to no apparent rhyme or reason, Lewis returned to Britain with an album’s worth of songs and enough funds secured via Kickstarter to record it and release it.

I didn’t see that coming when he sang a few tunes in my tiny back garden in Harrogate a few years ago at my humble birthday bash.