It's Friday night and, for the first time in 2009, I am in The North. This is good for a number of reasons, not least the for the facts that in The North people know how to queue for public transport and that bar prices mean getting mildly tipsy in an establishment which has comfortable seats and fancy wallpaper might actually be a possibility. As opposed to getting mildly tipsy in New Cross, which is something of an accquired taste, particularly when the Camericans keep falling out with bar staff thus meaning that we have to switch pubs on something of a fortnightly basis.
Not only am in The North, however, I am in York. In The Ainsty to be precise. The Ainsty is a pub which I quite possibly would have blogged about over Christmas had I not been doing other stuff that involved copious amounts of not-blogging. I like the Ainsty for a couple of reasons (including the aforementioned bar prices) but mainly because Griffin played there just before Christmas in what was quite possibly my favourite Griffin gig of a very long time. Not least because I came over all 2004 and stole his beer. Even though I don't drink beer. But - raised platform, lots of space, not bad acoustics and a banister for Griffin to attempt to scale during the encore. What's not to like? Which is kind of why Val and I have found ourselves here again.
We are a few songs into the first set as Griffin steps forward. He's a couple of pints down the line, his hair slightly too much over his eyes, the sweat from the gig already visible. There's a fleeting moment when it occurs to me that he was the same age I am now when I first met him. Another lifetime ago.
"Now - " there's a pause, the familiar ability to lay the emphasis in exactly the right place "I'm going to play tambourine".
With that he produces a black star shaped tambourine. A black star shaped tambourine which is exactly the same as the one which was given to me as a present when I left Leeds. The very black star shaped tambourine which is sitting on top of my Paddington, under the sound desk.
Clearly this is too good a joke to pass on.
I duck down, avoiding the Sound Man's legs and retrieve my tambourine. Griffin chooses this moment to demonstrate his own tambourine ability.
He shakes his just as I hold mine up and join in. Only - when he stops I continue just long enough for it to become apparent that there is another tambourine in the house.
Clocking this, Griffin turns and sees that I have just stolen his thunder. Not that it would seem that I make a habit of doing this or anything.
Griffin leans towards the microphone.
"Security to the dancefloor - someone's brought their own tambourine".
It is, we all know, an old joke. But an old joke that still makes me smile.