Evening classes are a great way to meet women, apparently - so I signed up to a course in Comedy Writing. The first week proved a washout when my nemesis Dan made me look a fool in front of Winslet Bosom. Here's what happened on week two.
Turn up a couple of minutes late. Security guard's sat eating a Twix. Sense his eyeballs tracking my ascent up the stairs.
Open the classroom door. A dozen strangers turn and glare.
"Je peux vous aider?" asks the teacher.
"Sorry, I don't speak German," I reply.
Everyone laughs. Bit weird. Give them a little wave - then slope back to reception. The guard smirks.
"Excuse me - do you know where my class is?"
"What course you doing again?"
He knows what course I'm doing.
"Oh yeah, you're the guy with no jokes. It's moved to C2, lad."
The Twix is almost gone. A rebel crumb tumbles down his chin to the floor.
"Why didn't you tell me when I walked in?"
"Didn't see you, lad."
He did see me - but you can't argue with security.
Finally find the room. Dan's weaseled himself next to Winslet Bosom. There's one spare seat beside a ginger lad who looks like Richie Cunningham. Next to him, I'm The Fonz. Happy days.
"Alright, I'm Fishy," I say.
"Steve," he responds.
Everyone shares their sitcom ideas. Mine's about a clan of time travellers. The tutor's not keen - reckons it's been done before.
"There's no future in time travel," quips Dan.
The entire class chuckles - even my wingman.
We're split into pairs to deconstruct a script from Friends. It's the lesbian wedding episode. Steve gets on with it - I mentally critique the student art on each wall. One guy's done a painting of three apples in a bowl. Golden Delicious, I think. Shite.
Dan tells Winslet Bosom he's never watched an entire episode of Friends. Blatantly a lie.
Overhear him inviting some of the others for a drink as the tutor calls time.
"I'm up for a bit of that," I shout across the room. Dan looks surprised.
He leads the way, rucksack over both shoulders. Takes us to a right dive. Landlord eyes us with suspicion.
All of us hang back. No one wants to buy a round for a group of near strangers. The owner grumbles under his breath as we each order our own. I'm last. Ask for a pint of Coke. He scoffs. Explain that I'm driving. He doesn't care.
We congregate by the fruit machine. Try to squeeze in beside Dan - except within 30 seconds he completes a body snub which excludes me from the circle.
Attempt to make eye contact with Steve but he's telling a story.
Pull my best 'I need the loo' face and skulk to the gents.
Leave it a couple of minutes then head back out. Dan's trying to persuade everyone to drink shots. People mumble stuff about having to be home soon. Maybe next week, says Steve, who's finally taking his wingman duty seriously.
"How about you?" sniffs Dan, barely looking my way.
"Sorry, got to get back to feed the cat."
His face illuminates.
"You've got a cat?!"
He glances round the group, expecting everyone to laugh along. They don't. The girls are all pussy lovers, it seems.
Winslet Bosom offers her deep blue eyes to mine as I reveal how Mildred suffers from arthritis. Dan removes a packet of cigarettes from his pocket and heads to the door.
"Right, I really need to get going," I tell the others.
"Say hello to Mildred for me," instructs Winslet Bosom.
Step into the street. Dan's prowling by the entrance.
"Fag?" he croaks, accusingly.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Just asking if you want a fag?"
He holds out a packet of Marlboro.
"Daniel?" I say, starting to walk away.
"I'll give your regards to Mildred."