Posted in comedy, Uncategorized

The Burnley ‘Guest House’

When someone holds a hot glue gun to your crotch and makes an unsavoury joke it usually doesn’t end well. The average person may think ‘how did this happen?’ Not to worry though, it’s just my Mum in the kitchen and we’re making fairy costumes. 

We had been booked for the Burnley Literature festival. We were going to be telling stories to local families. The brief asked for ‘woodland fairies.’ My mum’s immediate response was ‘Do they know I’m short, fat and nearly 60?’ I was surprised she’d said her real age. She went from 46 to 48 and forgot about 47 one birthday. Ever since her late 50’s she’d been trying to reclaim 47. I attempted to explain to her that wasn’t how it worked but she’s Glaswegian and often holding a glue gun. Some things are best left alone.

We got on the train dressed as fairies, our outfits complete with flowers laced through our Doc Martens. The venue was a giant inflatable toadstool, the more we stared at it the more phallic it became. It only stayed inflated for the amount of time it took for 2 kids to get in through the narrow zip up door, which meant as the other people were squeezing in it actually deflated on the kids. Screaming happened. People got annoyed but we’re fairies, who could be angry at fairies? Turns out all of Burnley can. 

We’d had a brilliant day full of laughs but we were shattered. Good job I’d booked a lovely little guest house for my mum and I to stay in. I thought I’d treat her so we could have some proper time together.

The guest house was only a few minutes walk away so off we set on the short journey, still dressed like fairies. We got a few odd looks but we didn’t really care. All we wanted was a lie down and a cup of tea.

We arrived at the Guest house and I got a strange feeling in my tummy. It didn’t look as cute as it did online. Had I made a mistake?

It was 5.30pm when we knocked on the door. An emaciated woman with a strong North East accent answered the door. She asked us how long we wanted a room for. ‘One hour? 2 hours?’ I was a bit confused and looked at my mum. ‘The whole night please’ her eyes widened. ‘We’ve booked a room, the name’s Ilaria’ ‘ahh okay girls. Someone has just left your room’.

She gestured for us to come in. She made us a coffee that worrying tasted of salt and asked us to wait on the stairs. ‘I’ll go up and clean your room now. I’ll just be a minute’ she said. ‘TAKE YOUR TIME’ my mum quickly shouted. 

A young girl with what sounded like she had pleurisy told us how she was in charge of making sure the pillow cases are clean. Lovely. She asked how we knew each other. When I told her we were mother and daughter she said ‘You could make a fortune tonight.’ I was confused and then the penny dropped. My mum clocked my expression and said ‘bloody hell love, have you only just worked it out?’ 

You could book rooms by the hour. Surely this wasn’t a knocking shop. No place for someone dressed as a fairy and her mother. What had I done?

We were put in a room that felt like the inside of an ashtray. We sipped on our salty coffees as parts of our soul shrivelled up and died. Sod this we thought. Let’s go out for dinner. We walked around the streets nearby in the pouring rain, still in our fairy outfits. With rumbling tummies all we could see were 1 star hygiene rated places. We spotted a man so far past the point of drunk he was trying to cook a frozen pizza with a lighter. The odd thing was that it wasn’t actually the first time I’d seen that particular culinary technique. Living in the north is very colourful.

The strange thing about Burnley was that everywhere closes at 6 o’clock. It suddenly turns into a ghost town and the only things available to eat are from the newsagent. The good thing about being a grown up is if you want crisps for tea then no one will stop you. I’d rather it was a choice though. We went into a newsagent and picked up a big bag of Poland’s answer to Wotsits. As a kid a giant bag of crisps would be my absolute dream and would be up there in things to make me ecstatically happy. Right now, stood there with wet hair and fairy wings I thought what a fool I was. Sometimes the things we want are not the things we need. What I need is to not be spending the night in a knocking shop with my mum and a bag of cheese balls. 

We headed back to the guest house. We heard terrible things, we smelt scary things. We walked up creaky steep stairs to our ashtray room. Nothing works from the door handle to the window. A pair of knickers hung from the radiator and a very worn pair of slippers with the words ‘sexy mofo’ embroidered on the front sat at the end of one the beds. These items did not belong to me so they made me feel very uneasy being in the room so casually. This is something I hate. When I stay somewhere or move into a new house I don’t want there to be any trace of the previous occupant. I moved into a flat years ago and found a miniature sand timer and nail scissors in the kitchen drawer. I knew instantly that the previous occupant liked to cut their toenails in a set time frame whilst cooking. I shouldn’t know that. 

Back in the knocking shop there was a canvas on the wall with ‘dance like no one’s watching’ printed on the front with a cat holding a balloon. That cat knows sod all but still somehow seemed to be laughing at us ‘you thought you’d stay in a cosy quaint guest house with your mum? Haha, enjoy your Polish cheese balls, bitch.’ Every where we walked to in the room I could see the cat’s eyes looking back at me. Like one of those spooky Victorian paintings where the eyes follow you. Smug twat. 

Even the bathroom told a story. It smelt of stale cigarette smoke and old spice. It surprised me to see this was an air freshener so the scent was a deliberate choice. 

We got into our pyjamas and decided that the best thing was to put the lights out. The smell would still be there but at least our eyes would be spared. I wriggled around to get comfy but my mattress was covered in plastic. For easier wiping perhaps? I was relieved at the wipe-ability but It sounded like I was sleeping on a giant crisp packet.

I stopped wriggling. Ahh, silence. 

And then the builders started drilling downstairs.

We both laughed loudly.

‘You’ll have to put this in your book of stories ma wee toots’ my mum said.

We giggled ourselves to sleep.

Thank goodness I have my book of stories. Without it I probably would’ve cried. If I’d have stayed there with anyone other than my mum it wouldn’t have made me laugh. Without her I’d never go with the flow. She makes me chase the stories. 

Thank you Mummy.

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I’m doing another show!

Well hello there,

Hope you’re all having a smashing start to the new year.

I’m going to be doing a Manchester show. It’s all been rewritten and reworked. I’m now working with a wonderful producer, Micheal Jacob. We’ve been friends for a long time and have always wanted to work together on something exciting.

The show will be on the 25th and 27th Feb at Gullivers in the Northern Quarter. You can get your tickets here 

Dead pets, rubber chickens and a kids party gone wrong…very wrong.

I’m a grown up but I still don’t have the answers. It’s okay though, I have a sneaky feeling that the other grown ups are also clueless. ,

I’m so excited. This show is in preparation for Camden Fringe.

Come along and grab a drink.

It’s story time.

AE19A6208 (c) Andy Hollingworth Archive

Posted in comedy, Uncategorized

I’m doing a show!

Hello you bloody lovely people!

I have some news…I’m doing my first ever Lady Ilaria storytelling show and I’m very excited. I got some fancy photos done and I’ve sorted a venue. Please come!

The show will be at the very cool Spark in York. It’s the perfect place to have a hair cut, look at some art and have a burger. It’s all independent retailers and it’s brilliant.

Here’s the blurb for the show…

Lady Ilaria’s Drawers

…tales of a confused life

Lady Ilaria is definitely more ‘Downtown’ than Downton.
She was born with a plastic spoon in her mouth.
There was a posh end of the village and a dodgy end…she grew up firmly in the middle. Her foot in both camps.
Skint but ate hummus.

These days she is a ‘Lady’ in search of her destiny but dead pets, the Mega bus and a Goldfish named Hitler keep getting in the way. 

A storytelling show for grown ups. 

Get comfy,

it’s story time.

Written and performed by Ilaria Passeri.

Pop over the the Bohemian bar in Spark and order their ‘Lady Ilaria’ cocktail.

Tickets can be bought here

This is Spark York’s website

The show will be on Friday 18th October at 7.30

Here’s a photo of me and my drawers taken by the utterly brilliant Andy Hollingworth thumbnail

 

 

 

 

Posted in childhood, comedy, Uncategorized

Hitler the Goldfish

It’s 1999 and the fair is in town. Us Passeri kids can barely contain our excitement. Hot dogs, rides, and personalised hair bands. We’ve got weird names you couldn’t buy an Ilaria hair band in the shops then.

This day ends well. We won a Goldfish and named him Hitler. He had a little dark mark above his lip, hence the imaginative name. We won him on one of those stalls where you win a prize every time. My Mum wasn’t silly, she knew us kids well. We had/have no coordination and we’re deeply sensitive. Anything that required even limited skill was out of the question. 

My Mum guided us over to a stall ran by a bloke who had aged horrifically due to a lifetime of cigarettes and regret. He had a tattooed face, too many piercings to count and an odour that could strip wall paper. 

He handed my brother three darts and said in a gruff voice ‘Throw them at the dart board lad.’ 

‘’You might want to stand well out the way” my Mum said to the fair man in her Scottish accent. It was more of a warning than anything else. She knew what would happen. It’s partly the reason I have crooked teeth, but that’s for another story.

‘It’ll be all right’ he said, naively.

My brother threw the first dart. 

The bloke running the stall lost the last remaining drop of colour in his already grey face. 

The first dart went straight through a teddy bear’s face, the second dart pierced through the man’s discoloured canvas shoes and the third, well, the third one was ripped out of Adriano’s hands and replaced with a goldfish in a bag and the direct instructions to leave and never return. 

After that ordeal we ran over to the Waltzers. My sister and I loved this ride the most. 

My Mum used to say to us that the way the fair worked was that you walked around and looked at the rides and could only go on one thing. She saved a fortune. This particular year we all decided on the Waltzers. My sister and I thought we were extra tough and said the lad working the ride could ‘spin us around as much as he can, we’re well hard’. He really turned that comment into a challenge. Biggest mistake of our lives. About 20 seconds in and we were crying and begging him to stop the ride. I remember at one point shouting ‘Please, I’ll give you my Christmas presents’. It didn’t work…he obviously wasn’t a fan of glitter pens and fluffy slippers. 

My bargaining abilities improved a few years later when I grew boobs. 

We staggered off the ride soaked in tears, nauseous and shouting about taking the man to court. ‘You’re a horrible man’ we said loudly. My mum was in hysterics and had no sympathy for us. She just said ‘Right kids, you’ve spent your pound. Let’s take Hitler home’ . Which must be the weirdest phrase ever.

Adriano spent the whole bus journey swinging the fish around, so poor little Hitler was bouncing off the sides of his plastic bag. He must have been terrified about coming to live with the Passeris 

So that’s how we got Hitler the goldfish. 

He survived a long time considering his background. If you read my blog post Dead Pets, then you’ll know that the Passeris shouldn’t have pets and can probably work out what happened. He died. We woke up and found him in his bowl not having fun. We got over it very quickly not to sound cruel but he was a sodding goldfish. A psychopath’s pet, that’s a fact by the way. I read it in the Metro on the bus so it must be true. 

Years later we were all having a family dinner and my little sister said “It’s a shame Hitler died”

My brother chipped in and said very earnestly “Well he wasn’t a very nice person.”

Bit of an understatement.

I then went on to say that “I don’t care how much he was bullied, how little pocket money he recieved or how crap his hair was, nothing is a good enough excuse to be that much of a twat.” –

My sister interrupted a little too late and said she meant the goldfish.  

Explaining this to the people we had over for dinner took longer than anticipated. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Sunday Crisps

Today wasn’t an ordinary day. Today was Sunday and that meant ‘Sunday Crisps’

I didn’t realise until a couple of years ago that ‘Sunday Crisps’ was something my stingy Glaswegian Mum (or Mummy in our family. We’re not posh, we’re just pathetic) had invented. I honestly thought every family did it.

With all the fat kids running around (well, not running around) it would do the trick.
I’m not a politician but if Lady Ilaria ever becomes Prime Minister then the first thing I’ll do is introduce ‘Sunday Crisps.’

The sugar tax hasn’t really worked, if you want chocolate you’ll pay any amount for it but ‘Sunday Crisps’ could really take off. One fat kid at a time.

I’ll set the scene for you. Candles lit, we’re in our pyjamas and wrapped up in our crotched blankets. The telly is on, Xena Warrior Princess (I still don’t know if that was a man in a dress. Send answers). Followed by Hulk Hogan starring in the nineties classic ‘Thunder in Paradise.’

My mum must have adored us because having caught glimpses of these programmes as a grown up I have to admit that they are truly awful. That’s probably why she sent us to bed so early.

‘But Mummy, it’s daytime’

‘Go to sleep my wee cabbage flowers’

‘But the light is in our eyes’

‘Not listening. Sleep!’

‘But Mummy, don’t you love us?’

‘Not enough to fall for this rubbish. Now go to sleep, I’m watching Sharpe’

It’s okay though, we got our own back.

We asked our errant Father (or ‘The Italian’ as he’s still referred to, only by us. ) for a drum kit. We knew what we were doing. He wouldn’t buy us school shoes or vegetables but was perfectly happy to pay for something that would drive my Mum mad.

We’d found what we considered to be a loop hole ‘Go to sleep kids’ doesn’t mean DON’T play the drums; And by play, I mean bang the hell out of them with our fists until we got bored. We weren’t stupid, we wouldn’t dare pull this move on a Saturday night out of sheer fear that ‘Sunday Crisps’ may not materialise the following day. It’s a wonder we made it past the age of 10 with such smart arse ways, we were cute as a button though. Even I can see that! Everyone but my mum was sucked in my our chubby cheeks, big brown eyes and muddy knees. These 3 things mean you can get away with murder…almost. DISCLAIMER: This will not stand up in court though, sadly

We couldn’t let Mrs E down, she ran the village shop across the road. She was adorable and scary in equal measures. She’d pretend she was all tough but when we moved house she ran over the road late at night and ‘sold’ us a carpet for a fiver because she knew we were a bit skint. She knew about the Passeri tradition of ‘Sunday Crisps’. Mrs E was so patient as she waited for us to make our choice. It would take us forever to choose and seconds to eat. As a grown up I’m desperately trying to turn that into a metaphor for something deep but I’m struggling. A Wotsit is a Wotsit.

Watching my little brother eat the fluorescent coloured, chemical coated snack highlighted exactly why crisps were not a more regular feature in our house. They would send him wappy for half an hour. He’d have what we used to call a ‘mad 5 minutes’ where he’d turn into the cutest possible version of the Tasmanian Devil.

‘Sunday Crisps’ were definitely worth the mad 5 minutes, they bonded us all. I’d like to say we all shared our crisps but we weren’t very good at that.

When I have a baby I’m going to resurrect ‘Sunday Crisps’ and make Sundays special again and a real treat.

Roll on Sunday. I know you’ll all be doing it.

And incase you’re wondering…Walkers cheese and onion were my crisps of choice, Eleonora went for Skips and Adriano went for Monster Munch. Classics