Shazia’s week

The door of my hotel room has bars. Prison decor is all the rage here.

I am in Cork, Republic of Ireland. I have just arrived to find my picturesque hotel situated at the top of a hill, surrounded by cans of Special Brew. The hotel is so old the lift can only elevate itself to the second floor, where I have to get out with my bags and walk up another two flights of stairs to the fourth floor. On approaching my hotel room I discovered the outside of the door to be tastefully decorated with metal bars, Belmarsh-style. Apparently prison and chav decor is all the rage in Cork.

I asked for a room with a view, and they very kindly gave it to me. As I looked out of my window, the hotel’s quiet was shattered by the gangs of kids hanging around street corners with their mothers and their 25-year-old grandmothers. Middle-aged women in dreadlocks, Burberry shoes and fleas: this is officially Hotel Hackney.

Cork is one big hen and stag night. It seems that everyone is getting married to everyone else. There are lots of women around but not as many men; apparently the men tend to leave Cork and head to bigger cities to take up other professions such as fighting, non-stop talking and stalking.

The people of Cork are very nice. They speak a bit too fast and get slightly excited and over-friendly after midnight, but they were very helpful and extended their welcome by taking me to “the best Irish kebab house in the world”, called Abrakebabra. I don’t know about the best, but it was definitely the most dangerous: it’s the only kebab house I’ve ever been to that has bouncers on the doors at 10am. Their kebabs are so dangerous that apparently they jump up from behind the till when you’re not looking and blow your face off.

There is a slight feel in Cork – like in Luton – of going back in time. I woke up this morning and switched on the television to find old episodes of Bergerac running on two different channels.

I am off to the Edinburgh Festival tomorrow. I have been having sleepless nights for the past few days because I don’t know what to wear. I have been dressing like a lesbian on stage for a few years, and now even the lesbians are writing to ask why I dress like a lesbian. I’m obviously not doing them justice either. So I’m thinking of letting it all hang out – crop tops, hot pants, cellulite, the lot. It’s what my audience wants to see of me. Now the time has come and I am ready to let loose.

I am normally a confident, positive, happy person. All this will end tomorrow when I head up to the festival for my annual grilling. I will be performing my new show and within the space of a few days I will become an insecure, irritated, inane caricature of Courtney Love.

I will sit and watch other people’s shows and I will realise I wasn’t as funny as I thought I was. I will realise that my struggle will have to continue for a long time yet, and I will wonder why I didn’t just marry that doctor and opt for an easy life living in a mansion in the country. I’d be driving a Mercedes by now and have a couple of servants and a double-barrelled surname. Instead I’m heading up to Edinburgh to tell a room full of strangers some personal anecdotes about myself, in exchange for a few laughs and a public berating.

Twenty-seven days is such a long time to be at the Edinburgh Festival, especially if it’s going badly. But then again I’ve been through so many horrendous times there that each time I come back I think it can’t be worse than last time. One year I got locked up in a kebab house 20 minutes before my opening night, and the mad shop-owner wouldn’t let me out unless I agreed to give him a free ticket to my show. Fortunately it wasn’t called Abrakebabra, otherwise I may never have escaped. It can’t get any worse than that, can it? I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.