Column: Tom Taylor on the trouble with Harry

Jarred Christmas performing for Sitting Room Comedy at the Spiegeltent in July 2012 as part of Harrogate International Festivals.
Jarred Christmas performing for Sitting Room Comedy at the Spiegeltent in July 2012 as part of Harrogate International Festivals.

The world of Tom Taylor, promoter of Harrogate’s Sitting Room comedy club and finalist in So You Think You’re Funny contest at Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Last week, Miles Jupp concluded his show at Harrogate Theatre with a harrowing tale about Jarred Christmas, trousers and not quite making it to the toilet.

As such, I thought I would tell you the story of my friend Harry.

Harry is one of life’s bumblers. A Bertie Wooster-like figure but with a smartphone and a mortgage. Or, by extension, a Boris Johnson-like figure but with a mortgage.

Four or five of us had assembled in a dubious Indian restaurant, Korma Chameleon, to wish Harry well for an important second interview he was travelling to Cambridge for the following day.

After his initial phone interview, which lasted all of six minutes as Harry had forgotten to charge his mobile, I had thought a second was improbable. Anyway, he must have produced six minutes of gold as there we all were.

The purpose of the evening was for us (the friends) to offer Harry (Harry) misguided and unqualified guidance like “just be yourself”, which is awful advice in Harry’s case.

One freethinking friend, James, decided to prep Harry with some questions he had obviously just Googled like: “What animal would you be?”

James was at pains to point out that there were no right or wrong answers but Harry’s reply - a slug - may have been the exception which proved the rule.

James asked Harry how he would measure nine minutes using only a four minute and seven minute hourglass and we all agreed Harry should not overthink tomorrow’s deputy sports editor interview.

He should just kick back, forget any nerves and enjoy an evening with friends. And Harry kicked back in some style.

The following morning’s Harrogate to Leeds train journey was incident free.

This is how the body works, over millennia it has evolved a wicked sense of humour and strikes only at your most vulnerable.

In Harry’s case this was on the 9.45 Leeds to Peterborough.

“Train designers all watched 1970s game shows as impressionable children, this is the only explanation for the continued presence of slow-reveal sliding toilet doors.

“We are in the process of sending humans to Mars, toilet door technology has surely advanced. It’s a conspiracy.”

These were Harry’s impassioned words the following week and one could see his point. Harry was now in acute need of a new pair of trousers. First impressions count at interviews.

In a curious contradiction to his happy-go-lucky selection of Indian restaurants, Harry was determined to find matching black suit trousers and trawled Peterborough for the necessary retailer.

Here he discovered trousers were not sold separately, under any circumstances, however desperate. Harry would have to buy the full suit.

Despite Harry’s protestations that his jacket was spotless, he parted with £400 as the shop assistant slowly and methodically placed the replacement trousers and gratuitous jacket into bags.

Harry grabbed a bag and cantered, thighs pressed together, to his connecting train.

It was with premature good spirits that Harry, chugging out of Peterborough station towards the most important day of his life, wriggled free of his compromised trousers and chucked them out of the toilet window.

Then he looked down at the only shopping bag he had picked up t see one neatly folded suit jacket.

The accompanying trousers, identically bagged, would remain forever on the shop counter - never to be resold separately.

From the small window Harry could just make out the old trousers he’d just thrown awey dangling forlornly on a fence post.

With legs now thrust into sleeves and the black lower jacket sellotaped to the black upper jacket, Harry looked remarkably like a slug.

l Sitting Room Comedy Club returns on Wednesday, February 12 at the St George Hotel, Harrogate with a double headline show starring Paul Tonkinson and Roger Monkhouse. Full details can be found at

l Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails.