Know when to stop

by Billy Crosbie

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My name is Billy Crosbie. a Kinsale resident and during the Advertising Awards, I played piano every night in Actons Hotel, for over 20 years. I can’t remember a lot because I drank copious Gin and tonics. I have since found a new life and have been sober for over 10 years. But, I still have great memories of the festival and the wonderful people I met and partied with year after year.

The General Manager of Actons hotel was Jack Walsh and he is one of my best buddies.

So here is my Shark Tale and it happened 25 years ago (approx.)

My normal piano playing time was 11pm in the bar in Actons Hotel until God knows when. I never finished before 4am but often went until breakfast. None of this 2 hour bullshit with 10 mins break in every hour. It was also an era when people knew songs and we all sang together around the piano. A sing-song was always popular in those days.

At about 4am Jack walks into to announce the birth of his first child Amy. So more drinks and champagne were consumed in copious amounts.

Jack eventually left as the dawn was breaking, but not me! I kept going and had a champagne breakfast with some of the delegates. After breakfast I started playing the piano and singing songs again in the hotel, with Gin and tonics lined up on the piano.

After midday and with no fear of being arrested for drunken driving – to my shame – I drove home past the beautiful and infamous Spaniard Bar – at the top of the hill in Scilly. Guess what I heard, but a piano been played by my friend Jack Brierley outside the door of the pub in the glorious sunshine. I just had to stop and then joined in with Jack for duets. Jack threw in the towel by mid-afternoon, but I jumped in and kept the party going until about 6pm. It was then I headed home, but stopped in Summercove at the Bulman Bar for a few nightcaps with other bunch of delegates.

Once home, ate some food, tried to sleep but was too drunk. Woke restlessly at 10pm and drove down to Actons to start the party off again at 11pm. Jack Walsh was in full swing.

The bar was packed and off we went drinking and singing-songs. No surprise, but I didn’t feel very well. I took a break at 12 midnight.

Sometime later Jack gets a call from me – pre mobile phone era – telling him that I’m at home sick in bed very sick. At the break I got up, went outside for fresh air and promptly fainted and slid down the wall. Somebody put me in a taxi, and the driver knew where I lived and took me straight to my home.

To keep the party going Jack had to go and bribe a piano played with the band in the Hotel ballroom to come and play in my place – the show must go on! The following day Jack and I had a good laugh as we recounted the events of the last couple of days.

Back then I always played the piano at least four hours each night but that night is the ONLY night I never finished my gig. In fact, in my 41 years playing in public, it’s the only gig I never completed. I wonder why?