Tim Key: It was The Colonel's birthday. So we took him to the aquarium, obviously



It was my dear friend The Colonel's birthday, and so we all spent the afternoon in the aquarium. We'd planned it that way. When it's your birthday, you don't want to be sitting in your undies all day, killing time till evening comes, waiting until the moment the boozer opens and you can stick some stinking liquor down your throat. That's a waste. Nope, better is to rally the troops and get some stuff done.

The Colonel had been dropping hints for days that he was interested in seeing some live fish swimming in tanks. And so it was that me, Blasco, Vinehouse, DOD, Kerrie, Nishant Kumar, Alabaster and Joe scooped up The Colonel, bought him one adult's ticket and a child's cap with a cartoon shark on it, and shunted him towards the sea life.

I remember when I was a child, a large part of the joy of birthdays was seeing my parents pick an attraction and make it their business to absolutely nail organising a trip to it. When I was seven or eight years old, we'd all pile into a couple of Volvos and drive to some waterpark or other and hurl ourselves down slides. Or else my dad would root out some kind of weird outdoor centre within a 90-minute radius of our village and we'd burn down there and all put on wetsuits and try canoeing. The phrase 'those were the days' is obviously overused these days – but I would definitely haul it out and dust it off to talk about those particular days. Laser Quest! Nature trails! Ten-pin bloody bowling! THE DAYS!

And now here we all were, charging around this aquarium, like kids. The Colonel – our figurehead.

We started at the bottom, gawping at stingrays like they were going out of fashion. The aquarium had a glass tunnel, which we waddled through with these flat beasts swirling round us. It was a majestic site and we laughed at their gormless little frowns and took selfies with them gliding behind us. The Colonel clapped his little hands in delight and filled out a worksheet that was meant for children and – once we'd had enough of these queer beasts – we pressed on to the interesting stuff.

The aquarium was built on five levels – if you're interested in layouts – and each floor represented a different depth of the ocean. So the next one up was more about things like sharks and prawns, then it was things like scuba divers, and then the floor above that was more sort of otters, ducks, surfers and guillemots. To be honest, I lost interest after the sharks and mainly chased The Colonel, trying to give him the bumps and have a go with his cap. I get very jealous of people whose birthday it is and cope with it either by throwing myself into making it as special as possible for them, or else by isolating them and telling them to get over themselves.

At the top, my interest was once again piqued. It was mainly penguins and salt-water crocodiles up there and I'd seen both in films, so was predisposed to take an interest. The crocodiles seemed to like the idea of eating the penguins and the penguins seemed to know that and appeared to goad the crocs. And in the middle, with just a reinforced slab of glass separating him from both wonderful exhibits, was The Colonel, clutching his felt tip and joyfully answering multiple-choice questions. School groups bustled among him, occasionally asking their teachers how he fitted in.

We got chucked out, eventually, and collected a photo of us that the aquarium had taken in the shark bit, and then we reconvened in a pub 10 minutes away and discussed our findings. It was a great activity, we agreed. And then, gradually, the booze began to flow. And it submerged our favourable memories of the aquarium, and we chanted at The Colonel, and he touched the peak of his cap, and he chuckled away.

Tim Key will be performing his show Single White Slut at the Duchess Theatre, London, 28 April-2 May, 7.30pm.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate / Junior C# Developer

£18000 - £25000 Per Annum + bonus and benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

Drama Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

PSHE Teacher - Cheshire West

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Teachers with a passion for PSHE neede...

Day In a Page

Read Next

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside  

Autumn’s subtle charm is greatly enhanced by this Indian summer

Michael McCarthy
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits