“Your best blogs,” American comedian Lewis Schaffer told me last night in the car back to his home in Nunhead, London, “are the ones in which you express your own opinion. Your worst blogs are the ones when you resort to quoting some self-obsessed comedian talking about himself. Or even worse is when you quote a comedian talking about you and your blog.
“The five things that people wanna see in a blog,” Lewis Schaffer told me, “are One – themselves… Two – people they know… Three – places they’ve been to… Four – people or places they’d like to know or like to go to… and Five… Lewis Schaffer.”
“I don’t have a blog from tonight,” I told him, “although lots happened.”
I had been going to go to comedian Charmian Hughes’ Christmas party with my eternally-un-named friend, but she (my eternally-un-named friend) has a bad cough and decided not to go. So Lewis Schaffer went with me instead.
When we arrived at the door, I had the first of three bad coughing fits.
The guest list was interesting.
For almost a whole minute, comedian Harriet Bowden and I persuaded Lewis Schaffer that Harriet was my ex-wife and that we had lived together in a small house near Sandringham in Norfolk. Lewis Scaffer’s temporary stare of confusion as he looked at both of us (Harriet was wearing a full-length mink coat; I was looking rumpled) was worth the trip.
Harriet was trying to persuade people to go on a Weekend Comedy Workshop next month.
“Not for me,” I told her. “Ask Lewis Schaffer.”
“I’m not going to go on it,” he said.
“Because I haven’t been asked to teach it and I’m not going to show up and say I need help. Everybody knows I need help. It would be embarrassing, but I think that is how the comedy industry is going: comedians teaching other comedians how to make money and get out of debt by charging them £100.”
Charmian Hughes and her husband David Don’t have a toilet with a new Crapper… a genuine Thomas Crapper, boldly emblazoned as such on the cistern, inside the bowl and even on the sink. And they have a new kitchen with a new wood-burning stove.
“There’s no ash,” Charmian told me. “It’s very efficient. It burns the ash.”
It is a very neat, square, black stove. It looked very lovely, but reminded me slightly of an oven at Auschwitz. I did not mention this to Charmian at the time. Perhaps I should not mention it in this blog now. But it looks very nice and I am impressed it burns the ashes.
Sadly, I could not persuade Charmian to get her accordion out last night.
“I haven’t had it out for a while,” she explained.
“You could do the sand dance instead,” I said.
She ignored this – I thought rather good – suggestion.
But the party was enlivened by Charmian’s husband playing a trumpet and demonstrating very good magic tricks in the kitchen with cards, rubber bands and chess pieces. Not simultaneously, but his lessons with Jerry Sadowitz are paying off.
Also in the kitchen was Canadian cabaret act and clown ‘Mooky’ Cornish, who can and did crack nuts with her bare hands. When someone told her I organise the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards, I emphasised to her:
“They’re increasingly prestigious, you know.”
“I’m just impressed,” she said, “that they’re not named after a beer.”
She told me she had once been on the board of a company with Thomas Crapper’s grandson. I think it was the board of an organisation involved in puppets, masks and animated objects. I do seem to remember the phrase “animated objects” came up, but I may have lost track of reality by that point.
I certainly remember the party ending with Lewis Schaffer randomly going up to people he had not had time to meet and saying, “Hi! My name’s Lewis Schaffer.” They mostly looked slightly startled and slightly afraid. He chatted to three women with the opening gambit: “I hate women.”
In the car taking him home to Nunhead Heights, he told me: “I gotta make a poo, but I couldn’t make a poo in that Thomas Crapper thing.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“It was too classy,” he said.
“I gotta go to the loo so badly,” he emphasised. “I feel like I’ve let you down by not giving you a blog.”
“You’ve given me a blog,” I said.
“I haven’t,” said Lewis Schaffer.
“You have,” I said.
“I could tell you,” he said, “why I support people’s right to own guns in America.”
“With all those schoolchildren shot in America?” I asked. “You’re just saying that to be hated. Just so people will hate you.”
“They hate me already,” said Lewis Schaffer. “Every time something like this happens, I wanna say something, because English people get all indignant about it, but…” he paused, “I need to go to the loo so bad.”
He paused again.
“Perhaps I just need to fart,” he said, getting out of the car.
There was a long silence.
“No. That didn’t work,” he said.
And then Lewis Schaffer was gone into the night, like the sweet smell of strawberries blown on the wind at Wimbledon.