It was Christmas Day 1999, just six days before the big Millennium celebrations due to be held at The Dome in Greenwich, London… The telephone rang.
At that time, comedian Malcolm Hardee was married to his long-suffering wife Jane. Malcolm drowned in 2005. So it goes.
This is an extract from my diary on Christmas Day 1999…
* * *
Malcolm Hardee phoned at midday. His opening words were:
“There’s a thin dividing line… between criminality and non-criminality… But it’s OK, I’m back now.”
“So what did you do?” I asked.
“I opened the Christmas presents,” he replied.
“And whose house were they in?” I asked, because I know Malcolm.
“Oh, the neighbours’,” he mumbled. “Well, all the doors look the same round here and it was early in the morning.”
“What about the lock?” I asked.
“Well, it was on the latch,” he replied a little too quickly. “I knew it was the wrong house when I realised Jane wouldn’t have bought me a power drill. The fireplace was in the same place as my house and everything.”
“And where is Mrs Hardee?”
“At her mother’s.”
“That’s a bit dodgy isn’t it? Leaving you on your own in London.”
“Mmmm…….I’ve had to cancel our New Year’s Eve show.”
“Greenwich Council has declared an exclusion zone. It’s like Nazi Germany round here. I won’t even be able to walk from my house to the club unless I have a plastic arm band on.”
“You mean they’re banning parking?”
“No, they’re banning everything. They say they’re frightened of a second Hillsborough.” (The football disaster in which people were crushed to death)
“You mean you can only get into central Greenwich if you buy a ticket to the Dome?”
“I can’t get one. I had one and they withdrew it.”
“I’m not surprised: you might have nicked their tent.”
I realised afterwards that I should have asked where the power drill is now.