Yesterday, I blogged about disagreeing with London-based American comedian Lewis Schaffer over the nature of British comedy audiences.
Writing a blog about Lewis Schaffer is something which always goes down well with Lewis Schaffer. He lives to be criticised and criticises to live.
A few hours later, I got an e-mail from Lewis Schaffer saying:
“Your post today was excellent and not just ’cause it was about me.”
I believe flying pigs were recently sighted over Nunhead in London, where Lewis Schaffer lives.
He went on to say:
“I want to point out that when you, John Fleming, a man who knows me and knows of my work and has even been on my radio show thrice – a weekly radio show entitled Nunhead American Radio at 10.30pm every Monday on Resonance FM – calls the place where I live ‘Nunhead, Peckham’, as if Nunhead were part of Peckham, then there is much work for me to do.”
My offence in Lewis Schaffer’s eyes was that, in a previous blog about comedian Martin Soan‘s problems with posters and a bicycle, I had mentioned ‘Nunhead, Peckham’ because no-one other than Lewis Schaffer’s fan has ever heard of Nunhead so I had to locate it more understandably… because I was not quite sure if Martin Soan lives in Nunhead or Peckham… and because, frankly, I think Nunhead IS part of Peckham.
Lewis Schaffer, a man obsessed with Nunhead and its cemetery, disagrees.
“You wouldn’t,” he told me yesterday, “call Palestine ‘Israel’… or Canada the ‘United States’… or New Jersey ‘New York’.”
Well there he goes again – wrong again.
I would… New Jersey IS much the same as New York, isn’t it? It is in the movies.
Sometimes I think George III did us a favour by losing the American Colonies.
And Lewis Schaffer yesterday, I think, rather undercut his own case by telling me: “Nunhead does share the same postal code as Peckham (SE15), but that is only because Nunhead doesn’t have its own postal distribution centre. And much of Nunhead has been co-opted by Peckham – because of the proximity to Peckham Rye and Peckham train station and because of gravity. Bigger things attract. Sir Isaac Newton and all that. But Nunhead has been on the map since the 1500s and we are fighting for its own identity and I would appreciate if you would not make that mistake again.”
By this point, I was almost prepared (through sheer mental exhaustion) to admit Lewis Schaffer was right. But I did not. I am made of sterner stuff. I am from Scotland (which, you must remember, took over England in 1603 when King James VI ascended or arguably descended to the English throne as James I).
“I am organising an event…” Lewis Schaffer started to tell me.
My heart sank.
“The Nunhead American Association, the community group of Nunhead Americans,” he told me, “is organising a day-long event this summer, on 7th July 2013. It is for Nunhead Beats the Bounds Day.”
Oh Lord, I thought. Oh Lord.
“We will,” Lewis Schaffer told me, “reinstate the age-old British tradition of perambulating the perimeter of our village and beating the trees and buildings with sticks, letting all know THIS IS OUR NUNHEAD.”
Village? I thought. Village?? Nunhead is in the middle of London!
“The route,” Lewis Schaffer continued, “is estimated to be 4.3 miles culminating in a party on Nunhead Green starring our very own Dulwich Ukulele Club at the Old Nun’s Head pub.”
“We?” I asked warily. “You said We will reinstate…”
“It has been confirmed,” Lewis Schaffer continued, “that the procession will be led by Assistant Vicar Dele Ogunyemi and Major Alan Norton of the Salvation Army and by lay Jewish leader Randy Klein.”
Lay Jewish leader Randy Klein? I thought. Surely not.
“We are still looking,” Lewis Schaffer continued, “for Muslim leaders, atheists and someone from the Not-Caring-Either-Way Community to unite our ville. Our procession will be led by Nunhead American Radio‘s house band The Dulwich Ukulele Club with Richard Guard.”
When I told my eternally-un-named friend about this last night, her first reaction was:
“You’re telling me Lewis Schaffer’s Jewish lay leader is Randy? Seriously?”
“I think I might blog about it in the morning,” I told her. “I’ve got nothing else to blog about and there is almost a knob gag in it.”
“You have had your friend Sandy over from Italy with her son for a week,” my eternally-un-named friend said. “You went to the British Museum and the National Gallery today!”
“But,” I argued, “there’s no real possibility of inserting a knob gag in that,”
“Your friend Sandy,” sighed my eternally un-named friend, as if strangely weary with me, “is an only child and her son’s an only child and you’re an only child… That’s interesting… But with Lewis Schaffer in Nunhead, he’s trying to make a little society out of people who are trying to do things to keep Nunhead alive. It all seems a bit pointless to me but, at the same time, the reality is you need to make a society of people you belong to. It’s very important.”
“That’s a bit too serious,” I told her. “It needs a knob gag in there to make it funny.”
“You weren’t being funny in your Christmas blogs and your New Year one,” my eternally-un-named friend said accusingly. “You said in your blog you had a bloody miserable New Year again, but you were having quite a good time, really, with your friend Sandy you’ve known for 23 years over here…”
“Well, I…” I started to say.
“And don’t quote me,” interrupted my eternally-un-named friend. “You will just make it sound silly.”
“No I won’t,” I told her.
“That’s awful about the policeman with Martin Soan’s bicycle, isn’t it?” she said.