Tonight in 2002, the comedian Malcolm Hardee fell off a 20 feet high wall by the River Thames in London and damaged his back. He told me it was just bad luck: if he had toppled off forwards, his bollocks would have cushioned the fall.
It is one of the great truths in life that a comedian falling off a 20 feet high wall will get little sympathy, even though it is very painful, very dangerous and not funny. Well, not very funny.
Five days later, I went down to see Malcolm at the Lord Hood pub next to his Up the Creek comedy club in Greenwich. I got talking to a drunken woman who was sitting in the pub with two male friends. She was 48 and told me she had had sex with the singer Frank Sinatra.
“He was hung like a horse,” she said. “It was in 1973, but not in Las Vegas.”
Later, it turned out she knew Malcolm. “I had sex with my boyfriend in Malcolm’s bed,” she told me, “but not while he was there.”
I talked briefly to Malcolm. He had reddish-brown bloody scabs on his knuckles (from his fall) and had to sit down slowly with slight Ooh! and Ouch! sounds because of his back. An osteopath had re-adjusted both hips for him.
He told me he fell 20 feet onto shingle at the side of the River Thames at low tide, landing on the soles of his feet and then falling over.
I said: “You’re lucky you didn’t break both legs.”
He told me he regained consciousness, found he was unable to move and lay there watching the water lapping increasingly close to his face until he found he could crawl.
Three years afterwards, in 2005, late one night, drunk, he fell into Greenland Dock in Rotherhithe, by the Thames.
So it goes.
Three annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards are given in his memory every August at the Edinburgh Fringe.