Malcolm Hardee’s autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake was published in 1996.
I co-wrote it with him. Well, OK, I wrote it from taped conversations with him.
It got quite well-reviewed:
“Hilarious” (The Scotsman)
“Blindingly funny” (The Independent)
“Makes you laugh in great snorts” (Daily Express)
“You will laugh out loud at least a dozen times” (Sunday Times)
“The funniest read in longer than I care to remember” (The Stage)
“Characterful and not overly ghost-written…a feast of scabrous reminiscence” (Independent on Sunday)
It is now out of print, but Amazon has been happily selling occasional ‘new’ and ‘used’ copies for years.
Now surrealism has struck.
Comedy critic Bruce Dessau (about whom I blogged yesterday) has just drawn my attention to something.
An Amazon.co.uk person or, perhaps, computer has got their/its knickers in a twist.
For those who don’t know, the late comic Malcolm Hardee was known for his outrageous behaviour. His autobiography tells anecdotes of sex, drugs and the time Malcolm had his genitals painted in luminous paint at the Glastonbury Festival.
Until recently – I think I looked a few months ago – Amazon’s description of the book was fairly spot-on. It was supplied by the book’s original publisher and (I think) read:
“The humorous memoirs of criminal-turned-comedy agent Malcolm Hardee, who recalls a life of crime and misdemeanours before finding fame and fortune in the comedy boom of the 1980s. He also recalls how he did in fact, as the title suggests, steal Freddie Mercury’s birthday cake.”
Currently, the book description on Amazon.co.uk reads:
“For successful classroom teaching, your students need to be engaged and active learners. In this book, there is practical advice that is grounded in the realities of teaching in today’s classrooms on how to be an inspirational teacher and produce highly motivated students. This book contains 220 positive, practical teaching ideas that are relevant to both new and experienced classroom teachers. With reference to reflective practice, best practice and Continuing Professional Development (CPD), this book provides essential support for trainee teachers, new teachers and experienced teachers looking to extend their repertoire.”
Well, if teachers want to ‘extend their repertoire’ (Ooh, missus!) with impressions of French President General De Gaulle using only a pair of spectacles held atop a naked, flaccid penis representing his nose, then this is certainly the book to buy.
In the current Reviews section, the highly-regarded Teacher magazine is quoted as saying:
“This book will provide ideas that motivate that most difficult of audiences, the teenager.”
Absolutely true. It will certainly spice up biology classes.
The book also now has some excellent new quotes in the Reviews section including:
“I enjoyed this book, and got a lot of good ideas from it” (Chris Kilby, PGCE student)
“Puts a strong emphasis on the how” (Sarah Davies, Senior Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University)
Well, that is true.
And there remain some older and more representative reader reviews…
“I’d recommend anyone to look up the balloon dance on the internet to witness how amusing it was, ditto the ‘banger up the rear’ routine. It takes the reader on a journey of… his touring, drinking, womanising… a great book” (5 STARS – Comedy Cum Hardee, 1st March 2012)
“A little piece of comedy history and an amazing insight into the Malcolm Hardie’s (sic) incredible life and journey.” (5 STARS – Sam, 19th May 2011)
“Full of cheeky chappies and crazy anecdotes guaranteed to generate random fits of laughter. Malcolm was a lovable rogue who liked to show his knob a lot!” (5 STARS Mitzi, Wales, 9th September 2009)
I am inclined not to tell Amazon about this balls-up and see what happens.
The book is available via them in both new and used editions. Copies of the used books currently vary in price (+ £2.80 delivery) from £7.98p to £999.00. Copies of the book in ‘new’ condition vary from £49.99 to £999.00.
Interestingly, it is the same seller – UK_Bookstore – who is selling both New copies for £999.00 and Used copies for £999.00. The difference seems to be that New copies are in pristine condition and Used copies “may have some underlines and highlights”.
In case you should think I have made all this up or have changed the Amazon listing myself, I have not.
The annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show is being held at the Edinburgh Fringe this year on Friday 22nd August. The three awards include a Cunning Stunt Award for best publicity stunt promoting a performer or show at the Fringe.
This Amazon surrealism is not a cunning stunt.
We simply – it seems – live in increasingly surreal times.
I am very glad of that.