Fearsome Kate Copstick at yesterday’s Grouchy Club
Every afternoon, I am co-hosting The Grouchy Club at the Edinburgh Fringe.
The idea is that, with luck, comedians, other performers and show-related people come along and we just chat to the inherently interesting audience.
For the last three days, we have included a 10-minute section where comics performed to get feedback from their peers.
My co-host is Kate Copstick, doyenne of comedy critics. She runs Mama Biashara, a charity based in Kenya where she spends, I guess, half her year.
Regular readers of this blog will know that, a few months ago in Kenya, she had a very serious accident and had to have a hip replacement in Kenya – no insurance, so in a local hospital. She came back to the UK in a wheelchair though she has now recovered fairly well though not completely.
For the last eight years or so, she has also had lupus.
Wikipedia defines lupus as “a name given to collection of autoimmune diseases in which the human immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tisses. Symptoms of these diseases can affect many different body systems, including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs”.
What this means, day-to-day, is that Copstick has to take very heavy pain-killing drugs and, even then, is in high pain for a large percentage of the time.
She arrived a couple of minutes late for yesterday afternoon’s Grouchy Club.
“How are you?” I asked.
“It’s not been a good day so far.”
“I’m running out of painkillers. I’m running out of one of the medications I take for lupus. And now I’m running out of anti-depressants.
Copstick in her London charity shop on her recent return (with new hip) from Kenya
“One of the things when that happens is I get weird moments. I always know when I need to up the dose – or drink heavily, which is the alternative.
“I get panic attacks.
“I go to leave the house and, as soon as I think Time to leave now, I get this feeling in my head I’m going to forget the keys. Or my wallet. I’m definitely going to forget my wallet. I’m going to forget something really important. Probably the keys; probably the keys.
“So then I get to the door and open the door. You’ve forgotten the keys! You’ve forgotten the keys! Have you forgotten the wallet? Let’s check the bag! You’ve forgotten the keys! Definitely forgotten the keys! You haven’t forgotten the keys. Must be the wallet then. You’ve forgotten your wallet. Check the bag. But the keys are in the pocket. Never mind, check the bag anyway!
“So I check the bag and check the wallet. And then I get outside and I’m just pulling the door to and… No! You’ve definitely forgotten the keys! If not the keys then the wallet or if not the wallet then what’s in the wallet. Probably got no money in your wallet.
“So I open the wallet up and I do have money. But what about your cards? You’ve probably forgotten your cards. You’ve got no cards. What if you lose that money or you’ve got no money or you’ve got to give it to somebody or something else happens? Then you have no cards to get more money. But I’ve got the cards, got the money. What about the keys? What if I don’t have the keys? I won’t be able to get back in. This is a rented flat. I’ll have to break down the door. Imagine the cost of that.
“So it takes me about half an hour to leave the house and, when I do leave the house, I have my wallet in one hand – open, so I can see all the cards and everything – and my keys in the other. Have you forgotten anything? Have you got a pad? You’ve probably got no pens. You’re gonna have to buy a pen.
“And, all the way along the road, I’m just checking everything in my bag.
“So now I’ve had a large Drambuie and I feel a lot better.
“It’s quite simple, really. People think mental health is this big, complex problem.
“You just need to drink.
“If you feel a wobbly moment coming on, find a bottle of alcohol. I am not saying it is a long-term cure, because it is quite expensive and sadly – though I have spoken at great length to my doctor – it is apparently not available on the NHS. That is a big mistake. It is almost worth going into politics for.”
Our Grouchy Club show ends at 4.45pm every afternoon.
Wilfredo comforts Copstick (with her damaged left arm) by tickling her chin with a flower
Yesterday, I bumped into Copstick again at around 6.15pm when I turned up at The Hive venue to see Matt Roper’s show as strangely-loveable lounge lizard Wilfredo.
Copstick was nestling her left arm in a strange way.
Some drunken punter, running along a street, had collided with her and knocked her down. She was on her way to A&E.
At 9.25pm, I got a text message from her:
Humerus fractured. Make of that what you will…
I texted back:
Even more important, did you get the drugs you need?
It is around noon as I write this.
I have not heard back yet.
Our next show starts at 3.45pm.