Tag Archives: accident

Comedian Malcolm Hardee, a man in a van from Up North and a beautiful swan

Confrontations with swans are never wise

Confrontations with swans very seldom have a good outcome

While comedian and prop-maker Martin Soan was painting the public areas of my home at Fleming Towers, the subject of dead comedian Malcolm Hardee came up, like it does.

“When I first met my friend Don,” Martin told me, “he just challenged me all the time. Exactly the same as when I first met Malcolm.

“Malcolm told me: I’ve fucked all the women round here. And I said to him: Fine. That’s great. Cool. So then he knew I was no competition.

“Don did exactly the same thing. We’d been thrown together like me and Malcolm and Don just casually said: I could kill you. I know how to. And I told him: Fine, mate, but why? You don’t want to kill me.”

“And he said: No. I don’t wanna do that. But I could if I wanted to.

“And I said Fine again and he knew I was no competition.

“When Malcolm and Don eventually met, they did exactly that same face-off to each other that both of them had done to me individually when they first met me. It might be a machismo thing.”

“I think it might be,” I agreed.

“It was a face-off to test the other man,” said Martin. “If you were to reply How are you going to kill me? You can only kill me if you’re within five paces of me, then he’d know he has a competitor.”

“So,” I said, “in this face-off between Malcolm and Don, who won?”

“Well,” said Martin, “they accepted each other. I think Don, with his Northern work ethic, lost out to Malcolm, really. Because Malcolm already had the air of celebrity. There was mutual respect there.

“The most beautiful story Don ever told me,” said Martin, “and the most tragic, was when he was doing a job and he had to get up very early on a Sunday morning and he was driving along the M62 in the North, which goes over the Pennines. It’s the highest motorway in Britain.

“There’s this long valley you go along and you can see the other end which is like four miles away or something.

“It was early on a Sunday morning. No other traffic at all. Very early. And he was driving towards the sun and he saw a swan flying low over the motorway towards him in the same lane.

“So he changed lanes.

“And the swan, still flying towards him, changed lanes.

“Don changed lanes again.

“The swan changed lanes, still coming towards him.

“Whatever he did, the swan mirrored him to the point that they collided.

“The swan flew through the windscreen into the cab.”

“And the van crashed?” I asked.

“Yeah,” said Martin. “Completely wrote off the van.”

“Don has talked long and hard,” said Martin, “with loads of different types of people and the only theory anyone can come up with is that the swan was confused and was flying towards the sun’s reflection in Don’s windscreen.”

“Face-offs with swans very seldom have a good outcome,” I said.

“No,” agreed Martin.

“Did Don return the body of the dead swan to the Queen?” I asked.

“No,” said Martin.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Psychology

Comedian Martin Soan breaks a rib in bicycle accident and loses his main act

Martin Soan yesterday with unexplained moustache

Martin Soan yesterday with moustache

Yesterday, my eternally-un-named friend and I went to spend Boxing Day at Martin & Vivienne Soan’s home. They run their Pull The Other One comedy club at two venues every month in South London.

I did not know that, four days before, Martin had broken a rib in a bicycle accident and also had a broken leg.

The broken leg was the leg of his spectacles.

The rib was his own. He was in a lot of pain and, since the accident, he has had to sleep overnight sitting upright in a chair because he cannot lie flat on a bed.

He also wore an unexplained false moustache.

“Have you had an X-ray?” I asked.

“No,” he replied.

“Why?” I asked.

“I will have one when I feel better,” he replied.

“Don’t you think there’s a logical flaw in that reasoning?” I asked.

“No,” he told me.

“But you have a broken rib,” I said.

“I know,” he replied.

“How did it happen?” I asked.

“I went arse-over-tit over the handlebars,” Martin explained. “I was on a lovely bike and was drifting from lane to lane at three o’clock in the morning, coming down to the north west corner of Peckham Rye Park.”

“You were coming down a steep road,” said Vivienne, “and I bet you had not had to push a pedal. I reckon you went down the hill and, because there was no traffic, you had a straight run and you would’ve been seeing how far you could get without pushing a pedal”

“Probably,” said Martin, “I went up a couple of pavements, just because I wanted to glide, and I went up this one and it had a nobbled surface for blind people…”

“And that’s what caused it?” I asked.

“No,” said Martin.

“There was a blind person and you ran over the blind person?” I asked.

“No,” said Martin. “I just carried straight on, but they had nobbled the piece of kerb. And they’d also cut into the kerb to give access for wheelchairs. The edge of the other kerb was about six inches straight up vertically. I went into it. Didn’t even see it. I went straight off. Projectile. The bike stayed where it was. I went straight over the handlebars. I landed on my front with the side of my head on the ground and I must have been knocked-out for a little bit.

“I was in a big puffer jacket and there was no-one else about and I could hear myself going: Ah! No no no no! Alright. OK OK. Aaaaaahhh! No. I remember doing all that nutty trauma talk. You’re gonna be alright. You’re gonna be alright. You’re gonna be alright. Breathe breathe breathe. Where’s the cameras? Why am I talking about cameras? Help me help me help me.

“I managed to roll over and there were some railings. I pulled myself up and banged the side of my face. I had landed on my rib cage. I could hear myself say: I’m standing. I’m standing. The bike’s there. The bike’s there. You’re gonna be alright. But it’s going to be tough,” said Martin, “because I can’t do any lifting.”

“And you’ve got a Pull The Other One show this Friday…” I said.

“Me and Vivienne,” said Martin, “decided we’d spend these two days not talking about it.”

I looked on the wall where future Pull The Other One shows and acts were listed on a whiteboard.

“Oh,” I said. “Well, at least you’ve got Aaaaa Bbbbb on 11th January . He’s good.”

“He’s let us down,” Martin said.

“We don’t normally book people through agents,” explained Vivienne. “We do it through our contacts. But, after Eddie Izzard performed at Pull The Other One, we suddenly got loads of e-mails from agents saying Oooh! Maybe you’d like to book this comic or that comic. So we booked Ccccc Ddddd through an agent and he let us down after we’d done all the publicity.”

“Ccccc Ddddd let us down,” said Martin. “But who did we get to fill-in for him at the last moment? Omid Djalili. And he filled the whole club on word-of-mouth.”

“So that was great,” said Vivienne. “We got Omid. But Ccccc Ddddd letting us down was not funny, really. We managed to get Omid on the printed bill, but this time with Aaaaa Bbbbb it’s too close. The second time we booked a comedian through an agent was Aaaaa Bbbbb who has now let us down and we’re desperately looking round for somebody who can fill the club on a word-of-mouth on 11th January. We haven’t got the money to spend on reprinting the posters and flyers because we’ve already spent it on printing the posters and flyers which are now wrong.

“How can we ever trust an agent?” she continued. “If you go to an agent – as we did – and you say Here’s the publicity. Are there any glaring mistakes here before we go to print? and they say No, absolutely perfect. And we send another e-mail saying So Aaaaa Bbbbb is definitely booked for 11th January? And they tell us Yes. And then you send one more e-mail saying Are you sure? Because rumour has it he’s booked for another comedy gig…? And they reply No, no. He’s definitely on at your club. And then, because we do not want to be left at the last, last minute, we say Actually, we know he’s doing a specific gig we know about and the agent goes Oops! Yes. Sorry. So that’s an agent. So what’s the point? Aaaaa Bbbbb blames his agent; his agent blames him.”

“What can you expect?” said Martin. “The word ‘agent’ is a derogatory term – estate agent, publicity agent. Then there’s…”

“What about that story you refused to tell me a couple of weeks ago?” I asked Martin. “The one about the NHS. The Social Structure is Alive and Well in the NHS.”

“You’re never going to get it,” Martin said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you’re recording me. I won’t get it perfect if you record me and there’s no point if I don’t get it perfect.”

“It was about exploratory anal surgery, wasn’t it?” I asked.

“How is your moustache held on under your nose?” my eternally-un-named friend asked Martin. “Is it with Sellotape?”

“Double-sided tape,” he told her.

“So why won’t you tell me?” I asked Martin.

“Because being recorded is…” he said, “If I say it and it’s recorded, it’ll sound like I’ve made it up. But it’s true… It actually happened to me.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“You’re recording it…” said Martin.

“I was creasing up this morning,” said my eternally-un-named friend, “at John’s blog about how he likes to be depressed at Christmas and…”

“A mis-representation,” I interrupted.

“…then he turns his iPhone on because I’m laughing my head off at it…”

“It wasn’t meant to be funny!” I pleaded.

“…and then,” my eternally-un-named friend continued, “I couldn’t quite laugh as naturally as…”

“You were laughing like a comedy drain,” I told her.

“So what was your…” my eternally-un-named friend asked Martin. “I’ve forgotten what it was… It was a National Health story?”

“I was in a situation,” said Martin, “where they had to put us out. A general anaesthetic. You were taken off to the theatre and knocked out and came to and…”

“So how could you remember anything that happened,” asked my eternally-un-named friend, “if you were unconscious?”

“No,” said Martin, “it happened before.”

“What? What?” urged my eternally-un-named friend.

“There were three guys in there,” Martin explained. “One was a Jamaican. One was me. And the third one was a rather suave and well-to-do man… We were all in cubicles and had surgical gowns on…”

“And?” I asked.

“And I’m not going to tell you,” said Martin. “I am not going to tell you.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Bicycles, Comedy

Comedians’ traumas: Holly Burn cuts herself and Bob Slayer fakes his gay dad

Bob Slayer & Stephen Frost at Pull The Other One last night

Things are looking up. I’ve seen two stonkingly good comedy shows on two consecutive nights.

After Nick Wilty’s OyOyster Comedy show in Whitstable two nights ago, I went to Martin Soan’s Pull The Other One at the Half Moon pub in Herne Hill last night and it was a spectacularly successful show.

Compèred by Stephen Frost and Bob Slayer, magician David Don’t did, OTT surrealist Holly Burn managed to cut herself but continued the act with blood smeared on her forehead, Laurence Tuck continued to develop his oddball stage character with new even-sharper gags, Boothby Graffoe climaxed with a monkey from Hartlepool (while the audience joined in with their mouths) and former doctor Paul Sinha, always good but last night 5-star brilliant, managed to develop what seemed to be hay fever sneezes in mid-act at around 11.30pm. Bob Slayer had come to the show directly from the Download Festival where, he told the Pull The Other One audience, he had fallen out of a wheelie bin doing a crowd surf. They did not look re-assured.

The show ended just before midnight and, inevitably, I missed something. When I woke up this morning, there was a text message on my iPhone which Bob Slayer had sent at 01.57. It read:

“I have found a new thing. Find the lonely nutter in the pub. Let him latch on, then convince folks that he is your absent father who cannot accept a gay son. His denials only add to the story. Tonight I had a girl screaming that he should respect his son’s choices. I told her he didn’t mean to beat my mum.”

Later this morning, he told me: “I left my new dad with some people outside the Half Moon. A woman was berating him for not accepting my choices. I shouted at him: I wish I could pretend you were not my dad! and ran off crying into the night.”

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Gay

Desperate Housewives and Fate


The hip bone's connected to the back bone
The back bone's connected to the neck bone
The neck bone's connected to the head bone
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones

Last night I accidentally caught the end of an episode of Desperate Housewives on TV: not something I have ever watched before.

Someone got shot in the chest at the end. As normal, there was red blood on the shirt-front, but no tear in the pristine fabric of the shirt.

Even in successful TV series, people cut corners to save money.

There was much voice-over pseudo-philosophising from his TV wife about how life can be changed in an instant.

But it’s true.

I have slept on my bedroom floor for the last two nights because my back has ‘gone’ again. If I move in certain positions, it is like someone stabbing a Samurai sword into me and twisting it.

It is the result of an accident in 1991 when I got hit by a truck while standing on the pavement. I was walking to the post box with a birthday card for someone I had accidentally met around ten years before; not a friend; just someone I kept in touch with.

If I had not met her and if her birthday had not been on a certain date and if I had not been going to get the last postal collection that day… it would not have happened 21 years ago and I would not have been sleeping on the floor and in quite a lot of pain the last two days.

Same thing with anything.

If the question is Shall I do this? or Shall I not? the answer should always be to do it. Because you can never calculate the ramifications. The more you do, the more possibilities there are.

Although, of course, there is always the danger of the being-hit-by-a-truck ramification.

But no-one can calculate the possibilities. At least if you try to do something, you know the outcome. You may fail, but at least you know the outcome. If you don’t try, you will never know and will always ponder on what might have happened if only… if only…

Ye Gods!

How do I have the gall to criticise Desperate Housewives for pseudo-philosophising?…

And where did I put that Chinese ointment which sometimes helps me?

Leave a comment

Filed under Coincidence, Fate

A road accident in Greenwich

Last night at around ten o’clock, I collected a friend from Greenwich. I parked in a small street behind and just a few yards away from the Up The Creek comedy club.

As I waited for my friend in the car, I could see, across some waste ground and half-hidden by a tree, an ambulance parked by the pavement in Creek Road, which runs parallel to the road where I was parked. The ambulance was facing the wrong way and a couple of paramedics were kneeling down at the pavement behind the ambulance, apparently tending to someone. I could see no other vehicles and no police car, so I figured someone had fallen down or had a heart attack.

So it goes.

A few passers-by looked down at what was happening as they passed.

By the time my friend came out and joined me in my car, the paramedics had got up and were clearing things from the pavement. It looked like a pillow and medical equipment and suchlike.

I had to drive out of our road and turn back on ourselves into Creek Road, heading for the middle of Greenwich and the Blackwall Tunnel under the River Thames.

As I started to drive forward, we could see that, previously hidden by a building, across the waste ground, in front of the ambulance in Creek Road was another ambulance and a car facing the wrong direction and a police car. Behind the second ambulance, there was a stretcher raised on wheels with more paramedics standing round it.

After we did our 180 degree turn into Creek Road, we passed the first ambulance.

Before we got to it, we saw an abandoned motorbike lying on its side, on the pavement, halfway into a bus shelter. There was a dark pool of petrol coming out of it, as if the motorbike was bleeding.

So it goes.

We drove past the first ambulance, drove past the second ambulance, drove past the paramedics, past the closed Up the Creek comedy club (it was a Tuesday) and, as we turned left into the one-way system in the middle of Greenwich, I looked right and saw a lone policemen standing in the middle of the street stopping traffic turning into Creek Road. The traffic was queued-up, the drivers probably pissed-off. By the time they turned into Creek Road, the ambulances and police car would be gone and there would be nothing to see.

“I wonder when it happened,” my friend asked me. “I wonder what we were doing.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “It’s not relevant to our lives.”

About ten minutes later, as we drove up onto the flyover leading to the Blackwall Tunnel under the River Thames, a police car came racing through the roundabout, its siren blaring, its blue lights flashing, heading towards Greenwich.

So it goes.

By the weekend, I will have forgotten any of this ever happened.

It is not relevant to my life.

A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon and is soon forgotten.

Leave a comment

Filed under Philosophy

I got virtually no sleep last night

Beware! If you cannot bear hearing medical moans from people, read no further.

I got virtually no sleep last night.

I tried sleeping on the floor; I tried sleeping on the bed.

In a blog earlier this year, I explained why I have been unable to read a book since I got hit by a truck in 1991 when I was standing on a pavement in Borehamwood.

One result of the accident which did not become clear until well after it happened – and, alas, well after compensation was agreed with the insurance company – was that there has been some damage to the base of my spine.

The hospital had X-rayed by shoulder because my collar bone had been broken in two places – ‘pulverised’ was the rather alarming medical word used – but they had not X-rayed my spine.

What seems to have happened is that I was thrown back by the impact of the truck and I fell backwards with my spine fairly straight, then the back of my head hit the edge of a low brick wall maybe six inches off the ground. This meant my head stopped but my spine continued downwards for another six inches before the base of my back hit the pavement, putting some small bones at the bottom of my spine slightly out of alignment.

At least, that is what I understand people now tell me happened.

My osteopath cannot fully rectify the problem as I do not fully relax – I suspect because I am just not used to lying semi-naked, face-down on a bench while a large man leans over me, interlinks his arms with mine and jerks me sharply backwards – I have obviously led too sheltered a life.

Anyway, the damage to my spine rarely shows itself unless I twist my torso in an odd way to stoop down or lift something. I then put the bones slightly out of place and get shooting pains, usually in my left hip, sometimes in my right hip, which make it difficult for me to walk. But this can usually be cured by sleeping on the floor for three nights.

I have no idea why.

If it really bad, it can take a fortnight of sleeping on the floor.

But – with luck – this only happens once every nine months or so.

As the problem mends, the point of pain moves from the inside of my hip (which actually has nothing wrong with it) to the base of my spine (which is where the actual pain problem is).

The last time it happened – maybe six or nine months ago – it was slightly different.

I felt pain shooting along my waist in a line from the base of my spine, then down my left leg to the ankle or, sometimes, to the knee.

People I know who have had sciatica told me:

“That is sciatica.”

I went to my osteopath. He said:

“It is very strange. Every time someone has come to me with sciatica, I have manipulated the feet and it has gone away. I have absolutely no idea why. I am thinking of writing a paper about it.”

He manipulated my feet.

The pain went away.

This time, my lower back has been aching very slightly for a couple of days – it happens if I slouch on a soft sofa seat and is usually cured by sleeping on the floor – and there has been some slight pain along my waist and at the top of my right leg under the buttock (I know – too much information) and in my right hip… and a shooting pain down the side of my right leg which moves around depending on my position.

So, last night – the floor, but no sleep.

On the floor; on the bed; on the floor; on the bed; on the floor.

I could not get a position where there was not a shooting pain. Not horrendous pain; just slight pain. Not an ache; a slight shooting pain. But enough to stop me getting to sleep.

Eight hours.

There is no moral to this blog. No insight into anything.

I just did not have anything to blog about this morning and eight hours of moving your legs and hips about, trying to be comfortable, does not, I found, concentrate the mind.

In some future blog, I may witter on about how I have more confidence in Chinese medicine than in Western medicine – because Western medicine aims to stop or to mask the symptoms quickly whereas Chinese medicine aims to cure the cause of the symptoms.

But, frankly, a quick masking of the symptoms would not go amiss this morning.

Look – it is your own fault – I warned you at the start.

If you cannot bear hearing medical moans from people, read no further.

Tomorrow, normal blogging should be resumed…

4 Comments

Filed under Medical

Famous two-faced showbiz pond scum + dancing in urine and the near-fatal ‘accident’ on live TV

I recently wrote a blog about The Downside of Being a Dead Celebrity.

Scots comedian Stu Who commented that he had had the “pleasure …of meeting, and socialising, with an astonishingly wide range of musicians, actors, comedians, writers, and celebrities with no discernible talent other than being ‘well-known’.”

He said: “Some of TV’s funniest and most charming are utter pond-scum, whereas many of the more obnoxious, grumpy, outrageous, aggressive, and tough-nut celebs are actually cuddly, sweet, and rather charming behind their rough-cast exteriors. This experience led me to suspect that there was a distinct corollary to be learned – i.e. the nicer they are on-screen, the bigger a bastard they are off-screen and vice-versa.”

I had come to exactly the same conclusion as Stu.

There are some interesting reversals, though. Stu mentioned in his comments at the bottom of my old blog that, the first time he met Shakin’ Stevens, he thought the Welsh singer was grumpy and rude. But, when he worked with him again, says Stu: “I mentioned that he’d been an obnoxious prick on our previous meeting, we established the date of the occasion in question and Shakey then recounted the rather horrible personal events that had led up to that day in Edinburgh when I’d met him and I totally understood why he wasn’t very chummy or affable under the circumstances.”

Before I worked with her, I had seen children’s and TV gameshow show presenter Sue Robbie on-screen and thought off-screen she was probably a slightly stuck-up, head prefect sort of person. Totally wrong. She turned out to be absolutely lovely. No ego. A wonderful person to work with.

I also presumed the late Marti Caine would be up-herself, as she was a talent-show-to-stardom person and looked a bit damaged on-screen (therefore dangerous off-screen). I could not have been more wrong. I don’t normally gush, but…

Marti was, I think, the most wonderfully warm, modest, lovely “star” I have ever met. She was an absolute joy to be with. Talking to people who worked with Marti Caine is a bit like talking to people who own Apple Mac computers. They go on and on and on about how wonderful, marvellous, friendly etc etc etc… She once told me – and I totally believe it is true – that, although she’d liked the showbiz glitter to begin with, all she really wanted to do was be a housewife. She told me she really enjoyed hoovering and cleaning the house, but people would phone her up with offers of ludicrous amounts of money which she felt she’d be mad to turn down, so her career continued.

She was everything you could hope for.

Like Stu, I have found performers’ on-screen personas are often the opposite of their off-screen ones. If I fancy some star or think they seem great, the last thing I would ever want to do is meet them, because they will probably turn out to be shits.

Having said that, I have only ever worked with one awful “star” who, alas, shall be nameless because I don’t want my arse sued off and the English legal system is a gambling pit of shit-juggling.

Some stories you can never be certain of.

James Cagney never did say “You dirty rat” in any film.

Michael Caine never did say “Not a lot of people know that” – well, not until it became an accepted ‘truth’ that he did say it and then he said it as a joke.

Word of mouth always spread untrue stories and now the internet spreads urban myths in seconds like politicians spread bullshit.

Several people have told me the story (also on the internet and apparently printed in a national newspaper) that, in the 1980s, during the London Palladium run of Singing in the Rain, Tommy Steele would dance the climactic title song in the rain while water poured down onto the stage from giant overhead tanks and the rest of the cast and backstage crew watched (as he thought it) admiringly from the wings. What he didn’t know was that he was so disliked that many of them routinely pissed in the water tank before every show and watched to see the resultant mix of water and piss pour down on Tommy’s head.

In my previous Downside of Being a Dead Celebrity blog, I mentioned how veteran TV producer Michael Hurll went for the late comedian Charlie Drake’s throat in a Chortle interview. My mad inventor chum John Ward, after he read the blog, reminded me about Charlie Drake’s ‘accident’ in 1961.

John told me: “I was having tea last year with somebody who ‘was there’ at the time and had quite a lot to say about that ‘bloody awful little man’…”

I remember as a child seeing the ‘accident’ when it happened. Because I’m that old. And because it happened on live TV.

Charlie – a big big star at the time – appeared in BBC TV’s The Charlie Drake Show every week. It was live and he was known for his physical comedy. On this one particular night, as part of a slapstick story called Bingo Madness, he was pulled through an upright bookcase and thrown out of a window on the studio set. There was then a very long pause when nothing happened and then the credits rolled. The next morning’s papers reported that Charlie had been knocked out by going through the bookcase and was unconscious when thrown out of the window.

The story was that someone had ‘mended’ the breakaway bookcase between rehearsals and the live TV show. John Ward tells me this someone he knows who was there at the time says balsa wood had been replaced by real wood, though this is not quite the story  Charlie Drake himself told (here on YouTube). The implication (not shared by Charlie, of course) was that he was so disliked (which he certainly was) that the bookcase had been intentionally ‘firmed up’ to injure him. He fractured his skull, was unconscious for three days and it was two years before he returned to the screen.

The moral?

Don’t piss on the backstage crew or they may piss on you…

3 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Television, Theatre