Tag Archives: Barcelona

85-year-old Lynn Ruth Miller tries out her 68-year-old Spanish in Barcelona

And so we continue the globetrotting adventures of 85-year-old London-based American comic and occasional burlesque performer Lynn Ruth Miller


The artful Lynn Ruth Miller in Barcelona

I was in Barcelona again. It is a wonderful place to wander. It has narrow, winding streets filled with art galleries and expensive shops.  

I took Spanish 68 years ago, my freshman year at the University of Michigan, and I was quite good at it.  

All the football players took that class because it was so easy and we had the captain in our class: Señor Perez. I managed to teach him several words because he had trouble reading. (He was a football player; the university did not accept him for his literary abilities.) 

I still remember the vocabulary I drummed into his head but I never got a chance to use those words with real Spaniards until I visited Barcelona. 

When I checked in at my hotel, I said “Hola!” to the surprised young lady at the front desk and it made her smile. 

I explained (in English, of course): “I am a professional comedian and my job is to make people laugh.”  

She laughed.  

“Gracias!” I said.  

“De Nada,” she said (with a very thick accent) and I actually understood her.  

I can tell you I felt very Spanish as I tangoed up to my room in the attic of the hotel.  

It was a small room, just about the size of a telephone booth, but it had an unusual feature. The back wall was actually a skylight. You pushed a button to make the shade come down and block the light.  

When I pushed the button the whole room shook, which helped me get my circulation going. 

I thought that was a nice feature in addition to fresh towels and soap. It made up for the hotel not providing a kettle.

Lynn Ruth and Christine go Catalan

My companion this time was Christine, a superb artist who lived in Barcelona for over two years before she returned to Brighton to remind herself that she was really English. Her Spanish is REALLY good and she said wonderfully melodic things like “Por favor” and “No hablo español”.  She was really a great help to me when I tried to order food at the restaurants while I was in town. 

The first night we were there, we went to a Spanish bodega and I tried to order typical native cuisine. I asked Christine to get me a burger with fries. She smiled at the waiter and said something I couldn’t really decipher but the wine was wonderful.

The next afternoon, we happened into an artist’s studio and gallery. The paintings were huge and reminded me a lot of Picasso during his psychotic period.  

The artist was an elderly man with flowing gray hair and he had tubes of paint scattered everywhere. He offered to show us his technique but I explained that I was very old and my muscles weren’t as supple as they once were.  

Thank goodness he didn’t speak English.

Then Christine and I went to an improv jazz place called JazzSí where musicians rotate on stage and play marvellous, hummable jazz. I sat next to a lovely young man from Brazil who explained that this was the place where students could practice their music. I asked him if he played too. And he said of course he did – but not music.

That night was my show at Craft Barcelona and it was magnifique, as they say somewhere in Europe. Not in Barcelona evidently. I tried it and someone said they didn’t have that kind of tapa.  

On stage at Craft Barcelona after dog food memories

I have performed at Craft Barcelona twice before and each time has been an amazing success. This time, the host was Matthew from Perrysburg, Ohio, which was amazing to me because, during my salad years, I was from that very same place. I shopped at Kazmaier’s, the only supermarket in town. I asked Matthew if he remembered Bro, the son of the owner, and he said actually Bro WAS the owner now which all goes to show that even established grocery stores eventually change management.  

I asked Matthew if they still sold Alpo, the dog food good enough for people to eat. I explained that there had been a man in Perrysburg who used to buy a case of Alpo every week and when Bro said, “You must have a really hungry dog,” the man said, ”It isn’t FOR my dog.”

Matthew said: “That was my father.”

Ohioans have very strange taste. That is why we both left.

In Barcelona, the other comedians and the audience were mostly expats and I was the headliner. I did just short of an hour and everyone stood up and cheered. I was thrilled that they enjoyed my performance so much but Vinnie (the man who booked me) explained that wasn’t why they were cheering.  

They were just amazed that I had stood that long.

I always say you take your accolades any way you can get them.

The next day we ‘did’ Barcelona which is the most do-able city ever. I saw a woman sitting at a sewing machine sewing people’s names into cardboard for souvenirs and a shoe shop where the shoes had slogans like I LOVE TO DANCE and I AM CUTE and TRUTH CAUSES INDIGESTION.  

Christine and I indulged ourselves in very expensive Piña Colada’s and then we hurried over to Spank the Baby which is not what you think it is.  

It is a dance studio and my hero Pablo teaches the Lindy Hop there. It has become a tradition that I go there and Pablo dances with me.  

The long and the short of it for Lynn Ruth Miller in Barcelona

The problem is that, each time we dance, I get a bit shorter and Pablo gets a bit taller. 

This time the poor fellow had to go into traction after we whirled around the floor to Tea for Two 

I was not in very good shape after the dance myself. One of my lungs collapsed at the second chorus and my foot slammed into my ankle at the finale.

I wanted to thank Pablo properly in Spanish so I said, “¿Dónde está el baño?” and he said, “Adios, muchacha.”  

Which I thought was very sexy.

We wandered down some dark alleys on our way to a real Catalan restaurant and stumbled on another artist’s studio.  

This artist was Isabella and she was from Ecuador.  Her husband was an actor and she worked with glass and metal to make interesting goblets and rings. She created whimsical necklaces and earrings as well.  

We chatted about the importance of creativity and the joys of being an artist and I praised her work with one of my Spanish phrases, “Amo a mi perro,” and she smiled and said, “Tengo un gato.”  

“You are so welcome,” I said and we hurried to the restaurant where we met Vinnie and his new wife Dana.  

Vinnie is from Manchester and has a thriving internet business as well as a production company that books musicians and comedians.  

He took us to Los Caracoles, which is an old-established Catalan restaurant. The place was filled with antique paintings and happy people. We loved the food, especially after the fourth glass of wine.  

The next morning we said a sad goodbye to this lovely city.  

A drunk at the hotel front desk asked me if I knew what a homosexual was and I said: “Darling, I lived in Brighton for two years.”  

I thanked the girl at the desk with another of my Spanish phrases: “Hable despacio!” 

She replied: “All you owe is the room tax.” 

Christine and I stopped for a quick coffee and we both got a hug and kiss from an Argentinean who said he lived in London for six months. That was when I realized that you get a lot more than coffee at a Barcelonan coffee shop.  

As we boarded the plane to Gatwick, I shouted ”Muchas Gracias!” and off we disappeared into the bright blue skies.  

As soon as the sky turned dull and gray, we knew we were back home again. 

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UK comedian Sarah Hendrickx setting off on a 800 mile cycle ride having only previously ever cycled for 38 miles

SarahHendrickxBlog

Sarah in Spain 12 years ago, when it all went wrong for her

“So just to check,” I said to comedian Sarah Hendrickx on Skype yesterday. “You’ve gone mad. On Monday, you’re going to start cycling 800 miles to Barcelona and you’ve never done anything like this before. You could go by train but, no, you’re going to cycle.”

“That wouldn’t be quite such an adventure,” Sarah explained. “That’s not so much of a personal, physical and mental challenge.”

“So remind me why you’re going…?”

“It was about the terrible thing that you blogged about,” said Sarah, “when I got stuck up the Sagrada Família in Barcelona and ended up going a bit mental and getting agoraphobia. So this is me going back to sort it all out and become a brave person.”

“And you’ve never done anything like this cycling before?” I asked Sarah.

“Oh, absolutely not,” she said. “I’ve never even slept in a tent before. I put the tent up in my back garden to try it out a few weeks ago, but I was too frightened to sleep in it.”

“This was in your back garden in Worthing?” I checked.

“Yes,” confirmed Sarah. “Ten yards from my own back door. The trip to Barcelona is going to be quite a challenge.”

“Have you been testing your legs,” I asked, “so you’re sure you really can cycle for 800 miles?”

“Noooo!” said Sarah. “I’ve been extraordinarily lazy… The weather’s been crappy and… no… I… erm… I’ve been working away from home a lot and the weather’s been shit and I’ve been lazy and… No…Not in any way or shape or form have I prepared for this. I went out once for a bike ride… Oh! And I also cycled to the beach, about a mile away from my home and had a cup of coffee and a cake.”

“So what’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden?” I asked.

“38 miles,” replied Sarah. “Once. In Oxfordshire. It was very sunny. And flat.”

“How much do you intend to ride every day?” I asked.

“I’ll have to do at least 50 miles a day for at least 16 days,” explained Sarah, “so, by Day Three, there are going to be children in campsites going: Maman! What is zee matter with zat lady? She appears to be paralysed from head to toe and unable to put her tent away!

“The main question,” I said to Sarah. “My main question is: Why? Just Why?

Sarah Hendrickx ponders her cycle of life on Skype yesterday

Sarah Hendrickx ponders her cycle of life on Skype yesterday

“Last year,” explained Sarah, “I went to this thing called The Adventure Travel Film Festival and there were all these absolute nutcases who had canoed down the Congo and suchlike on their own.

“None of yer Bear Grylles support vehicles. Just individual people who had headed off alone to do this mental stuff. And I was inspired by this. But I’m not brave enough to go down the Congo in a boat.

“So my slightly more sedate adventure is to cycle across France back to this place in Barcelona where things all went a bit wrong for me 12 years ago.”

“So the furthest you’ve ever cycled,” I re-checked, “was 38 miles in…”

“In Oxfordshire,” Sarah interrupted. “It was very flat. I’m allergic to hills. I don’t think there are any in France, so I think it’s going to be fine. And it’s all downhill to the Mediterranean, surely?”

“Do the words Pyrenees Mountains mean anything to you?” I asked.

“I think I might go round the edge of them,” Sarah told me.

“Can you?” I asked. “You can out-flank them?”

“I don’t know!” laughed Sarah. “By the time I get that far, I’ll either be dead or I won’t care! “

“When are you back in the UK?” I asked.

“I’ve got a flight booked home from Barcelona on Sunday the 16th of June.”

“So how long are you going to be in hospital in Barcelona?” I asked.

“The food’s gotta be better than it will be on the trip,” laughed Sarah. “Though I have been thinking of just hiding in my house for three weeks and randomly sending Tweets as if from France and Spain.”

“You’ll be doing things on your Twitter @sarah_hendrickx?”

“Possibly. And I’ve been doing a few little blog posts in preparation for it.”

“What’s your blog called?”

A Bird on a Bike.”

“Fair enough,” I said. “Are you raising money on this? You should be doing a charity thing.”

“No,” said Sarah. “If people want to give money to charity, they can just do that anyway without the excuse of me having to go and half-kill myself.”

Sarah preparing for her Edinburgh Fringe show

Sarah preparing for Edinburgh Fringe show Time Traveller

“But,” I asked, “ultimately all this is going to end up in your jaw-dropping and jolly jape-filled Edinburgh Fringe show Time Traveller in August?”

“It will,” said Sarah.

“Does your Edinburgh venue have wheelchair access in case anything goes wrong?” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

“What do your two children think about it?”

“They’re both grown up. They’re not worried about the physical challenge. It’s more my mental well-being: the fear that mother will go even more mad. I think the fact I can’t cycle that far is almost a done deal. They’re more worried by Do you think she’ll be OK out there on her own?

“I’ve never been anywhere for three weeks on my own. I think most people haven’t. Not without anybody. No structure. No plan apart from just to keep going. No-one to talk to. No-one there. That’s something I’ve never experienced for that length of time.”

“Can you speak French or Spanish?” I asked.

“I can speak a bit of French, though probably not the kind of French vocabulary I will need, which involves punctures and mental illness.”

“What happens if you really don’t make it? If you get stuck halfway?”

“I don’t mind. It’s the sense of adventure and what happens along the way that’s the point of it, really. If it becomes completely undo-able – physically or because it pisses with rain – I shall just dump the bike in a hedge and get a train and that will then be part of what the Edinburgh show’s about. It’s not about me finishing. It’s about me going for it and having a crack. People don’t push themselves out of their comfort zone. I want to. What could possibly go wrong?”

“Have the two words Cannibal Frenchmen ever crossed your mind?” I asked.

“A tough old bird like me?” said Sarah, “Anyway, I’ll be road kill by the time I meet any.”

“Are you going to be sending me regular updates?”

“Certainly,” said Sarah.

“You can Skype me,” I said.

“Then you’ll be able to see me crying in real time,” said Sarah. “I have a solar-powered phone charger. I’m hoping for some sunshine.”

“Normally,” I told Sarah, “I would say Break a leg, but that’s probably not a good thing to say. Lots of people do far more adventurous things than this, but they’re probably a bit more prepared. If Ranulph Fiennes were to do this, it would not be very impressive. But, if you do it, it’s bloody impressive because your adventure threshold starting point is lower.”

Sarah Hendrickx is not sad any more

Sarah Hendrickx has a message for you

“I have prepared a little,” said Sarah. “I’ve been reading this morning about how long your pubic hair should be to avoid pulling, chaffing and all sorts of unpleasantness. There’s all sorts of medical things you need to know if your backside is going to be on a saddle for 800 miles over 16 days. There’s all sorts of things you really wouldn’t want to know about, John.”

“The pubic hair detail is already more than I wanted to know,” I told her.

“Well,’ said Sarah proudly, “that’s the sort of preparation I HAVE been doing instead of going cycling.”

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Comic Sarah Hendrickx has a mid-life crisis & plans to ride Gérard Depardieu

(This was also published by the Indian news site WSN)

Sarah Hendrickx yesterday

Sarah Hendrickx yesterday – from dreadlock kid to Depardieu

Comedian Sarah Hendrickx is 45, twice divorced, a mum of two, grandmother of twins and an expert on autism – she has published five books on the subject (plus one on student cookery).

She trains professionals – care workers, doctors, psychiatrists, foster carers, teachers – who have to deal with autistic people.

“And when you were a kid?” I asked her yesterday.

“Council house kid,” she said. “Scholarship. Private school. Croydon. Left at 16. Went to live in squats. For years and years, I was a squatter. Squatting in London in the early 1980s, as soon as I left school. Dropped out completely. Punk. Got pregnant. Lived in a van with my daughter. Dreadlocks. Dog on string. Travelling around a bit. Moved to Devon. I’ve only looked sensible in the last ten years. I’m a bit of a late starter.”

“And you have Tourette’s Syndrome,” I said.

“Yes,” Sarah said. “Facial ticks. Eye ticks. I used to blink around 100 times per minute. Now I have Botox injections around the eyes on the NHS – I get free Botox, which is what every middle-aged woman wants, isn’t it? But it’s a horrible, horrible process.”

“And you’re an international expert on autism,” I said.

“Apparently so,” said Sarah.

“Because…?” I asked.

“Because I’ve written books, I guess,” she replied. “And because not that many people know that much about it.”

“You’re autistic yourself?” I asked.

“Yes. The only people who really understand it are people with it, because it’s about a different neurology. Even people who are married to it don’t really understand it, because it’s a whole different way of seeing the world. It’s all about cognitive processing. It’s much easier to have set rules about something. There’s no grey. Everything’s black and white, because that makes your life easier and calmer. The logic is not necessarily perfect logic, but it’s your own logic. There’s always a logic; it may be a flawed or a skewed logic, but it’s not random thinking. You can’t make judgments very well, because judgments are grey.”

“But isn’t the whole thing about performing comedy that you can suddenly take off on a flight of fantasy?” I asked.

“Not my comedy,” said Sarah. “Because I have no imagination. I don’t get the surreal humour. The Mighty Boosh. I don’t get that at all. Oh I have a fish and you have binoculars! Really? Why is that funny? My comedy is all true.”

Hans Asperger in Vienna c 1940

Hans Asperger working in Vienna, c 1940

Asperger’s Syndrome interests me,” I told her. “Robert White, who won the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award a couple of years ago, has it.”

“There was research on stand-up comics a few years ago,” Sarah told me, “which found many were quite unusual in standard personality-type profiles. They might be extrovert on the stage but, in their personal lives, they were socially awkward.”

“I’ve found with quite a few of the comedians I’ve tried to help,” I said, “that they’re extrovert on stage but do they want to publicise themselves? No they bleeding don’t. They want to hide in a cave rather than be interviewed.”

“Well,” said Sarah, “you stick me in a networking event or a party… I’ve been to autism events as a speaker and I’m the one out of 300 people who’s hiding round the corner because I just can’t bear to be visible.”

“So how can shy people who want to hide away be comedians?” I asked.

“Because,” explained Sarah, “they stand in front of people with a microphone, a script, a set period of time to talk and a plan of what they’re going to talk about and, when they’ve had enough, they get off. It’s not a two-way dialogue. It’s not socialising.

“My experience of the comedy circuit is it’s like a special interest group. Most people aren’t the traditional type of friends. We turn up and say Done any gigs lately? How you gettin’ on? What you doin’ next week? There’s very few other comedians, for example, who know the names of my children or what I do for a living or where I’m going on holiday – which is my understanding of what friendship is supposed to be about. But that suits me fine.

“I think the comedy circuit includes a whole bunch of people who don’t have many ordinary friendships – we are, after all, people who are happy to spend all their weekend evenings away from their loved ones, driving round the country by themselves. That totally fits autism or, at least, it’s a lifestyle that suits someone like me very well.

“To me,” Sarah continued, “comedy is a puzzle. It’s like a scientific experiment. These are the words. This is my material. Did it work? Feedback from the audience tells me whether it did or not. If it didn’t, I go away and try to work out why and try to fix it. To me it’s a system. Trying to write the perfect joke, the perfect set, trying to analyse it. It’s all about analysing it. I never go home and worry about having had a bad gig, because it’s nothing to do with ‘me’, it’s to do with ‘that’ which I’ve created. I am separate from ‘that’.”

“So,” I asked, “if you get a bad audience reaction, it’s not a personal rejection, it’s a rejection of the product you created?”

“Yes,” agreed Sarah, “it’s like baking a cake and it didn’t taste very nice. I don’t have any emotion in it at all.”

“So why did you want to be a comedian in the first place?”

“Oh,” said Sarah, “that’s a long story about wanting to be an actor as a child. I got pregnant at 18. I got a place to do Drama at Exeter. I got down there with my daughter aged three. I realised that drama courses and three year olds do not go together. I couldn’t do the course and that was the end of that.”

“So you were a frustrated performer?”

“Very much so. Now I’ve got a 25-year-old daughter and two grand-children and a 16-year-old son who lives at home. When my son got to the point where he was able to be left on his own, I took myself off and started doing a bit of comedy.”

“And now you’re preparing to do your first solo Edinburgh Fringe show in August,” I prompted.

“Yes. It’s called Time Traveller.”

“Why?”

Scene of horror - Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Scene of Sarah’s panic attack – Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

“It’s about going back into my own past to an event which happened to me about twelve years ago. It was a pretty unfortunate time of my life. I was camping in Spain with my now ex-husband and kids. My mum had just died. I went up the Sagrada Família in Barcelona, had a giant panic attack, got agoraphobia, got relatively disabled by that though not house-bound.

So it’s kind of going back through that and saying Well, I was always a bit of an anxious kid and a bit of an odd kid. This thing happened. It all got worse. Stuff about my marriage. Stuff about my kids. Then this moment of clarity where I decide what I need to do is go back to Barcelona and sort all this shit out. And then I decide to go by bicycle.”

“And you are actually doing that?”

“Yes. I’m going to cycle to Barcelona at the end of May.”

“How far is it?”

“800 miles.”

“Have you done something like that before?”

“No.”

“And you’ve decided to do it, because…”

“I’m having a mid-life crisis. I’m just scared of everything. That’s the general premise. I need an adventure. I bought my bicycle off eBay. It’s called Gérard, after Gérard Depardieu. And I’ve written a song for the show.”

“You can play the guitar?” I asked.

“No,” said Sarah. “Playing the guitar when you can’t play the guitar is quite liberating.”

“I would pay to see this free show,” I said. “Have you practised for the bicycle ride by putting a scouring pad under your bottom and rubbing it backwards and forwards?”

“No. I haven’t even been on my bicycle for four months or so. I keep looking at my bicycle and thinking Ooh. I really should have a little go on it.”

“Will you be stopping at hotels along the way?”

“No. Camping. On my own.”

“Where will your camping equipment be?”

“On panniers.”

“Mmm…” I said.

“I know,” said Sarah. “It’s mad. I’ve never been camping on my own. I’m terrified. I’m terrified of everything. I’m terrified of being on my own. I’m an absolute weed. This is for the Edinburgh Fringe show but it is also because… well, I have been a mum since I was 19, my kids are now grown-up. This is genuinely a mid-life crisis. It’s the first time I’ve had the chance to do anything like this in my life, really.”

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The night comedian Malcolm Hardee took his spectacles off during a sex show

Malcolm Hardee and comic spectacle were never far apart

Malcolm Hardee has oft been said to be the father of British alternative comedy, but he was little known by the public except as one of the nude members of the Greatest Show on Legs, who  performed their naked balloon dance on television’s O.T.T. in 1982.

Even quite a time after that TV appearance, Malcolm (who, in effect, managed the comedy troupe) used to get phoned up by promoters and foreign TV companies to perform the dance. Martin Soan, originator of the Greatest Show on Legs, told me last night that they “used to get a fair amount of money to go off and perform it on these very bad Euro television shows. When they phoned up Malcolm to negotiate a fee, he would ask them: How much per bollock?

“In each town we went to,” Martin told me, “Malcolm would seek out the red light district.”

In his autobiography, I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake, Malcolm wrote:

__________

The most bizarre live sex show I ever saw was in Hamburg. The Greatest Show on Legs were performing at the same place The Beatles used to play: it had been converted into a TV studio.

One night, we decided to go on a sex tour and we saw the sign:

PEEP SHOW – 2 MARKS

It was semi-circular outside and there was a series of doors. So Steve Bowditch, myself and Martin Soan all put our 2DM in the slots and went in. Inside, we found ourselves standing next to each other. It had looked like you went in and there would be little individual cubicles. That’s the whole point of a Peep Show. But not this place. We were just standing there in the open together, watching this woman on a bed that moved round in a circle and she could see us standing there right next to the bed.

She somehow took a shine to Steve but he always says the wrong thing. As she was lying there with her legs open on the rotating bed, she struck up a conversation with him. She said:

“You nice English boy”.

She said she’d see him afterwards if he went to the man at the door and gave him money. She was Brazilian. She said she was from America and Steve said:

“Grand Canyon.”

She didn’t laugh.

__________

Martin Soan remembers the incident differently:

__________

It was in Barcelona, probably in the late-1980s.

Malcolm didn’t like anything too seedy, but the El Raval, along Las Ramblas used to be fantastic for the sex industry and had a theatrical bent, a bit of class. One corner had a funfair of sex and we went into this peep show.

In the centre was this girl on a velveteen bed doing all the sexy stuff.

As soon as we went in, the one other man who was in there left immediately and, after he’d left, the girl asked us three: “Are you from London?”

“Yeah,” we said.

“Oh, what part of London?”

And, in the end, she was just sitting on the edge of the bed, talking to us about Greenwich, Deptford and all the rest, when one door opens, a bloke comes in and she says, “Sorry, fellahs, I’ve gotta get back to work again,” and spread her legs and carried on doing what she’d been doing before.

Anyway, Malcolm found this other club called Le Kasbah near Las Ramblas. It cost a bit of money because it was a bit more up-market with raked seating for about 60 people. Malcolm was very excited and told me: “It’s only a couple of years ago they got rid of the stables out the back! They used to have donkeys in the show! Donkeys in the show!”

The audience was strange. There were couples. It was respectable in some bizarre way. There was a stage and, on it, a circular bed and four televsion sets above the stage which the audience could see. You were sitting there and the live action was 3 metres away. So why on earth would you want to look at a small television up in the corner? I think it was just for ‘dressing’ – to make the place look posh.

The show was quite good. They had acts. There was a midget involved and they put a theatrical bent on it. There was a vampire act. He opened up his cloak, but he didn’t have an erection, which was a bit of a surprise. There was an interval. We went up to the bar.

Malcolm mumbled: “ Oy Oy, Oy Oy, good show, good show.”

We sit down again for the second half and these two Brazilian dancers come on. They are fantastic. Absolutely gorgeous. Dancing away. Fantastic! Really, really sexy. Really, really gorgeous.

One of them holds her hand out to me and I go very politely, in a very English way, “Oh, no thanks, no thanks.” So she goes to Steve Bowditch. He says, “No no no thanks.” Then she goes to Malcolm, who says, “Oh… alright then.”

He jumps up. They put him on this bed and it starts revolving. One of them takes his trousers down and starts putting a condom on his very limp penis and the other one, for some reason, takes off his glasses and puts them down by the bed, then starts gyrating over the top of him. The other one is trying unsuccessfully to give him some sort of oral sex which, of course, she’s never going to accomplish on stage.

But he fumbles around, picks up his glasses – the bed was revolving, remember – and all he is interested in is trying to see where the television screens are. He was more interested in seeing himself on TV with two erotic dancers than he was in actually having sex with two erotic dancers. She keeps taking his glasses off and he keeps fumbling around for them – his arm reaching off the bed – the bed is revolving – trying to see the TV screens above him.

I start laughing and laughing and laughing and eventually I see my knees above me because I am laughing so much – I am on the floor. I am roaring with laughter and this very polite bouncer comes up to me and says: “Excuse me, sir, you are going to have to retire out to the foyer because you’re disturbing the show.”

I get to the foyer, still laughing, and there’s this other bloke in there in exactly the same state as me, pissing himself laughing. It turned out he was the barman. He had been working there for five years and never seen anything like it.

Afterwards, outside in the street – I always regret saying this as soon as I’ve said it but – I got down on my knees in front of Malcolm… and said: “Malcolm, you are the fucking funniest man in the fucking universe!”

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