Tag Archives: Boris Johnson

Comic Sara Mason is being paid NOT to perform her hit Fringe show in Leicester

This show is not happening – at least, not in this venue, not on that date, possibly not in Leicester…

JOHN: So you no longer have a venue for your show at the Leicester Comedy Festival in February.

SARA: That’s right.

JOHN: Because?

SARA: Because the CEO of the venue I was booked in suddenly flatly refused to have me perform.

JOHN: Because?

SARA: He or she didn’t say. But he or she did say he or she would not be persuaded and he or she was obviously horrified by the subject matter.

JOHN: So he or she accepted your show and then changed his or her mind?

SARA: Well, the wonderful Big Difference Company had programmed it in the venue as a Valentine’s Day show – which I thought was a brilliant idea – and the CEO then looked at the line-up after the brochure had been printed – and absolutely, categorically would not allow me to perform.

JOHN: You had already paid to go in the brochure…

SARA: Yes. The CEO totally, categorically agreed to pay me a figure I won’t divulge NOT to perform the show at the venue.

JOHN: Can you perform it somewhere else in Leicester?

Sara, surprised by the sudden cancellation

SARA: At this point, most venues are full – the brochure has been printed. I started discussing a venue for this show back in August – before my run at the Edinburgh Fringe had finished – and the brochure deadline was mid-October. 

JOHN: What’s the title of the show?

SARA: A Beginner’s Guide to Bondage.

JOHN: One might think the CEO could have got a hint of the subject from the title.

SARA: Possibly. But I suppose it could have been about a housewife ‘chained’ to the kitchen sink.

JOHN: Or someone who just liked James Bond films.

SARA: Indeed… I am sure we would have sold out on Valentine’s Day night. People are interested in the subject. That’s the thing about this show. Audiences are interested. But the critics don’t want to know. The press don’t want to know. The publicists at the Edinburgh Fringe didn’t want to represent me. I tried to get a publicist. Couldn’t get one. Yet, at the end of the day, I was sold out every single performance.

JOHN: I’m never totally convinced about the value of publicists at the Fringe.

SARA: I felt I would never get reviewed at the Fringe if I didn’t have a publicist. And I wasn’t. And that was – is – the reality. To book a tour for this show is possibly impossible.

JOHN: Though your show got audiences in in Edinburgh – which is no mean feat.

SARA: My show is a feminist and funny look at all the weird and wonderful kinks that people can have. It’s not judgmental and it’s not for the raincoat brigade. One chap from the raincoat brigade came to see it in Edinburgh. He came in his raincoat with a plastic bag and sat by himself in the crowded back row. He walked out after about ten minutes and complained to the manager that he thought the show was very sexist and anti-male – particularly, I assume, anti white, middle class men. I felt I should put that quote on my programme! He was the only person who has ever been offended, apart from a Tory lady who was offended by what I said about Boris Johnson.

JOHN: Which was?

SARA: I said that I would like to use my massive strap-on on him. Usually, that gets rounds of applause and shrieks of laughter, particularly in Scotland, where they are not very fond of Boris or Brexit. But there happened to be a party of Tory voters in who – although they liked the show… Well, one lady felt morally upset that I was bringing politics into my show. 

But a dominatrix is a human being with a political opinion and it’s my show and I can say what I like. Without a doubt, all of the dominatrices I have ever met were Left Wing and all of their security guards were Right Wing.

JOHN: Security guards?

Sara’s show CAN be seen in London on 14th and 16th December in a Kentish Town venue

SARA: They all have security. Someone to answer the door and security at night. Sometimes they are ex-Army and usually they are Right Wing. I think dominatrices tend to be Left Wing.

JOHN: Why?

SARA: (LAUGHS) Maybe because they like beating rich toffs for money.

JOHN: So the Tory lady who went to your show did not object to the title or subject of the show.

SARA: No. Just me dissing Boris Johnson.

JOHN: Did you have the ‘dead dad’ bit that all successful Edinburgh shows are supposed to have?

SARA: I included a sad story, yes. But the Tory lady who didn’t like my Boris Johnson references said she didn’t understand why there was a deeply-upsetting, sad moment. My reaction was: Well, you don’t understand how you write a play or a comedy show. There is always a climax and then a resolution.

JOHN: Indeed.

SARA: If you are writing a play, you call it the climax. In comedy, it’s the ‘dead dad’ moment and then you get them back laughing again.

JOHN: The show was a success in Edinburgh…

SARA: It sold out. There were queues down the street. Hardly any of my friends could get in to see it – Only if they told me when they were coming and I physically reserved them a seat.

JOHN: Who were the audience in Edinburgh?

SARA: In the main, young – under 26 – and more women than men. On the few nights when there was a bit of a geezerish crowd – a chav crowd – the sort of guys who sat in the front row hopin’ I’d get me tits out – they didn’t laugh half as much and I didn’t enjoy performing to that crowd at all. 

Sara in costume at the Edinburgh Fringe

I had one night when it was a predominately male audience with a few of these geezers sitting in the front – they were quite big and made me feel quite threatened. After that, in every performance, I would pick either couples or a group of girls who didn’t look too frightening and ask them to sit in the front row. So I couldn’t be heckled by people who had come to the show for the wrong reasons.

The thing is it’s a Fem-Dom show. Which part of Fem-Dom didn’t audience members understand? Did they not know I would be taking the piss out of certain men? Not in a horrible way, because my show does not judge even the slightly yuck fetishes. We live in a free society. 

Nowadays, we have transgender, transvestite, gay shows. We have all types of things. But it seems like ‘kink’ and bondage is still an unpronounceable thing. Why should that be so? Let people do what they like in the bedroom. We can laugh and giggle. I show my delight at people’s eccentricity. Everyone has a right to express themselves.

JOHN: Did you aim your show at a particular type of person?

SARA: I have a friend who is a theatre director and he told me: In your show, reach out to the ‘vanilla’ couples in the audience and let them know it’s OK to experiment. It’s not abnormal. So I end my show with a little speech to the vanillas, offering them a little role-play exercise they can do with each other to discover if they are sub or dom or neither or vanilla or double vanilla. 

JOHN: Or strawberry whip.

SARA: Exactly. I give them that speech and they seem to enjoy that.

Three years in the making, the design for the publicity flyer went through some changes when it was a Work in Progress

JOHN: How do you know so much about the subject of bondage?

SARA: I take the Fifth Amendment, but I spent three years writing this show. Everything in it is true. Even ‘the nose man’.

JOHN: The nose man?

SARA: The nose man needs his nose to be stimulated in order to achieve any sort of gratification. Now – look – that is quite amusing, you have to admit.

JOHN: Does he think it’s amusing?

SARA: No. But it is a known fetish. It’s called nasophilia.

JOHN: Well, people sometimes like their ears fiddled with – that’s aural sex.

SARA: There is a fetish for everything.

JOHN: You mentioned rubbish.

SARA: ‘Rubbish Boy’ likes you to put him in a wheelie bin and cover him with rubbish.

JOHN: Smelly rubbish?

SARA: Any kind of rubbish. So my character in the show – Mistress Venetia, the ‘dotty dominatrix’ – one time she put him in the bath tub and covered him with all the rubbish from the flat and he wanked himself to completion. Of course, I made him clean it up afterwards – half a bottle of bleach – he loves that. 

Another time, Mistress Venetia put him in a pair of ballet tights and taught him some ballet moves. Bend-down-stretch… bend-down-stretch. She taught him a pas de chat and he was leaping all over the dungeon. That is a true story. He said it was the best day of his life. The real man is quite chubby and had never been asked to do ballet before.

JOHN: So the good people of Leicester are not going to hear any of this.

SARA: Not without a venue, they aren’t.

(… THIS STORY HAD A HAPPY OUTCOME… READ MORE HERE )

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Filed under Censorship, Comedy, Sex

I am approached by a UK political party

A mug shot with Lord Toby Jug (right)

A real political mug shot – with Lord Toby Jug (right)

It ain’t often that I get a press release from the leader of a British political party.

But, into my Inbox plopped a missive from Lord Toby Jug, leader of the Eccentric Party of Great Britain, who recently launched a bid to take over the leadership of UKIP.

Diane James quit as leader after just 18 days in charge and then there was that unfortunate incident at the European Parliament, where UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe was reportedly floored in fisticuffs by fellow UKIP MEP Mike Hookem. He then subsequently collapsed and was hospitalised with a suspected bleeding brain.

“The post of UKIP leader,” says the official Eccentric Party press release, “was made for a seriously deranged fruitcake like Lord Toby.”

The man himself says: “I’ve got my UKIP membership card now and party posters. I am a fully paid-up UKIP member. I even had the decency to send a personal £100 donation to Nigel Farage to have a good night out on the ale.”

He continues: “I think I am the best qualified for UKIP, since I was a schoolboy boxing champion at West Ham Boxing Club. I am now prepared to take on Nigel Farage’s puppet Paul Nuttall in the leadership contest. Once elected, I will personally dissolve the party before it inevitably implodes.”

Lord Toby founded the Eccentric Party of Great Britain after splitting with the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, has been contesting elections for decades and will be standing in the by-election at former Prime Minister David Cameron’s parliamentary seat. He ran unsuccessfully for the Labour leadership last year.

He says he was “stunned” when he found his application had not been weeded out by UKIP.

He is standing for UKIP leader with the slogan:

DON’T BE A MUG VOTE LORD TOBY JUG

Let’s hope he can bring a bit of sanity back into British politics.

ukipcard_lordtobyjug_cut

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Ex-government minister Norman Baker on the Coalition & mad Prime Ministers

The Reform Club, with Norman Baker |(centre)

Reform Club, with Norman Baker (centre)

Politician Norman Baker served 28 years in elected office – 18 as an MP. He lost his seat at the general election in May this year.

In 2010, as part of the Conservative & Liberal Democrat Coalition government he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport.

In 2013, he was appointed Minister of State for Crime Prevention at the Home Office. That means he was based at the Home Office, preventing crime – not that he was preventing crime happening within the Home Office.

In 2014, he resigned, citing conflicts with Home Secretary Theresa May.  (Bear this fact in mind later.) He was quoted as saying that being the only Liberal Democrat at the Home Office was like being “the only hippy at an Iron Maiden concert”.

The music analogy is not random. For the last 20-odd years, he has been lead singer and lyricist for The Reform Club, a band which he describes as playing “retro-1960s pop” music.

There is a video of them on YouTube, performing at Piccadilly Circus in 2013.

“Did you want to be a rock star?” I asked him yesterday in Soho.

“No,” he told me. “That’s a ridiculous thing to want to be. I just wanted to have some fun. It’s a therapy, a release. It’s like playing pinball. I’ve got a pinball machine.”

“I have never,” I said, “seen the point of playing pinball.”

“It’s a bit like playing snooker or playing in a band,” he told me. “You just switch off. It’s like meditating for an hour.”

“You are,” I said, “President of the Tibet Society and you were a member of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet. Why?”

“Well,” he replied, “it’s a matter of human rights and justice and trying to take on bullies.”

“But you’ve been quoted,” I said, “as saying: Compromise is a useful thing.”

“It is a necessary thing. No-one gets 100% their own way.”

“But you have to,” I said, “do deals with nasty people.”

“Yes, you do. Sometimes you have to work with them.”

“In the Home Office?” I asked.

He did not reply.

Norman’s books include The Strange Death of David Kelly

Norman Baker’s books include The Strange Death of David Kelly (on the alleged ‘suicide’ of the UN’s pre-Iraq War weapons inspector)

“You seem to be a terribly principled man,” I said. “Don’t you compromise your principles by talking to and doing deals with shits?”

“Well, otherwise,” he replied, “they run the show themselves. People asked why didn’t I resign, why didn’t the LibDems resign from the government? The answer is because all the people you don’t like would be left there and we’d be gone. Do you really want to hand the government over to the people you disagree with most?”

“So you’re a left wing LibDem,” I said.

“Yes.”

“The LibDems have got lost somewhere,” I said. “I don’t know where they are in the spectrum.”

“We need them,” he replied. “We need a liberal voice.”

“So what’s the book you’ve just written? – Against The Grain?”

“It is,” he said, “a political memoir. 1987-2015.”

“Why write it?” I asked. “To justify your time in office?”

Norman Baker with his latest ’tell-all' book

Norman Baker with his latest ’tell-all’ book

“No, to close a door on it. And so the public know what happened. It’s the first Coalition book and shows how it worked. But it was quite selfish of me in a way. It was cathartic, rationalising the last 28 years in my head, putting it in some sort of order and shutting the door on it.”

“Do you have an elevator pitch for the book?” I asked.

“Truthful, controversial, humorous, contrary, pleasingly insulting. That sort of thing.”

“Is that a description of you or the book?”

“Me… Well, both.”

“You have said you’re not interested in going back into politics.”

“I’m not. I have done 28 years in elected office.”

“But, if you’re really passionate about changing things…”

“I’ll do it in a different way. I’ll write books or lecture. Tony Benn famously said he was leaving the House of Commons to spend more time on politics.”

“I’m not an admirer of Tony Benn,” I said. “He was a bit too far up his own arse.”

“It’s a good quote, though,” said Norman.

“Do you think the book you have written will have as big as an effect as being an MP?”

“Probably not.”

“Books are on the way out,” I said. “You can only have an effect if you’re on TV.”

Norman Baker as a LibDem MP “in goverment on your side

As a LibDem MP – “in goverment on your side”

“I don’t have to have an effect. I need to do what I think is right. And I need to put myself first for a bit. I spent 28 years serving the public. I don’t want to sound too grand about it, but that’s the sum of it. You don’t become a LibDem if you are after power; you do it from the ground up. If I can make a pittance writing books or doing music, then that’s fine. I don’t have to be ‘out there’. I’ve done that.”

“The irony,” I said, “is that people became LibDems thinking they would never actually be in power and then they ended up in the Coalition government.”

“We had a big effect. You can see the effect we had, because it’s all being undone by the Tories.”

“What,” I asked, “is the worst thing they’re un-doing?”

“Well, reducing the tax credits is clearly just vicious.”

“It seems to me,” I said, “that, with the tax credit thing, George Osborne is undermining his own chances of becoming Prime Minister. Boris Johnson is going to become Conservative Party leader now…”

“Well,” said Norman, “out of all the candidates, it may sound unlikely but I would rather have Theresa May. At least she’s got principles, even if you don’t agree with them. Osborne is just terrible. Boris is a nasty bit of work and Osborne is just power crazy.”

“But being power crazy is OK in politics, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Well, Osborne is interested in two things: becoming leader of the Tory Party and winning the 2020 Election and everything is being sacrificed to those two ends. That is not in the interests of the country; that’s the interests of Osborne.”

“I think Boris will make a good Prime Minister,” I said, “because…”

“Boris has not been a very good Mayor of London,” Norman told me. “He’s had his back covered by a lot of people. He’s made a lot of mistakes.”

“Why is he a nasty piece of work?” I asked.

“You need to listen to the interview with Eddie Mair.”

(It was on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show in March 2013)

“What does it show?” I asked.

“Well, it shows he’s a nasty bit of work.”

“Did you used to read Scallywag magazine?” I asked.

“Yes, in fact, the guy who wrote it (Simon Regan) sent me some information.”

“About what?’

“About MPs allegedly involved in child sex exploitation.”

“You didn’t live in Dolphin Square?”

“No.”

“The male prostitutes allegedly in that place…”

“That’s one thing, There’s nothing wrong with that. I take the view, if you’re over 18, you can make up your own mind what you do.”

Scallwag 'knew' it was true but it was not

Scallywag had the wrong woman as mistress

“The scandal Simon Regan got wrong, though,” I said, “was the John Major affair with…”

“…Edwina Currie,” said Norman.

“No, the caterer,” I said. “Scallywag wrongly kept going on about Claire’s Kitchen. Everyone was thrown by that.”

“I think it’s nobody’s business,” said Norman. “I feel quite strongly about that.”

“John Major was married, though,” I said.

“But so what?” said Norman. “You’re entitled to a private life. Mitterrand and everyone else has all these affairs and no-one worries about that. The question is: Are you, in public life, doing what you are supposed to do for the benefit of the public? Yes or No? End of question.”

“I think,” I said, “that the problem was John Major was talking about Victorian Values a lot at the time.”

“No,” said Norman, “to be fair to John Major, it was Back To Basics and, by that, he meant things like the Three Rs in education, but it was taken by the press to mean some sort of puritanical view. I don’t think he ever meant that.”

“John Major,” I said, “seems to have grown in stature since he stopped being Conservative Party leader.”

“Well, he is not mad.,” said Norman. “He’s the only Prime Minister in recent times to leave office not mad.”

Margaret Thatcher?” I asked.

“She was hopeless,” said Norman. “She went to the Sistine Chapel with all the other European leaders on some EU trip and they were all in there admiring the Michaelangelos, or pretending to, and there was silence and she barked out: My goodness! How do they keep the floors so clean?”

“That’s surely good PR,” I said. “…I’m the woman next door.”

“Completely gormless, actually,” said Norman.

“Mrs Thatcher wasn’t a great brain,” I suggested. “She got where she got by being really hard working. But no Einstein.”

“She was hard-working,” agreed Norman. “She wasn’t Einstein, but she thought she was in some ways: I’m a chemist, therefore I understand this.”

“By the end,” I said, “she thought she knew better than the public.”

“Yes,” said Norman. “Blair had the same fault. It’s a sign of madness.”

“Blair talked to God,” I said. “and, it seems, God does not always make good decisions.”

“Well,” said Norman, “Blair became a Catholic and, within two weeks was telling the Pope he was wrong, which must take some medal for arrogance.”

“You asked questions in the Commons on UFOs,” I said, “which seems totally out-of-character.”

Animal Countdown - an EP by ‘Norman Baker and Friends'

Animal Countdown – a new EP by ‘Norman Baker & Friends’

“I didn’t ask any UFO questions,” said Norman. “This is a slur put about by my enemies. I asked about expenditure by the Ministry of Defence on a particular area. I was interested in the potential of other countries invading our airspace without being detected by radar. I’m afraid you’ll find that people who want to try to disagree with my arguments seek to character assassinate me. That’s what people do. They’ll go for the player rather than the ball. It’s a standard technique.”

“It must be a relief not being in Parliament,” I said. “You don’t get all that crap.”

“Yes. I enjoyed it and I achieved quite a lot, but I’ve now shut the door on it and I’m feeling rather better for it. The new Reform Club album is out on January 16th. It’s called Never Yesterday.”

YouTube also has an audio track from Animal Countdown – the latest EP by Norman Baker and Friends.

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The Eccentric Party: is it a surprisingly sensible choice for the General Election?

I proudly wear an Eccentric Party rosette

I very proudly wear an Eccentric Party rosette

When I chatted to comedian Al Murray in this blog last year, he told me he was writing a book about medieval fools.

“Fools were very important,” he told me, “because they spoke the truth. There are examples of them giving the king bad news because no-one else dared. The fool had a licence to speak truth to the powerful.”

And now, of course, Al – and/or his comic creation The Pub Landlord – is standing for Parliament in the General Election next month. The fact Al also has a national tour to publicise is, I am sure, totally coincidental. Al Murray is no fool.

Nor, it seems, are members of the new Eccentric Party.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to see them launch their latest Parliamentary candidate in Uxbridge.

Lord Toby Jug. leader of the Eccentric Party

Lord Toby Jug. leader of the Eccentric Party

The Party leader is Lord Toby Jug.

“I was named Toby Jug,” he told me, “by our late great spiritual leader, Screaming Lord Sutch. I was in his Monster Raving Loony Party for 27 years and contested four General Elections.

“But the Monster Raving Loony Party has been pulled in different directions. I wanted it to stay true to the founder, Screaming Lord Sutch, which was getting a serious message with a bit of fun. Whereas now they’re middle aged men in fancy dress more concerned with standing in a local pub reading the jokes out of the Beano and using them as policies. But I wish them well. That’s life.”

The Eccentric Party’s policies include:

  • putting super glue in lip balm to fight obesity
  • a 10% phone bill discount for people who stutter

The Monster Raving Loony Party says: “the reason for Toby’s dismissal from the party is his continued personal attacks on members of the party and on other groups while claiming to be representing the Loony Party.”

Yesterday, Lord Toby Jug told me: “I left because they didn’t like my stance – as told to national newspapers – on Nigel Farage and UKIP. I said UKIP claimed to be fruitcakes, loonies and crackpots but that’s our area. They tried to nick our Holy Grail of loonies. Another reason I left was because I met Nigel Farage and some of his sick-you-fonts and I thought they were closet racists and decided that should be put in the public domain. UKIP are far too eccentric, far too potty. Extremists.”

Some of the Party in Uxbridge High Street yesterday

Some of the Party parade in Uxbridge High Street yesterday

“You’re standing for Huntingdon,” I said. “Was that (former Prime Minister) John Major’s constituency?”

“It was, yes. Now it’s Jonathan Djanogly’s, a Conservative, a very wealthy man. They live in a different world. The only Tory worth voting for is a lava-tory. These people who live in mansions are nothing to do with the ordinary people.”

“You consider yourself a normal person?” I asked.

“Compared to them, yes,” said Lord Toby Jug. I’ve met many politicians over the years and they’ve asked me to join their so-called sensible parties and I’ve said No because I would lose my whole identity as an independent free thinker and eccentric.”

“Why,” I asked, “did they want you in their party?”

“They wanted some of the publicity I got.”

So why is Chris Dowling standing – the man the Eccentric Party were launching yesterday – the Eccentric Party candidate for Uxbridge & South Ruislip?

Spot The Loony - Chris Dowling and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls

Play Spot The Loony – Chris Dowling and the Labour Party’s Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls

“I’m standing, basically,” he told me, “because I’m a musician, a singer-songwriter. I’m doing this for publicity. With my £500 deposit, I’m going to get more publicity than you can shake a stick at – just by standing against Boris Johnson. Also, I stood against Boris as a Monster Raving Loony Party candidate for Mayor of London. I played guitar with Screaming Lord Sutch for ten years. Now the Chairman of the Monster Raving Loony party is standing in this constituency so I’ve jumped ship and gone with Lord Toby Jug.”

“Have you any policies?” I asked.

“When I stood last time,” Chris told me, “in Barking, against Nick Griffin of the BNP – I stood with no policies at all. This election, I’m standing on one policy: the virtual Parliament.”

“Eh?” I asked.

“MPs have robbed us for so many years now with their expenses and all that. We should leave them all in their own constituencies and do it all on Skype and online. They can have video conferencing and that would negate all their expenses. Politicians are always saying they want us to make cuts, so let’s start with them.

“I mean it when I talk about a virtual Parliament. It would save millions of pounds each year to have them in their own constituencies – where they should be anyway – instead of coming down to Westminster and sponging off of us.

Didgeridoo Pete, Minister of Didgeridoos

Didgeridoo Pete, Minister of, yes, Didgeridoos

“Almost everything is already online now. Why not have government online as well? You watch. In a few years time, what we’re talking about now is not going to be that far-fetched. We phoned up a video-conferencing firm and asked how much it would cost. There are 650 MPs and we could do it for less than £1,200 a year each. Online in their constituencies, debating everything. They don’t need transport to London and hotel expenses every week.”

“Automatically,” I told him, “I am thinking that’s a ridiculous idea but, of course, in 50 years time, there may not be office blocks – most people may work from home.”

“We’re always ahead,” said Lord Toby Jug.

“I was a Raving Loony for years,” said Chris, “and there are already five Raving Loony policies that have come to fruition:

  • Passports for pets
  • All-day pub-opening
  • Scrapping the 11-plus
  • Votes for 18-year-olds (it was 21 at the time)
  • Commercial radio

I asked: “Doesn’t commercial radio pre-date the Monster Raving Loony Party?”

“No,” said Chris. “The Monster Raving Loony Party has been going 50 years.”

Screaming Lord Sutch (in hat) (Photograph by Colin Dale, Radio Sutch)

Screaming Lord Sutch (in hat) in his heyday (Photograph by Colin Dale, Radio Sutch)

“Since 1963,” said Lord Toby. “It started as the National Teenage Party.”

“Some of the policies,” I said, “don’t sound that loony.”

“The policies ain’t that loony,” said Chris.

“We want more money spent on mental health,” said Lord Toby Jug.

“To have less of it?” I asked.

Lord Toby Jug ignored me. “That’s a very serious subject,” he said. “The same with addiction.”

“Diction?” I asked, genuinely surprised.

“Addiction,” said Lord Toby Jug.

“Even though this is still the greatest democracy in the world,” said Chris, “the political system in this country is outdated and it needs to be revamped. I’m gonna win by a landslide majority here.”

“Against Boris?” I asked.

“Yeah. He’s a bigger loony than I am.”

“I do wonder,” I said, “who is going to be next Mayor of London. Because people voted-in Red Ken, who was a bit eccentric, then Boris, who is more eccentric. They seem to vote for interesting people to be Mayor of London, not for parties.”

Njambi doorsteps London Mayor Boris Johnson at Westfield, Stratford

Boris – a future Prime Minister? (with comic Njambi McGrath)

“Sooner or later,” said Chris, “Boris Johnson will be the Prime Minister of this country.”

“I think so too,” I agreed.

“Everything I’ve seen about Boris Johnson,” said Chris, “he’s just seemed a buffoon and I quite like that about him.”

“Well,” I said, “he’s a buffoon who, at one time, was simultaneously editing The Spectator AND being an apparently quite good constituency MP AND being a TV personality on things like Have I Got News For You. He’s no fool.

“Red Ken – eccentric – Boris Johnson – eccentric – Maybe you should not be standing for Parliament, but as Mayor of London. “

“Well,” said Chris. “I went for that last time, but there’s so much red tape involved and you have to put up £10,000, because they don’t want the likes of me and you there.”

“£10,000?” I said, shocked. “It’s only £500 to stand as an MP! But you’re quite serious about the politics…”

“Not really,” said Chris.

“Well,” I added, “in an anarchist way.”

“Yes, in an anarchist way,” agreed Chris.

“It’s not a case of winning,” said Lord Toby Jug. “It’s a case of standing and putting your policies forward. “

“But a lot of people won’t do it,” said Chris. “It’s like they’re sofa referees: you watch the football and you shout at the TV screen but you don’t play. At least we stand up and do it.

Russell Brand says Don’t vote,” I prompted.

“Yeah,” said Chris. “But Russell Brand is a prick.”

Lord Toby Jug added: “He is to politics what King Herod was to babysitters. Politicians are just actors to get publicity for themselves and will do absolutely anything and lie about anything to get your vote. We ain’t like that. We are an honest political party. Peace and love through the medium of humour. There’s enough hatred in the world. We’re very lucky to live in this democracy.”

“We are,” agreed Lord Toby Jug.

Joshua Francis, Eccentric Party’s Minister for Ovine Philosophy

Joshua Francis, Minister for Ovine Theology

The Eccentric Party are recording a campaign song this Friday – Eccentric Guitars, written by Joshua Francis, their Minister for Ovine Theology. It will be released on iTunes and YouTube, probably next week.

They are also having a fund-raising party this Saturday at their party HQ – the Crown & Treaty pub in Uxbridge.

I have a suspicion that the Eccentric Party knows how to party.

And, lest we forget, to quote Al Murray: “The fool (has) a licence to speak truth to the powerful.”

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English Elf Lyons on her duck flu, Barbarella and a dog in a gimp suit

Elf Lyons at Soho Theatre in London

Elf Lyons ordered pizza this week at Soho Theatre in London

In yesterday’s blog,  I mentioned in passing that I met comedian and writer Elf Lyons at Soho Theatre in London. She ate pizza.

“I came up with this world…” she told me. “This sitcom idea. I got really excited, then realised all the tangents and all the character layers couldn’t really exist in a one hour play, so I’ve written lots of different episodes. And I’m doing the first 45-minute pilot, as it were, next Thursday for three nights at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden.

“It’s based around me and my sister – two siblings stuck in a country farm. There’s this flu – Duck Flu – which turns people into ducks, but human-sized ducks. The only way you can tell if you have not got it is to drink tea. If your body can cope with tea, then you clearly have not got it. If you don’t want tea, then you have got the infection and you are going to have to be killed.”

“Can’t you,” I suggested, “just look in a mirror to see if you are a duck?”

“No,” said Elf, “because it starts with a sneeze, then a cough, then a quack…”

“Not a waddle or a quack, but a glide and a whistle and a snowy white back?” I suggested.

Duck Flu - Elf Lyons

Duck Flu – a simple tale of humanoid ducks

“Basically,” said Elf, “the two sisters are together and they’re slightly psychopathic. They are going to kill their mum. They have killed their dad – not because they had to, but because they needed to, because they would turn into ducks.”

“So it’s written as social realism,” I suggested.

“Yes,” said Elf, “Me and my family have this conversation all the time about what we would do in an apocalypse if someone died. On my computer, I have saved everyone’s funeral songs and what readings we would want. I want to make sure, if anything did happen, I would have it already organised. That may be a bit perverse, but in a nice way.”

“Where do you come from?” I asked.

“Crookham Hill in Kent. We have lots of horses and sheep and we were thinking: Oh no! If there were an apocalypse, who would look after the horses? And the sheep? And we’ve got dogs. Where would we move everybody? And what weapons would you use? Duck Flu spawned from that. And there are also some evil vegans in it.”

“Why evil vegans?” I asked.

“I don’t trust vegans,” explained Elf. “I remember when I joined my Vegan Society at Bristol University they were lovely but I sort-of expected the Tales of The Unexpected music to play any second.”

Tales of The Unexpected is before your time,” I said.

“My mum,” explained Elf, “when she was little, used to watch Tales of The Unexpected on TV and you know the woman who dances in the titles? My Granddad Squeak, who’s my mum’s dad, told my mum that it was her mum dancing – that it was Nanny Squeak.”

“You have a granddad called Squeak?” I asked.

“Yes. Because they had a cat called Squeak and my Nanny and Granddad Station – my dad’s mum and dad, they…”

“Station?” I asked.

“Yes. They always came down to visit us by train.”

“So we have a family here,” I said, “who have a daughter called Elf, and grandparents called Squeak and Station. What does your dad do?”

“He’s an economist – He’s the Economic Advisor to Boris Johnson.”

“But he’s not attached to Boris as such?” I asked. “He’s attached to whoever the Mayor of London happens to be?”

“Yes. He’s politically neutral.”

“But mildly eccentric?” I asked.

Afternoon tea with Elf includes interesting conversation

Afternoon tea with English Elf from a ‘quite’ eccentric family

“My family are quite eccentric,” said Elf. “Well, they ARE eccentric.”

“Siblings?” I asked.

“I have a little sister called Lulu. Her real name is Marie-Louise Kezia, but everyone calls her Lulu. She used to be a horse rider.”

“Professionally?”

“Yes. She was always away horse-riding but she had an epiphany after she had an accident and realised she wanted to help people. So now she is 21 and at university doing bio-medicine. My brother Gerard is 17 and at school doing his A-levels. He looks like a young George Michael from Wham.”

“Gerard seems to be a very normal name for your family,” I said.

“Well, he likes to be nick-named Chat.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s so witty.”

“Interesting family,” I said. “You were called Elf as a child?”

“No. I was just Emily-Anne but, when I went to university – when I first went to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009, when I was 18 – I was volunteering at the Forest Fringe as an usher and loads of the guys who would come and buy tickets would say: Oh, you’re very elf-like.”

“Loads of them?” I asked.

“Loads,” replied Elf. “Because I had very short hair and I was sitting down. People always assume I’m going to be really short when they meet me.

“The Fringe was mind-blowing and I was staying on my own. I remember sitting in the Underbelly garden and then going up to somebody and saying: I’m really sorry, but do you want to be my friend? I don’t know anyone and I don’t know where to start.

“Then I met this really lovely Australian comic called Daniel Walmsley who was working on Mark Watson’s 24-Hour Show, so I got to sneak in and watch that and I met all these people and you know all those films where the kid gets the job at the Amusement Park and he meets all these kookie characters?”

“Your hair is slightly red,” I observed.

“I’m naturally a brighter ginger, because my dad is Irish. But I like dying my hair every now-and-again just to… to do something exciting.”

“And you have another show you are preparing…?” I said.

Being Barbarella. My new solo show.”

“But you are going to need a blonde wig for that?” I suggested.

“Yeah, you know the opening of the film? She takes off all her clothes. She takes off her spacesuit and her helmet and her hair just flows everywhere and I’m going to re-create that. I will take off my spacesuit quite slowly.”

Being Barbarella -  Elf Lyons

Being Barbarella – Elf Lyons, possibly in a wig

“Still my beating heart,” I said.

“The whole show,” explained Elf, “is about me trying to be sexy, but getting it wrong. And I talk a lot about sharks.”

“Why?”

“Because I love sharks. The first book I ever read was about sharks. I think they’re amazing.”

“But you wouldn’t want one for a pet,” I suggested.

“My family adopted a bluetip reef shark for me for Christmas.”

“Where does it live?” I asked.

“In the sea.”

“Which sea?”

“I don’t know. I have a certificate on my wall. I need to re-adopt it. I have got a pen pal and we have been swapping advice and she has told me I should adopt a donkey and I told her to adopt a shark.”

“Do you like donkeys?” I asked.

“I think you can’t be too judgmental,” said Elf.

“So…” I said, “Being Barbarella…”

“It’s basically about me trying to be my own idol and trying to be a sexy comedian.”

“Was Barbarella your main teenage fantasy?” I asked.

“No. My fantasy was Jane Eyre. Nanny Squeak took me to see a 4-hour production of Jane Eyre: The Musical – at the Bob Hope Theatre in Eltham. Mr Rochester’s dog was a man dressed as a gimp. In a gimp suit. It had nothing to do with the show. I’m pretty sure it was Jane Eyre: The Musical. It might have been a really weird pantomime. Do you want a bit of pizza?”

Elf Lyons - pizza

Elf Lyons before realising her pizza mistake

“You don’t like the crusts?” I asked.

“They’re not fun. If they gave me butter I would eat them, but it’s too late now.”

“You met up with Joz Norris the other day,” I said.

“We went back to my flat and just sat in my room and we ate Magnum ice creams and drank non-alcoholic beer and talked about Socrates. I’ve been reading about Socrates in The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton. It’s really good.”

“You should do a show with Joz,” I suggested.

“I like Joz’s comedy,” said Elf, “because he allows himself to be vulnerable. There is that thin layer that’s so fragile between… You know when people talk about something that’s slightly dark? If you put too much pressure on it, it turns away from being funny to putting the audience in a difficult position.

“We were talking about the difference between comics who write specifically to get a laugh and those whose by-product of what they are talking about is the laugh. Because, when I write, my objective isn’t always that there is the laugh at the end, but the laugh will come because the things I’m interested in talking about are funny in themselves.”

I will be going to see Elf’s shows.

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Save Soho! Sometimes campaigns work

Tim Arnold stands next to a photo of his mum

Tim Arnold aka singer The Soho Hobo lives & works in Soho

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged a chat I had with singer-songwriter Tim Arnold, aka The Soho Hobo about his Save Soho! campaign following the sudden closure of iconic Soho nightclub Madame JoJo’s.

Tim was concerned not just with the closure of Madame JoJo’s but with a more general threat by property developers to the artistic nature of Soho.

On 3rd December, he wrote an open letter to London Mayor Boris Johnson. The letter was also signed by Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry, Eddie Izzard, Paul O’Grady, Pete Townshend and a virtual roll-call of the British entertainment industry, as well as nonentities like me.

Tim’s Save Soho! campaign publicised the general threat to Soho and got wide publicity, including a piece by the BBC World Service.

On 19th December, Boris Johnson replied to the Save Soho! letter, saying:


Boris Johnson’s reply to the Save Soho! campaign

Boris Johnson’s reply to Save Soho! letter

I believe that culture is the DNA of this great city. People from all over the world come to Soho to enjoy its unique character and history – its performing arts and live music, its gay and transgender scene and nightclubs. As a place where people from all walks of life come together, Madame JoJo’s has been at the heart of this distinctive London “village”.

I will be talking to the Leader of Westminster Council in the New Year urging her to protect the distinctive character of the area.

To respond directly to your question about Soho Estates, I know they are in a dialogue with a number of community groups and that they would be open to engaging with you to explore all the options for the future of Madame JoJo’s.

I very much hope that the character of this unique venue can be retained for future generations.


 Fawn James and half sister India Rose James of Soho Estates share Paul Raymond's fortune of £329 million. HM Queen’s personal wealth is said to be £320 million, …

Fawn James and half-sister India Rose James of property owners Soho Estates share Paul Raymond’s fortune of £329 million. Queen Elizabeth II’s personal wealth is £320 million,

As a result of the publicity, Tim’s Save Soho! campaign has also now been given a place on Westminster Council’s ‘Soho Steering Group’.

So sometimes – just sometimes – campaigns do work and ordinary people’s concerns can get noticed.

Do not bet on it happening in other cases, though.

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Painful nipples after London Mayor Boris Johnson screws nude Edinburgh Fringe performer Juliette Burton

Janet Bettesworth (centre right) celebrates her birthday

Janet Bettesworth (centre right) celebrates her 70th birthday

Last night, I went to flame-haired comedy temptress Janet Bettesworth’s 70th birthday party in a room above the Bedford pub in Balham, Gateway to The South.

Downstairs, the pub was a scene like something out of the Black Hole of Calcutta mixed with the Sacking of Rome by the Goths & Vandals and with a noise level similar to the arrival of ‘Fat Man’ in Nagasaki in 1945. That’s a World Cup Saturday for you.

Upstairs, at Janet’s party, it was comedians socialising and a very loud folk band, though sadly no nudity.

Yesterday afternoon, though, there WAS nudity in Central London.

I went to the starting point for The Naked Bike Ride, just outside the new St Martin’s College of Art behind King’s Cross station.

In previous blogs, I have mentioned comedian Juliette Burton’s enthusiastically-anticipated (certainly by me) upcoming Edinburgh Fringe show Look At Me, which is about whether who we appear to be is who we actually are – and whether we can change who we are on the inside by changing who we appear to be on the outside.

Among other things, it involves her being videoed in public wearing a a ‘fat’ prosthetics suit, being transformed into a man… and nudity.

Participants prepare for the Naked Bike Ride yesterday

Participants prepared for the Naked Bike Ride yesterday

So, yesterday, she was going to take part in the Naked Bike Ride which – allegedly – was being held to protest against the pollution caused by Society’s dependency on oil.

I say ‘allegedly’ because it is an annual event and, as far as I can see, just an excuse to get your kit off for reasons of exhibitionism, Bohemianism  or eccentricity – mostly the last two and nothing wrong in either.

In August, you can streak nude for tigers

In August, you can strip off & Streak For Tigers at Lindon Zoo

As I waited for Juliette to arrive, I was handed a flyer for a naked Streak For Tigers run being held at London Zoo in August. Fortunately I will be in Edinburgh and will miss the inevitable carnage.

When Juliette did turn up with her musical director Frankie Lowe (Juliette has an entourage even bigger than Lewis Schaffer‘s) she had a story to tell.

She told me how she had just been screwed by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Juliette advertised her Fringe show yesterday

Juliette advertised her Fringe show yesterday

“We spent a while with the make-up artist this morning,” she told me, “advertising my show on my back and advertising my boobs on my front. Then I put my clothes back on and went to get the Boris Bike.”

[Note to non-Brits: The publicly-rentable bikes causing traffic chaos all over London have been nicknamed ‘Boris Bikes’.]

Juliette, pained, after being screwed by Boris

Juliette, pained, after being screwed on a bike by Mayor Boris

“We had paid our £2 for the code to access a bike,” Juliette explained to me, “and we went round every single docking station in this row of bikes off Caledonian Road and none of them would let us have a bike. Boris screwed us over. So we walked here, just so we could salvage a shot of me standing around supporting the good cause surrounded by naked people and getting my things out.”

Frankie Lowe - a man who wears two hats

Frankie – a man who wears two creative hats

Juliette had been planning her naked bike ride since last December with Frankie Lowe – not only her musical director but also her cameraman – he is a man who wears multiple hats simultaneously and, yesterday, literally.

“We had been going to start here at King’s Cross,” explained Juliette, “and then do Haymarket and have Frankie film me on Westminster Bridge by the Houses of Parliament…

“I had taken my Dutch courage – a half a glass of Prosecco before I left. And then Boris screwed us. It’s very disappointing.”

“Though,” I said, “as of this week, you now do have the even better…”

“Except you cannot blog about that yet,” said Juliette.

So I won’t.

“Frankie,” continued Juliette, “made a very good observation that it was ironic we were prevented from doing a protest against oil dependency by the ineffectiveness of a city-wide bicycling scheme that is meant to help people not depend on cars.”

“Frankie should wear a PR hat on top of his other two,” I observed.

After the massed naked cyclists set off, the three of us had a drink nearby. This also gave Juliette time to go off to the toilet and take off her pasties.

I forgot to mention that Juliette had bright pink circular coverings over her nipples.

Juliette relaxes with her pink pasties in the foreground

Juliette with her pink pasties in foreground

Apparently they are called pasties – pronounced not ‘pass-ties’ but ‘paste-ies’ – and are/were stuck on with the make-up artists’ equivalent of super glue.

When she re-emerged from the toilet, looking slightly shaken, Juliette observed:

“Everyone suffers for their Edinburgh Fringe show, but I didn’t know I was going to suffer this much physical pain for it.”

“Suffering pain from tits is common in Edinburgh,” I suggested.

Rule 17 in blog writing: always try to give yourself the last line.

There is a promo for Look At Me on YouTube.

 

 

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