The last two days have been odd. I and my eternally-un-named friend have had colds and coughs for three weeks.
Yesterday morning in London, comedian Bob Slayer was trying to persuade me I should write a blog about Gary The Goat in Australia. As regular readers of this blog will know, earlier this year Bob traversed the Outback with Gary The Goat and his owner Australian comic Jimbo.
Now Jimbo has found himself in trouble with the law because Gary The Goat ate some grass and (the police allege) some flowers.
“This is Goatgate!” Bob tried to persuade me. It’s a must-do blog post!!!”
“I don’t know what the angle is,” I told him. “The story is basically Goat Eats Grass. That’s a Dog Bites Man story. It’s not interesting. Man Bites Dog and Then Eats Grass and Flowers would be a story. Goat Eats Grass and Flowers and Owner Gets Fined is like Dog Bites Man and Owner is Prosecuted. It’s not quirky. It’s normal.”
“This is Goatgate!” said Bob. “Gary The Goat’s Facebook page was on 400 likes at the start of this and it is now 8,500. The first post about this that went viral had 25,000 likes and it was seen by nearly half a million folks…”
“Gary The Goat has a Facebook page?” I asked.
“Yes, he does,” said Bob.
“It’s not unusual enough,” I told him, coughing.
Then I got a phone call from comedian Martin Soan.
“I’m running around putting the show together for tonight,” he told me. “I’ve a great blog for you, but I’ll forget it. I’ll tell you the title. Remind me tonight.”
“Y-e-e-e-s-s-s…” I said warily.
“The Social Structure is Alive and Well in the NHS,” said Martin.
“Righto,” I said, coughing.
Last night, I went to Martin’s Pull The Other One comedy club Christmas show and party.
Bob Slayer was there. He told the audience a story about being employed to hang up dead Christmas turkeys which shat themselves. I think that was the story. He wore a Father Christmas hat and swept the stage a lot.
Afterwards, he told me: “Gary The Goat didn’t eat any flowers. Them coppers have invented that to try and justify their ridiculous actions. Anyway, the story is about the nanny state. And the fact that increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Award winning comedian Bob Slayer is in the thick of it and making a documentary with Brown Eyed Boy…”
“If Australia really were a nanny state,” I argued, “it would welcome goats.”
“That is the line!” said Bob triumphantly. “Gary is a Billy! It is about sexism!”
“It’s not unusual enough,” I told him, coughing.
Then comedian Charmian Hughes showed me a video on her phone. It appeared to show her dancing ballet in the middle of a three-lane motorway.
After that, Martin Soan performed the 1812 overture with a cannon on stage, his wife Vivienne on clarinet and comedian Stephen Prost on trumpet. It was quite messy.
Afterwards, I said to Martin: “What about that blog idea? The Social Structure is Alive and Well in the NHS.”
“If you stick that iPhone in my face,” he said, shouting over the loud music from DJ Ratsmilk, “I’ll dry up. I talked to Steve Frost today and – this is absolutely true – absolutely fucking true – But I’m not going to tell you the story now, because I’ll fuck it up.”
“You won’t,” I said.
“I will!” he shouted.
“Go on,” I shouted.
“I told Steve Frost today in the car,” he shouted, “about anal exploratory surgery. And, in the sketch on The Frost Programme with John Cleese and The Two Ronnies, it was… I didn’t even realise it. I should’ve been a stand-up doing it on stage and I would have been up there with Michael McIntyre. Well, that’s a lie. But Steve made me remember.”
“What?” I asked.
“It’s a genius story,” said Martin. “but I’m drunk.”
“So tell it,” I said.
“No, I can’t now, John!” shouted Martin over the music. “I’m drunk. I will fuck it up. It’s the rule of three, it’s comedy and it’s the National Health.”
“Tell me the story,” I insisted.
“No!” said Martin. “I will not do it now!”
“I can blog about you not telling me the story,” I told him.
“In the sober light of day, I will tell you,” said Martin. “It is perfect, it’s the truth and it’s the rule of three. And it’s comedy. It happened to me in an exploratory anal situation.”
“In a hospital or in a toilet?” I asked.
“You’re just trying to wind me up and wind me in!” Martin shouted over the music. “You’re not going to get anywhere. It’s perfect. I do not want to fuck it up. Steve reminded me. He said it’s just genius, it’s true and it happened to me, but I’m not going to tell you now because I’ll just fuck it up. It was cool, though. Really cool. It’s perfect. And it’s true.”
“What is?” I shouted. “Have you seen the video of Charmian dancing in the middle of a three lane motorway?”
Then I had a coughing fit.
I went to bed at 3.45am.
At lunchtime today, my eternally-un-named friend suggested I put a cabbage leaf on my chest, to stop my coughing.
“Crush the leaves with a rolling pin until the juice starts to appear,” she said, reading from a book called A Guide to Home Remedies. “Place three or four leaves over the chest area and cover with gauze. Then place a warm blanket over to keep in place…. So,” she added, “you could watch television while doing that.”
I looked at the page in the book.
“You can also,” I read out loud, “drink the juice of the cabbage sweetened with a teaspoon of honey.”
“We’ve got the juicer,” said my eternally-un-named friend, “so you can drink the juice.”
“This is when the chest is tight with coughing,” I read out. “Cabbage has an extraordinary ability to draw out toxins.”
“There’s going to be a lot of onions,” said my eternally-un-named friend. “And garlic, maybe. And ginger. But you didn’t find a decent ginger the other day.”
“This means we are going to have to take a picture of a cabbage leaf on my chest,” I said.
“This means you might do it?” asked my eternally-un-named friend, with a surprising hint of hope in her voice.
“What’s the alternative?” I asked.
“A poultice of roasted onion, apparently,” she replied, “applied to the chest every two hours. Onions can also be drunk, it says.”
“They can’t be as drunk as Bob Slayer,” I said.
“Oh, John…” sighed my eternally-un-named friend reprovingly