Tag Archives: crapper

Last night, everything was normal… Or was it?

Charmian Hughes: The ghost of parties yet to come

Charmian Hughes: The ghost of parties yet to come

Yesterday, my blog was about surreality.

Last night, some reality returned. But only some.

I went to comedian Charmian Hughes’ Christmas party. in South London.

Passing through Blackfriars station, I heard a woman sitting on a metal bench with a younger man (possibly her son) say: “I want to have a proper chat and I can’t with you because you don’t drink.”

It was like a flat stone skimming across the surface of water. Briefly touching a few seconds of other people’s lives.

Comedian Lewis Schaffer met me at Peckham Rye station with his bicycle. We walked to Charmian’s. Lewis did not ride the bicycle. We talked of heart attacks, lungs and cholesterol levels. At one point, he said: “This is old men’s talk.” I had to agree. It is wise to agree with Lewis Schaffer. It saves time.

David Don’t at the party last night

Magic David Don’t at the party last night

At the party, Charmian’s husband, magician David Don’t, told me he had recently been asked to perform at a charity gig. As it was for a charity gig, he quoted a low fee. After the show, they sent him a cheque for triple the amount agreed because they had enjoyed his act so much. I do not know what this demonstrates in terms of charities, but it must demonstrate something.

Before I left, I was talking to very amiable Polish lady Ewa Sidorenko and to Karen O Novak’s equally amiable husband Darren. We talked of toilet bowls and taps. Charmian Hughes and David Don’t do own a genuine Crapper toilet.

Conversation turned from that to the consistency of ceramics and, from there, to the fact that the British – unlike Europeans – have a separate hot tap and cold tap in sinks, rather than have a logically more sensible mixer tap.

Karen O Novak & David Mills did NOT talk of Crappers & taps

Karen O Novak & David Mills did NOT talk of Crappers & taps

I think (though I may be wrong) that Ewa Sidorenko and I came to the conclusion that having two separate taps, with the risk of scalding one’s hand with piping hot water, fulfilled the triple traditional British benefit of identifying foreigners, humiliating them and maiming them.

On my way home, at Blackfriars station again, a young man who looked a little like Prince Harry asked me if he was on the correct platform for King’s Cross. I said he was, although the train actually passed through St Pancras not King’s Cross. We got on the train together and had a long conversation about his university course and job prospects.

StPancrasChristmasTree2013

This is St Pancras station last year not this year and is definitely not King’s Cross station

I told him I had once been on the same Thameslink line and heard a Japanese lady ask, as the train pulled into St Pancras if she was on the correct train for King’s Cross. To her increasing confusion, as she looked at the signs on the walls clearly stating ST PANCRAS INTERNATIONAL, three people told her: “This IS King’s Cross”.

Last night seemed to be a slightly strange evening, but I could not quite put my finger on why. Everything was normal.

But normality can be slightly abnormal.

During the evening, on trains, I saw two people with reindeer antlers on their heads. That is perfectly normal in London at Christmas.

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Filed under Humor, Humour, London, Surreal

Lewis Schaffer has bowel problems and Mooky crushes nuts with her hands

Lewis Schaffer has problems

Lewis Schaffer, the comic who loves to be hated

“Your best blogs,” American comedian Lewis Schaffer told me last night in the car back to his home in Nunhead, London, “are the ones in which you express your own opinion. Your worst blogs are the ones when you resort to quoting some self-obsessed comedian talking about himself. Or even worse is when you quote a comedian talking about you and your blog.

“The five things that people wanna see in a blog,” Lewis Schaffer told me, “are One – themselves… Two – people they know… Three – places they’ve been to… Four – people or places they’d like to know or like to go to… and Five… Lewis Schaffer.”

“I don’t have a blog from tonight,” I told him, “although lots happened.”

I had been going to go to comedian Charmian Hughes’ Christmas party with my eternally-un-named friend, but she (my eternally-un-named friend) has a bad cough and decided not to go. So Lewis Schaffer went with me instead.

When we arrived at the door, I had the first of three bad coughing fits.

The guest list was interesting.

For almost a whole minute, comedian Harriet Bowden and I persuaded Lewis Schaffer that Harriet was my ex-wife and that we had lived together in a small house near Sandringham in Norfolk. Lewis Scaffer’s temporary stare of confusion as he looked at both of us (Harriet was wearing a full-length mink coat; I was looking rumpled) was worth the trip.

Harriet was trying to persuade people to go on a Weekend Comedy Workshop next month.

“Not for me,” I told her. “Ask Lewis Schaffer.”

“I’m not going to go on it,” he said.

“Why?”

“Because I haven’t been asked to teach it and I’m not going to show up and say I need help. Everybody knows I need help. It would be embarrassing, but I think that is how the comedy industry is going: comedians teaching other comedians how to make money and get out of debt by charging them £100.”

David Don't (left) blows in the kitchen

David Don’t (left) blows his horn in the kitchen last night

Charmian Hughes and her husband David Don’t have a toilet with a new Crapper… a genuine Thomas Crapper, boldly emblazoned as such on the cistern, inside the bowl and even on the sink. And they have a new kitchen with a new wood-burning stove.

“There’s no ash,” Charmian told me. “It’s very efficient. It burns the ash.”

It is a very neat, square, black stove. It looked very lovely, but reminded me slightly of an oven at Auschwitz. I did not mention this to Charmian at the time. Perhaps I should not mention it in this blog now. But it looks very nice and I am impressed it burns the ashes.

Sadly, I could not persuade Charmian to get her accordion out last night.

“I haven’t had it out for a while,” she explained.

“You could do the sand dance instead,” I said.

She ignored this – I thought rather good – suggestion.

But the party was enlivened by Charmian’s husband playing a trumpet and demonstrating very good magic tricks in the kitchen with cards, rubber bands and chess pieces. Not simultaneously, but his lessons with Jerry Sadowitz are paying off.

Nuts of the type cracked last night

Nuts not jokes were cracked at the comic’s party in London

Also in the kitchen was Canadian cabaret act and clown ‘Mooky’ Cornish, who can and did crack nuts with her bare hands. When someone told her I organise the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards, I emphasised to her:

“They’re increasingly prestigious, you know.”

“I’m just impressed,” she said, “that they’re not named after a beer.”

She told me she had once been on the board of a company with Thomas Crapper’s grandson. I think it was the board of an organisation involved in puppets, masks and animated objects. I do seem to remember the phrase “animated objects” came up, but I may have lost track of reality by that point.

I certainly remember the party ending with Lewis Schaffer randomly going up to people he had not had time to meet and saying, “Hi! My name’s Lewis Schaffer.” They mostly looked slightly startled and slightly afraid. He chatted to three women with the opening gambit: “I hate women.”

In the car taking him home to Nunhead Heights, he told me: “I gotta make a poo, but I couldn’t make a poo in that Thomas Crapper thing.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“It was too classy,” he said.

“I gotta go to the loo so badly,” he emphasised. “I feel like I’ve let you down by not giving you a blog.”

“You’ve given me a blog,” I said.

“I haven’t,” said Lewis Schaffer.

“You have,” I said.

“I could tell you,” he said, “why I support people’s right to own guns in America.”

“With all those schoolchildren shot in America?” I asked. “You’re just saying that to be hated. Just so people will hate you.”

“They hate me already,” said Lewis Schaffer. “Every time something like this happens, I wanna say something, because English people get all indignant about it, but…” he paused, “I need to go to the loo so bad.”

He paused again.

“Perhaps I just need to fart,” he said, getting out of the car.

There was a long silence.

“No. That didn’t work,” he said.

And then Lewis Schaffer was gone into the night, like the sweet smell of strawberries blown on the wind at Wimbledon.

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A dog called Dylan and the fickle finger of fame

Last night I went to South East London to see Charmian Hughes’ try-out of her upcoming Brighton Fringe/Edinburgh Fringe show The Ten Charmandments at the equally charming and fascinating Living Room Theatre which is, indeed, just what it says on the label.

It’s a living room theatre.

I suppose I should have counted, but I think the full room had an audience of twelve, sitting in a U-shape. That’s ten or eleven more than some Edinburgh Fringe shows I’ve been to.

The Living Room Theatre allows performers to preview and try-out shows in an amiable, low-key atmosphere and is run by writer-performer Claire Dowie and Colin Watkeys who, among his other accomplishments was apparently the late, much-lamented Ken Campbell’s manager. Now THAT must have been a job and a half.

But, oddly, it was the theatre dog’s name that leapt to mind this morning and the fickle nature of fame. Yes, the Living Room Theatre has a dog. Dylan the dog, though missing from the performance itself, was an amiable and attentive addition to the over-all theatrical event.

It was the name “Dylan” that got to me, though.

People want their name to be remembered, but how that name is remembered is sometimes not what they might have hoped for.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wanted to be remembered as a serious mathematician, logician and academic; instead, he was remembered first as children’s author Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland and, more recently, as the taker of some rather dodgy photographs of young children; his reputation has started to transform into a sort-of Victorian wannabe Gary Glitter.

Thomas Crapper was a very admirable man whose hard work and professionalism changed the hygiene, health and social behaviour of the British nation – there are manhole covers with his company’s name proudly displayed in Westminster Abbey, scene of our recent glamorous Royal Wedding… but his surname has become synonymous with shit. He can’t be turning happily in his grave.

And pity poor Dylan Thomas, the verbose Welsh bard, who presumably wanted to be known for his literary art and womanising but people’s first thoughts of the name “Dylan” soon turned into a Jewish folk singer with incomprehensible lyrics and a terrible singing voice, then into an animated rabbit with acid-head drug fans in the Anglicised version of The Magic Roundabout and now, it seems, among cutting-edge theatre-goers in South East London, into a dog’s name. Though, admittedly, he is a very likeable dog. Probably more likeable than the verbose Welsh bard.

Oh – for the record – The Ten Charmandments is very well worth seeing, though God may disapprove of the name change.

I particularly recommend the sand dance.

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