Tag Archives: deep-vein thrombosis

Comedy news: Martin Soan is a fool; Viv Soan in court; Matt Roper mugged

BBC photo of Martin at the fool show

BBC photo of Martin the fool, but he is no fool on payment.

After my ongoing jury service yesterday, I went to the Pull The Other One comedy club run by Vivienne and Martin Soan only to find out that Vivienne has also been called up to do jury service next month.

Perhaps the court system was in awe of her husband Martin who, last weekend, was crowned “official fool” at the annual International Jesters’ Tournament at Muncaster Castle in the Lake District and who receives an annual salary in beer. (Martin is clearly no fool.)

Miss Behave showed her class last night

Miss Behave was showing her class last night

Last night, Pull The Other One had an even more extraordinarily varied bill than normal with the utterly brilliant Men In Coats doing their visual gagathon, the surreal Cheekykita doing whatever it was she was doing (that’s a compliment), Mr Susie getting bigger laughs than most comics by simply holding up one-word gags on cards and close harmony trio Totes Awes strutting their thing.

Topping the bill were Owen O’Neill and Miss Behave, the latter of whom confirmed, much to my relief, that she is hosting the increasingly prestigious annual Malcolm Hardee Awards at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, as well as staging her own Game Show and helping Bob Slayer run the new Bob’s Bookshop venue.

Owen O’Neill needed no redemtion

Owen O’Neill needed no redemption last night

I suspect the hottest show on the Fringe, though, will be The Shawshank Redemption which Owen adapted for the stage and which will star a cast including Omid Djalili, Phil Nichol and Ian Lavender (of Dad’s Army).

Throughout yesterday (when not in court) I was having a staggered e-conversation with comedian Matt Roper. It went along these edited lines:

Me: The last time my blog readers heard of you, you were in a wheelchair in Saigon… then you were getting wet in Burma and ultrasound scanned in a Bangkok hospital. So, for the sake of any future eBook readers if nothing else, what happened with the deep vein thrombosis you had?

Matt: It’s gone. Now we just have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Drugs, drugs, drugs. (dribble).

Me: You mean by taking drugs in the future?

Matt: Yes, of course. To keep me from getting a recurring deep vein thrombosis. I don’t do drink, drugs or anything these days. Tucked up in bed at 11.00pm wearing my compression socks, sipping a glass of water. Thirty-six and waiting for God. My pee is so clean I could drink it.

Me: Too much information. What happened about the calcification in your flesh which they found in Bangkok?

Matt: Harmless, they now tell me.

Me: Where did you go and what did you do betwixt Bangkok and Blighty?

Mcleod Ganj in the Himalayas

Mcleod Ganj in the Himalayas – storms & mugging monkeys

Matt: Went to India… Delhi, then a train journey up to the foothills of the Himalayas and the town of McLeod Ganj. It’s an old British settlement given to the Tibetan community-in-exile when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959. Lovely place. I like being up by the mountains. We had some terrific storms. McLeod Ganj nestles about 5,000 feet above sea level. You have large eagles swooping down in the valleys BENEATH you and snowcapped peaks above. Magic. No bizarre people involved, but I did nearly get mugged by a monkey – all for a bag of samosas.

Me: Where are you at the moment?

Matt: I’m out the back of a pub in south London on the set of a short comedy film I’m making with Charlie Henniker and Susan Husband called Knock Knock. Then tomorrow (Saturday) I fly to Cape Town for the comedy festival there. As Wilfredo.

Me: What part are you playing in the film?

Matt: Ironically, a drinker in a pub.

Me: You had to cancel your own Edinburgh Fringe show because of your medical problems earlier in the year. Are you popping up to the Fringe at all in August?

Matt: I hope so…

Matt Roper in his Parkinson’s Disease teeshirt

Matt Roper in his Parkinson’s Disease teeshirt

Me: And are you going to do a show sooner or later about your worldwide exploits and medical mayhem?

Matt: Yes!

Me: Have you got any photos that cover the answers to any of the above?

Matt: No. But I have got one of me wearing a t-shirt to support (the American comic) Rick Shapiro in his Parkinson’s awareness campaign. But Rick Shapiro is another blog entirely…

Me: Yes it is.

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Kim Jong-Il dies and the world’s most travelled man does not believe in jet lag

(A version of this blog was published by the Huffington Post)

Kim Jong-il, the Dear Leader of North Korea died two days ago; it was only announced today.

I went to North Korea in 1986, when his father Kim Il-sung, the Great Leader was still in power.

Now his youngest son Kim Jong-un has been announced as the Great Successor.

There is no way I am writing about North Korea today except to say it is the most interesting country I have ever been to.

However, I will admit I was pleased-as-punch last week to meet Fred Finn, who is officially the world’s most travelled person. He has been in the Guinness Book of Records since 1983 and has now flown 15 million miles – the equivalent of 31 trips to the moon. He made 718 trips on Concorde and always sat in the same seat – 9a – because, he told me last week, “It was the first row to be served from the back galley, so I got served first and, before I got on, the crew used to put a little kettle under my seat with Dom Pérignon in it. They used to change it three times during the flight, so I got a bottle-and-a-half of DP for my lunch on the way to New York.”

Fred has visited 139 different countries but not – and it made me feel good to hear this – North Korea.

“I don’t really want to go there,” he says.

And why should he?

“I’ve been held hostage in Iran during the Revolution,” he told me, “I’ve had bombs on board and I’ve landed without the wheels down.”

I met Fred in Esher one morning last week, although his current home is actually in the Ukranian city of Komsomolsk.

It was very cold in Esher last week, so Fred persuaded a local pub which was closed to open just for us so we could have a seat. He is very persuasive. (We did not drink until the pub officially opened and, then, we only had a cup of tea.)

In his youth, Fred was a professional cricketer. Later, he advised Richard Branson on the start-up of Virgin Atlantic. He also helped arrange Mikhail Gorbachev’s lecture tour of the UK, Sarah Feruson’s charity trips to Kenya and was a friend of country singer Johnny Cash. Any man who can tell first-hand anecdotes about Adnan Khashoggi is someone I will always happily have tea with in a pub in Esher.

Fred is currently a roving ambassador for the Euro 2012 football tournament and for Ukranian International Airlines.

Indeed, Ukraine Airlines are soon to start an online magazine called Fred Finn Destinations.

But the strange thing is, with 15 million flying miles under his belt, Fred does not believe in jet lag.

“I don’t believe in it at all,” he told me. “You never got jet lag on Concorde and you went through five time zones.

“I believe that, if you sit in a flying aluminium tube for over five hours, you get dehydrated, your eyes get dry and your skin gets dry and you get tired because of this. I’ve found that, if you keep water – a little spring water spray – on your eyes and face, you don’t get jet lag.”

“But it’s not jet lag,” I said. “Really, it should be called time-zone lag.”

“Well, it’s a ‘tired’ lag,” said Fred. “But I don’t get it. When I get on a plane, I set my watch to the time zone I’m going to and I eat accordingly.

“When I get off the plane, I stay up until the local going-to-bed time and then I sleep well and I get up in the morning like nothing happened. I know that works for me, because I was doing it every week for Christ knows how many years.”

“But,” I said, “if you fly from London to Beijing, your body clock is all out of kilter.”

“But is it?” he asked. “I didn’t get that.

“You should also take into account, if you’re flying to China, how long your day has been. You are putting in a day and a half on a long-haul flight but, if you keep yourself moisturised and live in the time zone you are going to…

“Some people get on a flight from London to New York in the morning and they eat breakfast. I won’t take breakfast leaving London because it is lunchtime in New York – so I eat as if it were lunchtime. By the time I get to New York, I’ve already lived in that time zone for six or eight hours – the flight is around six hours in one direction and eight in the other because of the jet stream – it changes in March and November.”

“There’s so much hype about so-called jet lag and about deep-vein thrombosis on long haul flights

“I wrote an article 25 years ago called Aerial Isometrics.

“It’s about how to sit in your seat and do exercises without anybody seeing you. Just by clenching the muscles in your leg. And that stops the problem. People said there was no such thing. Then they started selling socks to stop it and there was a big deal about it.”

I am not sure about jet lag, but who am I to argue with the world’s most travelled person? I do know I was once on a long-haul flight where I got three breakfasts because it was breakfast time in each time zone when we were due to have a meal. That really confused my body.

I suspect it was cheaper for the airline than serving lunches or dinners.

We live in an uncertain world.

But I do know for certain that the ice cream in North Korea was very good.

Though I would – of course – expect nothing less in a People’s Paradise.

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