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Sex and wood – Behind Milton Keynes’ respectable facade lies a wanton tale

The desk with a bit of a history

The desk with a history from the new town of Milton Keynes

My eternally-un-named friend has problems with her knees and a doctor last week suggested to her that one thing she could do is sit on a table high enough to swing her legs backwards and forwards for periods.

But how can she do this? Chairs are too low – her feet obviously touch the ground and preclude the free-swinging of her legs. And my dining table is not quite high enough and either has obstructing leaves when the sides are down or is not strong enough to sit and swing her legs on when the table is fully-up.

So she decided to buy a 29-inch high, 24-inch wide old-fashioned school desk on eBay.

Thus I found myself driving to Milton Keynes last night to collect it after my jury service. No great problem, as I am a great admirer of Milton Keynes. One thing I like is that all the main roads are on a grid system and are both named and numbered. They have numbers like H3 or V4 (H for Horizontal on the grid; V for Vertical).

It is a very logical place, Milton Keynes.

The old-fashioned school desk was being sold by a couple who told us they were “downsizing” and had to get rid of belongings.

While the man and I put the school desk in the back of my car, my eternally-un-named friend chatted to the woman.

As we drove away, my eternally un-named friend laughed to me: “You have no idea!”

“About what?” I asked.

“About the conversation I just had with that woman,” she explained. “It was her desk. I asked her How long have you had it? and she said Oh, not for long… I used it for classroom re-enactments.

“I thought she must mean theatre, because I know they sell wartime suitcases on eBay for re-enactments of children being evacuated to the countryside during the War. I was thinking Does she do plays? because I know people go round to schools doing re-enactments of Charles I’s beheading or whatever.

“But then I thought That’s a bit odd. People go round schools doing re-enactments, but why would you go round schools doing re-enactments of schools?

“If I’d said Do you mean theatre? and she’d said Oh yes, I put on these plays about the 1950s at school and there’s this play wot I wrote I would have thought that was normal.

“But, when I said to her Do you mean theatre? she looked at me oddly and told me Oh, some people like doing punishments and then – I don’t know if she was toning it down by then – she said Some people like writing out lines. But people don’t… surely… well, I don’t know? Do they? Do people write out lines? My encounters with people who… who… with…”

“Bank managers wearing short trousers,” I said, trying to be helpful.

“I don’t know…” said my eternally-un-named friend. “I’ve gone into mental meltdown… What on earth is everyone up to?… It’s like the Daleks in the wrong force field.”

“Daleks in the wrong force field.?” I asked.

“You know,” she said, “when they’ve seized up because they’ve met stairs or something… You were over there chatting to that guy and I was chatting to her thinking What are these people up to here in Milton Keynes? They assume everyone knows about re-enactments.

“They weren’t boring,” I said, “but they seemed very ordinary. They were ordinary people in an ordinary house in an ordinary street in an ordinary area of an ordinary town.”

“Well,” said my eternally-un-named friend, “not an ordinary town. It now turns out everyone we’ve met here is very proud of Milton Keynes. Everyone is all very happy living in Milton Keynes – They were very happy working in that new Waitrose supermarket at V10 and H7. But there’s a vague part of me thinking they’re all leading a Stepford Wives type of existence. I’m not quite sure. They’re all quite jolly.”

“Perhaps it’s the schoolroom re-enactments that keep them young at heart,” I suggested, trying to be helpful.

“Well,” said my eternally-un-named friend, “she also said We’re moving soon and I’m giving up a lot, but he’s giving up even more – as if I knew what that meant… I have no idea what the hell she was on about. I have no idea if they were father or daughter or what was going on there.”

A look inside the very highly experienced desk

A look inside the very highly experienced and very nice desk

When we got the desk home, my eternally-un-named friend enthused: “It’s a lovely colour! And all for under a tenner!”

“Are there any stains you can see?” I asked. “Blood or otherwise.”

“I feel like I’ve rescued it,” she replied, ignoring the question.

“A poor innocent desk,” I said.

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Day Five of Malcolm Hardee Week – the perils of publicity stunts

Well, at last night’s Malcolm Hardee Award Show, there was a change of plan when we found out we had been successfully conned by Bob Slayer who masterminded the ‘Cockgate’ publicity stunt for Kunt and the Gang – in which Kunt’s penis stickers were put on other acts’ posters throughout Edinburgh…..

Personally, I never rated the basic stunt itself. If you are trying to raise awareness of an act called Kunt… really, do not spread penis stickers all over Edinburgh, especially if they do not have the name of the act/show on and just one of those little square things which smartphones can read but which, in fact, no-one noticed. It’s like promoting 101 Dalmatians by putting blank stickers of the outline of a cat all over the place.

Then there was the racing certainty that it would annoy all the other acts, promoters and venues which had paid for and put up the posters. I was told that one promoter has spent £36,000 on Edinburgh Fringe posters for a particular act. If you deface their posters, it ain’t surprising they are going to be a tad pissed-off.

To my mind, the whole concept of ‘Cockgate’ was cock-eyed and against the basic spirit of the Fringe. The acts (who ultimately pay for everything) are having a bad enough time at the Fringe already without some plonker coming along defacing their marketing tools.

There is much truth in the idea that the posters festooning Edinburgh are promoting promoters not acts but, ultimately, they are building awareness of acts even if they are not putting extra bums on seats; and every act – even one perceived to be successful – is struggling in some way. Showbiz careers are frail facades of mirrors and smoke.

So why did Kunt and The Gang get nominated for the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for best publicity stunt promoting a performer or show at the Fringe?

Basically, because – as the nomination said – Kunt (or, rather, Bob Slayer) managed to push the basic sticky penis stunt way beyond what seemed possible. There were tales about agents, managers and promoters threatening people legally, physically and financially; there were humorous quotes from Edinburgh Council officials about seizing and pulling off cocks; there were tales of the outrage caused; and there were photocalls with comedians far more famous than Kunt sporting the iconic penis stickers.

The stunt itself was a load of balls. The handling of and the spin put on the stunt was a work of art.

There was talk among the Malcolm Hardee Award judges of awarding the Cunning Stunt trophy to Bob Slayer instead of Kunt, but the’ Cockgate’ publicity stunt was no different to PR men Mark Borkowski or Max Clifford creating a buzz about an act. Any prize or box office credit goes to the performer not the PR man/woman.

So the nomination went to Kunt and was only slightly wobbled when Kunt sacked Bob Slayer as his PR man in this e-mail which Bob Slayer posted on his website and which I included in my blog yesterday:

Kunt has sacked me


Dear Bob

Sorry to have to tell you by email but I don’t want you doing anything else on the cock sticker campaign. As much as I appreciate the other comedians turning out for the photocalls that you organised, I didn’t want to be in the photos and you convinced me against my better judgement that it would be a good idea. I’ve seen the resulting photos and I look more awkward than Jade Goody’s mum on a juggling course. Also I’m getting grief off my bird after you made me put that sticker on Kate Copstick’s jumper and some cunt took that photo which is now doing the rounds that looks like I’m titting her up.

I know you were doing what you thought best but the reason I don’t do any press releases is because I know who my audience is and they find us naturally through the internet or word of mouth. They are proper people like bricklayers, carpet fitters, shop workers, central heating engineers, students and drug dealers. Since you took it upon yourself to ‘help’ with my cock sticker campaign, coverage in po-faced luvvie mags like The Stage has meant the shows have been increasingly full of pompous, middle class, chin-stroking ponces. For fuck’s sake, the poxy Culture Show have even been in!

In the last seven days since you helped ‘mastermind’ the cock campaign I have had more roll-necked twats in cuntish berets sat there with a glass of red wine and laughing ironically than in the previous seven years of gigs. Fuck knows how this has happened because I’d hardly call your act highbrow, I was there the night that bird stuck her finger up your arsehole and pulled it out leaving a rubber glove hanging out your brown eye.

I will buy you a beer when I see you to say thanks for helping us get nominated for the cunning stunt award. But I don’t want you doing anything else. At this rate it’s only a matter of time before Michael fucking MacIntyre turns up covered in cock stickers shouting ‘Where’s the party?’.



P.S. I seriously think you are liable for Daniel Sloss’s agent losing her sense of humour and invoicing us for 900 quid. I told you in confidence that I overheard someone saying that he didn’t have pubes yet, there was no need to go and blog it.


When I first read this, I thought it might be another brilliant piece of spin to keep the ‘Cockgate’ saga spinning even longer but, no, I spoke to Bob Slayer and it was genuine; he was very upset.

Except that he was not.

None of it was true.

The e-mail was a fake and was, indeed, written just to stoke the spin on ‘Cockgate’ even more.

Malcolm Hardee judge Kate Copstick and I were totally taken in. We did not realise we had been conned until we were told by Bob immediately before the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show last night.

His reason for the fake e-mail?

“We wanted to confuse Daniel Sloss’s agent so she didn’t know which one of us to sue.”

What was our reaction?

We gave Kunt his Cunning Stunt Award, but we also gave another Cunning Stunt Award to Bob Slayer for fooling us.

This is a one-off extra award and only because somehow, by accident, I had an extra Cunning Stunt Award made. I do not know how this happened. Clearly senility has hit. I cannot count. I cannot spot PR cons.

Yesterday afternoon was also the deadline for bids on eBay from anyone wanting to buy last year’s Malcolm Hardee Award from winner Robert White, who could do with some hard cash. Yesterday morning, I got an e-mail from Robert:

Dear John

Malcolm came to me in a dream last night and got me to stop this obvious sham of a self-promoting non-real auction and as such the item is no longer for sale. Although I believe you can acquire one of your own by doing the Edinburgh Festival and being mental enough.

Yours with best wishes and God’s blessings,


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Now you can buy yourself a Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award

Last year at the Edinburgh Fringe, comedian Robert White won the increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality. However, it did not make him any money. So he has issued the following press release:



Are you a comedian who’s spent shed loads on a show, but can’t even get a student reviewer from an online blog to return your ‘phone call?… Fancy an award for your efforts in 2011?!

Are you an audience member that thinks some of those comedians are getting too big for their boots and you could do better?… Well, sure darn as like your boat’s come in my friend!

Are you a reviewer, or other such industry person (but NOT a comedian), that’s somehow got above yourself and, thinking you’ve got what it takes to do a show, have stood with your over inflated ego farting into the silence of a dumb-struck audience’s disdain, whilst dying on your red-raw hole night after tedious night of banal non-funny un-witty trite anecdotal vomitage?… Well, look no further! I think I’ve got just the trick!

Are you a man made from cheese living in a house completely of pickle?… Well this is yours for keeps!!!

Are you any person? Are you reading this? Are you you? PLEASE! JUST TAKE IT!!


Comedian Robert White did really well in Edinburgh 2010, but got financially spanked. In order to fund next year, 2012 The Curious Incident, he is taking the drastic action of putting his Malcolm Hardee Award on eBay, at the more than generous starting price of 99p (or you can buy-it-now for £1,000,000)

On eBay 16th-26th August and daily video ads 22nd-26th August (Malcolm Hardee Week at the Edinburgh Fringe)

To bid and for adverts go to www.robertwhitecomedy.com

**** IT COULD BE YOURS !!!!!!****


The direct eBay link until 4.16pm on 26th August 2011 is HERE.

I can’t help but feel Robert is angling for a Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award. Whether he is eligible without a show at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, I have no idea… and I/we make up the rules as we go along.

Well, OK, there are no rules…

Or perhaps he is really trying to prove that, last year, we should have given him the annual Malcolm Hardee ‘Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid’ Award…

Watch this space.

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Outside the Edinburgh Fringe, TV show sleaze and a comedy award for sale

In Edinburgh yesterday morning, I saw President Ahmadinejad of Iran walking purposefully through Bristo Square. But surely this cannot be? All I can think is that a serious President Ahmadinejad wannabe lives nearby.

Later in the day, also in Bristo Square, I watched as a flyerer approached a mother and child with the opening line: “Can I interest you in a show about a tree?”

Ah! – the Edinburgh Fringe!

Outside the cocoon of the Fringe, surprisingly, the world still turns.

Comedian Dave Thompson has just published his novel The Sex Life of a Comedian about which I have blogged before

It is available as a printed book or as an eBook download.

He famously played Tinky Winky (the purple one) in the children’s television show Teletubbies but was equally famously fired for being too gay (which he isn’t) in the role and he is no stranger to the backstage world of television.

His novel is about a stand-up comedian called Doug who “lands a big part in Rats Milk Cheese, a bizarre sitcom… In a world where louche girls romp in dressing rooms, luxury yachts and drug-fuelled orgies, Doug thinks his career has taken off. But show business has a dark side. As the wealth at stake increases, so does the greed of those who want it. At a celebrity sex party, Doug accidentally spurts on a member of the Mafia…”

Dave tells me The Sex Life of a Comedian is only partially autobiographical.

It has only been out a week or so, but already has some impressive admirers:

“It’s funny, it’s gripping and it’s not for the squeamish.” (Ben Elton)

“If you love comedy and/or sex you’ll love this book. My wife caught me reading it and I had to do the washing up for a week.” (Harry Hill)

Also still available as a paperback, a Kindle eBook and an iBook for the iPad is Sit-Down Comedy, the anthology to which Dave contributed a short story with Jim Tavaré. The book had contributions from 19 stand-ups and was edited by me and the late great Malcolm Hardee.

Which inevitably brings me to the Malcolm Hardee Awards.

Show Me The Funny judge Kate Copstick (who is also a Malcolm Hardee Award judge) has already exchanged thoughts with me about acts which might be worth seeing for this year’s Award.

Meanwhile, last year’s winner of the main Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality is not playing the Fringe this year.

Last year, Robert White did well: good reviews, career progression, a Malcolm Hardee Award, new gigs and the industry noticed him. But, he tells me:

“It left me poor: I am not doing Edinburgh this year and instead am releasing some YouTube sketches and selling my Malcolm Hardee Award on eBay.”

You read it first here.

I’ll be interested to see what price he gets for the increasingly prestigious, nay, unique trophy. Unfortunately, the man who was going to do Robert’s publicity has temporarily gone into prison – not for a social visit

“To be honest,” Robert says, “it’s thrown everything up in the air as he was going to do all the social networking etc. He has the Twitter account for a comedy club The Comedy Closet I am starting in central London. His Facebook is gone, I can’t ring him as he is in prison and I do not know exactly his circumstances. I have created some funny video sketches and set up all sorts of stuff and now I just don’t know really. I suppose I am going to have to teach myself Twitter in the space of a week.”

Robert intends to release five comedy sketches on YouTube on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th of this month – to coincide with Malcolm Hardee Week at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Did I mention there is a Malcolm Hardee Week at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe?

At this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, there is a Malcolm Hardee Week.

There, I’ve said it.

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Malcolm Hardee makes money

The November issue of Esquire magazine (on sale now) includes a 6-page colour feature about the late Malcolm Hardee, godfather of British alternative comedy, headlined on the front cover as “NUDITY, BALLOONS AND A WATERY GRAVE – The Life and Death of Comedy’s Ultimate Anarchist”.

The 206-page magazine is on sale in newspaper shops throughout the UK and Ireland for £4.25; or anyone with a surreal and slightly masochistic bent can buy a copy of exactly the same issue for £6.75 on eBay. If I didn’t know better, I would think Malcolm was still alive and doing dodgy deals.

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