Tag Archives: eccentricity

The woman who started a fire on an ice floe to hide evidence from the police

The latest missive from this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith has arrived.

She lives on a boat in Vancouver.


Anna Smith took this selfie in Antwerp

Anna Smith – a selfie in Antwerp

Where the Nechako River converges with the Fraser, a woman fleeing the police tried to escape them by jumping onto an ice floe where she lit a fire in a bid to destroy evidence. She was eventually captured by boat.

The ice floes sometimes make it all the way through Hell’s Gate canyon and down here to the Fraser delta. I have never seen any with women on them though.

One year, hundreds of icebergs the size of boxcars came down from the Thompson River. They went past single file, like a train going by… for days.

When the tide changed, it was like a two-lane highway, with the icebergs going slowly past in both directions on the currents. It was fascinating to watch.

There is still a lot of snow on the mountains. The river is still really low. In a few months the freshet will be going and it will probably look like Bangladesh by June. I made friends with a lady from there on the train and when I told her I lived on a boat she looked really upset. I told her it wasn’t that bad.

“What about the snakes?” she asked. “Aren’t you afraid of the snakes?”

“What snakes?” I asked her.

She told me that all the rivers have snakes. I told her there are no snakes in the Fraser and that reassured her a bit, but not completely.

There is a rickety old fishing boat that goes past every spring. It has a hot tub in the back and a naked lady jumping around in it… That happens later on, though.

There is a big cat who lives next door who likes to dart around. He is not the friendly sort and he looks a bit like an ocelot. His name is Bill.

There is a mast lying above the reeds on the riverbank and, in the summer, I like to watch Bill prowling along the mast as if it’s his personal walkway. I take photos of him from my boat. He is very handsome and wild-looking. I don’t know who he belongs to or why he is called Bill.

Speaking of ice floes, did I mention that I’m doing another striptease show at The Penthouse?


There is a rather odd news report about the woman trying to escape the police on the ice floe on YouTube.

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David Beckham and a kinky sex party

A bunch of bananas photographed by Augustus Binu

Bunch of beautiful bananas photographed by Augustus Binu

… and still my post-Edinburgh Fringe vagueness continues…

I was walking along the high street in Borehamwood at lunchtime yesterday when I saw two little boys pointing bananas at each other like they were guns. As I passed by, all I heard was one saying to the other:

“…and your mother’s poo smells like David Beckham.”

I have no explanation for this.

Jason Cook, yesterday. In the case were £50 bookmarks

Jason Cook, yesterday. In the case were personalised £50 bookmarks on sale for £2

I was on my way to the local Tesco supermarket to see Jason Cook signing copies of A Nice Little Earner, the third mostly-autobiographical gangster book in his quadrilogy. Jason has cropped-up in this blog a few times before. He is seriously dyslexic but has written three of these books. A fourth is out soon. His first book There’s No Room For Jugglers in My Circus has sold out and is being reprinted on the back of a re-order from WH Smiths. And that’s not even to mention his children’s book Rats in Space. He is a sign that anyone can turn their life round.

Meanwhile, from near Vancouver, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith reports:

Anna Smith ignores the BBC in Canada

Anna Smith – an everyday story of Canada

I found a thin, paperback-sized piece of yellow plywood floating in the river, with the message ‘E15′ painted on it. I do not think it is a reference to an area of London, but is a marker from a log boom. It has two nails through it, so I might attach it to something.

My phone is still not working despite being inside a bag of red rice. I put the rice bag inside my favorite red hat, but that has not helped.

I also saw a sign today which said: SWORDS INTO PRUNING HOOKS. It was loosely pasted on top of a larger poster advertising a kinky sex party for 400 people to be held on a yacht (location to be announced the day before sailing). It has playpens and cages apparently…. I don’t think I would like to be in a cage at sea with all that going on around me. I could not take a photograph of the poster, because my phone was in the bag of red rice back home.

The streets are awash with pretty, fashionable young women tonight, roaming in packs. It must be something to do with school starting in a couple of days.

Jason Cook’s personalised £50 banknotes - yours for £2

Jason Cook’s personalised £50 banknote bookmakers on sale yesterday – yours for only £2 in cash

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Sex, drugs and thievery in Canada and Scotland… Boredom is so, so subjective

Anna Smith had a red umbrella day

Anna Smith held a red umbrella one day in Vancouver (Photograph by Andrew Sorfleet)

After a suspicious pause, during which I don’t even want to speculate what she might have been up to, Anna Smith – this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent – sent me two photographs.

The first shows her holding a red umbrella atop a sign saying SEX FOR ALL and a red logo with a wheelchair in it. She tells me:

“The photo was taken at the end of our annual Red Umbrella Rally.”

I know no more, dear reader. Anna lives in Vancouver, Canada. It is a foreign country. They do things differently there.

Normal for Glasgow?

Flamenco? Normal for Glasgow?

“The other weird photo,” she tells me, “is of two posters beside each other, one advertising Classical Italian Art from Glasgow Collections with a poster for a flamenco version of Alice and Wonderland. I suppose they do that in Glasgow all the time.”

Her view of the exciting lives led by Glaswegians may have been influenced either by Janey Godley’s Tweets and Periscope videos or by an article Anna read in The Economist declaring how ‘mind-numbingly boring’ Vancouver is.

Anna tells me: “Actually, nobody here gives a shit because they have never heard of The Economist. And I was laughing my guts out because I only read The Economist if there’s no other choice because IT IS SO BORING! Although,” she added, “Vancouver, aside from all the strange people, actually IS pretty boring.

In the boring river, beware of brush wolves

Boring river? Beware of Molly the brush wolf (Photograph by Andrew Sorfleet)

“Look at myself for example. What do I love most about living here? Watching the river flow by.

“The last major uproar in Vancouver was about a plot to close the road on the Burrard Bridge for a massive yoga ‘Be-In’ by people wearing yoga pants, sponsored at enormous cost by the Provincial Government, which is helmed by an idiotic bimbo named Christy Clark, also known as ‘Gidget’.

“Taxpayers became enraged. The Yoga Pants manufacturer’s headquarters are at one end of the Burrard Bridge. I don’t know where its hindquarters are. Then rumours started building that the Russian gas company Gazprom was also involved and the whole thing exploded.”

Drug article in Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Sun headline

On The Province news site, Premier Christy Clark announced that the event on 21st June would be live-streamed online “for the world to witness.”

She told members of the public: “Bring your yoga mat, bring your best yoga poses, get on the bridge and make a statement about who British Columbia is.”

I have to say that, closing a bridge to do this, does not make Vancouver seem boring. Mildly eccentric, yes. But boring, no. And, to undercut the boring image even more, Anna tells me:

“In the headlines here are the ever growing number of marijuana storefronts. There are more dispensaries in Vancouver than the entire rest of Canada. The dispensaries are supplied by illegal drug gangs.

“Also, medical marijuana users battled against the federal government in The Supreme Court of Canada and won their right to imbibe THC in whichever form they choose – cigars, salves, oils, cookies, cake or pizza.

“I was on my boat, listening to the radio, when the decision came through. The CBC announcer said joyfully: “Canadians are now free to partake in whatever form of marijuana they choose, including suppositories! This will really open the floodgates!”

Notice on tree in Vancouver about a dangerously violent man

Notice on tree in Vancouver about a dangerously violent man

Anna lives on a boat in Vancouver.

“I was up on the road two marinas upriver,” she tells me, “saying to a man: Did you notice that our marina has ‘ WANTED ‘ signs up?

“The signs said: WARNING. VIOLENT AND ON DRUGS. IF YOU SEE HIM TELL HIM TO LEAVE!!! IF HE DOES NOT? CALL THE POLICE!!!

“Then another man came up and said: That’s my son. He’s NOT wanted. I keep moving and he keeps finding me.

Meanwhile, back in what still remains for the moment the UK, today’s Scotsman newspaper reports:

The remote Hebridean island of Canna has been targeted by thieves for the first time in half a century – with the culprits making off with woolly hats, coffee, biscuits and beauty products.

Uamh Rìgh Lochlainn, grave of the king of Norway, on Canna (Photograph by Peter Van den Bossche)

Uamh Rìgh Lochlainn, grave of the King of Norway, on Canna (Photograph by Peter Van den Bossche)

The theft on the idyllic island… has left the tiny population of only 22 stunned… The crime, committed between 8pm on Friday and 8am on Saturday, is believed to be the first on the remote island since a wooden plate was stolen in the 1960s. 

Boredom is a comparative and subjectively-used word. A Norwegian king lies buried on Canna. Well, so it is said. There is no archaeological evidence for the claim, but it is a story that maybe brightens up the bleak winter evenings.

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Remembrance of blogs past – More penis hammering and political nudity

A week ago, I posted a blog in which comic Louise Reay remembered an early gig in which a member of the audience got up and asked: “If I hammer a nail into my penis, can I get free entry to this club night for the rest of the year?” He was told: “Yeah! Sure!” So he hammered a nail into his penis – twice.

Comedian Erich McElroy now tells me: “I was there that night of the nailing – I was actually the act after the first attempt at nailing. The irony is that he did it to get free tickets, but it was a free entry show.”

A couple of days ago, I included in my blog a YouTube clip of comedian Malcolm Hardee standing in the 1992 UK General Election.

On Facebook, Mike Croft posted:

“I remember this day well because Malcolm suckered me into signing his candidacy application which made me his seconder/guarantor. I was a DJ at his club at the time. I glibly signed in the Up The Creek (comedy club) office and thought nothing further about it until election night when, as guarantor, I was expected to attend Woolwich Town Hall and oversee the vote count.

“I thought it would take half an hour or so but it took ALL BLOODY NIGHT! It didn’t help that I was a little (ahem) chemically altered and I was horrified realising that my role was seen as rather serious (and I was off my thruppennies).

“What this clip does not show is the frantic couple of minutes before the cameras went live to the nation for the count, when Jane (Malcolm’s wife) spotted that he had stripped naked and was lurking in the wings to take his butt nekkid place on the grand staircase of the Town Hall as the nation watched. We wrestled him to the ground and into his clothes JUST in time.”

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“One of the men tried to remove his rival’s testicles with a bottle opener”

After yesterday’s blog, in which Louise Reay told the true story of a man banging a nail into his penis – as is the way when I have no time to write a considered and/or transcribed blog – today we have a hodge podge of glimpses into human life in 2015.

  • World Naked Gardening Day

    If you cultivate roses, you should always beware of little pricks

    On Facebook, comedy fan Sandra Smith informed me that today is the 10th annual World Naked Gardening Day. According to NBC’s Today programme in the US, the event “celebrates weeding, planting flowers and trimming hedges” naked. The event’s own website suggests: “freehikers can pull invasive weeds along their favorite stretch of trail. More daring groups can make rapid clothes-free sorties into public parks to do community-friendly stealth cleanups.”

  • Yesterday, Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards judge Claire Smith told me that, at the Brighton Fringe, feisty 81-year-old Californian cabaret act and comic Lynn Ruth Miller has a new double act going with the owner of a fish and chip shop in Brighton. – “He supplies the fish and chips, she supplies the customers with wit and repartee. She is also holding an exhibition of her paintings in the chip shop.”
Anna Smith - Bobby The Duck

Bobby The Duck  + bandaged foot

  • From Vancouver, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith e-mailed me with her news: “Today I saw Bobby the Duck (previously mentioned in this blog back in October last year) and he has a sore webbed foot. Meanwhile, the fraud trial of Mike Duffy has started. He is a senator accused of crimes like spending too much public money on makeup. And Conni Smudge is hosting a weekly gay bingo night at Celebrities night club on Davie Street. Conni’s full name is Convenient Smudge and she seems to have a preference for blue balls. We have also been warned that planes are going to be spraying us with insecticide this morning.
  • Meanwhile, in London last night, I went to see a run-through of Charmian Hughes’ new show – When Comedy Was Alternative (The Laughs and Loves of a She-Comic) – which, in its present form, is a smörgåsbord of previously untold comic tales of Malcolm Hardee’s Tunnel Club, Teletubbies’ Tinky Winky, Arthur Smith, Sean Hughes and the Glastonbury Festival.
  • At Charmian’s read-through, I chatted to comedy scriptwriter Mark Kelly. He told me that, at a recent South Coast gig, he had seven copies of his most recent book of poetry stolen. Neither of us could figure out if this was a bad or (in publicity terms) a good thing.
  • “Sandra

    Sandra Smith (right) on QE2 ocean liner about 45 years ago

    Then, this morning, back home in Borehamwood, I got another e-mail from comedy fan and this blog’s South Coast correspondent Sandra Smith about her days working on cruise ships. She told me: “I used to work in the dining room with a waiter called Billy. One morning, towards the end of service, he asked me to give him the very heavy silver coffee pot that I was holding. I watched him pour out the coffee, then saunter across the dining room to where the Assistant Head Waiter was having breakfast. Billy hit him around the head with the coffee pot several times, until he fell forward unconscious. Billy then came back to where I was standing transfixed and said: Sorry if I scared you, Sandy, but he’s been on my back. Within moments, several Masters at Arms appeared and Billy picked up a knife, but he was eventually overpowered and taken away. I never saw him again. On another occasion, two men were in competition for the attentions of a third. So one of the men tried to remove his rival’s testicles with a bottle opener.

And this is the final version

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In L.A., The Dirty Girls plan a Funny Farty Yoga Party without Mr Methane

Mr Methane performs Frozen

Mr Methane performs Let It Go as a service to all the parents

Don’t ask.

I have had no time to write a blog today and I won’t before midnight.

Don’t ask.

So what follows is what happens when I don’t have time to write a blog before midnight.

Yesterday, I forwarded to my chum Mr Methane (the world’s only professional performing farteur) a piece which says that new research by the University of Exeter suggests smelling farts may be good for your health and may, indeed, prevent cancer. The study, published in the Medicinal Chemistry Communications journal, found that the hydrogen sulphide gas in rotten eggs and flatulence could be a key factor in treating diseases.

Dr Mark Wood was quoted as saying that, while hydrogen sulphide gas is harmful in large doses, this new study suggests that “a whiff here and there has the power to reduce risks of cancer, strokes, heart attacks, arthritis and dementia by preserving mitochondria.”

Mr Methane, a man with a high threshold of “nothing much happening here”, replied to my missive thus:

“Hope you are well. Nothing much happening here. I did a rendition of Let It Go from Frozen which has gone down really well on my Facebook page, I must have struck a chord with all the parents out there who are sick of it. It is quite an epic performance and includes some of the most powerful farts I have ever delivered.”

He then added, intriguingly: “I have had an invitation from The Dirty Girls to join them in Venice Beach, California, for some Funny Farty Yoga Party on Sunday 15th March. I think they possibly think I am another eccentric Brit living in Beverly Hills just down the road from Simon Cowell or Robbie Williams, as that is where all the eccentric showbusiness Brits live, it being the entertainment capital of the world as opposed to Macclesfield.”

The Dirty Girls’ website

The Dirty Girls in Los Angeles – reaching out to Mr Methane

The Dirty Girls’ invitation to Mr Methane read:

“We are creating a funny, laughter-filled yoga event in order to introduce yoga to skeptics and to the Los Angeles Girls’ Club. We would love to have some farts performed during the yoga session. Is there any way to partner with you for our event?”

Mr Methane’s reaction to me was: “I think the Funny Farty Yoga Party will have to blow into Venice Beach without me, which is a shame really as I imagined myself starting a new farting fitness based career like that American Leo Sayer lookalike who was always on Jay Leno doing his OTT fitness routines. I can’t remember his name but he was in a few movies as well: Beverley Hill Cop I think.”

As a result of reading this I, of course, got in touch with ‘Amber’ in Los Angeles, who is helping to organise the Funny Farty Yoga Party. She sent me a press release:

“Dirty Girls Project is a new media platform devoted to the promotion of empowered, badass women of all ages. We create original content, synergistic partnerships and produce collaborations (both digital and physical) around topics such as art, adventure, fashion, entrepreneurship – the bad, the rad and the weird.”

Brussels Sprouts High Five

Brussels Sprouts High Five live!

Of the Funny Farty Yoga Party, the press release says: “The purpose of our event is to create a really fun, approachable environment demystifying the elite reputation of the yoga world… Dirty Girls Project is teaming up with ambassador Courtney Barriger from Brussels Sprouts High Five… BSHF has worked with The Midnight Mission, St. Francis Center, YWCA, Free Arts for Abused Children and has run a shoe drive for Kochi India.”

No, I have no idea what a shoe drive is either.

Brussels Sprouts High Five have a Facebook page which explains: “We are a volunteer army in the city of Los Angeles,” and exhorts:  “Join us in the kitchens, the housing projects, and on the streets.”

The Funny Farty Yoga Party press release continues: “The event will kick off with a laugh therapy session to break the ice, then we move into a guided yoga session. The crowd will include a diverse group of people from all walks of life, to express that yoga is for everyone. We will have a Native American flute player during the yoga.”

I have sent Amber my Skype details.

I feel, as this all happens eleven days hence, there may be more news of the Funny Farty Yoga Party in this blog. And, indeed, more of Mr Methane. He tells me:

“I’m working on Boyzone – No Matter What – as my follow-up to Let It Go, It will be either a Fart Friday or Windy Wednesday upload sometime soon.”

The Dirty Girls’ video Jungles of Bitches is on Vimeo.

I feel I live a comparatively very humdrum life.

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William Shatner becomes matchmaker for Janey Godley’s daughter + goat foam

Sometimes, some questions are better left un-asked.

Yesterday, I saw a Tweet from William Shatner (yes, he of Star Trek fame) to his 2.04 million Twitter Followers about my chum Janey Godley’s daughter Ashley. It read: Wanted: One decent boyfriend for @ashleystorrie. Aristocrats preferred. Enquiries and credentials to: @JaneyGodley

WilliamShatner_JaneyGodley_Tweet_CUT

The thought of Janey Godley’s bloodline entering the British aristocracy has its good points and its bad points.

Yesterday evening, I had to take my eternally-un-named friend to the Accident & Emergency Unit at Lewisham Hospital. Nothing life-threatening: just a bad fall and possible rib fracture. This was bad news and good news.

No X-ray. They don’t do anything for rib fractures. Just muscle damage presumed and it takes maybe six weeks of pain before it mends itself.

There have been stories of the breakdown of the British A&E system and waiting “only” four hours to be seen if you are lucky. In fact, it only took 50 minutes to see the first medical person and 70 minutes to see the main doctor. So around two hours in all. Either we were lucky or my standards are falling. Presumably if my eternally-un-named friend’s arm had been hanging off and pouring blood, it might have been faster.

But the late A&E visit and an early-ish start today means a quick blog.

Luckily, when I got home at 2.00am last night, an unprovoked e-mail from Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent, was waiting for me. Here it is:


Hi John,

The Penthouse, Vancouver

Penthouse strip club,  Vancouver

This isn’t really a story, but the marquee in this picture – SOMEONE HAS GOT TO DIE – caught my attention yesterday. (Today it has gone back to normal.) The Penthouse was the best strip club in Vancouver for many years. It is now one of the only ones left. I enjoyed working at The Penthouse in the late-1970s and mid-1980s. The owner, Joe Filippone, was shot to death. There is a good book about the place by Aaron Chapman called Liquor, Lust and The Law. They sell the book at the club. I liked working there – good food, good dressing room, good stage, good money… and Italians are good to work for in that capacity. They have plenty of women around, so they don’t act like there’s a shortage.

Adam Taffler, underground entrepreneur (Photograph by Kirsty Burge)

Adam, the object of Anna’s admiration… (Photograph by Kirsty Burge)

I have never met Adam Taffler (whose grandfather was a strongman and who has occasionally appeared in this blog) but I can relate to him. Especially the lady lifting. I used to lift up ladies all the time when I was 17. I don’t know why. I enjoyed grabbing women around the hips or waist and lifting them a few feet off the ground. Of course I asked them first. Most of them said Yes, and they thought it was fun,. Nobody had ever done it to them before. But, until I read about Adam”s grandfather, I had no idea that I could have made a career out of it.

And the fact that Adam’s granddad was in those sea spectacles… My first job in a club involved sitting on a swing that came down from the ceiling on chains. A bouncer would lower the swing, I would get on and then he would push a button and the swing wound up, up, up. I would pretend to be tipsy and everyone would wonder if I would fall off. I like those basic things like lighting and machines and costumes. I have always had an enjoyment of that kind of stuff… fake waves, hoisting machinery, mermaid tails lying around in dressing room closets…

Anna Smith - Does Adam Taffler have any helpful hints on how to keep my mouth shut ?

Photo of a previous incarnation of our Canadian correspondent  Anna Smith Her suggested caption is: Does Adam Taffler have any helpful hints on how to keep my mouth shut? (Adam runs silent dating events)

I found a mermaid tail on the floor of  the closet of the dressing room at the Gargoyle Club in London. Nobody used the closet because the centre of the room had long rails made of plumbing pipe to hang our costumes on. There were hundreds of empty hangers dangling on the plumbing pipe rails with shreds of 1960s and 1970s costumes trailing off them. This was in the 1980s. Our costumes were more minimal of course.

Also, didn’t Adam Taffler do things with goats?

Goats are very clean and intelligent. I thought a pygmy goat would be good for sailing – so I could make foam for the espresso. It’s just a fantasy of mine. I spent my entire adult life avoiding that white powder people put into coffee because I thought it was poisonous and made out of petroleum. But, a couple of years ago, I tried it and it’s delicious. It’s like ketchup. I didn’t know what it was and it looked so bloody. I had no idea what it tasted like.

Goats are like actors. They delight in the sound of their own feet, so they would like running around the deck of a wooden boat.


I have little-to-no understanding of how Anna would extract foam from pygmy goats but, as I said at the start of this blog, sometimes, especially with Anna, some questions are better left un-asked.

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