(This blog originally appeared in What’s On Stage)
It’s as inevitable as rain at Wimbledon or mud at Glastonbury – things going wrong immediately before the Fringe, just to add to the last-minute pressure and increase my chocolate-eating.
On 16th August, my home phone is moving from BT to O2 and my broadband is moving from Pipex to O2. All arranged – letters from O2, BT and Pipex confirming everything… then, today, a letter and text from O2 saying they’ve cancelled it all. Eventually (after 50 minutes with O2, BT and the mysterious Equifax company), it turns out I’ve suddenly developed a bad credit rating (despite being Mr Squeaky Clean) and O2 have turned me down as untouchable despite the fact I already have my mobile phone with them.
The very dodgy-feeling Equifax credit agency won’t tell me why they’ve given me a bad credit rating without me telling them endless security details about myself over two days – details which they don’t appear to have.
I have a funny feeling this may go back to a bizarre letter I got about a year ago from Littlewoods saying they were going to stop my account because of credit problems. This surprised me as I had never had any account with Littlewoods and it seemed to involve someone ordering goods via my address in North West London for delivery very close to the home of a dodgy South London semi-gangster who appeared in Killer Bitch, the soon-to-be-a-cult-classic movie which I financed.
Dealing with the Chaps has its downsides as well as its upside.
The upside is ease of problem-solving. I once told one of the Chaps about a person who was giving me hassle and he said: “Back of a pillion. Pop-pop-pop. End of your problems.” I declined, though with profuse thanks for the offer.
The downside is you may get your identity stolen and/or end up in a packing crate on a dockside in Albania.
Time will tell with the very unhelpful Equifax – well, the next two days – including tonight when I’m videoing Helen Keen’s late night Camden preview of her Fringe show It Is Rocket Science! V2 and tomorrow when I’m leaving London at 0600 to drive up to Edinburgh with elfin comedian Laura Lexx (she once worked as an elf in Finland) and Helen Keen’s set and props.
Helen Keen’s preview of It Is Rocket Science! V2 last night got a very fast and very good review at lunchtime today, around twelve hours after it finished. An admirable example of the power of modern technology, which is also evident in the release today of a Janey Godley Nokia app for mobile phones.
This clever little app keeps the user updated on the move with what’s going on in the sometimes very very very odd world of “the Godmother of Scottish Comedy”… “Scotland’s funniest woman”… “the most outspoken female stand-up in Britain”. You can check her 500,000-hits-per-week blog (I have seen the figures and think that’s usually an underestimate), watch videos she’s uploaded to YouTube and download the regular podcasts she’s currently making with her daughter Ashley Storrie.
All this techno stuff is enough to make the late ‘godfather of alternative comedy’ Malcolm Hardee turn in his urn. He found even simple e-mails a bit daunting although (unlike me – but who knows what the future holds) he was arrested and imprisoned for credit card fraud. He found it surprising in his latter years that he was bombarded by letters from American Express and other credit card companies offering him gold cards immediately, no questions asked.
Malcolm is in my mind because, last weekend, the Independent on Sunday listed its Top Ten Tips for comedy shows at the Fringe this year. Number One was Aaaaaaaargh! Malcolm Hardee Documentary Preview. It’s possibly the first ever time a film, as opposed to a live performance, has been recommended by a national newspaper as the best comedy event to see at the Fringe.
It’s definitely an event rather than a film, as it involves the screening of a 32-minute documentary The Tunnel (about the notorious comedy club which Malcolm ran), plus the trailer for a longer documentary currently in production: Malcolm Hardee: All The Way From Over There plus a trailer for that longer film. There is a trailer for The Tunnel short itself on YouTube here.
Ah! 21st Century Comedy!