Over the last four days, I have re-posted anecdotes told about legendary British comedian Malcolm Hardee by other comics in the days following his drowning in 2005.
Here, to round off, are some more memories re-posted from 2005 – from four more comics, plus Malcolm’s lifelong friend Wizo and Malcolm’s partner of 13 years, Pip – interspersed with some video tributes to him over the years (some require you to watch them online at YouTube).
WIZO, lifelong friend – 25th February 2005
We were both sent to Borstal in 1970.
After 3 months, Malcolm said to me: “Wizo, I fancy a sausage sandwich at Blackheath tea stall.”
So we escaped.
We broke into a church, I donned some gardener’s clothes and Malcolm put on the vicar’s robes. We split up and I found my way home and got over to Holland. Malcolm was arrested at 2am waiting at a bus stop outside Huntingdon by two coppers that pulled up and thought That’s funny: a shifty looking vicar with spectacles mended with Sellotape and nicked him again. His great escape lasted two hours. Love his old bollocks…….
KEITH ALLEN, comedian…
JOJO SMITH, comedian – March 9th 2005
Gosh, so many memories. My seventh ever gig was a Sunday night open spot at Up the Creek and, of course, Channel 4 News were filming it cos that week comedy was “the new rock’n’roll”.
I knew sod all about actually doing comedy but, as I died royally on that stage, I began to learn.
Lesson number one was to give up comedy for 6 months! Bad enough dying on my hole without hearing Malcolm say I looked like Pat Butcher!
16 months later I went back. I knew a bit more by this time, tho’ was questioning my own sanity as I sat in the audience watching the other comics, waiting to go on. Thank God the DLR wasn’t built then or I might have bolted back to Notting Hill, but the thought of 2 tubes and 3 buses for nowt made me stay.
I went on and stormed it and felt like the Queen of the World. Afterwards, I told Malcolm I’d given up for 6 months and he said: “Did you a favour then, didn’t I?”
You did, Malcolm, you did me loads of favours: gigs in South Africa, Glastonbury, that mad Uni gig in Scotland with the male and female strippers, Dublin (where I managed to get myself banned for having breasts and talking dirty), interviewing you in the Tartan Taxi for Funny Business, too many drunken, Peruvian nights in Greenwich, so many memories. I am blessed to have known you.
BRENDON BURNS, comedian…
JOHN HEGLEY, comedian/poet – 12th March 2005
Song for Malcolm
The first time ever I saw you
was in a marquee, circa 1980,
you were shaking up some William Shakespeare stuff.
I remember thinking, who’s this man?
I cannot remember, if you wore a ruff.
Certainly not just a ruff.
Funny man from London, south.
Ringmaster and river mouth,
and no trousers, sometimes.
Going down your tunnel,
where the heckling could halt
the process of performance,
your shrug suggested a pinch of salt
is what it should be taken with,
though generally you were more fresh-water.
Funny man and river man,
Oy oy was your shout.
Oy oy’s yo yo backwards,
and you swung it all about.
You didn’t tend
to follow the trend
and you were light
at the tunnel’s end.
JOHN HEGLEY, comedian/poet…
SIMON DAY, comedian/poet – 9th May 2005
i had just stepped off the stage at up the creek, malcom was sitting at the back in that strange bit near the cloakroom. he offered to be my agent then sat down again twitching, his head moving left to right in that strange bird like manner twirling his fag. i of course i said yes.
there followed a terrible, wonderful, extraordinary voyage of discovery underpinned by a lack of new jokes.
no matter what he did people adored him, at the end of the day if you didn’t know him then you missed out if you did know him then inside you there is a little grubby bird which will never stop singing.
HARRY ENFIELD, comedian…
SIMON DAY, comedian – 10th May 2005
i was supporting vic reeves in newcastle, we were staying at the copthorne hotel, a brand new flagship megaplinth, part of the quayside revitalisation which is now in full swing. we were in the bar after the show, malcolm arrived having missed it (he did not care much for jim and bob, thought they were overrated).
earlier in the day malcom had won 8 grand (true) and had a girl with him he was attempting to mount. he was half cut and mistakenly assumed i had gone to my room with a girl he had seen me talking to earlier, he decided it would be highly amusing to inch along the balcony from his room and expose himself to me and the girl. who didn’t exist!
wearing just a dressing gown he climbed out of the window. the icy waters of the tyne swirling 100 foot below, he struggled along for ages finally reaching my room. no doubt he shouted oy! oy! and pressed his balls to the glass. i don’t know.
it was the wrong room. i was fast asleep on the floor above.
on returning to his junior suite he was hurled to the ground by 2 special branch (there was a tory party conference on!)
they wanted to know what the fuck he was doing on the window ledge naked except for a dressing gown. they searched his room and found five thousand seven hundred and sixty quid in a vase on top of the wardrobe and a pack of pornographic playing cards
he was taken to a portokabin nearby where he gave his address as fingal street in greenwich.
all sorts of alarms went off.
it was the former home of a leading member of the i.r.a.
after intensive questioning they decided that he was not a threat to national security – only social security – and off he tottered.
i miss him.
STEWART LEE, comedian…
PIP HAZELTON, Malcolm’s partner of 13 years – 8th November 2005
Giving birth to our first child.
Labour was long and Malcolm needed a fag. On returning he entered the delivery suite to find a group of worried medical staff clustered round the bed. A doctor noticed him hovering by the door and made space for him down at the business end of the bed. Just then the baby appeared to cries of encouragement from the midwife: “Well done, Julie! It’s a lovely little girl!”
Only then did Malcolm realise he had returned to the wrong delivery suite and I was still in labour next door!
I spent the rest of my stay in Greenwich Hospital avoiding chat about our respective deliveries with the girl, Julie, in the bed next to me on the ward.
When our daughter Poppy arrived three years later, I wasn’t well at all and Malcolm astonished everyone – except me of course – by how dedicated a father he was both with young Frank and our new baby.
When we split up after 13 years together, it broke my heart and, with his death, my heart was broken all over again. I never stopped loving him just couldn’t put up with his lifestyle any longer.
I have the best legacy of all – Frank and Poppy.
You loved them so much, Malcolm, and you meant the world to them too.
All my love,
PHIL NICHOL, comedian…
WIZO, lifelong friend – 15th November
It was a hot summers Saturday in June 1968. Malcolm came around my house and said: “Let’s go to the seaside today.”
We had a stolen Mk 2 Jaguar stashed away in Lewisham.
“Let’s go to Margate,” we said.
So off we went, siphoning petrol from a Post Office depot and reeking of petrol.
Later on we found ourselves in The Dreamland amusement park, a most unedifying place full of mods and rockers eying one another off for a punch up. Soon a fight started and the stallholder on the hot dog stall was distracted by the sight of 60 guys bashing one another.
Ever the opportunist, Malcolm jumped over the counter, opened the till and pinched all the money and we shot off to the car that had been parked in an overflow grass car park.
Just as we were leaving in the car, Malcolm set fire to a large box of matches and threw it under another car. The grass was tinder dry and, within a couple of minutes, the whole of the car park was alight. We sat up on the Esplanade watching all this mayhem going on with petrol tanks exploding and fire engines racing to the scene.
We abandoned the car and stole a motor launch from Margate harbour and made our way home up the River, until we broke down at Gravesend – ironically with no fuel.
It’s all a bit quiet without him.
Just as well really. I can only run for 10 metres now.
JOOLS HOLLAND, musician and friend…
FRANK SANAZI, comedian – 25th April 2006
I suggested to Malcolm one evening at his Wibbley Wobbley comedy nights that he should get the worst comedian of the evening and make him/her ‘walk the plank’ off the side of his boat .
“Fucking brilliant,” said Malcolm. “Let’s do it.”
At the end of the night he was a bit too drunk to remember this show finale… Who knows? He may have been worried about having to do it himself..
Ironically, he ended up doing something similar that final day.
I will always remember Malcolm as a genuine top guy and a man who was to comedy what John Peel was to music – discovering new comedians and encouraging them no matter how weird or wacky.
Malcolm also was the conduit (Sorry! I always wanted to be an electrician) between these new comedians and established ones.
One thing’s for certain: we are missing him and his unique style of fun.
He has probably already stolen a couple of halos and re-sold them by now!!
WIZO, lifelong friend – 27th April
It was 1970. I was 19 and had just moved in with a new girlfriend.
Malcolm phoned me up: “Oy! Oy! Fancy a trip to Cornwall, Wizo? Bit of surfing, knob out with posh crumpet and general jigging about?”
“Yes,” I naively said.
Three years later, I came back to London after a whirlwind of stolen cars, bouncing cheques, Dutch drug dealers, Lord Elliot, syphoning petrol, Amanda’s and Felicity’s dose of crabs, cabinet minister’s porn collection, Exeter prison, Borstal, escapes to the continent dressed as a scout, more prison and an English degree. Finally, to round the trip off, a £10 note and a rail warrant home courtesy of H.M. Prisons.
I must say you did get good value when you went on one of Malcolm’s safaris.
He should have started an Alternative Thomas Cook‘s for South East London rascals,. He would have made a fortune rather than giving it all to the bookies. Bless his old cotton socks. He is up there in the eternal Terminus café eating something unhealthy, fiddling with a packet of Benson & Hedges cigarettes, a betting slip and a sure-fire scheme to make money.
How can we possibly forget you?
Shag a few Angels for us, Malc.