Tag Archives: Joanna Lumley

Shoreditch dreams – Satanic stand-up comedy and Lycra-clad policemen

Perhaps it was the fact I only had two hours sleep the previous night.

But what is it with Shoreditch in London?

It seems to have aspirations to be trendy Islington but its pockets of aspiring Yuppieness have been dropped down into what, at night, seems like a set from a Jack The Ripper film – jet-black stone streets with added 21st century traffic. It’s like King’s Cross but darker and with less investment.

Shoreditch is a dark night-time nether corner of schizophrenic Hackney, where partly-trendy-yet-immensely-downmarket Hoxton meets a corner of Hackney proper and the world that was the Kray TwinsBethnal Green, which now has 1950s Brits intermingled with penniless immigrants who have nothing but hope in two generations time.

And round the corner from all this sit the glass towers and stone solidity of the City of London.

Shoreditch is a very strange place.

The area is like some darkly surreal imagining on the thin border where a dream may or may not turn into a nightmare.

So, a couple of nights ago, I went to Shoreditch after only a couple of hours sleep the previous night with these thoughts in my mind and comedy in my heart.

Yes, I have no fear of bad writing.

I went to see the weekly Cantaloopy Comedy show run by Miss D aka the interesting part-comedian, part serious journalist that is Daphna Baram.

Last time I went, the Cantaloupe pub cat stole the show, meandering across the stage and occasionally finding high points from which to look down disdainfully at the performing comedians.

This time, sadly for me, there was no cat but also, sadly, no headliner Arthur Smith, whose mother had had a bad fall. Daphna reckons I am bad luck when I go to one of her gigs. She may be right.

But the Cantaloopy bill was so choc-a-bloc, the lack of the two main attractions did not damage the show.

One highlight for me was Janet Bettesworth, who is just plain weird and I cannot for the life of me figure out why.  It had nothing to do with my lack of sleep. It has something to do with her Joanna Lumley voice, the dry sometimes almost literary delivery, the unexpected shock of red hair and her extraordinary transformation late in the act into a comedy ventriloquist with Hammer Horror hints. It was like watching a refined relative talk sweetly to you but with a whiff of the Satanic and dark deeds behind the curtains of Middle England wafting from the stage. I began, at one point, to think I must be hallucinating.

Highly entertained and utterly fascinated… but hallucinating.

This can’t be happening, I thought.

Yet it was and I was pleased it was.

I knew it wasn’t my lack of sleep. I had seen Janet Bettesworth before and was equally mesmerised before.

I had never seen David Mills before despite the fact he was recently crowned New Act of the Year – the highly prestigious award formerly known as the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year and proof that something good can occasionally come out of Hackney.

But I was amazed how a totally top-notch professional camp American of this quality had  escaped my radar. Especially as he has apparently lived in the UK for a decade. Much like Maureen Younger being a new act for me at a Pull The Other One gig a couple of weeks ago.

Curiouser and curiouser.

A few weeks ago, someone mistook me for Antipodean intellectual Clive James. At Cantaloopy, David Mills said I reminded him of Shrek. I know which I prefer. But alas I know which is more realistic.

Altogether an unusual night in Shoreditch especially when, on my walk back to the car, I bumped into Noel Faulkner just leaving his Comedy Cafe venue and, after crossing Shoreditch High Street, he became fascinated by the sight of two police cars pursuing a man on a skateboard.

“The guy should just keep going,” Noel said to me. “Police cars will never catch a skateboard.”

When I reached my own car I saw, up an adjacent side street, two policemen and a policewoman milling around in the middle of the road while another two policemen were climbing up on a wall to look over railings into a graveyard.

I wondered what the man had done. Perhaps we are on the cusp of a spate of major skateboard robberies which will be countered by Scotland Yard establishing a Skateboard Squad of Lycra-clad coppers.

Or perhaps I just need more sleep.

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Filed under Comedy, Movies

Lies, damned lies and Census statistics: there are too many foreign immigrants here in Britain…

I wrote a blog a couple of months ago about how Britain is full of immigrants.

Well, last night, I filled in my Census form.

I didn’t mind doing it, but a friend of mine was more incensed than Censused because her father was in the British Armed Forces and they lived in a variety of other countries around the world as well as the UK, employed by Her Majesty’s Government.

My friend was born in Malta. Her brother was born in West Germany.

The Census form, which partly aims to get figures for immigration and to see how many non-Britons are living in the UK, has buggered it up good and proper and the figures on which the government bases its future social policies will be wrong.

The form asks Were you born abroad? There’s no category for British citizens born abroad, let alone the children of British Forces born abroad while their fathers and/or mothers were  sometimes risking their lives for Britain. So an Italian born in Rome will appear in the statistics on an equal footing with a British passport holder born abroad – both will count as foreigners who entered this country to stay here.

The form also asks, in effect, when you first moved to the UK full-time. My friend’s father’s last posting abroad was in West Germany, so the answer to this question might be 1973. Or it might be 1958, a couple of years after she was born and first came ‘home’ from Malta; but that was not permanent residence.

As far as the Census figures will show, she (born in Malta) and her brother (born in Germany) will be two non-British people who became foreign immigrants into the UK.

In fact, by anyone’s standards, they were two British people – technically “Forces’ dependents” – returning to Britain.

And don’t get my friend talking about other ways in which the children of Forces’ personnel are disadvantaged – “I feel like a stranger in my own land,” she says. “Always have done. Probably always will.”

She once applied for a clerical job with a defence industry company in the UK but was turned down – after at first being accepted – because the company said it could only employ people born in the UK.

She presumably counted as a security risk because she was not “British”, despite the fact her British father served in the British Armed Forces and she was born in a British military base.

So these bloody foreigners have been coming over here, stealing our jobs and getting free healthcare for years, haven’t they? Not just children of the British Armed Forces but all those bloody Indian immigrants  – like Cliff Richard (born in Lucknow) and Joanna Lumley (Srinagar).

It’s been going on for years. The place has been inundated by Indian immigrants – There’s that one who starred in Gone With The Wind – Vivien Leigh (born in Darjeeling, lived in Calcutta), comedian Spike Milligan (born in Ahmednagar and he became so pissed-off with not being considered “British” by Whitehall bureaucrats because of his birthplace that he eventually took Irish citizenship)… and then there’s that bloody foreigner LibDem MP Paddy Ashdown (born New Delhi).

They should all have been sent packing back to where they came from. Back to… err… erm…

And let’s not even mention that dodgy cross-dressing comedian bloke from terrorist-friendly Yemen – Eddie Izzard (born in Aden)

Or William Makepeace Thackeray (Calcutta).

So who is British?

Now there’s a question.

One that the Census won’t adequately answer.

In fact, one that the Census figures will mis-represent.

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Filed under History, immigration, Politics, Travel