There are always stories and incidents which do not fit comfortably in my normal daily blogs and get lost like tears in rain, as Rutger Hauer might say.
This week, amongst other things:
I went to the last ever Mat Ricardo’s London Varieties show at the Leicester Square Theatre which started with the unbilled Heather Holliday walking on stage with a stick and a plate. She used the stick to spin the plate.
Then an assistant came on stage with a sword and a hula hoop.
Heather replaced the stick with the sword, spinning the plate on the sword’s hilt, then dropped the sword’s blade down her upturned throat – while still spinning the plate – and started hula hooping.
And THAT was just the start of an extraordinary show.
It should be a TV series.
On the same night at Leicester Square Theatre, I saw John Robertson’s The Dark Room again – a preview for his upcoming Edinburgh Fringe run. An amazing show based on his 2012 YouTube hit.
John recently got married in a chicken shed in Australia – I blogged about it – and he and his lovely wife Jo have now re-located from Perth in Australia to Brighton in England. Until they go up to the Fringe, they are living in Jo’s sister’s garage in Brighton.
When they return from Edinburgh, more conventional accommodation has been arranged.
Meanwhile, in surprise news from the Czech Republic, Scots ex-pat Alexander Frackleton, who currently lives there, sent me an e-mail:
“A kangaroo is on the loose in northern Bohemia,” he told me. “It escaped from the backyard of its owner on Tuesday night near the north Bohemian town of Lovosice. The owner found a hole in the fence and realised his pet kangaroo was missing on Wednesday morning after being alerted by the police that a kangaroo had been spotted in nearby villages. Although a number of people are reported to have seen the kangaroo (named Joey), no-one has yet re-captured him and the owner has recruited a friend with a private helicopter to help him look for the marsupial.”
“Keep me up-to-date on this,” I begged him.
“The kangaroo is still on the loose,” he told me the next day, “But two weeks ago, there was a wild boar running around the 10th, 11th & 12th districts of Prague… It took police three hours to catch him and eight policemen to pin him down. There is never a dull moment in the Czech Republic.”
Alex tells me he is looking forward to meeting comedian and So it Goes blog regular Matt Roper in mid August, when he passes through Prague.
“I’m going to take him on an alternative sight-seeing trip,” Alex tells me, “by visiting places and things connected to the old regime – including The Tunnel of Intelligence, which was constructed by political prisoners of the communists during the 1950s. Stuff like that. There is also a museum of Totalitarianism which will probably be the first port of call.”
The same day, back in London:
I had tea with former Fringe Report editor John Park. We had an interesting discussion about the Bible, theology and Roman Catholicism and he told me about a gay whipping club just off Trafalgar Square, merely a short blood-stained crawl from Whitehall.
John has no interest in such things himself but he did know an unhealthy amount about Sir Francis Dashwood’s 18th century Hellfire Club which was held in the caves near High Wycombe.
I was able to tell him about the defence bunker at High Wycombe and the fact that the adorably wonderful but sadly being fast forgotten entertainer Marti Caine used to live there.
In High Wycombe, not in the bunker.
She once told me – truthfully – that she was perfectly happy just being a housewife and Hoovering the living room, but people kept phoning her up offering ludicrous amounts of money to do showbiz things. She was one of the sanest entertainers I ever met. And was dying from cancer. She died in 1995. So it goes.
Which brings us inevitably to:
Malcolm Hardee, who drowned in 2005. So it goes.
A couple of days ago, I blogged about Malcolm and fellow comedian Ricky Grover breaking into a zoo and encountering a silverback gorilla. Comedian John Moloney has now told me a story from many years ago when he was up at the Edinburgh Fringe with Malcolm.
“I was lying in my bed one afternoon with a lovely lady,” John told me, “when Malcolm knocks on the bedroom door and comes in – naked of course, apart from his socks.
“He’s got a tenner in his hand and says to my lady friend, as he waves the tenner in the air: Oy Oy – Show us your tits.
“She says (as she flashes her tits): You can have this one for free.
“Malcolm turns on his heels and says: Oy Oy I’m off for a wank. Sublime.”
“It’s the wearing of the socks that makes that story,” I told John.
“There were wooden floors,” he explained, “so Malcolm didn’t want to get cold – He was always very practical about his masturbation.”
At last night’s Pull The Other One comedy club show in South East London, Martin Soan said to me: “I must tell you the story about Malcolm and the kangaroo.”
“Not another one,” I said.
“You haven’t heard this one,” said Martin.
“I meant Not another kangaroo,” I said.
Martin looked at me, ignored the comment, then told me The Greatest Show On Legs will be performing in Switzerland in December.
“Have you been there before?” I asked, as I know Martin hates flying.
“Yes,” he told me. “I drove there and, at the border, we were stopped and questioned by a very serious-looking Swiss Border Guard. I thought Oh Jesus, we’re in for trouble here! But what he told us was: You will have to wash the car before you can come into the country. They are very clean, the Swiss.
Clean but with an occasional taste for filthy things, Kate Copstick, legendary comedy reviewer for The Scotsman newspaper and a Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards judge since they started, this week got an e-mail from comedy group Late Night Gimp Fight, drawing her attention to their scantily-clad video attempt on YouTube to curry favour with her. See it HERE
I can only dream of such honey traps and not involving other men.
Yesterday was a sad day in South East London. The Emporium vintage clothes shop in Greenwich – which supplied Malcolm Hardee with many of his clothes – is closing tomorrow, though it will continue online.
Co-owner Jonathan Hale was arranging everything – the shop has been there for 27 years.
But Greenwich’s loss may be Hollywood’s gain, as Jon and partner Jacki Cook can now turn their attention more to their successful movie costume business.
Good news, though, came in the form of a section of that chat I had with Ricky Grover a couple of days ago. It was in a section which I did not include in my previous blog.
I had read that he had been diagnosed with diabetes.
“There’s a two-hour BBC TV show coming on called Long Live Britain,” he told me. “It was originally called Secret Killers but they changed the title.
“They had three of us so-called celebrities.
“We done a couple of tests and it showed up that I had Type 2 diabetes and I had a bit of scarring (fibrosis) on me liver. But they’re reversible things. I’m not on any medication.”
“You don’t need injections for the diabetes?” I asked.
“No, that’s more Type One,” Ricky told me. “If you get anyone who’s middle-aged and overweight like me and you do tests… I’m only a little borderline over.”
“I had a BUPA test two years ago,” I told Ricky, “and they found I had the lungs of a 38-year-old. I had another BUPA test a couple of months ago and they said I had the lungs of a 39-year-old. The bad news is he wants them back. But enough about me.”