Tag Archives: Metropolitan Police

Britain’s Got Talent, farts, pigeon impersonators and PR spin

The ghost of Malcolm Hardee still stalks the world of comedy and speciality acts six years after his untimely drowning.

In 2009, my chum Mr Methane – the world’s only professionally performing farter and an oft-time performer at Malcolm’s various clubs – was invited to audition for Britain’s Got Talent on ITV. They did not choose him, perhaps because his farts were unusually smelly that day (they usually don’t smell at all and the act is an odour-free zone). But it was worth the trip as the video on YouTubehas so far got almost seven million hits worldwide and it led to him appearing on and reaching the semi-finals of Das Supertalent – Germany’s Got Talent, despite not being German and having no German connections.

And they say the Germans have no sense of the absurd!

On Britain’s Got Talent, the judges perform just as much as the auditionees – they provide OTT, sometimes cartoony, reactions so there is a supply of good cutaway shots for the edited, transmitted show.

It was good to see another regular Malcolm Hardee club performer – Phil ‘The Pigeon Man’ Zimmerman – making the tabloids yesterday by allegedly terrifying Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden. Getting reported in the Daily Mail is always good news. Especially when they claim you were dressed in a pigeon costume and you weren’t.

According to an ‘audience member’ calling herself Katie Beth who posted on the Digital Spy website, “When the crazy guy was on Amanda looked freaked out and left her seat and spoke to a security guy. Then she went back to her seat only for him to leap off the stage at the end of his ‘performance’. When he jumped off the stage Amanda was straight back out of her seat and stood/hid behind Michael McIntyre who spun his chair round so he was hugging her while security grabbed the crazy man.”

Metro correctly, if less dramatically, reported that Phil had, in fact, only approached the judges to hand out flyers for his comedy club.

And the Chortle website reported that, after the incident, Amanda Holden tweeted on Twitter: “Been possibly the best day we’ve ever had in London for BGT today!! Next week, Manchester here we come!” so I doubt if the lovely Amanda will need too much therapy for post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The spin betwixt truth and publicity is always interesting. But Phil Zimmerman is certainly someone to watch.

I was invited to Phil’s Guy Fawkes Night party last year but couldn’t go – it involved video cameras positioned throughout his house which (as far I remember) were going to stream what was happening inside the house onto the internet. I now wish I had gone. Someone who did go tells me it all ended when an irate neighbour started shooting at the party-goers with an air gun causing mass panic in the garden. When the police eventually arrived, they spent some considerable time crawling around the garden in the dark looking for pellets in the grass…

Phil Zimmerman. The man who brought the Metropolitan Police to its knees.

It sounds almost Hardee-esque in its bizarreness.

On the subject of PR spin and talent, I organise (if that’s the word for it and it probably isn’t) the annual Malcolm Hardee Awards, the real Edinburgh Fringe Awards for comedy. This year, they will be presented during a two-hour stage show on Friday 26th August. Accept no substitutes.

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The near-sinking of comedian Malcolm Hardee’s birthday party on 5th January 2002

The late comedian Malcolm Hardee was born on 5th January 1950. He used to put on a birthday comedy show.  This is an extract from my 2002 diary. Malcolm had recently bought the Wibbley Wobbley floating pub in Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe… He drowned a few feet away from the Wibbley Wobbley in 2005.

SATURDAY 5th JANUARY 2002

Charlie Chuck, advertising man Paul (whom Chuck knows) and I went to the first of two birthday parties which Malcolm Hardee is holding this weekend. It was on his new floating pub The Wibbley Wobbley.

When we arrived, Malcolm was dressed in naval captain’s uniform with Russian Convoy medals on his chest. I went to the bow area to say hello to him.

“Go back up to the bar end,” he whispered, “We’re sinking – I’m not kidding – We’re going down.”

And, as we walked back up towards the bar, sure enough, I realised we were indeed walking slightly uphill.

We were all eventually evacuated – maybe thirty of us – and someone suggested the problem seemed to be that they were trying to pump the water out underwater via the pump where water enters.

A fire engine turned up. Then two policemen. Then another two policemen. Then another fire engine. Then another two policemen. And another two. It was a good night for criminals in Rotherhithe. The police were unsmiling and uninterested except when they had chats amongst themselves. The firemen were surprisingly fat. How do they get up ladders?

On the quayside, one theory for the slow sinking of the Wibbley Wobbley was that ice in the recent bitterly cold weather had blocked the pump and a build-up of shit in the septic tank was weighing down the vessel at one end.

The Wibbley Wobbley is not yet insured. No surprise there: neither is Malcolm’s car; and he has two driving licences under different names.

After about twenty minutes, Malcolm told me: “The Coast Guard have arrived. Straight up, a bloke from the Coast Guard has just just turned up because he heard about it. He seems to be in the mood for a party.” We turned and looked at the eight policemen already here. They did not talk to the Coast Guard man.

A well-known comedian was standing next to us with staring eyes, accompanied by a tall dark man who also had brightly staring eyes. Both looked startled at what was happening.

This is no time to be on coke, I thought.

We were eventually allowed back on the ship by the firemen.

Then we were evacuated again and told no-one would be allowed back on again that night.

Then we were let back on board again.

In all, the non-sinking took about 90 minutes.

The eventual explanation was that, indeed, a pipe had got blocked and shit really had built up on board to such an extent that it almost sank the boat and everyone in it.

A simile for many a comedy career, perhaps.

***

POSTSCRIPTS

Malcolm’s friend Deke has continued the tradition of Malcolm’s annual birthday party (well it would be annual, wouldn’t it?)  on the Sunday nearest to 5th January. This year it is this coming Sunday (9th January 2011) from 7.00pm at the Lord Hood pub next to Up The Creek in Greenwich. The event will include performances by Steve Bowditch (ex-Greatest Show on Legs) and a screening of The Tunnel the award-nominated short film about Malcolm’s notorious comedy club The Tunnel Palladium. Deke’s e-mail is dekedecore@hotmail.com … You can see The Greatest Show on Legs – Martin Soan, Steve Bowditch and Malcolm Hardee – perform their Naked Balloon Dance here.

This year’s annual Malcolm Hardee Awards for Comedy will be presented during a special two-hour tribute show at the Edinburgh Fringe – starting at 10.00pm on the evening of Friday 26th August 2011.

There is a Malcolm Hardee Appreciation Society group on Facebook.

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The English legal system: Justice reduced to the level of The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent

I have to do jury service next month. That should be interesting.

The basis of the English legal system is that the accused is guilty unless he can (afford to) prove himself innocent. The police investigate a case and find the person they believe (or claim) is guilty. The state’s prosecution system then decides if there is enough evidence to convict and, if there is – ie if the defendant is presumed to be guilty – then the accused person is prosecuted on the basis that they are guilty. The state pays for a prosecution lawyer whose job is to get a guilty verdict; if he/she spots anything that may imply innocence, it is his/her paid job to prevent it being presented to the court.

Under the English legal system, the prosecutor is paid to mislead the court on the evidence, to hide evidence which may prove the innocence of the defendant and to prevent the Defence from presenting any evidence which will reveal anything which may show the innocence of the defendant. That is his paid job. The defence lawyer is paid by the defendant himself/herself to get an innocent verdict and to hide anything which might show or imply guilt.

The jury’s job is not to investigate the facts nor to decide if the accused is guilty or innocent. Their job is to decide which of the two well-paid lawyers present a better case. The object is to vote on whether the defender or prosecutor is better on style, content and presentation, much like competitive Ice Skating but without the numbered cards you hold up. It is justice reduced to The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent.

I remember a case in which a jury member spent his spare time going to the crime scene and talking to witnesses outside the court. The judge threw him off the jury and told him it was not his duty as a jury member to investigate the case but to decide a verdict only on the evidence presented. I think the jury member was threatened with Contempt of Court.

The lawyers who present the case? They have spent about seven years in an academic institution being trained in the art of legal lying, falsification of evidence and misleading the court. Which is why politicians like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton are often ex-lawyers. They were highly-trained as liars.

The result of all this? Lots of guilty people escape conviction and lots of innocent people get imprisoned, sometimes for decades.

There is also the fact of widespread police corruption across the UK.

On 27th September 1998, the Sunday Telegraph revealed in an article written by Geoffrey Seed and Alasdair Palmer that it had obtained “the minutes of a meeting organised by the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), and attended by 10 of Britain’s most senior officers and policy makers”. The minutes stated that “corrupt officers exist throughout the UK police service” and the NCIS’s Director of Intelligence said that corruption may have reached “Level 2: the situation which occurs in some Third World countries”.

I was once told by Margaret Thatcher’s lawyer that he would never put a Metropolitan Police officer in the dock as a witness unless what he said could be corroborated by another witness: the possibility that the policeman was lying was too great to risk.

The object of the English adversarial system is to win the debate at all costs including justice. Added to this, there is the fact all police evidence must be suspect.

The English courts do not provide justice. They play a game with people’s lives in which innocent defendants are found guilty of crimes they did not commit. This is no accident. It is an inevitable result of the current English legal system which is adversarial not investigative.

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