Some stories which I do not mention in this blog are often even more interesting than what appears, but not quite long enough to blog about. And some are just plain unrepeatable.
Last week, I spent Tuesday evening in the company of the infamous Flying Haidrani Twins, purveyors of the best gossip and most scandalous international tales in Greater London. Sadly my lips are sealed on the details, but I hope their cracking stories will surface in some future novel or magazine article by one or both of them.
The night before that, I went to Chesham Cricket Club which, somewhat unexpectedly, is in the same place as Chesham Football Club. This confused several revellers.
I was there because comedy act Brian Damage & Krysstal were hosting a farewell event. They are moving to Australia.
Well, it turned out they are not actually moving to Australia until September but – hey! – any excuse for a party.
For almost the whole of this century, they hosted the Pear Shaped comedy club, which they wrongly billed as the second worst comedy club in London.
At some point during the evening, with cricket continuing in the background, four comics were discussing heckler anecdotes and Brian recalled one female comic’s response to an annoying heckler: she took a fish out of her clothing and threw it at the heckler, catching him in the face.
After that, Brian & Krysstal implemented a ‘no fish’ policy at the gigs they hosted.
Apparently the fish was not part of the planned act; it just happened to be in the comic’s clothing.
Andrew O’Neill, one of the veritable plethora of comedy industry people who got up on stage to pay tribute to Brian & Krysstal said:
“I started in 2002 and I never met Malcolm Hardee and there are all these stories about him, but I feel like we’ve got our own Malcolm Hardee now, but there’s two of them in Brian & Krysstal.
“I can’t remember the first time I went to Pear Shaped; they sort-of morphed into one incredible adventure. But that absolute fucking madness… held together by what I genuinely believe is one of the funniest comedy acts I’ve ever seen.”
The evidently not incomparable Malcolm Hardee was renowned for having the biggest bollocks in British showbiz.
But in fact, he told me, he only had the SECOND biggest bollocks in British showbiz.
He had once come second in a table-top contest with Patsy Kensit‘s father ‘Jimmy the Dip’ who, allegedly, used to book acts for, I was told, the British Army.
Two nights before Brian & Krysstal’s cricket-based farewell, I had bumped into Malcolm Hardee’s chum Martin Soan at a wake for Dave ‘Bagpipes’ Brooks, an early occasional member of Martin and Malcolm’s Greatest Show on Legs comedy group.
Dave Brooks died two years ago but Covid had delayed the get-together.
So it goes.
In 1981, Dave was part of The Human Scottish Sword Dance with the Greatest Show on Legs on the TV show Game For a Laugh in which they performed a ‘human sword dance’ in Highland costume, with presenter Matthew Kelly lying on the ground instead of swords, looking up while The Greatest Show on Legs members danced over him.
Martin Soan mentioned something I had never realised before: that, in keeping with Scottish tradition, the Greatest Show on Legs wore nothing under their kilts on this (and no doubt other) occasions.
Alas, YouTube have seen fit to remove the relevant clip.
Dave’s son Charlie Brooks reminded me that one of Dave’s many claims to fame was a court fight with the Corporation of London over his playing bagpipes on Hampstead Heath. I mentioned it in a 2020 blog.
In 1996, the Corporation prosecuted Dave at Hampstead Magistrates’ Court under an 1890 by-law for “playing a musical instrument (his bagpipes) on Hampstead Heath on three separate counts”. This was despite the fact that Dave had been playing his pipes on the Heath for an hour every morning for 15 years without any complaint from anyone.
History seemed to come to Dave’s rescue.
After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the Lord Chief Justice of England ruled that the bagpipes were not a musical instrument but an instrument of insurrection.
Dave argued his case against the Corporation of London on the basis that his Highland bagpipes legally remained (in 1996) an instrument of war and insurrection and therefore were not a musical instrument as charged.
Sadly, he was still found guilty on three counts of playing a musical instrument and fined £15 on each count plus £50 costs.
But, like Malcolm Hardee and Jimmy ‘the Dip’ Kensit, you have to admire his balls.
RIP Dave (1947-2020), Malcolm (1950-2005) and Jimmy the Dip (1915-1987).
So it goes.
Dave also used to play bagpipes at Indian weddings…