Tag Archives: Olympic

How to kick women plus Bob Slayer’s Edinburgh Fringe review : 1 star, 2 balls

WARNING: This blog has language offensive to non- Glaswegians.

Bob Slayer: one of the most Marmite of performers?

I woke up at 4.00am this morning and, after listening to stories about women kicking each other, I checked my e-mails.

One of these, inevitably, was from comedian Bob Slayer. His latest Edinburgh Fringe show Bob Slayer – He’s a Very Naughty Boy – has received a one star review from The Skinny.

“I am very proud of this review,” he tells me – and I believe him.

You can read the review online here, but I think it is worth me risking copyright infringement by re-printing it, if only because it includes a link to this blog. It goes like this…


Bob Slayer appears with no jokes and no material, and ends up with no clothes. Although there’s a sound of laughter, we’re not quite sure why. Surrealism is not dead, it seems.

Diamonds from coal is what we’re after as he focuses on a few members of the audience to try to coax something into the gig. A suitcase of props is used to re-enact a children’s story, the lead character a good sport from the small crowd.  It’s shambolic, usually awkward and frequently painful, yet there’s a split in the crowd as some lap it up.

Interaction with the audience should lead to more chuckles, but there’s little flow to proceedings. The show becomes something of an open mic night, individuals cajoled to the spotlight, and it is at all times entirely unpredictable.

Slayer leaves the stage to give way to a perplexing straight soliloquy from one, unabashed nudity to another, and an a capella rendition of Our House by yet one more. It’s madness indeed and the sight of a nude Slayer at its death, balls bouncing as he jogs on the spot, seems, strangely, to be the only possible conclusion.

Footnote: Bob Slayer has written his own very amusing review of this performance on John Fleming’s blog


I feel I should point out that Bob Slayer will be naked again when he performs as part of the Greatest Show on Legs at my two-hour Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show in Edinburgh on Friday 24th August.

Now back to women kicking each other.

Janey Godley demonstrates how to kick people

My Glaswegian comedy chum Janey Godley has descended on my rented flat in Edinburgh for a couple of nights while she does various Fringe shows. I now know what Iraq felt like when the Americans arrived.

As I only had three hours sleep the previous night – Paul Provenza’s late Set List show was to blame – I had a half hour doze on the living room floor at 10.00pm last night… except I did not wake up until 4.00am this morning, when Janey arrived back at the flat with a clatter of sausage rolls and beef sandwiches. How does anyone make bread clatter? It was like a juggler throwing a tantrum in a kitchen.

When I had gone to sleep on the floor, Janey had been asleep in the spare bedroom. While I was in the land of nod, she had woken up, gone out, probably attacked people in the street, then certainly performed at the late-night Spank! show and she had just come back, I suspect, with the sole purpose of waking me up by recreating the Battle of El Alamein in the kitchen.

“The Sunday Herald phoned me up yesterday and asked for my best memories of the Olympics,” she told me.

“What’s the uncensored version?” I asked.

“The gymnastics men,” she said, “on that big padded horse thing like in the war film. The fake horse with the two handles. They hold on to the handles, then swing their legs round and try to not catch their balls on it. That’s an amazing sport. Men swinging their big long legs round a fake horse trying not to catch their cock on it. And then Jade Jones was great.”

“Who’s she?” I asked.

“She’s a wee Welsh taekwondo girl who won a gold medal for Britain. Never heard of her before. All we ever got on the news for four fucking years was that wee Tom Daley boy in his pants. Tom Daley the diver. He was constantly on the news for four years, sitting in his swimming trunks and then he didn’t win a gold medal.

“But Jade Jones, who we’d never seen, is a wee chick who is only 19 and taekwondo is a sport where you can kick in the body, you can do a roundhouse to the head, but what they quite favour is a quick kick to the cunt. And she won a gold doing it. I was never good at much, she said, but then they found I could kick quite high and they made me do this sport. Now she just goes around kicking women in the fanny.”

“A roundhouse?” I asked.

“You’ve seen it in all the Steven Seagal movies,” Janey explained, “where he turns his body round like a windmill with his leg out and cracks somebody in the head.”

“Would you like to demonstrate?” I asked.

“I WILL kick you in the fucking head,” said Janey. “Taekwondo  is great. They go tippy-toes… tippy-toes… tippy-toes… kick… tippy-toes… kick… tippy-toes… kick. I thought This is fucking fantastic! Why did I not know this existed? I think every single angry, violent, public fight should be sorted by women outside pubs not stabbing or screaming and bitching, just going tippy-toes… tippy-toes… tippy-toes… and then trying to kick each other in the fanny. Arguments would get resolved and people would get to watch it.”

“Not for posh folk, then,” I said.

“For them, there’s dressage,” said Janey. “Dressage is like Mrs Poshingtons riding horses that look like they’re having a very slow nervous breakdown doing tippy-toes… tippy-toes… Who the fuck makes horses do that? Really bored, rich people, that’s who. You don’t have people from Castlemilk in Glasgow saying Ma wee Tanya-Marie’s into dressage! and then getting a pony to go tippy-toes into the city centre.

“Someone must have said: You know what I like? I like a horse galloping as Nature intended with its big flanks sweating and running. And some other posh person’s gone: No, I want to see a horse walk like it’s got big elastic bands round its legs. What the fuck is that about?”

“Was it a good idea to have a sleep before the gig or a bad idea?” I asked her.

“When I was out yesterday,” she told me, “I started to get cold and that made me sleepy. I had on flip-flops and bare feet and pyjama bottoms and a top.”

“In the street?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she replied. “It’s called fashion. So I came back and went to bed and was absolutely soaked in sweat when I woke up, but it’s not the onset of the menopause. It would be brilliant if it was: I was promised a menopause and it’s not happened. I was told my womb would dry up, I was told I’d get quite cranky and shouty…”

“GET quite cranky and shouty?” I interrupted. “GET?”

“That’s what my husband said too,” admitted Janey. “He said: So this is where the barrier’s set already and it’s about to go UP a crank? I told him he had to be prepared for me to get judgmental, sweaty, hot and angry. I might throw my wobblies for no good reason and there might be times when I’m highly emotional.

“My husband just looked at me and said: You’re already all o’ they things and you have been since you were seventeen. So I have all this to look forward to and then my vagina dries up. Great. But it hasn’t happened yet. I was promised a menopause, but my ovaries are saying No, we’re still quite healthy and releasing eggs like a fucking battery hen. I’ve been told my ovaries will dry up like walnuts and my nipples will fall off and my skin will go flakey and I’ll start shouting at people.”

I feel I should point out – publicity is everything at the Fringe – that Janey Godley will be appearing on my two-hour Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show in Edinburgh on Friday 24th August.

She may kick. She will shout.

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The Olympic torch came to uncaring Greenwich this morning amid officials

A sign of things to come: ordinary roads blocked off by police

My eternally-un-named friend lives in Greenwich. She hates it. I understand why.

Last night, by the River Thames, there were food tents, comedy shows and a bandstand with music. A two minute walk away, we passed two men in their late 20s or early 30s standing on a street corner by Creek Road, near the Up The Creek comedy club. One was talking on his mobile phone:

Greenwich foreground; with a background in the Isle of Dogs

“The guy is testing the stuff and then he’s giving me the cash,” he said to the unseen person.

A little later, after dark, nearby, we passed by a children’s play area amid council blocks. Three boys in their late teens passed through quickly, one putting a white plastic bag at the top of the children’s slide, as if leaving it for someone to collect later.

Greenwich Council is notoriously uncaring unless you live in one of the elite streets. It is a bit like North Korea. It looks stylish on the outside but has been allowed to rot at its core by uncaring bureaucrats.

Sikhing good publicity by giving away free vegetable rolls

So I was interested to see the so-called Olympic Torch Relay pass through Greenwich early this morning. The small central one-way system in town was cordoned off with occasional single lines of partially-interested onlookers standing behind metal barriers.

The parade: policemen and officials

“It’s only three seconds of your life.” I heard one adult tell a child.

It was like a half-hearted small town parade where the people in official jackets outnumbered the onlookers and it was noticeable for occasionally smiling policemen. I was reminded of a line from the movie Get Carter:

“You were lucky. They also kill people.”

I guess the Metropolitan Police saw it as a welcome PR opportunity to try to distract from the more realistic image yesterday of the thuggish copper who killed an entirely random innocent man and got away with it despite a 12-year record of violence against ordinary people. It is rare that the left wing Daily Mirror and the right wing Daily Mail newspaper both run stories about endemic police brutality.

The Olympic shenanigans this morning were all about PR.

Forget athletics coaches: it’s all about Coca Cola coaches

There were the red Coca Cola frisbees, a gigantic red Coca Cola coach, small Marks & Spencer paper triangles with a union flag design on one side and, on the other, the slogan On Your Marks… for a Summer to remember.

People were taking photos with smart phones and iPads; the traffic was blocked by policemen on bikes.

A bemused Chinese interview beside the Cutty Sark

A man from some Chinese television company was interviewing a bemused woman beside the Cutty Sark, leaflets were being handed out for Greenwich’s Premier Gym & Health Club, a group of Sikhs were giving out free vegetable roti rolls promoting Langgar 2012 – “Sikhs serving langgar and embracing diversity”.

And, in among it all, barely glimpsed, was a small woman speeding along the road in a wheelchair holding aloft a golden Olympic torch and…

Glimpsed for a second – a man with an Olympic torch

…a minute later round the corner, there was a man in white running with the same Olympic torch. They seemed an unimportant afterthought.

Nearby, on the Thames, the looming grey warship with the attack helicopters on deck waited for any terrorist incident. Up the hill on Blackheath, the ground-to-air missile system was presumably being manned. And somewhere, atop various  South London blocks of flats, were other missile defence systems.

Shock! Amazement! Met Police killed non-one this morning

But, in Greenwich this morning, the Torch Relay seemed to be mostly an excuse for people to dress up in pink or green or red tops as wardens or volunteers or crowd-controllers and for the police to parade in yellow jackets on motor bikes.

People had come out in small numbers to see the spectacle of people organising things.

Attack helicopters and Yuppies by the Thames in Greenwich

For much the same reason, next Friday I will be watching the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony… To see how the highly-talented director Danny Boyle has spent his multi-million pound budget. And, like everyone else, just in case there is a spectacular terrorist attack live on television.

Last August I missed the English riots by being in Scotland. This year I will miss the English Olympics for the same reason.

I think the Edinburgh Fringe will have fewer sponsors and a few more laughs.

My eternally-un-named friend’s opinion?

“It’s just something else to put up with, like the weather. I don’t want to be here.”

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Filed under Drugs, London, Olympics, PR, Sponsorship, Sport

World Egg Throwing Championships: cheaper and funnier than the Olympics

(Versions of this piece were published by the Huffington Post) and on the Indian WeSpeakNews website.

Consequences of failing to catch

I woke up this morning in the middle of a dream about comedian Helen Keen riding at breakneck speed atop a camel racing along Old Compton Street in Soho while her writing partner Miriam Underhill kept pace by calmly walking with a large brown bird (not a falcon) on her ungloved hand.

I used to regret that I could never remember my dreams. Now I should perhaps be concerned that yesterday was almost as surreal as my dream.

I went to the World Egg Throwing Championships in a very large field at Swaton in Lincolnshire. There were teams from Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the UK and the USA

John Ward with his grate egg Olympic torch

Events included long-distance egg throwing, the egg throwing static relay, the World Egg Trebuchet Challenge and, terrifyingly for me, the World Russian Egg Roulette championship. Why the Russian Roulette event was personally terrifying I will explain later but, initially, I was there to support my chum, mad inventor John Ward, who turned up wearing a Mat Hatter’s top hat and holding what he called an Olympic Egg Torch. This appeared to be a gold-painted cheese-grater on top of a gold-pained cracked wooden egg on top of a silver bicycle horn.

“I thought other people would be dressed up too,” he told me in a vain attempt to explain the hat. “Egg throwing is the People’s sport,” he added. “It’s cheaper than the Olympics.”

John Ward and others catapulting eggs

John Ward also came with a nine feet high wooden catapult, because the World Egg Trebuchet Challenge not surprisingly involves trebuchets which are, according to my dictionary, “machines used in medieval siege warfare for hurling large stones or other missiles”. There were five in the contest. John Ward had only had time to spend three days building his and competed valiantly for Queen and country but, maintaining an age-old British tradition in field sports, failed.

Which brings us to the Russian Egg Roulette event in which John Ward was also competing.

This involves two seated people facing each other across a table – as in The Deer Hunter, but with a box of six eggs instead of a revolver with one single deadly bullet. The twist is that five of the six eggs are boiled and one is raw.

An Irish competitor comes to a not very unusually sticky end

Each competitor then takes it in turns to smash an egg of their choice onto their forehead. If the egg is boiled, it does not explode into sticky gunge all over their forehead. If it is the raw egg, then… erm… it does. Obviously, the person who smashes the raw egg onto his or her forehead loses. And gets sticky.

Imagine my surprise, dear reader, when I heard my name called for this event.

This is one of the downsides of having worked on the slapstick children’s TV show Tiswas. When I was a researcher on the show, people I met (for research purposes) felt duty-bound to ram a custard pie in my face to show they had a sense of humour. Oh my! How I laughed.

Organiser Andy Dunlop provides ammunition

At the World Egg Throwing Championships, very highly efficient organiser Andy Dunlop thought he would surprise me by putting me in the Russian Egg Roulette event and announcing me as “former Tiswas wordsmith John Fleming”.

In fact, I was never a Tiswas scriptwriter. In my day, that considerable honour was held by David McKellar, a man eternally worshipped by me for having previously written the weather forecaster line: “And now, bad news for 4-foot dwarfs… 5-foot snowdrifts.”


One of the other Russian Egg Roulette contestants was one of the two identical twins representing Greece, but the organisers were unsure which one it was.

World Gravy Wrestling Champion fails in Russian Roulette

Another was handsome hunk Joel Hicks, male model and World Gravy Wrestling Champion, who had come stripped to the waist and dressed in shorts and boxing gloves as Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. Earlier, he had been the human target in a rather random Target Egg Throwing event and, as a result, spent the whole afternoon covered in dried egg yolk with fragments of embedded eggshell sticking out of his face.

I triumphed in the Russian Egg Roulette heats in face-offs with two small children – who seemed to be the only children in the contest, the others being egg-hardened professionals. As my second tiny opponent smashed the raw egg against her forehead, the crowd roared and I heard event organiser Andy Dunlop yell out: “Now that’s fun! THIS is entertainment!”

I fail to mask my gloating at the sticky shame of a Dutch girl

I was equally successful against a very attractive Dutch girl. I suspect Dutch girls smashing eggs on their foreheads commands a very high price in some quarters.

I had decided to represent Scotland in this contest, as I had been wantonly and incorrectly introduced as: “John Fleming representing England” and so I started singing Flower of Scotland, which was an unfortunate choice, as I discovered I only knew the first four words – Oh flower of Scotland… No-one was impressed.

John Ward smashes the thankfully losing egg on his forehead

Bizarrely (as, by its nature, it is not possible to ‘fix’ a Russian Egg Roulette contest) I faced John Ward in the semi-final. I triumphed again. He had the minor consolation of an in-depth interview (I kid you not) by an unsmiling film crew from some Russian television station and he later told me: “The interviewer guy said It will not be transmitted until July – I imagine they must be vetting the footage for any coded messages.”

My nemesis: clearly a man of extreme brutality

In the grand final, I then unfortunately faced a large man called Jerry Cullen dressed in black wearing sunglasses. Very intimidating he was. Hard-boiled, some might say, but not me. Oh no, not me.

The first four of the six eggs we smashed on our foreheads were, indeed, hard-boiled, leaving only two more eggs – one for each of us.

At this point, a lesser egg contestant might have cracked and, admittedly, I resorted to saying, “I’m doomed, I’m doomed,” in the best John Laurie (from Dad’s Army) accent I could muster.

It was like a penalty shoot-out in a football match, so I was relieved not to be representing England.

The man in black went first… smashed the egg against his forehead… and it was hard boiled. He had won the contest.

Cameraman + small child gloat over my ignominious defeat

But this meant I had to smash the final egg against my forehead knowing it was raw and would explode into yellow gunge. I thought of bravely saying something like, “The yolk is on me,” but even I baulked that. So I just smashed the egg onto my forehead as the – I felt somewhat unsympathetic – onlookers rhythmically chanted “Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat!” until the deed was done.

A broken man with mangled egg and a medal

The good news was that I got an unexpected runners-up medal – a silver star with a picture of a hen on it – with a red-white-and-blue ribbon to go round my neck. My chest swelled with patriotic pride. I felt I had not totally let down the nation of my birth.

Though, unlike the Olympic Games, there is no xenophobia at the World Egg Throwing Championships. The static relay event was won by a team of Germans, Greeks, Irish and English. I chatted to two of these fine athletes: Reg Marchant from Catford and his partner Sandy Winterton from Dagenham.

“I understand this is your first time being a tosser in public,” I said to Reg.

Reg and Sandy: two triumphant tossers amid trebuchets

“Yes,” Reg answered, “but I do actually practise tossing every other day. Sandy does it for me quite a lot. Sandy said to me Do you want to toss in public at the World Championships, so we came and it’s been great.”

“It’s been wonderful,” agreed Sandy.

“We’ll be back next year,” Reg told me, “to try to reduce the time it takes. Sandy and I have to fine-tune our tossing technique over the next year.”

At this point, John Ward wandered across to join us.

“It’s been an interesting afternoon,” he said.

(There are video news clips – with me briefly at the very end – on the ITN site here, the International Business Times TV site here and I actually get to speak in the middle of the report on the Chinese 7M Sports website here)


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Guinness Book of Records spurns spaghetti-juggling as “too specialised”

The ghost of late, great godfather of alternative comedy Malcolm Hardee must be turning in his urn.

The Edinburgh Fringe this August will host The Malcolm Hardee Spaghetti-Juggling Contest – Year One but, today, Guinness World Records cruelly dealt a bitter blow to spaghetti-juggling enthusiasts worldwide when they shockingly refused to recognise spaghetti-juggling as a legitimate event.

“While we certainly do not underestimate your proposal,” Guinness World Records write, “we do however think that this item is a little too specialised for a body of reference as general as ours. We receive many thousands of record claims every year and we think you will appreciate that we are bound to favour those which reflect the greatest interest.”

How can people not be fascinated or, indeed, be obsessed by spaghetti-juggling?

I am sure I read somewhere that Nero juggled spaghetti while Rome burned. He later spread the rumour he was playing the violin because he wanted to seem more cultured.

My lifelong hopes and dreams of spaghetti-juggling becoming a recognised, legitimate – perhaps even Olympic – sport may have been dented today, but they will not be so easily crushed.

Spaghetti-juggling may not be in the Olympics next year nor in 2016, but the stupidity and pointlessness of an idea should be no barrier to its acceptance as an event. This is Britain, where stupidity and pointlessness have been widely cherished for centuries. And still are.

Clay pigeon shooting.


I rest my case.

And spaghetti-juggling is an event in which Britain could take a decisive lead this August.

Throwing a javelin is a remarkably pointless thing to do in the 21st century, except possibly at Celtic v Rangers football matches. But people still get gold medals for it. Or arrested.

Spaghetti-juggling has the potential to rival javelin-throwing and curling – an Olympic sport which is basically just polishing ice as quickly as you can.

Spaghetti-juggling is the future for pointless sports. It has its days of glory ahead of it, starting this year at the Edinburgh Fringe Outside The Beehive Inn on 24th and 25th August.

Be there or risk missing the start of a cultural phenomenon.

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