Comedy critic Kate Copstick and I record a weekly Grouchy Club Podcast. It covers more than gossip about the comedy industry as do the monthly, live Grouchy Club meetings. Inevitably, after this week’s was finished, the conversation carried on. Three main anecdotes cropped up…
The podcast is recorded in Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity shop in Shepherds Bush, London.
The charity works in Kenya, helping small business start-ups.
When over in Nairobi, Copstick lives in slum areas and had this description of the ‘flying toilets’ in Kibera, Nairobi, said to be the largest urban slum in Africa.
* * * * *
The houses are incredibly close together – you can’t really extend your arms in the little rat runs between the houses. It is much better now but originally there was allegedly 2,000 people to every one long-drop toilet.
Now the government have put in some standpipes and there are public toilets but you are still sharing a toilet with a helluva lot more people than you would like to. If you go out into the darkness of the night – and you really can’t see in front of your face – you have no idea what you are stepping on, you creak open the door of the long-drop toilet and have no idea what state it’s in. It’s a bit Russian Rouletty. You may also get killed or attacked on your way there or back.
So, if you wake up in the middle of the dark night and think: “God! I desperately need a shit!” – which people do a lot because there is a lot of diarrhea around – what you do is go outside and take a shit into a plastic carrier bag, then tie the top of the carrier bag and take the little butterfly bit at the top and whirl it round your head like a Scotsman flinging the hammer. When it gets to peak velocity, you let go and it flies away into the night as far as it can.
Obviously, in an ideal world, you aim high and generally what will happen is that somebody a couple of streets or houses away will hear a SPLATT! on their corrugated iron roof and they will think: Oh fuck! Somebody’s flying toilet! I must remember to go up and scrape it off in the morning!
The shit is in a plastic bag but, when the plastic bag lands, it generally splits open. Also, if you are in a big family – my mate Sylverster has a one-bedroom house for seven of them – as the children get older, when it’s not raining, the girls sleep inside the house but the boys sleep on the roof. So that can get messy.
WHITE BLOOD CELLS
For many years, Copstick has suffered from the painful and debilitating disease lupus. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in many parts of the body.
Until 2½ months ago she was in agony most of the time…
* * * * *
Since the lupus struck, I have always had a low white blood cell count – neutropenia. The white cells are the fighter cells and scavenger cells. When you get a bruise, the neutrophils go in and clear away all the damaged blood.
Last June, they put me on this new medication – methotrexate – which I injected into the flub on my stomach. It is a kick-ass drug. It’s used in chemotherapy – for leukaemia and other cancers. Then they found out it really worked for rheumatoid arthritis and, through that, they found it worked for other auto-immune diseases like lupus.
I got put on methotrexate last June/July. Then in August in Edinburgh I got bacterial pneumonia and they thought it might be the methotrexate and I kept taking it and they said: “Oh, your white blood cell count keeps going down.”
Then suddenly, 2½ months ago, I felt great; I felt fantastic. Nothing had been changed in the drugs but I suddenly felt physically great. And the best I’ve felt psychologically for years. I was actually happy. I felt happy. Just wonderful. No pain; no headaches; no tinnitus; no cold sweats; and the white blood cell count had gone down even more.
Then, two weeks ago, the doctors said the white blood cell count had become very dangerously low.
I said: “I’m feeling fine!”
They said: “No no no no no. You’re very dangerously low.”
They kept asking me if I had temperatures and beadaches.
I said: “No! I feel wonderful!”
So, last week, they told me to stop taking the methotrexate because they thought that was lowering the white blood cells. I stopped taking it and I feel like shit this week. As soon as I stopped the injections, I got the pain back – tiredness, pain, headache, dizziness – all the lupus shit.
I mean, everything you take, every normal mainstream medication that you take does something bad to you. I think it should be about what makes you feel good. I’m fucking fed up feeling like shit. I’ve felt like shit for a lot of years, a lot.
Nothing bad seemed to be happening with the low white blood cells and I was feeling great and I reckon for me that’s better than being like this and taking handfuls of tramadol and dihydrocodeine and anything else I can lay my hands on just so I can be functional.
In her TV production hat, a few years ago, Copstick developed, wrote and produced a series for the Bravo TV channel called World of Pain.
* * * * *
It was about things like pain for pleasure, sporting pain, all different things. And one episode was called Suffer To Be Beautiful which was about people having plastic surgery and all the crazy shit they do.
So I went to New York to film a penis enlargement operation. It was around the year 2000 and there was nobody in Britain who would allow me to film them. Those who go for penis enlargement tend to want people to imagine that’s how they always have been naturally.
I filmed the entire operation. It was absolutely fascinating. I was the cameraperson. When we sent it to the compliance lawyers, most of it ended up on the cutting room floor not because it was erotic but because there was just so much blood. Somebody was having the shaft of his penis split open with a scalpel and the skin peeled…
What I did not realise was that every man is born with as much penis length as anyone can give you. It just depends if you are a show-er or a grow-er.
If you are a show-er, even when you are flaccid, it is all hanging out there.
If you are a grow-er, there is more to come from inside.
So what they do, when somebody wants more length, is make two cuts in the inguinal area – just above the pubic bone – one on either side – and in there are the ligaments that hold the penis in place and they snip those.
Then – this is true – one doctor or a very strong nurse holds the patient on the operating table while the other doctor grabs the penis and pulls. And I am talking PULLS. We are talking like tug-of-war. And they yank out as much of the penis as they can.
Then they stitch up the little incisions and you are now a show-er.
What surprised me is that men who want more length want it for the locker room. They want it for that moment when the Calvin Kleins hit the carpet and another person – male or female – gets their first look at what you are packing.
This guy I was filming wanted more length. So they did that. But he also wanted more girth.
Enhancement can help a bit on girth with what they call ‘harvested tissue’. Have you ever larded a joint of meat? Where you take strips of fat…
Anyway, what they do is get the penis and slit open the skin down the length of it and then… Have you ever buttered the breast of a chicken before you roasted it?
What you do is you ease your hands in between the flesh and the skin of the chicken and you open it up so the skin separates from the flesh.
So, with penis enhancement, they get little rectangles of harvested tissue, lift the skin of the penis away from the shaft and wrap these bits of tissue around the shaft. Then they sew that bit up and do another bit until… It’s a bit like Devils on Horseback or a beef olive.
Then they stitch the skin back into place and wrap it all in very tight elastic bandage. Then the person goes away with lots of painkillers and hopes that they only think clean thoughts.
Because the single biggest problem with the process is guys who go away from the hospital, take their painkillers and, after a day or so, wake up with a bit of morning glory and burst all their stitches.
As for pee-ing, initially you are catheterised but the answer after that is to pee very very carefully.
How do you get harvested tissue? With a scalpel and a dead body.
So be careful when you sign your organ donor card. You may think you will be giving sight to the blind, but you could end up giving girth to the under-endowed and find yourself wrapped around some tiny-dicked guy’s enlarged penis.