Tag Archives: rabbits

A girls’ boarding school, unwanted sex with rabbits and comic John Moloney

Rabbits and their habits taught to young girls

Rabbits and their habits were taught to innocent young girls

After last night, I wish I had gone to a girls’ boarding school in my teenage years.

Last night, I sat between two women who did go to boarding school together and who were reminiscing about their not-so-good old days.

I will call them Mary and Margaret.

They had found a Facebook group thread for their old school:

“Does anyone remember The Rabbit Lady?” said one online comment. “Once a year, the whole school had to sit in the hall for ‘sex education’ while she drew diagrams and prattled on about the reproductive cycle of rabbits.”

“She was The Bunny Woman,” someone else had posted. “So-called because the first ‘sex’ lesson she delivered was all about Mummy Bunny and Daddy Bunny and how they managed to produce all those little bunnies… That’s all she talked about. I don’t remember any follow-up lessons, just the rabbit one. It left us all a bit mystified.”

“Do you remember anything about rabbits?” I asked Mary.

“No, that was before my time,” she replied, “but we had our equivalent of The Rabbit Lady.”

“Did we?” asked Margaret.

“You don’t remember?” asked Mary. “Once a year in the gym? Our whole class – well, two years together – we had to bring our chairs in a semi-circle and sit there and we thought this woman was obviously going to tell us the details of sticking it in and ovaries and stuff like that – maybe making it clearer to us, though we’d guessed some bits – and Catherine asked What are periods? and that was it. The whole lesson was spent talking about what periods were. We weren’t interested. We wanted to know about bits & pieces and hot dogs & sausage rolls.”

“Is there a Facebook page for your school?” Margaret asked me.

There was.

“You have a lot of notable former pupils,” Margaret said, scrolling down the list. “Air Vice-Marshal Arthur Button, Director of RAF Education…”

“Ah!” I lied. “Old ‘Butters’,” I knew him well.” In fact, he was born in 1916, before my parents were even born. But I had known about (though never knew):

Raymond Baxter (1922-2006), TV personality (presenter of now sadly forgotten science series Tomorrow’s World)

and

Sir Trevor Brooking (b.1948), Footballer

and, more interestingly

Kathleen Lonsdale (1903-1971), Chemist, who had studied at the girls’ school and transferred to the boys’ school at the age of 16 so she could study science.

Then, another surprise to me:

Boyd Hilton (b.1967) TV Editor, Heat Magazine

We scrolled further down the list.

“Good heavens!” I said.

John Moloney (b.1965), Comedian and Writer

“I didn’t know he went to my school,” I said. “I worked with his wife Anna on a Jack Dee TV series. She was wonderful. Phenomenally efficient. John Moloney’s very good. He started out billing himself as an Angry Young Accordionist. I wonder if he learnt it at school.”

“The accordion?” asked Mary.

“Being angry,” I said.

I was not on the list of notable former pupils.

It is good to see that standards have been maintained.

But I would like to know more about Kathleen Lonsdale (1903-1971), Chemist, who had studied at the girls’ school and transferred to the boys’ school at the age of 16 so she could study science.

If I had known that and if she did that, perhaps I missed my chance and I really could have gone to a girls’ boarding school and learned about sex with rabbits.

Life is full of missed opportunities.

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The bum-numbing recording of that IKEA ad and the Auschwitz Factor in live audience shows

What is it with my blog about the TV recording of the IKEA ad which I posted on 10th March – almost a month ago?

I have been blogging seriously (perhaps that’s the wrong word) since December and I now get fairly healthy hits on my blog but, yesterday, the hits went through the roof and early this morning – between midnight yesterday and 0230 this morning – the IKEA blog on its own got more hits than I normally get in an entire day.

Who is up at 0230 apart from me, burglars, comedians and the incontinent?

The answer seems to be that people were re-Tweeting the link to the blog and, also, I got an e-mail from someone saying “Loved your blog… have passed it around the ad industry”.

Maybe ad men have weak bladders and like to see other ad people score own goals.

The hits went even more apeshit later this morning when people other than incontinent ad men woke up.

The irony is I have still not seen the actual ad itself on broadcast TV – only the version on YouTube.

My friend who went with me to the recording is equally bemused about the number of hits on my blog and clearly – possibly permanently – emotionally scarred by the IKEA recording experience, appears to have turned to hallucinogenic drugs because yesterday he asked me:

“Do you think it was a real ad? I’ve not seen it on TV. You’ve not seen it on TV. They surely can’t be broadcasting a furniture ad on television making a joke about women weeing themselves? Maybe they were just pretending to make an ad for some reason and were filming our reactions to it for some other reason. It can’t have been a real ad.”

“But,” I told him. “It’s IKEA. They’re Swedish. They’re not known for their surreal humour.”

“It just can’t have been real.” my friend replied. “Maybe they were researching something. Maybe it was an experiment of some kind. You were there. Did it look like they were filming a real ad.”

“Well…” I said.

But I’m increasingly pleased I was there.

Someone commented yesterday that they couldn’t understand why the audience at the recording didn’t leave.

It’s a very interesting question indeed.

Partly the answer is, I think, that only people on the ends of rows in audience seating can leave without drawing attention to themselves; partly I guess it is because, if a couple leave, it feels to them that it is they who are are the odd ones out, not the people who stay. Partly it may be that, in a bad situation, you simply hope against hope that the horror will diminish.

I guess the main answer is that there is some strange human urge not to move in awful situations: like rabbits in an oncoming car’s headlights. When people are herded together in large groups in a forest or in a camp and know they are going to be killed, by and large, they don’t run. They walk to their deaths. It’s the Auschwitz Factor. I’m sorry if that offends anyone by trivialising the Holocaust, but it’s true. I know they thought they were going into showers at Auschwitz, but the general principle is true. Given the option of certain death if they stay or probable death if they run, people tend to choose certain death. People in forests dug their own graves and stood on the edge of the pits waiting to be shot.

I once sat through Luchino Visconti’s movie The Damned in the totally full late lamented Hampstead Classic cinema. It was the dullest film I have ever seen in my life and, trust me, I have sat through some dull films. Killer Bitch may have had – errm – “mixed reviews” but one thing it certainly ain’t is dull.

The Damned runs 155 minutes: that’s two hours and a very long 35 minutes. It was so dull that, after about four minutes, I actually started to time how long it would be before someone in the movie went into an exterior scene. But I sat through the whole godawful 155 minutes. My problem was I was in the middle of the front row in the balcony and, being British, I didn’t want to cause chaos and draw attention to myself by leaving and getting people to stand up all the way along the row.

It was also a revelation to see how anyone could make a film with mass murder, rape, orgies, Nazis, nudity and every excess you can possibly imagine into such a bum-numbingly dull movie.

Alright, The Damned is the second dullest movie I have ever seen. I actually DID walk out of Football as Never Before (Fußball wie noch nie) after about 40 minutes of tedium. There are limits which even I have.

But, in general, after a certain time has passed, people will sit through something really bad until the bitter end. And ‘bad’ can be good in a masochistic way.

When a really truly bad bad bad comedian is on stage, it draws other comedians who huddle together at the back of the room to watch the car crash of a performance happening in front of their eyes.

In 1980, Peter O’Toole appeared in a stage production of Macbeth at the Old Vic in London which was said to be so awful that people queued there and around the country to see it. I tried to buy a ticket at the time. You couldn’t get one anywhere. It was a box office smash.

As someone who has been involved in live audience shows for TV and for stage – and who spent 20+ years making TV promotions – I was fascinated at the IKEA ad recording to see how inept the production could get and if there were any way they could manage to pull the thing together.

I wanted to see the whole ghastly thing through to the end in case there was any glorious climax where the production team pulled something unexpected out of an invisible hat or the audience turned on the production team, tore them limb from limb and ate their entrails with tomato ketchup (not that there was any tomato ketchup).

After wasting a certain amount of time, you have to calculate if spending more time may result in a lower waste-per-minute average. How that is calculated will probably be studied by some university academic on a £1 million grant. If you hear of that happening, please tell me as I’d like to share a bit of that dosh and make my IKEA ad time worthwhile.

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How to rip off an incompetent ad agency with only fish and a Japanese rock band: advice from Bob Slayer

In response to yesterday’s blog about the chaos surrounding the shooting of IKEA’s latest TV commercial, rock ’n’ roll comedian Bob Slayer sent me this fine example of how other people’s incompetence can make you money… I highly recommend watching the video he mentions.

Bob says of yesterday’s blog:

__________

I have had similar ‘fun’ times with advertising agencies and, one year, made quite a lot of cash out of a German agency on a campaign for Shockwaves hair gel.

They really liked some videos I had made for the Japanese band I was managing – Electric Eel Shock – and so they flew me and a crew out to Japan to make some more. We had a lovely time and did a load of filming for a TV series called How 2 Fish Rock & Roll Style

When we got back to the UK and all the money had been spent, the ad agency suddenly told us that Shockwaves could not use any advertising with live or even fake fish in it.

Proctor and Gamble, the company who owned Shockwaves, had a company-wide rule that no animals could be used in their marketing – the reason being that they didn’t want to rattle the cages of any animal rights campaigners. They already had enough problems because of the amount of shampoo they claimed that they needed to squirt into rabbits’ eyeballs on a daily basis just so that we can have a squint-free shower in the morning.

When it came to the ad agency settling my invoice, instead of paying me the remaining 25% I was due, they paid me 100% – which I kept as a cancellation fee.

We were only one part of a bigger campaign – all of which had to be binned because the ad agency guy had not got it cleared by the client before starting to spend money.

I think the agency had to carry all the costs and the guy behind it got the sack…

Here is one of the videos we made with Electric Eel Shock for How to Fish Rock & Roll Style. As you can see, we were mostly pissed and high when making them.

We took all mention of Shockwaves out of the other videos – but I liked it in this last one, so I  left it in and added a cheeky disclaimer at the end.

They asked me to take it down but I ignored them…

__________

But enough of Bob Slayer.

Back to me again – John Fleming. The one with the very active Facebook page you can befriend and the less active Twitter feed you can follow…

Can I point out that Electric Eel Shock provided a lot of the music for last year’s culturally significant movie Killer Bitch and that they and Bob Slayer appeared in the film? Bob was killed by having his head smashed in. One of the band members was killed by having a fish stuffed down his throat.

He likes big fish.

A lot.

He enjoyed filming the sequence.

Just thought I’d mention it.

Normal blogging will resume tomorrow.

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Sex & poltergeists; the talking mongoose & the vampire rabbit

Day two of the Fortean Times UnConvention brought tales of “Sex and The Poltergeist” from Alan Murdie – by day a lawyer specialising in Intellectual Property legislation and Civil Liberties and by night a former chairman of the Ghost Club who now chairs the Spontaneous Cases Committee of the Society for Psychical Research – an interesting man, one of whose friends has the 4th largest collection of eye baths in private hands (which makes me wonder how many eye baths are in public collections). And he also knows of someone who is making a list of the registration numbers of bassoons.

Alan expounded on the true story of Gef The Talking Mongoose in the Isle of Man – also known as the Dalby Spook – an allegedly talking mongoose in the 1930s who also had the added advantage of psychic abilities… and he was also pretty good at catching rabbits too. The general consensus seems to have been that Gef was a Freudian projection from the mind of his owners’ 18 year old daughter… or possibly an imaginary talking penis as he was long, pink and had hair at one end. A story with a hint of Forbidden Planet about it: monsters from the Id with balls.

You don’t get this sort of stuff at most conventions and the Fortean Times UnConvention was suitably rounded-off by freelance art journalist Gail-Nina Anderson, who lectures on Pre-Raphaelite art. She gave a lively lecture on ‘The Vampire Rabbit’ of Newcastle – a bizarre carving on an early 20th century office block – about which no-one knows anything or, as she put it, “a myth waiting to happen”.

It has all the ingredients for a good myth – or, rather, it could have – it just needs someone to make up plausible – or even interestingly implausible – background stories.

Now… creating a myth… that would be something.

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