Tag Archives: satnav

Before “Star Wars” men, I dream of comic Stewart Lee in a tight-fitting suit

Slow traffic yesterday was not as fast as comic Stewart Lee.

I drove up to Edinburgh from London yesterday. It took an hour longer than normal because, between Birmingham and Preston – a distance of 95 miles – the M6 motorway was clogged and we were stopping as often and as unpredictably as the humour in a BBC3 comedy show.

The good news, though, was it took so long that even my non-technical brain realised I could plug my new iPhone into the car’s cigarette lighter socket and, by putting the iPhone in the papier mâché mounting moulded by a friend for my SatNav (after some bastard thieves nicked the original in Greenwich) I could use T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan to listen to the BBC TV News channel while driving up the motorway. To be safe – of course, officer – I only watched the screen when stuck in traffic jams.

I felt as if I had, somehow, dipped a belated toe into what would have seemed a wildly futuristic world to Jules Verne or H.G.Wells.

Which is appropriate, because I am up in Edinburgh to attend a two day event organised by the Guardian newspaper at which both Gary Kurtz, producer of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and 20th Century Fox’s former vice president Sandy Lieberson explain “how Star Wars, a film rejected by most of the major studios, was put into production by 20th Century Fox and went on to become one of the most iconic films in the history of cinema”.

By coincidence last night, just before I went to bed, I was phoned by the late comedian Malcolm Hardee’s sister Clare. She had mis-dialled. When I told her I was in Edinburgh, she asked:

“Oh, are you up there scouting something for the Fringe?”

When I told her why I was up in Edinburgh, she said:

“Oh, me and Steve (her husband) went to Tunisia last month and saw the Star Wars sets there out in the desert… We went out into the Sahara Desert… and it rained!… Isn’t that typical?… It was lovely, though.”

I then went to bed.

For unknown reasons, I woke up several times during the night, which means I remember a dream I had. It involved Malcolm Hardee Award winning, sophisticated and intelligent comedian Stewart Lee (whose TV show was yesterday re-commissioned by BBC2 for another two series).

He was performing at the Hackney Empire in London wearing a suit several times too small for him. (Two days ago, a friend of mine complained that my trousers were too short because she could see my socks.) On stage, he looked like sexually-disgraced American comic Pee-wee Herman.

Stewart’s act involved stuffing rapidly into his mouth several ham sandwiches on brown bread then trying to speak, which simply meant he was spitting and spewing out lots of little pieces of half-eaten brown bread and ham while he told for-him unusually rapid-fire jokes.

I have seen this ‘act’ before but cannot remember who did it.

The ham sandwiches were similar to ones I had eaten on the long drive up to Edinburgh.

This goes some way to explaining the content of the dream, but possibly not far enough for comfort.

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Never go south of the River

In Apocalypse Now! the character Chef, played by Frederic Forrest, says after something unexpectedly leaps out of the jungle at him (I’m trying not to give the shock away): “Never get out of the fucking boat! Never get out of the boat! I gotta remember! Gotta remember! Never get out of the boat!”

I can sympathise with him.

In London, the equivalent truism is “Never go South of the River. Always remember. Never go South of the River.”

I remember reading a piece in the Daily Telegraph years ago (I do love the Daily Telegraph and still lament the passing of its Page Three) which pointed out that the southern bank of the Thames from London Bridge to Deptford – or it might have been Dartford – has been a haunt of dodgy geezers and crime families since Elizabethan times.

I have been in Greenwich most of this week and, at 0100 in the early hours of Thursday morning, I went down to find the front passenger window of my car had been smashed in. The double locking system on my Toyota means that, if you do smash through the window, you still can’t open the door from the inside. So the yobbo only rummaged through my glove compartment and only managed to steal… the Toyota manual for my car.

I can’t fault his taste, though I can fault his efficiency. He missed the SatNav.

And now I have to fork out six quid to get a new manual.

I went to Greenwich Market yesterday. Two stall holders told me that, earlier in the day, it had been snowing inside the market.

Greenwich Market has a roof.

Never go South of the River.

Always remember.

Never go South of the River…

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