Tag Archives: Southwark

OTT Southwark Council officialdom threatens Martin Soan’s comedy club and reprimands Bill Bailey’s ex-roadie

THIS BLOG HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY REMOVED FOR LEGAL REASONS UNCONNECTED WITH ME

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UK comedy roundup: How Malcolm Hardee made his trousers fall down & why Bob Slayer was naked in Norway

With my eternally-un-named friend and Martin Soan

With my eternally-un-named friend and Martin Soan (photograph by saxophonist & compere Vivienne Soan)

Yesterday, my eternally-un-named friend and I went round to Vivienne and Martin Soan’s back garden. It has Astroturf on it to stop weeds coming through.

Vivienne said she was thinking of speaking in German when she introduces one of the acts at this Friday’s Pull The Other One comedy club. As I mentioned in a blog last time she compered Pull The Other One, I am confident this German language thing will explain itself in a few months.

In the meantime, Martin Soan seems to have put together his very complicated Village Hall Experience show for Peckham, sponsored by Southwark Council and supporting The Fostering Partnership. He told me he is also building a large carrot for some comedian at the Edinburgh Fringe.

“How is your penis going?” I asked him as we left.

“Very smoothly,” he replied. As previously mentioned in a blog, he is building a giant male member for another comedian’s Edinburgh show. It is not the first time Martin has been involved with genitalia at the Fringe, both carefully-crafted handmade ones and real. Not least because he and the late Malcolm Hardee used to perform the Naked Balloon Dance as the Greatest Show On Legs up there over many years.

My eternally-un-named friend and I then went to visit Jacki Cook and Jonathan Hale, who run the Emporium vintage clothes shop in Greenwich.

But not for much longer.

In less than two weeks time, they are closing their shop after 27 years.

“I don’t know,” said Jacki, “what all those scruffy old comedians are gonna do. Malcolm Hardee used to buy a new suit from us every week – sometimes two a week, depending what capers he got up to. He liked to roll around in a Savile Row suit. That was Malc. He never bothered to clean them; he just bought a new one from us every week.”

My eternally-un-named friend (who used to work for Malcolm) told me:

“Malcolm used to ‘distress’ jackets when he got them. I remember he undid the stitching round the arm of one jacket when he got it.”

Malcolm with distressed shoulder in Up The Creek office

Malcolm with distressed shoulder in his Up The Creek office last century (photograph by my eternally-un-named friend)

“Why?” I asked.

“It just gave it a dishevelled look,” she told me, “and that’s the way he wanted people to see him. But the actual clothes he wore were really nice.”

“He liked to wear trousers that were slightly too big for him,” said Jacki, “so that, if he breathed in, he could make them fall down.”

Jacki & Jon’s shop is closing, but they are going to continue their business online – they have rented costumes in the past to television companies and big scale movies – everything from Mission Impossible I & II and Steven Spielberg’s Munich to Dagenham Girls.

When I got home to Borehamwood last night, waiting for me, inevitably, was a bizarre message from comedian Bob Slayer. He has just come back to the UK from Norway.

Bob Slayer (left), naked atop a Norwegian caravan

Bob Slayer (left), naked atop a Norwegian caravan – of course (photograph by the Norwegian comedian Christer Torjussen)

“They said at Oslo Airport,” Bob told me, “that I couldn’t take a bottle of wine onto a plane. I disagreed. I showed them I could take it onto a plane in my tummy. I opened it up and drank it at airport security. It is quite a nice place to hang out and have a tipple.

“I am now trying to get back from Leicester, but I got on the wrong train. thus turning a one hour journey into a three hour journey…  In other news, I can report that the Corby trouser press in my Holiday Inn room was less effective at re-heating last night’s kebab than I thought it would be.”

The great and the good of Edinburgh have allowed him to run a bar in his new Bob’s Bookshop venue at the Edinburgh Fringe next month. I am not necessarily convinced this is a good idea.

In the title of this blog, I included the words: WHY BOB SLAYER WAS NAKED IN NORWAY.

In fact, I have no idea why he was pictured naked, standing on top of a caravan in Norway. I suspect neither does he – nor does the good Lord.

Some things have – and, indeed, require – no sane explanation.

They just are.

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Filed under Comedy, Humor, Humour, Norway, UK

The intangible nature of reality and the man with the (second?) biggest bollocks in British showbusiness

Yesterday, I drove up to see a friend in Cromer, on the North Norfolk coast.

Looking further north, from the end of Cromer Pier, she told me there is nothing until you reach the North Pole. And even when you get to the North Pole… there is nothing.

Well, there’s something, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.

The ‘facts’ surrounding “godfather of British Alternative Comedy” Malcolm Hardee can be a bit intangible too. The myths are many, various and often surreal. I read the other day that he once kidnapped the singer George Michael, mistaking him for a George Michael lookalike. Where that story came from I have no idea, but Malcolm would have enjoyed it.

On the way back from Cromer, I stopped off at North Walsham in Norfolk, for dinner or supper depending on where you come from. I suppose I could call it a dinner party, except I’m not convinced such things exist except in Islington. But one thing I’m sure of is that also tucking-in was Vivienne Soan, who runs the monthly Pull The Other One comedy club in Nunhead, South London (this month’s show headlining Jo Brand has, not unusually, already sold out).

The subject of Malcolm Hardee inevitably cropped up.

Malcolm was renowned for having the biggest bollocks in British showbusness. Although, strictly speaking, we are not talking here of bollocks but of scrotum. In fact, in later years, in rare moments of quiet contemplation, he would admit to me that he only had the second biggest bollocks in British showbusiness, following what he told me was an embarrassing tabletop contest with Jenny Agutter’s dad. Whether this is true or not I don’t know, but I prefer to think it is.

When Malcolm drowned in Rotherhithe at the end of January 2005, the story which initially circulated was that he had probably fallen out of a small rowing boat into the water late at night while crossing the maybe 8ft of water between his Wibbley Wobbley floating pub and his house boat the Sea Sovereign.

The story was that he died happy, drunk, clutching a bottle of Budweiser and – it was said, depending on which version of the story you heard – he had anything from £50 to £250 in his pocket – winnings from a horse race or a greyhound race that day.

The story about the bottle of beer was confirmed at the Southwark Coroner’s Inquest.

According to PC Martin Spirito, when Malcolm’s body was found in Greenland Dock, “the male had a bottle of beer clenched in his right hand.” Sergeant Roy Dawson, overseeing the dive, said: “The bottle was held in his right hand. It fell from his hand on the ascent.”

The Coroner found Malcolm had not fallen into the dock from a rowing boat, as people had assumed and had told each other, but had fallen from the quayside while trying to board the Sea Sovereign. I once fell into a neighbouring dock myself, while helping Malcolm take a vacuum cleaner on board his boat. (Don’t ask.)

Yesterday, though, Vivienne Soan told me another story about the money in Malcolm’s pocket when he died. She and her husband Martin (who long performed with Malcolm in The Greatest Show on Legs) understood there were no £50-£250 betting winnings in his pocket but there were a very very large number of £1 coins because Malcolm had (not surprisingly, if you knew him) raided his own one-armed bandit machine in the Wibbley Wobbley and put all the coins in his pocket.

The weight of all these coins in his pocket would have weighed him down when he fell into Greenland Dock.

Who knows what is truth and what is myth?

Malcolm’s date of death is usually quoted as 31st January 2005. But, in fact, Southwark Coroner John Sampson said at the Inquest: “He was last seen on the quayside outside the Wibbley Wobbley public house at about 6am on Sunday January 30th.”

He was not reported missing until January 31st – because it was not uncommon for him to disappear occasionally – and his body was not found and recovered until February 2nd 2005.

So his date of death is usually quoted as January 31st 2005.

More probably it was January 30th 2005.

But, as Malcolm would have said:

“Fuck it… It don’t matter, do it? There are people starving in Africa… Not all over… Round the edge – fish.”

I would say R.I.P. Malcolm, except that I suspect he would have hated the thought of resting in peace.

Many will be thinking of him on 30th and/or 31st January.

* * * * *

The Malcolm Hardee Awards for comedy are presented annually in August until the year 2017.

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