Tag Archives: surreal

When I came home yesterday at dusk… Tomorrow & tomorrow & tomorrow…

Durer_NurnbergRuins

I live on the outer edge of London in what is called a Close but is actually a square, with buildings on three sides and, on the other, the back gardens of houses in another street.

When I came home yesterday at dusk, the buildings on the three sides were half demolished, the roofs non-existent, the walls and innards had been broken down to half or more or less than their old height, the bricks and plaster destroyed or exposed and everything was covered with that light white dust of demolition.

When I had walked up the nearby street to my home, there had been red double-decker buses and waste bins and people walking around like it was hundreds of years ago and you were living in and walking through a world you had only known previously from old, faded images. It was dusk and all the 2-dimensional detailing and colours and sounds were there in 3-D reality.

Then I was standing on the Blackford Hill, looking north towards the Firth of Forth and Fife, with the waters stretched out flat and wet before me, the little black island of the Castle Rock sticking out of the water on the left and the larger green island of Arthur’s Seat sticking up out of the water to its right. And, way down, in the waters between them, were the underwater streets and passageways and stone buildings of what used to be Edinburgh. Just dark stone passageways and alleyways in a dark underwater maze now, with light marine growths on the dark stone walls and fish swimming along and between and inside the empty rooms of all the old buildings.

Dreams are strange.

It is very very rare that I remember mine.

Perhaps once a year; maybe twice.

I wish I remembered them more often.

But all the above was not a dream I had last night.

It was yesterday at dusk and I was awake and the images were in my mind.

MyEye_CUT

 

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At the Edinburgh Fringe: Arthur Smith and his socks and a duck jockstrap gift

Arthur Smith opens his Museum of Socks

Arthur Smith opens his Museum of Socks at Edinburgh Fringe

“Are you doing your traditional late-night tour of the Royal Mile?” I asked comedian and national treasure Arthur Smith yesterday, beside his new exhibition of socks.

“Yes,” Arthur told me. “And I will be introducing the13ft Norwegian giantess Jadwiga.”

“She’s the one with only one sock?” I asked.

“Yes,” confirmed Arthur.

“Which Saturday night?” I asked.

“The 20th,” he said. “Well, strictly speaking, it’s the Sunday, because it’s after midnight.”

“What time?” I asked.

“I dunno,” said Arthur. “One o’clock? Two? I don’t care. You decide. If you put it in your blog, that’ll be the time I do it.”

So, dear reader, Arthur Smith’s legendary annual late-night tour of the Royal Mile this year will start at 01.00am on Saturday night 20th August – or Sunday morning 21st August if you are being pedantic. The starting point, as always, is the top of the Royal Mile outside the entrance to the Castle.

“But what about Arthur Smith’s socks?” I hear you cry with some justification.

Well, tough shit. You will have to read on for a bit.

A few days ago, I got a Facebook message from one Broome Spiro asking if I fancied having breakfast with a stranger.

Broome Spiro and his levitating breakfast

Broome Spiro and his levitating breakfast

So, of course, I let him buy me breakfast yesterday morning. He turned out to be a retired immigration attorney living in upstate New York who had chucked in his job and gone to work in a pizza parlour. His son had worked in Zoo venues at the Edinburgh Fringe a few years ago. Broome is fan of my blog and of the weekly Grouchy Club podcast I do with Scotsman critic Kate Copstick.

“How did you stumble on us?” I asked.

“When my son was working at Zoo,” explained Broome, “my wife Penny was following the Fringe on the computer – online, you can almost be here – and we became interested in the politics behind the Fringe and the different business models – PBH and Bob Slayer – and we ran into your blog, which was ‘real’. It’s nice to have it done with historical perspective so you can understand if you are new to it all.

“Over the years, I have collected a tremendous amount of things. My first job was with an antiques dealer, holding up stuff, and my mother made me quit after a month because I had not had a pay cheque yet, but I kept on coming home with antiques. I have this 3,000 square foot house with four 38ft tractor trailers and two barns filled with things and how I finance coming to Edinburgh is by selling things.”

Broome tests the straps of his jockstrap

Broome tests the straps of his gift jockstrap

He took out and showed me a jockstrap made from a plastic duck.

“You created it yourself?” I asked.

“Well,” said Broome, “I found the duck and designed the jock strap, but a guy called Dara Albro is the one who made it a reality.”

“Was it tested for size and comfort?” I asked.

“I was the fitting model,” admitted Broome. “I am going to present it to Paul Currie.

“Why?” I asked.

“I like his show.”

Later in the day, Broome also turned up at the Pleasance Dome for the official opening of the exhibition of Arthur Smith’s socks.

Which is where we came in.

The exhibition includes one sock belonging to (or, more correctly, formerly belonging to) the aforementioned 13ft Norwegian giantess Jadwiga.

Scotsman critic and Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award judge Kate Copstick is of a mind to nominate Arthur’s sock exhibition for the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid Award on the basis that it is “very Saatchi”.

“Have you,” I asked Arthur, “ever been prosecuted in a Scottish court for your legendary annual late-night tour of the Royal Mile?”

“Not quite,” he said. “There was a balustrade on a corner once – well, it’s still there – and I paid a guy to stand on it and take his top off and sing Scotland The Brave and then a woman said Oh! That’s sexist! so she took her top off as well. They were a couple and had a big row. Anyway, the next day I looked, I realised there was a 40ft drop behind it and they had both been arseholed. They could have died. Maybe I would have been up for manslaughter if they had fallen. I dunno.”

Claire Smith, Broome Spiro and piano creator Iain Gordon at Arthur Smith’s opening

Claire Smith, Broome Spiro and piano builder Iain Gordon

Also there at the grand opening of Arthur’s sock exhibition – rather grandly titled Arturart’s Museum of Socks – was Scotsman journalist and increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award judge Claire Smith.

“I am staying in a tent in Worbey and Farrell’s garden,” she told me.

“What if it rains?” I asked.

“It makes a lovely splashing sound.”

“Why are you staying in a tent in their garden?” I asked.

“Because I love them. They are sweet.”

“Why a tent in their garden?” I asked.

“It’s really lovely,” explained Claire. “I’ve got a little office in there. And WiFi, a vase with lilies and a carpet. And a cherry tree. Have you heard about Lewis Schaffer?”

“Constantly,” I said.

Lewis Schaffer: sexist or vulnerable?

Lewis Schaffer in days before he went grey

“He forgot his suit,” continued Claire. ”He left it in London. He had to do his show in civies yesterday. In his jeans. But he needs his suit. He usually buys his suits from ASDA because he says they are very Armani-ish. Well, a bit. But cheaper. So he left his suit in London and had to do his show in his jeans yesterday and he is wondering if it is a subconscious desire to give up comedy forever.”

“Has he started performing comedy now?” I asked, surprised.

“I have heard,” confided Claire, “that his suit is on its way up from London.”

“Via one of his entourage?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“What other news?” I asked.

Claire Smith consoled last night by Topping (of Topping & Butch)

Loitering within tent? Claire Smith and Michael Topping

“Topping (of Topping & Butch) has given up alcohol and wants to do people’s feet in Edinburgh. He does reflexology in London. He’s really good at it. He lives in a little castle in London. He thought he would come up here and offer people reflexology.”

“People at random in the street?” I asked.

“Well, he was wanting to do it from my tent, but we haven’t really been able to organise it. We thought, if it was sunny, we could have a garden party. Get a load of people round to my tent and get their feet done.”

“Sunny?” I asked. “In Edinburgh in August? Where is your tent?”

“Near Meadowbank Stadium.”

“Oh,” I said. “I’m moving to a flat between Meadowbank and Easter Road for the last four days of the Fringe. It could be noisy at the weekend.”

Meadowbank is a 16,000 seat sports stadium and Easter Road is the 20,000 seater home of Hibernian football club.

“There’s a circus tent down there now,” said Claire.

“Let us hope,” I said, “that they don’t have elephants.”

Arthur Smith and sock of 13ft Norwegian giantess Jadwiga

Arthur Smith in Edinburgh with the newly exhibited sock of the 13ft Norwegian giantess Jadwiga

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An example of how to promote a comedy show – or three – or not

(L-R) Andy Barr, Nathan Willcock and Phil Jarvis at Soho theatre yesterday.

(L-R) Andy Barr, Nathan Willcock and Phil Jarvis at the Soho Theatre Bar yesterday with Jeremy Spake and Baby Spice.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a message from comedy performer Phil Jarvis saying:

Hi John. Is there any chance myself and Andy Barr can plug a few odd shows we have lined up to you? We can bring Creme Eggs.

When I arrived at Soho Theatre yesterday, there were three of them – people, not eggs – Nathan Willcock was a late addition – and they gave me a scanned photograph of Baby Spice holding a pizza plus a photo of a man with a slight beard.

“Who is that?” I asked Phil Jarvis.

“Nathan Willcock,” replied Phil Jarvis.

“No,” I said. “The man in the photo.”

“That is Jeremy Spake,” Phil told me. “From the 1990s TV reality show Airport.”

“And your show is…?” I asked.

“We’ve got a show called Kafka or Magaluf.”

“What is it about?”

I had thought it was a relatively simple question.

But there was a long, long pause.

Eventually, Andy came up with: “Malcolm Julian Swan is attempting to run a nightclub… erm…” There was another long pause. “But he is also interested in Marxist theatre.” He looked at Phil for confirmation.

Phil returned his look, slightly surprised.

Malcolm Julian Swan is an on-stage alter ego of Phil.

“We have,” Phil told me, “got some jungle music as an intro. And we’ve got a DJ in the show as well.”

“A proper DJ?” I asked.

“A proper DJ, yeah,” he said.

“Who wears it?” I asked.

Malcolm Julian Swan aka Phil Jarvis in a previous incarnation

Malcolm Julian Swan aka Phil Jarvis in a previous incarnation

Phil ignored me. “His name is Callum Vaughan. He lets us crash in his spare room… And we’ve got some Velcro. That’s pretty much it… It’s us trying to be Marxist theatre, Brechtian types. Malcolm Julian Swan – the character I made up – is quite a pretentious, avant-garde guy who lives in Basingstoke – He is sort-of based on myself.”

“You live in Basingstoke?” I asked. “I am terribly sorry.”

“It has its perks,” he told me.

“Does,” I asked, “a cockroach appear in the show at any point?”

“We’ve got some bits where we put Velcro on people. That’s about as close as we get to a cockroach. I was going to re-read Kafka’s Metamorphosis before doing this, but that never worked out…”

“What was the last book you did read?” I asked.

“It was a book by Jeremy Spake about working in an airport.”

“And where is Kafka or Magaluf going to be performed?” I asked.

I had thought it was a relatively simple question.

Phil looked at Andy.

“Where is it happening?” he asked.

There was a pause.

No-one answered.

Then someone said: “The Criterion Free House at Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival this Saturday.”

Cockroaches or Velcro? Kafka or Magaluf? Eh? Who knows?

Cockroaches or Velcro? Kafka or Magaluf? Eh? Who knows?

“Are you an ongoing threesome?” I asked.

“I’m not in Kafka or Magaluf,” Nathan told me.

“If we take it to the Edinburgh Fringe,” Phil told me, “he has said he will be in it.”

“Are you definitely going to take it to Edinburgh?” I asked.

“Might do,” Phil said, “but the thing we are definitely taking to the Fringe is The Abridged Dapper 11-Hour Monochrome Dream Show.

“Dapper?” I asked.

“We are reclaiming the word Dapper,” Phil told me.

“From whom?” I asked.

Dapper Laughs.”

“Because?”

“Because he’s a cunt. So it’s worth claiming it back cos it’s a tarnished word.”

“How long does your 11-hour show last?” I asked.

“One hour,” said Andy. “Originally, we were going to do it as 11 hours, but it’s abridged. If you know anywhere that will let us do it for 11 hours, we will do that.”

“It would be a free show?” I asked.

“Oh,” laughed Phil. “Oh yes. No-one will want to pay money to come and see it!”

“Did you,” I asked, “flyer for your Edinburgh Fringe show last year?”

“I gave out some IKEA instructions for assembling furniture,” said Phil, “and wrote my phone number down on it and said Come… About 15 people came! We did two days.”

“The first day,” said Andy, “we got about five people in.”

“But that,” I reminded him, “is around the average audience size at the Edinburgh Fringe.”

“We could,” mused Phil, “do the full 11-hour show on the Megabus from John O’Groats to Edinburgh.”

The back end of a MegaBus

The back end of a Megabus aka possible venue

Last year, Phil came up with an idea for an Edinburgh Fringe show in which comedians would rotate getting on the Megabus for a month and videoing a live feed onto Skype which would be projected in to a room in Edinburgh. Sadly it came to naught.

“This new show,” said Phil, “The Abridged Dapper 11-Hour Monochrome Dream Show… It was thought-up in Michael Brunström’s garden… at a barbecue. We were all sitting round talking and it came out of that.”

“I went to the toilet,” explained Andy, “and, when I came back, they had conceived a Fringe show.”

“Was it a long visit to the toilet?” I asked.

“Well,” Andy told me, “it was fairly… was fairly… Well, I was checking the Tweets, you know?”

“So Andy comes back,”explained Phil, “and it ends up Andy was the only one who was in the show. Everyone else who originally agreed to be in it has pulled out.”

“They’ve all distanced themselves from it,” said Nathan.

“What is it about?” I asked.

There was a short pause.

Phil Jarvis at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015

Phil Jarvis at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015

“It was originally going to be about the Apocalypse,” said Phil, “but now it’s just dreams – sketches about the Apocalypse. Well, it’s not sketches. it’s dreams.”

“The key difference being,” said Nathan, “that there is absolutely zero narrative thrust to any of the dreams.”

“We don’t really know what it’s going to be” explained Phil. “The key thing is that something is going to happen at a preview in London on the 24th of March. It’s a happening. That’s what we do. It’s happening. A happening. It’s a dream happening.”

Andy added: “We just hope Phil’s gonna keep his clothes on this time.”

“I will be trying to keep them on,” said Phil.

“Oh,” I said.

“The other thing we want to plug,” Phil continued, “is that Andy’s starting a new comedy night on 3rd March called The Apocalypse Survivors’ Club.”

“The idea,” explained Andy, “is that an Apocalypse has happened and all culture has been wiped from the face of the earth, aside from a few bits and pieces.”

“Where is this?” I asked.

“Dalston,” replied Andy.

“At the Ophelia,” said Phil.

“How do you spell that?” I asked. He told me. “Just checking,” I told him.

“We will,” Andy continued, “have some acts on trying to re-build culture after the Apocalypse.”

(Foreground) Cassie Atkinson looks forward to an evening with Andy Bar

(Foreground) Cassie Atkinson keen to spend an evening with Andy Barr and other Apocalypse Survivors’ Club members

“Acts?” I asked.

“The first night,” said Andy, “has Alexander Bennett, Michael Brunström, Cassie Atkinson, Fern Brady and a poet called Michael Clarke. It’s just a new material night. We can use it as a testing ground for stuff we might put in later shows and Phil is my assistant.”

“We were thinking,” said Nathan, “of starting the first show with Donald Trump causing the Apocalypse and then we’re all around the camp fire and link the sketches through that. But Andy immediately said: That’s too much structure.”

“I am more worried,” I said, “by the phrase ‘we’re all around the camp fire’…”

“It is good to keep an element of fear,” said Phil.

“We could get a laptop of a burning fire…” mused Nathan.

“And,” said Andy, “just burn the laptop.”

“That’s too logical,” said Nathan.

When I left, Phil gave me part of the script for Kafka or Magaluf. It starts:

Sam and Andy walk out to the audience and hand out quotes from Karl Marx, Groucho Marx and Harpo Marx…

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I am very grateful to be even belatedly appreciated in Peru and Milton Keynes

Since I stopped writing a daily blog at New Year, surrealism has taken over.

Yesterday, rather belatedly, an online paper based in Puno, Peru, posted a link in their Adult section to my December 2010 blog Killer Bitch and the ‘F’ word and the ‘C’ word.

PunoPeru_paper.li

Today, slightly closer to home but still more than a little surreal, an online page called Hello Milton Keynes, Here’s Your Daily News published by Atkinson Forestry (“the premier specialists in providing a wide range of quality tree surgery services, at highly competitive prices) has picked up on another December 2010 blog I wrote titled: Spending Christmas 1998 with Malcolm Hardee in Sarf Eest London.

MiltonKeynes_paper.li

It is good to be appreciated in both Puno, Peru and in Milton Keynes, England.

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From Berlin: “the surreal, strange and amazing and weird and wonderful…”

Polly Trope’s selfie of herself in a mirror

Polly Trope’s selfie of herself reflected in a mirror in 2014

A week ago, I blogged about Polly Trope, who was organising a book fair in a bar in Berlin, which included the idea of a Literophone – a small furry booth where guests could call up writers and get words read to them down the phone.

I was supposed to be on the end of a phone in London yesterday, ready to read out a blog to unsuspecting German lovers of words. But I got tickets for a play in London’s West End instead. My Facebook Friends may have read my sort-of review of Mr Foote’s Other Leg.

So, this afternoon, I Skyped Polly Trope to find out how the Berlin event had gone yesterday.

“Really well,” Polly told me. “Everyone had a good time. About a hundred people came. It was more a social affair than a book fair – networking. We had two rooms: one for chatting and drinking and one for doing readings.”

“How did the Literophone go?” I asked.

“Really well. I think for both the people phoning and the people reading it was a very strange experience. A certain kind of person was interested in phoning.”

“What type of person?”

Polly Trope on a special horse near Great Yarmouth (Photograph by Clifford Slapper)

Polly Trope near Great Yarmouth (Photograph by Clifford Slapper)

“People who have a love for the surreal, the strange and amazing and weird and wonderful. Not everyone is into that. Some people phoned all the poets and all the flash fiction writers.”

“What,” I asked, “was surreal, strange and amazing – the readings or the fluffy booth itself?”

“I think it was the fact the readings were on the phone and you could not know in advance what you were going to get and you weren’t sure how to react. People came out saying: Ooh! that was really weird and intense.”

“In the tiny little fluffy booth?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“What was the highlight for you outside in the bar itself?”

“Jonathan Lyon’s reading.”

(Jonathan Lyon has been described as a fur-donning Adonis writing a novel via Instagram about his drug habits while at Oxford.)

“Why?” I asked.

“I just think he’s a wonderful writer. He read a piece about kind-of-like-a horror film taking place within his own skull and he climbs into his skull and finds another skull and then there’s a little door and slides down and it just gets really intricate.”

“It sounds,” I said, “ideal for a bar where everyone is drinking.”

“Yes. The bar is named after the dog.”

“The dog?” I asked.

“The bar is called the Posh Teckel.”

“Teckel?” I asked.

“I think it’s a word to say dachshund. They have a dog called Ella in the bar.”

“Stuffed?” I asked.

“No. Alive.”

“Sausages are usually stuffed,” I said.

Ella in the fluffy booth with a telephone

Ella in the fluffy booth with a telephone

“As soon as I made the fluffy booth,” Polly told me, “Ella went into it, thinking Ooh! this is nice and fluffy. I’m going in.”

“Ella is the dog?” I asked,.

“Yes. She left when people started to come in, “said Polly. “She doesn’t like crowds.”

“Are you going to do it again?” I asked.

“Yeah. We’re hoping next time we can get someone to sponsor us. It would be nice to have funding.”

“It is always nice to have funding,” I said, “… or so people tell me.”

“I don’t know when the next one will be,” Polly told me, “but the Literophone is possibly going to be happening in London as a little Christmas celebration. I’m quite keen to do the experience again for more people in more places.”

“Anything else you want to say?” I asked. “Do you want to sing?”

“I can’t sing,” said Polly.

“You can,” I told her. “I’ve heard you sing. You did a black and white music video.”

“You liked that?”

“It was like Berlin between the Wars,” I said, “which is rather worrying as it means there’s another war coming along.”

“Yeah,” said Polly, “but it was filmed in Florida.”

“You can still be German there,” I said. “Just because you are in Florida doesn’t mean you have to be a cartoon mouse. You can still be German.”

“I just took some video by the pool,” Polly told me. “At a really creepy motel. I liked the fact it was creepy.”

“Why was it creepy?” I asked. “Did it feel like Psycho?”

“No. It was a bit like a set of council blocks and, in the middle, was a swimming pool which never had anyone in it. So I swam in it.”

Polly’s song is still on YouTube:

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After weird comedy, what is next?

Martin Soan in my home

Martin Soan at my home in Borehamwood

“The first time you performed at the Edinburgh Fringe was in the 1970s?” I asked Martin Soan when he came round to help me with something in my home.

“I first went up there in 1971,” he told me. “It was different then. I only remember one street performer.”

“What was he doing?” I asked.

“I’ll give you three guesses.”

“Juggling.”

“No.”

“Fire-eating.”

“No.”

“Buggering budgerigars.”

“No.”

“What?”

“He was playing the bagpipes. There was a leaflet listing the Fringe shows. I think there were only about half a dozen shows. There was a room above a pub with the Cambridge Footlights in. There was an experimental dance piece. There was some sort of classic play.”

“Why did you go up in the first place?”

“Because I knew one of the dancers in the experimental dance piece.”

“The lure of sex.”

“Always. I went up there in 1971, but then I didn’t go up for another 12 or 15 years with The Greatest Show on Legs.”

“How has the Fringe changed?” I asked. “It’s just got commercialised, hasn’t it?”

‘Everybody knows how it’s changed,” said Martin. “That’s an old story.”

“You could make it up,” I said. “Did you know they used to sell fish in The Grassmarket? And whales. That’s why it’s the shape it is.”

Part of the Grassmarket in Edinburgh - once a seething mass of whale meat (Photograph by Kim Traynor

The Grassmarket in Edinburgh – once a thriving whale market (Photograph by Kim Traynor)

“Is that right?” asked Martin.

“Yes,” I said. “It’s a little-known known fact about Edinburgh.”

“Whales?” asked Martin.

“Imagine the shape of The Grassmarket,” I told him. “That’s whale-sized and whale-shaped, isn’t it?… The Gaelic work for ‘whale’ is ‘graas’ – It’s from the Norwegian. Graas. So it became the Graasmarket, where people bought bits of whale.”

“Really?”

“It was always a showbiz area,” I explained. “They used to sing songs in The Grassmarket. Whale Meat Again. That first got popular there.”

“I don’t know,” said Martin. “It’s like asking someone if they’re a vegetarian, then giving them meat but secretly it’s made out of soya or something like that. It’s very weird.”

“It’s not post-modern,” I suggested. “It’s post-weird.”

“That’s the thing,” said Martin. “Where do we go now with comedy if the weird has become the norm? What can be slightly off-kilter from that? I like a good stand-up. I like a good variety act. I like a good weird act. But there’s lots of them now. There’s lots of weird acts.”

Michael Brunström as Mary Quant

Michael Brunström as a whaling Mary Quant

Michael Brunström is weird in a good way,” I said. “I saw him the other day. He was dressed in a toga, impersonating the 1960s designer Mary Quant in what was supposed to be the true story of her whaling trip and it seemed to me that he was speaking in a slight German accent. It was weird. He is weird.”

“You can see the influences coming through now,” said Martin.

“Of Mary Quant?” I asked.

“No,” said Martin. “But it’s rippling through the comedy circuit. I have now seen three people wearing a saucepan on their head banging it with a stick.”

“Who started that?” I asked. “Spike Milligan?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” replied Martin. “But I think, on this round, the first person I saw do it was Cheekykita – maybe with a crash helmet on. Now there are loads of people banging their heads.”

“It could,” I said, “be Johnny Sorrow’s influence with the Bob Blackman Appreciation Society.”

“It is difficult to know where you go from weird,” said Martin.

“You must have a lot of original acts approaching you to appear at Pull The Other One,” I said. (Martin runs a monthly comedy variety show.)

“I’m trying to get back to true variety,” Martin told me. “I would love to put on stage people who don’t normally go on stage but who are brilliant performers. But it takes a lot of diplomacy. I really want to book – and have tried to book but failed – one of those guys who sells knives at stations.

“They sell kitchen equipment and stuff like that. They normally have one of those little Beyoncé mics and an assistant and they have a whole box of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions and their patter is: The time you waste finely-chopping onions, ladies! Just buy one of these Acme vegetable choppers. you take off the blades like this. You wash it like this. Then you get your onion. Bang! Bang! Bang! Finely chopped! Not only will I give you that and attachments for beautifully, artistically-sliced cucumbers but you can even core a cauliflower!

A cauliflower could lead to comedy

A cauliflower could lead to comedy

“I would love to get one of those guys up on stage during a show. If you just put them in a different situation, like a comedy club, they would ham it up even more. So I’m thinking about that.”

“And you could share the profit on knife sales,” I suggested.

“Yeah,” said Martin unenthusiastically.

“Or,” I suggested. “you could sell yourself to a shopping channel. They have all these embarrassed-looking out-of-work actors selling things for two hours in dull sets. Instead, they could have a surreal comedy show that sells things.”

“I am,” said Martin, “thinking opera singers and quartets at Pull The Other One.”

“I am,” I told him, “thinking opera singers on shopping channels selling vegetable cutters.”

“If,” he continued, “you think of your average comedy evening, one stand-up makes the audience laugh and the others don’t.  I want to do shadow shows and UV theatre, but good ones.”

“I’m sure,” I said, “that audiences at comedy clubs are getting tired of five stand-up acts in a row and, if they’re young male acts, they’re all talking about wanking because that’s all they know. There should be a ban on wanking references in comedy clubs. And there could be an untapped audience for people selling kitchen knives.”

There is a video on YouTube of Bob Blackman singing Mule Train while hitting himself on the head with a metal tray.

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Live forest sex in Canada amid massage parlours and marijuana plantations

After reading yesterday’s blog about live sex on-stage at a rock festival in Norway, this blog’s occasional correspondent Anna Smith sent me the following from Vancouver.


The ever interesting Anna Smith

Anna Smith: woman with a past

It’s not that unusual for people to have sex in the forest here. It’s a bit less crowded than the beach.

Most of British Columbia is conveniently covered in forest. Forestry is a major industry, it may even provide more jobs than massage parlours, but not as many as the marijuana plantations. Work in the orchards, fishing and mushroom-picking industries is more seasonal. Tree planting, logging, sawmills, pulp & paper and forest fires provide a lot of work year round and excitement every summer. Fire fighters pour in from across the continent, livening up small towns and dumping toxic water bombs from helicopters onto burning railway trestles to the delight of intoxicated teenage ferry passengers.

I have always turned down any job that involves having sex on stage. So I did find it hilarious that, when I was dancing in the Belgian Porno cinemas (which was not quite the same thing as the Belgian Congo, although the cinemas could be described as conflict zones), the signs outside the cinemas advertised Live Sex Show but it was just me doing a striptease. We had to sign lengthy contracts in quadruplicate stating that, if we were performing with wild animals or on the trapeze, we were responsible for our own insurance.


Anna’s father sounds interesting. She also sent me this:


Anna Smith last night, "after three days of sleeping on a psychiatrist’s couch"

A photo taken last night of Anna Smith, “after three days of sleeping on a psychiatrist’s couch, not wearing any make-up.”

My father is asleep right now, which I am glad of as he has a large hole on the top of his head. He looks like he has been hit by shrapnel and I am very glad he did not remove his cap at the concert on Saturday, although he did threaten to.

His friend, a languages professor from Manchester, pleaded that he not remove his cap.

I asked the professor: “What’s the matter? Don’t you have a hole in your head?”

He said he did not, so I asked him where he did have holes – a question which did not displease him.

We were in a church. There was an announcement over the PA system that someone had left their headlights on and that they should be turned off.

My father pretended that it was an announcement that someone had left their cap on and, again, threatened to remove his.

After the concert, we noticed two spooky effigies against the wall. One represented a refugee and the other a homeless person with angel’s wings.


I have no explanation for the above.


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