Tag Archives: The Last Resort

A story about Paul McCartney and Ian Dury which may or may not be true

(This blog was also published in the Huffington Post)

I have only encountered Paul McCartney twice very very briefly.

Once was when he appeared on Channel 4’s The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross. I did not handle the music on the show and we barely chatted, but he seemed very accessible and extremely amiable.

The second time was when comedian Charlie Chuck and I drove to Brighton where Paul McCartney was throwing a Christmas party at the Dome for the staff of his MPL company and Charlie was performing. For some reason, we could not find the entrance to the Dome and Charlie said, “We’ll ask the next person we see in the street.”

We stopped beside someone – a pair of legs – in a side street, I rolled down the window, asked, “Could you help us…?” and, surreally, Paul McCartney’s face came down and looked through the window. He had been ambling along to his party at the Dome on foot, alone, untroubled by anyone, untroubled by ego.

I have never heard anything but good things about him which was why I was surprised this week to hear someone I know, with connections in the music business, say to me:

“I never liked Paul McCartney.”

“Why?” I asked my chum.

“No reason at all,” came the reply. “Never liked him. Never heard anything bad about him, but never liked him.”

He then told me this story.

I cannot guarantee it is a true story. But it is an interesting story.

My chum has a friend in the music business who was a friend of the late rock icon Ian Dury.

Paul McCartney and Ian Dury had never met but, it seems, McCartney was a big admirer of Dury’s work.

Two or three months before Ian Dury died, he got a phone call. The voice on the other end of the phone said:

“Hello, Ian, it’s Paul McCartney.”

Ian Dury’s reaction was along the lines of: “Yeah. Fuck off. Good one. It’s a pretty good imitation.”

The conversation went on for a bit, but Ian Dury never believed it was the real Paul McCartney.

A few days later, though, there was a knock on his door – it might have been a ring – and, sure enough, Paul McCartney is standing there

At this point, Ian Dury is very ill with the bowel cancer which will kill him in just a few weeks time.

Paul McCartney comes in, the two of them have a very pleasant conversation and Paul hands Ian a sheet of paper, saying: “I wanted to give you this list. These are consultants and therapists who helped Linda towards the end and made her life much much better. They may be able to help you too.”

Ian said something appreciative but, in passing, mumbled something about the cost.

“Oh, that’s no problem,” Paul McCartney told him: “They get paid by vouchers.”

When he left, he handed Ian Dury an envelope saying:

“These are some vouchers.”

After he had gone, Ian Dury opened the envelope.

Inside was a cheque for half a million pounds.

A few weeks later, he received another half million pounds.

I have no idea if this story is true or not. But it comes from someone who knew Ian Dury well, so I suspect it is.

My chum told me:

“I didn’t used to like Paul McCartney. No reason. I just didn’t like him. Now I do. I respect him a lot.”

Here he is on The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross:

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How did spaghetti-juggling get into this year’s Edinburgh Fringe programme?

The ever-energetic comic Bob Slayer is looking after The Hive venue at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe for the Laughing Horse Free Festival and, back in January, he asked me if I wanted to do any chat-type shows based on my blog.

I had already arranged to stage a two-hour Malcolm Hardee Awards Show on the final Friday of the Fringe.

So we arranged that I would precede this with four ‘talking head’ shows. Debates, but with comedians. I would chair the first two and doyenne of Edinburgh Fringe comedy reviewers Kate Copstick (a Malcolm Hardee Award judge) would chair the second two. The subjects seemed quite clear:

On Monday – “Comedians are psychopathic masochists with a death wish” – based on a blog I wrote which comedy industry website Chortle later used.

On Tuesday – “Racist or sexist jokes? It doesn’t matter if they’re funny!” – again based on a blog of mine which Chortle later printed.

On Wednesday –  “Have the Big Boys Fucked Up The Fringe?” about large promoters, producers and management agencies’ effect on the Fringe.

On Thursday – “Are Bono, Bob and the Big Boys Fucking Up The World?” about charity and aid money.

This was all OK until Copstick discovered, at the last moment, that she had to be in London for the final of ITV’s new reality TV series Show Me The Funny on the same days as her planned Fringe debates – and possibly rehearsing in London on the previous two days.

This happened a few days before the final Fringe Programme deadline, when the titles and billings had already been submitted.

I have always wanted to hear the introduction, “And now… a man juggling spaghetti…”

I would accept a woman. If you have a spare one, let me know.

But, if I could hear that introduction and then see someone do it, I could die happy and fulfilled.

Since the mid-1980s, when I was working on the LWT series Game For a Laugh, through series like The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross, I half-heartedly tried to find someone who could juggle cooked spaghetti for more than one minute. It appears it cannot be done. In the 1990s, I tried with the brilliant juggler Steve Rawlings, at which point, I gave up – If he can’t do it, no-one can do it, I thought – but it has always simmered away at the back of my mind.

So, on the basis that I could not think of anything better, I decided to hold the Malcolm Hardee Spaghetti-Juggling Contest – Year One (who knows if there will be a Year Two, but it sounds good) at the Laughing Horse Free Fringe venue which is exactly what it says in the name – Outside The Beehive – in Grassmarket for 45 minutes on the final Tuesday and Wednesday nights of the Edinburgh Fringe.

It should be messy and, if it rains, shambolically messy – a fitting tribute to Malcolm Hardee. But it might get a few pictures in the media and/or some word-of-mouth to plug the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show on the Friday night. And I suspect I can get quite a few comics to wander along and take part as well as members of the public.

The submission has gone in to Guinness to see if – in the unlikely event someone can actually keep cooked spaghetti in the air for more than a minute – they would actually recognise spaghetti-juggling as a world record.

Now all I have to do is find somewhere to get large amounts of cooked spaghetti on two nights in Edinburgh in late August…

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IMF managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, dressed up in babies’ clothes and sucking on a large dummy

What is wrong with the managing director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn?

That man needs serious PR counselling. He looked guilty and dodgy in the New York court. Probably with good reason.

I do like to be lazy and not shave for a bit myself (I had a beard, aged 25-50) but, really, if you are going to be in court charged with attempted rape and you know there will be TV cameras there, then do shave, wear a tie and try to look innocent, not like a rather down-at-heel caged wolf.

It’s enough to give bankers a bad name.

When I was a researcher on The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross TV show, as a possible interviewee, I once chatted to a woman who ran an infantilist business, Her market was grown men (allegedly not paedophiles…) who liked to dress up in babies’ clothes. Giant nappies, the whole caboodle.

If you are an American, for “nappies” read “diapers”.

And they had parties.

Apparently the sort of men who like this tend to be men in very straight, responsible jobs like bank managers. It makes you wonder about Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

I have never had much respect for authority figures anyway but, when you imagine them dressed up in giant nappies sucking on over-sized dummies sitting in specially-made giant-sized cots, it tends to make them seem less authoritative…

If you are an American, for “dummies” read “pacifiers”.

The woman who ran the infantilist business was, at that time, the girlfriend of a now-deceased special effects man who worked on Hammer horror films. I knew him slightly. He was brought up in Kent and, as a child, used to dig up the skeletons of Napoleonic prisoners of war buried in the Kent marshes. He didn’t like his girlfriend to eat food in front of other people.

There are some interesting people around. I am comparatively dull.

Mark you, compared to some of these people, Arnold Schwarzenegger’ sex life would be dull.

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Bitching about famous people. Your chance to guess – who is XXXXX, the lecherous showbiz groper?

Isn’t gossip a wonderful thing?

Yesterday, following on from my blogs about The downside of being a dead celebrity and Famous two-faced showbiz pond scum, I was having a wee e-chat with Scots comedian Stu Who about the “celebrities” we’d met.

He told me: “My own personal nemesis was XXXXX, who I found to be a particularly rude and lecherous auld cunt, when out of the public gaze… Lechery, of course, is no sin, but when a position of power is abused by touching-up young runners and crew in a ‘joking’ way, I just can’t keep quiet and had a couple of altercations with XXXXX …. not a nice man!!!”

This interested me, because I had heard XXXXX was a groper, but wasn’t sure if it was true because I’d met him briefly twice and both times he seemed very amiable, gentle and uncle-ish; he fitted his ‘family entertainer’ image perfectly.

Stu told me, though, that he found dealing with people like XXXXX “was all counterbalanced beautifully by some of the really nice people I have also had the privilege to encounter and work with… Some of them I literally ‘hated’ on TV before meeting them and I was subsequently gobsmacked to find out how cool and friendly they were in real life… Bob Monkhouse being the most notable.

“He’d been my pet hate for decades with his plastic appearance and gushing superficiality, but he turned out to be really pleasant, courteous and astonishingly supportive to this daft Glaswegian who’d been hired to do his warm-up for the Lottery shows.”

I have never heard anything bad about Bob Monkhouse whom I greatly admired. He was known for his great love of slapstick and his collection of comic silent movies. We had him as a guest on the very slapsticky children’s show Tiswas and his only stipulation up-front was that he should not be custard-pied in the face.

There was no problem with this and he mentioned it right up-front when he was booked; but none of us could figure out why he didn’t want to be ‘pied’ – it seemed perfect for his image and he was in no way pompous; he was a lovely man. Our only wild guess was that he wore a wig – but we had never heard of him having one, I have never read of such a thing and it didn’t look like he had a wig. So, to this day, it remains a complete and utter mystery to me.

I’ve been luckier than Stu Who.

I’ve actually only ever worked with one person who played the “I’m a star” bit.

People told me Chris Tarrant was a bit up himself when Tiswas first hit big but, when I encountered and later worked with him, he was a joy: a total laid-back professional. He was nothing like his image – he was a highly professional, highly sophisticated, cigar-smoking reflective fisherman – and a good bloke.

I’m sure his anarchic image can survive that description.

But you can never tell what people are really like.

A few years ago, at a special National Film Theatre screening of her father Anthony Newley’s indescribably odd film Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?Tara Newley confirmed that her mother Joan Collins had decided to divorce him after attending the premiere of the movie. According to Tara, Joan had never seen the finished film before that screening. And, if you have ever seen the autobiographical movie (in which Anthony Newley, Joan Collins and their children all appear), you can see why she divorced him. I seem to remember reading an interview with Joan Collins in which she loved him but couldn’t live with him.

I am not surprised.

I once tried to book Anthony Newley on Channel 4’s The Last Resort With Jonathan Ross and failed.

I talked to his agent while Newley was in the US and before he came to London to appear in a West End stage show. The agent was happy for him to appear on The Last Resort and Newley was keen to appear on the show. The trouble was that our TV show transmitted live from 10.30pm in Wandsworth and Newley was on stage until around 10.30 in the West End.

It would probably take him at least 10 minutes of show over-run, applause and rushing out of the theatre (still in costume and make-up) to get out onto a street where a car could pick him up. He was even prepared to ride pillion on a motorbike to do the journey. But there was no way to guarantee at that time on a Friday night in London that he could be got to Wandsworth and into the studio in time for any meaningful appearance on The Last Resort.

So we had to abandon the idea. No problem.

We had wanted him on the show. He had wanted to appear.

We were all the best of chums and no-one was to blame. It was just one of those things.

A couple of weeks later, I got a phone call in the Last Resort office.

“Hello, it’s Tony Newley,” the voice on the other end said.

He was phoning from his shower in a Park Lane hotel. I could hear the water in the background.

“Can you believe they have a telephone in the shower?” he asked me.

He said he wanted to apologise for not being able to appear on our show.

I said there was no problem because it was just the timing which had proved impossible. We would have him on in future in a flash if we could.

But he wanted to say sorry.

There was no need for him to make the phone call and certainly no need to make it to me – I was merely the show’s researcher, not the producer.

But he made the call.

I always thought very highly of him after that.

I still don’t know if Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? is a good film, though. And I have seen it three times. It is certainly bizarre.

But Anthony Newley, on the basis of my one phone call with him, seemed a good man.

On the other hand, though, on the basis of two brief meetings, XXXXX seemed OK to me.

Who can tell?

Gossip is an in-exact art.

________

NB… I should point out that XXXXX, a well-known entertainer, is definitely not any of the people named in this blog and I have never mentioned him in any previous blog.

________

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