Tag Archives: toilet

Close encounters of the turd kind

The Evening Standard story

The Evening Standard story told a sorry tale of a shit student

Shit happens.

Last night, I went to the National Film Theatre to hear producer/director Roger Corman talk about his movie career. On the train on the way there, I read in the London Evening Standard a half-page story which started:

“A drama student has told how his life was ruined by being unable to leave the lavatory for up to seven hours a day due to a fear of soiling himself.”

23-year-old James said of the lavatory: “Since I was five, I have had a really difficult relationship with it, which sounds ridiculous. But I hate it. It’s like a monkey on my back.”

I arrived early for the NFT event and sat outside on the South Bank of the River Thames for a while. Such is the immorality caused by having a daily blog that I have started to eavesdrop on random conversations.

Two men were chatting next to me, both middle-aged.

“It hasn’t come out yet,” one was saying.

“How do you look for it?” the other asked.

“With my fingers,” said the first man.

“Ughh,” said the second man.

“Yes, ughh,” said the first man.

I knew the first man’s pain.

Wikipedia explains dental crown details

Wikipedia explains dental crown details

The crown on one of his teeth had come off and he had swallowed it.

This has happened to me twice.

The first time, I thought: I am not going to plough through my shit for the next couple of days to find a small crown and then get it put back in my mouth by the dentist.

So I got a new crown made. It was expensive.

It was VERY expensive.

A few years later, the same thing happened.

I am a Scot brought up among Jews.

I thought: It is very expensive. I AM going to plough through my shit for the next couple of days.

And I did. But it was more complicated than it had at first seemed.

For one thing, you have to intercept the turds as they emerge – and preferably on a non-porous, fairly rigid material. You also have to ensure only one turd emerges and there is then a gap before the next one emerges so that, in that gap, you can lay the first turd collected on the non-porous material on a flat surface.

Dental crowns are surprisingly small in relation to the size of an average turd so could easily be inside one without being visible. I found the best way to sift the turd or – let’s be frank here – turds – was to use a fork, then to mash the excreted material until I was certain there was no small white object covered in brown material lurking amidst the other squidgy brown material.

Thus the requirement for a non-porous, fairly rigid material on which to lay the turds as they emerged.

The crown took four days to emerge.

It was not a pleasant time.

It cost me a fork. I threw it away.

I could have disinfected it, but I could not face the potential future flashbacks when eating.

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Two uses for a toilet in comedy routines

Sharney Emma Nougher as Sharnema Nougar plays her ukulele with audience support at Lost Cabaret

Sharney Emma Nougher as Sharnema Nougar plays her ukulele with audience support at Lost Cabaret

As I was saying in yesterday’s blog, before I got side-tracked by the aggro within the Free Fringe…

In the last two years at the Edinburgh Fringe, the most interesting comedy has been in shows not listed in the Comedy section of the programme but in the Cabaret section. Or shows listed in the Comedy section but which are not straight stand-up shows.

Another interesting change is the rise of ‘free’ shows: you do not pay in advance; you pay whatever you want (or nothing) having seen the show.

Marcus Whitfield as ‘Simon’ with fast-moving squirrel on horse at last Friday’s Lost Cabaret show

Marcus Whitfield as ‘Simon’ with fast-moving squirrel on horse at last Friday’s Lost Cabaret show

Lewis Schaffer has been performing his twice-a-week free stand-up show – Free Until Famous – in London for the past four years. Vivienne and Martin Soan have been running their Pull The Other One comedy club for the past nine years. Their shows feature bizarre variety acts plus one token stand-up – usually a ‘Name’ like Jo Brand, Omid Djalili or Arthur Smith.

On Friday, Martin Soan and I went to the charismatic Nelly Scott/Zuma Puma’s weekly ‘free’ Lost Cabaret show in Stockwell, where there is no traditional stand-up, just bizarre acts mostly trying out new material.

It would be wilfully silly to choose the oddest act of the night, but certainly Italian performer Diego Borella was unexpected.

His act involved two radio-controlled cardboard boxes marked A and B and, in the latter part of the act, an entire toilet bowl.

The cardboard boxes appeared to be controlled by a man in the audience later identified as ‘Reindeer’.

No-one appeared to be controlling the toilet bowl.

Afterwards, I talked to Diego.

Diego talks after his unexpected toilet act

Diego Borella found inspiration in a toilet

“You’re an Italian from Venice,” I said. “Why the name Diego?”

“My mother had a Spanish taste,” he told me.

“And does your name Borella mean anything?” I asked.

“In the centre and south of Italy, he told me, it means ‘playing bowls’…”

“Is that relevant to anything?”

“No.”

“So why the toilet bowl?” I asked.

“We were walking out of my flat,” explained Diego, “and we found a toilet on the stairs and I thought a toilet could always be useful on stage. From now on, I am always going to keep a couple of spare toilets in my flat.”

Those, arguably, are two of the golden rules of comedy.

Be prepared.

And keep your eyes open for abandoned toilets.

The Greatest Show On Legs once used a toilet we found,” Martin Soan told.

The toilet bowl leaves with the Lost Cabaret audience at the show’s end

The toilet bowl leaves with the Lost Cabaret audience at the show’s end

“We found it on the way to a gig, so we had Steve Bowditch dress as a magician with a top hat – we had all the gear with us – take his trousers down and sit on the toilet to some music by Mozart. We happened to have some music from Mozart with us at the time. On stage, Bowditch put his hand down the toilet and pulled out a rabbit (not alive) with a little turd between his ears.”

“Between Bowditch’s ears?” I asked.

“The rabbit’s,” said Martin.

“How long did you do that for?” I asked.

“A couple of years,” said Martin. “Bowditch did some very good facial expressions of straining to the music.”

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How to get publicity and become an award-winning comedian. With sex.

Chris Dangerfield – award winning comedian

I arranged to meet Chris Dangerfield yesterday on a street corner in Soho, London’s central sex district.

It was his idea and it seemed appropriate for a man who performed his Sex Tourist show at the recent Edinburgh Fringe and who almost won the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for getting his flyers sponsored by an Edinburgh ‘escort agency’ – punters got 10% off the agency’s ‘services’ if they produced one of Chris’ Sex Tourist flyers.

We went to a Vietnamese restaurant in Soho. Chris knows the people who own it. He lives in Soho. We had prawn salad. The restaurant owner told us someone from the prestigious and very up-market Ivy restaurant had come and asked for the recipe to the seriously delicious prawn salad and they had given the person the recipe, but missed out one vital ingredient.

Chris told me: “My brother’s name is Torren. He was named after the Torrey Canyon oil tanker, which ran aground in 1967. My parents were going to call me Cadiz – after the Amoco Cadiz oil tanker which ran aground in 1978. But the surname Dangerfield is a Romany name and they didn’t call me Cadiz because they decided ‘Cadiz Dangerfield’ would be too gypsy. So they called me Christopher. I think I would have been better off with Cadiz.

“Having lost the Cunning Stunt to a higher bidder this year,” Chris continued, “obviously I am very very bitter. I should’ve known to just stump up some cash. I’ll find some way of paying for it next year.”

“But almost everyone can say they’re an award winner,” I suggested. “When I was eleven, I won an award for handwriting. In 2010, Fringe Report gave me an award as ‘Best Awards Founder’ – so I got an award for awarding awards.”

“Well,” said Chris, “I got the 1989 Downs Comprehensive School Prize for Painting and Drawing.”

“So you’re an award-winner,” I said. “and therefore you can justifiably put on your posters and flyers that you are an award-winning comedian. I won a school prize for handwriting, so even more justifiably, I could bill myself as an award-winning writer. In fact, I may well start doing that.”

“I self-published a novel when I was 24,” revealed Chris, “and i-D magazine – cool in its day – referred to it as ‘genius’… They said This slight volume’s genius warms…

“What was the novel called?” I asked.

Tired etc,” shrugged Chris. “It was a rubbish novel about a couple of blokes who grew a lot of skunk and took a lot of speed. Autobiographical obviously. It was a vanity project, but it sold a lot and got a lovely review. i-D called it ‘genius’ so I have sometimes put on posters for my comedy gigs ‘Genius (i-D)’ because I think I am, really. Essentially.”

“You know the Jason Wood story, do you?” I asked. “Kate Copstick gave his Edinburgh Fringe show a one-star review in The Scotsman so, the next day, on all his posters, he had emblazoned ‘A STAR (The Scotsman)’. Copstick told me she was filled with admiration and wanted to give him extra stars just for that.”

Chris laughed. “This year,” he said, “Marie Claire magazine did Ten Top Tips to get the most out of the Fringe written by someone called Anna Saunders and, just in passing, she said I will not be attending Chris Dangerfield’s show ‘Sex Tourist’. That was it. That was all she said. But I actually thanked her for that. I said In your how-to-get-thin-and-fuck-men rag… I don’t really want any of those people in my show anyway. I offered to do Sex Tourist in her front room for free. She hasn’t got back to me.”

“Good publicity idea,” I said.

“But I would do the show in her front room,” insisted Chris. “I toured with Trevor Lock last year, performing in living rooms. We done 45 paid shows in people’s front rooms. It was the most amazing tour. We were doing two a week. We done Sadie Frost’s living room, which was bigger than a lot of venues I’ve done. We also done three women in Bath.”

“Did you advertise for people who wanted comedy shows in their living rooms?” I asked.

“Well,” explained Chris, “Trevor had a slightly bigger profile than I had – he just put it on Facebook and Twitter and, when we got booked by Sadie Frost, Kate Moss came so there was a bit of publicity around that and Boy George booked us, so that helped.

“There was one couple who lived in a house that used to belong to Madonna or Guy Ritchie up in Lancaster Gate and they were very, very posh so it was funny telling them whore stories. Halfway through my set, one woman very quietly said: You should be in a cage. Which was alright. That was fine. She’s probably right.

“We spent so long in people’s toilets on that tour,” said Chris. “Because there’s no Green Room in people’s houses. So, while they’re all shuffling chairs round in their front room and drinking vodka, where do you prepare? In the toilet. I have a selection of photographs of Trevor in people’s toilets and he’s always having a poo. Pre-match nerves from Trevor. I’ve actually had a pee between his legs while he had a poo. It was a tour of living rooms where our relationship blossomed in toilets. We were cottaging, essentially.”

“You told me Trevor Lock had been one of your comedy heroes,” I said.

“I don’t like to do that Who inspired you? business, but Doug Stanhope is up there, who I also stalk. He occasionally asks if he can stay in my lovely Soho flat when he’s performing at Leicester Square. I tell him No, because I don’t want you puking in my hand-made shoes.

“But Trevor was a comedy hero of mine. We ended up at a gig together and I was just blown away. I absolutely was. I think he’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. A friend of mine used to work with Paul Foot and told me I’ve got that Trevor Lock’s phone number so I said Well, do the wrong thing and give it to me so he did.

“I remember I came out of this Chinese massage shop – and, by massage shop, I mean brothel – and I had a spring in my step and I texted Trevor. I was in such a good mood I said: You don’t know me, but I’ve been watching a lot of your gigs and I’ve just had my balls milked by a Chinese woman and what seemed to be her daughter.

“And he texted back… I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was a fear-based response. He had constructed a sentence in which he obviously wished in no way to provoke or encourage me to contact him ever again.

“Then I saw him at a couple of more gigs and let him know that was me who had sent the text.”

“So at what point after you became chums,” I asked, “did he realise that his first fear-based reaction towards you had actually been the correct one?”

“Every time we get together to this day.” said Chris. “But he helped turn me from an open mic comedian into someone who felt he could offer a bit more. He just taught me how to be a comedian.”

“And you ended up last year playing rich people’s living rooms together,” I said.

“Not all of them were rich,” Chris corrected me. “Some people who booked us were students who’d sold tickets. So we’d go from these lovely posh houses in Lancaster Gate and Primrose Hill one day to a house the next day in Southampton where we’d be performing in some students’ kitchen which, as everyone knows, is always an unpleasant place and you’ve got a smelly bin next to you and a sink full of beer cans. It was an amazing tour.”

“I’m amazed you didn’t get the Cunning Stunt Award,” I said.

“For so many things,” said Chris with a trace of bitterness.

“A career award, maybe?” I suggested.

“I’m going to be like that bloke who left The Beatles,” said Chris.

“Stuart Sutcliffe?” I suggested.

“Pete Best,” said Chris. “Stuart Sutcliffe died. Well, I will die too.”

“As a career move?” I asked.

“Dying?” asked Chris. “No, as a Cunning Stunt. Some people with heart attacks came close to getting nominated this year, didn’t they?”

“Yes they did,” I agreed.

“Every day in my Fringe show,” Chris told me, “about 36 minutes in, after a particularly violent re-enactment of something lustful and unholy, I thought I was going to die. Every day. Actual pains in my heart. So I nearly did die.”

“Perhaps it was God trying to strike you down for your lifestyle,” I suggested.

“There’s always next year,” said Chris.

“Dying young-ish is a good career move,” I said. “The Jim Morrison factor.”

“But he didn’t die on stage,” said Chris. “Now, Tommy Cooper…”

“Yes,” I said, “Tommy Cooper out-shone Eric Morecambe in death. In life, Eric was a bigger star. But he only died offstage in the wings after he had performed a show. Tommy Cooper had a better death because he died on stage on live television.”

“So what are my options?” asked Chris. “One died on stage. One died coming off stage. So all that’s left is to walk on stage and die immediately.”

“I’m sure you’ve done that before,” I said.

Chris laughed

It seems a churlish way to end a blog.

But Chris said I should do it.

Honest.

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British comedian Bob Slayer reports on how women pee in public in Australia

Yesterday I went to a primary school pantomime in the sports hall of a very well-run new school in Woodford, Essex. The work put into the thing was amazing, but the Disney-esque innocence of Beauty & The Beast as performed by Year Three of Churchfields School was slightly undercut by the smell of stale plimsolls.

Such is the glamorous life I lead.

While I was doing that, though, the So It Goes blog’s first ever Foreign Correspondent was donning his shades and Trilby hat and sending me what could and should be the first in a series of exclusive reports from Australia.

Esteemed Irish playwright Brendan Behan once described himself as not a writer with a drinking problem but a drinker with a writing problem.

Esteemed English comedy performer and entertainment entrepreneur Bob Slayer is, in the same way, not a comedian with a drinking problem…

He is in the land of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo to perform his show titled Bob Slayer Will Out-Drink Australia.

So here, for the first time…

SO IT GOES IN AUSTRALIA
from Bob Slayer

Long flights don’t normally phase me, however I now know why my flight was the cheapest. Royal Brunei Airways don’t serve booze and nor do any of the stop-off airports (although the in-flight map did helpfully tell me at all times what direction Mecca was).

24 hours of sobriety did something strange to me. I started to notice things… like how people with kids on planes look like they are psychotically about to kill them all the time until someone looks at their baby and then they transform into uber-proud parents. The fear that sobriety could turn me into an observational comedian was enough to keep me drinking.

Fortunately, I was able to max out my duty-free at Melbourne Airport. I enquired if the limit applied to how much you bought or how much you actually took through Customs because, if it was the latter, I planned to drink an extra bottle of Jägermeister there-and-then… Unfortunately, this seemed frowned upon.

Melbourne seems to have become very en-trend since I was last here. They have guerilla knitting on lamp posts and gourmet Taco vans that scenesters get very excited about and queue at for hours. 

I met a lady called Domani who took me to a busy park full of hipster Melbonites having Australia Day Bar-B-Qs. Later, she taught me the art of peeing in public without getting caught. 

The secret is all in the position. Instead of the traditional squat that gives away what a lady is doing and often leads to wet feet (as demonstrated by some English girls I met), it seems Melbourne ladies have learned to adopt an asymmetrical curtsey-type squat which can be perfectly disguised as a stretch or lunge. This technique does require that the exponent is wearing a summery dress. 

I am still learning how knickers are dealt with. 

I intend to investigate further and hopefully get photos.

I also had my first run-in with the Australian Police last night. I had been told that they can be somewhat heavy-handed over here and, as darkness fell in the park, a number of police cars appeared and drove through, herding everyone out. The revellers seemed to accept that the party was over. 

Unfortunately, the police did not seem interested in my questions as to why they needed to clear the park. Even when I told them that this information was for John Fleming’s So It Goes blog. 

They refused to give me a lift back to my flat and I declined their offer of a bed for the night. So, alas, I still have a lot to learn about Australian policing but I am sure there will be more updates in this area before my tour of duty is up. 

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A dog called Dylan and the fickle finger of fame

Last night I went to South East London to see Charmian Hughes’ try-out of her upcoming Brighton Fringe/Edinburgh Fringe show The Ten Charmandments at the equally charming and fascinating Living Room Theatre which is, indeed, just what it says on the label.

It’s a living room theatre.

I suppose I should have counted, but I think the full room had an audience of twelve, sitting in a U-shape. That’s ten or eleven more than some Edinburgh Fringe shows I’ve been to.

The Living Room Theatre allows performers to preview and try-out shows in an amiable, low-key atmosphere and is run by writer-performer Claire Dowie and Colin Watkeys who, among his other accomplishments was apparently the late, much-lamented Ken Campbell’s manager. Now THAT must have been a job and a half.

But, oddly, it was the theatre dog’s name that leapt to mind this morning and the fickle nature of fame. Yes, the Living Room Theatre has a dog. Dylan the dog, though missing from the performance itself, was an amiable and attentive addition to the over-all theatrical event.

It was the name “Dylan” that got to me, though.

People want their name to be remembered, but how that name is remembered is sometimes not what they might have hoped for.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wanted to be remembered as a serious mathematician, logician and academic; instead, he was remembered first as children’s author Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland and, more recently, as the taker of some rather dodgy photographs of young children; his reputation has started to transform into a sort-of Victorian wannabe Gary Glitter.

Thomas Crapper was a very admirable man whose hard work and professionalism changed the hygiene, health and social behaviour of the British nation – there are manhole covers with his company’s name proudly displayed in Westminster Abbey, scene of our recent glamorous Royal Wedding… but his surname has become synonymous with shit. He can’t be turning happily in his grave.

And pity poor Dylan Thomas, the verbose Welsh bard, who presumably wanted to be known for his literary art and womanising but people’s first thoughts of the name “Dylan” soon turned into a Jewish folk singer with incomprehensible lyrics and a terrible singing voice, then into an animated rabbit with acid-head drug fans in the Anglicised version of The Magic Roundabout and now, it seems, among cutting-edge theatre-goers in South East London, into a dog’s name. Though, admittedly, he is a very likeable dog. Probably more likeable than the verbose Welsh bard.

Oh – for the record – The Ten Charmandments is very well worth seeing, though God may disapprove of the name change.

I particularly recommend the sand dance.

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