Tag Archives: weather

Chinese cupping, some Australian wet comedy, a doctor and a baby on stage

Should I turn my back on Chinese medicine after this result?

I was hit by a truck in 1991. It pulverised two parts of my shoulder which still occasionally hurts; I also hit the back of my head on the edge of a brick wall and have not been able to read books since and the base of my spine is slightly damaged, causing me occasional pain.

The bottom of my spine is painful as I write this.

In my apparently never-ending quest to try and stop this occasional pain, a friend and I tried a cut-price offer from the Daily Telegraph this week – three Chinese techniques, one of which was cupping.

Certainly interesting. But, three days later, we still have giant red-and-brown blotches on our backs. My friend likes to swim but can’t go to the pool with these blotches – “I will look like a mobile art installation!” she says.

I tried to cheer her up by suggesting she could sell herself to Tate Modern, but this only made things worse. One problem, I think, is that she believes the blotches on her back look “very Sixties”. There is nothing worse than being scarred in an outdated style.

But our mild medical traumas are minor compared to British comedian Eric’s financial problems at the Adelaide Fringe in Australia, where he had his credit card stopped after a company tried to take over $4,000 from it for a hotel bill which should have been $640. Being on the other side of the world with his wife Helen and newish-born baby ‘Little E’  but without access to credit, he is struggling a bit.

And it never rains but it pours.

Eric, Helen and ‘Little E’ were eating a pizza under a tree when a leaf fell off the tree onto the pizza, signalling, Eric presumed, the arrival of autumn.

He tells me:

__________

It appears the change of seasons are very marked here. I wasn’t able to finish my pizza as I had to go see Gordon Southern’s show A History of History. As I walked away, the sky darkened quickly and I heard a clap of thunder, followed by the inevitable lightning. “Crikey,” I thought. “It was 31 degrees when we went to the restaurant!”

Then it started to rain. I was wearing only shorts and a shirt – I have not worn a coat or carried an umbrella since I got here in October. The trees on my side of the road provided some cover, but spotting an awning outside a pub over the road I made a dash for it. This was a big mistake. I got as far as the median strip and it absolutely fell down and, as the traffic slowed dramatically at the onset of the downpour, the gap I had anticipated in the cars closed up and I was stranded in the middle of the road with no cover whatsoever… And this was no light shower – it was bucketing it down! Within seconds, the rainwater overwhelmed the drainage system (which is probably only designed to cope with about four inches of rain a year) and great puddles formed by the kerb.

By the time I reached the awning, I was already soaked to the skin and the shelter it offered was of no use to me now. I continued in the pouring rain to see Gordon’s show. I arrived but had missed the start – he was already up to the Greeks (not the financial bail-out, but Aristotle). I sat on a stool at the back of the room and wrung my socks out into an empty glass on the windowsill.

When I had finished, I did not know whether my glass was half full or half empty (of sock juice).

__________

Eric started his comedy career when the late Malcolm Hardee dragged him out of the audience and up on stage at Up The Creek and, ever afterwards, encouraged him to become a performer. It seems Eric’s baby daughter ‘Little E’ may follow in his footsteps (when she learns to walk):

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Helen and I have been taking ‘Little E’ to shows at the Adelaide Fringe and she has seen quite a few now, though we suspect that some of the more subtle stuff has gone over her head and a lot of her dinner has certainly gone over Helen. Nevertheless she seems to be having fun.

We went to see the legendary (almost wordless) Dr Brown’s show. I first saw him at the Edinburgh Fringe and he ejected me from his audience, because my mate Charlie Saffrey clapped in the wrong place and Dr Brown thought it was me.

‘Little E’ was silent all the way through his show and, when it came to the part where Dr Brown was miming a baby onstage, I whispered to Helen that, for once, the little one’s cries might actually have fitted in with the proceedings, instead of proving a distraction.

No sooner had the words left my mouth, than Dr Brown left the stage as part of his continued mime and, when he got to the back of the room, he spotted our silent ‘Little E’ perched on Helen’s lap. So he whisked her onto the stage to the delight of the whole audience and ‘Little E’ made her stage debut at 11 weeks and 12 hours old.

Afterwards, Dr Brown said that “it was an honour to be working with such a professional.” Well, actually he said “playing with” but I felt I should change the wording.

My first stage performance was as a result of being dragged up onstage by one comedy legend. Now Erica has followed in her father’s footsteps, but at a much younger age.

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Filed under Australia, Comedy, Health

Cutting the faggots with the lawyers – but not cutting crime in Greenwich

Yesterday afternoon, ironically, I went to the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

The reason why it was ironic will become evident later.

I was given a private tour of the building and, indeed, taken to the very Gents toilet where future Mensa member Alfred Hinds famously escaped for a second time (he escaped three times) by locking his two guards in the toilet round the corner from the Bear Garden. He was not a prisoner to mess with, as he also successfully managed to sue a Chief Superintendant in the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad for libel.

It is a very nice building, the Royal Courts of Justice, with allegedly 3.5 miles of corridors and 1,000 rooms, one of which is painted. I had my tour in the middle of the afternoon yesterday – Friday – and there appeared to be only one case being tried. It was suggested to me that this might have been because all the judges had knocked-off early to get to their country homes for the weekend.

Surely not.

But I was particularly impressed when I heard about the Royal Courts of Justice’s ancient ceremony of “cutting the faggots”. This is part of what is claimed to be the the second oldest ceremony in England (after the Coronation ceremony).

Details on this ceremony seem to be a bit sketchy but, as far as I can understand it, “cutting the faggots” is part of the feudal legal ceremony of “Rendering of The Quit Rents to The Crown”.

At this point we enter the area in which it is a joy to be British.

Apparently, “the paying of Quit Rents by the Corporation of the City of London to the King (or Queen) is an annual ceremony dating back to 1235. It takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice, where the City Solicitor hands to the Queen’s Remembrancer two faggots, six horseshoes and 61 horseshoe nails.”

The six horseshoes and 61 horseshoe nails are around 550 years old and are in payment – as rent – for an ancient forge in Tweezer’s Alley, near the Strand.

According to Wikipedia (and you could not really make this up):

During the ceremony, a black-and-white-chequered cloth is spread out — it is from this that the word “Exchequer” derives. The Solicitor & Comptroller of the City of London presents the horseshoes and nails and counts them out to the Remembrancer who then pronounces “Good number.” Two knives are tested by the Queen’s Remembrancer by taking a hazel stick, one cubit in length, and bending it over a blunt knife and leaving a mark. Then the stick is split in two with a sharp knife. After the two knives are tested the Remembrancer pronounces “Good service.”

I am a bit confused about the centrality of faggots in this ceremony.

According to another source, the City Solicitor cuts faggots with a hatchet, and – it would seem on a regular basis – “some of the spectators are amused, while others seem to find it distasteful.”

Someone told me yesterday that, apparently, the rough cost of an average hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice is £5,000 per hour.

Anyway, to explain the irony, last night, I had been in Greenwich the night before and parked my car behind the Up The Creek comedy club in a road 30 seconds walk from the centre of prim Greenwich which the famously uncaring local council has allowed to get run-down because, it appears, the councillors tend to live in flash roads and this road has only a block of council flats down one side.

Yesterday’s irony is that I was looking round the Royal Courts of Justice in the afternoon and then, in the evening, my car got broken into in Greenwich (again).

It was broken into in that exact same road behind Up The Creek in December 2010. I blogged about it.

On that occasion, nothing was stolen. On this occasion, the car was parked under a streetlight with a StopLok on the steering wheel and was double-locked, which means that, if you smash the window, you cannot open the doors from the inside – the doors are double-locked.

What they did was to smash the window (the Autoglass repair man explained to me exactly how it was done, but I am not repeating it). Then someone climbed into the car through the window, looked in the glove compartment and in the central armrest and lowered the back seat to get access to the boot from inside the car. And then climbed out the window again. The car was overlooked by two buildings.

I had, alas and unusually, left a SatNav and CDs in the lower part of the two-level arm rest (it is not obvious there is a lower level). They nicked the SatNav but left my CDs. This is only the latest in a long line of people insulting my taste in music.

It was -2C when I found the car window smashed at 10.35pm. By the time I got home after a 90-minute drive with no passenger window, it was -6C.

Things could be worse, though.

When I got home and switched on my TV, the BBC was reporting 200 deaths from cold across Europe and 100 of those deaths were in the Ukraine where temperatures were -40C.

This morning, ‘the world’s most travelled person’, Fred Finn, who lives in the Ukraine, told me in an e-mail: “I should be home by 8.00pm tonight but, given weather conditions today, anything is possible. The weather hasn’t been like this for 90 years they say.”

Back in Britain, the police in Greenwich told me mine was one of three cars broken into in that street behind Up The Creek last night. To me, that feels more important than the temperature in the Ukraine.

But around 100 people are dead in the Ukraine from the cold; around 200 in Europe; and over 200 were killed yesterday in the Syrian city of Homs by the Syrian armed forces.

Egocentricity is not really an admirable character trait.

I must remember.

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Filed under Crime, Eccentrics, Legal system, Travel, Ukraine