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Mr Methane meets The Burper King on Japanese TV again & plays toilet videos

The Burper King and Mr Methane preparing at Westminster

Last October, I blogged about the occasion when my chum Mr Methane, the world’s only professional farter, met Guinness world record holder Paul Hunn, ‘The Burper King’.

They were appearing on a Japanese TV show called Sekai no Hate Made Itteq! (Let’s Go to the Ends of the World!) hosted by Japanese comedian Ayako Imoto.

The Japanese were back again for more last month and, at the weekend, they transmitted their piece on Japanese TV (there was an embargo on what was in it until today). Last week, Mr Methane and Paul Hunn told me what happened during the filming. They met at about 10.30 one sunny morning near Westminster Bridge in London…

“Basically,” Paul told me, “we had the chance to ad lib a few. There were lots of people around so there were various looks of disgust and horror apart from the Japanese tourists, who instantly recognised Imoto and seemed very impressed.”

Filming for Japanese TV in a gondola on the London Eye

“Then, obviously,” said Mr Methane, “we did lots of farting and carrying on up in a gondola of the London Eye and then we did a scene where we’re farting and belching in the car going between the different attractions.

“We tried to get into the British Museum but were not allowed. You have to have a Media Pass and they couldn’t get it until the next day – they only allow so many in on each day… At least, that’s what we were told. Maybe they just didn’t like the idea of a man dressed in green farting and a guy belching.

“Then we went to a pub near the Oval and, because Paul’s a world record holder for belching, Imoto looked through a book and found a world record we could all do, which was sorting socks. The record was 17 pairs of socks in a minute into a box and, if we didn’t beat it, we had to eat a raw chilli.”

Paul explained: “I think the record used to be held by a Japanese guy, but he was beaten a while ago. You get 30 pairs of socks, separated and jumbled-up and you have to sort as many as you can into pairs inside a minute.”

Mr Methane went first.

“I only managed 8 pairs,” he told me, “so I had to eat this raw chilli. They were very delighted when I was giving it plenty of like… y’know…  Whooaaa! I’m burning up! and so on… and drinking milk.”

“I managed to sort 9 pairs,” said Paul. “So then I had to eat the chilli. I bit round the edge to avoid the seeds, but I made the fatal error of touching my eyes. As you know, after you eat chillies, you don’t touch your eyes or ‘touch downstairs’. I couldn’t see for about 15 minutes afterwards and I instantly had hiccups as well. I can only think that’s what CS gas feels like – but without the hiccups.”

“How did the Japanese react?” I asked.

“Oh! They loved seeing me in agony!” he said.

After that, our dynamic audio duo went to The Exhibit pub in Balham which has a video game in the urinals.

“There are only two or three of these in this country,” says Paul. “and ten in the world. The guy who runs the pub is the guy who invented it. He was on Dragon’s Den and didn’t get very far with it, but he says the idea has really taken off since the programme.”

“They probably thought he was taking the piss,” I suggested.

Paul did not react.

“There’s a screen above the urinal,” explained Paul, “and a sensor underneath and you pee to operate the game. There are three or four different urinals. There was talk of us using water bottles and pretending to pee, if we couldn’t rise to the occasion with all the film crew around us. But we managed.

“One of the games was a quiz which involved a Yes/No answer, so you aimed either right or left to give your answer.

“Another involved painting a picture. There was a picture and you just aimed your pee all over the place to colour it in…”

“Like water colours?” I asked.

Paul continued doggedly:

“There was another game where penguins came down a ski slope and you had to keep trying to hit them.”

“This is all free?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “Obviously, it was quite crowded with all the Japanese film crew in there with the two of us and she’s standing there shouting at us and commentating over the top of it.”

“And these games are in the pub the whole time?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” said Paul.

“So it’s all up and running.” I said.

Paul did not react.

He and Mr Methane are true professionals. Here they are on the previous episode of Sekai no Hate Made Itteq!

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Filed under Comedy, Eccentrics, Japan, Television

Deaths in the North African desert…. Deaths in Dresden…. So it goes.

(This blog was also published in the Huffington Post)

I still cry every time I see the movie of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. He was a POW in Dresden, when it was bombed.

The name of this blog – So It Goes – is taken from his book.

When I was in my early teens – maybe even when I was ten – I read a description of the air raid on Dresden  in 1945 and the firestorm which was intentionally created to destroy it.

The one detail that stuck in my mind when I read it was that, when the second wave of British bombers crossed the English Channel, they could see a glow on the skyline and that was Dresden burning far, far, far away in the far east of Germany.

When I saw the BBC’s then-banned documentary The War Game, I remember the fact being stated that most of our knowledge of the effects of a nuclear attack on an urban area comes not from Hiroshima and Nagasaki but from the bombing of Dresden and Hamburg and the firestorms created by the creative use of  ‘conventional’ bombing.

At the time, in March 1945, in the closing months of the War, the Germans estimated around 200,000 people had died in the Dresden bombing. Some later guesstimates put the possible figure (no-one can ever know) at nearer 500,000; the RAF figures of the time are fantasies; the firestorm destroyed 15 square miles of the city centre.

Yesterday at the Soho Theatre in London, I saw 92-year-old former rifleman Victor Gregg chatting about his life.

He grew up in the 1920s in London’s King’s Cross where, pretty much, all the young boys were in street gangs because, with entire families living in one room, you had to go out onto the streets during the day; staying in your home was no option.

When he was older and the gangs were more mature, he hung around Soho, where gangs from North and East and South London had cafés in various streets and, if there were any territorial disputes, you resorted to cut-throat razors.

One day in 1937, when he was out of work, aged 18, he was standing at Horse Guards, watching the guards change and an older man asked if he wanted to come with him and have a free tea and a bun. He said yes. The man took him to Great Scotland Yard and, within half an hour, someone had chatted to him, a doctor had felt his testicles and he had one shilling in his hand and a railway pass for the next day to a military depot.

“That’s how they got people into the Army in those days,” Victor shrugged.

He fought in the front line at the Battle of El Alamein in the North African desert, including the Snipe Action where, according to Victor, 500 men with 19 six-pounder anti-tank guns were surrounded by and held off massed attacks by German and Italian armoured divisions and destroyed “about a third of Rommel’s tanks”. The British commanding officer won the Victoria Cross.

Victor was part of Popski’s Private Army when he was 21, drove the injured for the Long Range Desert Group and the death of his friend Frankie 70 years ago could still bring tears to his eyes.

Frankie was killed in a truck in the North African desert, hit by enemy shelling.

When Victor got to him, the truck was burnt out but Frankie’s body was still sitting there at the wheel of the vehicle.

When Victor pulled Frankie out, the bottom half of the body fell off onto the ground.

At Arnhem (subject of A Bridge Too Far), Victor was dropped by parachute on the second day which meant that he was landing on the bodies of the first day’s paratroopers. The 600 men he was with were soon reduced to 80 and, with their supplies mistakenly dropped 10 km away (roughly the distance from Soho to Wimbledon in London) they were hungry for most of their nine days there and praying it would rain so they could drink water from the puddles.

After being captured at Arnhem, he ended up on Tuesday 13th February in the centre of Dresden in a building with a glass dome roof. He had been sentenced to death for sabotage after trying to escape from a POW camp and burning down a factory.

When they heard the sirens and even when they heard the bombers overhead, they did not think Dresden could be the target. They thought, under their glass dome, that it must be another one of the almost nightly air raids on Leipzig.

The first incendiaries were about two or three feet long and came through the glass dome, showering people underneath with sharp glass shards. They had something like a liquid glue in them that stuck to people’s skin so people who already had glass sticking into them were also burning alive.

“And if you ran out of the building,” Victor explained, “it was like running out into an oven at Gas Mark 7; everything was on fire.”

When the second wave of bombers came – the bombers I later read about as a teenager – the ones which, coming over the English Channel saw Dresden burning on the distant skyline…

When the second wave of bombers came, they were dropping bigger incendiaries and 4,000 pound and 8,000 pound bombs.

To create a firestorm, you drop the secondary incendiaries and bombs into the fires caused by the first wave of attacks.

“Dresden was full of old people,” Victor said. “Old people, women, children, sick people, babies; there wasn’t a soldier in sight.”

And then the winds came. The fires burnt so intensely, the oxygen was being eaten-up so quickly at the heart of the firestorm, that air had to be sucked in to prevent the creation of a vacuum, so hundred-mile-an-hour winds blew along at ground level, sucking people and rubble into the centre of the firestorm.

“You had to try to walk into the wind,” Victor said. “or you’d end like the people who were being dragged up into the air or sucked into the fire. People who were in shelters roasted to death.”

He reckons he survived through pure luck and because he was wearing wooden clogs. The water was steaming, parts of the River Elbe were on fire, the pavements melted leather shoes and feet.

“There was an air raid shelter near the railway station,” Victor said, “There were 5,000 people in it. The doors had been locked to avoid over-crowding. When we opened the doors, there was just glue left inside. Everyone had been turned to jelly. There were no bodies. An occasional bone here and there. But it just looked like it was full of glue.

“The Yanks came on the second day.  By then, they had fighter planes which could fly all that way into Germany. They strafed the women and children as they ran on the ground. I’ve seen it written that it never happened, but I saw the fighters doing it.”

After the War, he says, “I was OK for about 18 months, then I became a psychopath. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel any responsibility to anything or anyone. It took me about 30 years to get over what I saw in Dresden.”

He wrote his autobiography Rifleman with Rick Stroud.

He had a look of faraway resignation in his eyes when he talked, except when he told the story about the death of his friend Frankie in the North African desert, seventy years ago, when the bottom half of the body had fallen onto the ground as he lifted it from the burnt-out truck.

Then he had tears in his eyes.

The death of one person can matter.

So it goes.

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Filed under Germany, History, Military, Second World War