I was walking down the Tottenham Court road towards the tube. I’d been at Fitzrovia Post in Gresse Street voicing various silly characters in the Mr Bean cartoons. It had been a very good fun session. I had a spring in my step. But within a few paces my spring would be reduced to an angry stride. What happened was this.
I noticed a series of purple bibbed charity workers or chuggers (charity muggers as they are impolitely known) engaging poor passers by in one sided conversation and others over-cheerily addressing or haranguing trapped pedestrians with the over familiar ease and false bonhomie that goes with the job. Personally whenever I see these professional guilt inducers I cringe and either attempt to steer a path as far away as possible or just walk straight at them hoping they will see my courage as a sign not to talk to me. It’s like a double bluff. But in actual fact this double bluffing never really works and more often than not I am a perfect target as I’m right in front of them. Only the other day in the traffic free area in Argyll Street just by the Palladium, a perfect stalking ground for them, a large orange be-bibbed woman shouted ‘hello how are you?’ at me with a very smiley face.
‘No thank you very much’ I said smiling back knowing that her enquiry as to the state of my health was the last thing she was interested in.
‘ I wasn’t offering you anything’ she snapped. ‘I was just asking you how you were.’
Now of course this was patently untrue as she was attempting to get a response from me so she could encourage me to give her my email address or subscribe to giving her charity some money.
I thought better of explaining her duplicity to her and walked on, nonetheless annoyed by her intrusion. Because that is what these people do. They intrude.
This time in Tottenham Court Road I had skirted round the colourfully garbed over-enthusiasts, so I thought, describing an arc and shuffle that had partly taken me into the road then back behind a pillar and I thought I had succeeded in evading these do gooders and was mentally ticking off a list of tasks ahead of me that I had to do at home and preparing myself for the descent into the station, when a dark haired elfen faced chugger descended upon me from just out of my peripheral vision and stood right in front of me. Taken by surprise by her speed I moved to avoid her but she took me aback by not saying ‘hello’ or ‘have you got the time’ or ‘ that’s a nice jacket’ or all the opening lines they use, but she said loudly ‘Excuse me. You’ve dropped something’.
Naturally I was filled with momentary gratitude. It was probably a piece of paper with a list of items to purchase at Tesco given to me by Henrietta…I write such lists on old scripts….or a gag the engineer had told me during the session which I’d written down to memorise. Or even a five pound note or pound coin. These are the usual things that drop from my shallow jeans pockets. And of course there’s the fear I’ve soundlessly dropped my mobile phone which is a constant worry as my life and life line are in my phone.
‘Oh thanks’ I said whilst peering round at the ground. I couldn’t see anything but looked harder and turned back to her looking for help.
‘It’s your smile’ she said.
Now this was clearly a twee little line she’d used hundreds of times in her attempts to get people’s attention so she could start her spiel on whatever her charity was and how important it was for me to empty my wallet for it and she’d only take up a small amount of my time and I wouldn’t regret it etc. No doubt people usually giggled or were amused by her silly quip. Or were embarrassed by being a saddie in this pretty girl’s eyes and would prove her wrong by listening to her script and giving a tenner. But I found it offensive on many levels. Firstly she had caused me stress by suggesting something had fallen from my person arousing anxiety in me as to what it could be and whether I could get it back. Secondly she had duped me by lying to me about me dropping something; and thirdly and most importantly she was informing me I was a miserable bastard. This latter one is always guaranteed to piss me off. It’s like someone saying ‘cheer up it may never happen’ which always gets my goat. How dare a complete stranger comment on what I’m looking like? Why on earth should wearing a bib and representing a charity empower someone to criticise my mental state? Last year when I was looking for a present in Hamley’s for my daughter, a bloke dressed as a wizard said ‘Cheer up mate it may never happen’ as I got to the top of an escalator, and I replied mischievously ‘actually it has happened. My mother’s just died’ which was untrue but probably guaranteed he would never be irritating ever again. So in this instance with the elfen faced girl I felt cheated and angry at this cherubic looker’s deception. Furious in fact. I gave her the fish eye which I’ve practiced in the mirror and is not a pretty sight. My mother used to say ‘Oh don’t do that darling that’s an awful face to give anybody. Don’t ever pull that one. Especially not at a policeman.’ I held this look of hatred and said with great enunciation…. ‘Fuck…….Off’.
I deliberately paused between the ‘fuck’ and the ‘off’ for effect and gave the ‘f’ several ‘fffff’s’. I let the look and the words linger for a moment. A little tremble appeared on her lips and her eyes appeared to sink back into her skull a little bit. And then her face crumbled into a thousand pieces. She was in fact a zombie. That last bit obviously isn’t true but the bit about the lip quivering is. I turned away livid that this situation had ever occurred and ashamed that I had reacted in such an aggressive manner though alarmingly pleased I had expressed myself as I’d wished, and stomped off for the anonymity of the underground.
Took a cab from Buckingham palace road to Channel Four on Friday. The cabbie was a very thin faced man with sharp features and a roadmap of lines. We didn’t initially speak after I’d told him my destination but as he drove me down by Horse Guards Parade a be-shorted man with a ruck sack had wandered into the middle of the road ignoring our approach followed by a youngster. They both just stood there having a chat. A third man joined them. My taxi driver didn’t put his foot on the accelerator he just carried on at the same speed towards them and they spread out a bit creating an attractive line he could mow down with little effort if he so wished, so he tooted. Not aggressively. In a sort of friendly way. Bub buppity bup bup. The boy looked in the other direction. The men continued to chat. We slowed down. It was only the proximity of the taxi that eventually caused them to dawdle out of the way. I couldn’t help but comment.
‘That was a bit dangerous’ I said.
‘What?’ he said opening his flap.
I repeated myself. ‘That was a bit dangerous them being oblivious to the traffic’ I said
‘Happens all the time mate.’ he said in rich abrasive high pitched rapid cockney.
‘Perhaps they thought you were coming from the other direction or came from a country where the cars drive on the other side of the road? ‘ I suggested forgiving them a bit.
‘Yes I’d like to agree with your assessment of the situation but I can’t. They’re pricks’.
‘Oh ok. What about at football matches when fans seem to forget they’re on roads when they’re near the ground and just walk down the middle? Could you forgive them from being in the road because they’re caught up in the excitement of the game or if it’s after the game they’re in the road because they’re with their mates and they’re either rejoicing en masse in a victory or expressing their despair at having lost by wandering about where they shouldn’t?
‘Narr mate it’s unforgivable. They’re pricks too’
He continued boisterously with the theme. ‘Speaking of pricks have you noticed that lots of young blokes in the Shoreditch area all have ginger beards?…. but not a short beard; a long whispy affair that looks as if they’re from a different century?’
‘No I can’t say I have.’ I said.
‘Well there’s a lot of em. And nine times out of ten if a bloke with a whispy ginger beard hails me outside Shoreditch I’ll say ‘you want to go to Shoreditch don’t you?’ and old ginger mush will say ‘how did you know that?”
‘Why do you think they have these ginger beards?’ I asked intrigued by the phenomenon.
‘To attract attention to themselves. It’s the only reason. It’s not attractive….pricks all of em.’
I said ‘Well I’ve just been working in Newquay and when I was there I saw the weird sight of a podgy middle aged man in a ponytail walking down the High Street in a wet suit and flip flops carrying a surf board. They live for the surf you see. Probably have rubbish jobs in the area for nine months of the year just to be able to surf for the summer months. They’re sorts of hippies I suppose.’
‘Nar mate they’re sorts of c*nts.’
‘Probably from Chelsea. They’ll go down that way like the east Enders go to Kent. ‘
I corrected him. ‘ I don’t think the Chelsea set go to Cornwall. It’s too tricky to get to. The last seventy miles are down narrow roads. They wouldn’t have the patience in their four by fours.’
‘Yeah good point. It must be Devon they go to.’
‘Possibly.’ I added.
He continued ‘Mind you the Notting Hill lot stay put and drug themselves up to their eyeballs. I had a bloke in here last week from Pembridge Road actually got me to take him only a hundred yards to the Tube. He could hardly stand up. Took an eternity taking his money out of a fringed purse. Mind you if you want to see more pricks on the go, pick up one of the Kensington lot, the Ponsonby-Farquars. They don’t actually move their mouths’ when they speak you know. Need a fucking interpreter to hear them when I say ‘where to’? Hammersmith sounds like ‘armpit’ in their language.’
‘You don’t think much of them then?’
‘Nar mate. More c*nts’
At that moment we arrived at the giant ‘4’ in Horseferry Road and I gave him a two quid tip for being such a character.
I Can’t Sing (the musical)
Took my imaginary dog Des to see ‘I Can’t Sing’ the X factor musical last night. Naturally he was restless. And I was nervous. The theatre is never the correct place for a flying dog with x ray vision and I was worried he might fret and soil himself (and us. Not a great experience being pooed on from a height) But wot larks. There was a dog in the cast who was in practically every single scene which was of course a relief. Expertly handled by his puppeteer this obvious creation of writer Harry Hill’s bestial imagination (there is a portion marked ‘comedy animals’ in it) worked well, though a lot of his lines weren’t quite funny enough. Des looked on in rapture and in fact at the end of the show hung about the stage door like a doggie groupie for a sniff of said mongrel. Alas he was obviously in a box somewhere wrapped in tissue paper. But I am getting ahead of myself. With Des sorted wriggling on my lap agape at the canine creation, I was free to watch the show. It started not well. A good idea for looking at Simon Cowell’s early years as a schoolboy and a sweet performance from the boy acting it was not aided by my not being able to understand anything he was saying and yes he was speaking English. The next scene setting the characters up was decidedly clunky, reminding me of the weirdness of Viva Forever, but the show soon pulled itself together and gave itself a good kick up the backside and furnished us with some excellent numbers and terrific singing and dancing. Katy Secombe as Brenda was outstanding in a check-out song set in a supermarket. (the daughter of a friend of my Dad’s nonetheless) A ‘hunchback of notre dame’ character was very funny as one of the contestants (though his rap song was utterly incomprehensible and the energy seeped out of the show like a punctured zit) and Cynthia Erivo as Chenice revealed a voice of utter brilliance and had the packed crowd on their feet with her ullulations. In fact she should have sung a lot more. I think they missed a trick here. She was that good. The second half featuring Simon and Cheryl (thinly disguised as Jordy) was very funny with Victoria Elliott as Jordy a great comic creation. I’m surprised Cheryl hasn’t sued her it was so derogatory. Simon Cowell revealing he was actually an alien and turning into his real green shape and leaving by suspended silver spaceship (shades of ELO!) was excellent though probably unbelievably expensive as a prop. So an enjoyable evening with a squirming Des at the Palladium. Naturally as it’s about to finish on saturday and has ‘failed’, the theatre was groaning to the rafters and the cast were treated to a standing ovation. What’s the problem here? Is it that the ticket prices are too high in the West End so that people wait until the show is coming off so that they can get a cut price deal? Or was the subject matter not to the nation’s taste? Perhaps people who go to the theatre don’t actually watch the X factor? The critics were divided. I can’t think why. I thought it was terrific. Though I do think that it should have toured somewhere first to iron out the obvious creaky unfunny moments. (Des was unavailable to comment as he is an imaginary dog)
Was sitting in a Pret a Manger today in Canary Wharf waiting to go to Channel 5 to voice a promo (their studio is in Crossharbour on the DLR so Canary Wharf is en route) just having finished a rather tasty avocado and crayfish salad when a dark haired young lady spat ‘I take your rubbish away yes?’
I looked down to see my silver tray being slid binwards from underneath my Standard.
‘Oh yes thanks!’ I said several moments after the tray had gone not really concentrating on what she had done as I was reading about UKIP. Riveting stuff I’m sure you’ll agree. I finished the article in the paper and decided to set off for the three o’clock job. I went to put my iPhone in my right trousers pocket which is it’s home. Wallet is left jacket pocket. Phone is right trousers. Keys are right jacket pocket. I am a creature of routine when it comes to these essentials. But when I lifted the paper up, my phone was no longer in front of me on the high shelf where I was eating by the window. I briefly thought I’d put the phone in my jacket. This would be completely against my usual pattern of behaviour but I patted the pockets just in case. But no I remembered I’d just tactfully texted someone a thank you for a present I’d been given for my birthday on sunday, a belt for a man twenty times my waist size. I immediately thought the phone had been nicked by a nimble fingered thief who’d stealthily stuck a quick hand under my paper and gorn orf wiv it. But no. It had clearly been on the tray and was now in the rubbish bin. That was the most obvious course of events. I put this theory rather too shrilly to one of the staff who gave me a weary look as if I was the fourth person who’d suggested this today. ‘I go and find someone’ she said in an Eastern European accent. I wondered where she was from. She never returned. Well she may have done but by then I’d found a black haired clearer-upper to explain my theory to.
‘Its not me. I have not been by window’ she said. Another similar dark haired woman with a Pret shirt walked past.
‘Excuse me I think you accidentally put my phone in the bin?’ I gabbled
‘I put your phone in bin? Why would I do that?! ‘ she snapped.
‘I think it was on my tray and you put it in the bin along with the crayfish packaging by mistake.’
‘Not me! No! Not me! Someone else! Her for example! ‘ pointing at the other girl. I’d clearly touched a nerve about her status. She continued ‘Well if that is case it will be in there” she said pointing to the bin.
A new person appeared and gave me a pair of blue rubber gloves which was considerate of her but at the same time I thought one of the staff could have done the rummaging. But let’s be frank I think they thought i was making it up. Mind you by then I was past caring and just wanted to sift. I started putting the gloves on.
‘It will be in there or nowhere’ said one of the girls and she warily inserted a gloveless hand as if she might encounter a turd.
‘What is the number? I will ring it’ said another girl.
‘Oh it’s on silent’ I said.
‘It will at least vibrate’ said the first girl. She moved bits of salad and packaging around in a sort of desultory hesitant manner. I felt a sense of despair that somehow even if it was there no one could really be arsed.
Then suddenly she found it and raised it triumphantly..
‘Oh look! Here it is!’ she exclaimed loudly to the indifferent restaurant waggling it.
‘Oh thank goodness for that’ I squeaked thankfully.
‘ I give it a wipe for you!’ she said peculiarly fondly. We almost embraced! I beamed and said three ‘thankyous’ and two ‘well dones’.
I was unbelievably relieved. The amount of faffing about finding it had saved me. One of the dark haired girls the one with the status problem who was clearly the manager suddenly got several brownie points for customer relations by changing her tune saying ‘Sorry about that. Can we get you a meal? And a coffee? Choose whatever you want. ‘ having obviously earlier presumed I was a twat.
As I’d already eaten and quite honestly was so pleased to have my phone back I just said ‘oh that’s very nice of you but just a black Americano would be nice’ becoming very British about it all. She quickly got me a coffee. And insisted I have a chocolate popcorn bar which suffused with joy I accepted despite the fact I don’t eat them and never will.
A man sitting at an adjacent table chipped in slightly madly with ‘well thank goodness for that. I was feeling for you poking about in that bin. You don’t need to lose your phone on a Friday afternoon do you. At least they saw the error of their ways coz they were a bit surly weren’t they? I think I might try to get a free meal and throw my phone in the bin next time I’m in ha ha ha ha ha!’
I thanked him for his support. He had a good point tho. Next time I’m in a Pret I’ll bung my phone in the bin in the hope that when they find it they’ll offer me a free crayfish and avocado salad. Not.
My Weird Illness
I got really ill recently which was a surprise as the GP said I had mumps. Lots of friends said ‘ho ho be prepared for your bollocks to swell up!’ But they never did. My face kept on swelling up though. Then my eye drooped. Then my voice went. What was worrying was that other than my droopy eye if you didn’t know me you’d just think I was a fat bloke with a jowelly face who looked like a pirate. . Thank goodness for my phone. I could show all the doctors what I really looked like. ‘Oh i see! Yes! Oh dear’ was the usual response. Anyway the mumps theory continued with the GP and we awaited the results of swabs and blood tests. Then another of the GPs said ‘hmm a pulse rate of 122 and a 39 temperature. Go to hospital NOW.’ Once there my ‘bloods’ showed bizarre off the scale readings in my liver and kidneys. One doctor informed me that since they last had a record of my blood (from the falling over in the playground incident with Georgia my four year old in August) I had clearly consumed an enormous amount of alcohol. As I hardly drink I had to suggest his theory was incorrect. It soon became apparent that while they waited for cultures to be grown and other checks to take place no-one actually knew what I had. Many experts trooped into the Acute ward in Charing Cross where I had been thrust, surrounded by mostly 75 year old men with lung problems. As you can imagine it was quite difficult to get any sleep with all the hawking and rasping and salbutamol enhanced breathing around me. ‘I was the first man into Belsen’ said the aged man next to me. ‘Changed my life forever’ he said. He was a fascinating loquatious 92 year old with pneumonia. Meanwhile I was a medical major centre of interest. Student doctors came in and prodded me and shone lights into my eyes or clattered my teeth. Or looked for cuts. Or tested my reflexes. The diagnoses went from a stroke (hence the droopy eye) to meningitis, to cancer of the jaw to a tropical disease (have you been abroad recently? No. Oh!) I had a chest scan, an MRI of my head, a total analysis by Ear Nose and throat (who rather nicely dewaxed my ears), a visit from a neurologist who did a myriad of tests and threw out the stroke idea, and then the infectious disease team gave me an intravenous wash of a mass of antibiotics in the hope that something would work. It began to. So this was the route possibly. As you can imagine the uncertainty of my lot was a a difficult unsettling time that I would rather I never experience again. Henrietta and Georgia’s visits were oases of emotional relief. Then in a moment of insight I pointed out that I had a strange crystalline substance behind my ears. It was duly swabbed. The results came back and I was moved into a side room and from then on everyone wore overalls and plastic gloves to visit me. I was then given a monographed pill that I looked up on the internet which suggested that if i take it for longer than two weeks I would have bone marrow complications. It made my kidneys hurt and my arms glow whenever I took it. But the swelling reduced. It worked! Apparently I had caught community bacteria that we all have on us that had got in via a ‘fissure’ behind my ears and my immune system failed to deal with it. My bloods began to show improvement so in a flash I was allowed to leave. My medication was now in pill form. I’m now at home and improving though the antibiotics still make me feel as if my hair is being torn off and at the end of the day I’m exhausted. I have been left with a hard red lump in my face that i am waiting to see disappear that I can at the moment pass off as having been in a scrap. The bizarre cards that life deals you eh?
Robert Plant Lunacy
Went to see Robert Plant at the Albert Hall last week. He was great. Some rivetting re-interpretations of some Zep classics (notice how I said ‘Zep’ there, meaning I am already groovily knowledgeable about his ‘oeuvre’) with a superb band. Hugely enjoyable. I didn’t get up and dance though. Robert himself even commented on some middle aged wrinklies standing up mid set in the stalls with ‘I wouldn’t do that. No one else around you is going to like that!’
At the end of the show by all means leap up and express yourself, as everyone did in fact. But halfway through when there is no one around you doing it. No. In the boxes of course you can shake your groove thang as much as you wish as it is blocking no one’s view and no one can see you. Unless of course you strap lights to your hands. This is what some bloke in a singlet did. He idiot danced (and I mean ‘idiot’) for one and a half hours revealing his whereabouts and the crapness of his ‘dancing’ to three quarters of the audience with his sodding light show. The dancing was of the ‘waggle my arms in the air’ variety. Over and over. And over. And over. I can but admire his ability to do it for 90 minutes. Must have good upper body strength. But that’s all I can admire. Why do it? Why attract attention to yourself and your feeble moves? Are you trying to get Mr Plant to see you? Are you saying ‘Robert! Look at me! I’m a better fan than anyone else here! Befriend me! Look at me Robert! Look!’ Or are you saying to everyone there watching ‘Everyone! Look at me! I’m ‘dancing’ for 90 minutes! How about that!’ Or is it ‘I don’t care about anyone else as long as I’m having a good time and if I want to wear lights on my hands I shall!’ Whatever it was I despair of it. A total selfish twat is what I’d call him. He bought back memories of when I was in my teens and a regular concert goer and there was always some bloke in a djellaba and plimsolls with very long hair who would come to the gig with a tambourine and drum stick and hinder your enjoyment by singing like an elk and banging the f*cking thing from start to finish whilst idiot dancing. You couldn’t tell him to sit down as there tended to be no seats at these gigs and he was always just by the stage. He was known to all and sundry peculiarly with some reverence as ‘Jesus’. I hated him. If I ever fluckily found myself near him I would go and stand somewhere else to avoid his feeble self promoting antics. I saw him again at a gig last year. Bald. Stick like. With hair brushed forward attempting to achieve a hairstyle. In jeans and a long dress like shirt. He had his tambourine and stick but was restrained by security from banging it.
I left my iphone on top of my car the other day while I was loading a guitar and ruck sack into the back and had left it ‘up top’ saying to myself ‘Don’t forget the phone is on the roof of the car. Don’t forget. Don’t forget. Don’t forget.’
I forgot. I remembered where it was (or had been) about half a mile away and ridiculously pulled over and got out and looked at the roof in the vain hope it had balanced there like some skilled high wire artiste. But obviously it wasn’t there clinging on desperately by its er screen and had fallen off somewhere. I went back home and presumed it had dropped off when I moved away from the parking space outside the house (well just up the road from the house coz you can rarely park outside the house what with all these bloody white vans parking in the street but that’s due to the hotels at the end of the road. I could go on. But won’t) But alas it wasn’t there where I’d parked so I presumed it had stayed on the roof for a bit and then lost it’s grip and rolled into the metallic pandemonium of the Shepherd’s Bush Road and had made its quietus under the massive crushing wheels of a brick filled truck or a packed bus. I thought of retracing the half mile car journey but gloomily predicted failure in my phone quest. I went back into the house and phoned it from the house phone and it predictably clicked through to the dulcet toned answer machine. I decided to phone the Dance Attic where I was rehearsing the Rudy Vees to tell them I was late coz I’d lost my phone and I was getting an ancient Nokia spare and not to phone me as I didn’t have the phone any longer but they could get me on the old Nokia. And I phoned my agent with the number of the ancient phone and told them not to phone me on the proper phone as it had been lost somewhere and was probably crushed. Bewilderingly when I spoke to Andrew the Dance Attic boss on the reception desk who answered, he said ‘ah Jonathan yes just to tell you Sandy your MD has gone to pick your phone up’.
‘What?’ I said, suspecting I was speaking to a mind reader or I had already phoned up and was suffering from amnesia or someone had slipped state altering drugs into my PG Tips.
‘Yes?’ I was suspecting a candid camera prank. Someone had sneaked up to the car and taken it off and sped down to the Dance attic before me. Or something. He continued. ‘Your phone. Someone found it and phoned Emily in your band and Sandy has gone to retrieve it. It was a courier on a motorcycle and he ran over your phone and then phoned the number on the front of the phone.’
Emily was the last person to phone me and had phoned me to remind me to bring the guitar. This courier had phoned the number bypassing the security code (a bug in the new operating system) and had said he was in Hammersmith Grove and Sandy cycled to get it! What are the chances of that happening eh? 400,000 to 1? More? Less?
The dangers of playing tag with a superfast 4 year old daughter
I had an NHS nightmare on Monday evening. I was playing tag with my 4 year old daughter Georgia in the Brook Green playground. It’s designed with two long grass green artificial mounds adjacent to each other connected by a slatted rope bridge, except of course it’s a sort of fake rope bridge as the rope bridge is on the ground so it’s not dangerous and there are stone steps in the two artificial mounds leading down to it. At the end of one of the mounds is a small slide into a sandpit. And there’s a kids’ train and some junior swings. But this is just painting a picture because we’re only dealing with the rope bridge end which is the other end. Next to the totem poles. Yes you know it.
Georgia had picked her way carefully through the middle of the rope bridge to evade my clutches and I could see that I could gain speed and a tag advantage if I nipped through the rope bridge where it was connected to the slope of the mound as there were fewer ropes there and an adult could neatly gain several yards advantage on his or her child in the event of pursuit for the purposes of grabbing and shouting ‘you’re it’. However whilst focusing on my prey I failed to notice the sticky up piece of wood that bordered a cushiony flowerbed of wood chips between the mounds where the rope bridge was positioned and I tripped head long towards the mound and the bridge. In a split second of tripping I remembered the previous instance when I’d fallen from a height when I’d fractured my wrist using a hand to break my fall and therefore this time I would avoid the fracture and I cleverly tucked my hands to my side resembling a sort of torpedo. I had time to approve of this endeavour before realising I was heading for the descending steps as if I was attempting to sink the Bismarck. I thwacked my forehead on one of the steps just above my eye and chose an edge for good measure. There was a sort of sickening moment that I’ve experienced before, mostly when attempting to head a football and heading the back of someone’s head in the process and then a sharp pain and a sort of stunned enveloping numbness. But there was a strange clarity. I experienced something similar when I had a motorbike accident a few years ago and was hurled over the handle bars as a car came out of a side turning in front of me and I collided with it at speed before describing a flailing circle and landing on my knees before head butting the tarmac. The clarity is not your life flashing before you but a sort of realisation of what your injuries are likely to be and a knowledge that you have been a total dick not deflecting your fall with an arm. In the case of the motorcycle accident I predicted bruised bones and concussion if I landed properly and something worse if I hit the kerb. In this instance I thought ‘Hmm. Cut on the head. A lot of blood and swelling but you’ll be ok. Possible concussion but not probable. Have to wait and see’. As it was, I slumped back onto the slope and waited for the stunned feeling to go, opened my eyes and there was a woman hovering over me.
‘You ok?’ she asked. She addressed a man in shorts. ‘We should call an ambulance’.
‘No I’m fine’ I said. ‘I’m fine. I think.’
‘There’s a lot of blood’ she said. My prediction was right. I moved forwards to get up from where I was lying on the mound and it cascaded all over my denim jacket and tee shirt. I stuck my tie-dyed purple hanky over the area to staunch the flow, and was slightly embarrassed I’d come out with that particular one in my pocket. As if I’d had a car accident and had somehow lost my trousers and was taken away on a stretcher only wearing old frayed stained knickers.
‘No don’t call an ambulance, you can call my girlfriend. I only live over there. She can be here in a min!’ I gabbled.
I shouted out Henrietta’s number. The woman seemed incapable of understanding me. ‘Is that 079 or 097?’
‘It’s 079. 079.’
‘Did you say a 3?’
‘Yes I did. But there’s a 7 before the 3.’
‘So is that 07973 or 09737?’
I was annoyed she couldn’t understand my crisp enunciation honed over several decades of voice over work.
‘0-er 7 er 9 er 7 er 3! 0 er 7 er 9 er 7 er 3!’ She had the rest of the number correctly.
‘Ok I’ve dialled it.’ she said…..It’s not working. No. It’s wrong. What was the number again? You sure that’s a number?…oh wait a minute should I put +44 before that?’
I found myself getting angry with this innumerate Samaritan despite her worthy intentions and reprimanded myself for this ungrateful attitude.
‘It’s ok. I can do it’ I said in exasperated but suitably injured tones. But added ‘Thankyou for your help and care’ in case I was sounding churlish. I took my phone out, avoided splashing it with the copious bloodflow and dialled Henri.
‘Is my daughter nearby?’ I asked those looming over me, worrying that this was a perfect opportunity for someone to make away with her whist I was distracted.
‘It’s ok she’s here’ said the woman.
‘Daddy!’ Georgia said.’What are you doing down there?’
‘I’ve cut my head. I fell over,’ I said. She looked confused.
‘Why did you do that? she asked as most 4 year olds tend to do. Meanwhile Henri didn’t pick up. I cursed. The woman asked me if she should omit the 0. ‘Do I dial +447? Or +4407?’
Henrietta didn’t pick up
I tried again. She did pick up this time. I explained the situation. She arrived pretty quickly. I staggered over to her, my hanky twice the size with soaked up blood, thanking the assembled crowd (it had grown to about six people) over-profusely for their aid and attention, bowing slightly as I left.
‘Where shall we go? said Henri. ‘Charing Cross or Chelsea and Westminster? ‘I pondered for a moment hanky still clapsed to my forehead. But then, fortuitously, or not, a police car stopped beside me.
‘You allright sir?’ said a charming policeman. (some of you may never have seen the words ‘charming’ and ‘policeman’ next to each other in a sentence before and the idea may be totally alien to you but trust me, he was. And sollicitous and caring. If still sounding like a policeman. I was taken aback!) I explained my predicament. No I had not been brawling over whether my football team was the finest the world had ever seen. No I had not been struck by a shard of space debris or a passing piece of frozen poo from a jumbo jet but had been in fact indulging in the ancient hobby of pursuing my 4 year old daughter around the playground in order to ‘tag’ her and had made a bit of a dick of myself by hurling myself against a sharp step. He was unbelievably helpful and he and his pretty assistant ( a policewoman before any of you get any ideas) suggested he would take me quickly to A&E. I concurred, believing this would mean I would be seen more quickly. Georgia and Henri bade me a fond farewell and I was whisked off, strangely loquatious in the back of the police car, telling the story of the woman who couldn’t get her phone to work and my instant analysis of my dilemma when I was plunging towards the step and asking questions about where they were from and how lucky I was to encounter them when and where I had and wasn’t life marvellous! ! I also informed them that perhaps in my case, shock and concussion expressed itself as verbal diarreoa. They chortled at my suggestion and drove faster possibly thinking that yes indeed I needed help as soon as was humanly possible. We arrived at Charing Cross A&E and they escorted me in. The laid back receptionist found I had been there before on her computer and said ‘take a seat’, it should be five or ten minutes’. The policewoman took my name and they exited. I attempted to shake their hands as they were leaving but realised I was covered in blood. We all laughed. I was happy. They had been lovely! I took stock of my whereabouts. There were about twenty people around me crammed in waiting expectantly. Well actually
mostly lolling about. But no problem! They were nothing to do with me! My problem was greater! I would be seen soon and my throbbing bleeding cut and wobbly knees and ever swelling head- wound would be quickly dealt with. Yes! The receptionist had noticed and noted ‘here is a man with a bleeding cut with a shaky demeanour who needs to be seen immediately as it is a head injury!’ Indeed! There would be no problem. My sitting down was just somewhere to sit temporarily! I would be seen before this assembled multitude of sprained wrists and coughs and ingrowing toenails around me as I had a bleeding cut head! A dangerous injury! Unlike theirs! Which weren’t as serious as mine! My reverie was interrupted. A drunk or madman in the room shouted out in a mad voice ‘Dey would nit shake yer hands dose police’.
‘No. No. Nothing to that. I had blood on my hands. That was why.’ I replied.
‘All you whities has blood on your hands.’ he barked to the room who naturally ignored him. He cried out a few more appalling remarks about what those around him looked like ‘You sra. You has a face like a prune! A prune I tell you!’ and was seen almost immediately as if his abuse was somehow rewarded.
It occurred to me that my cut was still bleeding all over my jacket, my headache was worsening and I had been asked to sit and wait when my experience of head injuries on football fields was that the game was stopped and the doctor came on to assess the degree of harm the injured person had experienced with a lot of fingers being held up and lights shined and questions asked to find out the severity of the injury. And I had been asked to sit in the waiting area of A&E. I’d arrived at 8.00. Nearly everyone in the room was seen before me. I went and complained to the receptionist and said surely I should be seen as soon as possible as I was bleeding and had a head injury! Surely?’
‘Please sit down we are very busy’ I was told. At 8.45 a man shouted out ‘Mr Kydde?’ with the emphasis on the Y as in Kite. I was furious now despite my being giddy.
‘It’s Kydd. Pronounced like the goat. It’s an Irish name and very traditional.’ I bawled while getting up and staggering over.
I stomped in. This was the first doctor you see who assesses whether you are a malingerer and making it up or not and gives you a grade to say whether it’s urgent or not. He got shouted at with both barrels. ‘For fuck’s sake! I’m bleeding and stunned and it’s taken me three quarters of an hour just to see you to be assessed? Is this normally what you do with head injuries? You saw a bloke with a rash before me’ To his credit when he saw my cut he apologized profusely and said he was just on and had he been on earlier he’d have seen me instantly and shamed me so much I apologized back for losing my temper. He gave me some pain killers. To his credit, five minutes later a nurse saw me. But she hardly endeared herself by asking me what was wrong with me. ‘Er..possibly I’ve gashed my head JUST HERE’ I shouted and pointed. ‘JUST HERE? See?’ She whisked me into a room where a doctor came in and went straight out again and came back with another doctor who was the registrar ie the big cheese. All the lights were shone and the fingers held up and the stomach pressed and the pulse taken and the questions asked and the registrar informed me I’d need four stitches and he and the other doctor cleaned my wound and numbed my head and put the stitches in together and I had a tetanus injection and my reflexes were checked and more questions were asked as to why the wound wouldn’t stop bleeding and had I just fallen over and not tripped and did I have a history of heart problems or stroke etc etc. In other words all the questions and care that should have happened hours before when I was sitting in the reception area. They were great though. Once I got in.
I found myself at the Piccadilly Theatre yesterday to watch ‘Viva Forever’ the ‘Spice Grils’ musical. I must own up here in that I had been dastardly and gone purely to see why it had obtained such dreadful reviews considering it was written by Jennifer Saunders and was produced by the super successful Mamma Mia team and I had purchased a cheapo ticket oft tert intranet and was expecting an empty house, silence in the auditorium, a lot of giggling at its awfulness and an under-energized gloomy cast rushing through it so they could get into the pub asap. So I was somewhat taken aback to find myself crammed in amongst a full house of sparkling young cockernees pushing past my end of row seat dressed up to the eights. The rumour was that its imminent demise – it was supposed to be coming off this week – had contributed to the upsurge in ticket sales and lots of the audience had, like me, come to see why it was so shite! Though in reality, I think the fact that it was £25 as opposed to £65 had contributed to the sell out crowd. A message perhaps for west end producers everywhere?
Zig a Zig Aaah!
Unfortunately my best laid plan soon unravelled once I had sat down to watch the Zig a Zig activities and Who do you think you are-ing, and the eyelids drooped and the jaw slackened and I fell into a deep slumber that no amount of noise from the stage could disturb. All I can hope is that I didn’t drool onto the lively gay couple next to me who seemed quite happy to have me cuddled up to them for the first half until they moved away. I have to admit that my life has been in the fast lane recently and I have been under great pressure coping with the Tortoise’s constant binge drinking and self destructive life style which I am forced to endure. I am at the end of my tether trying to keep him happy. I invite his friends over but they always take an eternity to arrive. I buy him vests. He has so many vests. But he’s changed. He has soo gone off the rails since I last included him in my posts. He has ballooned and is now more turtle than tort, but this is inevitable given his diet, as he crams doritos and pringles into his little prehistoric mush gargled down with piri piri sauce. He rarely exercises and prefers to lounge about near the TV munching on a Hula Hoop watching repeats of Homes Under the Hammer as he is now fascinated with renovating old buildings and is constantly having a go at me about doing up my house which he calls ‘bedraggled’ and ‘in a time warp’. I try to explain that the house has been given over to bringing up a four year old with abundant energy but he poo poos Georgia’s involvement. ‘Regardless of your gorgeous daughter’s existence in the home, you have let your standards slip and this place looks tired and lazy,’ he croons. He also keeps hiding from me which he finds hugely amusing but I find a strain as I am scared the next door’s dog has got him. He also plays loud 1960s R&B …mostly the Animals ‘Don’t let me be misunderstood’ and his favourite song ‘So Happy together’ … (I can’t remember who sang this one) very loudly whenever I am watching BBC4, deliberately to annoy me on his tiny iPod which has ridiculously large speakers. So…. the tension is palpable as he toys with my emotions and this is the reason for my exhausted state. Anyway I digress. My zzzzzs meant I consequently missed large chunks of the show as I dribbled and snored and scratched through most of the evening. Luckily I had taken my imaginary dog Des with me and he had this to say about it all, desperate as he always is for practical cake on stage in a scene featuring a meal that he can consume. He confided in me afterwards that there was none. I have to warn you that this lack of foodstuffs on the stage will have contributed to his negative reaction to all the fervent well choreographed singing and dancing : ‘Blimey! Ruff evening! No cake on stage.
None of the jokes worked. Lucy Montgomery forced to do ridiculous thong gags to cope with leaden opening scene. After the first brilliant ‘If you wanna be my lover’ number the show sank like a dead body thrown over the side of a ship with a weight attached to it and although a good cast tried to drag the corpse up to the surface the writing was so odd that they were forced to let it slip onto the ocean floor where it burrowed into the sand. This was not helped by the main ‘mentor’ character (it was a sort of X factor plot) being a sort of Ab fab Edina and Patsy amalgam which owing to the ‘real’ acting around her just meant that she was so ludicrous all sympathy for any of the characters ran out of the window and threw itself under a bus. Weird. Peculiar. Grotesque. Rarely funny. Words of the songs inaudible. None of the songs had the appeal of the Abba songs as they aren’t inscribed on the country’s psyche like Bjorn and Benny’s. And there was no cake! No wonder it got badly reviewed.’ I have read this and find it unfair and biased. Des had the hump because there was no cake. When I awoke at the curtain call the whole audience were on their feet boogying. It looked good to me. What bits I saw of it! Catch it while you can! Cake or no cake!
Ludicrous Europa League
Went to the Europa League Final in Amsterdam which was ultimately a rewarding experience as the mighty CFC and their weird table waiting manager managed to overcome being shite in the first half to ‘slightly less than shite’ in the second and finally rather good. But along the way, as well as driving in a Belgian car whose Satnav didn’t work properly…the Female English voice was badly edited and would say ‘Now turn lef….right’ and had clearly been put in ‘avoid motorway’ mode by some wag and consequently we arrived one and a half hours after the other car we’d set off at the same time as. I now know several villages on the Dutch borders intimately and can admire Dutch cycling as we found ourselves frequently behind cyclists all travelling at five miles an hour. Incidentally none of them wear Lycra or helmets. I like that, being a non Lycra helmet man myself when I bike. In fact only the other day I cycled in a beige mac and flat cap. And btw not a pair of cycling shoes to be seen in Holland either! But I digress. At the match I was sitting about halfway up on the side not far from the corner flag in the Chelsea end. Next to me was a well spoken man who enquired whether I worked for IMG as he was with Delta airlines. Next to me was a foreign woman with her son. These were expensive corporate tickets. This pleased me as it meant I would not have to stand up to watch the game. To those of you reading this who are not acquainted with what happens at matches nowadays, most supporters stand in front of their seats. I know that this may seem bizarre that you pay a large amount of money for a seat, in this instance 100 euros and then stand up. But It’s supposed to be because you can only be a true supporter if you are standing and singing.
This is obviously bollocks but that is the view of the standing supporter. And the standing supporter has the power as he or she just refuses to sit down when asked, and of course everyone else stands up around the supporter as they can’t see. So in the end large numbers of people are forced to stand who don’t want to. I have been accused of not being ‘a proper supporter’ because I don’t want to stand in my seat. And that I don’t sing. You can imagine after a week of voicing and singing in rehearsals and generally using my voice for a living, belting out a passionate version of ‘Carefree wherever you may be we are the famous CFC’ does not appeal. But in fact that is one of the reasons that a lot of supporters do sing and ‘encourage’ others to do so. It gives them status. To leap up and be seen by others to be doing so with arms outstretched in a pale imitation of the crucifixion and the mouth in rapture over your football club ‘anthem’ and then to turn round to others showing them your joy and asking them to join you is for some a deep emotional moment. It says ‘I belong to this group. I am one of you but I am a leader. Sing this with me NOW’. Anyway, to set the scene further, to my right, behind the goal nearly everyone is standing up. Only a few stray rows are sitting, mostly near the front. But everyone where I am is sitting. I am content. I’m not saying I won’t leap up if there’s a near miss or a dirty foul or a goal, but my main intention is to spend the whole game ‘sitting’ in my ‘seat’. This does not make me any less of a supporter in my view. To my horror just to my right there is a ‘youf’ who from previous experience, will want to stand. I have seen him away at Premier league games. He is an ‘exhortor’. His life is so dull that this is the highlight of his week or even his raison d’etre. He exhorts, encourages, other fans to sing with him and turns to us beckoning. He consequently misses large chunks of the game as he isn’t actually looking at the match. For him and for others, as there are many ‘exhortors’, it is about getting people to sing and of course be the person who achieves this. For me he is naturally an enemy. A demon in fact. Actually the devil himself. Because I love sitting and he loves standing. Because people will stand around him just to see the match. Or there will be a fight. Someone will champion his cause after he says ‘you’re not true supporters because you’re not singing. You’re not getting behind the team’ and he will shame some to stand who actually want to sit in their 100 euro seats. He will also activate the few moles around him who want to stand but are intimidated by the fact that everyone is seated. This is what happened on Wednesday night. He got up and turned round ‘exhorting’. An oldish man said ‘sit down please I can’t see’. He sat, always looking behind him to see if here were others he could point to and say ‘look he’s standing’ and bounced back up again. The old man said ‘I can’t see. Where are the stewards?’ in a vain attempt to get help. I could not prevent myself. ‘Listen mate. Please sit down. Everyone here wants to sit . You’re blocking everyone’s view.’ The Delta bloke whispered ‘well done’ into my ear. You notice I said ‘whispered’. He wasn’t sticking his head above the parapet. The boy sat down again. But a ‘Hello hello we are the Chelsea boys’ erupted behind the goal and he was up again turning to us beckoning, belting out the words as if his life depended on it. ‘For fuck’s sake sit down’ shouted the bloke to my right. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The bloke to my left, a closet stander clearly, got up in support and joined him, along with his pal, and looked back at us. Then sat down again when the song ended. The situation simmered. The boy got up again.
‘Sit down’ we screeched. The bloke to my left, a bald beaky chap in denim, said to me in London tones ‘what’s wrong with ‘im standin’? ‘E’s only enjoying himself.’ The ludicrousness of this remark made me see red and I embarked on an over elaborative verbose analysis of what he’d just said, as is my wont, suggesting that the boy was being insensitive to the demands of the group and if he wanted to sing and stand why didn’t he go behind the goal where that’s what everyone wanted to do instead of inflicting his selfish desire to be the centre of attention on us. I foolishly ended this peroration with so just f*ck off. This was unwise of me. This bloke and his mates all exploded and I was given a violent volley of abuse and scary faces. Meanwhile the game is of course continuing. People shout out ‘shut up and watch the game’. The boy’s friend or someone stands up and points at me. The boy is standing, the blokes to my right are standing, the woman beside me with her son is making little frightened noises. I do nothing. This is wise. Their attention returns to the game. I spot two empty seats much further down the row next to my mate’s son Johnny and make a beeline, dumping myself in the available seat. I explain the situation. He is sympathetic. No one in this area is standing. I watch the game till half time. Tim my friend with whom I’d travelled came down at half time from his seat higher up and told a story of how three rows away a similar fracas had broken out except that in this instance the man who had objected to a bloke standing up had been head butted. There had been a lot of blood. I gulped. I was pleased I had taken the decision to flee. I joined him for the second half much higher up as there were spare seats around him. No one was standing up there.
At the end of the game when we were leaving, after the two fabulous goals had claimed the trophy , in a misplaced moment of euphoria, I spotted the bloke to whom I had ranted about selfishness and ‘the group’, and gushing with reconciliation went up to him and said ‘Listen mate I’m sorry I lost my temper. I was wound up by the circumstances. I do apologize.’ I sort of hugged him as well. Possibly hugely embarrassing. We were doing that thing of still walking along a bit. He just said ‘Your name’s Jonathan isn’t it. Jonathan Kydd.’
‘Yes!’ I trilled somewhat un-nerved but strangely pleased to be recognized by a man from whom I had fled earlier on and not quite sure where this was leading. I thought perhaps he followed me on Twitter or had seen me on telly?
‘I’ve used you on adverts.’
‘Oh really?’ I blurted thinking ‘oh my god this bloke works in advertizing. He’s an employer. I’ve told an employer to ‘f8ck off’. Aaargh.
‘Well yes sorry! What a great night!’ I said far too happily and fled once more. So it’s true. Large numbers of CFC fans work in the media.
Game of Thrones Groan
I spotted a star of ‘Game of Thrones’ in the vibrant streets of Soho yesterday as I was exiting my voice agent’s in D’Arblay Street. It was the bloke who is the assassin come bodyguard to the ‘dwarf ‘ (sorry, ‘person of restricted stature’. Or is it ‘very short person’? Or ‘height disadvantaged’? What is it? … Anyway I’m sounding as if I’m sending it up but I’m not..but it’s the titchy large headed bloke with the bizarre English accent which approaches Dick Van Dyke territory, but isn’t cockney but awful crap pretend American trying to be English posh… Yes him, the small one for whom we feel the most sympathy coz his father Charles Dance is always horrid to him and blames him for the death of his wife when he was born and hates the fact he is a tiny person. And he saved the castle but has gone unrewarded for his valour. Him. A Laniston is it?). Well it’s not him I saw but the bloke who is his hired blade who kills for him, him with the beard and long hair and dishevelled appearance and northern accent. Him. He’s good! Evil but witty and casually cheeky. And never being shy to state my approval of good characters wot I like in stuff, I walked briskly over and projected loudly in his direction ‘excuse me I’m an actor too’ (trying to give more weight to my assertion and suggesting I knew what I was talking about by saying ‘I’m an actor too’)… ‘I’m an actor too, and you are fabulous in Game of Thrones. FABULOUS’ And I flicked him on the shoulder to prove I meant it and it was worth having my opinion and he rather nicely said ‘oh thanks very much!’ and I fell over a sign advertizing an ironmonger’s I hadn’t noticed before and to hide my embarrassment from the whole thing really, I strode off totally in the wrong direction as I was going to a studio just around the corner to do a voice over, and was forced to do a huge tour of the block coz I mean I couldn’t go back as it would undermine my certainty that I was ‘an actor’ and he was ‘FABULOUS’
And obviously I couldn’t go back as it would have appeared I was stalking him. So I legged it round the other way to where I was going and of course encountered my agent coming back from picking up a takeaway lunch who asked me where I was going as didn’t I have a job at Jungle studios in five minutes which was the other way and had I forgotten? And I was forced to explain the whole circumstance. And of course after I left him there was the very same actor again walking towards me so rather than run away I ran past him and said ‘Fabulous…FABULOUS. YOU…FABULOUS!’ and went and hid in an alleyway. I was late for my job.
Henrietta’s brother Nick had a weird experience recently. The police called round to his home to say that a security guard at Tesco had complained about him as he’d apparently given the guard ‘a funny look’ whilst leaving the store after buying some food. He was known to the staff there as he was a regular customer and lived just around the corner. He laughed it off and suggested the Police do something better with their time. Being an ex solicitor he wasn’t intimidated by the police’s questioning which he dismissed as ridiculous. I suppose if he’d been seen to behave erratically when the police arrived , and had for example answered the door wearing no trousers or shouting ‘aye banana’ every three seconds or brandishing a dangerous weapon like a compass, then their visit might have borne fruit and he would have had his collar felt. But no, he was not naked when he greeted them, suggested they were wasting their time and his, politely, and they obviously decided that all his ‘look’s’ were in no way ‘funny’ and they went on their way. This whole weird experience raises a few interesting questions. Firstly, what exactly is ‘a funny look’. Is it a sneer? Is it a leer? Is it sexual? If so how can one tell? Does it need to be accompanied by a noise to be truly offensive? if so what sort? A squeak? A raspberry? A high pitched whine? Or possibly a gesture? A finger? The baring of bottom cheeks?
I can imagine the police appearing if he’d mooned at the security guard! But no it was just a ‘look’. Mind you he was never accused of being offensive. Just that his ‘look’ was ‘funny. Does that mean it made the guard laugh? In which case were the police comedy agents for the policeman’s ball looking for a ‘turn’? No they were not. They were looking to arrest him. Secondly, why did the security guard not talk to a few colleagues before involving plod who might have persuaded him he was a twat and he should go back to scrutinizing his monitors looking for shop lifters? Having said that, the police believed the ‘look’ was serious enough to find out his address and turn up on his doorstep. Thirdly why on earth did the police act on the security guard’s bizarre assertion anyway? Were they thick bastards? Mind you, regardless of their neanderthal IQ, if a precedent has been set here, what hope do nearly all of us have? Will we all be visited nocturnally for having had a dubious stare or misplaced nose twitch whilst walking past an officer? Will there be special police people whose job it is to interpret ‘looks’? Will we be able to see what looks are and are not allowed? ‘Oi sonny you’ve blinked aggressively at me! You’re nicked!’ Will there be examples and photos we can look at so as to avoid detention? Will shrugs be interpreted as disdainful and worthy of police visits? Does this mean the security cameras will now be on the look out for every twitch and gurn directed towards anyone in a position of authority? Personally I am aghast that the police actually ever took this seriously. But it does make one conclude that the police need some direction from some of their superior officers as to what is ‘crime’ and clearly in this case should go back to ‘police school’. I mean it really is a total waste of time isn’t it? Time that we the tax payers are paying for. A postscript to this is that despite having complained to no -one, Nick received a grovelling letter from Tesco’s at the end of the week apologizing and saying how much they valued his custom and that the security guard had been reprimanded. So at least someone at Tesco saw sense and realised that this embarrassing gaffe would make a good story for the newspapers. Or even Facebook! And they ought to attempt to nip it in the bud! Or have they?
Colin the Flower
My just 4year old daughter has a fish. A guppy. After weeks and weeks of testing the water and filtering it to no avail and trip after trip to the pet shop to be told ‘no it’s not right yet’, a bag of their filtered stuff at 80p made it safe for the little piscean chap and he was deposited into the titchy tank where he looked bewildered by the Scooby Doo micro bus and plastic weed contained therein. Mind you when I were a lad we used to put real weed in a bowl and pour gallons of fish food in and were surprised when the small carp (goldfish) pegged it after a few days to be found lying on the surface (having been won at a funfair) or was accidentally flushed down the loo when I tried to change the water. (you had to flush to get the water in you see) So. The fish is in and I think needs a few friends to make him feel at home. I personally am not keen on keeping any living thing cooped up anywhere even if their memory is fish like but if Georgia likes it I suppose I’m happy. Though she does bang on the side of the glass (like I did) and likes it when the fish jumps back petrified (as I did) We decided to have a naming ceremony for the little chap and I asked her what she would like to call him. She knew instantly. ‘He’s Colin’ she said. ‘Colin the Flower’.
Wot do u reckon chums? Bought six £30 gift vouchers from M&S as presies for my voice agents on their last day at work before Christmas. Gave em to the 6 staff. Went home. Told on 3rd Jan that only 1 had actually worked. There was nothing on the others. Not a pound. Or a penny. De nada in fact. Went back after to M&S with all 5 that were non functioning having collected em from the disappointed disgruntled staff some of whom were thinking I was a mean bastard and it was a huge joke. Once at customer services having queued I charmingly pointed out that M&S had erred and I’d like the cards recalibrated or whatever it is you do to em, or my money back. However. I am not speedily dealt with and given my money back as I’d hoped. I am left standing about for ages while people go away with the gift cards and phone people up and consult and hold the gift cards up analysing them as if they are in fact not gift cards at all but pieces of cardboard with biro scrawled on them and black tape impersonating the magnetic info strip. I begin to feel guilty! I wonder if it because I have a dodgy (ish) beard and a backpack on as well as a flat cap and am obviously a down and out or eccentric despite my dulcet posh tones. I am kept at customer services becoming increasingly aware that this is not going at all well as my credit card is analysed and its numbers shouted down phones as if it will suddenly flash ‘yes this man is a crook arrest him NOW’. I tell my story several times as I am asked to repeat it to different people. I ask a manager a few questions myself who studiously ignores everything I say and refuses to give me eye contact. Finally I am told to wait for someone else. She is not brisk in arriving. It turns out to be the commercial manager. She is taller than everyone else, me included, and I wonder if this is a requirement for her role. She says in well spoken trained tones (she’s been on a course or two) that they will need to look at the close circuit TV before they can decide anything. This is despite their having checked that they have received the £180 which they have, and that none of the gift cards work and have not been used as they are ‘invalid’. She suggests I go off and have a coffee and she will tell me when it’s sorted. I rejected her ‘coffee advice’ as I luckily had things to do and returned later expecting some resolution. But no, they needed to check with ‘central’, whoever they are, and still hadn’t looked at the CCTV. I would be phoned when it was all worked out one way or another.
‘So you are questioning my honesty?’ I asked.
‘No sir but we will need to look at the CCTV’.
‘What to prove that I bought them?’ That I was actually here?’
‘No we need to check what happened. This could not have happened. It has never happened before’
‘Well I feel my honesty is being questioned’ I said
‘Well I’m sorry you feel that sir’ she replied by rote.
I wandered off quite red in the face, convinced that some gumshoe behind a pillar was reading my body language and was preparing the handcuffs.
Still none the wiser as to why they needed to ‘check the CCTV’ as the gift cards didn’t work.. I had the word of all the VO agency staff and suggested that the commercial manager come over and speak to them to verify my story…and M&S had my money…. I awaited a call.
On the weekend a drama queeny friend said ‘Ooh they might work out that you were trying to con them! The Old Bill may be feeling your collar by monday!’.
‘If I’d wanted to con ’em I’d do it for more than £180′ I replied. Anyway on the monday (I’d gone in on the friday and clearly they don’t work at the weekends these CCTV observers) the commercial manager left me a message that it was indeed their error and they had put the money properly on the cards this time and she was sorry it had happened and would I go in and pick them up. I went in the following day. She reiterated her apology and handed me the cards in non Christmas card form (‘ we don’t have any Christmas ones as it’s no longer Christmas sir’ she said) in a small brown envelope.
‘Is that it then?’ I asked.
‘Is what it sir” she replied.
‘Aren’t you going to compensate me for the embarrassment of my giving presents that were all duds and my having to hang around here for two hours when I had many better things to do and your staff treated me like a criminal? All I’m getting is an apology?’
‘Well er yes.’
‘I’d like a gift voucher please. I should be compensated for your incompetence!’
‘We’re only allowed to give ten pounds sir’
‘Well ten pounds isn’t enough but it’ll have to do won’t it!’
‘And may I say that the fact I had to ask you for it is appalling PR from somebody who should know better.’
I finished with ‘I know it may be meaningless but I shan’t shop here again and I will encourage my friends and family not to as well, so say I live another twenty years and we spend two grand a year here on food and clothes etc then your store will have lost about forty thousand pounds!’
And I turned on my heel and exited!
John Lewis here I come!
Through a vast dizzy route of pretence and mucking about and silly voices, my right and left hands are ‘2 Zebras’ both with guttural South African accents, named unimaginatively ‘one and two’. My daughter approaches me and says ‘be 2 Zebras Daddy.’ I of course instantly comply. But they can’t just be two Zebras. No. They have to be two different Zebras. One is violent and feral with a grip of steel, the other higher pitched and conciliatory and eager to befriend Georgia, mostly in order to get right up the snout of Zebra 1, so to speak, who is insanely jealous when 2 gets a kiss or cuddle. Naturally, 1 gets slapped by Georgia and told he is naughty. 2 sniggers. They of course then fight. And we are then in the world of complete surrealism when Georgia shouts out ‘Daddy, help me tostop the Zebras from fighting’ which of course I do by saying ‘stop it Zebras’ in between making the Boer scrapping noises made by the combatants. Then of course the Zebras attack me for interfering and Georgia grabs me to get them off..er..me. It ended earlier on with them strangling me and me slumping forwards as if dead and Zebra 2 screaming ‘oh no Zebra one! What have you done?’ And Zebra 2 callously replying ‘I’ve killed daddy! Mwahahahahahaha.’ Naturally order was instantly restored when Henrietta said ‘Come on Georgia it’s supper time! I’ve got you pasta!’ and Georgia callously left me lifeless by the kettle until I miraculously resurrected myself and made a cup of tea, having satisfied any mime critics by leaving the two Zebras on the work surface.
Weird thing happened to me today. I was cycling up King Street Hammersmith where it just leaves the Chiswick High Road. You know near the Tesco Express that used to be a petrol station. Yes I knew you’d remember! And I looked up in front of me and noticed a people carrier doing a u-turn in the road and a bus going past it. I thought nothing of it until the people carrier didn’t wait for the bus as I thought it would, but backed into the bus. There was an all mighty crash and the whole bumper of the people carrier was sheared off and left lying in the road amidst a pile of plastic and debris -mud and dirt always seems to accompany accidents doesn’t it? It’s always dislodged from under the vehicle. And sundry bits of plastic.
Bus just kept on going!
The bus to my bemusement just kept on going and I could see no evidence of any damage on it. In my role as Mr FairmindedMemberofThePublic I thought I’d better cycle on to get the bus’s registration number and I’d then return to the scene and give it to the people carrier’s driver. I originally thought it was the bus driver’s fault but on refection the people carrier had just done a yewie and not looked. In fact the bus stopped at a bus stop and I cycled past the bus – the left wheel arch was sticking out a bit after the collision but that was it – and tapped on the driver’s window. I was expecting a flurry of ignorance or even aggression as that is what I’m frequently given by bus drivers when I’m on my cycle. ‘Get out of my way’ being a polite version of what is frequently shouted at me. But no. I said to the glasses wearing man of 50 ‘you collided with a people carrier back there’. ‘A collision? Bloody hell! Thanks for tellin me! I heard nuthin! I’d better have a look!’ This was said in a broad Yorkshire accent! He spoke everything in a ludicrously loud over the top cartoon Yorskhire voice. I could play him! It was one of my voices! He announced to the bus ‘I’ve had a collision. Please could you all leave the bus and get the next wun which is just behind us’. And indeed there at the bus stop was another bus. Occasionally it’s good that they hunt in packs. He scooted round the back of the bus and came back. ‘You’re right! I have! It could be dangerous! I never heard it or felt it. I’d better report it immediately. Where’s the other vehicle? You know I never heard it or felt it. That’s what happens in big vehicles. You get hit and you feel nuthin.’
‘It’s back there’ I said, pointing to about 60 yards away. But in fact I couldn’t see anything there. I suggested I’d go back and have a look. I did so. the people carrier, and the bumper, and nearly all the debris, had disappeared. All that was left was a few bits of plastic. Otherwise all evidence of the accident had gone! I returned to the bus which now had its hazard lights on. ‘Ere you’re a nice chap’ said the driver who was Steve from Bradford. ‘very nice of you to help me out. Will you be a witness for the insurance?’ Of course’ I said. ‘It was entirely the other driver’s fault. here’s my number.’
So. What happened to the smashed up people carrier? No insurance? Stolen? Carrying stolen goods? I wonder. Steve said he’d look out for me on my bike!
Been tidying up my mother’s garage. A veritable treasure trove of memories. The tiniest pair of my football boots (when I was five) A medal from 1949 when my mum played Table Tennis against Sweden. A Subbuteo team all glued as I used to kneel on the players when we played on the floor. A Goblin teesmade. Needs a good clean! A script sent to my father from the Soho Theatre in 1966 with requesting letter as to whether he’d play the lead (he clearly didn’t). 7 irons from various eras. Ditto toasters. A collection of ancient ‘Mayfairs’ men’s mags each model coyly either turned away from the camera or sporting an abundance of pubic hair that masked everything. A yodelling dog boiler cart (from the Edinburgh Festival show I did with Chris Douglas where we were Perrier runners up) I was Harry Jarvis the Yodeling Dog Boiler. The song was by Dillie Keane. The opening lyric was ‘When on me rounds last monday I spotted Mrs Sproat. She had her pet chiuhaha concealed inside her coat. I said to her I said I said, emerging from the fog, ‘I ‘as to boil that dog Mrs. I ‘as to boil that dog.’ Coz… I’ve boiled dogs in Afric, Cathay and Timbuktu. I picks em up I breaks their necks I turns em into stew. Yodel ay ee tee yodel ay ee tee yodle ay ee ay ee tee etc’ And two reel to reel recorders and an ancient 8mm projector. I found a mass of films as well. My father never grasped that what you saw in the viewfinder wasn’t what you saw in the lens so when he zoomed in on your face it would end up on your chest. That was his excuse anyway.
My marvellous daughter Georgia approached me yesterday and asked if she could blow out some candles. ‘No prob me darl’ I said ‘but it’s not your birthday.’
‘I know but I just want to blow out some candles.’ she spat back slightly aggressively as if I was being a bit thick as she’d only asked to blow out candles, not have a piece of cake. So I set up this candelabra whatsit and put some big candles in and grabbed the box of matches from her (phew) and lit them. She very carefully pursed her lips and blew them out one by one and said without prompting ‘I wish for …people’. Naturally I launched into an explanation why ‘people’ wasn’t really a good idea to wish for as the world’s birth rate and population was pretty high and didn’t really need a boost and then thought but perhaps she’s wishing for something quite altruistic and is wishing for people to get along but just isn’t expressing it very well. ‘How about wishing for ‘world peace’? i suggested. I duly relit the candles and she blew them out one by one very carefully and then whispered ‘I wish for …world peace’..Marvellous! Bravo!’ i said. ‘Again!’ she exhorted. So again I lit the candles and again she blew them out and asked for world peace. And eleven more times. I finally said ‘that’s enough world peace my darling I want to watch the football’ (manu losing btw. ha ha ha ha ha) To which she shrieked and said ‘Nawwwwww! You can’t! I WANT TO WISH FOR WORLD PEACE AGAIN!’ and hit me. One has to remember that she is two and three quarters and that the irony of hitting me after asking me for world peace is possibly lost on her. Manu losing eh? How I laughed.
Bloody hell, I’m feeling my age.I tried to join in the rioting yesterday to show my solidarity for the students. You try lifting a paving stone let alone throwing it. No wonder they’re youths! I couldn’t aim my placard at all! And charging! My iffy groin won’t let me charge! Even when Prince Charles passed me in his car I tried to give him a vee sign and couldn’t get me gloves off in time. I’ve let you down. Sorry.