Thursday 30 June 2011

Prepare boarding passes.

So, tomorrow at 11:30am on BBC Radio 4, and thereafter on iPlayer, it is finally time for this:

Hope you enjoy it. I'm going to try to put up a little post about each episode on the day of each episode. Let's see how well I manage to stick to that.

And the day after, Saturday July 2nd, it's time for this again:

Hope you can come. And if you do, hope you enjoy that too.  

Thursday 23 June 2011

With soundtrack by zombie Whitney Houston.

At the moment, the BBC news website is grouping these two stories together:

Nothing especially noteworthy about that, though it's fun to imagine the first story will not be about a type of wasp which has been discovered to do this; but is news of a particular wasp, and a particular ladybird.

But then, with both headlines rattling round in your brain, you click the second story, and see this:

Now, I've never seen a zombie bodyguard, but my God, that is surely pretty much exactly what one would look like in action (click photo to see the full effect.) Which, I suppose, raises a challenging and important question.

Is the Queen a wasp?

Sunday 19 June 2011

Just 'partly', though?

Turned on the radio just now, and heard this exchange:

'What is it about these limestone pavements that makes them so endangered? Why are they so threatened?'

'Well, partly it's because there aren't many of them.'

...Yep. His story checks out.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Next on the agenda: my autumn wardrobe.

Awful advert I saw yesterday but couldn't take a picture of:

Picture of the drink in question. Slogan: 

Your summer refreshment. Nailed.

Well, thank the ruddy God for that. I don't mind telling you, this whole issue of my summer refreshment was shaping up to be a major balls ache, which is basically the last thing I bloody need right now, and I'm frankly deeply chuffed to hear the issue's been well and truly nailed before it could become a major trauma.

Sandra, get that useless bugger Mike on the blower, tell him to call in the summer refreshment task force and fire their sorry arses. The thing's been nailed.  

Friday 10 June 2011


I am on the Now Show on Radio Four tonight at 6:30 (repeated tomorrow at 12.25). I mention Henry Campbell-Bannerman. I wonder if he'll make the edit?

Also, some people have asked me about the 'Over 18s only' notice on the website for tickets for my sketch show. Ignore it! All ages are welcome, and there are no swears, and only moderate drinking of alcohol. (During the show, at any rate.) We had a ten year old in last week, and he seemed to survive the experience pretty much unscathed. I'm not sure he will totally have got the sketch based on the black and white Alfred Hitchcock film, but who knows, maybe he did.

And now, for people not in Britain, for whom this post has so far been a total waste of time: a picture of a puffin. (If you ARE in Britain, you're not allowed to look at it.)

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

This is the start of the dust-jacket blurb for a 1956 novel called Thin Ice, by Compton Mackenzie (of Whisky Galore fame) 

'Perhaps it was strange that George Gaymer should have become a friend of Henry Fortescue at Oxford in the last years of the nineteenth century. Politically they were poles apart. Henry, already president of the Union, had a brilliant future ahead of him; George was good-hearted but mediocre. Above all, Henry was a homosexual, George was not. Yet George's loyal friendship stood many test across more than forty years, and was reliable when that of Henry's own kind proved transitory or even treacherous.'

Wow. Bear in mind this is meant to be a bold and progressive novel, in which homosexuals are treated with daring sympathy. Despite their inherently treacherous nature.

I also enjoy the ways in which early twentieth century authors let you know a character is gay without actually using the word. Any word. 

This is from James Thurber: 'Winney was, by a familiar caprice of nature, incapable of emotional interest in females'. 

And this is from Ngaio Marsh: 'Bertie was a bachelor, and most understandably so.' 

Friday 3 June 2011

Winnie the Git

There's a great tradition of anti-heroes in literature; evil bastards you can't help liking. Richard III. Heathcliff. Flashman. And, of course...Winnie the Pooh. At least, so I assume from the poster for the new Winnie the Pooh movie:

....What? Now, I'm not one of those people who think Disney ruined Pooh - I love the Milne and Shepherd books, and I like the Disney films (the ones I grew up with, at least - I haven't seen the new ones.) There's room for both. (I also absolutely love the crazy Russian version my friend Simon Kane introduced me to. )

But surely, in all versions, the main thing about Pooh is he's nice. He's not the sort of bear who would, say, rig up a see-saw   in such a way as to catapult his little friend Piglet headfirst into a bee-hive. I mean, there's no other way to interpret this picture, is there? Pooh's tower of pots has brought him as high as the beehive, so if he just wanted to get at the honey, he could do. That's not what he wants. He wants Piglet to be engulfed in angry bees. And Piglet knows. There he stands, awaiting his fate, turning to us in anguish, and murmuring 'Oh Pooh.' Oh Pooh. How did it come to this? What happened to you, Pooh? We used to hunt monsters together, Pooh, remember that? And now you've become one. It's like Christopher Robin told us... you were the Woozle all along.'

(P.S. Coincidentally, both Winnie the Pooh and Simon Kane will feature in my Sketch night at The Albany tomorrow night. You can come if you like.)

Wednesday 1 June 2011


It has been pointed out by people less stupid than me that I didn't include any instructions about how to actually buy a ticket to see my sketch show. Well, you can buy them on the door, or better yet you can buy them online. I hope you do. Today I wrote a sketch about why, during world war two, the RAF kept a top secret room below Whitehall filled with cats. Coming along on Saturday is literally the only way to find out.