Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Don't Try This At Home

The rain it raineth every day. Today it's raining like une vache qui pisse - one of my favourite French expressions, which proves they can do colourful slang as well as the English.
So I'm standing at the kitchen sink washing up and looking at the upper patio awash with rainwater when the woman reading the daily serial on Radio 4 starts talking about girls in strip joints doing party tricks with their vaginas.
Well I'm sorry, but at 9.45 in the morning when I'm up to my elbows in Fairy Liquid and listening to middle-aged Middle England's favourite radio station I don't expect to have vaginas thrust in my face. Or insinuating themselves into my ears.
After dropping my favourite coffee mug, which bears a picture of the Whitley Bay lighthouse, I discovered the serial was a life of Billie Holliday. Apparently the girls referred to were able to pick up money with their, er, front bottoms.
How extraordinary.
Admittedly, you can't do this with a penis. At least, not without the aid of some double-sided sticky tape. But why would you want to if you have at least one set of fully-functioning fingers?
If that's where they keep their money then a heterosexual male must have the possibility of making withdrawals as well as deposits.
But I'm going to be very worried at the supermarket checkout when the woman in front of me is ferreting around in her handbag for her money and says 'I know I've got it somewhere.'


In trying not to write only about the election for the next month and bore you all to tears I've descended into smut. Classy smut, I hope, but smut nonetheless.
Let's try again. James and the Blue Cat wrote recently about his encounter with a London taxi driver who seemed to be played by Harry Enfield. From my experience years ago most of them are. Some of them can be extremely impertinent not to say gobby. I once stopped a taxi late at night in Regent Street and began by asking him the time.
"Are you taking the piss?" he said.
"You flagged me down just to ask me the fucking time!"
"No, no. If there's time I want to go to Paddington to catch the late train. If not, I'm going to north London."
"North London, eh? So is that where your bit on the side lives?"
And they really do say "I once had that [insert name of famous person] in the back of the cab."
I once got into a taxi and the driver said excitedly "You'll never guess who was in the back of my cab before you!"
I wasn't sure if this was an invitation to run through the names of every famous person in Britain but he couldn't contain himself for long.
"Jimmy Saville!" he said.
"You have my sympathy", I replied.
That went down like a lead ballon. At that time the freaky one was doing 'Jim'll Fix It' and many stupid people regarded him as a national hero. I, on the other hand, felt tainted just by the possibility that I might be in contact with some of his lingering body heat on the seat of a taxi.

As it happens, as Saville used to say, I met him once. He used to do a radio discussion programme for teenagers. It used to take place in a small BBC theatre in Northumberland Avenue but when he did one on gay teenagers they did it from a small studio theatre in Broadcasting House.
Those of us invited through gay organisations assembled in that famous foyer and had to be taken up in the lift by commissionaires. We got some very strange looks from those ex-military blokes. I think they were scared to get in the lift with us.
Jimmy Saville, in trademark shell suit, made his entrance through the audience like a boxer, arms above his head. Then he sang "Raindrops keep falling on my left leg". We were supposed to laugh at this. Nobody did.
Unfortunately, nobody spoke either. Instead of a heated debate it was more like a slow-cooker in a power cut. This was the seventies and most gay teenagers weren't out to anybody except each other. Although the likelihood of their parents tuning in to Radio One on a Saturday afternoon was remote, it was enough for most to keep their mouths firmly closed.
Then the cabaret started. It was provided by the producer who stormed out of his little glass box, ran down the aisle and had something that was a mixture of a tantrum and a nervous breakdown. He was a tall, thin, middle-aged man who looked a bit like Chris Langham. He stood on the stage banging his fist against his brow and shouted: "This is dreadful! It's hopeless! It's awful! What the hell's the matter with you all! Nobody will listen to this. It's all right for you Jimmy. You can survive a disaster like this. But what about me? This could be the end of my career!"
He ranted on like this for several minutes, close to tears, while Jimmy Saville grinned and played with his jewellery.
We sat transfixed. Comedies about the media and spoof documentaries hadn't been invented then so we didn't know this was what they'd be like. It was wonderful. And we hadn't had to pay to go in.


At 1:56 PM, Blogger mike said...

Jeepers, what year? I'm almost certain I listened to this. If so, then it was literally the first time I had ever heard the words "gay" and "straight". Hell, I'd only just heard the word "homosexual"...

At 3:13 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Mike, I hope it didn't put ideas in your head and ruin your life!
I can't be exact about the date. I'd guess it was between 1970 and 1972. The programme was called, ironically in this instance, 'Speak Easy' and went out around Saturday lunchtime. One of the guests was Michael De La Noy (crazy name, crazy guy!)who I knew slightly.
Must relate my Claire Rayner/Tom Robinson story next time I'm reminiscing.

At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Duncan said...

Nowadays, it's all chip and PIN cards so picking up notes with your front bottom is a skill that there's less call for. However, if you're looking for somewhere to swipe your debit card...? I'm sure there's a joke about "the money shot" which I've missed. It's late and I'm tired...

At 10:10 PM, Blogger mike said...

In that case, it was definitely the programme I heard. "Speakeasy" - yup, remember the name, now you mention it.

Absolutely the first time I had ever heard any public mention of homosexuality. From the little I remember, it was presented fairly positively. So, um, y'know, thanks.

Seriously. Thanks for doing it.

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Mike, yes it was quite positive and I don't think any anti-gay groups were represented. But I'm undeserving of your thanks because I was only a member of the audience.

Duncan, you wouldn't believe how many jokes ended up on the cutting room floor when I was doing that piece. But none of them were yours which I enjoyed.
Keep forgetting to blogroll you which will be remedied shortly.


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