Archive for January, 2008

That’s No Reason to Throw Things

31,January, 2008


Today I am wearing National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children socks. When you buy a pair of these from The Sock Shop they will donate 25% to the charity. Nadene gave them to me and they are nice socks but I don’t like the NSPCC. Now before you think I hate children as well as cats I want to stress that I am sure the NSPCC does sterling and necessary work and despite what my son might tell you, I am not in favor of being cruel to children. I dislike this group because they were host to one of the worst deaths I have ever had on stage.

The Grovner House Hotel on Park Lane is one of London’s finest hotels. The largest ballroom there was once an exhibition ice skating rink. It now can seat up to 2000 guests around tables. It’s a blip hanger of a room and every comedian I know has died there at least once.


Before I was asked to do the free show for the NSPCC, I was the only comedian I knew that had always done well in the Great Room. The secret was that I always made sure that the sound, the staging and the lighting were perfect. When the woman from the NSPCC asked me to perform at the event she assured me that her production team was top notch – she lied.

I should have just left when I saw the unlit, six inch high stage and I definitely should have walked away when the microphone made my voice sound like a train announcer with a kazoo but being a prima donna is not one of my skills.

If NCPCC audience had just ignored me then that would have been fine and I would probably be happy to wear their socks but at this event something else happened. On all of the tables were free gifts for the guests: pen’s, disposable cameras, key-chains and – foam stress balls. Now, I know audiences don’t like to be shouted at by a performer that they can’t see or understand but that’s no reason to throw things. One yob threw his stress ball and clocked me square in the forehead. This seemed to the rest of the eight hundred people in the room to be a fun thing to do.

I tell this to you so you can enjoy the mental picture of me slowly walking off a stage, with my head held high, while being pelted with hundreds of pink foam balls. Everyone who has heard the tale thinks it is very funny, so I tell it for you – enjoy. As for me, even though it happened over five years ago, I still don’t see the humour in it. It makes me want to go to a playground and hit small children with sticks. I ‘m glad I don’t have to wear my NSPCC socks again.


30,January, 2008

I was on Midweek with the wonderful Libby Purves’ today on BBC Radio 4. The BBC has a “Listen Again” link that only works for a week. So if you want to have a listen, click the link below before next Wednesday.

Skateboarding as Art

30,January, 2008

One of the joys about being a dad is that you sometimes get to look at the world through your son’s eyes. My boy has made me see that not all graffiti is scribble and that skateboarding can be an art form.

Finbar turned me on to Director Spike Jonze. Jonze cut his teeth on skateboard films before becoming a proper feature film director of such movies as Adaptation. But he still periodically returns to his roots. Here is the opening of his new skateboard film , Fully Flared.

I’m on the radio today

30,January, 2008

For readers in the UK – I’m on Midweek with Libby Pervis at 9am today (Wednesday Jan 30) on BBC Radio 4.

The BBC lets you non-Brits listen on the Internet for a week afterwards. I’ll send a link if I’m dazzling or I won’t mention it again if I’m a bore.


I Miss Hating Russians

29,January, 2008

I miss hating the Russians. Americans were definitely happier hating commies than they are hating terrorists. Russians were tangible – they were big, drank plain alcohol, wore drab clothes and spoke with gruff accents. If you met one personally it was possible to take an instant dislike. And they actually had weapons of mass destruction – you didn’t have to guess.

The big problem with terrorists is – you never get to meet one. I’m sure if I did I would dislike him instantly. I imagine if I had to sit next to one on a plane all the way to America, that he would have halitosis and evangelize about his religion until I finally volunteered to light the fuse in his shoe bomb. But this never happens. And what does a terrorist look like? You could spot a Russian a mile away with those fur hats. My image of the modern terrorist looks something like Cat Stevens – and I like Cat Stevens – it ruins the hate.

So I’m a bit annoyed that I can only hate the individual Russian who was sitting in the seat in front of me on the plane to Philadelphia. He was loud (and I suspect smelly) and took advantage of the fact that his seat was broken by reclining practically into my lap. I left the plane feeling slighted that I could only hate the man, as opposed to all Russians and anyone who ever read The Communist Manifesto.

At immigration in Philly, I was sent into the interrogation room where an officious man grilled me on why I had travelled to America on my Irish passport last February and my US passport this trip. I explained that my US passport had expired last year so I had used my Irish one instead. The immigration man wasn’t expecting such a good answer – poor guy he doesn’t know what a terrorist looks like either. He was crestfallen that I was not a national threat. I could tell in his eyes he was desperate to catch a terrorist (if only to see what one looks like) but the odds are that one will never pass through his airport, let alone while he is on watch. He looked so forlorn I just had to cheer him up. Before I left I said, “There is a dodgy looking Russian back there.”


28,January, 2008

I just flew back from New York City where I bought myself a little present. Check this out.


I was terrified that when I opened my luggage he would be gone and only the chains would be in the bag.


I Only Packed Three Pairs of Socks

27,January, 2008

Thanks to all that complemented me on my Cape Town and South Africa socks photos. Since I have been back, friends have been asking me what Cape Town was like. To be honest I have to tell them that I really don’t know. I flew on Wednesday, arrived on Thursday, rehearsed all day and did the show on Friday. On Saturday morning I jumped in a cab, took the cable car to the top of Table Mountain and flew home in the afternoon. Stupid I know but I only packed three pairs of socks, so I couldn’t stay any longer.

My hotel was in a place called The Waterfront – a newly developed area with restaurants and overpriced shops. Most importantly it had ‘enhanced security,’ so white visitors could feel safe. It was the Disney version of South Africa – I have seen more black people in Scranton Pennsylvania. In fact if not for the gorgeous weather and magnificent view of Table Mountain – I might as well have been in Scranton.

So if you want to know what Cape Town is like – well, it’s got nice weather, and Table Mountain is very nice, and the air is so crystal clear you think it might cut you – but other than that – I-dona-know.

There was one lovely moment.

I had previously worked with the band that performed at the event. On Thursday night, as I was about to go to bed, I ran into the two percussionist (yes the band has two) and the singer Kristen. Kristen is gorgeous, with a voice to die for and is especially great value on a road trip because – she is so easy to wind-up. The three of them were on their way to a jazz club next door to the hotel and I joined them for a drink. The jazz quartet was good and when they took a break one of the drummers went over had had a word. When the band came back on stage the front man said, “We have a special guest singer in the audience,” and introduced Kristen. As she reluctantly walked onto the stage, giving major dirty looks to our table, I asked the drummer how he convinced the band to let her sing. He said, “I told them she was dying.”

She sang Summertime and absolutely blew the room away! It was a nice moment. Almost worth the 22 hours on a plane.

The Housekeeper of Lenahan Lodge

26,January, 2008

My friend, comedian John Maloney, has a line I like. He says, “My wife and I have been married for fifteen years and we have only had one argument – it’s lasted fifteen years.”

That pretty much sums up my marriage with Caroline. The only argument my late wife and I ever had was about how messy I am. And trust me, I am messy. I often think as I walk through my house that things just magically collapse behind me.

Now that I am the head housekeeper of Lenahan Lodge it has deteriorate into a cluttered mess that is increasingly getting worse. My theory is that I’m going to let it get to the point where I can’t stand it anymore and just move.

My son Finbar slipped into the bachelor pad lifestyle pretty quickly. It started not long after my wife died. I remember Finbar sitting on the sofa watching television when I offered to get him some ice cream. In the kitchen I realised that there was just one serving left, so I poured a little chocolate sauce directly into the HäagenDazs tub and threw a spoon.

When I handed it to him he looked at me confused and asked, “I can eat it out of the tub?”

With a wicked smile I replied, “Meet the new boss.”

The Ultimate Sacrifice

25,January, 2008

I received an email asking why I didn’t wear my flight socks on Wednesday’s eight hour airplane flight. Well I certainly couldn’t wear those old things again and there is no way I’m forking out £11 every time I fly.

So, dear readers, if I die of deep vein thrombosis on the journey back, let it be known – I died for the blog.




24,January, 2008

The winner of the cheapest wearable socks award goes to Marks & Spencer. I bought 7 pairs of their Outstanding Value range socks for £3.50. That’s 50p a pair or even better – 25 pence a foot! I can’t attest how they will fair in the long run, cause I’m only wearing them once, but for single use they’re fine.

Yesterday I wore a pair of M&S’s Fresh Feet Socks on an eight hour airplane flight and then eight hours after that. The Freshtech™ design is supposed to make them less smelly – so in the name of science I’m going to sniff these suckers now…

Freshtech™ technology may be good but it ain’t miraculous. I’ll not be performing that experiment again.