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Thursday 29th April 2004

Today I had to write my press release for the new Edinburgh show, which, once again, is always difficult as at this stage I haven't written a word of the actual show. I do, however have some idea of what is going to happen and have already completed three of the twelve challenges (with two others well on the way), so this wasn't as hard as some years.
Here's what I came up with:
"The Twelve Tasks of Hercules Terrace
Comedian Richard Herring is going through a mid-life crisis. Depressed and disorientated after having split up with his girlfriend, moved house and been stricken with writer’s block, he resolves to take inspiration from the bust of Hercules that graces the front of his new home and perform twelve impossible or arduous labours in the hope of giving his 37 years on this planet some kind of meaning.
Will the small, fat man from Somerset prove that he is a match for the bronzed and toned Roman demi-god? Or, more likely, will he not?
In some of his tasks Herring attempts to emulate Hercules:
• He travels to Scotland in order to kill the Loch Ness Monster as an homage to Hercules’s prodigious slaying of mythical monsters, such as the Hydra.
• He dates 50 women in 50 consecutive nights, as a nod to Hercules most amazing achievement – impregnating as many women in the same time span.
• He attempts to steal Germaine Greer’s bra, which is the closest thing in the modern world to the girdle of the Queen of the Amazons.
But in other challenges the timid couch potato faces his own worst nightmares:
• Overcoming his twin fears of heights and being splattered into the ground at tremendous speed, by learning to parachute.
• Enduring the arduous training needed to run the London Marathon.
• Filling the void left by the death of Norris Mcwhirter by learning the entire Guinness Book of Records off by heart. And being tested LIVE ON STAGE.
He discovers his own real and imagined limitations, challenges the notions of what constitutes a hero and attempts to determine whether we are just playthings of the gods or ultimately in control of our own destinies.
Who says there are no more heroes?

Richard Herring has been working as a professional writer and comedian since 1989. He was one of the team behind the seminal Radio 4 series “On The Hour”, and then worked alongside Stewart Lee on the cult BBC2 shows “Fist of Fun” and “This Morning With Richard Not Judy”. More recently he wrote 37 episodes of Al Murray, the Pub Landlord sit-com “Time Gentlemen Please” for Sky 1 as well as two acclaimed one-man shows, the most recent of which “Talking Cock” has been translated into over ten European languages and has spawned a book of the same name, published by Ebury Press. “The Twelve Tasks of Hercules Terrace” will be the 19th show that Herring has written or performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, after making his debut there as a student in 1987. You can read Herring’s daily blog “Warming Up” at his web-site"

Now I am far from sure that even all six of those challenges will be in the actual show, but I have to just go with what I am thinking at the moment. The Greer and the Record Book ones are just idle thoughts at the moment. However, I am not going to end up
doing 20 tasks and picking the best 12 - once I've made my choice, that will be it, succeed or fail. I just have to look into the feasability of some of them first. Does Germaine Greer even own any bras? And is there any chance of me ever getting near enough to her to find out? She could be one of my 50 dates, which would kill two Stymphalian birds with one stone. But how far might I have to go in order to win my prize?
This is where I am at at the moment, but as I say these might not be the final tasks:
1) CNPS - as of today at 611. 389 more to find in three months and three days- very tough.
2)Boat Race - completed. Victorious. Against all the odds.
3) Marathon - completed.Certainly counts as a win.
4) Loch Ness Monster - not telling you the outcome, but I think you'll notice that there hasn't been a single sighting since I got back.
5) Fifty dates in fifty days. So far four down and 46 to go.
6)Running with the humans at Pamplona. In July I am going to Spain to protest at the nasty treatment of bulls by running through the streets of Pamplona naked.
7) To lose two stone in weight in the next three months. This would make me the lightest I have ever been in my adult life, one pound less than I was during Ra-Ra-Rasputin. The real challenge with this is that I have 50 days of heavy carousing and drinking to do right at the start of this. But start date was Monday and I've already lost two pounds, so maybe it's do-able.
8) To beat my nephew at tennis. Regular readers will know that my not particularly sporty nephew has always beaten me at this game. If I play him enough will I eventually defeat him just once? My family always remark about how similar he and I are, so in a sense to defeat him would be to defeat myself at 16, which is what mid-life crises are all about. I haven't brought this up with him yet, but think if I offer him a fiver for every game that he wins that he will be more than happy to wipe the floor with me, adn also competitive enough not to just let me win because he feels sorry for me.
9) To do a parachute jump, preferrably from a Hercules air-craft. If anyone knows how I can make this happen then let me know. My friend Al has some contacts.
10) to spend a day changing nappies at a large nursery. A modern-day equivalent of cleaning the Augean stables. I have one lead in this. If anyone knows of a large facility that needs someone to do this job then get in touch.
11) Germaine Greer's bra - possibly.
12) Learning the Guinness Book of Records. I am sure that this will be impossible, and I haven't done any more work on it. But still it appeals to me. I probably learned that many facts during my O levels. Am I still up to the task today?

I have surprised myself that that adds up to 12 already. I thought I was well short. I do have some other ideas as well, so I guess it's about time that came to a decision. I would dearly, dearly love to find something to replace the parachute one, but for that reason I think that I should force myself to do it.
I am certainly much further on than I was with Talking Cock this time two years ago. So that's a positive sign.

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