Friday 20th January 2012
I had a fun day, walking (and running) around Cheltenham and stopping off to drink coffee and write. A whole day in a town on tour feels like a ridiculous luxury and it's great not to get turfed out of the hotel room.
The favourite site in town was a statue that I hadn't noticed before of a bull and a rabbit sitting on a bench together, hugging. It gave me a start when I first saw it as it looks like some kind of primeval, Wicker Man style homage to a horned Satan from a distance, but then the curse was somewhat taken off it when I got closer and saw the rabbit and the fact that the animals were in some perverse interspecies embrace. What the Hell is a bull doing hugging a rabbit? If you know, please don't tell me, because I prefer to try and imagine what the significance of this spectacle is to the town of Cheltenham. Are the bull and
the rabbit this place's Romulus and Remus? Did the bull bum the rabbit and create the first posh human who decided to settle here? Is there some kind of Gloucestershire folk story that I am unaware of about the bull and the bunny that got married? Or did a bull and a rabbit just always sit on a bench here in the 1950s and their relatives put up this literal representation as a memorial. Or is the artist just trying to make everyone think, "What the fuck?" and have a second look and a laugh and experience temporary confusion?
The statue actually becomes quite disturbing as you get closer because the bull has quite a prodigious penis and the rabbit has a line indicating her femininity. Any pretence at fairytale cuteness goes out of the window and we're back to seeing these as demons from some paganistic religion. The bull and rabbit might look cute and cosy on this ornate bench, but there's the clear implication that once they get home the semi-turgid bull will achieve full Priapic tumescence and fuck this dainty looking rabbit to within an inch of her life. This is why bulls and rabbits don't get together in real life - it is not meant to be.
As you know I am a fan of statues with crude representation of genitalia. The Hammersmith pesticles statue has fascinated and scared me for years. And whilst I am no expert on art, I am an expert on cocks and I think looking closely at the bull's penis (if you saw me doing this, that is what I was up to - I am not a pervert who can only get turned on by metal wassocks and anyone who says I am is lying) that the person who crafted the Hammersmith Pesticles statue might be the same one who wrought this disturbing and unGodly union betwixt an ungulate and a leporidae. I think whoever this person is that they are clearly twisted and sick in the head and I love them dearly.
Like I say, I don't want to know any information about this statue, so do not email me or tweet me with any facts. I prefer the pretend versions of artist and legend that I have concocted in my stupid head.
Cheltenham Town Hall is now a regular stop on my tours (indeed, I also did a preview of this show here) and although I am still playing the relatively small Pillar Room rather than the 1000 seater main hall, it is satisfying that tonight was a sell-out. Slowly and steadily my audience continues to grow. By the time I am 258 I will be the biggest selling comedian in Britain. The performance was fluid and confident tonight. I felt totally on top of it and at times was quite impressed with what I was doing, which isn't something that usually happens to me.
Afterwards I was back in my hotel with almost indecent haste. It seemed too soon to turn in, so I went down to the bar to have a glass of red wine and to watch the people of Cheltenham trying to pull on a Friday night. I am still enjoying the solitude, for the moment at least, but it's nice to know that I will be home again in the early hours of Sunday morning.
I am staying in a nice hotel (though it only cost £8 a night more than Lenny Henry's place), which provides biscuits and mineral water in the room. As I am trying to diet the biscuits are not entirely welcome and I am, as always, ridiculously tempted by free food, especially when I return hungry after a gig. So this afternoon I had found myself in the unusual position of removing that sugary lure in the only sure way I could think of and flushed two crumbled biscuits down my toilet. It felt wrong, because it was wrong. Biscuits flushed down a toilet are a telling indictment of the wasteful and hedonistic living of the First World - not only flushing away luxury food because of fear of becoming even more obese, but wasting all that water too. It's like a slap in the face to humanity.
But if I hadn't done it I would only have eaten the biscuits and they would have ended up going down the toilet anyway. In many ways this was a much more dignified funeral for the Viennese Whirls (I don't even like Viennese Whirls, but I would still have scoffed them down). Someone on Twitter said I could have given the biscuits to a homeless person, but I think that would have felt even more patronising and odd and I suspect the biscuits would have been thrown angrily back in my face. Others questioned why I hadn't put them in the bin. Because I could have picked them back out of the bin. Even if crushed. There was that danger. I could learn self-restraint. But I haven't managed that yet. "Keep me away from biscuits and actresses" is a motto that I have tried and failed to live my life by.
But the problem was that I was indeed hungry after the gig and now there was nothing to eat. I decided to have a cup of tea and discovered the sachets of hot chocolate that also come with this hotel room. I hadn't flushed them down the toilet. It was another rookie error.
But pouring the powder into the cup brought to mind the slightly repressed memory of being a child and eating dry drinking chocolate powder, either sucking it off a heaped teaspoon, or filling an egg cup and then using a damp finger to transfer it to my mouth. And this in turn led to me recalling the fact that I loved raw OXO cubes. I didn't even think to pretend it was like an astronaut's dinner. I liked them in their own right. I didn't really like gravy or hot chocolate so it was odd that I liked them in this dehydrated form. Mentioning this on Twitter led to an enjoyable hour of receiving confessions of the awful things others had greedily consumed in childhood. Cubes of jelly were popular (and I too had often scoffed those) as were any type of powdered food like Ovaltine and Angel Delight.
@Markeverclear admitted "I used to eat apple sauce straight out of the jar. Of course when I say 'used to' I mean 'I still do'"
@jesydbfa confessed to eating raw supernoodles, which reminded me that I loved to eat raw spaghetti, which also doubled up as a weapon in short-lived sword fights.
@Jardeeling said he liked "Quaffed undiluted Ribena from sherry glasses, secretely in the kitchen to pretend I was in Jeeves and Wooster."
@toyakowa snitched "my sister used to eat cocoa powder then pretend she hadn't, but would sneeze it all out in a guilty cocoa cloud"
@jefwilliams wrote "used to drink vinegar& perfume. Separately obviously.And put vinegar in lemonade and pretend it was coke." This reminded me that I too liked to drink acetic acid.
@MisterPunch favoured "limeade in tiny glasses at my Nans and pretend it was whisky like in the Cowboy films. Fill her up Nan!"
But the best revelation came from @The_Samiad who said, "as a kid I used to chew up hula hoops then spit them back into another hula hoop and enjoy it as a vol au vent."
These exchanges made me laugh into the night and it was reassuring to know that I wasn't alone in bizarre food/non-food culinary choices.
The irony of this is that I was one of the fussiest eaters known to mankind as a child. I would turn my nose up at early everything, but happily eat spoonfuls of Marmite and the wax covering from Edam Cheese. Clearly I was put off by things that had any nutritional value.
The avalanche of replies made me wish that I was still doing a 6Music show as this would be a very entertaining topic to have covered - don't know why we didn't think of it, given my erstwhile soot-eating colleague.
But Twitter at midnight seemed a good place to share the fun. I went to sleep worrying about what dreams of disgusting food and large phallused animals having sexual relations outside of their genus would haunt me.
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