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Saturday 12th March 2005

Back to Cheddar this weekend to act as a "celebrity" auctioneer at an event raising money for an epilepsy charity. I had made page 9 of the Cheddar Valley Gazette, where I was described as a "nationally-known comedian". I was glad to see the high standards of journalism are still in place in this esteemed paper, and they had not thought fit to print the more hyperbolic or untrue "nationally-famous comedian." It is true that I am nationally known. From the forty people who know about me in Wimborne to the fifty who are aware of me in Carlisle. I don't think there is anyone for whom the phrase "nationally known" is more apt.
The dinner and auction was held in St Andrew's Church Hall, which I don't think I've been inside for over twenty years. I could remember once going to a dance here when I was about ten and having to waltz with some middle-aged lady and being very embarrassed. Hopefully tonight wouldn't be as humiliating for me.
I was auctioning nearly 50 items and was aware it was best not to hand around on each one too much, but I was also conscious that as a nationally-known comedian I would have to be entertaining as well. But how much would I be able to take the piss before I upset someone? It was a very fine line, but I decided to be a little irreverent in places and hope it worked out.
I was able to test the water quite early on as the second lot was "half a dozen free range eggs" which had been laid by the hen of one of the local families.
"This would have a retail value of almost a pound," i told the established throng, "But remember these eggs were laid by a magic hen, who has been fed on gold its entire life." I still wasn't expecting to get much more than £2.50 for six eggs. But soon I was astonished to find the bid had got up to £6. "That's a pound an egg," I commented with more than a little incredulity in my voice. The assembled Cheddarians laughed along and joined in the game of overpricing these eggs, which finally went for (I think) twenty pounds. Which meant that when a subsequent lot was up to £40, I was able to say, "That's a lot of money. You could buy 12 eggs for that."
The crowd was good natured and presumably a little plastered as the jokes were going down well and the lots were going for more than their market value. Someone paid £25 for a voucher entitling them to £10 off an Indian meal. This wasn't Somerset stupidity as some of you might like to think, this was Somerset generosity. What lovely idiots these people were.
I noted that one slightly portly gentleman (to be fair, no more portly than me) was bidding for all the items that contained food or meal vouchers and so began to comment on this and to give him first dibs on every food item. He joined in with the joke and was a very good sport as was the woman whose name was spelt "Duguid" but was pronounced "Do Good" who I compared to Hyacinth Bucket.
I did however have the sense to keep myself in check when someone asked who would be doing the four hours babysitting that I was auctioning at the time. I bit my tongue and did not say the name that sprung directly into my mind and managed to substitute it for Freddie Kruger. Can you guess who I wanted to say? Cheddar is not ready for that kind of humour just yet, I feel.
One lot was for two tickets to "Animal Farm World" which I had never heard of. I suggested it might be a sinister and frightening theme park based on the excesses of the Communist regime as popularised by the George Orwell Novel. Perfect for frightening your children to death. Another lot was for two hour maths tuition which I suggested could be used as a punishment for any child who had got out of hand.
My favourite moment was the penultimate lot which was "Two reflexology sessions". This had got up to forty pounds and I was saying, "Are you sure you don't want to bid for this? This could be your last chance ever to get two reflexology sessions for such a small amount of money and I don't want you kicking yourself saying, "I wish I'd bid for them. That was my last chance.""
There were no more bids so I announced the final lot "Two reflexology sessions." Do you see what I did? It was quite clever.
It was a whole lot of fun and I think everyone was happy with the results and no-one was offended. But we'll have to wait for the review from the Cheddar Valley Gazette before we can be sure. They have the power to make or break me. Fingers crossed.

For those of you who are either in a charitable mood or who would like to own a painting of me, then check out http://www.rednoseday.com/dosomething/auction/index.shtml
Look under "other great stuff" and you can bid for an actual paint representation of me. It's a one off original and all the money goes to comic relief, so get your bids in people.

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