Hitchin emailed me yesterday to draw my attention to this succinct one-sentence summary of the career of the late Norman Collier:
BBC:Comedian Norman Collier dies aged 87
… Collier went on to make regular appearances on television and at theatres across the UK in the 1970s and 80s, and is arguably best remembered for his act featuring an intermittently working microphone – and his chicken impression.
I don’t think there’s any ‘arguably’ about it.
True story: I met Norman Collier once. I was walking down the street in Liverpool, when he pulled up alongside me in a Rolls Royce (a gold-coloured Rolls Royce, if memory serves, although that might be an embellishment). He asked for directions to the Holiday Inn. I told him to turn right at the bottom of the hill, carry on till the next set of traffic lights, etc. He thanked me and sped off. It was only then that I realised I had meant to say turn left at the bottom of the hill. I’ve felt bad about it ever since. I also deeply regret not thinking to pretend that my microphone was broken when I was giving him directions. Oh how he would have laughed!
Jen and I saw another comic Norman once. No, not my dad; Norman Wisdom. He was waiting for a plane at the Isle of Man airport. I dared Jen to shout “MISTER GRIMSDALE!!!!” at him. Jen told me not to be so stupid.
Jen and I bumped into another comedy legend at a different airport once. No, his name wasn’t Norman. That would have been too much of a co-incidence. It was Stan Boardman. He looked very hassled. Tempted as I could see she was, Jen did not seize the opportunity to shout “THE GIIIIRRRRRRRRRRMANS!” at him.
And then there was the time Irish Mick and I saw Mike Harding struggling to light a barbecue in ridiculously strong wind. You couldn’t make this nonsense up.
I have what I like to think is a healthy cynicism regarding any so-called sport which is performed to music, and where points are awarded for artistic merit or international relations: figure skating, certain gymnastic events, the Eurovision Song Contest, and so on. Top of the list, obviously, must be synchronised bloody swimming.
The other week, ticket-sellers cocked up and oversold 10,000 tickets for the forthcoming Olympic synchronised bloody swimming competition. Yes, ten-thousand: there are ten-thousand saddoes out there prepared to part with their hard-earned cash for the privilege of watching girls with bulldog clips on their noses perform semi-aquatic dance-erobics with Phil Bloody Collins blaring away in the background. No, come to think of it, there are far more saddoes than that, because that’s just the oversold tickets. Jee-zuss!
It’s phenomenally popular, for some incomprehensible reason, synchronised bloody swimming. Which makes me wonder whether the BBC might have missed a trick. They’ve managed to get the clueless public glued to their telly sets every Saturday evening to watch no-mark Z-list celebrities take ballroom-dancing lessons. Quality telly, that—and cheap as well. So how come they haven’t latched on to the idea of celebrity synchronised bloody swimming? Hell, even I would watch that. Even an old cynic like me would be unable to pass up the opportunity to watch Ann Widdecombe, Jordan or Kerry Katona putting themselves at severe risk of drowning.
No risk whatsoever of drowning.
Actually, no, I don’t think Jordan would be at any risk whatsoever of drowning. Better make it Emma Bunton instead.