Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Fry’


We have been in an exceptionally grumpy mood all day, Dear Reader, at the news that Rik Mayall has suddenly died at the ludicrously young age of 56. Our condolences go out, firstly of course, to his family, and secondly to his vast army of collaborators, fans and admirers.

angry young poetOne of our very obscure but absolutely true stories is that we once shared a few pints with him in the Students’ Union Bar at Southampton University.

We were contemporaries, and he was appearing with a rag-taggle bunch of co-conspirators, performing as the “Angry Young Poet” character that later morphed seamlessly into anarchist Rik of the Young Ones.

We remember thinking at the time that “Angry Young Poet” (which monniker could frankly have been on our business card had we had such things back then) was not only hilariously well written, but also brilliantly and compellingly performed, with all of Mayall’s trademark angst and gusto, despite being in front of an audience that comprised maybe 25 rather sloshed students lying awkwardly across retired leather chairs with the stuffing hanging out of them and some collapsed on the floor, entwined in drunken embrace with various paramours.

That from his first word he held us all utterly captivated tells you all you need to know.

Neil! Somehow it was always Neil's fault.

“Neil!” Somehow it was always Neil’s fault.

Much will be said about the Young Ones, which he imbued with his unique anarchic style and broke new ground for comedy with his colleagues. It’s hard to believe, given it’s gigantic influence on humour then and since, that it only ever comprised 12 episodes.

Along with the regular cast, the series featured a wide variety of guest appearances by comedians, actors, and singers, including co-creator Ben Elton, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Hale and Pace, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Mark Arden, Stephen Frost, Jools Holland, Terry Jones, Chris Barrie, Norman Lovett, Lenny Henry, David Rappaport, Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson. It was a veritable cornucopia of talent.

Mayall’s many other successes stand the test of time, including the charming “kids” movie Drop Dead Fred, which captured his genuinely charming inner nature perfectly, and which has long been one of our favourite movies.

But he was always at his best delivering Ben Elton’s mildly insane dialogue, (Elton was co-author with Mayall on the Young Ones, with Mayall’s then girlfriend Lise Mayer), and that’s why for us he will always be, immortally, Lord Flashheart in Blackadder.






This is Olga. She’s 20 years old, and apparently having great difficulty finding a nice man to marry in Russia. She is especially keen, I am told, to meet with a good mannered 50+ near-broke writer in Australia for ze making of the babies.

I was watching TV the other day – the inestimable “QI” with Stephen Fry, surely the most charming and funny show on TV – and he asked the contestants what the commonest use of the internet was for. Predictably, they answered “Porn” and “Email” and “Facebook”.

In fact, the answer was “spam”. Yes, that occasionally hilarious and mystifying mass of unwanted emails, which apparently accounts for some 80% of all internet traffic. Staggering, really.

Which is fascinatingly, I suppose, as I am sure most of us never look at it.

Internet filters are so effective now that it all just piles up un-seen and un-loved in our spam inbox, and is then automatically deleted after it has festered there awhile. Or at least, most of it must be, but I suppose enough of it gets through that someone looks at it, and even clicks on it, otherwise why keep sending it?

Anyhow, it nudged me to have a look at my own spam – 396 messages in the last day, as at just before I started writing.

If one takes spam as some sort of commentary on where I have clicked over ten years on the worldwide web then clearly I am a very peculiar person indeed.

First up, someone wants to sell me on the idea of hiring a private jet rather than buying a plane ticket. Er, from my quiet suburban block in Melbourne I must sadly inform you, ain’t gonna happen.

An astonishing number of people seem to think I need an immediate combination of tranquilisers, vitamins, erection medication and a penis extension. I am not complimented. Someone has been talking, and I suspect I know who.

Apparently the world is also full of sexy single girls who are literally slavering at the mouth for me to click on them, flirt with them, and generally pay them attention? Who knew? A sizeable proportion of them appear to be Russian and Ukrainian. All of them are winsome blonde 115 lb beauties with tits straining against unbuttoned cotton shirts like watermelons, legs that project their torso into a low earth orbit, and a deep desire to marry strangers. Zdravstvujtye, girls. Sorry, but I don’t think my back is up to it.

Apparently I have also won about nine multi-million lotteries that I was automatically entered for in the last 24 hours. All they need is my bank account details. May have to re-think the private jet.

AT&T want to give me a smartphone for 1¢, someone wants me to become an Ultrasound Tech, head RIGHT NOW to their handbag and jewellery story, (pardon?), some very worried Christians are insistently concerned about the destination of my soul – I didn’t go near the Russians, OK, guys? Give me a break! – and I apparently also have the choice of dating a millionaire or a sexy over 50s single.

It doesn’t specify whether dating a millionaire over 50s single is an option. I am very worried that if a millionaire can’t get laid without resorting to a website then he (or in the unlikely event, she) is probably an MBA, too. Married But Available. Sorry, no thanks.

Banks want to triple my first deposit – casinos even more so. The University of Phoenix is very determined to get me there to study for my undergraduate degree, apparently unfazed by the fact that I am (a) 55, (b) already have two undergraduate degrees, (c) live quite contentedly in Australia, and (d) can’t think of anywhere else I rather live less than Arizona. (Nothing against the place, really, just too damn hot by a factor of 10.)

Similarly, I only have to CLICK HERE NOW to start an exciting and fulfilling new career in law enforcement. Really? I mean, really? What are you going to do, use me to block the alley while you chase the crims down it? Coz I would be hard pressed following them at a decent lick down the sidewalk. Maybe you want me for my forensic brain? Please explain.

Cards, Coffee, Canadian Pharmacies, Car Loans, Christian Singles, Crazy Vegas, Cell Phones, Credit Check, Cougar Dating, Cash by the bucketload and above all Credit, Credit, Credit.

And that’s just the Cs.

Somewhat annoyingly, there were no minor Nigerian royalty or grieving widows wanting me to unload their $90 million in lost inheritance money into my Australian bank account for them, which quite disappointed me. Prince Onabogo Abungo has been a friendly correspondent for so long. Lift your game, Nigeria.

I got quite excited when I saw I had won – not exactly sure how – a $100 gift voucher to a lobster restaurant. Shame it’ll cost me $1495 to get there and use it.

So much nonsense. And I think spam gives Spam a bad name. You know, the real Spam. In a can with that sunny little windy can key un-doing thingy that was always guaranteed to break off with the can only one-quarter open.


An early SPAM tin. See the key? Guaranteed to leave you with lacerated fingers. Oh. How we laughed, back in the day.

Yes, I remember the original Spam fondly. That strange, frighteningly pink, salt-engorged tinned “spiced ham” that was always kept in the cupboard for a rainy day, so good sliced with home-made chips and a fried egg, or slathered in HP sauce in a sandwich, or, battered and frittered as finger food on cold winter nights for those who never could spell c-h-o-l-e-s-t-e-r-o-l, or simply couldn’t be bothered.

Salr-reduced SPAM

Salt-reduced SPAM. Scandalous. I mean, really, what IS the point? Bloody nanny state.

They still sell it in the supermarket up the road. Sometimes I sneak a tin into the trolley, but I never quite summon up the courage to open it. Clearly Spam needs a PR makeover. Like below.

Spam Sushi

Sushi made with SPAM? Someone else recognises its gourmet potential. Oh, those crazy wacky Japanese.

It sits there in the larder, presumably with about 900 years of useful shelf life ahead of it through the action of the preservatives and additives that make a list a mile long in tiny type on its label, usually pushed shamefacedly to the back behind the pasta sauces, but occasionally surfacing like a cork bobbing on some grocery ocean, reminding me of my baser, younger self, of a time when I didn’t watch what I ate, let alone what I did. The inexorable, unstoppable youth who wasn’t paying attention and suddenly got old.

Come to think of it, maybe spam and Spam aren’t that dis-similar after all. I’ve outgrown them both. How sad.

What’s your best or worst spam of recent days? Do share.

Well, Dear Reader, you know I am just a teensy bit obsessed with Mr Trololo. And then I saw this, courtesy of Patti’s Facebook page. Oh joy, oh frabjous day, yet once more. How do people have time to do this stuff? No idea. Well, I am just glad they do. Enjoy.

Then on an entirely different slant – if you have time and are feeling thoughtful, have a look at Stephen Fry a few years ago talking about the Roman Catholic Church. Now, I am not an atheist, and I am not especially anti Roman Catholicism – although I disagree with many things about the Roman church to be sure – but my God this is a great piece of public polemical speaking which deserves a wide audience.

I think God loves Stephen Fry. He certainly over-endowed him with grace.

Right, YouTube is just too damned addictive. And it’s dinner time. Pip pip.