Wednesday 17 December 2008

The Power of Comedy Lost and Found

Yesterday was a nightmare waiting to happen and happen it did. I left the office early and on time at 1.15pm to travel back to East Ham to see my eldest daughter in her Xmas performance of Hansel and Gretel. I had my work bag (a Dell computer bag without a computer in it) and my video camera. (I intended to video the show, or at least key moments with my daughter in, so that my wife, at home with a sickly youngest daughter, could see the recording). I took the Central Line from Bethnal Green to Mile End and changed at Mile End to pick up the District Line to Upton Park. The District Line was, however, not happening. Someone had "fallen under a train" at Whitechapel and trains weren't moving. Sad, but how was I going to get to the Xmas show on time? I waited for 5 minutes and realised that the announcements advising passengers to take alternative routes applied to me. I hopped on the next Central Line train to Stratford and caught the only black cab in the rank to the school in E13. As I pulled up outside the school with 2 minutes to spare (and £10 lighter), I saw my daughters' former childminder (P) with one of her charges (C) strolling along and on her way to see the show. I said thanks to the driver and said hello to P and C as we walked into the school playground. I got through the reception door and then my small, fragile world fell apart...

...I had committed a Mr Magoo like atrocity on myself - the video camera was still in the back of the cab... cut a very long and tiresome shaggy dog story short; the video camera has not been retrieved. I saw my daughter's show and very good it was too. (Although strangely I never saw my daughter, as she had decided, I think partly in protest of not being given a major role, to hide her face behind the back row of the choir. I could hear her recorder playing but not see her. A video camera would not have altered this odd situation. Ironic, you might say as I had no camera anyway). I managed to track down my taxi driver by some deft detective work. All right, I went back to the Stratford taxi rank and chatted to some drivers who recognised my description of the driver and said I must have been a customer of "Big John". I got Big John's mobile; texted him; he called me back and he said he would try and help but he had picked up 2 customers after me and the camera wasn't on the back seat any more.

THE PAIN, THE PAIN. Sure insurance may cover it (I haven't checked the policy yet). But the camera was pristine - a 3 year old, low tech memory machine. The tape inside it had my youngest daughter's Xmas show, as recorded by my wife which I still hadn't seen. Now do you understand? How could someone pick up that camera and not make an effort to return it? If they played the tape they would see immediately that someone's sentimental, personal family stuff was going to be sorely missed. The new "owners" of my camera could even work out which school my daughter went to, because, as my wife informed me, the headteacher's traditional welcoming speech to parents before "Whoops-a-Daisy Angel" kicked off the nursery kids' Xmas show, mentioned the school's name a number of times.

RETURN THE CAMERA TO THE SCHOOL, WHY DON'T CHA? Are you on the same page? Acute pain. I am a very careful chap. I guard my gear. A suicide, a delay, a freak diversion, a taxi ride and some recognisable faces could all be added into the mix of distractions but at the end of the day I just magooed. Plain Mr Magooed it. Magooed it big time!

Rectifying a situation like this isn't easy. You fight with yourself, you retrace steps and you make strange phone calls to lost and found warehouse operators. The line is a bit echoey...

...but then COMEDY COMES TO THE RESCUE. I didn't feel like drinking. COMEDY, that's what I needed. I believe great comedy can be truly cathartic.

I've been working through the first series (2000) of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm. My wife and I love it. Last week we did 2 nights, 2 episodes a night. But last night we did 5 x half hour episodes. We split our sides. We hardly moved from our seats. Larry David just walked from one catastrophe to the next. Most of his scrapes are generated by him speaking his mind combined with an uncouth and unreasonable attitude but he also gets more than his fair share of simple pure bad luck. Genius, absolute genius. I sat there shaking off a bad day just enjoying someone else's misfortune. Larry was having a worse time than me and I was so much happier because of it.

He made Series 6 last year and 2-5 are also out on DVD. Santa now knows what I want for Xmas. How I missed this the first time round is a mystery to me but this is one thing that is being retrieved from my cultural lost and found.

...Deep inside I know that I'm him...

...I need to get myself a HD camera anyway...

Monday 15 December 2008

Nev's send off

Nev got a moving send off on Friday (12/12/08). Bethnal Green was brought to a standstill as hundreds of well-wishers gathered outside Pellicci's cafe to pay their respects. BBC London caught the mood of the day whilst The Times had written a fitting tribute the day before.

Thursday 11 December 2008

A sad loss: Nevio Pellicci 1925-2008

A warm tribute to a much loved East Londoner and a video interview about the caff.

My take on Channel 4's 'The Devil's Whore'

I hope everyone has enjoyed Channel 4's 'The Devil's Whore' - I certainly did (with a few qualifications). The last of this big budget 4-parter was broadcast last night (10/12/08) and I'm missing it already. At one stage it could have been a 10 hour series on BBC and if you read about the production's long gestation, it may never have been made at all.

I've written a review for the The Culture Wars website which you can read by clicking on this link: Passionate people at w…w…w…war!