Recorded on 10 March 2005 at The Stand, Glasgow
Pre-show music: ‘The Breath of Coldness’ by Evan Parker
Stewart appears. Music changes to ‘Mr. Lee’
Stew invites four people onstage. He gives them party poppers and tells them to explode them on his signal. They do so and return to their seats, leaving stew alone at the mic, a few strands of party streamer draped over his head.
So, on September the 11th, 2001 … I was actually on holiday, right. That seems distasteful now. But I wasn’t to know at the time. You know, I didn’t plan it. The holiday, I mean, not the attacks. And I was actually in the city of Granada in southern Spain, right. It’s an interesting place. Granada was kind of the last point of Muslim occupation in medieval Europe. It’s still a very mixed city – lots of mosques, lots of churches, lots of Arab Spaniards and white European Spaniards, all getting on fine.
And I was walking around there on nine-one-one – the 9th of November, reclaim the calendar, we invented those dates – I was walking around there on the 9th of November, nine-one-one, and I went into, er, a little Spanish bar. And on television there was all this film of buildings on fire, and things falling down, and people running and screaming. And I said to the barman, ‘Where’s that?’ – in Spanish, ‘¿Dónde está?’ And he said, ‘Nuevo Yorica.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, it’s in Colombia or somewhere, it doesn’t matter.’ And then I watched for a bit longer, Glasgow, and I realised that it was New York, where English-speaking people live, and therefore a terrible newsworthy tragedy.
And I don’t know if you remember, do you remember the planes, flying into the, yeah, the World Trade …? ’Cause we got that on the news in London, I don’t know if you had it here. And … I don’t want to make any assumptions, you know … Um …
So I was watching that in this, this Spanish bar. And then George Bush came on the television news, and he said, ‘We are gonna get them folks what done this.’ And that annoyed me for two reasons. One, because it was grammatically inaccurate. And secondly, ’cause you could already see the terrible kind of cultural fallout of what this was going to mean. There was suddenly a horrible tension between the Arab Spaniards and the white European Spaniards in this previously happy bar. And after a while, I, I couldn’t stand the tension any more, so I went into the Gents to do a wee, and, er … A couple of people over there sniggered at the word ‘wee’. That’s fine, I know this is a tense subject to open with and I’m, I’m happy that the word ‘wee’ has helped defuse the atmosphere a bit. So … So I was standing there in this Spanish bar on the 9th of November doing a wee … out of my cock … and … and it was yellow … and smelt of wee.
And while I was doing it, this thing happened that happens when you get a bit older, where, when you kind of release the pressure on the front sphincter, the, the, the back sphincter kind of loosens off of its own accord, you know. While I was there, this Arab guy came, and he, and he, and he stood next to me but I didn’t make eye contact with him, ’cause I was embarrassed, er, about the wee. And world news events. But, you know, while I was there, ’cause I was a bit older the, the, the front sphincter slackened off, the back sphincter went of its own accord. And suddenly, a little fart came out, right. But it was only a really tiny fart, like the kind of fart a vole might do. Or Anna Friel. It was a fart that smelt mainly of hair and was comprised principally of ideas. But it was a fart nonetheless. And the Arab guy, he, he heard the fart. And he looked across at me. And I looked back at him. And he laughed. And then I laughed. And I realised everything was going to be OK.
And then I went back into the bar. By now the situation was even worse, even more tense. The room had kind of split along racial, religious lines. There was a horrible tension in the room. And then suddenly Co-lin – Colin – Powell went on the television – we invented those names, his name’s not … he’s not Co-lin the Barbarian, his name’s Colin, he should be running a photocopier repair workshop – Colin Powell went on television on the 9th of November, Spanish bar, and he said, ‘We are gonna launch a crusade against them folks what done this.’ And being in a largely Muslim town, full of murals of crusaders cutting the heads off Muslims, you realise what an inappropriate word ‘crusade’ was to use on the 9th of November. It went down really badly. And as a, a world statesman, Colin Powell should be aware of how words change their meaning, culturally. Saying ‘crusade’ on the 9th of November, it’s a bit like if I were to get a job as a maths teacher, teaching maths in a German town somewhere near Belsen. And I was to say to the kids, ‘I’m going to set you a maths problem. I want you to work through it, and on the last page, fill in your final solution.’ You know, it would be received badly. And as a world leader, Colin Powell should be aware of these kinds of cultural shifts in language. But he said ‘crusade’ and it went down really badly with everyone in the room, so there was an even worse atmosphere than before.
And then the Arab guy that I’d had my kind of moment of epiphany, of kind of human trust with in the toilets, he was standing just in front of me. And he looked across at me with these eyes full of hope, as if to go, ‘What are we going to do?’ And I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I couldn’t just do another fart at will. You know, I’m not a nineteenth-century French music-hall entertainer. I’m the opposite of that. In four main ways … there isn’t time to go into now. But … But someone went, ‘Aw,’ disappointed there. If you seek me out afterwards, I’ll clarify the exact position.
But I knew I had to do something, so … It was my moment. So what I did was, I just kind of lifted my leg up like that. And I sort of acted it out. I went, ‘Ugh, fuck, smell, ugh, horrible!’ And he laughed. And the guys he was with laughed. Gradually the laughter spread all around the room. There was a critic from the Independent at the back not laughing. But he didn’t really get what I was doing, you know. It was a kind of mixture of the sacred and the profane, it just went over his head.
But eventually everyone in the room was laughing. And I realised that with that one inane, puerile, scatological gesture I had achieved more for world peace than any politician had all day. ’Cause farts are funny, Glasgow, right? That is the international baseline of all humour, farts, right. And you can be as sophisticated as you like, Glasgow, but at the end of the day you have to admit farts are funny. And you go, ‘No, we don’t actually agree with you, Stew. I saw a hilarious, satirical cartoon in the New Statesman at the weekend, satirising EU farming policies, it was hilarious.’ Was it? Was it as funny as a fart? No, it wasn’t.
‘But I saw Ian Hislop on television at the weekend, Stew, satirising the government, with his voice going up at the start of the sentence and going down at the end. It was hilarious.’ Was it? Was it as funny as some gas that smells of shit coming out of an arse? No, it wasn’t. And nothing Ian Hislop ever says or does or secretly imagines will be as funny as that.
And I ran this show in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, right, in August and, um, every year in Edinburgh they have a prize for comedy, right, organised by Perrier – the Perrier Awards. Perrier of course owned by Nestlé, Nestlé top of the World Health Organisation list of unethical companies. It suggested that their milk-marketing policies contribute to the death of 1.5 million children every year. So every time you laugh at a Perrier-nominated act, a little baby dies. Bear that in mind.
And every year in Edinburgh, they always give that award to comedy to a human being speaking about some stuff. But if they had any integrity, they would give the Perrier Award to the genuinely funniest thing that’s going to happen in Edinburgh all August, which is just going to be an old Scottish tramp doing a fart in a wood. But, Glasgow, if a tramp farts in a forest and no one hears it, is it still funny? Yes, it is. ’Cause it’s some gas that smells of shit coming out of an arse. And if the Perrier had any integrity, which they don’t, they would give that Perrier award to comedy to a fart. And if Channel 4 had any integrity, which they don’t, they would sign up that fart for its own twelve-part Channel 4 comedy series deal.
Some laughs, some doubt in the room. People going, ‘We’re kind of with you theoretically. We understand this is some kind of satire of something. But how would that actually work, Stew? An invisible cloud of shit-smelling gas with its own Channel 4 series?’ I don’t know, Glasgow, I don’t know. But what I say to you is, could an invisible cloud of shit-smelling gas with its own Channel 4 series be any less funny than The Friday Night Project?
So the day after the 9th of November – which is the 9th of December, nine-one-two. Do the math … s … I flew back from Spain to Heathrow Airport. I got a minicab from Heathrow Airport to Stoke Newington, Hackney, north-east London, where I live. And on the way, I had to go past the Finsbury Park mosque, which you’ll know if you read the news is the kind of hotbed of Muslim radicalism in Britain, run by Abu Hamza until recently. That’s the guy who has an eye patch and hooks for hands. An eye patch and hooks for hands. That’s not a good look for a religious leader. It’s a good look maybe if you’re considering auditioning for extra work in the sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean. But it’s not a good look for a religious leader. The Archbishop of Canterbury does not have an eye patch and hooks for his hands. He has a big festive Christmas beard in which robins might nest. And that helps us to take his pronouncements on the ethics of the family and modern society more sympathetically than we would if he had hooks for his hands. We’d be suspicious.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Only one hook!
No, a woman there saying it’s only one hook. I think that it’s hooks for hands, I think he’s got two. But of course luckily the element of doubt’s been introduced here. Umm … I’m able to go away and check that. Er, if it’s factually inaccurate, I can remove it from this video … [male audience member heckles unintelligibly] … as I can everything you’ve said.
So it’ll just look like a sixty-minute stream of uninterrupted success. Although, ironically, I may consider leaving this part in to give the illusion of it being a genuine event. What do you think of that, viewers at home? This is simultaneously dishonest, and yet also satisfying.
But Abu Hamza of course, he’s in Belmarsh at the moment. He’s in the process of being deported to America, where he is guaranteed a fair trial. Irony there. One of the many comic tools we’ll be using tonight.
So. So I was driving past the Finsbury Park mosque on the, er, 9th of December, the day after the 9th of November, and it was all kicking off outside. There’s Muslim demonstrators on one side of the street complaining about the reprisals they’ve suffered, police in the middle trying to keep order. And on the other side of the Seven Sisters Road, British National Party members standing near the Arsenal shop, their spiritual home. And they’re shouting out, ‘SEND THEM BACK! SEND THE MUSLIMS BACK TO WHERE THEY CAME FROM! BRADFORD, WOOD GREEN, LEEDS, LIVERPOOL, MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAM AND OTHER BRITISH INDUSTRIAL CITIES WHICH REQUIRED CHEAP LABOUR IN THE NINETEEN-SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES.’
And it looked, Glasgow, like there was going to be a full-scale religious race riot. And so I said to the minicab driver, ‘Stop. Let me out. I can help here.’
And I got out the minicab. I pushed through the British National Party blokes. I pushed through the police line. I pushed through the Muslim demonstrators. I ran into the mosque, some guy tried to get me to take my shoes off, I don’t know what that was about, there wasn’t time, I carried on through. It was a nice, hospitable gesture, but it was ill-timed. And I ran up the prayer tower to the minaret, where the call to prayer is broadcast out to the faithful of North London, and I snatched the little microphone out of the stand there, and I pulled down my underpants and I shoved it up my anus. And with a concerted effort of mental and physical willpower, I farted into it. But on that occasion, it didn’t really help.
In fact, some eyewitnesses to the ensuing carnage were subsequently to suggest that it may have made the situation worse. And my heartfelt message of peace and goodwill to all men was misunderstood. Although I take some comfort in the fact that a similar thing often happened to Jesus. I’m not saying I am Jesus. That’s for you to think about at home. But if I was Him, this is the kind of place I would come, isn’t it? A simple, humble place. Not the Glasgow Empire, I’d come here. But I’m not saying I am Jesus. Not in the current climate. Erm …
But I think there’s a kind of European smugness where we look at America’s hysterical overreaction to the events of the 9th of November and we go, ‘Thanks for that, America, thanks. You’ve set us off on a course of the destruction of world civilisation as we know it. Thanks for that. Thanks.’ But you mustn’t hate the Americans, right? America is currently the most hated country in the world. Americans don’t know that. They don’t read, or watch news. If they did, they would be unhappy. Osama bin Laden flew planes into the World Trade Center, it was a waste of time. If he’d really wanted to hit America hard, where it hurts, he should have carpet-bombed the country with a weapon that Americans would never be able to understand – world geography examination papers. Shops which don’t have the word ‘barn’ in their name. And the metaphysical concept of shame.
But you mustn’t hate the Americans. Don’t hate them, Glasgow. Americans live in a kind of state of ignorant, prelapsarian bliss. They don’t know what’s going on. And because of that, it can be very relaxing to go to America and watch them. If you go to America and look at Americans in their natural habitat – er, the theme park, the shopping mall, the race riot, the high-school massacre – and you watch them walking around, looking at colours and shapes … and lights … and words … sometimes imagining what the words might mean … It’s very relaxing, Glasgow. It’s like watching carp in a pond in a stately home, er, their mouths opening and closing. It’s charming.
But you mustn’t hate the Americans. They’re not a naturally curious people. Most Americans do not own passports. They’re not a naturally curious people. If you were to lock an American for sixty years in an empty underground bunker which contained nothing but a woolly tea cosy, the American would not even be curious enough to be tempted to see if the tea cosy would make a serviceable hat. They’re far more likely to arrest the tea cosy, intern it illegally in Guantanamo Bay, and then repeatedly anally rape it until such time that it admits that it was actually a member of an al-Qaeda training cell. Even though at the time of the alleged offence the tea cosy was actually working as a shop assistant in a branch of Currys in Wolverhampton.
Some laughs there, other people are a bit confused. ‘What’s he talking about?’ Right? OK, well, again, that’s a kind of bit of satire of the fact that some of the British citizens held in Guantanamo Bay were tortured into saying that they’d been in al-Qaeda camps, even though at the time they were supposed to be there, they were actually working as shop assistants in a branch of Currys in Wolverhampton. Other people I sense are going, ‘Yeah, we know about that. That’s not what’s confusing us. What’s confusing us here in Glasgow is the idea of a tea cosy working as a shop assistant in a branch of Currys. How could that possibly work?’ And again, Glasgow, I say to you, I don’t know, I don’t know how that would work. But what I say to you is, could a tea cosy working as a shop assistant in a branch of Currys actually be any less effective than some of the people currently employed there?
‘Hello. I don’t know if you can help me. I’m interested in buying one of those iPods.’
‘I’m sorry, sir. I won’t be able to help you, on account of the fact that I am fashioned entirely from colourful wool. Perhaps you’d like to ask one of my colleagues – the cardigan, the mitten, the balaclava helmet.’
And again, you’ll notice there a list of three things. Really they ought, comedically, to build. But the balaclava helmet was a disappointment. It didn’t get the laugh one would be hoping for there. Umm … And I knew that was going to happen, right, ’cause like I say, I ran this show in Edinburgh for a month last August. And I thought – I’ll be honest with you, Glasgow – I thought the balaclava helmet was going to get a big laugh. Ironically, I’ve been touring this. The only place the balaclava helmet did get a big laugh was in Aldershot, which is a military town, so they probably have a different relationship with it. But on the whole, people don’t find it funny. Now I was confused, because for me, the balaclava helmet is one of those inherently absurd items. I thought it would be a good topper there, but it never works.
So the first kind of week of the run, the month run, I kept swapping the order around, I was going, ‘Perhaps you’d like to talk to one of my colleagues, the balaclava helmet, mitten, cardigan. Cardigan, balaclava helmet, mitten,’ whatever. And after weeks, still nothing … It never got any laughs. Then, after about ten days, um, one of my friends in the audience, the Actor Kevin Eldon, who you may remember from Channel 4’s Packing Them In in the early nineties – the best, the best work he did. And erm … I said to him, ‘Why do you think that isn’t working?’ And he said, ‘Well, the problem is, all the items in your list are made of wool. And the tea cosy has already said to the customer that it won’t be able to help him on account of the fact that it is made of wool. So for the tea cosy to suggest to the customer that he seeks assistance from other exclusively woollen items, you know it simply adds insult to injury, it makes the situation worse.’
So I said, ‘Yeah, I’d never thought of that, you know. What shall I do?’ And he said, ‘Well, just think of three things that aren’t made of wool and you’ll be all right.’ And I thought, ‘Yeah, I will, right, but I won’t write them down. I’ll come out every night and I’ll just make them up. I’ll exist in the moment. I’ll trust it to chance. I’ll improvise like Eddie Izzard … pretends to do.’ And … no! And, when you’ve tried to do it, you realise why he doesn’t. It’s hard. It’s hard to do. It’s much easier to just go ‘er’ in every sentence and give the illusion of spontaneity.
And so … So I came out … let it go, let it go! … so I came out the first night, I went, ‘Yeah, perhaps you’d like to talk to one of my colleagues.’ And I said, you know, ‘The stick, the wood.’ And then I said, ‘The toaster.’ And again, there was no laughs. I thought, ‘Why’s that?’ And I went home, and I thought, ‘Yeah, the problem is the toaster is an electrical item and people are thinking, “Is that working in Currys or is it for sale there?”’
Yeah, but I was chasing the problem down. Basically, I realised I needed three things that were neither electrical nor woollen. Right. But it’s quite hard to think of that.
Sir, think of a thing.
AUDIENCE MEMBER #1: Weather vane.
AUDIENCE MEMBER #2: The act of cunnilingus.
Weather vane. The act of cunnilingus. And …
AUDIENCE MEMBER #3: A banana.
AUDIENCE MEMBER #3: A banana.
A banana. Weather vane, the act of cunnilingus and a b– … Well, admittedly, those are, those are quite good. They’re not electrical nor wool. And weather vane, banana – good. The act of cunnilingus is particularly good ’cause that takes us into an area where actual concepts, not just things and objects, are working in a shop. It’s certainly …
I was in Aspen, Colorado, two weeks ago, in America. You beat them hands down. Their first two suggestions were a scarf and a kettle. Woollen and electrical, straight … Although, to be fair, this wasn’t the part of the set they liked least, you know? After the nine-one-one opening, a lot of the American audience had been shaken off in, in Aspen. If anything, arguably the New York warm-ups were worse. But …
It’s weird, ’cause, ’cause about two weeks into Edinburgh, some kid emailed me and he went, ‘You know that bit you do about people being so bored they wear tea cosies as hats?’ I went, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘Um, there’s a Spike Milligan or a Billy Connolly joke like that,’ he said, ‘from 1972.’ So, basically, I must have kind of remembered that and copied it.
So that bit, the first half of it is plagiarised and the second half doesn’t really work.
But I was making a number of crass generalisations about Americans there. I don’t really believe any of them and I did it for comic effect. And I don’t understand how anyone can have a kind of generalised view about another nation or race. I certainly don’t, and I think it’s because I’m, I’m different to a lot of you. I’m not necessarily better, but I am … I’m different. And I’m better, let’s face it.
But … But … And I think it’s because I feel a little bit kind of removed from your human society, ’cause I’m actually, I’m adopted, I’m an adopted man … so I’m suspicious of notions of identity or nationhood. For example, I grew up thinking that I was English, right, but about two years ago I found out – and this is true – I found out that my real father is Scottish, right, which of course means that I’m Scottish, ’cause, as you’ll know, Scottishness is passed on through the male genes. Like a disability. And, er … it … it overwhelms all female chromosomes. And that’s why there are no Scottish women, are there? There’s no Scottish women. There are men in kilts, but that’s just nature trying to find its own level.
And if a Scottish man wants to breed, of course, you have to travel south of the border. Normally, you get as far as a major English railway station, get off the train, lie down in a gutter, drunk, and hope some pollen lands on you. And … and I can say that, remember, because I … technically, I am Scotch. Yeah, Scotch, yeah. Genetically, if not culturally.
But I think that, even though I grew up thinking I was English, I think I always knew that I was one of you, you know. ’Cause I’d go into school, Monday mornings, and people’d go, ‘Did you see the sport at the weekend, Stew? The brilliant sport that all men must like, with England winning in it? It was good, wasn’t it?’ And I’d go, ‘No, in fact it filled me feelings of revulsion and disgust.’ Then they’d go to me, ‘What about the rich tapestry, the tableau of English culture and history? Do you take no pleasure in that?’ And I’d go, ‘No. In fact, the whole notion of English culture just makes me feel kind of mentally, physically and spiritually bereft.’ And they’d go, ‘What about the English language, the tongue of Shakespeare, Shelley, Blake? Churchill? Does that not stir some residual national pride in you?’ And I’d go, ‘No. In fact, whenever I hear an English accent, I have to be physically sick.’ And I would hear my own voice answering their question and I would start vomiting as I spoke.
So I hated, as a child, I hated being English. And yet conversely, I always harboured secret cravings for shortbread, offal and heroin. (You seem to like that.) You know, deep-fried heroin if I could get it. With sauce [‘soss’]. Heroin supper, £2.95.
But … So … I think I always knew, Glasgow … I can hardly believe this is happening … I think I always knew that I was a Scotch man. And so I always knew, and … But …
But … So … I think I always knew, Glasgow … I can hardly believe this is happening … I think I always knew that I was a Scotch man. And so I always knew, and … But …
Yeah, Scottish. Thank you for correcting me, sorry. Er … you know … it was an error I made on purpose for comic effect. And I’m glad that there’s so little trust in me in the room that people are going, ‘He’s a fucking idiot! He doesn’t know … He’s insane! What’s he talking about? He hasn’t done the most basic research.’ But … No … Even despite that, I always knew that I was Scottish … In my heart, in my brave heart, I always knew that I was.
OK, shout out if you’ve seen the film Braveheart. You’ve all seen it, shout out.
OK, now you’ll know more than any other audience I’ve played in the last three weeks that Braveheart is the shittest film ever made, right? It was. It was directed by the reactionary Catholic bigot Mel Gibson, and it’s full of basic, fundamental historical errors which insult your race, and mine by association. Right? Here’s … Here’s just three off the top of my head.
Firstly, William Wallace, Braveheart, your national hero, he wasn’t some, you know, noble savage living in a mud hut, we all know that. He was a privileged, educated nobleman, right?
Secondly, it’s not mentioned by Mel Gibson in the film, but there’s some evidence to suggest that he actually fought as a mercenary for the English as a teenager. That’s conveniently missed out.
Thirdly, you know that French princess he’s supposed to have sex with? This French princess, in the film, you remember? And the implication is that he gets her pregnant and she marries Edward II of England, so it’s his kid. Now – she was a real historical figure, that French princess. But at the time of the death of William Wallace, Braveheart, your national hero, she was only four years old.
Now, Glasgow, I’m not saying that William Wallace, Brave heart, your national hero, didn’t have sex with her … You know … He probably did. But if he did – and he did, he definitely did, right – it would have been a far less romantic scene than the one enacted by Mel Gibson in the film Braveheart. It may have happened in a tent, but it would still have been not a romantic scene. Because that would have made William Wallace, Braveheart, your national hero, a paedophile. A Scottish paedophile. The worst kind of paedophile that there is. Coming at you … through a bothy … with shortbread on its face … muttering unintelligible sexual threats in a frankly incomprehensible dialect.
Another weird thing about that film is, you know in it, like, um … Fine, leave at this point. Er … It gets, it gets worse. A man leaving there to go away and think about the idea of a paedophile Braveheart in the privacy of a toilet cubicle.
Another weird thing about that film is that in it, if you remember, like, er, Mel Gibson makes a big deal about the fact Edward II, the English prince, was gay, right, as if not only did he oppress the Scots, but he did it in a kind of gay way, which makes it worse. But … the irony is, again, it’s not mentioned in the film that William Wallace, Braveheart, your national hero himself, was actually gay. And … No, he was, sir … And we know this from some information that’s come to light in the last couple of years. Firstly, about two years ago, they found a cache of love letters hidden in a nook at, er … at, er … Glamis Castle or somewhere. And the letters were exchanged between William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. And they were full of declarations – they were – they were full of declarations of love and details of their, of their sexual encounters, the very vigorous sexual encounters that they had. That’s one thing. Then, about a year ago, they found some, um, graffiti on, er, a wall … on an old Scottish wall, on the wall … on the wall of a broch, actually, which is… the Broch of Gurness, which is a real place in, er … the Orkneys. They found it there. And it said, um … The graffiti, which is real, it existed, it said, er … ‘I am a gay, signed William Wallace, “Braveheart”.’ And the ‘Braveheart’ bit was in inverted commas, so they knew that meant it was real. ’Cause it was like a fun nickname, you know, it was, like, real.
So … Now … So, er … Wow, Braveheart, our national hero, was gay. And when – you know – when I was talking about this in Edinburgh in the summer, people were going, ‘Well, why didn’t we know about that, you know? Why …?’ And the reason is ’cause the graffiti and the letters were written in Gaelic, so it wasn’t translated. And people are going, ‘Well, why wasn’t it translated? That’s just the ancient language of our nation, of the Scots. Why wasn’t it translated?’ Well, it wasn’t. What Gaelic actually was, was a very kind of highly evolved form of medieval Scottish homosexual patois. And the clue’s in the name if you look at it, right. Gae-lich. That means ‘gae’ – homosexual, gay – and then ‘lich’ is language or tongue. So Gaelic is literally the language of gays.
And … you know … I was booed off at the Assembly Rooms for saying this in Edinburgh. But it’s true. And I don’t think it’s … I think it’s really great that, that our national hero, er, William Wallace, was gay. Because Scotland’s always been a much more progressive, liberally minded kind of a nation that’s not afraid to show its feminine side. And I think that, um, compared to England, which is a very backward kind of bigoted place. And I think that it’s really good that as we enter the twenty-first century, one of your national folk heroes can embody a kind of progressive notion of sexual identity. I think that’s a really brilliant thing. And I wish that some of the English, er, folk heroes, like, er, King Alfred or, or Robin Hood or King Arthur had, had been gay. But … but they weren’t. And … it’s only William Wallace, Braveheart, the Scottish one, that definitely was gay.
And of course another …
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Robin Hood, surely.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Robin Hood, surely.
Someone, er, said that Robin Hood was, surely …
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Men in tights.
And someone there saying ‘Men in tights’. But of course the ‘men in tights’ addition to the Robin Hood legend was made in the nineteen-eighties by Mel Brooks. The, er, facility to make those kind of tights didn’t exist in medieval England. If it had have done, maybe they would have worn them. I’m sure that a thin denier tight is, er, an ideal garment for medieval combat, offering as it does no protection whatsoever to the human leg.
But … of course the other major inaccuracy of that film was that in the Middle Ages there was no such country as Scotland. Scotland was actually invented, as you all know, in 1911, by the McGowan sweet company as a way of marketing Highland toffee. Because of course, traditionally, we think toffee’s better if it’s manufactured at a high altitude.
But again, I was making a number of kind of crass generalisations about, about the Scots, about my country there. And I don’t, I don’t believe any of them. Again, I did it for comic effect.
But you do meet people who have very fixed notions about other groups of people. I’ll give you an example of what I mean. I got in, er, a cab in, in London in December, and about five minutes into the journey, a propos of nothing, early on a Sunday morning, the cab driver turned round to me and he said, ‘I think all homosexuals should be killed.’
Now, whatever you think of that, Glasgow, as a statement, you have to admit it’s a bold opening conversational gambit. You know, with a stranger. And I was a bit taken aback. I went, ‘Oh, why do you think that?’ And then there was a pause, ’cause he’d obviously never had to go to the next level of the argument, fraternising mainly with cab drivers, so … where that was just accepted as a point. No …
And he said, ‘Well …’ after a moment, he said, ‘Well, because homosexuality is immoral.’
And I said – this is honestly true – I said, ‘Um, I’m not sure how much weight you can afford to place on the notion of morality in this argument, because morality’s not a fixed thing. It changes its parameters, culturally, historically, over time.’ I said, ‘For example, look at ancient Greece. To this day, we still take most of our most fundamental principles about ethics, aesthetics, er, philosophy, medicine, science, whatever from ancient Greece. And yet’, I said, ‘in ancient Greece, love between two men, far from being immoral, was actually considered the highest, most ethical, most profound, if you will, most moral form of love that there could be. So all I’m saying’, I said to him, ‘is I’m not sure how useful morality is, given its flexible nature, as a cornerstone of your argument on this subject.’
And then he said to me – this is honestly true – he said to me, ‘Well, you can prove anything with facts, can’t you?’
For a minute, I went, ‘Yeah.’ And then I thought, ‘Hang on! That’s the most fantastic way of winning an argument I’ve ever heard! “You can … I’m not interested in facts. I find they tend to cloud my judgement. I prefer to rely on instinct and blind prejudice.”’
And I came of age, for want of a better phrase, in the, in the nineteen-eighties when we had political correctness. And people look back at that and they go, ‘Oh, political correctness was shit, wasn’t it? Being fair to people.’ And I think, ‘Maybe it was good, ’cause people wouldn’t have said that, and you wouldn’t have had happen what happened in May last year, right.’ If you remember, er, Ron Atkinson, the football manager, he got in trouble for calling a black footballer a lazy, thick nigger. Right? And loads of people complained about it, understandably. And then on May the 17th, Jimmy Hill, the BBC-employed football commentator, came out in Ron Atkinson’s defence. And he said that, in his opinion, it was a load of fuss about nothing. He said, ‘What you have to understand’, Jimmy Hill said in the papers, 17th of May, ‘is that in the culture of football, calling a black man a nigger is just a bit of harmless fun.’
And I thought, ‘Call me old-fashioned … I mean, I know the culture of football has a very broad definition of harmless fun, broad enough to include carrying out a racial assault and still getting in the England team, er, gang-raping a teenage girl in a London hotel room, and yet perversely allowing Jimmy Hill to carry on living. But surely that can’t be the case.’
But Jimmy Hill went on to qualify his statement. He said that in his opinion, calling a black man a nigger was no more offensive than calling him, Jimmy Hill, ‘Chinny’, because he had a big chin.
And again, I read that and I thought, ‘Call me a square from the past, but surely the word “nigger” is more offensive than the word “chinny”?’ Because the word ‘nigger’ comes with a whole weight of cultural and historical significance that is not really there for the word ‘chinny’. You know, there are not, um, there are not people standing for election now on the grounds that ‘People with big chins should be sent back to wherever they come from – Chinland probably, I don’t know, I haven’t done any research into it, obviously.’ And there were not vast swathes of humanity historically enslaved on the grounds that they had big chins. If there had been, all popular culture as we know it would be entirely different. There would not be a blues root underpinning all the late-twentieth-century popular music that you love if the Mississippi delta had been populated exclusively by disenfranchised ex-slaves with big chins …
‘Woke up this morning, Got a big chin. It’s not that much of a problem to be honest. I won’t base an entire musical genre on it.’
And you don’t hear news reports saying, ‘A man was beaten to death in Hull last night. The violence is thought to be chin-motivated.’ Although in Jimmy Hill’s case I’d be happy to see an exception made. Kill him! Kill Jimmy Hill! But kill him in an ironic way! Break into the Natural History Museum, steal the jawbone of a blue whale, the largest chin currently known to science, and beat Jimmy Hill to death with it, in an example of what sociologists are already calling chin-on-chin violence.
But we shouldn’t be surprised, Glasgow, to find out that Jimmy Hill is evil and mad, right, because all people that are involved in the business of football or play football or go and support it or watch it on television, or even know anything about it, are filthy, reactionary scum, right. Er …
Take Gary Lineker for example, right. Gary Lineker is a twisted, evil man. You’re going, ‘No, he isn’t, Stew. He’s nice. He’s like a velvet owl.’ He isn’t, right? Gary Lineker is evil. Gary Lineker chooses to advertise crisps, right, and with the benefit of early-twenty-first-century super-science, we now know that crisps, rather than being a life-giving health food as we previously thought, make little children fat, and then they die. Right?
Now, about six years ago, due to a tragic chain of events, I didn’t live anywhere for about four months. I had to sleep on the floor of an office in West London. And I ate mainly … I couldn’t cook anything, so I ate mainly crisps from the garage. And during that period, I put on about four stone. And someone said to me, ‘Do you not know that a single packet of crisps contains your full daily allowance of saturated fats?’ And I just thought that represented good value. It was Gary Lineker looking out for me. I trusted his velvet-owl face to look after me. And …
But he chooses to advertise crisps. Why does Gary Lineker advertise crisps? He can’t need the money. He’s on television all the time, isn’t he, amusing us. His family run a fresh fruit and vegetable stand in Leicester market, Lineker’s Fresh Fruit and Veg. He could advertise that. He could help save human lives. But instead he chooses to advertise crisps. Why does Gary Lineker advertise crisps? It can only be that Gary Lineker is sexually aroused by the idea of obese children dying.
Now … There’s one person clapping over there. Of course, remember, for a comedian, the only thing worse than no one clapping is the sound of one person clapping, ’cause it suggests you’re out on a kind of a limb.
But to try and find out more about people who like football, I went on your internet, on your World Wide Web. And um … I went on Jimmy Hill’s website, which is real. It’s called, er, jimmyhill.co.uk, and there’s a guestbook there where you the public, that’s you, can leave your opinions. And, er, a bloke called Scott had been on it. Um. And um … I’m not allowed to read out what his actual email address is, but if you go there, you can find it. Erm, so, you know, do that. Anyway, he said … um, Scott says, in the guestbook of Jimmy Hill’s website, he says, ‘I agree with Jimmy’s views that Britain is rapidly becoming no more a land which is populated by genuine British people born here. Please don’t get me wrong,’ writes Scott, ‘I am no Nazi or xenophobe as the pressure groups or government would have you believe. I’m just someone who was born in this country and hates to see it going to pot now.’ And it would be easier to take Scott’s views seriously if he hadn’t spelt the word ‘xenophobe’ Z-E-N-A-P-H-O-B, which of course just means someone who has an irrational hatred of Japanese Buddhism.
But it is easy, Glasgow, right, in the current climate of paranoia to make a kind of race-based error, right. I’ve done it myself. Er, I’ll tell you how it happened. I haven’t been doing this for a few years, and one of the jobs I’ve been doing is working as a kind of arts journalist, writing about stuff. And last year I was really excited, ’cause I, I got to interview Ang Lee, the Taiwanese film director, um, about the Incredible Hulk film that he’d directed. And I was really excited, ’cause I’ve read the Incredible Hulk comics since I was about, er, six years old and I still read them now. And I will take … To prove that, I will take any question on the Hulk from you now, to prove that. Any question …
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What colour is he?
What colour is he? Have you asked me that because you know that’s … there’s a more complicated answer, than you …
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Er … no.
No. OK, well … Bad luck, because he was, er … You want me to say he was green and everyone will go, ‘Aha, that’s funny.’ But actually, for the first, er, six issues of Astounding Stories in 1960 – there’s a man nodding there, with a T-shirt saying KILL EVERYONE NOW on it, the kind of person who knows these facts – um, for the first six issues, he was of course grey. Of course. Um … But because of the dot-printing thing, the colours all used to run together, so it came out a blur. So they made him green after the sixth issue. And he’s been green [sic] twice since then. Erm … once in a six-issue mini-series written by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale called Hulk: Gray. He was grey in that. That came out last … year before last. Available in hardback now. And um … he was also grey in the comic strip between about 1989 and ’94, when Peter David was writing it and he made him go in a nutrient bath and that made him grey.
I’ve lost you now as well. I’ve beaten you. I’ve beaten you, with your KILL EVERYONE … No, you don’t claim to be an expert but you looked at me with a doubtful face, as if, ‘This is going to get him.’ But look, I know more about the Hulk than you, and I’m older than you. So!
No, that’s fine.
So, so I was really excited to, to interview Ang Lee about the Hulk, and um … ’cause he’d made the film. But, but when I interview, I try to make a little joke to put them at ease, you know. So I rang him up. He was in New York, I was in, er, London. And I said to him, ‘Ang Lee, you have directed the Hulk film. You must be very excited and proud. But don’t make me anglee. You wouldn’t like me when I’m anglee.’
Then there was a long, embarrassed pause. And then Ang Lee said, ‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’
And I said, ‘I said, Ang Lee … you have … you’ve directed the Hulk film. You must be very excited and proud. But, erm, don’t make me anglee. You wouldn’t like me when I’m anglee.’
And there was another kind of silence. And then Ang Lee said, ‘I’m sorry, can you repeat that?’
And I said, ‘There’s no need, it was just a stupid joke.’
And he went, ‘No. What did you say?’
And I said … ‘I said, Ang Lee, you’ve directed the Hulk film. You must be very excited and proud. But, erm, don’t make me anglee. You wouldn’t like me when I’m anglee.’
And he, he didn’t say anything. And I said, ‘I expect loads of people have made that joke to you.’
And he said, ‘No. No one’s ever said it before. Why did you say it? Why?’
And I said, ‘Well, Ang … You know the Hulk film?’
And he went, ‘Yeah.’
I said, ‘Well, in that, Bruce Banner – he’s the Hulk – he says, “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” And your name’s Ang Lee and you directed it. So I said, um, “Don’t make me anglee, you wouldn’t like me when I’m anglee,” um, because “Ang Lee” sounds a bit like “angry”.’
And Ang Lee said, ‘No, it doesn’t.’
And I said, ‘Come on, Ang, be fair. “Ang Lee” does sound a bit like “angry”.’
And Ang Lee said, ‘No, it doesn’t. “Ang Lee” is a completely different word to “anglee”.’
And I said, ‘I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?’
And Ang Lee said, ‘Yes. “Ang Lee” is a completely different word to “anglee”.’
And I said, ‘I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make, Ang Lee, because what I’m saying, if you listen, is that “angry” sounds a bit like “Ang Lee”, so if you swap them round, people can see there’s a slight change, there’s some sort of joke there. Ang Lee … what you’re saying is actually the same word as “anglee”. If you swap those two words round, no one would notice the difference. It wouldn’t work. But that’s not what you’re … What you appear to be saying is that “anglee” is a completely different word to “Ang Lee”, but it isn’t. They’re the same thing. I can’t understand … It’s very simple, the joke I made. I can’t understand how you’ve got into this kind of fix. I never …’
And then he went, ‘Oh, I get it,’ he said. ‘Is this a joke about me having a Taiwanese accent?’
And I was mortified. I went, ‘No, it never even occurred to me that you would think that. It’s just a simple thing about the words, the syllables “ry” and “lee”, sounding the same. My own surname is Lee, I’ve had thirty-six years of fun with that syllable. I know what I’m talking about. I can’t see why you would begin to think …’
And he went, ‘No! You’re anti-Taiwanese.’
And I went, ‘I’m not. I don’t even know where Taiwan is. I’ve got no interest in it.’ Which made it worse, to be honest.
And then he got, he got like a lawyer on from Universal, and I had to … Shouting at me, saying I was anti-Taiwan … I had to get my editor on from the paper to stick up for me … We ended up having this kind of four-way argument. It went on for ages. He was going, ‘You’re anti-Taiwanese,’ he was saying. My editor was going, ‘No, he isn’t, he has no history of anti-Taiwaneseness at all.’ And there was, like, this thing. And then Ang Lee started shouting at me about it. And I went, ‘Well, I can’t see what your problem is. Why don’t you just listen to the joke? It’s obvious.’
And then in the end he went, ‘Don’t make me anglee, you wouldn’t like me when I’m anglee!’
And I said, ‘You’ve proved my point, you fucking Taiwanese idiot!’
He said, ‘Don’t call me that!’ He got another bloke, an adviser. I had to get someone else on, the publisher. There’s like a six-way, two-hour debate going on. In the end, we argued for so long that Ang Lee missed his 2.30 dentist’s appointment.
That’s the time he goes to the dentist, Glasgow! Don’t let him tell you any different. He doesn’t even need to write it down. They offer him an appointment card, he rejects it. He says, ‘I’ll remember it by thinking about my own pain.’
I’m going to shout out some questions now. I need you to answer loudly to them. The answer to most of them is yes. OK, one, two, three. Who likes alcohol?
Louder! Who likes sweets?
Who likes cream cakes?
Who likes their favourite food, whatever it is?
Who likes Ben Elton? Oh, it’s no one.
OK, here’s another one. Who likes, er, who likes, er, The Simpsons?
Who likes Spider-Man?
Who likes their favourite fictional character from their own childhood?
Who likes their own beloved mother?
Who likes Ben Elton? Oh, it’s no one again.
OK, here’s another one. Who likes snowflakes?
Who likes sunshine?
Who likes the universal concept of eternal peace and happiness?
Who likes Osama bin Laden? Yeah! Who likes Ben Elton?
Oh, it’s no one again.
It’s fucking weird, it’s weird. That is weird, ’cause I must have done that thirty or forty times, right, and every time, without any element of manipulation, more people like Osama bin Laden, a multiple murderer, than Ben Elton. I think why, why would more people like Osama bin Laden than Ben Elton? And I think it’s ’cause when you compare the two of them, compared to Ben Elton, Osama bin Laden has at least lived his life to a consistent set of ethical principles. ’Cause … Yeah, clap, let him hear you. So, er …
’Cause people hate Ben Elton, and every now and again a journalist has the courage to ask him why this is. I’ve seen it happen twice in print and once on Parkinson. Parkinson said to him, he said to Ben Elton, ‘Ben Elton, why do you think everyone hates you?’ And Ben Elton said – he did – and Ben Elton said, ‘Well, Michael, it’s ’cause in this country, people don’t like success.’ But he was wrong about that. The real answer is much more simple. It’s just that in this country, people don’t like Ben Elton.
And they don’t hate him through the kind of conduit of the notion of success. They hate him entirely on his own terms, because of who he is and the bad things that he’s done. And I think if you’re my age, you can kind of understand why it is. ’Cause if you’re, if you’re over thirty-five, you’ll remember before Alternative Comedy, when you’d watch comedians, and it had no kind of relevance to you and you didn’t understand what they were talking about and who they were. And then The Young Ones came along, and all that, with Ben Elton, and you thought, ‘At last, something for us.’
Then, of course, over the years, Ben Elton’s changed. He’s worked with Queen, who were one of the British bands that broke the, er, cultural embargo on South Africa under apartheid. He’s worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber, who’s worse than that. And, er … And a song that they co-wrote was performed at the inauguration of George Bush. And when questioned about it, Ben Elton said he didn’t see it so much as a celebration of George Bush as a celebration of the President of the United States of America. But of course, they’re the same thing. That’s why that argument doesn’t work.
But the problem is he’s kind of been compromised by proximity to, to success. And, and if you think about it, all the great comedians are kind of outsider figures, commenting on society from outside. Kind of holy fools, shaman clowns, outsiders. Spike Milligan was able to remain an outsider by virtue of having long-term mental-illness problems. Um … Bill Hicks has been able to remain an outsider because he died of cancer at the age of thirty-two. Michael Barrymore has been able to remain an outsider by becoming the subject of a murder investigation after a man was found dead in his pool. I admire Barrymore’s commitment to this abstract notion of the outsider shaman-clown figure. And I think it’s good … I think it’s great to be on this late at night in Glasgow talking about this idea. But um …
But lately I have more sympathy for what we in the trade call Elton’s compromise. And … ’Cause … In the last few years I, I directed a, a show and it was, it was kind of a hit in the West End. And I had to meet loads of famous people on, on press nights and, um, and opening nights. I met, er, Bonnie Langford. Yeah. I met her twice. I met, er, the tall one from the Three Degrees, Sheila … something, her name is. And one night, I found myself shaking hands before I realised who it was, with Michael Portillo, right? I looked up. I thought it was the little wooden goblin from the Cuprinol advert. But it was Michael Portillo, someone whose policies I had marched against as a student, or would have done if I hadn’t been drunk. But theoretically …
There was worse to come than Portillo. On June the 16th last year, I heard a rumour that Cherie Blair was going to come and see the show, right? And I thought, ‘Well, I hope that’s not the case.’ You know, I don’t want to have to meet her. ’Cause I’m one of two million Britons that marched against her husband’s war. I think it’s unethical. I think it’s going to come back and bite us in the arse and we’ll be in trouble about it for decades, once the dust settles. And I, I don’t want to have to be like some E-list celebrity New Labour apologist. I don’t want to meet her, no way.
And then the next day, the woman from the public-relations company for the show rang me up. And she said, ‘I’ve got some great news, Cherie Blair is coming to see the show, and she wants to meet the cast and the creative team afterwards.’
And I went, ‘I’m sorry. I can’t do it. I’ve got … This is where I draw a line. You know. You d–,’ I said. ‘You don’t even want me in the building. If I’m there, I’m going to get kind of political Tourette’s syndrome and just do something like fly an anti-war banner off the stage, or make a speech at the end, or just do something to Cherie Blair that’ll wipe that … whatever that is … on her face. You know, make it go.’
And she said, ‘Well, that’s a shame, because … Does this change your mind?’ she said. ‘She’s not coming on her own. She’s coming with her guest, who is the president of Scope, the Spastics Society.’ Right, and this honestly happened. I was put in this weird position where you want to make some ineffectual gesture against Cherie Blair, but you don’t want to snub a person from a worthwhile charity, Scope. You know, so …
I thought, ‘Well, I know what I’ll do. I’ll go down, and after the show I’ll say to Cherie Blair, “I hope you’re happy, Cherie. I hope when you look across at Tony every morning, you think of all those thousands of people killed in his war, and I hope you’re happy when you think of all those little kids in Baghdad and Basra with their arms and legs blown off, maimed, crippled for life.” Then I’ll turn to the woman from Scope, and I’ll go, “Maybe you can have a rummage around in one of your charity shops. See if you can find them some cardigans.”’
But in the end, I didn’t do that. What I did was, I said that I would go, and then I just didn’t. Yeah.
But … We’re back talking about the war again. Last, last bit. And er … Like I say, there’s this kind of assumption I think from us here in Europe, where we look at, particularly in Britain, where we look at America’s hysterical reaction to the 9th of November, and we think, ‘Well, you know, that wouldn’t happen here. We wouldn’t do that, ’cause we’re reasonable, sensible people here in Britain.’ But we don’t have to look very far back in our own cultural history to see an example of us losing the plot as a, as a nation. And I’m talking of course about the death of Princess Diana, the late Princess of Wales. It was in the news again last summer because of the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, which you’ll remember was a rubbish fountain. And fulfilled very few of the job-description criteria of fountains.
But it’s ongoing, it’s ongoing. The story never goes away. I remember when she died, um, ’cause about two days before the state funeral, I went down to Kensington Palace where Princess Diana had lived to, to look at all the tributes left outside, you know. And in amongst all the bunches of flowers and sympathy cards, and poems little kids had written, and drawings and paintings people had done, whatever … in amongst all that, I honestly saw, and this is true, I saw a life-size inflatable model of E.T. It was honestly there, outside Kensington Palace, two days before the state funeral. And I stood there looking at the inflatable E.T. for some forty or fifty minutes. And I thought to myself, ‘How did that get there? Who would have thought that that was an appropriate gesture?’
And I imagined a household somewhere on that awful autumn Sunday morning, where perhaps the wife had woken up first, and she’d watched the news and she went through to her still-sleeping husband, and she said …
‘Please. Please wake u– … I need you to wake up and be with me now. There’s been a t– … Some terrible news. I need you to get up, come in the front room and watch it on the television with me, ’cause I can’t be alone. So please wake up.’
But you know, he’s asleep, he’s asleep. He’s going …
[lying down, as though half-awake]
‘What? It’s fucking … It’s half past six on a Sunday morning. I am asleep. I know I’m speaking but I am asleep. I don’t want to get up. I’m asleep. So … just … I know you’re upset but just say what it is. What is it?’
And she’d have gone …
‘Please. If you … If you love me, just this one time, just get up. And … Because it’s an awful thing and I need … I can’t be alone. I need someone to comfort me and share. Just … please. Get up.’
And he’d have gone …
‘Look, I was out late last night. I’ve got, I’ve got work at seven … tomorrow. This is my … this is my one day for sleeping in. I don’t want to get up till about half past eleven, to be honest. And even then I’m not going to get dressed. I’m just going to be, like, in my pants and stuff, just sitting around. I kind of … I don’t know what you … If you were just to say what it is … You know … What is it?’
She’d have gone …
‘Princess Diana, Lady Di, has … she … has been killed.’
And he’d have gone …
‘No! [pounding fist on floor] Not the Queen of Hearts!
The Rose of England … and Scotland, and Wales, and bits of Ireland, no! How did it … There’s no God! How did it … why? How did it happen?’
And she’d have gone …
‘It was in a car crash in Paris last night. They don’t know the exact details yet. But she’s dead.’
So presumably at that point, he’d have got up, got out of bed, tried to get dressed, you know, get some kind of grip on his emotions and his feelings. Calm down his grief. And then he’d have said …
‘I’d better go out and get a life-size inflatable model of E.T. You know, for the gates of her home.’
And his wife would have said …
‘Yes. But you’d better hurry, ’cause there’ll be a rush on those now. We don’t want to be the only people not putting one there.’
And I was talking about this onstage in Croydon at the time it happened, and a bloke shouted out, ‘I was there! And I saw that! And it wasn’t a life-size inflatable model of E.T., it was a life-size inflatable model of ALF!’
I didn’t even know what an ALF was, I had to ask him. He said, ‘Oh, it’s an American kids’ TV thing. It’s an alien – A-L-F, Alien Life Form. It’s like a cross between a pig and an aardvark, from space. And it sometimes wears a nappy, and it says kind of wise-ass things.’ And he said he’d seen one of those there. I didn’t see an ALF outside Kensington Palace, before the … And I’m not saying there wasn’t one there, maybe there was at some stage. But by the time I arrived, it had got covered up under flowers or carried away on a river of infants’ tears. I don’t know, I didn’t see it.
It never goes away, it’s back in the news now, the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. Last year, people went, ‘Oh, it’s great, it’s, it’s what she would have wanted. It’s a place where families can hang out, children can play. It’s what Princess Diana would have wanted.’ It isn’t. What Princess Diana would have wanted would have been to have not been killed. And then in death, not to have become the unwitting receptacle of the hysterical, overemotional, shrieking grief of twats. That’s what she would have wanted.
It didn’t even work! It didn’t even work, Glasgow! Children were supposed to be able to play in it. They kept falling over, breaking their arms and legs. They made it out of slate, or sheets of ice, or something. They were getting dogshit-eye-blindness disease from the water. In the end, they had to close it down, fence it off, put warning signs on it like a decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear reactor. ‘Don’t go near the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain! It’s dangerous! Don’t even look at it! You’ll get cancer and die! Run away!’
But it’s ridiculous. There should be a memorial to her, there should be a memorial to her, because she did some amazing things. She worked, worked with charity and landmines. And she got one GCSE in domestic science. And to achieve that, and only that, when born into such a position of privilege and wealth, requires a steely determination of focus. You’ve got to know from an early age that you want to achieve next to nothing, and work hard at it, when all the odds are in your favour.
And that’s why there should be a memorial to her, the People’s Princess, right. That’s why I’m going to make my own, I’m going to make my own memorial fountain to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. It’s going to be called the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain Memorial Fountain Fountain. But it’s not going to be some state-approved, Viscount Althorp-subsidised architectural carbuncle. It’s going to be simple, like she would have wanted. It’s going to be me, lying on my back in Hyde Park, near the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, naked, with a colander over my penis. Every hour, on the hour, I’ll piss up through that. Children can come and play in it if they want, families can gather round, I don’t mind. You can do it yourselves, Glasgow, do it yourselves. You don’t even need a colander. That’s gilding the lily, to be honest. Just do a piss anywhere you want. In the street, in your house, in a library, in an antenatal unit, in the face of a treasured family pet or an elderly relative.
And if a policeman says to you, ‘What are you doing? What on earth do you think you’re doing … madam?’ just say, ‘I’m paying tribute in the only way I understand to the memory of Princess Diana, Princess of Wales.’
I’ve been Stewart Lee. Thanks a lot for bearing with us tonight, thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Exit music: ‘Queen of the World’ by Lloyd and Claudette.