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Received another letter through the post from me.
The postman keeps returning mail that I’ve just posted. He’s reading the sender’s address instead of the recipient’s. He says it’s because he’s left-handed, so that if he’s looking at a parcel the right way up the back is the front.
‘What do you want me to do?’ he says. ‘Stand on me head?’
Is it too much to ask that a letter is delivered to the address on the front of the envelope?
He’s also been delivering me letters intended for another H. Hill in Bexhill, whose address is nothing like mine. He sees the name H. Hill and sticks them through my letterbox. OK, the book tokens have been very welcome . . . I’m kidding, but it does mean another trip to the postbox for me, and no doubt this stupid postman probably then looks at the back and delivers them back to the sender. I think he probably needs to go on a course.
‘Yes, a course of lethal injections,’ says Mum, and I laugh heartily. Then she says, ‘First a sedative to send him to sleep, then an injection of sodium thiopental to paralyse the respiratory muscles, then an injection of potassium to stop the heart.’
She spoilt it with that really. A lot of being good at comedy is knowing when to leave a joke and move on.
Today I received the very exciting news that Madame Tussauds wish to form an effigy of me from wax!
‘What, for the chamber-of-horrors section?’ says Mum.
This is a response I will learn to get used to over the coming weeks as I announce this most prestigious news to the world. It seems I am to travel to their Baker Street headquarters (and other body-quarters no doubt!) to be measured.
Went up to the Baker Street headquarters of Madame Tussauds today to be measured up for the forthcoming wax effigy of myself.
I was curious to know whether I was to be part of a tableau and who else my doppelganger would be rubbing shoulders with.
‘Peter Sutcliffe!’ came the reply. ‘We’re putting you in the chamber of horrors!’
I laugh politely.
‘I bet you’ve been getting that a lot, haven’t you?’ said Shirley the sub-manager. ‘Now strip off, and let’s get you measured up.’
‘Strip off?’ I said, a little nervously.
‘Yes. Go into the toilets there and get all your clothes off, as we need to measure and photograph you in minute detail so we can make the wax effigy exactly the same as you.’
I duly obeyed her orders, and emerging from the toilets was ushered into a sort of wet room, where two burly blokes turned high-pressure hoses on me.
‘Just so you’re all nice and clean. It’s a health-and-safety thing,’ she said, ‘to protect us. You don’t mind if Joel helps us with the measuring?’ she added, beckoning in a lanky fourteen-year-old boy. ‘He’s on work experience, and obviously it’s important he sees every step of the wax-effigy process.’
‘Yeah, I suppose so,’ I said, looking at my verrucas.
‘Then let the measurements commence!’ said Shirley, and with that the door burst open and I was set upon by a group of experts.
At the end of the procedure, which lasted about twenty minutes, my clothes were slung at me and I was left to sort myself out.
Well, the whole thing was totally humiliating, and as I left I felt quite dirty, degraded and smelling of wax. I composed a letter of complaint on the train home, but probably won’t send it. They’ve got you over a barrel really. They know just how desperate light entertainers like me are to get into this grand old house of wax, and are therefore pretty much able to make you jump through any hoops they choose.
Crunchie on the train home.
Stuffed vine leaves for dinner, Greek yoghurt for pudding.
I log on to the Manila Envelopes website and activate the webcam that is supposed to be trained on my fiancée Lay Dee twenty-four hours a day. It was a terribly grainy picture. We exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes, but then she started to get impatient, and it ended with her right up close to the camera shouting, ‘Get me passport!’
It may just be the quality of the picture, but I hope those are not her real teeth.
Mum keeps asking me when I’m going to pick my little friend, the pear, from its tree.
‘Surely it’s ready by now,’ she says. ‘If you leave it too long it will fall from the tree and its flesh will be bruised.’
She’s right, the pear is probably at a point now where it should be picked, but I am conscious that I am holding back and putting off the harvest, as I know that I am going to miss the routine of checking it. And if I’m honest, I must confess I have, over the last few weeks, been confiding in the pear, talking to it about my hopes and fears for the future, my ups and downs with Lay Dee, my concerns over Dog’s drinking.
The great thing about the pear is that it is a great listener. It will just sit there on its stalk and take it all in. It won’t pass judgement like a friend or relative might. Nonetheless, I resolved to pick it in the afternoon, but when the moment came my hand faltered and I allowed it another couple of days to soak up the sun and earth’s goodness.
Sad news today as I learn that the producer of The World’s Most Dangerous Roads has been killed in a car crash while on a reconnaissance mission for the programme. Bob the quantity surveyor was also in the car as it hurtled off the Kingston bypass and is in intensive care. In his semi-conscious state he has been calling for, of all people, me.
It seems he has no living relatives and after our recent phone calls has put me down as his next of kin. The ward sister says that it would be ‘really good if you could come and see him. It might just help to bring him through this, a voice he knows.’
I explain to her that I’ve never actually met the guy, and also detail his expletive-ridden outburst when I bad-mouthed his theodolite.
‘That’s a quite understandable response,’ she said. ‘I went out with a quantity surveyor once and he absolutely hated me referring to his theodolite as his silly little telescope thing on legs.’
I said to her that I didn’t call it a silly telescope, just a telescope on legs, but she wasn’t really listening.
‘I once referred to his as a didgeridoo on a tripod,’ she said. ‘He didn’t like that either, but the one that really got his back up was when I called his theodolite a dog’s penis riding on a spider. He walked out and I never saw him again. Can I tell Bob you’ll come?’
‘I suppose so,’ I say.
Great. A boring visit to see a semi-conscious boring person I don’t know.
Where are you tonight, St Rabbit’s Foot, god of luck?
Ah! My birthday at last! Mum pretended that she hadn’t remembered. By the time it got to 8.30 a.m. and no present was forthcoming I started to believe her. Then she admitted that she wasn’t quite ready to give me my present, and implied that she was awaiting a delivery of some description.
At about 11 a.m. she said she was just popping out. When she came back she had a loaded Londis bag with a roll of wrapping paper sticking out of it and she disappeared into her bedroom. I could hear the familiar sound of sellotape being torn off its roll and then she appeared in the breakfast bar, where I was opening cards, and gave me my present. This year my mum bought me for my birthday a tube of toothpaste, a variety pack of cereal, a jar of rollmops, a corn-cob pipe and a tin of Yardley Black Label talc. All really useful stuff on their own, but oddly together they have rather a low impact.
Got a card with a 2,000-dinar note from Nan, which when I checked the exchange rate turns out to be worth about two quid.
My sister in Canada sent me another bottle of maple syrup. Auntie Jill and Uncle Stanley sent me The Best of Kirsty’s Home Videos DVD, with a note saying, ‘Maybe there’s some stuff you could use on one of your shows.’ Uncle Peter gave me one of his unique scrimshaw carvings – a figure of Holly Willoughby whittled from a chicken thigh bone – and that was pretty much it.
It seems I have overestimated the number of thank-you letters I would need by one – there was nothing from my godmother, Auntie Shirley. When I pointed this out to Mum, she said, ‘Oh, didn’t I tell you she died in March? Sorry, I thought you knew.’
OK, I haven’t actually seen Auntie Shirley since my christening in 1965, so yes, she hasn’t really provided the support and moral compass that she’d agreed to at that ceremony, and yes, she wasn’t really my auntie, and no, I didn’t hear from her at any other time apart from my birthday, ever, but I was banking on that ten quid.
Mum hastily cooked me a birthday cake. She explained that it was supposed to be in the shape of a heart, but where the cake mixture had sunk in the middle leaving a hole it looked eerily like a noose.
We both stayed up and watched Jools Holland’s Hootenanny 2004 on video. A particularly strong line-up – Brotherhood of Man (original line-up), Jennie Bond singing Downtown with Salman Rushdie on trumpet, Charlie Drake, Roy Wood and Wizard, and Marilyn Manson.
At about 10.30 I got a text from Dog: ‘Hazardous bifurcation.’
I knew what he meant.
Not the best birthday I’ve ever had, I’ll admit. In fact, never have I so looked forward to Morpheus’s sweet embrace.
- Livin' The Dreem: A Year In My Life, by Harry Hill is published by Faber and Faber on October 7, priced £18.99. Click here to buy it from Amazon at £10.82.