Movember

November 2, 2012

I’m growing a moustache throughout November for Movember.

Movember “is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in the UK and around the world. The aim of which is to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer.” That’s what the Movember people say. That’s why were doing it. There’s a lot of us. I don’t know how many. But currently, and with £37 donated, I am ranked 10513.

“It’s not a competition”, my friend Andrea pointed out. She’s right. Except it sort of is. For me. The competitive element is what will lead me to bully and pester you over the next few weeks. I want to raise a massive amount of money for Prostrate Cancer UK.

And I want to do that by growing a moustache.

Some people take the easy way out when it comes to raising money for charity; running marathons, trekking across deserts and mountains, swimming oceans.

That’s not for me. I needed a challenge.

Zoe, my wife, put me up to it. I’m claiming she made me do it, encouraged me, suggested it. Truth is, all she said was “are you doing Movember this year?”

After two seconds thought I came to the conclusion, why not? It’s not like I’ve got anything else on.

And so I’m growing a moustache.

It won’t be easy. I’m 50 and I’ve never been able to grow one yet. I wanted to cheat; to start the month off with the feeble follicles I try to pass off as designer stubble. I’m more Elvis Costello than George Michael. But then I’m more George Dawes than Elvis Costello. I can’t really grow hair anymore. Not even (for the sake of some second rate comedy observation) in my ears or up my nose.

So yes, cheat. Get a few days head start. It is, after all, not a competition.

But cheating’s not allowed. It’s in the rules. (See Andrea! Rules! Rankings! This must be a competition).

And so yesterday I shaved, maybe taking a little less care when it came to the bit under my nose.

I’ve always wanted to have a beard, a moustache, even hair on my head. Once I looked like this (those concerned with the aging process look away now).

Like a happy, hip, Heseltine. Like Tarzan.

Like bloody Havers.

Now, I look more like this.

Trev always was the lucky one. He’s kept his hair. And his looks. And his height.

Trev takes the best of Bradley Wiggins and the best of Paul Weller and cycles around Broadstairs, grinning broadly whilst singing The Boy about Town. That’s the man’s style.

When we played characters on Going Live! and Live and Kicking we’d write the scripts on a Tuesday and a Wednesday. We think up all sort of arrangements of facial hair; moustaches, beards, pony tails… you name it. On Friday I’d go into make-up in the morning to try out a few styles. Trev would stroll in towards the end of the day with a full beard, a moustache, a pony tail… what have you. ALL GROWN! BY HIMSELF! ON THURSDAY. HIS OWN HAIR! A BEARD! A MOUSTACHE! A PONY TAIL! WEEK AFTER WEEK AFTER BLOODY WEEK!

HE’D SHAVE EVERYTHING OFF AFTER THE SHOW. BALD AS A BABY BABOON. AND THEN, COME NEXT SATURDAY, HE’D HAVE GROWN A NEW HAIR ENSEMBLE! BEARD! MOUSTACHE! PONY TAIL! EYEBROWS!

THAT’S WHAT I HAD TO PUT UP WITH. WEEK AFTER WEEK. FOR 10 YEARS!

HE EVEN ONCE GREW HIS OWN DOWNSTAIRS HAIR. NOT FOR A SKETCH; THE BBC BOSSES WOULDN’T ALLOW THAT. NO! HE DID IT JUST TO SHOW OFF. BECAUSE HE COULD. FLOUNCING HIS CURLING LOCKS OUT OF THE BOTTOM OF HIS TROUSERS! SWANNING AROUND THE STUDIO SINGING “SWING YOUR PANTS”.

So.

I don’t take this challenge lightly.

It’s for a good cause.

If you can give, please give. You can do that here.

Here we are in one of my favourite moustache sketches. Mine glued on, Trev’s home grown.

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Two of our lesser known characters from the days of Going Live! would most likely be The Rogers Brothers. Randolf and Rudy Rogers, an old musical hall act, sons of the popular seaside variety act, Bucket and Spade. Bucket and Spade, both dead, survived only as a framed photograph on top of Randolf’s piano. Rudy, played by me, was prone to awful bouts of depression over the death of his parents. It would descend upon him as a black cloud and the boys would declare “Mr Gloom is in the room”, or “Mr Glum has come” or “Mr Misery is in the vicinity“. Trev, as Randolf, would attempt to cheer his brother up with a jaunty “Hey ho! Pop pop!” As in sketches so in life.

Quite why this was allowed to be on a Saturday morning childrens show is bewildering to me. Obviously we must have sat around and thought, what are the kids into these days? And the answers that came back were hippies, barbers and old-time music hall acts singing vaguely rude songs and weeping openly over the death of their parents. Hey ho! Pop pop!

One of our songs was an old music hall ditty called Carry Your Little Belisha Beacon Everywhere You Go. We’ve sung this song throughout our career in a variety of guises; the Eggrobats- bald men in nappies, The Rogers Brothers, and a scout leader and his boyscout friend.

The Eggrobats- Simon Hickson, Phil Dennison, Trev Neal. Accompanied by Sophie Aldred, Kath Jones and Doon Mackichan.

The Eggrobats- Simon Hickson, Phil Dennison, Trev Neal. Accompanied by Sophie Aldred, Kath Jones and Doon Mackichan.

Here we are accompanied by The Doves from Dan and the Doves. The Doves being Sophie (later to be Ace in Dr. Who), kath, and Doon, (later to be big comedy cheese in The Day Today, Smack the Pony and the recent Taking the Flak). Poor Doon is obscured by the big glowing end of Trev’s beacon.

If you’d like to know the lyrics to this rude song you can find them here. I’ve tried to find out who it’s by but everytime I do a search I come back to me. I promise you, we did pinch it.

Nothing’s new and nothing’s original. We based the Rogers Brothers on The Cox Twins. However weird our creations were, the real deal were even weirder.

The Cox Twins

The Cox Twins

You can find out more about Frank and Fred here. But sadly not much. They married twins, Estelle and Pauline Miles, and then they all lived together in one house. The first time I saw them I was astonished. I can’t remember what they did, I just remember thinking they were nuts. In the nicest possible sense. They were funny and weird, but what did they do? They appear briefly in Funny Bones, Peter Chelsom’s film starring Lee Evans and Jerry Lewis and set in Blackpool. Truly, what more could you want from a film. The only clip I could find isn’t a performance, but you might like it anyway. Here they are being interviewed on TVam. With their twin wives.

Even less survives of the Rogers Brothers. They’re on our live video, the Blimey That’s Good Tour, but who has videos? Even I don’t have it. I used to hate watching it. The day before the show was recorded I had some jabs for a forthcoming holiday in The Gambia. I was given the wrong dose for, I think, Typhoid. Five times too much! Throughout the show I look like I am about to die. Hey ho! Pop pop!

But I did find something. One of the most bizarre clips I’ve seen. It’s us as the Rogers Brothers taking part in a Comic Relief special; singing along with a host of celebrities to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Everything’s here. It ranges from the apalling, Nicholas Witchell miming keyboards; to the moving, Caron Keating gooning around with her mum. You’ll see other faces that might lead to Mr Gloom coming into the room. And I don’t mean Noel Edmonds. And there’s a few degenerates in there too. I’ll let you figure out who they are.

And remember, nothing really matters. Hey ho! Pop pop!

Not a lot

January 25, 2009

look-sign

I’ve been quiet on the blog scene for the last few days. I’ve been thrown into a state of confusion by the appearance of the Paul Daniels blog. When Paul Daniels starts a blog it is time for me to pause and ask “why am I doing it?” I’ve paused and I haven’t come up with an answer. So, for now, I’ll carry on.

It’s The Guardian’s fault. Last week they made me mad by telling me I had to read 1000 books of their choosing. Well, I’m not going to. And now they mess with my mind by pointing out Paul’s blog.  Paul is in Barbados, bumping into Russ Abbott and Cilla Black and Stuart Hall. I couldn’t look back from this point. I never knew Barbados was such a weird place. It’s like a lost episode of Lost– you crash land in paradise and are met by a group of varieticians. That isn’t a word, but I’d like it to be. Cilla Black fixes you up with Stuart Hall who dresses you up in a polar bear outfit and makes you run around obstacles then Paul Daniels makes you disappear and Russ Abbott turns up as Barratt Holmes and tries to solve the whole puzzle. Then there’s a writers’ strike, but blogger Paul takes over and writes a happy ending where they all go to a charity golf dinner where the Moody Blues are playing. This last part is true. As someone might say… only in Barbados.

In one of Paul’s posts he jumps to the defence of Nazi-dressing idiot Prince Harry over his “paki” remark. Paul points out that “paki” is just an abbreviation of Pakistani, and that he wouldn’t be offended if someone called him a “Brit”. Well, it’s a sort of an argument. But I’m sure Paul Daniels is an intelligent man and I’m sure he is only too aware of how our language shifts and reshapes. Sometimes the meaning of a word is not what that word means. I bet he’s being willfully disingenuous. Next he’ll be telling us he’s got lots of gay friends, and then insisting he means cheerful.

Oh, and when I call Prince Harry an idiot, he should take that as a compliment.

I’ve met Paul Daniels twice. The first time was on Going Live! or Live and Kicking, I can’t remember which. I stood about two feet away from him in BBC TV Centre’s Studio 7 whilst, off camera, and for my own amazement and entertainment, he did some close-up magic with a pack of cards. I liked it. A lot.

The second time was in a Liverpool Hotel’s breakfast bar. I was with my double-act other half, Trev; we were going to be on This Morning with Richard and Judy later (possibly the appearance where I jumped off the weather map with Fred but failed to make it to Ireland, bailing out into the Irish Sea). Paul was there because the QE2 was in town and he was entertaining on it. He came down to breakfast with his wife Debbie, and a big pair of binoculars. He strolled over, said hello, and showed us his binoculars. It’s that odd celebrity thing where you don’t know people but there seems to be some kind of “we’re all in this together” attitude, and anyhows, it’s nice if people say hello. He told us how much his binoculars were, where he’d got them from… I think he came over with the attitude that all men like binoculars, and I think he’s likely to be right. He could have brought a torch over, or a drill, or a compass and we’d have happily looked. He spoke so quietly we had no choice but to stare right into his face; half hearing, half lip-reading. I think this may be the secret of magic. Get your (there’ll be a special word for this, but I don’t know it)… get your… victim? Mug?… to look exactly where you want them to look. Then do your magic. And sure enough, when Paul left, our wallets had gone. Only joking Paul.

Paul Daniels is like a short Bing Crosby. I say that having no clue how short Paul is and having no clue how tall Bing is. So, let’s try again. Paul Daniels is like Bing Crosby. He’s got the same look, the same ears. I’d like to see Paul with a pipe. I’d like to see Peter Morgan, writer of Frost/Nixon and other true-life adventures, write a film called Being Bing. Paul Daniels would play Bing; there’d be the golf, the crooning, the pipe smoking, and the darker corners of Bing’s life where he was perhaps not the greatest parent. Paul would make a great Bing, and towards the end of the story he would be joined by Michael Sheen as David Bowie (the Jean Genie) for a moving rendition of Little Drummer Boy.