Thriller- photographed by Tippi Hedren

Thriller- photographed by Tippi Hedren

I’ve avoided the whole Michael Jackson thing. Oh sure, I’ve posted a few, mildly cheeky comments on Twitter. But the truth is Michael Jackson’s pretty much passed me by, and once things started getting really dodgy, I just kept away forever.

Actually that’s not quite true. When HIStory came out in 1995 he craftily put a “free” disc in with it, full of his hits. I was nearly fooled. I thought it was some kind of bargain; a must have. We were touring at the time, and as was our style, we would spend far too much time in record shops. I’d loiter by the HIStory shelves, pondering Jacko’s stone pose. I’d pick up the CD and that would be when Trev, my comedy partner, would intervene. “Put it back!”

As simple as that. “Put it back!” A moment’s hesitancy and “NOW!” I’d asked him to act as my Jacko protector and he did a good job. The CD would be returned and Trev would lead me in the direction of Weller.

I paid a little attention when John Landis and Martin Scorsese got involved in making the videos, but surely Bad was just a blip in Scorsese’s career. Where was his Trev? Where was De Niro, pointing out the error, telling him to put the Jackson back? Now!

But, you know, the poor guy’s died, only 50, and, whatever his faults and failings, that’s sad. And those that are hurting are not just his fans, but his family and those nearest and dearest to him.

Like Thriller and Sabu.

Thriller and Sabu were Michael’s Bengal tigers, named after his album Thriller and his little-known duet with Terry Brunk Ebony and Slam Dunk (possibly) . When he closed his zoo, Thriller and Sabu had to pack their bags. Off they headed to the Shambala Preservea jam animal sanctuary founded by the gorgeous Tippi Hedren.

It may seem odd that a woman most known for being pecked to bits by birds should choose to work with animals. But not really, for The Birds isn’t true. It’s a story made up by Ed McBain, writing under the name of Evan Hunter.

And so Tippi told the tigers. “I went up and sat with them for a while and let them know that Michael was gone. You don’t know what mental telepathy exists from the human to the animal, but I hope they understood.” Me too.

Apparently, Bubbles hasn’t been told yet. He’s 26 now, and has a bit of a temper. According to The Sun he spends his days listening to “calming flute music”.

According to me Bubbles said “Give me calming flute music over Why You Wanna Trip on Me anyday.”

Hopper’s Hands.

December 27, 2008


So yesterday we stood beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. It looks in pretty good shape considering only the other night me, my niece and nephew saw it ripped from it’s moorings and carried across the bay to Alcatraz by Magneto in X-Men 3. What? It’s just a film? It wasn’t true? Next you’ll be telling me that our Christmas day treat, Elf, was all made up.

As you walk by Fort Point, along the thick chain fence that stops you falling into the sea…


… but failed to stop Kim Novak in Vertigo


…it’s a good job Jimmy Stewart was on hand to jump in… as you pass this Point, you eventually reach a chicken-wire fence. Here, you can go no further. And on the fence is a plaque, showing Hopper’s Hands. Who is Hopper? And why does every jogger who reaches this point touch the hands before turning and heading back?


The best way to find out? Ask a jogger. The place is full of joggers, running up to the plaque, touching it, then stopping to catch their breath, have a drink, do a few stretches. And most of these joggers are very attractive women in fancy pastel outfits and sun visors who somehow or other seem to run in slow motion. Either they’re the only ones I notice (likely) or they are running in slow motion because they are damned lazy (unlikely).

So, let’s ask a jogger. We approach one who is midst touching her toes. We being me and my niece. When talking to strange women (as in women you don’t know, or, come to think of it, women who are intriguingly strange) always be accompanied by a child. This way they’ll talk to you, rather than think “who’s this weirdo with the funny accent?” The downside? Once they’ve talked to you, they jog off.

So… she stands up, takes out her earphones and we ask her why she touched Hopper’s Hands. Hopper once talked a potential suicide down from the Bridge. And now joggers touch his hands. It’s a tradition, a superstition. And dogs touch the paws below (as in the photo). Thank you. A smile and she’s off.

There’s more to this story. Ken Hopper works on the Bridge. He has stopped over 30 people from jumping to their deaths. And, sadly, on a couple of occasions, he has seen people fall. You can find out more on this wonderful page.


p.s. There wasn’t a plan to make my photo of the Golden Gate Bridge mirror the still from Hitchcock’s Vertigo. If there was I would have been more exact. I’ve only just noticed, a few hours down the line, how similar they are. Doh!

p.p.s. Nor was there a plan to make this look like The Birds.