Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Kenny Everett Collectors' Guide #1

Kenny Everett's Ultimate Loo Book (1988)

The golden age of Everett-related collectibles was undoubtedly the Thames years: this highly desirable item dates from the other end of his tv career, appearing in the shops after his almost completely ignored fifth and final BBC series. (The cover shows him climbing out of a lavatory bowl with the severe, short hairdo he had sported since series 3.)

The book claims to have been written, like his 1982 autobiography The Custard Stops at Hatfield, by Everett and Simon Booker, which presumably again means that it was ghosted by Booker. Still, he gets Everett's tone of voice well enough, and makes a commendable stab at replicating the absurd wordplay that (I would guess) Barry Cryer had been responsible for on tv.

Billed as "the world's first paperback laxative", it hangs on a piece of red string so it can be attached to the toilet roll dispenser. (See photograph, taken in my own bathroom. My soon-to-be-wife allowed this on the strict instructions that it be removed again once the photo had been taken. For some reason, she questioned the merits of a Kenny Everett Ultimate Loo Book as a permanent bathroom fixture, particularly one that had been purchased second hand and thus had hung in close proximity to lavatories unknown for time periods uncertain.)

Taking the form of an almanac, the book is a mixture of 'on this day' type items ("Happy birthday to Margaret Thatcher; whatever your politics, she's a remarkable woman"), 'Bathroom Brain-Teasers' ('Q: Whose turn is it to pay for lunch? A: Nicholas Parsons'), Everett's Astro-loogical forecasts ("It's not often that you get invited to appear naked on prime-time television, and this week is no exception"), 'Loo Laffs' (very old jokes), and helpful hints, such as this one for ensuring the success of a dinner party: "In the middle of the boeuf en croute a la Marseillaise, reveal your hidden store of knowledge about flatworms - a rare breed of animal which reproduce by pulling themselves to pieces; each part then develops into a worm."
The back cover boasts, "All that remains now is to lock the door, assume the customary position and turn to the entry for today's date. Minutes later you will emerge wittier, wiser... and about two pounds lighter."

Collectors note: Before purchasing, check that the book still has its original red string attached. I have seen several for sale without any string at all, and even one that had been slyly renovated using new, white string. Buyers beware!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tremate, tremate, i Roper son tornati!

We all know that British sitcom travels with surprising success to some surprising places, but this has to be the winner.
If the bewildering range and quantity of them to be seen at those little newsstands you find on virtually every street there is anything to go by, Italy must be the world's biggest consumer of DVD partworks. But even allowing for this, to what force or process more local than chaos theory can we possibly attribute the fact that a partwork that builds into a complete collection of all five series of George and Mildred (or George e Mildred as they seem doggedly intent on calling it over there) is a viable Italian commercial proposition?
Curse fate for having birthed you anywhere but Italia!