I’m sorry to have to announce a cancellation.

Unfortunately my friend, host and producer Mary Carey has had a bereavement and must attend a family funeral on the 27th April.

The world premiere of AstroBard is canceled.

AstroBard – Cancelled

This was to be a singular gig, as my chum David Verrey (catch him in Napoleon) put it: “to attend the gathering of a knot of astro-literati in a Cotswolds village hall to see a woo-woo presentation given by a Briton, resident in New York … well, where else can you get that?”

And so given the, of necessity, somewhat homespun publicity on this one, I am circulating this post far and widely.

Following the theme of the show, Mark and I have agreed (although of course one wishes it were in happier circumstances) that this does distantly reference the old gag:

Psychic Fair 

Cancelled Due 

To Unforeseen Circumstances

This is really a postponement, AstroBard will take the stage at a later date.

Meanwhile …

I am pleased to announce the first in my occasional series, “My Guest Today”. The idea of this show is simple: whenever I meet someone interesting I ask them to have a chatty half hour with me at the local television station.

This is an interview with David Bruson, a man with a unique connection to an Australian hero, the late great Barry Humphries.

Available here

I admit to a certain over-loquacity on my part as the interviewer – this totally a result of a) being over-excited in the moment, and b) my life-long admiration for and fascination with Barry’s astonishing life and work.

Dame Edna Everage

My journey into awareness of Australia and what it meant to me began on or about April 1st 1972. 

I had an Australian Godfather (the best of godfathers) living in London, but being British born myself and in 1972 a mass of the identity chaos known as ‘a teenager’, I really had no idea how the Aussie piece fitted my personal jig-saw.

I was fifteen when I first went to Australia on a Qantas airplane. I remember the flight vividly. It was overbooked and in the Manila transit lounge in the Philippines passengers were offered money and three nights accommodation if they would take a later flight. I was tempted, but in pre-internet days had no way to communicate with my Australian relatives waiting to meet me in Sydney.

8 months in one of the most beautiful cities in the world with a hugely welcoming aunt, uncle, a grandmother, a couple of younger cousins, and some extended family, the time including a sojourn at North Sydney Boys high school, and a spell in the North Shore hospital following a dose of viral meningitis visited on me during a locust storm in the bush, and I really did wonder who the hell I was.

I could have stayed in Australia at that point and about 49% of me wanted to. But the controlling 51% was adamant to consolidate the remnants of my British I.D. and so I returned to London to complete the confused teen years in that capital.

Shortly after I got back to England, my godfather, Collin Bates (AKA Tucker Bates – a superb jazz pianist) introduced me to an LP of Sandy Stone, and without trying I learned every word of the long monologue. It would be a few years before I realized that this was a character created by Barry Humphries.

Barry Humphries on his 87th birthday

So I am pleased to introduce you to my occasional chat show, “My Guest Today”. As I said above, David Bruson is someone who knew Barry Humphries intimately and worked closely with him for several years, becoming part of Barry’s showbiz family.

I think the conversation is a bit of an exploration of the cultural crossroads where Britain, the USA and Australia meet (and don’t) through the lens of contact with one of the great comic geniuses of the 20th and 21st centuries.

If Barry Humphries is new to you, you are likely familiar with one of his creations: Dame Edna Everage or Sir Les Patterson or Sandy Stone? This great Australian was lately honored with a state funeral in Sydney.

Sir Les Patterson

This Guy…

Every now and then you come across someone who is:

Racist, misogynist, bombastic, provocative, ludicrous…

A vulgarian who plumbs new depths of bad taste on a daily basis…

Astonishingly uninformed yet ready to pronounce on all subjects…

And yet (to some of us) very amusing.

One who proclaims himself to be a chic-magnet, a great patriot and ambassador for his country, and who, whilst managing to give near universal offense, is at the same time admired by millions, and has (somehow) been appointed to high office.

You will know at once, that I am speaking of Sir Les Patterson, the Australian Cultural Attache to The Court of St. James. After all, there couldn’t be anyone else like this in public life… could there? Surely not, because if there were, it would be ludicrous without being funny.

Here is some archival footage that may give insight into this phenomenon…