In 1967 I was in a movie called The Plank, with Eric Sykes. It was a toss-up to see who would play the part of the plank. The producer said we were both thick enough.
Before I start I would like to put the record straight. On Monday, 10 February 1975, Bill Hagerty in the Daily Mirror reported that I had been window shopping and bought four windows. This was not quite true. I did buy four, but returned one. It was cracked.
At school I was interested in handicrafts, woodcraft, metalcraft, papercraft - all sorts of crafts. My teacher said I was the craftiest boy in the school. I once went on a student cruise on a liner. It was a scholarship. I also sailed through my exams.
"The waiter brought our coffee. I told him it tasted like mud. 'I'm not surprised sir,' he said, 'it was ground this morning.' 'I thought so,' I said. 'I can see it's been through the mill.
I played Puss-in-Boots until I got too big for my boots. I also played the cat in Dick Whittington. I got the sack for staying out all night on the tiles. I got a part in Red Riding Hood because I could ride. I was offered two parts in Cinderella, as both the ugly sisters. I played Bo Peep in a revue called Peep Show. Everyone called me Peeping Tom.
I like the way camels bow to me when they see me in my fez. Camels are like elephants, they never forget. I once met a camel in the London Zoo. We had last met in Egypt during the war. I recognised him by his sneer. He saw me and curled his lip. He knew me right away. He tried to bite me. I was the one who had given him the hump. As a matter of fact, I was wearing a camel coat a the time. It still had the hump on the back.
My father said the day I was born was a red letter day. He received final demands for the gas, electricity, rates and half a dozen assorted H.P. items. As I popped into the world, blinking at the light and wondering what to do for an encore, someone grabbed me by the legs, held me upside down and whacked me jolly hard. That was just for starters. Already I could see life was not going to be easy. I cried like a baby. Is it any wonder I turned to the bottle.
I suddenly got the feeling that one of my legs was shorter than the other. I remember the way my mother was always pulling my leg. I looked down and saw I was walking with one foot in the gutter. I gave a sigh of relief and continued with both feet in the gutter.
And talking of my family, when I first got married, my in-laws said they were going to show me their joint savings. They took me to a huge safe. It was full of joints. He was a butcher. I used to get out of his way pretty sharpish if I ever saw him girding his loins. He once took a lump of steak and threw it at me. It was chuck steak. He wanted to use my head to chop meat. He said it was a mental block. He used sticks to chop chops. They were chop sticks. While he worked he used to sing 'Butcher arms around me'. If you asked him 'How's business?' he used to reply 'Offal'.
At school, my teacher said I was a very tricky customer and that she thought my schoolwork was just a big joke. I once knew a man who did tricks with a saucer. He was a sorcerer. Another chap I knew did tricks with jugs. He was a juggler.
Do you know I'd give anything to sit out there and watch my act.
I found this old violin and this old painting so I took them to an expert and he said, "What you've got there is a Stradivarius and a Rembrandt. Unfortunately Stradivarius was a terrible painter and Rembrandt made rotten violins.
I got into the ring with Muhammad Ali once and I had him worried for a while. He thought he'd killed me!
I saw a polar bear. It was trying to balance on a glacier mint. A monkey was filling a jaguar with petrol. I stood by the kerb and watched a pelican crossing. A couple of giraffes were necking in broad daylight. They had a lot of neck. The boxing kangaroo was challenging all comers. He met his match in the Kung Fu Kangaroo. It nearly kicked the stuffing out of him. The elephants were packing their trunks for the weekend. An old bull was in charge. He kept prodding them with his tusks. He was a hard tusk-master. I poodled along to the book kiosk for some books on animals. It was chock-full with penguins, corgis and pelicans. They were crowding the shelves so I went back to my car. I found a snake on the windscreen. It was a windscreen viper. On the verge I saw a snake in the grass. It was a traffic warden. She was chatty. She told me she came from a long line of wardens. Her grandfather had been a prison warden, her father an air-raid warden and her uncle a church warden. Personally, I thought she might be a game warden but I was in no hurry to get home.