Friday, October 17, 2014

Stork

When someone you know and love goes into labour, the rest of your own day just has to pale into insignificance. Because, however much you achieve today, you're not going to bring another life into the world, so you are not as good as that person today.

I am terrified of childbirth, but I also like that it's still terrifying. No matter how sanitised and app based the world gets, if you want to continue life you still have to get down and dirty and push that thing out. It's a little link back through to the dark ages. When you give birth, you become a doctor for a day - you get that little person that you've kept alive and your body works out how to get it out.

I don't think I want my own children, but I am 100% ready to change my mind. I think it's one of the most frustrating things about being a woman in her 20s; when you say "I don't want children", 99% of people say... "Ah, you say that now!" Like you've pulled that decision out of your butt crack to please some late 80s version of a feminist code you were following. People assume there's no way you could have recognised that you might want to change your mind.

I'd like to want children because the idea of not having them is quite desolate and frightening. Whilst it's a big thing to do, for me, it's also a big thing not to do. I'm sort of hoping that one day I do wake up begging my body for kids because it'll fill the desire I have for the concept of children. I still don't feel like I want to do the day to day necessities of having a baby, a two year old, a six year old... etc. But I do wonder if I'll be sad not to have a 25 year old one day when I'm old and the arthritis is preventing me from writing my wisdom down here.

My boyfriend is very keen on having children. I have told him that if he can find a way to not be 6'3" with the biggest head known to man (too big to go paint balling, ladies and gents, too big to go paint balling) then I'll think of a way I can reproduce him without tearing my innards beyond recognition.

I'm hoping to have ironed out a missing chapter in my book by the end of the day, but, all going well, someone out there is going to finish up the day with a family. That is an incredible thing to achieve in a 24 hour period. Things like that are huge, enormous, stratospheric things to happen in a life but they actually just happen on days when other people are buying toilet paper or finishing a long shift at a boring job.

Your birthday is a great day for you to get a present and to say "Well done you!" for staying alive, but really that day should be a nod back to your parents who had their world paused so that they could slip you into their nest.

I'll stop now and go and have a shower before I really start turning into a slushy mess, but really, wow. Babies, eh? Get it done, Oli.

x

Monday, October 13, 2014

Comedian Factor

It's Saturday night, the deep voiced guy is really going for it. We've been waiting all year for this.

The final. A number of lucky winners have been hand picked from months of scrupulous searching through the tedious masses of hopefuls. Now, here we are. Here they are. The judges are lined up, their familiar faces shining out from behind the tooth glare and layers of foundation.

There's the industry mogul, famously rude and cruel but undeniably successful. No one could argue with the way his career panned out and even those without a pleasant word to say about the scowling gentleman on the end would jump at half the chance to work with him. It's Don Ward, ladies and gentlemen. As I live and breathe.

Next to him is the hugely successful vision of what each of our hopefuls are dying to become. She's beaten the odds to become the well presented face of up and coming clever, vivacious, hugely popular comedy. A hit with both men and women alike, she looks great, sounds even better and is there to offer insight as someone who's actually done it. Katherine Ryan is ready for action.

Next to Katherine we have the one with nothing to lose. He made it big in the 90s and is ready to criticise his way through the next generation with the acid tongue of someone who just couldn't give a fuck any more. Obviously, a nice boost to his own career wouldn't go amiss so there'll be an attempt to keep the crowd onside but this savvy comedian knows how to occupy the screen. Peter Kay is chomping at the bit, asides prepared and experience dripping from every pore.

Lastly, it's the industry figure that everybody knows and can't help but love in a shambolic fashion. He's been around as long as anyone can remember and is, how shall we say it, a character on the scene. He's certainly been successful, no one can argue that, but how that success has come about might evade some people's memory. A cheery, smily, comedy obsessed face reveals Martin Besserman as our final judge.

We're ready to go.

The first act is up. Belting out a string of carefully traced jokes about their shitty home town. There's an original spin to one or two of them but it looks as though's she's lost the interest of Katherine Ryan who seems to have been hoping for something more exciting. The rhythm is there, the timing is excellent - no one watching at home could argue with the professionalism of the delivery of this act.

Don is bowled over - he loves it. He knows a steady routine when he sees one and this is the sort of thing that would go down a storm at a big weekend club. He's smiling from ear to ear and this girl looks as though she might just have a future in comedy. Peter is scathing at best. He's completely unimpressed by the audacity of the act to come up armed with nothing better than jokes about being from somewhere - don't they have an original bone in their body? Not a yes from Peter.

Joel Dommett is thanking the act and sending on her on her way, relieved and exhilarated, back into the dressing room. He's introducing the next act.

This guy has clearly done his research. Research of one particular inimitable act. The jokes come slow and incoherent, repetition is a key feature. The only feature. Repetition is the only feature. They key feature? Repetition. Rhetorical questions and overusing his own name come naturally to this rookie and he laconically drips lists and concepts onto the stage with seemingly absolute no interest in how he's being perceived. He finishes up his set and Joel shuffles awkwardly on set to firm him up.

Katherine is first to speak.

"I could see what you were trying to do..." she begins kindly. She has positive words for him but she can't hide the disappointment. No amount of constructive criticism can make up for a silent audience... but you can still go home and claim they just didn't "get you". Don't you worry.

Martin loved it. Something weird, something wacky... "Well done!" he enthuses sincerely. "I'd book you for my London club any time. I loved it. You're something different and that's what the circuit needs."

"Don't be ridiculous." chimes in Don, "What works works for a reason, because it works. And this, didn't work. Sorry but you need jokes, you need a certain punchline rate, you need observations, you need punch. You, had none of that."

Peter says something irrelevant that makes the crowd laugh and we're off onto the next act.

The next act looks the party. He's all bouffant hair and skinny jeans. A red chequered shirt that the stylists have picked straight off of BBC3. He's personable, smily and great company for his brief spell. Lad culture, am I alpha enough, why do women want a real man not a weakling like me, I can't get a girl, I'm a geek and I'm camp. He covers it all. He's sewing together "honestly true" stories from his ramshackle life with terrible puns that he cajoles the audience into laughing at. They are loving it. He's just handsome enough to be handsome without being handsome. He's every agents dream.

The judges are unanimous. He's excellent. He's got panache, he's got style, he's got jokes and he's got persona. What a guy. He will fit right in with all the other exact replicas currently lining the charts. Money signs are lighting up behind the judges' eyes. It's going to be a tough act to follow.

Luckily, the next act doesn't seem to be trying that hard to go any further than infamy. The last of our four finalists has a few American influences and he traipses them across the boards without a second thought for the careful touch that his idols used to scatter them. He hammers home cancer punchlines and flips the concept of rape up in the air like a February pancake. The audience make no more noise than a few extremely uncomfortable titters and eventually the camera pans round to Katherine just miming the word "stop". He ploughs on regardless, mining the deep well of baby death comedy between a lighter section on a particularly racist grandparent that, oh no wait, has actually turned out to be dead now anyway so don't worry. The set comes to an abrupt end as the act stabs someone on a bus and Joel tries his best to be professional without in any way condoning anything the act had to say and landing his own career in scalding water.

The judges don't know where to begin. Peter shakes his head in despair, "How could you take something as fluffy as comedy and do that to it?" he asks. "It's like you took the ingredients for a greta cake and just shat on them instead of baking." The audience muster a low laugh but they're too shell shocked to react properly. We move on.

Katherine asks the act politely to go back to being an estate agent. Martin is not impressed and consequently only offers him a spot at his Thursday night show. Don, well Don is thinking.

"You actually don't have no joke writing skill." He concedes, "But what you lack is any kind of respect for you audience or skill at reading a room. I wouldn't be surprised if you got somewhere but you've got a long way to go yet."

Joel ushers him to one side and brings the four finalists into line on the stage. They stand, nervous. There are clearly only two in the running. The girl from a shit hole and the lad with masculinity issues... who is it going to be...?

IT'S THE LAD!!! OF COURSE IT'S THE LAD!!!

He had it all... the hair, the teeth, the jokes, the smoothness, the twinkle in his eye and ability to turn his hand to any panel show that needs a jocular guy to sit next to the other ones. Well done lad. You're the king of comedy for a year. Wear that crown with pride.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wolf Eyes Meets a Hufflepuff

On Wednesday I'm going to be in the same room as Paul Hollywood. Having given up harrassing whoever books the comedians for Great British Bake Off Extra Slice to take a punt on someone who, whilst being unknown, is a massive fan of the show, I've got myself a ticket to go along and see the recording of the show.

It turns out that because it's the show that'll be on after the final, Paul Hollywood will be there. Now, I love Paul Hollywood for the following reasons:

1. He's mean in a sexy way.
2. He has the eyes of a wolf that has killed the rest of his pack and isn't even sorry.
3. He makes bread.

Pause. I don't think you've let that sink in.

THE MAN'S MAIN JOB IS TO CREATE DELICIOUS CARBOHYDRATES. DELICIOUS DOUGHY CARBOHYDRATE GOODNESS.

Imagine the following scenario:

Paul comes home from a hard day at work.

Paul: I have had a hard day at work.
Laura: Oh dear. What happened?
Paul: I made loads of bread.
Laura: Do you have any bread with you?
Paul: Yes.
Laura: *jumps on Paul* Oh my god you taste like bread on your skin because you spend all your time around bread. You are delicious. I love bread.

4. He is not a hugger. His highest form of praise is a handshake.
5. His surname is Hollywood and Laura Hollywood sounds great.


What I can't work out is what to bake on Wednesday for the show. Have I got a better chance of talking to them if I bake something truly awful, or should it be excellent?

If I bake some kind of wedding scenario involving myself and the Wolf will I even be allowed into the studio?

Any help appreciated guys. You're all beautiful.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Autumn In The Mirror

Iris was sitting in the garden enjoying the warm autumn day. This was her favourite kind of weather - when the heat was all encompassing and wholesome. The summer heat from the earth was still lingering, and as it rose up and met with the descending day's sunshine it melted beautifully into the bones. Iris thought the heat was kinder in autumn. Autumn heat is not sharp like heat in spring, where the sun is just starting to pierce the remaining chill of winter. In autumn the heat is gentle and relaxed; no need to try too hard. The sun's work for the year is done and now it's just easing itself off in search of new surroundings.

Iris didn't much mind seasons changing... she'd seen enough of them not to become too concerned about the temperature adjusting one way or the other for a few months. Once you reached a certain age you picked a jacket you liked and wore it all year round regardless of weather. It was just easier.

Iris liked to imagine that in winter the sun had another home it went to live in. As she and Colin would have done had they had the money and the fearlessness. She thought the sun probably enjoyed the break from the English gridlock. It was kind enough to leave it's wintry hologram up there to light the days for them, but Iris knew that it wasn't the real sun. Neither was the summer sun real to her; the summer sun was too grandiose, too imposing... too eager to show off to holiday makers and doubters. She felt the summer sun showed off like a teenager whose parents had tolerant friends over - the sort who might coo over a mantle piece performance or two. It was the autumn sun that she liked best; when the campers had trailed back up the M5, the Spanish students had gone home to their Spanish desks, and country life was back to normal. Then the sun seemed genuine... it seemed to relax - content to give it's best few weeks to people at home in their gardens. Late evening BBQs and frantic veg patch preparation could be done with this friendly orange face nearby to say, "Well done, we did it. Another year's busy season done."

As she sat on the green canvas, reclinable chair the thought crossed Iris' mind that sun worship didn't seem so daft when you really thought about it. There was much stronger evidence for a causal link between the sun and prosperity than there was for a God. She'd always thought it lightly amusing that people had once offered gifts up to a ball of gas like the sun, but now, as she sat with only the sun for company, she realised that actually she had a lot to be grateful to it for. She and Colin had always loved the sun... sought it out for holidays, made the most of it in their own gardening, and added a conservatory as soon as they had realised conservatories existed. After Colin died, the sun had been the first solace Irisfound. His death had brought dull panic to a life she quickly discovered had been emotionally privileged to the utmost. She'd felt routinely crushed by the daily bouts of realisation that this new life was permanent and that all the empty spaces opened up by a lack of Colin, were now constant. For the first time in her life Iris had wished for children - begged the heavens to let her wake up having had a child with Colin 40 years ago so that now she'd have another version of his face to miss his old one with her. But every day she'd woken up childless and alone in a house that felt too big for the love she had left for it. Her own attention to it couldn't fill the corners any more and the visitors who shuffled round kept leaving tupperware dishes of good intentions that would sit in her fridge for days while she stared at them. She didn't want to reheat a lasagne portion and eat it in front of the TV, she wanted to chop an onion for a soup while the pips played on the radio and Colin chose that exact moment to wash up and get under her feet.

She'd felt wretched without him. The sort of heartache you thought you'd left behind in your teenage years could still find you despite your wrinkled disguise. Iris hadn't been totally sure if she was allowed to cry and wail and stay in bed, or if people would think that odd. She felt an unspoken assumption that if your partner died in old age, you were supposed to be ready and prepared for it. The fact that you knew it was coming and had already spent a life together, meant you didn't have many hard feelings about him going now. Iris didn't have hard feelings - she'd had wet feelings; mushy and limp feelings. Feelings that made her want to keep her eyes closed because thoughts didn't settle so firmly if you were looking at the colour lights on the black of your eyelids.

She clearly remembered that the sun was the first thing that made her want to bother being Iris without Colin. She'd been hungry, and a panicked loyalty had overwhelmed her brain so that she couldn't bear the thought of eating anything but Colin's tomatoes. She wanted to show him how she still loved him - she wanted to fill herself with something he had put so much time into. She wanted any tiny, miserable way to be with him. She'd slipped out the back door, up the step, along the path and down to the grow bags at the front of the greenhouse. Then she sank to her knees and began piling tomatoes into her mouth... red, round... green and hopelessly unripe... yellowing... she pushed fruit after fruit into her mouth. Not letting a single pip fall from her mouth to be wasted. Then she sat back down onto the grass and just cried. A tear for every second she had loved that man, and an extra one for every long minute she now had to 'get on with it' without him. She cried until she was exhausted and then just lay back on the grass and drifted off to sleep. When she woke, her first thought was how pleasant the burning sun felt on her skin. It was like fingers massaging into her cheek bones. As her drowsy thoughts came awake and she remembered why she was lying in the garden, she realised that for the first time since his death her first waking thought had not been Colin. The sun had given her a few brief moments of respite - the smallest insight into the possibility that one day there would be more thoughts that weren't of a lack of Colin. The sun had given her hope.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

You and your lations.

I went swimming today and, because I can't swim so much as I can deftly lollop through the water like a cramping barrell, I was using the slow lane. The slow lane in my local pool contains three different types of people:

1. Elderly women who are less interested in swimming and more interested in standing in the shallow end having a nice chat. One can only assume it's nice for them to know they are wet for a reason and not just because they can no longer handle the witty repartee without Tena assistance.

2. Hairy yet very attractive men who are pretending not to look at the other hairy attractive men.

3. Uncomfortable people of middling age, middling weight, middling swimming ability who desperately want to be in the medium pace lane but are worried they'll upset someone. These people haven't really swum since the days of school swimming where the one chunky girl in the class inexplicably got a week off every month, and everyone got over excited at the thought of a free play swim time instead of endless lengths.


As I turned around at one end of the pool, someone smiled at me and asked me how I was getting on. I said:

"Oh, it's ok. I hate swimming actually. I just hate swimming slightly less than I hate running so I'm here."

She laughed, which was great and I've subsequently added it to my comedy CV for sending out to presenters. I continued...

"I'm getting married next year and I just wanted to work on my figure a bit before the dress fittings."

Her: "Congratulations."

Me: "Thanks."

She swam off and I continued my lengths with ever decreasing levels of finesse.

Had I had something else to do I would have not thought about the exchange again. But I didn't have anything else to do... all I could do was continue swimming behind this nice lady and wish I could in some way catch up with her and say "By the way, I care intermittently about the health and appearance of my body at other times in the year too - not just when I have a wedding coming up. I'm not that kind of woman."

But maybe I am that kind of woman. I am the kind of woman who grins from ear to ear at the end of the make-me-skinny-pool because someone else has congratulated me on getting married soon. Because, I deserve congratulations, don't I? I've won haven't I? I've got one?

Marriage and weddings still have that hold over us that it's an accomplishment - it's something you've achieved. It's a life goal that you've conquered. I somehow think we view marriage as different to love. Falling in love is easy - marriage, so I'm told, is not.

Is a woman congratulating me on getting married sinister? Is it some hark back to the dark ages if I grin and widely accept the congratulations? Am I revelling in the delight that someone has got me and is going to make my life easier? Or, is the congratulations better than that? Is it "congratulations on deciding your fluttery new love is worth stapling down so that when it inevitably gets difficult, you can look back and know that at some point you felt so seriously about this being forever that you made the biggest noise possible to shout about it so it's much harder to let it slip away quietly"?

I wasn't too worried about my comment on trying to look good for the wedding. The truth is I have a tempestuous relationship with food that's quite hard to casually describe to an unsuspecting woman making small talk at the side of a pool. Much easier to say "I want to be a size 8 bride" than "sometimes I cry because I've only eaten a cube of cheese in 24 hours and my brain's melted because it thought even that was too many calories". I think the poor thing would probably have fled for the medium paced lane and sod the rest of them had I opened that can of worms-lite.*

So there I was swimming up and down the pool under the beady eye of the life guard (who I just knew was judging my stroke and my life choices) suddenly wondering if I should be getting married at all. Because someone had congratulated me. A sort of misguided feminist cold feet I suppose. Cold feet that were kicking up a shit storm behind me in the face of the grey ladies of Kemp Town.

I think I'm getting married for the right reasons... I'm getting married because I love my relationship, have done for a few years, and hope to keep it similar to this for the rest of my life. I could live without getting married, but I also really want to do it. I don't think marriage will change anything immediately and I'm certainly not expecting an expensive party to miraculously fix anything.

I think I know that the people at my wedding, the people I love the most, will be congratulating me for the right reasons. They won't be praising me for slipping off the shelf and into the arms of someone eligible. They'll be congratulating us for having made each other's lives better and having made it really easy to have great dinner parties because we are now a team.

I'm sad that I felt bad about getting married, but I'm grateful to that woman for congratulating me because it made me have quite a long hard think about it all. But I shan't be going swimming again just in case.


*The only reason I mention this element, which is very personal obviously, is because I think the more people talking about horrible, awkward, ridiculous issues like these the better. I do not want any sympathy but if it helps someone else to know they're not alone I say shout about stuff like this from the roof tops when you're feeling strong enough.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Musical

I'm not normally one for topical comedy or writing. My general opinion of my own level of education is low; I never feel informed enough to weigh in with words on current affairs. However, this week seems to have been a big week for events that are shaking the foundations of humanity. And, for once, I feel like I have something informed to say.

It feels like we're living in a time where people in a position of power are stooping to new lows. Malicious actions with effects that ruin peoples' lives are one thing, but the worst element seems to be the way people are not stepping in. How can the world stand by and watch as someone takes what doesn't belong to them and destroys another person in the process? How can this be something we're OK with?

I'm talking, of course, about Diana's fatal blow to Iain the bearded wonder in this week's Great British Bake Off.

What? The Actual F.U.C.K?

As the great Irishman himself put it, "Who takes someone else's ice cream out of the freezer?"

WHO DOES THAT DIANA?

And, yes, maybe Iain did have his own freezer and maybe that's where his ice cream should have been... but would it have killed you Diana to have asked him to move it instead of just leaving it out on the side in 25 degree heat?

Of course, you can't get too mad at Diana. She was under stress, she was pressured, she had the all seeing iris' of Hollywood boring in to the back of her head. But was there not a single camera operator or runner or producer that could have seen her activities with the stolen Alaska? Could they not have intervened? Or is this where television has got to these days? Has decades of awful Big Brother programming reduced the Great British Public to enjoying the kind of demeaning activities that we saw in the tent this week?

We'd rather have big viewing numbers and exciting TV than have a gentle Irish giant through to the next round with some sesame ice cream to be proud of. It's not even that I think the Baked Alaska would have been good - I'm confident he would have ballsed it up even without Diana's help but that is not the freaking point.

Gosh darn it that tent full of flour and Mel & Sue goodness is my sacred place where I know no harm can come to me. Some people have the arms of a loved one or a happy place in their head... but my closest friend is my Sat Nav and I can't remember the last time I ate a meal with someone else. So I need this. I need that marquee of dreams where the best rise to the challenge and the worst sink under the pressure and crumble before the might of the Berry.

I don't think I'm going too far when I say that that marquee represents a silken walled dream space where jams and flour dusting patch up the worst woes of the world and cover them in carbohydrates. If you let even the slightest element of foul play in through the glorious, flexible walls, then really, I ask you, is GBBO any better than the Kremlin? Are we taking the very thing we're using to distract ourselves from the evil cess pit sliding rapidly towards destruction we call society, and making it a microcosm of the problems we're avoiding?

Please, BBC, I'm begging you... don't take it away from me. Let's see justice. Let's see Iain resurrected. Sure, you can't go back in time and put him back in the show and neither would I want you to, because he was dreadful, but how about we give him his own show? Eh? A terrible show where he mumbles through a full bushel of oddly tinged beard and shows us exactly how not to do anything particularly adeptly? And in the corner Berry will be dressed as Princess Leia on a chaise longue while Hollywood is caged and taunted by men in Spartan costumes. Mel and Sue will be there, with their guest: ME! We'll be having a lovely encouraging time and telling Iain we largely don't even care about the baking because it's always really been about the pastel colours and the equipment envy.

And someone else will fix the rest of the world. Probably UKIP I expect.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In a Plastic Cup

Yesterday the news that Robin Williams had died was all social media was concerned about. I wrote about it, something I've never done before for the death of a celebrity, and something that I saw criticised quite a lot across various media platforms.

Some people got quite angry about people who didn't know Williams personally writing a message about what they'd thought of him. I think I saw it called "competitive grieving". I found it interesting that people would have a problem with it; preferring to believe people are crass than emotional is a nice way to feel like you are above such ridiculous reactions possibly? And in some cases, I suppose I did look at a few statuses and think - "Yikes! Bit much?" But it's not for me to criticise people disliking the grief any more than for them to criticise the grief.

What it did make me think though, was that perhaps this anger stems not from people having a love for the deceased, but from this love having never really been shown up until this point. The death may have felt like a bandwagon rather than a jolt to realise you'd had affection for a face you didn't know? How many people daily had a status about Williams prior to that? Very few. So of course it might seem odd that someone suddenly couldn't live without him somewhere in the ether.

What with my Facebook and Twitter being largely comics and creatives I had a plethora of tributes to read from people who had been influenced by Williams as one of their earliest comic idols. It was really interesting to read and very moving. It got me thinking... who would mine be? Who will I one day be writing for when I am shocked and saddened they are gone?

I don't want to wait. I have decided from now on to write the occasional tribute to someone still out there that I think is brilliant. Someone famous, someone not so famous, but someone who I want to recognise now might have that capacity to give me a jolt when they are gone. The cynics among you might think of this as a crafty way to wave an "I loved them" flag now so that my future grieving is legitimised. But you can fuck off.

So. To Eddie Izzard. The man I have loved since I was about 11 and my parents had a copy of Glorious on cassette. At first I remember it being on in the car - I thought it was weird. I didn't know what stand-up comedy was and it took me a while to work out the genre... not quite story telling and not quite anything else. The genre just seemed to be "being silly".

I fell in love.

The cassette was fairly swiftly stolen from the car by my sister and me, and it came to live in our bedroom. We were never very good at falling asleep and Glorious quite quickly replaced George's Marvellous Medecine as our bed time reading. I remember the opening music really used to give me chills... it's odd, spooky music and I wasn't keen. But then Eddie's voice would kick in... "Hamm-ersmith Apollo! Apollo! The God of the sun..." and so on and so o. I remember the intonation as though it was my own material.

Having it on cassette meant I didn't know a lot of the actions. I had no idea he ran around like such a perfect giraffe, I didn't know he wore lipstick, and I didn't understand some of the laughs he was getting. But then, I didn't understand a lot of his laughs anyway because the references were too much for me. But the imagery he put into my tiny stand-up virgin brain was incredible. I had no idea what the 6 million dollar man was but I had my own Izzard version played by the Queen and it was funny enough in its own right for me not to need to know the original.

Even looking back now, I find it hard to watch Glorious and pick it apart as material like I would do to someone else. For me it is total woven magic. Blurry lines between each of his lines, seamless and carefree, chasing a picture across the stage and then smashing it with a sledgehammer.

"Rwanda doesn't work very well."

I vaguely knew what Rwanda was, but that image of him dragging Rwanda back to lie it back down was incredible. Mind fireworks exploding left right and centre for things this grown adult must be doing on the stage.

His section on losing his mother and Diana was an absolute lightning bolt. I thought for a long time he must be lying about that - how could someone quite easily talk about that and then go straight back in to being very funny? I found him very impressive for having that little cold section in the middle in between the big beards and the French dogs.

Many, many years later and Eddie Izzard had become a major feature in my relationship with my sister. We'd since gone on to discover Definite Article and Dress to Kill on VHS, and then for my 17th birthday my sister took me to Birmingham (A CITY?!) to see Sexie. Wow. Probably the best birthday present I had ever, or have ever, been given. It was amazing. I laughed and laughed and bought merchandise and didn't even care that he was so far away I watched the whole thing on the big screen. It was incredible.

I remember buying a copy of Sexie when it came out and being so bitterly disappointed that it was nowhere near as funny as that live show had been. I would defensively tell anyone who would listen that the reason it didn't seem as funny was that it had been filmed really early in the tour before it had been developed as far. I have no idea where I got that theory from but I defended him, it, and my birthday with an iron will.

When I went away to University and I moved from Somerset to Kent and missed my family something chronic, my sister filled my first birthday card after the move with little cut out paper bees so that when I opened it I would be "covered in beeeeees!" and I stuck each tiny bee onto the wall of my halls around my giant "Labyrinth" poster. Yes, I was extremely cool in my first year. No wonder I didn't have a single boy back to my room for the entire year. I was chronically lonely in my first year... I hated going clubbing, I just wanted to do acting and I couldn't seem to get a part for love nor money. But then in the first reading week my mum brought my little TV VCR combo over to Kent and suddenly I had company in my little room. Eddie was back and with his videos came the idea to go into town and buy more videos from the million charity shops in Canterbury. I had Alexei Sale, Tim Vine I think, and various other contributions. Eddie was still my favourite and it was an extremely pleasing thing to know that he was to my taste - he wasn't just the only flavour I'd ever had. Billy Connolly was up there in Eddie's league but Izzard still had the top spot in my heart.

I studied him for my dissertation at the end of my masters... I used an excellent clip of Phil Jupitus doing an impression of Eddie at We Know Where You Live, Live to write an essay on the levels of comedy in the clip. You're laughing at Star Wars, you're laughing at Phil, you're laughing at Eddie, you're laughing at the cleverness of Phil's writing in the style of Eddie, you're laughing at the actual jokes Phil has, and you're laughing at the relationship between the two (Izzard was compering the gig). I love this clip and, having just watched it back there, I still find it just as funny now even after having studied it. The same cannot be said of Waiting for Godot.

I've never gigged with Eddie Izzard and I've not seen him live since that birthday 11 years ago in Birmingham. But I did have the pleasure of meeting him very briefly last year when I was performing in a play in Brighton and he happened to be staying in the hotel we were performing at. It is the only time in my life I have ever just had to go and say hello to a celebrity and tell them how much I admired them. Yes, bit pathetic looking back, but he shook my hand and asked my name and told me to carry on with stand up as he thought there really should be more females doing it. I was shaking like a leaf. One day I'd really hope to catch him on a bill in a tiny club and see him where I love comedy being the most. To gig on the same bill as him would be a dream and terrifying all at the same time. He's the direction I hope my material moves in - towards the caricature and the mini-play and the downright silly logic. He's also the first glue that started to hold my relationship with my sister together and that's a weird thing to attribute to a man who had no intention of doing that. Possibly a bit creepy. I don't know.

But, Eddie Izzard, I salute you. Thank you for introducing me to stand up comedy and for remaining my favourite long after I'd discovered Mitch Hedberg and Simon Munnery and Tim Minchin and Billy Connolly and Richard Pryor. Hero #1.