Saturday, September 01, 2018

In which I put words in Stephen Fry's mouth


When the Liberal Revue was first staged in the 1980s its star writer and performer was Mark Tavener.
I met in him in those days, but did not know him well.

By the time I was moving in such circles with confidence he had gone on to better things, writing a comic novel and then the scripts BBC Radio 4 comedies.

Those comedies, because they were in part about the BBC itself, attracted stellar casts. Michael Willams. Barry Foster. Jim Carter. Rebecca Front. Anton Rodgers. Julian Rhind-Tutt. Peter Serafinowicz. John Bird. Stephen Fry.

Radio Four Extra often repeats them – at present they are broadcasting the third series of Absolute Power.

I listened to episode 2 the other day and found an exchange between John Bird and Stephen Fry oddly familiar.

As PR consultants working for Downing Street they discuss how to deal with a recalcitrant trade union leader. They propose - at 7:30 or thereabouts in the programme - leaking a story that he has been indulging in fellatio on his patio.

I recognise that rhyme. It surely comes from Country Garden, a Glee Club song a group of Liberator people came up with in a North London suburban garden when we were meant to be writing scripts for the Liberal Revue.

The song made the national press some years later when new verses were added referring to the alleged incident of David Cameron and the pig’s head, but it was originally written as a protest against some anti-sex measure of the Blair government.

We all contributed verses, and “There’ll be no fellatio on the patio” was one of mine.

As John Bird points out, it is not a perfect rhyme. But then I don’t suppose patios had reached Market Harborough in those days.

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