Thursday, July 29, 2004

Barry Cryer: Pigs Can fly

Barry Cryer is not exactly a household name, even in the UK.  But he appears on television and radio quite a lot, usually telling stories about show-business personalities that he has worked with over the years.  Now he has put together a book of such stories: Pigs Can Fly.  And, in spite of the sole lukewarm review (three stars) on, it’s actually a very funny book.

Cryer is nearly 70 years old, and he started to mix with the great comedians of the post-war era at a very early age.  Over the years he has written gags and scripts for virtually all of them: Max Miller, Tony Hancock, Peter Cooke, Frankie Howerd, Kenny Everett, Spike Milligan, Benny Hill, and so forth.  And even if he hasn’t worked with them at some point, he knows a story about them.

Pigs Can Fly is simply an anthology of anecdotes about these people.  And since, in addition to being famous, most of them were richly eccentric, it’s a thoroughly entertaining read.  This is an ideal book for the smallest room in the house – or whatever you happen to call the toilet/lavatory/bog/loo/crapper/bathroom.

Incidentally, and not that it’s remotely relevant to Barry Cryer, but in a house in Pont Street, London, I once saw a genuine lavatory cistern made by one Thomas Crapper.  And, lo and behold, the firm still exists.  The website tells us that ‘it is popularly thought that Mr. Crapper invented the W.C., and that the vulgar word for faeces is a derivative of his name, but neither belief is true.  However, etymologists attest that the American word, ‘crapper’, for the W.C. is directly from his name.’  So now you know.

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