Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Visiting Lenny & Dawn: Part 2

MY NOVEMBER 2000 VISIT WITH LENNY HENRY & DAWN FRENCH
a true life Dave Sim adventure

[Continued from Part 1...] This was the reason that Lenny had invited me over: FRENCH & SAUNDERS UK or FSUK. They were touring for the first time in ten years. I suspect that part of Lenny's motivation was "Dawn liked Dave. I'm in the doghouse with Dawn so maybe I can get out of the doghouse by asking Dave to come over." Probably not the best of moves since it was on the trip he had been returning home from when I met him that the cheating incident took place.

The event program was VERY funny: a send-up of HELLO magazine with Dawn and Jennifer Saunders pretending to be a famous lesbian couple adopting their first child: TINY SISSY TEARS. Dusting around the house while wearing an opera gown and tiara. That kind of thing. VERY droll bits, like Dawn with her finger sticking in the doll's eye. Reading between the lines, you realize that the reason they've adopted a child is publicity -- like a world exclusive in HELLO magazine. I'm sure HELLO magazine wasn't terribly amused. I actually "liberated" a copy of HELLO magazine from the guest flat so I could explain the joke to North Americans.

Dawn said to me, "You should have been here last night. SURE was here." Who? She had to repeat it a few times. Oh, CHER! Wow. I was impressed. Here I was breathing the same air that Cher had been breathing the night before!

I got the program signed by both of them backstage. When I was introduced to Jennifer Saunders she said, "Oh, yes. You're Lenny's hero." Which, obviously, had something more of an edge to it than it had when I had been there for his 40th birthday party two years before.

My VIP backstage lanyard. Never having been backstage before, I didn't know what to expect. We basically sat around and ate stuff and watched television. What did we watch on television? Whatever Jennifer Saunders' kids WANTED to watch on television. Lenny and I chatted about this and that, but there was no question that it was a bit awkward. "I'm With Lenny" wasn't the best credential to have backstage at a French & Saunders show in November of 2000. I mean, I was also there because of Dawn. I was glad she signed the program "Your chum".

I did take the two of them out for dinner one night. It didn't seem strained (to me), but then they're actor and actress -- part of their job is acting one way when they're actually feeling another way. I remember saying to them at one point, "I wish you could see how people react to you. People just light up when they see it's you. Just by walking past them you've given them a memorable moment." Obviously a double-edged sword and I didn't "get" how sharp the other edge can be.


a) The playbill for Jerry Hall who was playing in THE GRADUATE just around the corner from Lenny and Dawn's guest flat in Soho where I was staying. b) Me doing my best Mick Jagger impression for Dawn French at Lenny's 40th birthday party and...

I guess b) was on her mind when Dawn said to me, early in the 2000 visit, "Do you want me to fix you up with Jerry Hall while you're over here? She isn't seeing anyone right now." This tied in weirdly with Lenny saying to me at one point when I first got there, "But! You're like a rock star!" I don't even remember the context. All I could do was laugh. "I'm glad I had YOU fooled. I was never a rock star. I may have had more than my share of girlfriends and one-night stands, but… that's all over now." I had just fasted in Ramadan for the second time. Having "split hairs" over fornication and adultery in RICK'S STORY, I had decided they were in the same general box and needed to be kicked out to my personal curb.

It was weird, because I thought, "Actually it would be fun to have dinner with a beautiful Texas woman in London and talk about Texas. Who ELSE is going to talk to her about Texas in the UK?"

But. When a woman asks if you want to be "fixed up" with another woman when both you and the woman in question are there temporarily, that's not usually what she's talking about. I pictured Jerry Hall saying "I thought you said this guy was FUN! All he wanted to do was to talk about God and Texas -- in that order!"


This, to me, was the best thing about the flat in Soho -- it was just down the street from St. Patrick's Church. Which was open all day. I mean, you could just walk in and pray whenever you wanted to. You can't do that in Canada for the most part. Our churches are locked up tight as a drum except for a few hours on Sunday. I thought all churches were like that, worldwide!

Once I got over the sense that I was "getting away with something" going into a church and praying without -- you know -- "clearing" my prayer with whomever was in charge, I noticed they had a brochure about West End Catholic Churches. So I picked one up and then entertained myself by going out and finding them all and praying in each one. Sort of like the reverse of all the landmarks Gull goes to in FROM HELL. Maybe they describe a lop-sided triangle or half a Star of David or something.

9 comments:

Eddie said...

This is awesome!

"To boldly...ah say...to boldly go where Prince Mick has gone before!"

Anyone able to get a shape out of the points? I feel like I'm trying to solve one of those brain teasers: "Connect the churches on the map using only 5 lines and you will see an aardvark appear." Or something like that.

David Birdsong said...

All I can focus on is the fact that Dave met the brains behind Absolutely Fabulous, one of the funniest shows ever and thanks to BBC America I got to see it.

And cringing along with him a bit... no one wants to hang out with a couple that is going through a marriage threatening moment.

Anonymous said...

Dave's comment that Canadian churches "are locked up tight as a drum except for a few hours on Sunday" makes me wonder about Kitchener. Such is definitely not the case in Edmonton, Fredericton, Kingston, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Saskatoon, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Whitehorse, Winnipeg, and many more cities where I've wandered into Catholic churches unannounced and unmolested pretty much any time of day, any day of the week.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, obl

Tony Dunlop said...

I haven't been to Canada much, but there's a beautiful old church in central Montreal that's definitely open all the time. Of course it's a big tourist attraction, but you can go in and pray, too (I did). Don't recall the name but I'm sure anyone from Quebec would know it.

Sean R said...

So, all day I've been working on High Society, listening to two albums by my favorite songwriter of all time, Kate Bush. (More on Kate Bush as the world's greatest living songwriter here-- http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2014/09/kate-bush-and-the-sensual-world/)

And during the course of the day I mull over this story a bit. Never actually heard of Lenny Henry before, tho of course I know French and Saunders. And all of the sudden it occurs to me-- isn't there some guest singer on this Kate Bush album I'm enjoying so much named something similar?

I pull out the credits on a break and....

It's Lenny Henry singing on that song.

No, really.

Now I'm waiting for next week when Dave has a post entitled "The Time I was Kate Bush's birthday present."

David Birdsong said...

Which song Sean? I have all of Kate's stuff, but I rarely listen to it any more except for The Dreaming and Hounds Of Love.

Sean R said...

He sings on Kate's collaboration with Prince. Amazing song, amazing vocals, frankly, amazing coincidence. Complete coincidence.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3j4pgqdwNA

Tony again said...

*sigh* What I would've given to be in London to see at least one of Kate's shows this fall...

Sean R said...

More info here about the strange events that led to Prince, Lenny Henry, and the Trio Bulgarka all singing on the same Kate Bush song. Unfortunately, no Dave Sim in this article, but by now I wouldn't be surprised if he had ended up on there too.

http://prince.org/msg/7/379765