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Friday, 28 January 2011

My night with Sir Les Patterson - and my other most embarassing moment

If you don't know who this great man is, well, what a cultural experience you've missed.

He has been described as obese, lecherous and offensive, which goes to show that in the world of politics John Prescott has competition.

But let me tell you more.

In the '60s when the world was young and so was I, a strip cartoon in Private Eye gave me great joy every week.

It recounted the picaresque adventures of its hero, an Aussie bloke in London called Barry McKenzie. To this day I recall with delight one phrase for eructation: "Pointing Percy at the Porcelain".

The author of this delightful production was Barry Humphries, who has been adding to the dwindling stock of public pleasure ever since under various guises, the most famous being Sir Les Patterson - as seen at his best above - and Dame Edna Everage.

You can stuff your Crocodile Dundees. Barry is streets ahead. He is the ultimate master of taking the piss. Although it's very Australian, I think anyone with a sense of humour and who hates politicians will enjoy the little extract below.


Barry Humphries is also extraordinarily polite, civilised and forgiving, as I learned when I met him some years ago in Sydney. My genial host - not Barry, but a friend called Michael Ball who took me to Barry's for dinner - had filled me up with good wine in advance. He must have regretted his hospitality ever since.

I behaved appallingly as I recall, trying (I feel ashamed just thinking about it) to make an impression and, God help me, maybe even flirt with the beautiful lady next to me. Not a good move: she was Barry's wife.

He said nothing about my antics, just carried on talking in the most entertaining way you can imagine. A gentleman and scholar - but what a boor I was.

This was the second most embarrassing evening I can recall, but I have a queasy feeling that there have been others I don't.

The most awful one involved The Duke of Edinburgh and David Ogilvy. I will save that for another time.

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