On Friday 6th May 2011 I hit the big 30. The biggest difficulty in this was deciding what to do in order to mark such an occasion and I think, on originality alone, I should win an award. I went to see the Legend that is Roy Walker do stand up in an upside down purple cow.
Ok, I know this sounds like I sat at home, dropped some acid and blogged about the consequences but this did indeed take place. I’m sure you’ve seen the purple ‘Udderbelly’ cow on E4. Well for 12 weeks, at the Southbank centre in London, the cow in question has set up residence to bring you some of the best and most obscure comedy going and at the top of my list to see was Roy Walker who happened to be on the day of my birthday. So flights and hotel were booked and off to London I went.
I loved Catchphrase when I was young and given that it was hosted by a fellow Northern Irishman made it even better. I’m sure most of you remember sitting at home playing along with Roy and Mr Chips. It was just awesome. So a chance to see Roy in the flesh was hard to resist so I headed down to Southbank with my girlfriend, under the gaze of the London eye, and was not disappointed. There it was, a big inflatable upside down purple cow surrounded by bars and food outlets. We sat in the sun, enjoyed a burger and a beer, and just watched the world go by as we waited for the show to start. Eventually the call came out and we entered the Belly of the Beast to find a stage inside.
The cow filled up ready for the show to start and start it did. Roy came out to all the glory of the Catchphrase theme and I could not have been more excited. He started with some rather old school comedy. You know, actual jokes, innocent with a hint of blue to them. The kind of comedy we’ve been missing for many years now. It was just amazing if slightly surreal.
After about half an hour of wetting ourselves laughing Roy decided to start playing a game of Catchphrase with the audience. It was like a dream come true. The screen showed the catchphrase in question and we shouted out the answers, much like I did as a kid watching this on TV. A few t-shirts were handed out, featuring his face emblazened with the single most honest description below it. One word: Legend.
He then talked about his time doing Carpark Catchphrase on the Chris Moyles Show on Radio 1 clearly delighted at reliving his glory days on the radio.
The next part happened in a flash. He asked for volunteers to play Carpark catchphrase on stage with him. A burst of cold sweat hit me. I couldn’t go up on stage but God did I want that T-shirt. I went through a thousand scenarios in my head in a matter of seconds. I could feel the adrenaline surge as I…lapped it. I couldn’t do it. He picked a guy from the front and was looking a girl. I had missed my chance. Then in a heroic moment reminiscent of ‘going over the top’ at the Somme I watched speechless as a hand beside me when up and my Girlfriend got up from her seat and made her way to the stage.
I sat there dumstruck, not believing the events unfolding before me. It was my 30th Birthday and I was watching my Girlfriend on stage with the one and only Roy Walker, playing Catchphrase so that I would have a T-shirt for my Birthday. Ok, she lost in the end but she did get me that T-shirt and two beers from Roy himself. I cheered like I had just scored the winning goal in the Champions League final. Unbelievable.
If that doesn’t win the prize for most original 30th birthday celebration then I don’t know what will and in case you don’t believe me here’s the video to prove it:
It was, needless to say, the best yet most unusual Birthday ever.
For more info on the festival check it out here: