I went to the Seattle Hotel nervous. I swopped my talk around and around in my head but finally settled on my original idea.
I arrived at the bar at the hotel. Greeted by Gareth, my agent, and Judy Cornwall, with her husband John and Jenny Hanley, both ladies I knew. This didn’t lower my tension.
With a glass of red wine, I decided not to have lunch with them but arranged to get back in the hotel by 2 o’clock. I walked around the Marina. Eventually ended at a pub that didn’t serve beer, so I had a half of Guinness and smoked a couple of fags.
I arrived at the hotel and went into the room where there were about forty or fifty people who had finished their lunch. Gareth introduced me. Applause. And I started talking. There was a certain amount of laughter (I did have a couple of funnies in my locker) and possibly more importantly they listened. They a lady fainted, nothing to do with me I assure you, and had to be taken out on the terrace. I picked up my thread and continued.
The fifteen minutes allotted time was out of the window. I remember Max Miller, who was a very famous British comedian in the forties and fifties. I saw him many times at the Brighton Hippodrome. The story of him running over time when doing a Royal Command Performance is worth telling bearing in my caviler disregard to the clock.
Max is on second to last in R.C.P. The manager of Moss Empires, the biggest chain of Variety theaters in the land, tells Max. ‘Look, you’ve got twelve minutes, I don’t want Jack Benny, who’s following you, hanging around. And anyway, he’s a bigger star than you.’
Max took exception to last remark. He goes on stage. The act is going well. He sees the manager waving to him from the wings. Max takes no notice. He’s going well. Finally he comes off stage.
The manager is fuming. ‘You’ve done it now, Max, you’re never, never work in our theaters again.‘ Max smiled at him, and said. ‘You’re £100,000 too late, son.’
Well I’m not Max. Anyway, I finished. More applause. I sell ten books. Thrilled. One more drink then home. I’d taken twenty books with me (always the optimist). I emptied the bag but there only nine left. Sold ten. Ah.
Someone had nicked one. What a cheek!