This week I got to see two Queens of the 80s - Sandra Bernhard and Pam Ayres.
Both were there through my childhood years - Pam quietly wry about the dentist, Sandra summing up what was great about late night tv - if it didn't feature shrieking incoherence, what was the point?
How exciting to see these two ladies (of a surprisingly similar age) in the same week. Ann got us tickets to Pam's new sitcom, in which Pam plays a character called Pam. She also does a poem about a contact lens and proves she has looked after her teeth by eating a carrot. After two hours we staggered out onto the street. Ann sighed, "I feel I've been gentled to death."
Sandra was different. She staggered on an hour late, scything rapidly through her audience of vile queens. With the politness of the truly depraved, her act was ruthlessly clean. Pam actually talked about sex more - but whenever she mentioned the missionary position the audience shifted nervously from one buttock to the next.
As to who was nicer, I can only apply The Cliff Test. This is when you imagine what someone's reaction would be when discovering you dangling from a cliff. Having seen Pam in action, I can imagine her surprisingly flinty gaze settling on me as she intones "From here the view is very 'igh/I rather think you're going to die."
Wheareas Sandra wouldn't blink before she'd pulled you to safety, poured you a brandy, and tossed you to her fags.
After Sandra, I went to Central Station for a quick drink. It seemed a fairly normal night (no leather or paddling pools in sight). I sat out on the roof garden, smoking and listening to a group of men fantasizing about David Tennant. It was raining gently, and all seemed calm. Then a naked fat man wandered out and lit a cigarette.
With the communion of smokers we all nodded amiably at each other. But all I could think was "Where does he keep the cigarettes?"