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Thursday 25th August 2016


The most amazing consequence of my trip to the United States is that despite eating loads of bacon, waffles and beef burgers and doing no exercise I have somehow come back lighter than when I set off. I had a feeling that most of the food I ate had little nutritional value and was mainly made of sugar and salt, but maybe it was empty of calories too.

So the fat people in America must be the ones who eat healthily. It really is the Twilight Zone out there.

After a difficult night with Phoebe thinking it was time to wake up at midnight and then wanting to play for four hours, I slept in a bit in the morning, but I had to get up to go in for a meeting with potential producers for my new Radio 4 sitcom, “Relativity”. How I had been so stupid as to arrange an important thing like this on the day after I got back from holiday and was going to befuddled and not know up from down? I was running slightly late and clammy and thirsty from the humidity and jet lag, but I got lucky with a bus arriving at the exact right time and was only ten minutes overdue.

It turned out though that I was actually 6 days, 23 hours and 50 minutes early as the meeting was actually next Thursday. Of course I hadn’t arranged a meeting so close to my holiday. I knew I wasn’t that stupid.

I felt less embarrassed than I should have done. But I had jet lag to blame and at least this had got me out of bed. 

I had hoped to make a start on the first AIOTM studio script today, as it’s terrifyingly only just over a fortnight away (though I stay true to the spirit of the original I won’t start any work until September 10th), but being prepared was never in the original ethos was it? At the moment we don’t have a script or a set and we’ve got quite a few tickets to sell. But build it and they will come. That’s apparently a guarantee. To be fair, my trip to America has given me quite a lot to talk about. I am wondering whether if I start writing now I might have enough material for a short audio version and a longer video one. We will see.

I am sure there will be stuff on the night that doesn’t make it into either and the more people who come to see the show live, the more sketches we can film - so book here if you want to be part of the coolest bunch of nerds in London town.

Instead I did some chores. It’s sort of fun doing a supermarket shop through the fug and confusion of jet lag. I think our trolley probably ended up looking like the bizarre collection of items you’d get on Supermarket Sweep. We were both parched and so bought some drinks which we drank as we shopped. We wondered if someone might swoop down and arrest us even though we intended to pay for the drinks at the checkout. Given my many successful shoplifting campaigns over the years, (for which I have never got caught and which I like to taunt the authorities with in blog and radio form) it would have been ironic to have been arrested for something that was not an intended theft. It added a frisson to the shop. But when we got to the checkout the man happily scanned through our empty bottles and threw them away, so we weren’t the only ones who have done this.

Actually I was once caught for shoplifting and it was an another occasion when I wasn’t actually really doing it. I was 17 and a very good boy, who would never consider stealing anything (except for the occasional 50p from my mum’s purse or a Trio bar from the pantry but that DOES NOT COUNT). I was in the queue for the refreshment bar in our sixth form common room, when I noticed the dinner lady on duty was not really paying attention to anything. So I thought I would teach her a valuable lesson. I picked a Twix off the counter (and the fact that I chose a Twix should prove to you how unserious I was - if I was really stealing something why would I select such a mediocre bar that nobody loves or hates?) and then held it behind my back. My intention was to reveal my “theft” as I got to the head of the queue to let the woman know how cavalier she was being. But unfortunately for me, I hadn’t been that observant myself and I put it behind my back just as the head dinner lady was approaching behind me. Even though I explained what I was doing and pointed out that real shop lifters don’t just put things behind their back but into pockets or bags, she did not believe me. I can’t remember if I got into any actual trouble for it, but my dad (headmaster at the time of course) was certainly told and occasionally comments that the dinner lady in question is still certain I was a thief. 

I wasn’t a thief then (family thefts aside) but I did become one later. Was it the fact that I was tarred as a shoplifter, rather than a Robin Hood style defender of the sanctity of paying at school tuck shops, that would send me plunging into the world of occasionally stealing history books and kinder eggs? After all if that’s what people said about me, what did I have to lose?  No one can know for sure. Except for me. No it didn’t.

Stealing is wrong and you shouldn’t do it, as I was trying to demonstrate at the Kings of Wessex in the early 1980s. But I still occasionally do it. And the pigs (and the people who run pick n mix bars at service stations) will never catch me. And if they do I will just say I was intending to pay, but was just showing them how lax their security was. But even though that would be a lie this time, it was not a lie on the first occasion. My dad still doesn’t believe me. And I don’t think this confused confession really helps absolve me. 

RHLSTP with Graham Linehan is now up (sorry for the delay) on video and audio in the usual places.

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My new stand up show, Happy Now? will be touring from September 2015 to June 2016 All details here.
Buy tickets to Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast from the LST website
You can download the audio for free from the British Comedy Guide or iTunes or watch the video on YouTube