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Spring 2020 Special

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Daily Delightful Anecdotes

 Paul Mayhew-Archer

Paul’s daily anecdote

You can follow Paul Mayhew-Archer on Twitter at @mayhewarcher. Ever since we have all been stuck at home he has provided an almost daily anecdote from his family or his career in comedy. We will keep them updated here, newest first.

Paul’s broadcast appeal on behalf of Cure Parkinsons Trust, which raised more than £40,000, is available on BBC Sounds. You can hear it at (you may need to sign in).

6 May

I was in the school cadet force. On the day of the annual parade they learned two things about me.

  1. I had a very loud voice. So loud the whole force followed my cries of “Left. Left. Left, right, left.”

Minutes later they learned

  1. I can't tell my left from my right.

3 May

“Good boy” said grandad, bending down to stroke our sleeping dog. The startled dog bit him on the goolies.

Naturally, Grandad stood up.

Sadly, the dog had a mouthful of his goolies so it came up with him. I watched it swing between his legs. I was 15. Highlight of my year.

1 May

We were 15 and dreading the end of term Physics test. Marc, my best mate, decided to bunk off the preceding art class to revise. “The art teacher won’t notice,“ he said.

Being a goody goody, I went to the Art class. The teacher did notice. Only 4 of us turned up.

30 April

When Simon was 14 I took him to see a 15 Certificate film. I looked so guilty that the manager refused to let us in. “You idiot,” Simon muttered as we left, “I’ve been getting into 15s with my mates since I was 12.”

29 April

At university I had a holiday job making packing cases for bits of machinery. One day we had a new tool called a nail gun. I was inside the case holding a batten in place. My mate was outside the case holding the nail gun. The nail gun Rep came in just as the nail missed the batten…


Paul’s donations page

28 April

Julie was a girl guide. She’s no idea what badge she was going for, but one evening her leader took her to a street corner, pointed to a middle aged man completely at random and said “Follow him wherever he goes. Don’t let him see you.”

27 April

A few years ago a man rang. “I book lecturers for cruise ships,” he explained. “The chap who does the comedy lectures is ill and I need someone for next week. I have asked literally everyone and I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel, but are you available?”

26 April

We went on a coach tour and at dinner were put on a table with one other couple. “Hello. We’re Paul and Julie,” we said.

Sadly, the poor man had a stammer, but said eventually “I’m Tom. This is Pam.”

We smiled at Pam, hoping she’d join in.

“Pam doesn’t say much,” he added.

25 April

When my grandparents were very old they went to London for the weekend. Somehow they ended up in an adult cinema. They saw a film called “She lost her you know what, based on Alexandre Dumas’ famous novel.” Granny said later she learnt more in 90 minutes than 50 years of marriage.

24 April

Our son, Simon, was just one year old. I watched him tottering into the living room, dribbling continuously. As he did so, he passed my 90 year old grandfather tottering out of the living room, also dribbling continuously. Life in a doorway. One coming in. One going out.

19-23 April

Apologies for failure to tweet my little anecdotes recently. I put my back out. I actually think it is rather noble to injure yourself whilst fundraising for charity. Sadly, I put my back out getting off the toilet so nothing noble about it. New anecdote to follow.

18 April

When she was 90, we took Julie’s mum to Italy. As soon as we got to the airport for the flight home she bought a beer. Amazingly, she then took it through check in, bag drop, passport control and airport security. She finished it as we boarded the plane.

“Lovely,” she said.

17 April

Julie’s mum once said to me, out of the blue, “Paul, how many bites do you have on your floppy dick?”

“I’m sorry?” I replied.

“You know. For your computer,” she added.

I told Julie about her mum’s malapropism.

“That’s no malapropism,” she said. “That’s a naughty old woman.”

16 April

Growing up I used to show off by using long words. Why say ‘chew’ when you can say ‘masticate’? The trouble was I got a bit muddled so when I was ten I announced at a big family dinner “Dad’s always the last to finish. It’s because he masturbates so slowly.”

15 April

Julie and I were discussing dementia. “It’s names that go first,” she said. “Like Penny. She started forgetting names and then in the end she forgot everything.”

“Penny?” I said.

“Yes. You know. The woman down the road.”

“Jenny,” I said. “Her name was Jenny.”

14 April

Simon was 3 and staying with granny and grandpa. At bedtime Granny knocked on his bedroom door. “Don’t come in, I’m getting undressed,” he shouted. A bit later he called “You can come in now,” and she went in. He was stark naked. Undressing was rude, not being undressed.

13 April

When I was ten I thought I’d write a play. I underlined the title - “William the First” - then added in brackets “In the style of William Shakespeare.” I began with the line “Friends, Normans, Countrymen,” then I ran out of ideas and played with my train set instead.

12 April

I joined a book group and found I was the only man in the group. A year later one of the women asked if she could bring a male friend along. The leader said “Of course not. This is a women’s book group.” The others said “But what about Paul?” She replied “Paul doesn’t count.”

11 April

Parkinson’s is caused by a shortage of Dopamine. But something that releases Dopamine is chocolate. The more chocolate you eat the more dopamine you release so when I was diagnosed I took the family to Cadbury World to celebrate.

10 April

We got to Stansted at 2.15. “We’ve loads of time,” I said, “the flight to Barcelona doesn’t go till 5.30.” We strolled into the airport and Julie looked at the departures board. “Are you sure it’s at 5.30?” she said. “The only flight I can see is at 15.30.”

9 April

I drove for over thirty years without getting a speeding ticket. Then I popped out to the shops one day and got done three hundred yards from home. Forty minutes later I popped back from the shops and got done again.

8 April

Julie and I are vegetarians. On holiday in Italy we would go into restaurants and say in our best Italian “no meat.” After three days of horrified looks from waiters we discovered that our best Italian was very bad Italian indeed, and what we were saying was “nothing dog.”

7 April

We’ve been discussing terrible rhymes in poetry. Julie reminded me of the poem I wrote for Simon’s wedding day.

Love has brought us the greatest prize

The dear and adorable Emily

We know we’ll be happy the rest of our lives

as we welcome her into our femily.


6 April

I produced a pilot quiz show for BBC Radio2. The winner was so obnoxious that when he won the studio audience booed. The show did not go to series.

5 April

At school I was so bad at cricket no captain wanted to pick me. The teacher made me the umpire instead. I had no idea how to signal byes and said a boy was ‘Not out’ when he was clearly LBW so the teacher told me to leave the field. I think I’m the only umpire to be sent off.

4 April

A very local radio station in Abingdon once broadcast a phone-in where nobody 'phoned in. At one point I said to Julie “We ought to 'phone in.” “Really?” she said. “It'll be funnier if we don't.” So we didn't and the programme went on for two hours without a single call.

3 April

A recent moment. The virus has halted many TV productions so we’ve noticed lots of old shows popping up on the telly. Julie said yesterday “My God, they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel with some of these repeats. Now’s your chance to get them to repeat some of yours.”

2 April

Julie’s mum was an unconventional cook. “For today’s starter,” she told us once, “I sautéed some button mushrooms in a knob of butter and seasoned them with salt and pepper.” “Perfect,” we said. “Then they looked a bit dry,” she added, “so I poured a ‘Cup a Soup’ over them.”

1 April

Years ago at a buffet lunch I chose the chicken. I helped myself to veg and stuffing, then poured rice pudding all over it, thinking it was bread sauce. Naturally I didn't want to look an idiot so pretended I'd meant to do it. People stared as I tucked into my 'yummy' meal.

@shirleykeating2 responded in kind:

My mom in law did it with profiteroles thinking they were mini Yorkshire puddings. Covered them all in gravy. As she cut into them the cream oozed out into the gravy

31 March

The BBC has a list of the most offensive words. Years ago, I asked for a copy of the list. I was told it would be faxed through to me at home. Moments later our nine year old son, Simon, was surprised to see a torrent of filth pouring out of our fax machine.

And here are some responses to Paul’s original tweet:

from @tommyrpearson:

When I was a presenter on Radio 3, in a meeting with our extremely humourless head of speech programmes, the subject of the offensive words list came up and I asked if she could read it out to me. Which she did, deadpan, making me cry with laughter. Childish? Yes.

Paul’s response:

Absolutely hilarious, Tommy. I'm wondering how the subject of offensive words came up in a BBC Radio3 meeting. Were you planning to use some? "And now on Radio3 here's some f**king Mozart."

Tommy Pearson again:

All the presenters who did live broadcasting had to have a meeting about what to do if a guest swore. The whole thing was hilarious.

30 March

Went to a school to give an “inspirational” talk to Year Ten students. Lovely day outside as 180 fifteen year olds trooped into the gloomy hall. The Head of Year introduced me by saying “I know none of you want to be here. Frankly neither do I. But here’s Paul Mayhew-Archer.”

29 March

Another Malapropism from Julie’s mum when she came on holiday with us to Florida. She gazed at the huge apartment blocks and said. “I had no idea so many Americans lived in these giant condoms.”

28 March

Simon was six and Julie was a parent-helper in his infant class. “Who has some news?” said the teacher and Simon put his hand up. “I have some news,” he announced. “We’ve got a terrible smell in our bathroom and mummy and daddy don’t know what’s causing it.”

27 March

When Simon was six he had a frisbee. We were close to the house so I said “You’d better give that to me. I’ll show you how to throw it.” I took it off him, steadied myself, aimed for the bottom of the garden and hurled it into the kitchen window.

26 March

Can’t remember who told me this. He’d met a criminal who said “England is the best country in the world. I’ll tell you why. A chap in Bristol was giving me bother so I got two fellows to go down and break his legs. D’you know it only cost me eighty quid including petrol?”

25 March

Acting changed my life. At secondary school I started off in the bottom set and boys called me Thicko. Then, when I was 15, I played Ariel in “The Tempest” and sang “where the bee sucks” in my finest treble voice. No one ever called me Thicko again. They called me Eunuch.

24 March

At a party, I saw a woman bending over an elderly blind lady, and I heard her whispering “You will see again. Have faith. You will see.” She paused. “Can you see?” “No,” said the blind lady. “O,” said the woman, “it doesn’t work with everyone. Have another sherry.”

23 March

Aged five, Simon loved wearing his Batman costume. I dressed up as his companion and at Christmas we ran round the neighbourhood delivering cards. He was so small people looking out of their windows couldn’t see him. They just saw a strange man running past, dressed as Robin.

A couple of neighbours told me later they saw me running past. As they couldn’t see Batman, only me, all on my own, dressed as Robin, they thought “he’s really lost it now.”

22 March

Julie’s mum was Mrs Malaprop reborn. “My neighbour’s gone into hospital,” she told us once. “Two Paralympics came and picked her up.”

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