I remember when Andy Kaufman became popular. People just couldn’t get enough of him. They thought they had the measure of him and they were tapped into something cool. When they tried to book him up, he started insisting that he’d only do the gig if his world famous singing sidekick Tony Clifton got a supporting spot. They agreed cos what had they got to lose – they could afford to have some unknown schmuck crooning a couple of songs for 15 minutes, as long as they got the other guy who sold out the room.
Then Tony Clifton proceeded to massively offend half the people in the room and confuse the rest. This likely didn’t do Andy’s career any good but he was having fun and that was so much more important to him. He was trolling the living shizbit out of the audience before trolling was even invented.
I don’t know exactly why I thought of that tonight. Just like I don’t know exactly when I first met the writing legend known to you as Sherwyn Jellico. Sometimes I think it was that cocktail party in Monte Carlo in ’78. Grace Kelly, Evel Knievel, and Kermit the Frog were there among many others. We were made knights of Malta together and we departed at 3am on his yacht to get some night fishing in before dawn’s first light.
As he stood there posing for a Polaroid photo with the white shark he harpooned while he was mixing his Martini, I knew there was something special about this cat. He was the kind of man who men wanted to be and beekeepers wanted to bee hive. He had a spring in his step that made it difficult descending stairs. When he bet on black, the croupier would turn to him and say “Sir, this is a florist’s. Your money’s no good here”.
Hell yes, he had his share of demons. He was no stranger to the Alka Seltzer or the police bribe. But he was living life on full throttle. No compromises. Devil may care. Tonight we take Manhattan, then we take Bognor Regis!
Those are just some recollections. I could regale you with thousands more. But none of that’s important now. All that’s important is that Sherwyn is adding the finishing touches to his first poetry book, Begging the Question. A book of poems about OCD and depression. A book that Hollywood is saying may change the way that people think about poetry. A book which was 45 years in the making. A book which by all rights should’ve been written with angels tears upon the snows of Shangri La. But resources were limited so it was written on a knackered Lenovo laptop instead … So the story goes.
A book which will be so god damn big in a year’s time that you’re going to feel like “a proper mug”(that’s a direct quote) for not having got in on the act early before the rush.
And when that day comes my friends, none of you can turn to me and say “Hey Doubt, they say you were a close friend of his before he was famous, so how come you didn’t let us in on the big secret?”. Because I have let you in on the big secret. Not once, not twice but THRICE, nay thrice good morris men and merwomen! Thrice I tell thee!!!
So this is your last chance to save yourself from dreadful feelings of foolishness later down the line.
I may be insane, my methods may be cruel, but I am also kind god dammit. And it is this kindness which compels me to extend to you the gift of foresight. The foresight to sign up to Sherwyn’s mailing list before it’s too late!
That’s right, I said it. I don’t care any more! Before it’s too late.
In the meantime perhaps this hastily crafted appalling poem can twist your arm. I’m afraid I simply don’t possess the exquisite poetic panache that Sherwyn has, more’s the pity. But to truly understand that, you’re just going to have to wait for the book …
Roll up, sign up to Sherwyn’s list!
or else you’ll feel a proper mug,
when friends reveal the books you missed,
and you say “Sherwyn who?” and shrug.
Roll up, roll up, come fill your boots,
this cat will make your head spin round.
I know cos we are in cahoots,
and he has promised me one pound.
That’s it you crazy kids. I’m outta here. But I’ll leave you with Tony Clifton performing a stunning rendition of that old ex con’s favourite Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree: