The Grass Is Greener
An interview with Mervin Cruddy.

INTERVIEWER: Mervin, how long have you been in show business?
MERVIN: Ever since I was seventeen. Eight years. (looking very much older)
INTERVIEWER: Eight years.
MERVIN: Nearly eight years.
INTERVIEWER: And what position are you holding at the moment?
MERVIN: Sort of like upright but relaxed like yourself.
INTERVIEWER: No, I meant in show business.
MERVIN: (mumbles)
INTERVIEWER: I beg your pardon?
MERVIN: I'm a chorus boy.
INTERVIEWER: How did you start?
MERVIN: Well, you see, it all started for me down in Bournemouth. When, unbeknownst to myself, my then fiance took a snapshot of me while I was at the water's edge, having a paddle. She sent the snap up to the town hall. The next thing I knew I'd been entered for the knobly knees contest. Well I didn't want to let my fiance down so I went through with it, but I can't tell you how I felt, stood up there in front of all those ogling women with my kneecaps... completely naked. After the competition, which incidentally I won (laughing to himself), there was a party and that was my downfall. Yes, I tasted the sweet life. I tasted the Docchi Vita of Boscombe and Poole.
INTERVIEWER: Is there any truth in the rumour that there's a certain amount of cheating in the knobly knees contest?
MERVIN: It's a shame to have to tell you this but, some of the men wear falsies.
INTERVIEWER: Falsies?
MERVIN: Flesh-coloured plastic kneecaps. It's gotten to the stage where, before every competition, a nurse goes around with a little hammer, tapping them and testing them. I can't tell you how embarrassing it is when one of them drops off. It's getting to be like cattle market now. It's no wonder I joined the Men's Liberation Movement.
INTERVIEWER: You did rather well and you found yourself in several touring plays. I believe you played leads.
MERVIN: Yes I did. And Manchester and Birmingham and all over. Oh yes, I was a bit of a hell-raiser in those days. They used to call us the Rat Pack. Not just me, there was Athini Sila, Edith Evans, Kathlene Harrison, Robert Morley, all are drinkers you know. Oh, after the show every night we'd go into the Queen's Arms there, and many a nights I've downed as many as seven pints of shanty straight off.
INTERVIEWER: You lived life with a big 'L'.
MERVIN: And sometimes I suffered pain with a big 'P'. Like when I met this terrible agent. This lady producer, she said, "I'm having this surprise party." I got the surprise when I got there, I can tell you. Carrying on like that. It was disgraceful, like that film about Gomorro and that other place, you know. A tower of babell there, it was full of beatniks with long sideboards full of drink. No, I mean the side... they had sideboards, it was full of drink. Some of the men was just as bad. I tell you, there, I tell you there was witches there, they were practicing witchcraft. Not just lady witches but men witches, they had men witches there.
INTERVIEWER: Warlocks.
MERVIN: It's true, I tell you. There... there was men witches there.
INTERVIEWER: Warlocks. Male witches.
MERVIN: Oh, I see, yes. They said to me... they said, "She's waiting for you in her den." So, of course, I went straight in.
INTERVIEWER: You're really taking an awful chance. I mean you're really very attractive.
MERVIN: (smugly) I know. Well I thought I'd be all right, because everyone said she was a Lebanese. When I got in there she was all dressed up in this like leather gear, you know. And she said, "Here, put that on," and she give me a Russian army officer's uniform, and give me a copy of the TV times and said, "Hit me with it."
INTERVIEWER: She was a masochist!
MERVIN: Well she spoke fluent English, I tell you. Well I come out of there and these like witch people, they was all like stood around, you know, and they said there was kind of a symbolic sacrifice. They was gonna go out and get an eighteen-year-old virgin.
INTERVIEWER: Where was this?
MERVIN: Chelsea.
INTERVIEWER: Ah.
MERVIN: That's what I thought, some hope, you know. Anyway, then they all started looking at me.
INTERVIEWER: And what steps did you take?
MERVIN: Bloody long ones, I tell you. I was out of there like a shot.
INTERVIEWER: What plans have you for the future?
MERVIN: Well I hope to get into a nice show with some decent people. I've been on with this part in Oh Calcutta, you see.
INTERVIEWER: Oh Calcutta?
MERVIN: Yes. Well it will be full of Indians, won't it? You know. And I've seen them on the television in the documentaries, when the bath in the Ganges they don't even take their nightshirts off, so there won't be any nudity or anything like that, you know.
INTERVIEWER: Mervin Cruddy, thank you.
MERVIN: (muffled by audience applauding) It's all right. Do you really find me attractive?
INTERVIEWER: Ssh.

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The Benny Hill Songbook was last updated 2007 June 21st Thursday