I have a long documented dysfunctional relationship with the concept of celebrity, my ability to get utterly star struck often leaving me awkward and tongue tied. But the relationship has definitely improved, and there have been recordings of Celebrity Chase recently that have been an absolute joy. Nonetheless, when I first realised that I had been booked for a gig with David Icke, I felt mildly ill with excitement. David Icke ?
I had my theories on the man. To some people he is insane.To others he is a bona fide visionary. I felt that he had perhaps seen a gap in the market and carefully constructed a persona which would enable him to have a lucrative and influential career. There is one problem with my theory – the many years when Icke and his family were a national laughing stock, including the infamous Wogan interview means he really would have had to have been playing a very difficult long game. What I do know is that when I turned up to the Establishment Club gig yesterday in an upmarket oyster bar in Piccadilly, I was ushered to a dining room where the other acts were, and I sat down at a dining table next to the man himself. Because the start of the gig was running late, it meant we chatted for nearly an hour.
What struck me was how ordinary he was. In many ways he seemed like just another overweight , scruffily dressed man wondering why the gig he was booked for was running so late, and hoping that the gig went ok. The comedians at the table, Lewis Schaffer, Arnold Brown Hattie Hayridge and myself were all in agreement that our desperate need for an audience to like us can get very wearying. Icke took a different view, saying that he doesn’t care whether people enjoy his gig, he just cares about imparting facts to people. I wanted to query his definition of a fact, but kept my thoughts to myself. Not least when it emerged that Icke was a fan of The Chase, and indeed of Bradley Walsh. I had this image in my head of him hearing a question like “Who won his first US presidential election in 2008 ?” and answering “That reptilian shapeshifter”.
He just seemed so normal. Not least when he brought the topic of conversation round to snooker. “Does anyone remember a guy called Bill Werbeniuk ?” At this point my heart missed a beat. 80’s sporting nostalgia. My pet topic.
“Werbeniuk ? Yep. Big cuddly Canadian snooker player. His 142 was a Crucible record until Doug Mountjoy scored 145 in 1981. He is remembered for his 2nd round match against David Taylor in 1983 which was interrupted by Cliff Thorburns 147 break on the next table. Reached the quarter finals that year, which sadly was the best he achieved, but will always be remembered for being part of the great Canadian triumvirate with Thorburn and Kirk Stevens. Is that the Bill Werbeniuk that you meant ?”
I wish I’d said that now. Instead I went with “Yeah”. And then Icke held court reminiscing about his spell presenting Pot Black, and the glory years of snooker, with me filling in the facts every time he struggled to remember anything. There were no conspiracy theories, no wild accusations. Just fondly held memories, and a sense of sadness over the untimely death of Big Bill. It was odd, to see this mundane version of one of society’s most infamous oddballs. Then it was time to go down to the gig.
The smallish room was packed, as one might expect with Icke billed. His bit took the form of a 30 minute interview with an investigative journalist called Brian Basham, who was broadly sympathetic to him. From the very beginning, this was an incredibly different David Icke. Overstretching from the very start, he pointed out that many of history’s most feted thinkers were considered madmen at the time. True, but I don’t think comparing himself to Galileo did him any favours. Passionate, well rehearsed, and eloquent throughout, the majority of the interview concerned the scale of institutionalized paedophilia.
Now for me this is a very interesting topic. For a long time now there has been a stench of cover up in the air, a feeling that what a great investigative journalist might uncover may be truly horrifying. However calling Ted Heath a “paedophile, child murderer and satanist” is simply not helpful. For clarification he was asked to repeat what he had said, and he did. It was the wildest of many wild accusations which punctuated his half hour chat and lead to a steady decrease in credibility. It was frustrating, because there is an enormous sense that what we know about the issues is not nearly enough. But equally, one felt yesterday that David Icke was probably not the man for the job. I wanted to ask “Wasnt Ray Reardon great ?” to lighten the atmosphere but sensibly chose not to.
David Icke showed me a copy of one his books before his gig and it was massive. He explained that the detailed research that went into his theories could not be adequately explained in a 30 minute chat. He was right. Without the time to explain why he had come to certain conclusions, he came across as a man making dreadful allegations about Jimmy Saville, Leon Brittan and the death of Princess Diana based on little more than his word and high ranking hearsay. It is also clear that the fact that the Saville allegations may well be true has put a spring in the step of conspiracy theorists.
David Icke left the stage to applause. It was more muted applause than if he hadnt overstretched himself, but it was definitely applause. I am no clearer as to what I think of him except to say that my original theory of him being a fake feels wrong. David Icke comes across as a man who passionately believes every word he says. There was no talk yesterday of bizarre alien races and shapeshifting lizards. Just a man who believes that the “establishment” is far more sinister and powerful than we currently understand. I ended up thinking that
1. We have two things in common. We both love snooker , and we have both played to silence at Nottingham Trent University
2. David Icke is not Galileo.
3. The investigation into possible establishment cover up of paedophilia is one that is absolutely vital to get right.
4. David Icke is an extremely odd man, most of whose theories seem laughably daft. Nonetheless the world is a more interesting place with his hard work in it.