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Mild Blasphemy

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I have just been told off for saying "dick" in a church. All rather embarrassing - and also rather worrying. The incident took place during the press launch for Greenside - a venue based in Greenside Parish Church. I decided to tell the title story from my show Be Prepared as part of the performers' showcase, little suspecting that it would be deemed unsuitable material by a member of the congregation.

The story is all about a slightly strange encounter I had with a taxi-driver in Leeds some years ago, and I've always seen it as rather a sweet piece. In fact, in my more wine-sozzled moments, I have even been known to claim that it's almost spiritual - albeit in a very secular way.

The story seemed to go down well with the audience, but apparently not everyone was comfortable with the content and I've just had a slightly awkward conversation with the venue manager, Tara. Apparently there is a clause in their contract which says that the church has the right to veto any content that they deem unsuitable. Which is a bit of a problem for me as the nature of the story means that "dicks" are pretty central to the narrative. What's more, of the ten stories in my set, that's the one I've named the show after and themed all the advertising around. So changing it now would be a bit of a blow.

I have a dark moment when I imagine my Ed-Fringe experience coming to an abrupt end, with my show being boycotted by angry priests waving placards, but in the end, we decide that the issue is more the fact that the language used was unsuitable - rather than the story itself - and so we agree that I will change the offending word to penis. Apparently, the gentleman whose ire was raised simply hates any kind of swearing.

Catastrophe averted I think. Unfortunately, I mentioned the matter to Daisy, my housemate's nine-year-old, who is hanging with me in my Edinburgh crib for the week. She thinks that the notion of me swearing in a church is hilariously awful and has since gone on to lecture me at great length about how "disgusting" I am. What is more, she has since repeated the story to the lady in the sandwich shop and various others we have met upon our travels. So it seems as though I am unlikely to hear the end of it for some time to come ...

(By the way, I should just say at this point that the story isn't entirely penis-related - in fact it's just as much about eagles as anything else - and I hasten to add that my other nine stories are entirely genital-free).


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