Network: Machines for obscene wealth: My Technology: Boothby Graffoe

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The Independent Culture
I LIKE telephones because they allow people I have never heard of to make huge sums of money. Take the man who runs BT. He just awarded himself a 41 per cent pay rise. Privatisation is wonderful. I have managed to narrow it down to four stages.

1. We own it. 2. They sell it. 3. We buy it. 4. They own it.

I have prepared my own assault against privatisation. It also has been narrowed down to four stages. 1. I pick up the telephone. 2. I call the chairman of BT. 3. I shout an obscenity. 4. I put the phone down.

Recently I was disturbed from my scribbling by a call from Toronto. It is Kevin. I ask what his favourite piece of technology is; he says it is an air-filtration device to keep the atmosphere in his plastic bubble free from bacteria. I tell him he is biased because he has leukaemia.

Our conversation was disturbed by the call-waiting beep. It was my agent. Can I do an interview with someone from Ceefax? I question the outlook of people who spend their spare time reading Teletext pages. I am told that all publicity is good. I watched a bit of Ceefax to familiarise myself with the medium. I picked up the telephone. I called Ceefax. I shouted an obscenity. I put the telephone down.

Seconds later the telephone rang. It was someone from Ceefax. I had forgotten to press 141. I am asked if I just shouted something nasty down the phone. I pretend to be Lithuanian. The man from Ceefax says he knows who I am. I ask him if he would like to buy a goat. He hangs up.

Two days later I get a call from Kevin. The bone marrow transplant from his brother has taken. He tells me I was on Canadian television last night. I ask if it was a clip from Just For Laughs. No, he says, Ceefax.

Boothby Graffoe's stand-up show is at The Pleasance, Edinburgh (0131- 556 6550) until 31 August

Interview by

Jennifer Rodger