When I call the most famous comic poet to have emerged from Luton this century to ask him what his new show is going to contain, I am brought immediately up to date with the latest DIY exploits in the Hegley household.
"I've just been putting up a bed for my daughter and I've discovered the joy of those screwdrivers, the ones you just push down and they push the screw straight in - you know the ones I mean? My dad used to have one of them and they're fantastic." Ah, yes, Hegley senior - the brute whose penchant for belting wee Johnnie pops up so frequently in the poet's oeuvre - can it be that bad dad actually got something right in his life? "I should clear something up about my dad," Heggers says swiftly. "There's been a misunderstanding. It is not that we didn't get on, it is just that he smacked me a bit. But we did get on."
John Hegley Declares Dad OK. Whatever next? John Hegley Completely Revamps Act? That would be going too far. As always with the evergreen wordsmith - who will doubtless retain his NHS specs and studenty appearance long after both NHS and students have bitten the dust - the goal posts are being moved slightly, but kept on the same suburban pitch. The show, simply called "John Hegley and Nigel" ("Bob Dylan doesn't need a new show title each time, does he?"), takes one step forward after last year's Dances with Potatoes (ie more dancing) and two steps sideways ("lots of chalking and lots of drawings"). The drawings, particularly of dogs, have been Hegley's main creative occupation during a barren writing patch and will help illustrate the first 30 years of his life, as the audience accompanies him on an autobiographical tour. His trusty sidekick, Nigel, will play the lute during the Luton phases. And if you think that's a terrible pun, then you should hear his conjuring with the word marbles. "Losing your marbles is quite an appropriate metaphor for losing your childishness," he insists. Hear him out: the poet who never grew up may help you regain your sense of the "marbellous". And if you've got a loose screw, he's definitely your man.
Bloomsbury Theatre, 15 Gordon St, WC1 (0171-388 8822) 21-25, 27-31 Jan, 8pmReuse content