5 days in the life of ARDAL O'HANLON

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Monday: The tour is nearly over. Hurray! We're on our last legs. We haven't eaten or slept for three months. Like soldiers returning from war, my travelling companions and I are delirious and morally void and have hives. My eyes are as dark, deep and hollow as the barrels of a shotgun but I can still see with them. Today I saw Hadrian's Wall and I wasn't impressed. It's not a great wall.

This historic fortification was built by the Romans to keep the Scottish at bay. Now, unless the Scots were very small in those days, smaller than, say, grasshoppers, this is the worst example of a wall I've seen. I don't think it ranks alongside the Great Wall of China as one of the world's top ramparts. Apparently that is the only man-made construction you can see from the moon. You can't even see Hadrian's "wall" from the top of a pylon in a field beside it. I discovered this while surveying the landscape looking for Carlisle. Show in Carlisle.

Tuesday: Another day, another ailment. Today, I am unable to move my limbs. During a game of "guess what colour the next car we meet is going to be", Martin, the tour clown, decided to give me dead legs and dead arms just "for the crack". We left Carlisle early and drove through the Lake District, which is aptly named. If there's one thing the British are good at apart from being stubborn, it's naming things. "Mmm, there are lots of lakes here, I know, let's call it the Lake District." There are a lot of witches there too, but it's not called the Witch District. A distinctive type of woolly cow prevails in the region, a cow that seems to have killed off its rival species. But it's not called Woolly Cow District. Lakes obviously supersede both witches and cows in the hierarchy of things. Show Blackpool. Drive back to London in the night.

WEDNESDAY: A few days off before the tour climax in the West End. This break, however, coincides with rehearsals for the Fr Ted Christmas Special. Good news. The Vatican sent a fax congratulating us on the success of the show. It appears vocations trebled worldwide during the last series.

I nipped out at lunchtime to do a bit of Christmas shopping and bought 60 pairs of pyjamas. Everybody is wearing underpants in bed these days and that's wrong. It's unhygienic and not half as sexy as they think it is. There's far more fun to be had taking off somebody's pyjamas. They can wear their underpants over them and look and feel like a superhero if they want. That would add a new dimension to sex games and keep underpants fresh for daywear.

So I got a taxi up to a pyjama warehouse just off the North Circular Road (in London) and bought a variety of nightwear at a very good price - striped ones, furry ones, ones with built-in feet, electric ones, Bay City Rollers ones, every type you could imagine, except paisley ones; they were out of them. I kept the nicest pair for myself and now sleep properly for the first time in months.

THURSDAY: More rehearsals. In the late afternoon I realise the extent of my hunger. I have knots in my stomach that would confound a boy-scout. I must eat. That evening, I eat properly for the first time in months. I feast like Emperor Bokassa. I call for Christmas crackers, I know it's premature but what the hell? I thought I'd really treat myself. Why not have quality fun every day? Paper crowns and riddles are salt and pepper to my head.

FRIDAY: No rehearsals today. In fact, the only thing I have to do is have an operation to have a tiny blue plastic toy removed from my throat. I arrive home still high on morphine and start working on the West End show.

Five minutes later, bereft of inspiration, I play table football instead. My wife got me table football for my birthday. Some people think we are copying the lovely people on Friends. We are not copying Friends, we are copying a friend of mine who lives down the road. I was one of the millions of people who didn't really like Friends at first. It slowly grew on me until one evening I realised: "No, I definitely hate it."

We must not let ourselves be seduced by those beautiful, funny, sensitive, loyal characters and feel-great situations. The great thing about British sitcoms is that they are peopled with characters you wouldn't want anything to do with, you know, real people.

Ardal O'Hanlon, aka Father Dougal, is appearing at Her Majesty's Theatre, London, tonight at 8pm

Comments