I thought I was me till you thought I was someone else

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The Independent Online
A BIZARRE thing happened to me on Tuesday. I got into a cab just near where I live, and the driver said, "Hope you don't mind me asking, but you are you, aren't you?"

I get asked this quite a lot and despite being tempted to be sarcastic and say "No, I'm not me. I'm that man standing over there drinking cider" or "That's an interesting question, is anything what it seems?" I'm too grown-up and polite. I say "Yes, that's right, I am!" And then we usually have a conversation about what a great bloke I am, which cheers me up.

"Do you know I think you're the funniest thing on television," said this particular driver. "Thank you very much for saying so." "Blinding, your show! Do you write it all yourself?" "No with some friends." "Oh it's brilliant! You ever see Russ Abbott these days? What's happened to him?" I've never met Russ Abbott. "No, I don't actually, I dunno what he's doing." "Cos you started on his show didn't you?" No, I didn't. The driver continues. "But your show now, oh what you do with the old ladies and stuff, best thing on, brightens up our Saturdays." I don't have a show on Saturday.

It dawns on me. He doesn't think I'm me. He thinks I'm Michael Barrymore. I'm nothing like Michael Barrymore. All this time I've been preening myself as he tells me I'm his hero and now I find I'm not. What can I do? Do I tell him that when he asked if I was me I made a mistake, I thought I was me but in fact I'm Harry Enfield? No, the conversation's gone too far. He'll either be embarrassed or he'll get cross, or he'll say, "Oh yes! So you are! No I don't like you, you're the worst thing on television."

So I'll try to be non-committal and ask him about himself. "Have you just started?" "Started lunchtime, keep going till the pubs shut. D'you live up there then?" Help, yes I do, but Barrymore doesn't. "No, I don't." "Oh, where do you live then, if you don't mind me asking?" I don't know where I live. "Surrey." It seems a reasonable guess. "Lovely. Up Weybridge way is it?" "Not too far, no. Good for the golf!" I'm getting into this. "Do you play golf, super game innit? What's your handicap?" I don't play golf. I don't know anything about golf. What's my handicap? I don't know what a handicap is other than a number, but what's a believable number? Three? 64? "My handicap's that I can't hit the bloody ball straight!" "Wahaha!" The driver falls about, he's never heard such a funny joke. Thank you God. We are now in Wardour Street and the pub where I'm meeting friends looms. It looks crowded, noisy, hot and sweaty but it's the nicest pub I've ever seen.

"Just by the pub, please," I say, adding the hilarious aside, "I'm going to get drunk tonight! Ha!" The driver is silent; no polite return "ha" from him. I remember Barrymore confessed in the tabloids recently to having had a drink problem which he has conquered. He is now off the booze permanently. So much for my hilarious aside. I pay. He gives me my change. "One last thing," he says, sticking a bit of paper and a pen in front. "Do you mind signing this for my son?" What can I do? I bite the bullet and write "To Darren. Alwright! Best wishes", and then almost illegibly I sign Michael Barrymore. I give it back and he doesn't look at it, thankfully. "That's brilliant. He'll be over the moon! Lovely talking to you!" "And you, bye!" "See you Harry, be lucky!" He drives off. "See you Harry," he said. "See you Harry." What about Russ Abbott? And my Saturday show? I am, frankly, puzzled.

ON ONE of the news pages of last week's Independent on Sunday it was reported that I had won the Golden Rose of Montreux, the top prize at the Montreux Television Festival. This is not true. I won the Silver Rose which is the second prize, and the ginger-haired genius Chris Evans won the Golden Rose. This was not, however, a piece of sloppy journalism. I actually gave the false information to a friend in a private letter. I have long suspected this friend, a homosexual who has paid several visits to my home with his boyfriend, of leaking absurdly flattering information about me to the press. So I set this trap, and he took the bait. I am saddened that a friend has turned out to be a traitor, and I apologise to Mr Evans for the pain, suffering and abject misery caused to him and his family by this sad affair.

JOHN Major announced on Friday that he was introducing "people's power". He promised to consult the grassroots of the Tory party about what policies the Government should follow before the election. Knowing Tory grassroots as we do, I predict the following results:

1 Birch the queers.

2 Hang the hippies.

3 Send back the nig-nogs.

4 Get that Heseltine man to have his hair cut.

5 Birch the queers again.

KENNETH Clarke is in trouble with the Bank of England and the City for not putting up interest rates. According to Eddie George, the economy is growing too fast so interest rates must rise to counter the supposed inflationary threat. In lay terms, I interpret this to mean that people are working much harder, causing economic growth, and they're in danger of spending their money, which is what the recession-hit shops want them to do. But Eddie George and the City seem to think this is wrong, and that if people work harder they should be punished by having their mortgages increased. Anyway, Mr Clarke refused to do Mr George's dirty work, so the latter's friends in the City have been punishing him by flogging the pound like mad all week so that it has fallen to its lowest-ever level against everything again. This means the harder-working people who've helped the economy grow will find their summer holidays have shot up in price, thereby causing the extra inflation Mr George claims he doesn't want. So when the inflation Mr George and the City have caused is announced, who will they blame? The Chancellor, of course, for not putting up interest rates.