Oh my little chums! Mon petits braves! Where to begin? You will, of course, have missed your favourite hirsute, tricycling entertainer these many months. Well, blame it on the North Koreans - and the British Council.
The latter hired the former for a tour of that beknighted country. Heaven alone knows what they were thinking. I mean do they WANT to start a war? Dodgy jugglers, depressed clowns and cowardly lion tamers aren't exactly going to give our Asian friends the best picture of Old Blighty. Mind you there's always your old tricycling pal to put a smile on their faces with his many entertaining japes and wheezes.....
Anyway, as usual, our esteemed owner was boracic lint at the time (internet poker has a lot to answer for) and was dazzled by a fistful of taxpayers ackers....up front...so off we went.
After a Command Performance we set off for a tour of the provinces. Each place we fetched up was less appealing than the last - which is saying something in North Korea - until at last we arrived in the most far flung part of N.K.........and ran into our er "little local difficulty".
I won't say there wasn't much in the shops.........mainly because there weren't any shops. There wasn't much of anything, actually, and that included cash. We were reduced to accepting vegetables in lieu of readies at the box office. I hope I never see another radish in me natural. Ooops. Pardon. That, however, was to be the least of our troubles!
Our Acrobatic Dogs Act started to attract a lot of attention.....far too much attention. Now its one thing to show your appreciation for the circus performer's skill by clapping your hands and even stamping your feet but this lot were actually salivating, licking their lips and rubbing their stomachs in all too eager anticipation!!!!!! They obviously considered our canine compatriots to be "fast food"!
Matters came to a head when a couple of the local "Likely Lads" attempted a "Carry Out". A fracas ensued and the local rozzers showed up swinging batons like.....well like a North Korean rozzer. The last thing I saw was stars - and I'm not talking Milky Way.
After months of being held in the local "chokey" we were given a show trial in Pyongyang. It was televised every night for a week between "An Audience With The Dear Leader" and "Flog It". By the way forget about antiques, in their version its the political dissidents who get the flogging. Talk about making your eyes water.
Can't see that being licensed around the world. Mind you in a world where they made a show about people's dirty lavatories anythings possible!
Yes, the whole sorry affair very nearly did your correspondent in - permanently! Until that is Dave - yes, you cynics, that Dave - came to the rescue.
Now I know that he has had a lot of stick recently for not standing up for us circus animals but here's one that will be forever in his debt!
I don't know what he threatened the Dear Leader with - an airstrike against their nuclear facilities, sending Bob Crow to run their Railways or an immediate ban on imports of pickled cabbage soup - whatever it was it did the trick and before you could say 49th parallel we were all back in Dear Old Blighty.
Ah yes, it all seems like a bad dream and a world away. I'd like to say I've put it ALL behind me but unfortunately those radishes are STILL repeating on me.
NEXT TIME: From the sordid extremes of a North Korean jail to the equally sordid extremes of every day circus life.
Now is not the time
5 weeks ago