As someone who spent the first 18 years of his life in Hull, East Yorkshire, you might think I’d fit right in with the Hollywood lifestyle and the general superficial glitz and glamour of Los Angeles. Well, in many respects you’d be dead right but since being here there have also been a number of incidents in which I’ve felt out of my comfort zone.
For example, I’m not sure if I’ll ever quite get used to Russell Brand on top of me in bed, waking me up by trying to breast-feed me. I suppose under analysis it may come from a sense of affection and protection that he feels towards me – even so, I think being encouraged to press my lips to the hairy matriarchal nipples of my male colleague is just something I’ll always struggle to manage.
On another occasion, Jack, Nik and I decided to play football on a local AstroTurf pitch. Afterwards, with our thirst suitably in need of quenching, we decided to stop for a drink at a local bar. Dressed in our respective Man United, West Ham and England shirts (my dear Hull City top is frankly too precious to waste on a mere kick-about) we advanced into that place brimming with post-match confidence and, for me at least, a feeling that out patriotic choice of attire would be judged as endearing, perhaps even cute. This feeling was not reciprocated. Other than a couple of charitable souls with whom we shared a nervous joke, the majority of the facial expressions in that bar pointed towards animosity and mockery.
I suppose in hindsight, our cocksure entrance could have been interpreted as three staunch Brits ardently proclaiming “We’re English you bastards”. We may as well have marched in there with the St George’s flag tattooed on to our erect penises, discussing how we’d just “kicked an American geezer down the apples and pears -stairs.”
In another football related incident, Jack and I were invited by a friend of Nik’s to take part in 5-a-side game. When enquiring as to the standard of the players we were told “average”. Again, with the benefit of hindsight, “average” is a difficult word to measure. I’m sure a cross-section of men would use the term to describe a whole range of different sized dinkles. In this context, “average” is not a word that should have be used to describe the English Premiership footballers with whom we were confronted. “Incredible” / “Superhuman” / “God” are words that should be used to describe the English Premiership footballers with whom we were confronted.
So with a disbelieving shrug of our shoulders and a retraction of our genitals, Jack and I joined an intimidating group of beast-men that included Everton and England defender, Joleon Lescott and former Spurs winger Wayne Routledge. Fortunately this story has no bitter ending and we both acquitted ourselves reasonably well. On one occasion I even managed to tackle Mr Lescott, as was evident, Jack tells me, from the overly noticeable grin on my silly face. Mind you, I’m sure the law of averages suggests I should have been more successful than I was – I imagine a bookmakers would give better tackling odds on a two year old child or static piece of coal.
On another occasion Jack, Russ and I visited the nightclub in which Christiano Ronaldo was recently pictured having a fruity ol’ time with Paris Hilton. Rumour has it he ordered two bottles of $17,000 champagne, which had they been made from the fizzy sweat of our Lord Jesus Christ, still seems pricey.
The venue was rammed with hundreds of sparkling, trendy youngsters, gyrating their boodies to bass-heavy R&B, which, as my idea of an evening out is inelegantly jumping up and down to a Fleetwood Mac medley, made me feel somewhat uneasy. The nightclub in question was the confusingly named, “My House.” Almost as if the owners had purposefully given the club a barmy identity in order to create confusing situations. Such as, conversing with a taxi driver:
“Take me to My House”
“Your house? We’re at your house”
“No, My House”
“Step out of the car please, sir”
Or, when flirting with a lady:
“So where are you taking me on our first date?”
“I want to take you to My House and show you my best moves”
“You filthy pig! I’m leaving”
Or, on the phone to the police:
“I want to report a sexual assault at My House”
“Stay at your house, sir and consider yourself under arrest”
In conclusion then, maybe it’s better that I avoid these uncomfortable LA activities and live a simpler life, here at the house, free from embarrassing obstacles, where I don’t feel awkward and my asthma won’t flare up. After all, how bad can Russell’s furry breast milk be?
By Producer Gareth
Friday evening and Russell Brand is engulfed with the kind of determined enthusiasm I assume is reserved for the odd occasion that Ned Flanders goes on a coke binge. Apt that he is reminiscent of a cartoon character as his sole focus right now is a hastily arranged trip to Disneyland the next day. ‘Hokely dokely’ I ain’t.
Bouncing around the sitting room he’s in disbelief at the depth and commitment of my negativity towards his glorious plan. So determined is he, that his considerable persuasion techniques, usually saved for the ladies are in full throttle on me.
Rarely have I been at the heart of a Brand charm offensive. It’s a multi dimensional attack of the senses, I guess like the one I’m trying to avoid at Disneyland. Currently I’m holding out, but it’s taking all the resistance I can muster. Admittedly my determination is now reinforced by a fear that should I give in I could find myself topless in his boudoir in a confusing overflow of Disney induced excitement.
Reading thus far you could well be thinking me a villainous kill joy of a man, a bearded Cruella Deville to Russell’s Pongo, and right now I’d struggle to deny it. However, were you then to describe me as an adult childless man not keen on queuing especially on Saturdays – you ‘d see me jump to my feet and salute you like a startled lieutenant.
I battled on. What I needed now was a voice of reason. An upstanding gentleman who would support me with the logic and foresight I was trying to apply for the benefit of all of our weekends. In from the kitchen wanders Gareth. Shit it.
“Disneylaaaand!” he shrieks. Such is the gusto with which he attacks it one would assume that everyday for the past 30 years he has awoken from his slumber fingers crossed whispering “is this the day?” That’s it then, two verses one – we’re going.
Saturday morning when all is lost I’m handed a lifeline, one last glorious get out clause provided by God himself. There before my eyes as we exit the house – arid, sunny, bloody hot Los Angeles beautifully blanketed in grey clouds and rain. “Good effort big guy” I mutter to the heavens. But no, what am I thinking, this is a Brand plan….its happening.
In the car there is acceptance and a driver called Renee whose unusual name allows a rare opportunity for Russell to perform a series of Allo Allo impressions. My mood is considerably lifted. In an unlikely twist we also listen to a playlist of early 90’s hip hop – us English boys (one in leggings) on our way to Disneyland, “we’re just so damn gangsta”
As you arrive the screaming opposite of everything you are sold stands blatantly in front of you. So constructed is the whole concept that before we enter we’re stuck in a traffic jam on ‘Magic Way’. Once inside the length of queues is matched only by the profitable temptations manufactured to appeal to the devoted children. I think to myself that my kids will have to manage with the local park, an apple and an imagination – unless that sentence alone has just cost me anyone ever giving me any.
We meet with a group of friends and their children and are immediately in line for one of those rides designed for the under fives where you sit in a teacup. Now, I should say here that in the time Gareth and I have been working with Russell it has become an ongoing joke that the pair of us nestled together have found ourselves in some pretty ridiculous situations. Many a stunning restaurant designed for loving couples has laid a romantic table for us, but what we we’re about to endure was an all time low.
As the group of mums, Russell and the children clambered into their carriage left to board the next cup alone stood Jack and Gareth – two 30 plus men looking like they had no agenda but the unmentionable. No escape now though. This is happening. The two of us childless misfits on a tepid ghost train tour of Disney history. Chugging along, sunglasses on we suddenly realise the worst is yet to come. And just as that realisation dawns, the doors of the ride are flung open and we’re thrown into the daylight. There awaiting our crawl of shame are the masses in line and Russell – all either scowling or in Russell’s case absolutely pissing themselves. Even I, lord monger of the doom had failed to predict I’d come out of Disney branded a peado.
By Producer Jack
By Producer Gareth
We are on the set of Russell’s new movie “Get Him To The Greek”. Today’s shoot is in the LA desert and seems to particularly excite Russell as he frequently informs us that it is “the same place Iron Man was filmed”. Unfortunately not everyone seems to share the same enthusiasm for this nugget of trivia as ol’ Russ, maybe because his repetition is beginning to stray into Grandad war story territory – “So, we were filming in the same place they shot Iron Man, Hitler had just invaded Poland and Vera Lynn was playing on the wireless… no, wait.”
That said, the set is an exhilarating place. A crew made up of hundreds, giant pieces of scenery, explosions – the works. Even Russell’s trailor has a sense of grandeur to it – the understated ‘Star Wagon’, its logo printed in exactly the same font as ‘Star Wars’. Now, I can’t imagine George Lucas has fallen on such hard times that he’s had to extend his franchise to include fancy caravans but if so I’m not sure what characteristics the trailor shares with the Star Wars trilogy, although the smell from Rusty’s bathroom certainly has a touch of the dark side to it.
One of the greatest novelties to being on set is experiencing the marvel that is ‘Craft Services’. If you are unaware of this phenomenon, I shall enlighten you. It is an on-set catering service that runs throughout the day. “Catering service, you say? Sounds a bit boring.” And I’ll admit that at first I imagined mini sausage rolls, cheese and pineapple sticks, triangular egg sandwiches and a half-frozen chocolate gateaux – what transpired was a mind-blowing smorgasbord of the most enticing treats known to man. Chocolate, icecream, candy, crisps, pastries, cakes – you name it, they have it.
American snacks are alluring, exciting and come in every shape and colour imaginable. Junior Mints, Butterfingers, Jolly Ranchers, Baby Ruths – I thought the latter was a fictional chocolate bar shared between Chunk and Sloth in The Goonies. They seem like a strange choice as product endorsers, those two -
“Right, we need to sell more Baby Ruth’s, which movie stars can we get to eat them, Randy?”
“OK, I’m thinking… an obese teenager”
“And a deformed strongman…?”
“Boo-ya! Randy, you never let me down.”
On our first on set day I was advised by a member of the crew to steer clear from Craft Services if I knew what was good for me (for health reasons, he wasn’t some overprotective mob boss telling me to stay away from his sister, Crafty Servizia). I politely smiled and agreed but instantly harboured a mild resentment towards him and internally barked back “Please sir, do not insult me by confusing me with your overeating American brothers, for I am an Englishman – self control is in our blood.”
I spent the rest of the day pouring myself tea and picking at fruit but by day two my dignity had taken a back seat as I caved into my gluttonous inclinations and transformed into a kind of disgraced adult Augustus Gloop character, ashamedly devouring treats aplenty. Don’t judge me on that, could you honestly say you’d be able to resist a gleaming Snickers icecream if it was offered to you? I think it would’ve tested even Gandhi’s self-restraint.
“I undertake this long fast as means of both self-purification and social protest”
“That’s all very well Gandhi, but have you tried one of these Snickers icecreams?”
“There’s a Snickers icecream? And I thought the bar was good. Oh hell, the fast can wait a day!”
The novelty of their sweets even extends to those that are exactly the same as in England, just with different or alternate names. Snickers here used to be called Mars, the UK Mars are called Milky Way, not to be confused with the UK Milky Way which over here is called 3 Musketeer. Why all the confusion? I wouldn’t be surprised if candy bigwigs did it purposely so that patriotic idiots like me jump on a Russian roulette choco-merry-go-round, consuming each and every last one in case there’s a sniff of a homegrown chocolate bar. If their Maltesers ever turn out to be ‘effing coffee Revels, I’ll go nuts.
Well, must go. Babs has just arrived and already Russ has put his beloved mum through a couple of house initiations. Firstly throwing a lemon onto a neighbour’s roof and secondly telling a story whilst wearing a fruit bowl on her head onto which Russell’s scribbled “Mum’s story hat.“ It’s all so damn Hollywood!
By Producer Jack
Abandoning the frivolity of a London bank holiday is never ideal, but assured of the unpredictable we’re excitedly making our way back to LA. We last saw Russ properly the day after the O2 when physically and emotionally shattered we recorded the Noel Gallagher radio show for TalkSport. Off air the record was defined by Noel’s ridicule at our lack of preparation, which I wish I could say was unfair. All I can offer in consolation is that our shambolic spontaneity seems to be an arena in which he thrives. In your face Noel.
Arriving at the house in LA we’re greeted only by Gabi the Mexican housekeeper. Lovely as she is, it’s not quite the carnival parade we’d hoped for. That said, she does seem pretty pleased to see us even if I am gauging this only from vague facial expressions and minor hand gestures – a cunning English linguist she ain’t. One thing we do glean is that she refers to Russell as ‘Baby Russell’. Now, I’m pretty confident there is no spark between them, which begs the question: why the prefix of ‘Baby’? What be her motivation? If I ever return home to find him mid change on the dining table – I resign.
Despite his absence clues of Russell’s recent presence are evident. Wandering around the house I feel like a wildlife expert on the trail: ‘The Secret Life Of Brand’. “Yes here we have something, it’s an open packet of dried mango split and devoured, and here further evidence; it’s the Black Mac book open on Google and a Russell Brand search, and yes…. yes absolute confirmation if it were needed, it’s a pair of white Y fronts tossed on the floor in the hall. A quite beautiful example of the species known as Russell Brand.”
Aware we are here for a while I make a lame effort to transform my room into something approaching homely. I do this by hanging up my West Ham shirt and stealing a plant from the lounge – an admission, I’ve just realised that might upset Gabi. So, sorry about that Gabi. “I said. I stole. A plant. From… never mind.”
Russ finally returns and after some ‘Chicken style’ tofu burgers from the other side of town we’re off to bed. “Chicken style’ tofu burgers from the other side of town?” I’ve just had a vision of a gang of tofu burgers in little leather jackets and shades crossing town on the metro for an unwinnable scrap with our hungry hands. I guess a more realistic battle for them would have been a fight with the Weetabix men of the 80’s. Now there was a marketing tool that worked. I loved those little dudes. I haven’t dressed like a cereal since. Don’t worry, I don’t think anyone noticed – I just claimed I was into Bros. It was just luck that I had a brown flaky face.
Anyway, for once we’re thankful for the jet lag as the car arrives at 5.30am to take us to set. 5.30am? That’s a getting home time. It transpires that Ol’Russ is doing some serious hours making the comedy these days.
First impressions at the location are inside the trailer, again we know it’s his because of the dried mango, that and it says ‘Aldous’ on the door. Inside the familiar faces of Tom and Nicola are doing what they can to get Russell out the door. Here we all are then: ‘Twits On Tour’ today’s show: Hollywood film set. Unbelievable.
Despite our prestigious surroundings nothing changes. Russ is convincing Nicola that he’s told the crew she’s got a flatulence problem, Tom is giggling, but stressing that we need to leave and Gareth, in typical form has found a massage chair that he’s playing in like a trainee dentist when the boss goes out.
On set Russ is relaxed, at ease with the quite berserk situation. On camera he’s slick and in control adding adlibs that leave the crew biting into their knuckles. It appears a series of new adventures lay ahead, we’ll do our best to keep you informed. Until then eat dried mango.
Russell learning how to jump without breaking anything
testing the furniture