Henning Wehn, London Memories, Wars and Covid

Posted on March 19, 2022

I finally got to enjoy my 2019 Christmas present last night. It was a comedy gig by Henning Wehn at the Hackney Empire, a wonderful venue. We got into London relatively early but soon discovered Hackney is a bit out on a limb.

We ended up going over the river through Covent Carden and up to Holborn, then Bethnal Green. I was assured that it wasn’t a long walk. It was one straight road to Hackney, apparently. It probably wouldn’t have been if we had turned left instead of right. We ended up far enough away to catch a 254 bus back through Bethnal Green and on to Hackney.

Memories of The Cock

We then had a drink in the Cock Inn. This made me realise that I had been in there once before. Then I remembered my friend Simon, and his younger sister, who had a flat there a few years ago. After some internal mathematics, I realised a few years ago was actually 1992. Why do the 1990s still only feel like a few years back?

As the memory became more vivid, I recalled it was the same weekend I had a fight with my brother over a disagreement regarding The Jam’s greatest ever single. It was at our uncles 60th birthday party, leaving my dad to surmise that we were an embarrassment. On reflection, he was right, but there is no way ‘When You’re Young’ is better than ‘Strange Town’.

No More Pee With a G&T

Anyway, we left The Cock and had a couple of G&T’s in the venue. I have to drink shorts now because if I have more than one pint, ten minutes in, all my concentration has gone and the words ‘need a pee, need a pee, need a pee’, are racing around my head, ruining everything. I’m considering getting some nappies.

As for the gig itself, well, in my opinion, it was bloody funny. Wehn touched on Covid, Brexit and what it is like to be a German trying to be a comic in London. I can remember barely any of it but I do remember shuddering with laughter in a manner that last happened at a Billy Connolly gig several decades ago. It was not about jokes; it was all about situation, delivery, and timing.

One bit I do remember, which made me laugh but also recall a video by former Sun editor, David Yelland, on the Joe website. It was about Britain’s obsession with World War II and its inability to get over it. Wehn talked about when he arrived in London. “I turned on the TV and there was a black and white documentary about World War Two. I thought, hah, what are the chances of that…turns out they were about 100%”.

A great gag but also close to the truth. He went on (not in a spiteful way) about how Brits had to turn Covid-19 into a circus. Even to a point where Captain Tom got dragged into it to provide a link to World War Two. This was coupled with the ridiculous sight of people banging pots and pans on their doorsteps. The rest of the world looked on in utter bemusement as old people’s homes got converted into death camps.

Obsessed with the War

It had already dawned on me that in Britain, we are obsessed with linking everything to the war, but this gig really drove it home that it isn’t just me thinking that. Everyone in the audience was laughing at the sheer madness of the British people and the obsession that if we can link the spirit of Dunkirk to any crisis, everything will be okay.

Not that the chaos of Dunkirk should be the blueprint of how to run a country. As a nation, we need to get over the second world war, Churchill and Spitfires. It stops us from thinking logically in a crisis. The England football team learned that last summer. They finally realised that passing the ball to each other and kicking it into the net was a better option than ranting about winning the war before losing the plot, then the game.

Homeward Bound

So, after a jolly good laugh, it was back to the semi-complex journey to Waterloo. We arrived early, so we had an appalling baguette from the ambitiously titled ‘Upper Crust’ shop and wandered over to ‘The Hole in the Wall’ pub. It was, according to the staff, still recovering from the previous day’s St Patrick celebrations. It felt more desperate than normal, with the majority of the clientele looking like extras from the ‘Old Red Eyes is Back’ video by the Beautiful South. I don’t know why, but I do like a ropey pub.

It was then back to our home in the middle of nowhere, where it seemed even quieter than ever. Just the hoot of an owl and a distant clank from the machinery of the Watercress factory before hitting the sack and going out like a light.

A good day.

*The David Yelland video can be seen here…it is compelling listening….https://www.facebook.com/www.JOE.co.uk/videos/456675751579748/

No Replies to "Henning Wehn, London Memories, Wars and Covid"

    Got something to say?

    Some html is OK

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.