Henry VIII

We were playing ‘My most embarrassing moment’ the other day. In my case, rather too many moments came to mind.

Two of my best/worst happened in Hamburg. In the fist I was playing Rasputin in a musical. For some reason I had to do a press call in an ancient Mercedes. It was a splendid vehicle and the driver took me for a spin. Suddenly the wiring under the walnut dash caught fire and we had to leap out of the car as huge clouds of acrid black smoke billowed forth. So far so good, but it happened directly outside the American embassy which was on full alert and surrounded by tank traps.

As Rasputin I had to wear black robes, a long dank black wig and matching straggly beard, plus the obligatory wild staring eyes provided by custom-made contact lenses. In the situation, it didn’t take a huge leap of imagination to go from mad monk to Al Qaeda car bomber. Imagination is not something for which up-tight US guards are renowned and a lot of explaining had to be done while staring down the barrels of several automatic weapons.

My other moment came in a waxworks on the Reeperbahn. Don’t jump to conclusions…it was all completely above board. One of the main exhibits was Henry 8th and his wives. I was starring as Henry in a Natural Theatre show in a nearby theatre and the press wanted pictures of us face to face.

A large number of reporters, photographers and even a local news channel turned up. While they were fussing around preparing the shot, silly me thought it would be hilarious if a colleague took a snap of me in the full Henry gear, codpiece and all, meeting Hitler and his cronies, which was the set-piece at the other end of the exhibition.

Unlike Henry, the Hitler waxworks had to be protected from fanatics and when I stepped over the rope, all hell broke loose. Alarm bells, sirens, flashing lights, the works. The press posse turned and stared stony faced at the sight of Hitler, Himmler and Herman Goering looking out across a badly painted backdrop of the Eagle’s Nest accompanied by a rather shamefaced King Henry.

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