Ringroad Finalists Revue, Keele University Students’ Union (KUSU), 27 June 1985

A couple of weeks ago (May 2017) I wrote an Ogblog piece about my first forays into Ringroad Revue – click here. Quick as a flash, John Easom at “Keele Alumni Central” put Frank Dillon in touch with me, triggering e-mail exchanges, arrangements to meet up and of course a flood of more memories.

Frank wrote/asked:

I was particularly intrigued to learn that you are in possession of The Cornflake Box – or The Holy Grail as Olu Odunsi and I have dubbed it these past 30 years(!) or so.
Any chance you could scan me the contents?

The actual box (which I suppose I inherited from Frank in the summer of 1984) disintegrated during 1985 while it was living in my flat (K block Horwood). I think it was probably replaced by another similar box.

My collection of scripts is now in a file – a mixture of original hand-written scripts and photocopies – a fragment of the Holy Grail with some facsimile elements.

I don’t think that I even took the actual box with me…not that it was THE actual box any more, unless we accept that this particular Holy Grail of a Cornflake Box regenerated every few years – a bit like Dr Who…just more funny, less animated and with fewer enemies.

I suspect it will be autumn (2017) before I get space to take on the Ringroad File/Cornflake Box/Holy Grail Fragment for comprehensive scanning and sharing – otherwise I’ll be interrupting my current/future life by spending a disproportionate amount of time wallowing in the past…and that won’t do.

But I do have, already digitised, a recording of the Finalists Revue from 1985, which I have uploaded in two chunks (due to WordPress file size restrictions).

I cannot remember the name of everyone who appeared in the 1985 Finalists Revue – apologies to those whose names I only half remember or forget.

Frank was gone by then. Olu Odunsi was still around and was a delight to work with on the boards, including this show. John Bowen, who was on the research//academic staff, also joined with us for Ringroad that 1984/85 academic year and was similarly good news to have in the team.

Indeed the whole cast was fun and friendly. Dave Griffiths (who also wrote very good material) and three fabulous lasses, Jo, Jackie and (I think) Karen. Possibly there were others, but I think that’s it. Please help me to fill in the gaps if you are able, dear reader.

I have not re-listened to the recording in full myself yet, but I think the second half might be a tad better than the first half. The recording is poor as we had a microphone shortage, so some bits are less audible than others and some sketches sound a bit shouty.

I was pretty hopeless as a performer, really, but I think it was seen as a bit of a coup to have a union sabbatical on the Ringroad cast taking the pee out of union politics. I wrote little back then – my comedy writing was to blossom later, in the 1990s, at NewsRevue.

Enjoy the recording(s) below and please do comment.

Ringroad Finalists Revue 27 June1985 Part One of Two


Ringroad Finalists Revue 27 June1985 Part Two of Two


After The Hackgrass Reveal…Later That Same Day…A Strange Sort of Committee Meeting, 10 June 1985

On top of my Hackgrass reveal antics on our last morning in office, it seems we held some sort of bogus committee meeting later in the afternoon. More a symposium than a mere meeting, by the looks of it.

It looks as though I completed the minutes that December, ahead of our January 1986 appearance at the UGM I shouldn’t wonder, so I’ll publish the typed version at that date. The hand-written version that follows must have been part-written on the day and then concluded later.

Looks as though my Daily Mail rebuttal might have been around the same time.

Experts at handwriting analysis forensics might be able to work out exactly what went on. John White – I suggest you might choose not to apply for this role, if your attempt at the Hackgrass cypher is anything to go by.

10 June 1985 Spoof Minutes Manuscript Page One10 June 1985 Spoof Minutes Manuscript Page Two10 June 1985 Spoof Minutes Manuscript Page Three10 June 1985 Spoof Minutes Manuscript Page Four


Hackgrass Reveal in Pub Circ, Keele, 10 June 1985

When signing out Hackgrass from Concourse in February 1985, I left my name hidden in a not very complex code of initials in the final sentence of that piece.

Most of my fellow committee members didn’t know that I was Hackgrass. Indeed the only person on the committee who did know was Pete Wild, as the only people still at Keele who did know my identity were my remaining former Barnes L54 flatmates (hence Pete), Petra Wilson and Annalisa de Mercur.

For the last day of our office as sabbaticals, I wrote a final Hackgrass one-pager and revealed myself to the lovely Pat Borsky in the print room. (As Hackgrass, I mean; please retain some decorum and concentrate, dear reader). Pat agreed to print the one-pager as a publicity circular (pub. circ.) special and the rest is history.

The one-pager caused more a bit of a stir that day in students’ union circles. I thought best to lie low in my office.

Soon enough, John White plonked himself in my office with pub. circ. and a copy of the February Concourse, saying that he wanted to break the code.

I said that I didn’t much care who Hackgrass was and that I wanted to finish off some work, as I was still very busy.

John laboured with the puzzle for some time in my office, concocting some highly convoluted theories such as:

a=1…z=26, reverse the number series and rework the letters

Once I got irritated enough, I suggested to John that whoever Hackgrass was, he or she probably wasn’t that sophisticated a cipher-wright, so John might be better off trying something really simple like the initial letters of the words in the sentence.

About 10 seconds later, I received an unrepeatable (indeed forgettable) stream of invective from John. I have forgiven him for the invective and I believe he has forgiven me for keeping my identity as Hackgrass a secret during our sabbatical year.

Post script – John White has left an extensive comment on the above few paragraphs, but for reasons known only to himself (perhaps cognitive dissonance between a need to vent his spleen in public while simultaneously hoping no-one will find and read the venting) has posted the comment on a different posting – click here to read both posting and comment.

In all the excitement, I don’t seem to have kept a copy of the printed pub. circ. itself, but I do have the original text, a scan of which follows.

Hackgrass Reveal Pub Circ June 1985