I seem to have had a few of what I call 'Gracie Allen' moments recently. Just in case you don't know, Gracie Allen was an American comedienne who became internationally famous as the zany partner and comic foil of husband, George Burns. After an enormously successful career in American vaudeville and radio, they had one of the most successful television programmes of the 50s, which ran for ten years.
The premise was very simple: The couple played themselves, husband and wife entertainers living in Southern California. George played straight man to wife Gracie, whose outlook on life was more than a bit off-centre, confusing not only George but their friends and anyone who confronted the good-meaning but scatterbrained Gracie. As George liked to explain it, Gracie "makes sense in an illogical sort of way."
Typical of my ‘Gracie Allen' moments was this recent conversation at home:
Do you know, that man this morning looked just like the actor in that film.
Me: Which film?
The old film with that chap in with the same name as that company you worked for.
Me: Which one's that? Michael Joseph?
No, don't be silly. The company that was round the corner from that flat where you saw that woman on the balcony.
Me: What woman's that, then?
You know. She was married to that chap who was a sort of English Fred Astaire. They were in musical theatre.
Me: (blank face)
They got engaged in Manchester. Announced it on the stage of the Palace Theatre, and my Auntie May took them a bouquet. She was secretary of the Playgoers' Club.
Me: Oh, you mean Jack Hulbert.
That's the one! Married to Cicely Courtneidge. You saw her on the balcony of her flat in Mayfair, didn't you?
Me: Yeah, Chesterfield Mews.
That's it. Round the corner from that company you worked for then.
Me: Oh, you mean Edward Arnold.
That’s right. Well... that was the name of that actor. Edward Arnold.
Me: Oh, I see. So that chap you met looked like him.
Oh, no, he looked like the other one in that film.
Me: Which film?
Oh.... I don't know now.
It was at this point I lost the will to live.