It’s November 20, 1971, and we’re in Charlotte, North Carolina, the opening night of the Who US tour that I wrote about in an earlier post, the one where I nursed Pete through a nose bleed on the plane and where Keith and I were almost chucked out of the arena for backstage tomfoolery.
Back at the Holiday Inn where The Who are staying we’re all in the bar, aside from Roger who, as ever, has retired early with a ‘temporary overnight female companion’. Before long Pete and John retire as well and when the bar shuts a bunch of us, some Who crew, a local fan or two who’d discovered our whereabouts, maybe the odd intrepid girl, wind up in Keith’s suite where the mini-bar is soon exhausted. Over at one end of the suite some gather around to watch a movie on a TV mounted on the wall, but not Keith who’s telling jokes and laughing at them himself, pretty loudly.
“Did you hear about the one about the three nuns and the goat?”
Keith is talking too loudly for those by the TV, one of whom asks him to make less noise. “We’re trying to watch a movie.”
This is big mistake. As calm as you like, our host strides over to the TV set and without even bothering to unplug it, wrenches it from its mounting, carries it to the closed window and lobs it through the glass. We are about eight floors up. There is a tremendous crash. “As I was saying…,” continues Keith to a now speechless audience, “... there were these three nuns…”
It takes about three minutes before the night porter knocks on Keith’s door, but he’s ready for him, and before he can even open his mouth Keith hits his stride. “I don’t know how I can possibly apologise for the terrible accident that has just occurred,” he begins in his best Oxbridge accent. “It’s just too unbelievable, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am dear boy. I was trying to move the television closer to the window so that more of my guests might watch it from the bed when it slipped from my grasp and, heaven forbid, fell through the window… just the most awful thing to happen, and really a dreadful accident... I just hope no-one was beneath it. Where did it fall? In the car park? Oh dear, what a terrible thing to have happened. How much will it cost? I can pay you now…”
And it so it goes on, with Keith never allowing the porter to get a word in edgeways until, finally, compensation having been agreed, the porter is about to leave and return with some material with which to effect a temporary repair on the window, which Keith has requested. Meanwhile all of us have somehow managed to suppress our laughter, so – as a crowning gesture - Keith delivers the killer blow: “Er... if you’re coming back would you be so kind as to bring two more bottles of chilled champagne and,” Keith hesitates for just the right number of seconds, “another TV?”
The following morning I had my breakfast in the dining room, arriving just as Roger was polishing off the American equivalent of a full English. I was surprised to see him there. “Bird was still asleep,” he said by way of explanation. “A bit tired. Didn’t ‘ave the ‘eart to wake her.” He polished off a cup of coffee and stood up from the table. “I will now though. Nothing like a blow job after eggs and bacon.”