Tag Archives: custody

The fallout from defending Justin Lee Collins.

6 Oct

9 AM SATURDAY, OCTOBER 06, 2012 Nunhead Heights

Last week all hell broke loose in my world.

I felt a bit like Salman Rusdie after the Ayatollah issued a death sentence or what’s happening to that guy in Wales who has been named the main suspect in the little girl’s disappearance. A bit.

[Please remember it is rarely, if ever, the first suspect that done it. He may be the guy but my guess is he is not. And that is only a guess. Don’t accuse me of supporting child abduction because I don’t think he did it.]

Last Saturday I posted my support for the British comic Justin Lee Collins – who had been accused of making his ex fearful of his violence – I think that is the gist of the charges against him. I also threw into the post my beliefs regarding accusations of domestic violence, verbal and psychological violence and the English Harassment Laws, and my deep bitterness towards a certain someone.

Anyway, twitter exploded with expressions on how dangerous and vile I was, and also that I was not funny.

One angry woman tweeted she wouldn’t read the posts because it was ‘too vile to read’ but had seen ‘the excerpts on twitter’. ‘Excerpts’ on twitter – now that’s funny.

Over the weekend the number of hits was growing exponentially. Doubling above normal, then tripling, then twenty times more. At that rate I’d be famous for being an unfunny misogynist. I want to be famous for being a funny misogynist.

A TV comic – her name will be not named here – exhorted her followers to tell me a thing or two, and I got some very nasty comments on my blog and elsewhere. Then she tried to goad other comedians in the ‘comedy community’ to have a go at me.

I panicked. I had killed my comedy career, yet again.

I enjoy making people angry. At least when they are angry they are paying attention to me. I don’t want them to be that angry. And I don’t want to be the spokesperson for domestic violence. I don’t even want to be the spokesman for issues that I believe in.

It was very, very scary.

So scary that I was afraid to promote my show though twitter. I feared that one of my new enemies would come to the show and in the protestation of ending abuse against women would throw a punch at me.

I couldn’t sleep. I was hypnotized watching the hits go up and up and trying to decide which way to handle it. I wanted it to stop.

My options were to apologize a la UK comic Jimmy Carr regarding his taxes, keep digging like TV personality Ricky Gervais regarding everything. Or I could do nothing, like comic Frankie Boyle, and his joke about swimmer Rebecca Adlington.

I did nothing.

Then, on Tuesday, another comic blogged something even more sensationalist – rape and women – and an extremely famous and beloved British TV star, Jimmy Savile, was accused of having sex with many underage girls under the protection of the BBC.

As suddenly as they arrived, the clouds moved on.

And wonderfully, not one other comic took the TV Comic’s bait to trash me. I felt loved. Or at least not reviled in my own ‘comedy community’.

But as the interest in me died down I became sad. I had enjoyed the attention, even if unanticipated.

If anyone out there wants to have another go at me, feel free. I’ll welcome it.

Post Script:

I have written enough today so I don’t have to write that the mother of my children wouldn’t let me have my children this weekend because I forgot to remind my son to take his clarinet to school last week.

And I’ve avoided writing another angry and bitter post. Okay, maybe not.

@lewisschaffer – twitter feed

Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday: Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, The Source Below, 11 Lower John Street, London W1F 9TY. Come on down. Free admission. Or reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow


My abuser turns up at my show in London and I don’t know what to do.

12 Jul

2 AM Thursday 12 July 2012 Nunhead Heights

My  abuser smiled at me from the other side of Lower John Street.

I had seen his name on the guest list for my free show in Soho. His wife had made the reservation. Or was that his daughter?

I was going to send an email to her. “Are you with that guy or are you not with that guy? If you are with that guy, I will not let him into my show.”

But I didn’t send that email. It was close to show time so she probably wouldn’t be checking her email, and how could he have the nerve to show his face? It must be someone else, I hoped.

Near show time, there he was  – 70ish, old and frail – the man who changed my life for the worse eight years ago. He was there with his 30ish young wife and her even younger sister – proximity to youth can make man look ancient. I tried to wave him away while scowling at him.

He must not have noticed. He walked across the street to the club door.

The shows leading up to Edinburgh are the most difficult. It’s when I realize I don’t have a new show and need to run through new bits. I did new material Tuesday and it was the worst first half I have had in, since, well, last week. I’m not doing that great to begin with.

I greet people outside the Source Below. If I don’t meet them before the show I assume they are thinking negative thoughts about me if I can’t see their faces once the show begins.

And to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, he walks into mine.” And like the movie, this was no coincidence.

Here was the man who made me believe that a father can sue a mother in this country and not be ruined by the outcome. “Just fill out the C1a form, ask for sole custody and you will get half. And we will help you.” Probably doesn’t sound like much to hate, but it was the worst advice I’ve ever gotten. The worst advice any father could get. And I didn’t get the support from him, either.

This man gave me hope where there was no hope – like the cancer cures that don’t cure cancer. What killed Steve Jobs, or so I heard. Years of battling with the mother of my children was the result and the pain that cause everyone.

What should I have done about him and his family?

Should I have told him to he couldn’t come in?

Or sucked it in and let him in? Let bygones be bygones the way The Queen shook the hand of  a man who was probably involved in killing her beloved Louis Montbatten?

Or go the other way and pull a Vito Corleone, The Godfather, who returned to Italy to assassinate Don Ciccio, the local Godfather who had murdered Vito’s family? He cut him open even though Don Ciccio was a spent force.

I shook my abuser’s hand and let him in.

Had come solo maybe I would have had a word with him. I couldn’t embarrass him in front of his family. I just couldn’t.

I ignored him – or tried. And if you have seen me you know I never ignore anyone, or anything. I thought it was crowded enough that he wouldn’t be noticed. Sadly, a white-haired 70-plus-year-old man in a room of 20 and 30-somethings with two young East Asian women stands out. My ignoring him stood out.

It started okay, and then I crumbled. Slowly, the bitterness and the anger bubbled to the surface and enveloped my lovely audience. A full house  and I didn’t make one friend. I made few enemies.

Everyone must has some story like this: Of someone you don’t want to see, ever, ever, again, showing up in your life. What do you do?

I used to say I would perform for a roomful of Hitlers, so happy  was I to have an audience. Now I don’t think so.  Well, I might be on stage in front of the Hitlers, but it wouldn’t be comedy. And that is what happened last night. It wasn’t a fun night for anyone.

On the way out, my abuser put a tener in my jug. At least I finally got something off the dude.

What you should do to see your children when your marriage breaks down – and good advice when any relationship crashes: Click here.

@lewisschaffer on twitter

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I am against gay marriage. Really.

11 May

11:59pm Friday 11 May 2012 Nunhead Height

I am not against gay people doing what they want to do. Freedom, and all that, is good. I am a libertarian, often, as I am for freedom and usually freedom is the cheapest option, and libertarianism annoys people on the Left and on the Right and I am nothing if not annoying.

But gay marriage is like anything free: It has a cost. Like “free” lunches, free healthcare, free education, free sex and even Free Nelson Mandela – someone has to pay for it. Even my show at the Source Below every Tuesday and Wednesday “Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous” is not “free”. I stand by the door and make you give me something, even if it’s an explanation as to why you sat through two hours and don’t put even one billion dollars Zimbabwean in my bucket.

What the proponents of gay marriage are asking is that the state – the state – as in the people who take our tax money and enforce our laws and contracts – okay, not much of my tax money – proponents of gay marriage are asking The State to grant a license to people who previously had relationships all on their very own without state intervention. Then they want the state to enforce that license or contract if things go wrong, which they almost inevitably do.

Yes, marriage is all well and good, but it goes wrong, frequently, and since the good people of the nations of America and England refuse to enforce the marriage contract for people who already are married – the men and women in heterosexual marriages –  marriage is not worth the hard drive it is encoded on.

Does the state enforce ‘for better and for worse’ and ‘til death do us part.’ Does it say to straight people: “Make it work. You have no choice.”? No. The state lets married couples get divorced whenever one person wants it without even an explanation needed.

So you split up, you gay lovers. You enter the divorce courts, forced mediation, counselling, the mess that comes from an extra mothers and fathers in custody battles, women’s shelters, and council flats for the dispossessed. Who is going to pay for all that? Do you think your £29.50 marriage license is going to cover all that? No, it will come out of MY tax dollar. And I don’t want to pay.

What I think gay people want – if there is such a thing as “a gay person” having seen incredible flexibility in human preferences as to make the term “a gay person” or “straight person” completely ridiculous – Am I gay because of what I did in university or what what goes through my head when I watch Mens Olympic Water Polo?

So, to finish my sentence, what gay people want is a state-sanctioned party – the Wedding – and the piece of paper, which ironically is SO Wizard of Oz. “You want to be married”, the Wizard says “so with the powers invested in me…”

Everyone wants what I call “The Full Eastenders”: The meeting. the sex, the engagement, the fights, the cheating, the reconciliation, The Big Wedding, the marriage, the children, the cheating, the fights, the heartache, the divorce, the custody battles, the reconciliation, and the ending in murder or suicide. Who wants to be told you can’t have the wedding bit?

[The absolutely brilliant Matthew Parris wrote about why he won’t attend weddings, even gay weddings: It is another Saturday ruined.]

Let’s ban heterosexual marriage, too, because it doesn’t mean a friggin’ thing in this country. When your wife wants to divorce you, you wouldn’t believe how fast and unstoppable that procedure is, even if it isn’t even in her best interests,  let alone the children or society’s, whatever society is. You go from Married to Divorced in 35 days. 35 days! The mother is possibly extra crazy from the exhausting hell of giving birth to a baby or two and not in sound mind – not that any woman is completely free from insanity.

The court won’t enforce a straight marriage and it won’t enforce a gay marriage. But you want the wedding, gay people, so go ahead. But don’t expect to get any satisfaction when it goes wrong from the people who gave you that license, or cosigned that contract. And by God, it will go wrong. And don’t expect me to be happy that I have to pay for it.

@lewisschaffer – twitter feed

Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio

See Lewis Schaffer Sometimes test the news items at the Hungry Miller Comedy Club at The Miller by Borough High Street this Monday at 8PM. Fantastic night of comedy with Britain’s top comics and me, briefly. Only £4!

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday: Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, The Source Below, 11 Lower John Street, London W1F 9TY. Come on down. Free admission. Or reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow

The man near the window took a photo of us – or what you should do if you’re not allowed to see your kid

29 Mar

2 AM 29 March 2012 Nunhead Heights

My Israeli friend whispered to me that the man at the table near the window in our Chinese restaurant looked like he was taking a photo of us.

I looked over. I didn’t think so but who knows? We were in gay Soho and I still think I got it. Or maybe I am famous in Soho?

My friend revealed that his in-laws had spent maybe a million dollars on private investigators to follow him around. He didn’t carry a smart phone because they are easy to hack.

Had he gone crazy?

My Israeli friend is a professor of engineering at an English university. A lovely man. But he is very sensitive and has been through some hard times. I know it is difficult to think of an Israeli as sad or sensitive but he is both.

I met him at Families Need Fathers. We were both going through a spot of bother, as the English say, regarding our children. Our children’s mothers had a disagreement over our roles in our children’s lives.  They were both very unhappy with us and we went to the self-help charity FNF to get help. When we met maybe six years ago I was on my way out of FNF. He was on his way in.

Families Need Fathers is often confused with Fathers 4 Justice. FNFers are NOT the guys who wear superhero uniforms. The F4J guys dressed as Batman and Robin and climbing up Buckingham Palace are sensible compared to FNFers.

FNF’s philosophy is this: If you say the Right Words in the Right Way in the Right Court to the Right judge at the Right Time they’ll let you see your children.

Well, a Libyan had as much chance of speaking his mind to Gaddafi as a father has of getting justice in an English family court.

Families Need Fathers gave me the single worst advice I ever received: Go to court, ask for full custody of the children and settle for half.

At the time I was looking after my boys 82% of their waking hours – I was gigging three, four, evenings a week at the time. I know the percentage because I kept a diary to show the mother so she’d let me sleep. That, and to explain why I wasn’t doing well as a comic in England. Looking after babies is the most exhausting task a human can do, if done properly, and it is impossible do anything else very well while you’re at it. At least that is my excuse.

Half sounded good. And isn’t that way you negotiate – go to court, ask for more and settle?

Anyway, telling a dad to ask for full custody is like advising a man to punch an angry Grizzly bear in the nose. It’ll just make the bear angrier. And man has a better chance with a bear than with a mother in England.

It took me 18 months to realize things were getting worse the longer I was in court and I bailed. It was another 18 months before I stopping going to FNF meetings.

Along the way I had discovered an online book by a 77 year-old Texan psychologist appropriately named Homer McDonald called “Stop Your Divorce”. His advice was simple: Stop punching the bear. The book came too late to stop my relationship from breaking up.

My friend didn’t buy into Homer McDonald.

He thought his wife was different from mine. He kept going to court in England, and then to court in the two European countries where the mother had fled. He kept trying to say the Right Words in the Right Way in the Right Court to the Right judge at the Right Time.

Over egg fried rice, my friend told me how, after six years in court, he is only allowed to see his seven-year-old son for seven hours every two weeks in the European land the mother ran to. The mother insists on being there during his only contact. He has been unable to see his daughter for five years. She is nine. The case is now in the highest court in one of the European countries.

I cried a bit. Not seeing your kids can make you crazy, I thought.

A couple of years ago I would have shouted that the system is unfair. I would have screamed how hurtful it is for children to be denied the love of a parent. And that the English hate children. And that it was waste of energy and money for everyone and the only people who gain are social services, the courts and lawyers. And that children need to their fathers and that men have feelings, too. And that it makes people crazy.

I still think all of that is true.

But I told my sad Israeli friend that hoping to say the Right Words in the Right Way in the Right Court to the Right judge at the Right Time doesn’t work today. Maybe it never worked.

If I had known this when the mother of my children was deeply unhappy with me – unhappy with me as a father and a husband and a friend – I wouldn’t have gone to court. I would have told the mother of my children:

“I’ve had the children 82% of the time. You can take them. I’m going to sleep.”

That is something that I am sure that Homer McDonald would have approved of. And that is the only approach my friend could take with his horrible situation. It is sad day when a man has no other option than to walk away.

He needs to tell the mother “You can have them”.

And pray, pray, pray, she brings them back. In the meantime, go to sleep.


Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio.
Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday at the Source Below. Free admission. Reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comedian

SO IT GOES - John Fleming's blog

John Fleming’s blog: human interest, humour, humor, comedy blog featuring eccentricity, performance, movies and occasionally a few tears

Nunhead Nags

A blog about Nunhead regeneration

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comic

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comedian

SO IT GOES - John Fleming's blog

John Fleming’s blog: human interest, humour, humor, comedy blog featuring eccentricity, performance, movies and occasionally a few tears

Nunhead Nags

A blog about Nunhead regeneration

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comic