Born in 1971, the illegitimate son of Bettrand Russell and Virginia Woolfe, Baddiel was, by the age of seven months, already considered by many members of the Bloomsbury Set to be a new E.M. Forster, although without the poofiness. It was at the age of ten that the overriding fact of David Baddiel’s destiny became clear : that he could have been a professional footballer (if he’d wanted to). An amazing footballer even at primary school, his distinctive playing style combining the grace of Maradonna with the vision of De Stefano, he none the less had to suffer always being picked last when teams lined up in the playground – an indictment, if ever there was one, of the much-decried tradition in English football selection of forsaking flair for mediocrity. Despite the short-sightedness of those captains (notably Simon Fund), Baddiel was still spotted by Carlos Dupiaza, Real Madrid’s talent scout, on one of his regular trips to the North West London Jewish Day School’s playground. Dupiaza offered him an immediate position playing up front with Gunther Netzer, and the rest, as they say, is history – insofar as Baddiel said no, he had to go home and started crying.
The teenage years 1978-82 were marked by an almost unearthly sexual prowess. Having lost his virginity well before the age of puberty (the contented look on the face of the midwife who delivered him was not lost on the large crowd who had gathered outside the hospital), the onset of sexual maturity resulted in a string of highly-charged relationships between the ages of thirteen and sixteen.
The decision to go to university at the age of sixteen was an unusual one, since he already held honary degrees from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Tokyo, Budapest and Malawi, but, as the character of David Baddiel puts it ‘University. Hmm. That might be a good place for totty.’ A similar pattern to his earlier life soon took hold.
It was comedy, of course, that Baddiel was finally to put his well-known muse to a career. Having rejected offers to host The Late Show, Question Time, Panorama and Screen Test, he charitably decided to help out the careers of Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis (then languishing on The Thames Help Roadshow), and Rob Newman (then serving a ten-year jail sentence for aggravated burglary) by giving them all small cameo roles in his show, The Mary Whitehouse Experience.
Harry Porter, the archivist of the Footlights since 1887, described him as ‘funnier than Peter Cook, John Cleese, Clive James, Stephen Fry and Roger de Courcy put together’.
The onset of a harsh and unforgiving winter forced his fleet of five vessels to seek winter quarters in a sheltered natural harbour on the South American coast. As soon as fairer weather set in however he continued his quest and, believing that he had found the westward passage to the Pacific, he set sail through the straits that now bear his name. Oh all right – That was Magellan.
R.D. Laing believed you can trace character back to conception – that the person you are could be conditioned by the sexual act that made you. My parents were both teenagers, it was just an urgent sex-thing, a dumb, stupid, pointless fuck – and lo and behold, so am I. (Laing’s theory also accounts for a life spent worrying if I’ve locked the door.)
Born 7/7/64 (After six weeks in the Salvation Army Mothers’ and Babies’ Home, Hackney, I finally selected some suitable parents and moved to the countryside). I grew up among Italians, and as a kid there was this one shop I used to hate having to walk past. Whenever I did the shopkeeper would come out and go ‘Hey, you! I shag ya mother! I shag ya mother!’ And I’d shout back ‘Hello Dad’.
When I retire I shall read books on human psychology by way of looking up the answers after a baffling test. Either that, or I shall be in immense pain and have to be helped to the toilet every half-hour.