Edinburgh Fringe spotlight 2018: Comedian Lucy Porter muses about the importance of legacy in our life

Lucy Porter

WHAT have we received from our parents, and what will we ourselves pass on?

That’s the theme of Lucy Porter’s Edinburgh Festival show and you have to admit it’s a belter.

But the thing is, when you think about it, we’re not just talking about the genetic inheritance that has left you with those trademark luscious Shaw eyelashes – thanks, Dad.

“The problem is it’s quite a big subject,” laughs Lucy, a TV regular on panel shows such as QI.

“What inspired the show was my mum and dad were immense hoarders and collectors and we’ve been sifting through all this stuff, so many porcelain cats and glass clowns and old curtain hooks and you just think, ‘Why? Why did you keep all this stuff?’.

“But what do you do with the things your parents leave behind, because it feels weird getting rid of them. It feels like a betrayal because they meant something to them but they mean nothing to you and you can’t keep it all.

“My compromise is I’m bringing it all up to Edinburgh to try to give it away to audience members!

“I’ll have to watch with the glass clowns, though, in case they have that clown phobia and God knows you don’t want to diminish your potential audience!

“But the glass clowns are just wrong. As an objet d’art you think, ‘Why would you?’ but they’re not uncommon so why were so many people inspired to buy them?

“That also means the resale value isn’t that great, obviously, because I have checked. As much as I say I couldn’t bear to part with my parents’ things, if there was money in it I probably would have gone for the cash!”

Lucy explains: “I also look at other stuff you get from your parents in terms of personality but the bulk of the show is about legacy and what you want people to think of you when you go.

“I talk about David Cameron. He’d like to think he’ll be remembered as the man who liberalised the Tories and legalised gay marriage but all he’ll be remembered for is leaving his kid in the pub, landing us with Brexit and then running away!

“There’s also a celebration of George Michael because he’s my role model in what we should all seek to achieve.

“When he died it came to light that he’d done so many great things for other people without ever advertising them, loads of lovely stories – that’s what I’d like my legacy to be, people talking about all the wonderful work I did for charity, which I don’t actually do.”

But surely we’re all guaranteed to have a legacy now thanks to everything being preserved on the internet and social media?

“That’s it, now your digital legacy is the thing,” nods Lucy. “You need to watch what you put on Facebook because that is what historians will uncover centuries hence and you will be judged by cat videos and posting pictures of what you had for dinner.”

Lucy will also be imparting all the knowledge she’s acquired in her 45 years, including advice from her parents.

“I have been thinking more about the things my parents said, the safety advice my mum gave me,” she says.

“But my children never remember the good advice I give them or any wisdom I try and impart. All they remember is me saying, ‘The chocolate’s awful in America, you can take anything brown and call it chocolate.’

“When I was growing up my mum and dad talked to me about nuclear war and the threat from Russia and I thought we’ve left all that behind but now I’m thinking I’d better hang on to my old VHS copies of Where The Wind Blows and Threads for the Trump era!

“And there’s that awful thing of as you get older, all the things your parents said to you, you find yourself saying to your own children like, ‘Why aren’t you eating your dinner when there are people starving in the world?’.

“We are just turning into them, that’s the ultimate legacy!

“My husband’s dad is obsessed by never using a bottle that’s been used for something to put anything else in.

“With the kids I’d put paint in yoghurt pots for them to use and he absolutely couldn’t stand that and my husband now has the same thing!

“But it makes sense. If you put things in wrong containers it could be dangerous, wasn’t there a public information film about someone putting weedkiller in a lemonade bottle?

“That’s good advice! And so was my mum and dad warning me about motorbikes. I never used to give them a thought but now my kids are of an age to show an interest I’m like, ‘They’re terribly dangerous, you’re never having a motorbike!’”

My own parents always said, “Do you know what doctors call motorbike riders? Donors.”

And after speaking to Lucy, I began to remember all those sage words of advice I’ve been given over the years – not all of them totally useless.

One of my dad’s was that you should never have to worry or wonder about whose round it is when you walk into the pub or clubhouse – it’s yours.

Simply striding up to the bar and saying out loud, “What’s everyone having?” avoids all that “after you” nonsense at the pub door, and sets the precedent.

It was probably because I was brought up during the 70s that I still follow my folks’ advice to always make sure you have a drawer full of candles.

Not those stupid birthday candles for the top of cakes – although they can absolutely come in handy, too, but big, thick, slow-burning jobs that will light the entire house while that nice Mr Heath sorts the unions out.

In fact, I inherited all the candles in my drawer from my parents, and they’re still alive.

Finally, I actually have to skip a generation for a cracking bit of advice given to me by my grandfather, the Wing Commander.

As a chap who got all the men under his command off the beach at Dunkirk, I think he knew what he was talking about when he told me: “The worst decision is no decision at all.”

Lucy Porter: Pass It On is at the Pleasance Forth until August 26. For tickets visit www.edfringe.com