In a candid interview, comedian and musician Bill Bailey has revealed that in his early twenties he was headed for fame as a fashion model.
‘I was tall and slim, with the sort of thick straight hair you can style however you like, and I hoped to go far, but I had trouble interpreting the catwalk music and had no sense of timing,’ said Bailey. ‘With bad timing and good looks I could have ended up in a hospital soap opera, so things were desperate.’
‘I made this Faustian pact – I nearly said Freudian pact, which would have been interesting to analyse with one of my trademark puzzled expressions – with this young moustachioed guy I met called Mandy. His real name was Mephistopheles but he wanted to move into politics and said it could hold him back.’
Bill said that after signing a contract in blood he suddenly found he had perfect pitch and a natural aptitude for playing instruments and writing songs. ‘That was great,’ he said, ‘but I also found I’d acquired this strange sense of humour. Now I had looks and talent, but I couldn’t take it seriously. I could have become a world-beating singer but I’d have ruined it by laughing at the absurdity of it all.’
After conjuring up Mandy by jumping on Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery while waving a £50 note, Bill told him the deal was off. ‘But he was having none of it,’ said Bill. ‘Eventually I did a trade whereby he took away all my possessions and my stunning looks and physique but left me the music and humour and gave me back my soul.’
‘At last things felt right, until I auditioned for a show on the Beeb, but they said they couldn’t consider putting someone so disfigured on the screen. So I got Mandy back and did one more deal. He turned me into a bloke, and then the TV executive said I looked just fine, and I’ve been happy ever since.’