Billy Connolly announced his retirement from live performance last year, but today, for this audience of one, he is in full flow. He has recently been in Ireland, he tells me, apropos of nothing, but with a twinkle in his eyes behind his small black glasses. "We were getting dinner and it was on the menu: 'Potatoes of the Night'."

He announces it in that distinctive inflection of his, as if revealing an Oscar-winner and, in a flash, he is away on one of those surreal flights of fancy that were the pillar of his 50-year stage career as a

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