I notice in today's papers that a fuss is still being made about the supposed scam involving our phone quiz, 'You Say, We Pay'. I think it’s about time I set the record straight. I had nothing to do with it. I washed my hands of the whole business months ago. It was all Judy’s idea. Ask her. Keep me out of it.
Now, I hope that’s put your mind at rest and we can get on with today’s item which is all about herons.
Bill Oddie rang us last week asking if we would go up to Norfolk and sign some plastic herons he’s been auctioning off on behalf of the RSPB. We said we’d be delighted, what with both of us being ornithologically inclined, so at eight o’clock this morning we climbed into the Madeleymobile and headed north to the Twickleton Kesset Bird Sanctuary.
Oddie’s a funny little man who owns more Wellington boots than any person I’ve ever met. You’d think he lives in a world of muddy pits and animal droppings but it doesn't take long in his company before you see that it’s all for show. The Twickleton Kesset Bird Sanctuary was quite lovely with nice clean gravel paths and not a muddy bog to be seen. He met us at the car and walked us around to the pavilion where the heron signing was due to take place. Not once during the whole morning's event did Oddie take his Wellingtons off. He even trod them across carpets and when a sanctuary offical pointed it out he simply showed them his BBC pass and walked on. Like I said: a funny little man.
I tell you all this in the strictest confidence, of course. And it doesn't alter the fact that he's one of the good guys and one of the world's most charming people. The signing session went very well. I must have signed a hundred plastic herons for visitors and Bill gave us a nice thanks at the end. He then asked us if we could do him the enormous favour of driving him back to London. We said it would be a pleasure and we meant it. Bill said his own goodbyes and then he climbed into the back seat of our Range Rover and we were off.
We hadn’t gone a mile before Oddie tapped me on the shoulder.
‘Hang on,’ he said, ‘I’ll just take off me Wellies.’
Now Wellington boots aren’t the best thing for letting your feet breath. In fact, they more likely to give you a spot of trench foot. Even so, I wasn’t prepared for the smell which filled the car. Foot odour is one thing but this was a batch of something mixed by the devil for the ninth circle of hell. Poor Judy. Her eyes were streaming and if it weren’t for my open window, I’d have passed out.
The drive seemed to take hours and for the most of it, Judy seemed to be asleep. She later told me that she'd passed out but I think that's just an exaggeration. We dropped Oddie and his Wellingtons off at his house and drove round the corner where we bailed out and spent ten minutes walking in the fresh air. When we returned to the car, the smell of Oddie’s feet was still pretty rank. Judy said it reminded her of Warwick City Centre but I can’t possibly comment because of my ongoing litigation with that fine town.
Now for some Bill Oddie facts. It strikes me that this is the second day I’ve posted on a Bill, but unlike the saintly Bryson, Oddie has a dark side that extends beyond his feet. Oddie was once a radicalised twitcher, who would launch night raids to install bird boxes in residential areas all over London. He once climbed a lamp post in Downing Street to install an illegal tit basket. Indeed, his nuts can be found all over London, often hanging in net bags in the oddest places. It's Oddie who scaled Nelson's Column to install a nesting box on the back on Nelson's head. He now claims to have calmed down but rumours still persist that Oddie still masterminds the activities of radical twitchers across the nation.