You have to forgive me if I’m looking a little ragged around the edges this morning. We’re just back from a whistle stop holiday in Tunisia. And can I just say what a wonderful nation it is. Such colour, such weather, and a nation full of wonderful customs, cuisine, and culture. The only thing that let it down was those damn Tunisians and their inability to understand English. They want to speak nothing but French or Arabic, which you might think suits a man who works on Channel 4. But it doesn’t. There wasn’t a single shop selling subtitles. Judy suggested that we buy one of those remote controls to change audio track but we were sorely let down by the absence of a Dixons on the Tunisian high street. There wasn’t even a Boots.
After struggling to get to our hotel, we decided to do things the old fashioned way, by paying a local to translate everything for us. Only not being used to having a translator, I soon got into some difficulty because I didn’t know who was speaking or what was being translated. Our translator would start chatting to us and I’d think he’s talking to me when, in fact, he was merely translating something somebody else had said to him. I didn’t know who to look at, whose hand to shake, or, at one point, which end of the donkey to give the carrot. I soon realised that the problem lay in our translator looking too much like the locals and I solved this problem by putting a paper bag on his head. We spent the whole weekend in Tunisia being trailed around by a man wearing a brown paper bag, translating everything we heard.
In the end it was a good bit of business. We managed to do our piece for the Holiday Programme before we jetted home again late last night, and landed in Heathrow around midnight. To say things have been a bit hectic is an understatement. The last thing we needed was more trouble.
This morning we were back to our usual routine with a shopping trip to the supermarket. We were walking around our local Tesco, when Judy suddenly nudged me.
‘Richard,’ she said. ‘Did you notice something odd?’
‘Odd? What kind of odd?’ I asked, dumping a leg of lamb into the trolley.
‘Back at the cheese counter,’ she said. ‘When you were buying your weekly Edam. Everything you said sounded a bit foreign.’
‘Well, a bit Arabic but mixed with a little French.’
As soon as she’d said it, I knew she was right. But I was also busy slapping my head, realising my oversight.
‘We forget to pay him off!’ I cried, dragging the figure in the paper bag from the shadows of the cracker section. ‘It was my fault. I was so used to having him with us, I must have paid for his seat on the plane back.’
‘I did wonder why British Airways sounded more like Air France,’ said Judy. ‘But what do we do now?’
‘We might take the bag off his head to begin with,’ I suggested.
Judy whistled and raised her eyes to the security cameras. ‘Immigration,’ she sang in warning.
She was right. You have no idea who is watching the feed from these supermarket cameras. The last thing the Richard&Judy show needs is a reputation for hiring illegal immigrant labour. In the end, we bundled him into the Range Rover and headed straight for Heathrow where we left him by the terminal building, with enough money to buy himself a ticket home. I think he was happy with the arrangement but, with the paper bag still on his head, I really couldn’t tell. But that’s another problem with Tunisians. They are people who very rarely show their emotions. And you can consider that your Richard Madeley Certified Fact of the Day.