I had to go and pick up Judy this morning. Her car had broken down at Judith Chalmers's house. Judith, as you know, is a woman truly blessed. Not only is she a fabulous presenter of TV holiday programmes but she’s psychic to boot. I’ve never met a woman with such a strong handle on the future. The first time I met her was at the bash celebrating Des O’Connor’s eightieth birthday. I forget who first introduced us – it might have been Sue Lawley – but I do remember the first time I shook Judith’s hand. She immediately went pale and dug her nails into my palm. ‘Greatness!’ she hissed as her eyes rolled back so I that all I could see were the whites of her eyes. ‘Stardom, riches, politics, missiles!’
I’ve pretty much worked out the first four and but think she was wrong about the meaning of the last. I once tried to build a missile with the help of Graeme Garden but the project came to nothing when we disagreed over a question of warheads. Still, that’s eighty percent accuracy, which makes Judith, in my opinion, the most trustworthy seer in the UK.
She lives only ten miles away in the village of Prillock Meed, so I was soon engaging the handbrake in the large forecourt to her mock Tudor pile. I hadn’t had time to even knock on the front door before it opened and Judy appeared.
‘The battery has gone again,’ she said, tucking her keys into her purse.
Judith followed her out.
‘Richard! How lovely to see you,’ she said. The dear woman’s only four feet four inches tall so I bent down to kiss her on the cheek. In the process, I must have slipped my hand into hers. Barely had we touched skin before she was white and her eyeballs were rolling.
‘Oh, not again,’ sighed Judy, who has often expressed her frustration at how eager the future is to channel itself through Judith and me.
‘I see a tall man with a crooked nose,’ said Judith, now deep in one of her trances.
‘Does that man never stay home?’ asked Judy.
‘What man?’ I asked.
‘Ah,’ I said, a bit slow. ‘The tall man with the crooked nose.’
‘Onions and garlic,’ said Judith, still out there. ‘A pony, a man with a beard, Felicity Kendal, a Rolex watch, three blocks of lard, a woman called Edith, more onions, nine brass kettles, and prime time BBC!’
And that was it. Judith Chalmers gave a huge gasp and fell into my arms in what’s known in mystical circles as ‘a swoon’. Judy, however, was grabbing her by the hand.
‘Touch her again,’ she told me. ‘I want to know more about prime time BBC.’
‘Might be Strictly Come Dancing,’ I said as I slung Judith over my shoulder and carried her back into the house. ‘I’ve told you before we’d be fantastic on it.’
A glass of water with a teaspoon of sugar soon bought Judith around and she was very apologetic when we told her about her prophecy. ‘My dears, it’s often like that, you see. You can’t expect the future to be explicit in its every detail.’
As I drove home, Judy was deep in thought.
‘She might have got it all wrong,’ I finally said to break the silence.
‘Don’t be so silly, Richard. Judith is rarely wrong. Didn’t she predict the trouble with Keith Chegwin and that Grenadier guard?’
‘I suppose you’re right,’ I answered, turning into our cul-de-sac.
I must have gasped. Judy opened her eyes and groaned. A black London taxi was parked in the drive alongside a horse and trap. I recognised both and no sooner had we climbed from the car than the front door opened and out came a tall man with a crooked nose and with the country's only working iPhone stuck to his ear.
‘How did you get in?’ I asked.
‘Beshush,’ said Fry, who hadn't actually been on the phone with anybody but merely showing off. ‘Girdle your worries and fret not an ounce. We simply jemmied open the back door. Roger needed to use the bathroom and I thought you wouldn’t mind.’
As it happened, I didn’t mind. Many is the time I’ve forced my way in the private residences of my celebrity friends. And I also recognised the pleasing sound of Roger Whittaker’s whistling coming from the hall.
‘What’s the terrible noise?’ asked Judy, who has never been a fan of the man.
Stephen raised a fingers to the heavens. ‘I have come up with a plan to save you from your rodents. It involves onions, garlic, three blocks of lard and the a man capable of whistling to the frequency of mice.’
Judy gave me one of those looks. I had come to the same conclusion.
‘I’ll never doubt again,’ I told her as we headed indoors and to a date with destiny.