Does anything give a woman more pleasure than watching a munchkin dance?
I woke up this morning humming a tune I recognised only too well. When I came downstairs, I found Judy sitting watching ‘The Wizard of Oz’ on our new 72in flatscreen in the living room. I stood at the door, watching Judy oblivious to the world and singing about rainbows. Only when she began to clap along as the mayor of Munchkinland gave Dorothy his welcoming speech did I break the spell.
‘Ah, takes you back, doesn’t it love?’ I said as I slipped beside her on the sofa.
‘Our courting film,’ she sighed, resting her head on my shoulder. ‘We must have gone to see this a dozen times.’
‘And remember how I always promised to buy you one of those little fellows for your birthday?’
‘And you never did. I never thought the man with the sixteen inch quiff would have been such a cheapskate.’
A low blow, I thought, given the mitigating reasons. ‘How was I to know there weren’t any shops selling munchkins in Manchester?’
‘Not then, there weren't, but there are probably lots of them now. I hear it’s gone quite cosmopolitan.’
I stroked her hand as the munchkins began to dance. ‘And to think, I made you watch this film so many times that it took you a year before you told me that you fear scarecrows.’
‘I still do.’
‘You’ve hidden it well.’
‘I knew it would only upset you if you knew,’ she replied. ‘I know how much you love them.’
I do. I can’t deny it. Muchkins dancing might work for Judy but nothing puts me in a better frame of mind that seeing a pile of straw given human form.
Judy’s fingers tightened around my arm. ‘I’ve got you a little surprise,’ she said and jumped up. Into the kitchen she ran and I heard the pantry door open and then close. When she came back, there was somebody with her.
‘Bloody hell! Is that what I think it is?’
‘A Guy Fawkes. I made it myself. I knew how upset you were last year when Channel 4 wouldn’t let you have a bonfire. But now it doesn’t matter how many Catholic conspirators you burn.’
It was a beautiful piece of kit. An old felt hat stuck sat on a stuffed pillow onto which Judy had carefully drawn the face of the Head of Channel 4. The rest of the body was equally magnificent, wearing my old Granada Reports suit with the stain where Judy Meacock threw coffee over me.
‘And is that what I think it is?’ I howled in delight. ‘I think I’m right. That looks like a burlap flange!’
Sure enough, on closer inspection it was a burlap flange, right in the middle of Fawkes’s stomach.
‘I sewed it on myself. I know how much you life to stuff their innards with fireworks and watch the whole thing explode.’
‘Ah, Judy. You know me so well. And you’ve even put shoes on it.’
‘A Guy Fawkes isn’t a Guy Fawkes unless he’s wearing the finest in handmade brown leather shoes. Raj won’t miss them. I took them from his dressing room when he went out on one of his sugar binges.’
It might sound a mite extravagant, burning a pair of the finest shoes that money can buy, but, if I know Raj, he’ll have twelve dozen other pairs at home. I’ve never known a man for buying shoes. Many is the time I’ve told him I thought he needed to seek out professional help but he always tells me to mind my own business and went back to fashioning teats out of icing sugar.
The morning had been perfect. I gave my doll a squeeze and then I squeezed Judy. I couldn’t have been happier.
‘We’re going to have the biggest bonfire this town has ever seen,’ I promised her. ‘I’m going outside now and I’m going to start building it.’
‘Have we enough wood?’
‘Enough wood?’ I scoffed at the notion. ‘We’ve a Range Rover and a trailer and we’re surrounded by fields in which countless children have worked months to pile up wood. How long would it take me to go around and bring it all back here?’
Judy looked a mite concerned. ‘What if they catch you?’
‘What if they do? Channel 4 can’t fire us again, can they?’
Her eyes lit up like I haven’t seen them shine since before we became public figures and began to worry about our reputations. ‘I’ll get my coat,’ she said.
‘You load and I’ll act as lookout,’ I told her as she switched off the TV. ‘And, do you know what, Judy. How about if I enquire and see if I can get some munchkins to dance around the bonfire? Would you like that?’
‘Oh Richard!’ she said, throwing her arms around me. ‘I do love you and your crazy ideas.’