If you look above me today, you’ll see a thick black cloud bearing my name.
Yes, I’m glum and I’m in desperate need of cheering up. The weather has taken a turn for the chilly and Judy is away talking with the producers at ‘Woman TV’. Apparently, they didn’t want me because I’m too ‘phallocentric’, whatever that means. It’s why I’ve been stuck in the house, staring at the walls, and wondering what’s next for Richard and his glittering showbiz career. The situation hasn’t been helped by my guts which have failed to keep to the timetable I’d set them.
Nothing in the world gives greater worry than the fear of constipation. Scoff if you wish but there you have it: I’m a man whose regularity must be synchronised with a stopwatch. You might look to my childhood for the cause of this phobia. Perhaps there was some ‘Rosebud’ moment which explains the rest of my life. I myself have never been able to explain it. I do know that it occasionally leaves me feeling uneasy with the world.
Today that uneasiness transferred itself to the office when I spent an hour waiting for ‘the moment to come’ by doodling ideas for new TV shows. ‘Celebrity Odd Jobs’, ‘Dental Disasters’, and ‘A Brief History of Elephantiasis’ are three of my better ideas. I printed them out in large size 76 point fonts and stuck them to my noticeboard in the hope that they’d inspire me to work. They didn’t. It only took the dog to give a howl before I packed in for the day and went to investigate.
It was the postman who was delivering a letter of complaint from the people of Epping, who have taken offence over something I said. They’re more temperamental than the expat Brits living in Tunisia, who are almost as bad as the people of Warwick.
‘Good morning, Mr. Madeley, bad weather we’re having,’ said the postman.
‘A horrible morning,’ I said, taking the letter with the Epping postmark from him. ‘And to make it worse, I’m over an hour late.’
He looked at me, his face still an amiable grin. ‘An hour late for what?’
I thought it better if I didn’t explain but, still, I did.
‘Oh,’ he said. ‘Well, chin up. It can’t go on for long.’
‘That’s what Judy always says. Don’t worry, Richard. You’re not going to explode.’
‘And she’s right,’ advised the postman. ‘It’s like these post strikes. We had a bit of a backlog but we still managed to get everything delivered.’
‘But doesn’t it make you wonder what would happen if you didn’t get everything delivered? What if I’ve got blocked down there?’
The postman smiled, apparently at a loss for what to say, and then he turned to go.
‘Er…’ I said. ‘I’m afraid I don’t know your name.’
‘Simon,’ he replied.
‘Ah, Simon, I don’t suppose you fancy a coffee?’
‘I’ve just made a pot,’ I explained. ‘You look cold. Come on inside and have a drink. We can discuss different kinds of blockage.’
He looked bemused. ‘I’ve got a round to finish.’
‘Look, I’m needing somebody to talk to. You seem an intelligent chap. Do you know anything about catching mice?’
I explained about the mouse problem and how Stephen Fry has tried to help us.
‘Stephen Fry!’ he said, eyes like hard boiled eggs. ‘I’m such a huge fan of Stephen Fry…’
‘Well come on inside and we’ll give him a call.’
‘You mean that?’
I meant it right up to the moment that Stephen picked up his phone.
‘You have called the iPhone of the man called Fry and I am he. Stephen Fry speaking.’
I’d clearly caught him on one of his wordier days.
‘Stephen, it’s I… I mean me. Richard.’
‘Ah, hello the young strapping son of Madeley senior. What can I do you for you? More trouble with the mice?’
‘I was wondering if you could have a word with my postman. He’s a big fan,’ I said, handing the phone to Simon.
I don’t know what Stephen said but a minute or so later, Simon the Postman was in tears and went running from the house. I picked up the phone to hear Stephen calmly talking about his favourite lines from Philip Larkin.
‘What did you say?’ I asked, caring not a bit if I was interrupting him. ‘The poor man has just gone running out of here in tears. We were about to have a coffee together.’
‘One of those days, is it, Richard? A bit down in the dumps? I suggested as much to your postman. I explained how you probably invited him into your house because you are bored and that you don’t really care for his company or tales of his pitiful little life. I then explained it to him again using some of my favourite lines in English verse.’
Now I understood the tears.
‘That might be so,’ I replied, totally cheesed off, ‘but I had my afternoon planned. After a cup of coffee and a spot of lunch, I was hoping to have a game of Scrabble with him.’
‘Scrabble?’ said Stephen. ‘Do you say Scrabble?’
I winced. I’d forgotten about the well known rule among us celebrities which is to never mention Scrabble to Stephen Fry.
‘I’ll be there in ten minutes,’ he said. ‘I’ll even bring my diamond encrusted Scrabble set. You have the latest Chambers? I’ll bring that too. I love nothing more than beating a man senseless with an aas, an abo, or a zoa.’
He rang off. That was nine minutes ago.
If there’s a more silvered side to this dark cloud, I’m afraid I can’t see it yet. And I still haven’t gone.