Fate was wearing tartan, smoking a large cigar, and giving us the bad eye. You could say it was destined to be one of those nights. After two hours, Judy’s giant inflatable hand had sagged in three of its fingers and the can of lager balanced on her lap was sporting an orange peel hat. I was more subdued, biting my nails as the minutes ticked by. There was so much going wrong. It had begun with the realisation that it takes a special kind of idiot to build a multimillion pound stadium for the national football team and then schedule a game of American football on the pitch only a couple of weeks before the biggest international match of the season. Some of the players were sliding further than a well greased Denise Robertson in a game of Twister.
‘The FA should organise a mole burying contest on the Superbowl pitch the week before it kicks off,’ I suggested, really quite sourly.
‘Perhaps it’s all been a clever plan to ensure that we lose,’ said Judy, ever the cynic.
‘I think such cunning is beyond us,’ I replied as the full time whistle went and English hopes for European Championship qualification went the same way of our lately departed Channel 4 contract.
After Liniker announced the result of the Russia game, Judy swore a single vulgar epithet and began to seal the uneaten nibbles in airtight containers. The phone’s chirp was like a well timed plan to interrupt my own slide into melancholy.
‘Madeley,’ I said, barely mustering the energy for a welcome worthy of the name.
‘In your face!’ came the cry.
‘You know who it is,’ said the voice.
Unfortunately, I did know who it was. Or didn’t. It wasn’t as easy at that. We’ve had The Proclaimers on the show a few times and I still can’t tell Charlie and Craig Reid apart. I do know that one of them plays the guitar and the other touches himself as he sings. You’ve not noticed that? How odd. I advise you to look more carefully next time. Or simply imagine Frank Spenser with itchy thighs and you’ll have the gesture about right. They’re not exactly my choice of musical guests. They might appear more folksy than Neil Young but really they're closer to Andy Kaufman singing Old McDonald.
‘So, what do you want to proclaim?’ I asked. Rather witty, I thought.
‘Only that I’d walk a million miles to see the look on your face,’ said either Charlie or Craig.
‘Very dry,’ I said. ‘It’s why you’re my favourite musical act from north of the border after Isla St Clair and the marching band of the Black Watch.’ And with that, I hung up the phone.
Two minutes later, it was ringing again.
‘Madeley,’ I sighed.
‘Have it!’ said a voice.
This time I knew who it was without having to ask. ‘Hello Krankie,’ I said. ‘Don’t tell me that the big fellow has let you stay up late.’
‘Listen, don’t come that shit with me,’ said Janet, or as I like to call her, Jimmy the Krank. ‘I’m just ringing up to say how great it was to watch England lose to those fine fecking men of Croatia.’
‘Does your husband know you swear like that?’ I asked.
‘Piss off, Madeley,’ came a voice in the distance. I decided there and then to hang up. There’s nothing worse than the Krankies when they’re high on cheap wine and an English loss.
I was going to turn the phone off for the evening when it rang again.
‘Do you have to answer it?’ asked Judy.
‘I don’t know what minor celebrity it might be calling to make me feel bad,’ I said as I hit the pickup button.
‘Three two! Three two! Three two! Three two…’
‘Is this going to go on long?’ I asked.
‘‘Three two, three two, three two!’
‘Let me guess. Three two?’
‘You’ve got it pally!’ cried Billy Connolly. ‘Now I want to sing you a version of that while I’m playing the banjo!’
Again, I had no choice but to hang up the phone. When Connolly threatens you with the banjo, there’s really no sensible alternative.
Many of you have emailed me to privately ask what it’s like to have celebrity friends and I think you can now judge for yourself. Part of the problem can undoubtedly be attributed to the unhealthy number of Scottish celebrities that have come south to make their careers. My rollerdex has a disproportionately large section beginning ‘Mac’ and ‘Mc’, which ruins it for the surnames beginning with ‘L’ and ‘N’. And it’s not just the football results they like to use to annoy us. There’s the bagpipes, the tartan, the tins of shortbread biscuits, Alex Sammond, the word ‘loch’, the whole issue of who was the best Bond, and the lesser novels of Sir Walter Scott. Let’s also not forget about the Edinburgh Festival, Christopher Lambert, golf, Ultravox, Ronnie Corbett and the sight of Mel Gibson’s buttocks in Braveheart.
And what have we got to annoy them with in return?
When I put it like that, I think that we win. Which is really all that ever matters.