Saturday, 19 January 2008

Have A Break, Stephen Fry Style!

Heavens! Crikes! Shudder and Drool! Throw the word ‘calamity’ full force into a room crowded with ‘disaster’, ‘shock’, ‘outrage’, and ‘catastrophe’ and you might experience a fraction of the concern I had felt by the time I came to button up my fly at ten o’clock this morning.

At first, it began with a touch of mild annoyance when I was awoken by Judy hammering away in the spare bedroom. Groggily, I slipped out of bed and fed my feet to the slippers. Bones cracked, ligaments creaked, but His Madeley’s Slippers Brown and Orthopedic held up well as I set off to see what the old girl was up to.

‘I won’t be long,’ said she from the top of a wobbling stepladder. The curtain rail was hanging down across the windows. ‘As soon as I’ve fixed this, you can help me carry the new bed up the stairs.’

Daylight bankrupted my sleepiness but not my sense. ‘New bed?’ I asked. ‘What new bed?’

Judy wobbled again on the ladder and I thought for a moment she might actually fall through the window. She grabbed the wall just in time. ‘The new extra long bed and mattress I had delivered this morning.’

‘Extra long?’ I too felt a bit unsteady. The world wasn’t making much sense to me. ‘What’s going on Judy? Why do we need an extra bed?’

She turned and looked at me as she slipped her claw hammer into her workbelt. ‘Don’t tell me you’ve not heard the news!’

‘I’ve been asleep and in a fairly deep one at that. I was combing the knots out of Katie Denhem’s hair.’

Judy gave me one of her narrowing stares that warn me against mentioning Katie’s name too often. It’s the reason why I’ve held off including her picture in my bestiary.

‘You claim to be the man’s closest friend yet you haven’t heard the news?’ She gave me the full force of a tut which couldn’t have sounded more dismissive if she’d driven it through my forehead with her hammer. ‘Stephen’s broken his arm.’

That news shocked me into wakefulness. ‘Is he okay? Is he conscious? Did he mention my name?’

‘It’s only a broken arm but I’ve told him that we think it only right that he comes and stays with us for a few days while he recovers.’

Words are an unnecessary luxury when men of action are in their slippers before noon on a Saturday. I rushed to the window and lifted the rail into place. ‘Hammer away, Judy. Hammer like you’ve never hammered before…’

As Judy began to hammer and my arms began to rebel against the weight of the heavy curtain pole, I looked down and out the window and saw the postman walking up the drive. I smiled to him as he approached but he didn’t smile back. I suppose that’s the problem with sleeping in the nude. One quickly discovered the limitations of a pair of slippers when you’re holding up a curtain rail before a low silled bedroom window.

Stephen arrived an hour later when I was dressed, shaved, and buoyed by cornflakes.

‘How bad is it, old boy?’ I asked as I helped him into the hall.

‘Alas,’ said Fry, his arm in sling and plaster. ‘’Tis I, Fry, with the cruellest break of all. It’s my writing hand. I fear that the good people of The Guardian will have to do without Dork Talk for the foreseeable future. And my iPhone has been ringing all morning but I’ve been unable to answer it.’

‘Don’t you worry yourself about that,’ said Judy, fluffing a cushion on the sofa. ‘You come and sit down. You poor thing. And if you need somebody to do your typing for you, I’m sure Richard would only be too happy to help. It might even do him some good and show him that a real writer doesn’t just sit there and make things up off the top of his head.’

‘Indeed,’ said Fry, though I noticed, failing to meet her gaze.

‘I’m happy to do that,’ I said, flopping into my arm chair. ‘You need anything in the meantime? Something to eat? Entertainment? I could ring Oddie and ask him to bring his musical spoons?’

‘No, no,’ smiled Stephen as Judy perched herself next to him. ‘I just want to rest a few moments before we get to work.’

I looked at him. ‘Work? On a Saturday?’

‘I have noticed this in your before, Dick. You have a distinct reluctance to grasp life with both hands and shake it free of every drop of its possibility.’

An odd thing to say when your wrist is encased in plaster. He’d be grasping little in both hands for the foreseeable future. However, Stephen was right. I do complain about not having the time to write, yet in a few weeks I might be burdened with additional duties to make these days feel like protracted holidays.

‘Okay, I’ll help you,’ I said. ‘What do you need?’

He smiled as he used his good hand to retrieve his pipe from a pocket. Judy was soon shoving shag in his bowel and helping him to light it.

‘Bring my laptop in from the car and we’ll begin,’ said Stephen after a couple of mild puffs. ‘I was hoping to finish my libretto for my new opera based around the legend of Grunhilda, the one armed Bavarian bandit and truffle hunter. Wagner left his score unfinished when he began to find it too much for him. Luckily, I have the genius of Andrew Lloyd Webber to finish the music and give an extra the polish and layer it with my lyrics.’ He cleared his voice and began to sing in that occasionally fragile voice of his…

‘’Tis I, Grunhilda, speaking to you on my Alpine horn.
Where are you my band of flaxen haired lovelies,
We need to ascent again up yon Matterhorn,
Where grow the finest of Baverian trufflies…’

He gave an almost embarrassed smile as his voice finished echoing through the rooms.

‘Okay…’ I said.

‘Then I’d like us to write a couple of chapters of my new novel, “Bullocks in Tow”, my tale of farming life set against the backdrop of genetic mutations and cattle haulage.’

‘Right…’

‘And we’ll finish by writing a couple of essays on Tamil nationalism and security exploits in Mozilla based browsers. I thought after some dinner, we might spend the rest of the night writing poems and end with a game of Scrabble.’

‘I can see that you’re going to be busy,’ said Judy rising and adjusted her cuffs in a way that evoked just a touch of envy.

‘Indeed I am,’ I smiled, though I didn’t quite know how I should feel. ‘Give me five minutes, Stephen, while I just go and update my blog and I’ll be with you and Grunhilda.’

And now that job is done it’s time for me to learn how to write like the Master and learn the history of Grunhilda and her trufflies.

27 comments:

bertas said...

Type, type like a wind Richard... :)
See if you pushed my CV on the lovely Mr. Fry when I asked you to now I would be the one doing all the dirty work... tssss :)

Me thinks you will agree with me in the evening when you start to suffer from tennis elbow, carpal tunnel and drawn bonkers by requests to scratch him because he cannot do it himself... :)

Richard Madeley said...

Would you scratch, Bertas? Oh, I suppose you would and Stephen is now grinning at me from the armchair in the corner of the room. I think he likes having so many willing acolytes. Oh, now he's nodding...

bertas said...

Oh Richard, you know nothing about us women dont you? :) I'd make him a soup, fuss over him like a hen and still manage to scratch all in between typing... I dont know how you will top that... :)
See, us women have one super hero ability - we can multitask :)

In fact I even have a special scratching device, I got it from an Armenian friend, it is used to scratch the back for those hard to reach places... like a little rake on a wooden stick...
anyhow, you too have fun typing tssss and easy on the scrabble lads, no sudden movements, one broken arm is enough...

Lola said...

Oh the poor dear, give him my love. But bear in mind that now, when he's at his most vulnerable, is the time to broach the subject of Alan's demise from QI and your new source of income. Series 'F' needs you, and from what you imply, you need Series 'F' if you are not to suffer the indignity of the kept man without independent income.

[Captcha today is gamkp - I get quite nervious when it seems very nearly appropriate]

Richard Madeley said...

Bertas, Judy is doing the fussing. I'm doing the typing. I've discovered more about Bavarian truffles than you'd think possible.

It's funny that you mention special scratching devices for hard to reach places. I've always thought of Armenia as a hard to reach place, though I've never been tempted to scratch there. (Stephen has just interrupted me to say that he has been to Armenia, scratching himself in Armenia, and been scratched by an Armenian. It would seem that there's nothing he hasn't done.)

Lola, I didn't realise its significance last night but oen Captcha for me read 'FRYSNAP' which was quite prophetic.

I've broached the subject of my being on QI a few times and though Stephen is agreeable to the idea (he's nodding now), he worries that I might not be funny enough without a script (he's still nodding).

AxmxZ said...

Poor Fry. :(

It is now up to you to take over all those things he used to be able to do for himself: scratching, typing, hair-ruffling, book-page-flipping, and... well, you know.

bertas said...

Oh Ax good point :)
or do I have an absolutely sordid and filthy mind and we are thinking different things? :) am blond after all...
Oh and this idea about Qi I think it would be great, although I think Alan Davies is quite funny sorry Richard.. must be the script they write for him... :)

Selena Dreamy said...

by the time I came to button up my fly at ten o’clock this morning...

...which rather makes me wonder, how’s Stephen going to button up his fly. Can he do it with one hand? Or is he - like the last man standing at the end of an all-night drinking marathon - going to leave it undone?

Richard Madeley said...

Selena, he doesn't have a zip. Like any gentleman, he has buttons. And not just any buttons. He has Apple's new iButtons which are magnetic and seal themselves. They can also be operated via WiFi which means that he need not even be in the same room as them when he fastens them. Unfortunately, he has recently had somebody hack his flies and open them when he's been in public. However, he's now installed Norton's new Flywall and we're hoping for the best.

(I should really post something on this in the near future.)

Richard Madeley said...

Ax, don't feel too sorry for the man. He's got the best care that friendship can buy.

Bertas, perhaps I could be on Alan's team so that my knowledge and his wit would make us unbeatable?

mutleythedog said...

I would suggest a few games like arm wrestling and so on.. that would do him. Also, you could starve him and make the fat c**t lose a few pounds...

AxmxZ said...

*gasp*

Mutley, how rude!!

mutleythedog said...

Sorry - I have gone off him...

AxmxZ said...

Still no reason to be nasty to the poor bloke.

ElizaF said...

Hey Richard,

According to Wikipedia, you really DO write this blog: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_and_Judy

Wowsers!

AxmxZ said...

According to Wiki, he "supposedly" writes this blog.

bertas said...

Hmmm I thought about it and yes me thinks you should be on Alan's team Richard...Although how will you top the kiwi fruit I do not know :)

And arent you proud, you made it to Wiki...and here I was stumbling you cos you keep complaining about the traffic... :)

I agree with Ax, really no need to be rude... its bad enough man has an arm in a cast at hm his delicate age...

jillydocla said...

Dear Richard, I'm so sorry to hear about Stephen breaking his arm, but I am happy to know his is in good hands, or fingers as the case may be. Perhaps he should try one of those voice recognition software programs and "write" his new column using it. Might be kind of fun, and would save you from tennis elbow, carpal tunnel etc. that bertas warned you of...
Good luck at Scrabble.

The Titch said...

Dick are you certain that Stephen Fry has really broken his arm? He could be pulling a cunning stunt and conning you & Judy into working for him for free. I would not trust him, there is something very shifty about Fry. By the way...which one of you good samaritans is going to wipe his bum?..I have heard Fry has two rectums so there is a job for you & Judy cleaning Stephens shit....

Richard Madeley said...

Wow, a fight on my blog. Of course, I think you asked for it Mutley. Not the way I'd want you to speak about my friends. You should be glad that Stephen has a thick skin. I'd have sent Paxman around to box your ears.

Ax, Stephen thanks you for sticking up for him. I'm totally in favour of our forming a private army to protect him. Oddie says he knows a guy who can supply firearms. Do you know how to use an automatic?

Eliza, I think making it to Wiki will be matched in the near future by being dropped from Wiki. It hardly brings me many readers and somebody, at some time, is bound to take a disliking to me. But, for the moment, wowsers indeed!

Bertas, I've agreed to go on the show but the broken arm will mean it will be put back a few months. I've suggested that I could host the show, given his injury but Stephen went purple at the very mention of the idea.

Jilly, I have considered voice recognition but it will take time to get it installed. Stephen was eager to get to work and had a novel and opera to write yesterday. Thankfully they're done and today we're having an easier time. He intends to write the one short novel and a preface to a book about Scrabble words beginning with 'Q'. We should be done before teatime.

Richard Madeley said...

The Titch, you really do like to bring out my prudish side. I can see that I'll have to start leave Stephen out of my stories if he's going to be subjected to such abuse. The man has a broken arm! Show him some mercy! Please!

AxmxZ said...

I'm not particularly well-versed in the deadly art of firearm-handling, but I have an older brother who can assemble a Kalashnikov in 14 seconds in total darknesss, courtesy of the Russian army.

okbye said...

I'm raising my hand to join the army that is going to slap the rude right out of Mutley. Seriously now. The man only managed to write one opera and one novel yesterday, can't you see how incapacitated he is? How low to pick on him.
Please wave to Stephen for me Richard and be nice to him, I started reading your blog because of him. I'm sure my readership has brought bounty and wealth upon you and your household so you owe him. :)

mutleythedog said...

I shall instead concentrate on a criticism of his newest screen venture "Kingdom" - please everyone leap to its defence!!

Richard Madeley said...

Ax, that's good enough. You're now our resident firearms expert.

Okbye, it's nice that you're so understanding. I've seen my character assassinated on various web forums over the last twenty four hours. It's good to know that not all new visitors want to see me gored by a bus. (And Stephen sends you his love).

Mutley, I confess that I haven't seen it myself. I try not to watch my friends when they're on TV. I wouldn't like to forget who they really are and confuse them with their TV persona.

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