Flattery will get you everywhere, especially when it's directed towards my toes. I awoke this morning to find Judy massaging my feet.
'I thought it would help you relax,' she said as she used her elbow to work the tension from my heel. 'I have to say, Richard, that you have the sexiest hard skin I think I've ever seen.'
'It is unusual to see scales like that,' I admitted as I tried to sit up in bed. Judy just kept a firm hand on my ankle and wouldn't let me shift. I couldn't for the life of me presume to understand her behaviour, though had I known that Judy had such a gift for the foot massage, I wouldn't have to go into London every month to get my rub down by my Korean shiatsu master, Madame Ping Shu Nut.
'I thought you were a little highly strung yesterday,' said Judy after another five minutes of blissful hand-on-bunion action.
'Highly strung?' I reflected on her words. 'I suppose I was a little.'
'A little?' She snorted a laugh. 'I thought Bill Oddie was going to cry when you vowed to hunt down and kill every goshawk in Kent. The poor man... I've never seen him run so fast. I bet him and Nige are still out, catching every bird of prey in order to give them sanctuary.'
'I suppose I should ring him to apologise,' I said. 'But I just couldn't listen to yet another boast about how he's BBC2's most popular presenter. Not when everything has been going pear shaped for me lately...'
'And what's wrong with pear-shaped?' asked Judy, suddenly stopping mid-massage to stroke her blouse down over her ample hips.
'I didn't mean it that way,' I said, knowing how my dear wife is proud of her full figure, as indeed, she should be. 'I just think that life is not treating me all that fairly and I've been in no mood to write. I would much rather go out and heckle people. You know how I accidentally kicked a dwarf in Manchester last week? Well, I never told you but it made me feel so happy.'
'It's that autobiography you're writing that's doing it,' she said. 'You're reliving painful experiences from the days before you were a celebrity. It can't be good for you, Richard. It's making you bitter. I don't even know why you're doing it. You've already been told that there's not a publisher in the country who would want to read it.'
I had to admit that she was partly right. The whole exercise was futile, no matter how well I was progressing in writing my life story. I've already reached 1977 and the time I spent working to overthrow Fidel Castro. 'I suppose thirteen thousand words feels such a long way from finishing the damn thing,' I said. 'By threatening to abandon blogging, I was merely admitting that blogging might be the only thing I'm cut out for. I enjoy doing it but it makes me feel bad about myself.'
'Perhaps you should go back to masturbation,' she said. 'At least it was something you did in private.'
'Now you see,' I said, looking down the bed. 'That's the sort of remark I can't repeat on my blog. Do you really want me to get a reputation as a sex blogger?'
'It was just an idea,' shrugged Judy. 'Denise said that she thought it might cheer you up.'
The thought of Denise Richardson giving me advise about self-abuse was enough to make my toes curl.
'Yes, well, today will be different, Judy. I swear it. I'm going to be much more upbeat.'
After another twenty minutes, Judy finally managed to straighten out the curl in my toes which had wrapped themselves around my heels. I then showered and covered myself in talc before dressing myself in my favourite Afghan gown. I cleaned out my office and even wiped the bird muck from the window (it had been sitting there all week and I'd seen no good luck to speak of). Finally, I gave Stephen Fry a call and asked if he was in the mood for a Scrabble marathon.
'Scrabble? Ah, Dick. Were you to see me now, relaxed on my chaise longue, you would think I were a man content with the world. But, alas, 'tis not so. I yearn for the chance to increase the value of a “zumbooruk” on a triple word score. I'll be around in ten minutes.'
Sure enough, the man is as exact as he is tall and wise. Ten minutes later, the front door opened and Stephen Fry backed into the hall, dragging his suitcases behind him.
'I suggest we play normal rules for the first twenty four hours,' he said, 'and then we'll move over to the far more challenging game, which I devised while touring America. Every vowel scores double and there must be at least three in every word.'
'Sounds intriguing,' I admitted.
He puffed himself up in that way he has when feeling most proud of himself. 'I once had a game against myself that lasted a full ninety three hours,' he said. 'Quite the challenge.'
It was during our first game (Stephen was losing and therefore in the mood to chat) that I mentioned my off-the-cuff threat to abandon my Appreciation Society.
'You should consider changing to the form of the blessay,' he said as he sucked on his pipe. 'A long twenty-seven-thousand-word post twice a month is enough to keep the punters happy. It also leaves you plenty of time to do what you want. Write your novels or launch new projects even more intriguing than your Nut Club.'
'I do have ideas in that direction,' I admitted. 'I would quite like to adopt a pseudonym and launch a blog that's sure to offend everybody who reads it. That's my problem, you see, Stephen. I'm much too polite for the modern world. I need to find my edge.'
Stephen pulled the pipe from his lips. 'Then I make this promise to you now, Richard. We'll do it together! You keep on writing you Appreciation Society and I'll help you in any new venture that takes your fancy. Have you thought of writing a blog about wallpaper?'
'I don't know,' I smiled. 'Wallpaper isn't really my cup of tea. I was thinking of some pretty extreme subjects. They might make you feel uncomfortable to be uninvolved in something so puerile.'
'The more offensive the better,' smiled he, the man who has yet to let me down. 'And I'm sure there will be room for a little something on the nature of decorative wall covering.'
'Then that's a deal. The Appreciation Society continues but I'll get to work on a new blog that will remain anonymous but frisky, well written but depraved, Oddie free but round enough to roll down Blogger's Hill. People won't know what has hit them!'
'Excellent,' said Stephen as he learned forward and set out a word across a triple word score. 'There... “zumbooruk” which I believe is a small cannon that sits on a swiveled rest on the back of a camel.'