Like sex on a pogo stick, a one-armed caption writer is an interesting proposition but they probably fail due to a matter of balance.
Back in the Land of the South where all the good people dwell, I’m done with Manchester for another week. If I don’t see another brick chimney or stoat-fondling man wearing leather braces and bearing the countenance of a matchstick, it will be too soon. I might also say the same thing about Dennis Plumb, my erstwhile PA, darts fanatic, and man of letters (our captions department to be precise). I’ve spend a pretty torrid evening trying to defend a man who, I don’t mind admitting between the three of us, has clearly gone quite insane. Kurtz upriver getting metaphysical with the natives was never this bad. At least he never had a tea-time viewership well into the millions.
The full extent of the ‘horror’ became apparent tonight when I arrived home. Weary from the intercity and a couple of nights among the Ladyboys of Bangkok, I was looking forward to a relaxing evening with the Right Side of the Ampersand.
Only the Right Side was in no mood for cosy. Judy had promised that she would start bringing tapes of the recording home with her and she did just that tonight. After the incident the other day when Dennis slipped an extra ‘S’ into Wednesday, Judy has become paranoid that it’s an organised campaign by Paul O’Grady to destabilise the show. Personally, I think it’s just Dennis’ way of attracting more viewers in the hope that we might become cult viewing. I think it’s actually a great idea and would think that this is the now the only way to make Channel 4 see sense and keep us on terrestrial.
Only Judy doesn’t understand cult... Tonight my bags had barely settled on the hall floor before she emerges from the living room waving a VHS tape in one hand and her favourite claw hammer in the other.
‘Look what he’s done this time!’ she cried.
‘Welcome home Richard,’ I answered as I moved in for a kiss.
Judy was having none of it. No lips. No squeeze. Nothing.
‘Here,’ she said, thrusting the tape into hands already prepared for something more Judyesque. ‘Go on. Have a look!’
The hammer looked threatening so I thought it best not to argue. Wearily, I went into the living room and slid the tape into the video. Judy had already wound it to the right position and I recognised the beginning of tonight’s show. It was the start of our much celebrated interview with novelist Katie Price (known as ‘Jordan’ to the men of Bristol out there).
‘Look,’ said Judy and paused the tape seconds into the interview.
‘Oh,’ I replied. I could see the problem.
‘Oh? Is that all you can say? Oh?’ She stuck the hammer under my nose, claw raised. ‘I want Dennis fired this minute. Call him up and tell him that he needn’t come into work on Monday.’
‘But it’s an easy mistake to make,’ I told her. ‘You can’t sack a man for a small mistake.’
‘A small mistake? How on earth can you call it a small mistake, Richard? Katie Price looks nothing like Vincent Price.’
‘Well, it’s implied,’ I said. ‘Let’s face it, she’s very orange whereas Vincent was very pale. And she does look like one of the Brides of Frankenstein with her hair piled up like that. Plus, you can’t say that you weren’t frightened when she sat on the sofa. I know I’ll never be the same again and neither will the sofa. It’s a known fact that fake tan doesn’t come out of fake leather.’
‘Leatherette,’ said Judy. ‘Leatherette.’
‘Whatever you want to call it, Judy... You simply can’t sack a man for the tiniest mistake.’
Judy narrowed her eyes and poked me in the chest. Even if Katie Price was all Hammer Horror, it was the horror of the hammer in Judy’s hand that held my attention.
‘Dennis is gone before the next show,’ she said, ‘or I swear that I’ll announce to the world that our caption editor has gone mad and so has my husband.’
Judy should know that there's Iranian blood running in the Madeley line which means that I’m not a man who responds well to threats. That’s why I’m letting things settle down a bit tonight before I decide how I should act. Judy may have a point. A one-armed manic behind the controls of a caption machine is not something you want when broadcasting to the nation five days a week. However, this evening I’m tired and I want to wait to see what the weekend brings. I’ve published this here on my blog and perhaps Dennis will read it and reconsider his actions. As for me: I’m hitting the hay. Quite literally. Judy has locked the bedroom door and won’t let me in until I’ve sacked Dennis. So it’s the shed for me, lying on the bales of hay Judy stores there for her miniature horses. If you want me, you know where to find me. Just knock three times and whisper ‘Dick’.