Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The Problem With Probably

‘Smile, Richard,’ said Judy, straightening my hair. ‘Just think. We’ll soon be broadcast from outer space.’

It’s hard to believe but yesterday afternoon this kind of reassurance actually worked. A dose of solar radiation couldn’t have given me the same glow as came from my cheeks as I made my way into London and to the recording of yet another of our immensely popular TV shows.

Last night’s guest was Guy Pearce but let me tell you that after many years interviewing the rich and famous, another Australian superstar to make Judy go weak at the knees was not what I thought of as a productive use of my time. I have as much admiration for Guy work as the next bloke who sat through ‘Memento’ but having him on the sofa meant only one thing: sooner or later, Judy would edge nearer to him in the hope of groping his thigh.

By the time the show was over, I was at a spiritual low and was quite looking forward to getting home. Only Guy insisted on keeping Judy gabbing. In the end, I had to tell the bloke to sling his hook so we could lock up and leave the milk bottles on the step.

‘Honestly,’ I said once we were home last night and sitting in our lounge enjoying a bowl of Stephen Fry’s piping hot otter stew. ‘That Pearce bloke couldn’t stop telling you how bloody wonderful he is. I think he’s got serious issues with his self-esteem.’

To which Judy gave a laugh. Not a warble of a laugh. Not one of those throaty chuckles that we’ve all come to know and love. I mean a laugh that was all vocal cord stressed by a couple lungs of air moving at some knots.

When she’d finished and wiped the last tear from her eyes, she turned to me. ‘Guy can’t help but be enormously attractive to the opposite sex and have a personality to match,’ she said.

‘And what am I? Chopped liver?’

I confess: I don’t know where I’d picked up this phrase. I don't even know what it means. Chopped liver has always had a certain sexual charm that I can’t totally explain. A bit like Esther Ranzten, I suppose...

‘Well?’ I asked after it was apparent that Judy was happy to answer my question with a silence and a look towards the frolicking cherubs we have Duluxed up on the ceiling.

‘Your winkle could do with another coat of paint,’ she said.

‘Leave my winkle out of it,’ I replied. ‘Don’t avoid the question. Aren’t I a man hugely attractive to women and with a personality to match?’

‘Oh,’ said Judy. ‘Probably.’

Probably. I slept on this ‘probably’ all night. I awoke this morning to find ‘probably’ sitting on my pillow and varnishing its nails. Probably followed me around all morning until I tired of hearing its footsteps. Probably. Probably. Probably.

In the end, I thought the only way I’d be satisfied was if I sought independent advice.

There aren’t a huge number of people I could ring to ask about my animal magnetism and the neighbours would be no use at all. Frankly, whether Mrs. Ronnie Corbett finds me attractive is no concern of mine. I thought long and hard about the kind of person who I wanted to judge me. The ideal person would have been Selena Dreamy but I knew she was deep below the Earth’s crust. I had instead to turn to the world of celebrity.

A quick run through the music channels on satellite didn’t offer any help. I thought about ringing up Kim Wilde but after the mess she made treading mud into my office last year I was not so sure I could trust the woman’s judgement. I considered asking Jennifer Saunders but, again, there’s been too much recently history between us. Just because your praise a women’s top lip doesn’t mean that she’s going to affirm your complete mastery of sexual attraction. It was when I accidentally passing News 24 on my way to The Discovery Channel that I saw the answer. There she was: Kate Russell, one of the hosts of Click Online. Here, I thought, was an attractive, upwardly mobile young woman in a dress who knows a thing or two about technology and is perfectly placed to judge my charm. I dialled the old agent who soon had the number of Kate’s mobile.

‘Kate? Dick Madeley here. You probably know me from Channel 4’s Richard&Judy Show. I’m the one of the left of the ampersand.’

‘Ah, Richard,’ said Kate. ‘How lovely to hear from you.’

‘Just wanted to say that we love what you do on Click Online. Judy took your advice to install both a firewall and a virus checker on our broadband connection and we’ve never looked back.’

‘Excellent,’ said Kate.

‘In fact, we’d love to headhunt you for our new show The Richard&Judy Fragging Clan, starting in the autumn on UK Gaming Plus.’

‘Sounds interesting,’ said Kate.

‘More than interesting. I hope it’s excitement personified. More than personified. Made into a creature of larger than human proportions and then set to run wild in a room full of TV executives. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to introduce the world to my love of computer games.’

‘You’re a gamer?’ asked Kate. She sounded impressed.

‘Indeed I am, Kate. In fact, I’m currently finishing Grand Theft Auto 4 on the Xbox 360.’

‘Cool,’ said Kate.

‘To a point. My quick review was that it was a technical masterpiece but a flawed game, severely undermined by the banal and rather offensive radio announcements that replace the humour and charm of the earlier games with a new found vulgarity that will only appeal to a juvenile gamer. I’ve also started the new Alone in the Dark game, although, to tell the truth, I’m very disappointed by the number of bugs made it into the final product. Clearly a case of a publisher rushing code out of the door before it was finished.’

‘Really?’ asked Kate. I think she was jotting all this down.

‘And as for the driving missions... They are an absolute pain in the arse, Kate, though the gaming experience does improve dramatically once you get into Central Park.’

‘Richard, you’re talking my kind of language,’ said Kate. ‘I’d be very interested to hear more about this show.’

‘And more you shall hear,’ I promised. ‘I’m a man with his finger on the pulse of technology. I have my own blog, you know...’

She went silent.

‘Oh, don’t worry. I’m not trying to impress you. I know that the BBC could never acknowledge the work of a rival. Although, I did wonder if I could ask your advice.’

‘Of course, Richard. Problems with technology?’

‘You might say that,’ I said. ‘My Wife Version 1.0 tells me that women no longer think of me as a man hugely attractive to women and with a personality to match. I just wanted to ask you, being an impartial observer, whether you’d agree with her.’

‘Hard to say,’ said Kate. ‘Have you got USB 2.0?’

‘I’m sure I have,’ I laughed. ‘But seriously, Kate. Go on. Tell me the worst.’

‘Well, you are nice looking.’

‘Is there a but coming?’

‘Well, you butt is... er...’

‘No, no. I mean: tell me the worst. Am I still considered a hunk to a younger female? Am I still that Goliath of Good Morning? The Man Mountain known as Madeley?’

‘Probably,’ said Kate.

I was deflated. Probably again. It was a troubling development and I thought there was nothing left but to be explicit.

‘Probably doesn’t do it, Kate,’ I said. ‘Probably is my asking Katie Humble if she’ll present a show with me about water voles and her telling me that I’m no Bill Oddie. Probably is being refused a chance to appear on “Loose Women” and talk fabrics with Katie Denham. Probably isn’t a show on The History Channel where I chat about Castro with Kate Beckinsale. To be frank, Kate, probably wins me neither Keira Knightley’s eyes nor Hilary Swank’s smile. Probably is the reason why Selena Scott still refuses to take my phone calls.’

The phone went dead.

Naturally, I hit redial but successive attempts to get through were routed to a BBC switchboard where I was advised against making crank calls to members of the BBC staff. And as I told the woman on the other end: none of this solved my problem with ‘probably’.

It sometimes makes you wonder why you even bother paying your TV licence.

8 comments:

mutleythedog said...

I cannot stop thinking of your winkle... what a coincidence about gaming. I am replaying Half Life 2 using my nose ..

elberry said...

A cruel world, Dick. You'll always have the Gay Village, however.

Princess said...

there is plenty of us out there who thinks of you sexy intelligent man..probably.... :)

Dick Madeley said...

Mutley, been there and done that. Finished HL2 twice. Now on the last stages of Episode Two on The Orange Box. Have you tried Portal? A fantastic game.

Elberry, the world is cruel and Manchester's gay village is so brightly decorated. The office window looks out on a large yellow phallus with a smiling face painted onto it.

Princess, it's the intelligent bit that worries me. I see so many blogs out there that deal with heavy and serious subjects that I wonder if people truly understand my depths.

letmerephrasethat.com said...

Another fan of Portal I see. I've been thinking about checking it out but I've just bought an HDTV to give me some high-def gaming and funds are a little short - I bought Halo 3 as well!

I was also disappointed with GTA4. Especially with multiplayer online. The whole system is flawed and utterly useless for a start. I won't even get started on Story mode!

Dick Madeley said...

The ending of Portal is the closest I've ever seen gaming get to art.

Halo 3 was pretty boring, I thought. I'm not an online player so I limit myself to story modes. It wasn't as dire as Halo 2. GTA4 really is ruined by the vulgarity. I hate to sound prudish but it just immerses you in such a sea of filth that it gets tired very quickly. There's also very little variety to the game. Judy also hates me playing it when she's in the room.

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