Saturday, 26 July 2008

The Real Story of Judy’s Knee

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, War and Peace, The History of the English Speaking Peoples, Jeffrey Archer’s Kane and Abel: it always takes time before all the great stories are told in a way that does them justice. Days have now passed since the news broke that, for at least a fortnight, I’ll be presenting the Richard&Judy show without the right side of the ampersand to keep my hormones in balance. Only now am I in a position to tell you the full tale of Judy’s knee and how this magnificent specimen of Dame Womanhood was brought (or, should I say, dragged down) to her one good knee and glorious shin.

As you probably know, Judy has had problems with her knee for some time. Years of climbing ladders with a hod of bricks on her back haven’t helped. Even after she’d finished building our house, the toil on her legs continued as she set about laying seven miles of crazy paving around our expansive estate here in our undisclosed location in the South East of England. Yet the decision to finally have the knee operated upon only came as late as last Sunday when I was blessed with a visit by Bill Oddie.

Sunday, as you know, is normally a day of rest in the Madeley household. By the early evening, the adventures of the previous week had caught up with me and I was dozing on the sofa ahead of my weekly chuckle at my old friend Clarkson on ‘Top Gear’. Such happy dreams I was having. Vanessa Feltz wore something light and breezy as she played air hockey with Jeremy Paxman who was getting thoroughly outclassed. I watched from on high, lounging in the umpire’s chair and laughing manically as I awarded every contentious decision to the woman in the see-through chiffon.
I didn’t, at first, hear the doorbell ring and when it did wake me, I arrived at the front door still thinking of air hockey. I was certainly not prepared to see Bill Oddie standing there carrying a large suitcase.

‘Bill? What you doing here at this hour?’ I asked.

‘Ha!’ said Bill as he dragged the suitcase into the hall and dumped it at my feet. He turned his back and went outside, only pausing on the doorstep to gaze back at me and say ‘ha!’ again.

He returned a moment later with another suitcase which was even bigger than the first.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said as he set the case down. ‘You’ll soon see what I’ve brought. This will all begin to make perfect sense in just a moment.’

‘Thank God for that,’ I replied. ‘I thought you were about to say “ha!” to me for no apparent reason.’

‘Ha!’ said Bill and with that he turned back to his car. I followed to watch him drag a third suitcase from the boot that was even bigger than the first two and probably exceeded the capacity of the word ‘suitcase’ and should more rightly be described as a ‘travel trunk’.

‘This is what you’ve been asking to see for nearly three years,’ said Bill. ‘And now is the moment when you get to see it.’

My heart soared over eighteen metres of beats like an Olympic standard triple jumper on methamphetamines.

‘You haven’t?’ I asked.

Bill smiled and it was that rarity in all men with beards: a smile full of grace and beneficence.

I helped him drag all three suitcases/trunks into the living room, though I wouldn’t have done this had I not known that Judy would be out until well after midnight. Bill knew it too since the local newspapers have been reporting nothing else but the East of England snooker tournament at Judy’s local Snooker & Billiards Association. Judy was due to play Barbara Winsor at eight in what was sure to be a nine frame thriller. I knew it would go on until late and I intended to make the most of my time along with Bill and his suitcases.

‘I don’t know what to say, Bill,’ I said as I watched him begin to push the sofa back so we’d have plenty of floor space. ‘This really is an honour.’

‘The honour is all mine,’ answered Oddie, now unlatching the smallest of the cases. ‘There aren’t many men who’d get to see this but you, Richard, you have always been good to me. You are one of the few celebrities to treat me with dignity and I appreciate that. I wouldn’t do this for Clarkson. Not after that business with the mask.’

‘I’m sure you wouldn’t,’ I said, trying to peer into the case.

Slowly the lid opened and I saw them all lying there in a heap. The case was packed with thousands upon thousands of glistening polly pockets. Now, for those of you without stationary experience (and, I assure you, I have plenty of that after my two day stint in Manchester), a poly pocket is a plastic envelope for A4 paper, usually punched along one edge for putting inside a ring folder. Only these poly pockets were loose inside the suitcase and inside each pocket was a sheet of A4 white card onto which Bill had attached a single feather. In the corner of each card, written in Bill’s neat if slightly florid hand, were the details of the bird that had donated the feather.

He pushed the suitcase to me. ‘The entire bird kingdom if yours for the night,’ he said.

Well, the next three hours were an education as we began to lay out Bill’s feather collection on the floor. The whole of the house was soon covered with poly pockets, spreading from the front door, around the living room, through the dining hall, round the back skirting the conservatory, through the utility rooms, past my office, into the kitchen and finishing at the back door. The whole thing was laid out in strict classification of birds across the globe. I was naturally in my element because, though not technically a bird watcher myself, I am a man who likes to collect knowledge and has an excessive facility for showing off .

‘I wish Nige were here now,’ I said as Bill lay the final few poly pocketed feathers around the potted plants in the front room and thereby closed the loop of plastic envelopes that now ran a full circuit around the house.

‘This is your moment,’ said Bill, finally standing up. ‘Nige will get his chance when the time’s right.’

I nodded as I wiped away a tear. ‘The Crested Sand Shrike has a distinctive whistle,’ I said, to cover my slight embarrassment at getting so emotional over a million feathers. ‘And did you know that the East European Potato Shrike has a whistle inspired Mozart to write the Magic Flute?’

‘Really?’ said Bill, impressed. ‘Amazing.’

I was about to tell him how the Shrike is a close relative to a chicken and has often been seen crossing roads for no other reason than getting to the other side but, at that moment, there was a rattle of keys in the door. I couldn’t understand it since it was not yet ten thirty.

‘Only me,’ shouted Judy from in the hall. ‘Barbara Windsor cancelled and I ended up playing Julie Walters. I didn’t stand a chance. She’s playing Jenifer Saunders in the final after Jennifer beat Joanna Lumley in the semi. I couldn’t bear to watch...’

That’s when I heard the fateful sound of Judy kicking off her shoes.

‘Hold it right there!’ I shouted, looking for a way to the hall that avoided the thousands of feathers on the floor. ‘There are bloody poly pockets everywhere,’ I said and thought I should explain just in case Judy was without the required stationary experience. ‘Poly pockets are plastic envelopes that protect pieces of paper up to A4 size. Or in this case, Bill’s feather collections.’

But it was too late. Through the door leading into the hall, I saw Judy pass by at approximately forty miles an hour and gathering speed as she slid in her slick silk stockings on a floor made lethal by a layer of polythene.

‘CCcccccciiiiiiiiiilllllllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaa....’ screamed Judy as she headed into the dining room and the Eastern European Swallowtails, round the back of the Chinese Mud Skippers skirting the conservatory, through the utility rooms full of North American eagles, past my office full of the tits of the Rockies, and finally into the kitchen where the South American songbirds ran up against the parrots at the back door.

We followed as quickly as we could, Bill the nimblest picking out the fastest route through the bird kingdom.

‘Best to avoid the peckers, said Bill, heading towards the kitchen. ‘We’ll take a short cut through the cuckoos.’

‘I’m following you,’ I replied, nearly coming a cropper on the tricky plume of a Great Reed Warbler.

We found Judy deep amongst the Amazonian parrots, groaning where she’d come to rest against the tumble dryer and the Crested Banana Macaw.

‘My leg,’ she said.

‘My purple eaglet wing!’ said Bill picking up a heavily battered feather wedged in the ruined stocking around Judy’s toes.

I lifted my wife to a seat at the breakfast bar and, other than a few bruises, I was relieved to see that she seemed perfectly well.

‘So, how was the snooker?’ I asked trying to keep her distracted as Bill set about picking up thousands of poly pockets.

‘Richard Madeley,’ said Judy, standing up. ‘If you think...’ She winced and sat back down again. ‘Ooh,’ she said, and lifted her leg onto the table. ‘It’s my knee. I’ve done my knee again!’

‘Hang on,’ I said and called Bill back into the room.

Bill was the model of professionalism as he slipped on the pair of reading glasses that always hang around his neck on a chain. He took a look at the leg and prodded the sort spot. ‘Ah,’ he said. ‘My vast experience examining sick and injured birds tells me that you’ve got twisted ligaments in your knee.’ He tried to bend the leg but unfortunately forgot that the human leg went the other way. Judy winced. I gave a cough. ‘Oh yes,’ said Bill. ‘Wrong species. Legs bend the other way. Always forget that...’

And without another word he took a roll of metal tape from his pocket and began to wrap it loosely once around Judy’s ankle. He fastened it with a pair of pliers from another of the many pockets in the world’s most ironically named ‘hunting vest’.

‘How’s that doing to help my knee?’ asked Judy.

He laughed as soon as Judy spoke.

‘So sorry,’ he said. ‘There I go again! Force of habit. I was ringing you just in case I run into you again. This way, I would see how far you’ve travelled.’

‘Get out,’ muttered Judy, who I could see was in some pain and not a little indignation. ‘Get out of this house now, Bill Oddie, or knee or no knee, I’ll throw you out myself.’

Bill paled and I gave him the old raised eyebrow signal that he probably should go and hide before things turned ugly.

I then helped Judy to the car and took her to the local A&E where doctors diagnosed twisted ligaments. I told them that Bill Oddie had already told us that but they didn’t seem too impressed. When we arrived back home, I got Judy straight to bed then returned downstairs to help Bill pick up his collection of feathers. The last I saw of him was in his old Citroën bobbing down the road with the suspension being worked hard back the boot packed with the world’s most comprehensive collection of feathers.

Last Monday was when the best London doctors agreed with Bill diagnosis and Judy agreed to have surgery on her leg. Bill reports that his poly pockets are back home in his hobbit hole, packed in the three suitcases of increasing size, and I have only just caught up with last week’s episode of Top Gear. Judy had had the operation and is now recovering, her knee improving with each passing day and with each bag of thawed vegetables thrown into the bin or the saucepan. If I eat another plate of garden peas, I will probably go green and make people flatulent. Naturally, Judy now refuses to even touch a poly pocket and I’ve had to tell the people at Cactus TV that any paperwork that comes to this house must be staples or bound by a paper clip.

Not that the media report any of this. They are so obsessed with Emma Bunton and, next week, Myleene Klass. I care for none of that celebrity tittle tattle. I care only for Judy’s well being and the state of Bill Oddie’s feather collection. The rest, as we say in showbiz, is greasepaint and curtain calls.


Selena Dreamy said...

", Richard, you have always been good to me. You are one of the few celebrities to treat me with dignity and I appreciate that."

I second that...!

your long suffering wife said...

You, Richard, have always been good to me. Now please give me back my chocolates and go and wash up the dishes and make yourself bloody useful for once.

Dick Madeley said...

Selena, I know... Being good to people is one of my greatest faults. I should really learn caddishness. It would get me further in the world.

Judy? I thought to doctor told you to keep that laptop off your knee. I'll be downstairs in a minute. The dishes will have to wait.

your long suffering wife said... said...

Darling, the last Ferrero Rocher chocolate I have saved for you, but if you don’t get your arse downstairs within the next minute and wash up the dishes you’ll have to order a take away meal for tonight and we’ll all be forced to eat from foil containers …meanwhile I sit here, alone abandoned and bereft,with my knee surrounded in clumps of melting bags of frozen peas and asparagus (you know what frozen sea food does to my thighs) now please will you stop expecting sympathy from all your female bloggers and get yer arse downstairs right now? love you babes…mwah! xxxxx

Dick Madeley said...

Judy, this doesn't sound like you at all. I'll come downstairs when I'm finished and not before. As for sympathy from my female readers, they never give me an inch of sympathy, despite all that I do for them. You know that's why I fall asleep at night crying into my pillow.

(And since when have you called be 'babes'? What's suddenly so wrong with my being your Scruggle Cushion?)

Devonshire Dumpling said...

Normal service (and an update on Judy's knee) I presume will follow just as soon as Richard has washed up the dishes.

your long suffering wife said...said... said...

You want to share ALL our secrets with our TV viewers, scruggle cushion, poppet petal peach, fluffy buttocks,honey bunny?

Ok - fine! meanwhile my frozen peas have melted and I have eaten the last chocolate out of spite. Just you wait until I am back on TV.

Dick Madeley said...

Devonshire, doing the washing up is not alien to me. I've done it many times. In fact, in 1973 I think I did it twice in one month.

Oh, Judy, my Sweet Pickled Gherkin, My Muckly Wuckly Duckly, Sugarsqueeza, Dimple Button, My one and only Lovetug: forgive me for ever doubting you. I crept down and peeped though the door just as you were stuffing that last chocolate into your mouth. It is you! I'll be down in a minute and we'll take those defrosted fish fingers from your knee and have them for our tea.

Sweet Pickled Gherkin, Muckly Wuckly Duckly, Sugarsqueeza, Dimple Button, Your one and only Lovetug said...

Thank you darling! I really fancied defrosted(via my knee)fish fingers tonight. You are so thoughtful and considerate - I am going to cry again - But I really did eat the last chocolate and you still have the washing up to do. The garden needs weeding too, and the car needs a wash and while you are at it there's housework to be done and I need more peas and asparagus from the freezer....

Barbara said...

I hate to interrupt this exchange but I must tell you of the unintentional chuckle your story gave me. The first mention of Polly Pockets put me in mind of the tiny dolls and I was picturing you and Oddie sitting on the floor surrounded by hundreds of tiny plastic girlies and their even tinier play sets. That would have been a sight, and probably safer when stepped on. I wonder if they make a tiny bird sanctuary?

Dick Madeley said...

Barbara, your comment gave me an unintentional chuckle, too. Bill is often to be found with a parrot in his pocket. Or at least he claims that it's a parrot...

Dick Madeley said...

I should clarify that last comment. I mean, it could be a canary.

Black Cat said...

Richard dear,I have 211 feeds in my Bloglines so naturally I get behind in my blog reading and,indeed,in keeping up my own blog, but I wondered if you could read the MS of my novel and recom... ONLY JOKING!!! Deepest apologies to Judy, but I couldn't help laughing at your post. I hope Bill Oddie is feeling suitably chastened, hee hee! Look after her:) xxx

Raj P said...

Dick, I think that 'your long suffering wife' is an imposter. My long years of nicking other people's stuff/studying psychological therapies indicates some false notes in the textual congruities of the endearments proffered. Do I have your permission to take action?

Welsh Girl said...

I'm sorry to sound callous about Judy's knee, and the fate of the poly pocket collection, but who won the snooker match? I think my money would be on Ms Walters.....

Nige said...

Oho - I wish I'd been there!

Rose said...

After reading the blog I was going to comment somehting along the lines
'Gee.. you have strange friends!'

After reading the comments... Well, what can I say? Everyone is mad around here... lol!

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