Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Appleyard Interview

‘Well,’ I said to Judy, ‘this is it. The Big Day. After all these years on terrestrial TV, it’s taken me until the last week of the show before I get to invite a real guest to share our sofa.’

She looked at me, her nostrils flaring half an inch above a piece of toast. There was a momentary look of confusion as she bit down and then began to chew but when it came to wiping a crumb from the side of her mouth, she was back to normal and the crumb was dispatched with a flick of her cruel finger.

‘You’re not going to go on about this all morning, are you Richard?’ she asked. ‘The man is flesh and blood, just like you or me or even Bill Oddie...’

‘Yes, but this is not just ordinary flesh and blood,’ I replied, ‘and certainly not as much flesh as there was only a few months ago.’

‘Which is why we’ve asked him on the show,’ said Judy. ‘I just hope you’re not going to spoil things.’

‘Spoil things? I’m finally getting a kindred spirit onto the sofa, a man cut from the same cloth.’

‘And he’s going to be discussing his stone age diet,’ said Judy. This was clearly meant as a warning.

‘Well, we’ll see,’ I said and left it at that.

The truth is that this will be the first blogger we’ve had on the show whose blog I read daily. Bryan Appleyard might think he’s coming on to talk about weight loss but I have other plans. This will be a far ranging exploration of the man’s mind and if Channel 4 don’t immediately sign us up for a new series of ‘The Richard & Bryan Show’, I won’t have done my part for the intellectual development of this country of ours.

I was already sketching out the format of the show which included self defence sessions led by Elberry and Nige’s Magical Owl and Cravat Half Hour. They were ideas which proved that my mind was already firing on all twelve cylinders so I took my bowl of muesli into my office and began to prepare facts and questions that I’d be able to throw into our interview. Would Bryan know, for example, that Wallace Stevens was a trained juggler who wrote some of his best poems while balancing a stool on his chin? Would he know that it’s impossible to electrocute a cat or that 92% of all clowns are diagnosed manic depressive? I have hundreds of facts at my disposal but I really wanted to be prepared for whatever Bryan could throw at me. Channel 4 would struggle to constrain such a battle of intellects and I imagined us bursting through the scenery of the ITN News as our battle continued over on ITV. Katie Derham would flush at the sight of two thin but muscular men in such a titanic struggle.

I think it was thoughts about Katie Derham that made me worked feverishly away until noon when the telephone rang. I expected the call but wasn’t prepared for the tone of the enquiry.

‘Richard, it’s the newly slim-line Bryan,’ said Bryan. ‘I just thought I’d check that you’re not planning on surprising me with any difficult questions this afternoon. A man who has recently lost fourteen pounds in two weeks can’t take the strain of difficult questions.’

‘Difficult questions?’ I scoffed even as I shuffled my pack of fifty seven fiendishly difficult questions and obscure facts. ‘I don’t know what kind of man you think I am, Bryan. I’m looking forward to our interview with the excitement that I normally reserve for Angelina Jolie.’

‘Oh, I don’t have any tattoos,’ he muttered. ‘I don’t believe in them.’

‘Damn,’ I muttered, as my fifty seven difficult questions and obscure facts became fifty six. ‘Well, not to worry, Bryan. Judy just wants to chat about your diet. It will be a piece of cake.’

‘No, no,’ he replied. ‘I don’t touch anything made from grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, or processed oils.’

‘Well, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t know what a legumes is,’ I said, wondering if I should scribble that question down on a card.

‘It’s an erect or climbing bean or pea,’ replied Bryan.

A lucky escape, I thought. The man has an answer for everything.

‘Well, don’t worry, Bryan,’ I continued as I prepared to hang up the phone. ‘I’m sure it will go swimmingly...’

‘It’s a diet, not one of those moronic exercise routines. I don’t believe in those either,’ he replied. I could see that I would have my work cut out. Yet in all fairness to the man, I could also see that Bryan was getting nervous and I thought it only right to give him a clue that I had prepared the odd difficult question.

‘Relax, Bryan,’ I said. ‘Remember that you’re with friends. I’ll ask you a few questions to put you at ease. Perhaps something tricky about Wallace Stevens, cats or clowns. I’m sure you’ll know the answers.’

Bryan sighed a thin avuncular sigh. ‘That’s very good of you, Richard,’ he said. ‘Just so long as you don’t go trotting out those old clichés about Wallace Stevens juggling, that it’s impossible to electrocute a cat, or that 92% of all clowns are diagnosed manic depressive...’

‘Wouldn’t dream of it,’ I answered as the last of my cards slipped to the floor. ‘Wouldn’t dream of it at all...’


Michael Dunbar said...

This. Is. Amazing.

Madeley quote from last week, regarding the panel of ladies asked to review the play 'Fat Pig':

'Okay, I've just got to say that they weren't models, they were just extra-size ladies.'

Dick Madeley said...

I'll neither confirm nor deny that I said that, Michael. I will just say that I've been misconstrued on more than one occasion.

Richard Havers said...


Bryan Appleyard said...

Oh sorry, Dick, I actually wanted to discuss your secret of eternal youth - firelighters?

Dick Madeley said...

Partly right, Bryan. It's firelights and the adrenal glands of the rare Patagonian Snow Gibbon. Mixed together and rubbed under the armpits last thing at night and all the wrinkles are gone before dawn.

Loved the cowboy boots, by the way, though Judy says that left terrible scuff marks on the sofa.