Monday, 18 August 2008

On Rowing, Sleep, and Needing This Job

My constantly sunny disposition suffered a rare moment of eclipse this weekend. Some long dormant weariness overcame me and I retired to bed for two days of sleep and constant Olympic rowing action. I really don’t have much to say about the rowing except that I’ve never seen so many well brought up young men wielding paddles since I was once accidentally hunted by a pack of Young Conservatives who mistook my bohemian style for causal vagrancy. About sleep, however, I have far more positive things to say. It really is the great healer. I don’t know what had laid me low. I think it might have been emotional exhaustion brought on by the continuing concerns for my friend’s father who has now been moved from Intensive Care and into a High Dependency Unit. I do know that, for me, sleep was the answer. I’m feeling better today and I intend to spend this time on my blog explaining Friday’s paranoia and why Manchester is such an important part of my weekly routine.

As many of you know, every week since February, I’ve been forced to make a two day trip up to Manchester to work on a new series of ‘Eye of the Storm’. I didn’t want to take the job but those in charge of my finances told me that my dream of writing for a living was not going to earn anything like a wage. Not even the wage of a one-legged paperboy with a part time round during a time of dwindling newspaper sales. Yet whatever my doubts about the job, I still believe it will be the TV series to end all TV series. Never before has the documentary form been used to investigate weather with the same rigorous attention. We’re not just focussing on the dramatic weather systems like hurricanes and lightening storms. We’re looking at all the less glamorous forms of weather, such as light precipitation, drizzle, summer nips, and winter flushes. We have three programmes on Indian Summers and intend to launch a spin off series that deals with every kind of snow, from crispy white to yellow mush.

Recently, however, I’ve begun to have reservations about my life. The end of our Channel 4 contract was always going to make a sensitive man re-evaluate his future. Should I continue to write? Should I continue to blog? Should I retire from the public eye and devote myself to my inventions? I came to the conclusion that Manchester is slowly ruining me as both a man and a writer. These trips are making me deeply unhappy. I have tried to blog my way through them but that has to now stop. Simon Merfalanger, our producer, has spotted the way I’ve been sneaking off to my laptop and returning in a much chirpier mood.

‘Richard,’ he said after he called me into his office on Thursday afternoon, ‘we’re paying for your wonderfully rich melliferous voice. We don’t pay you to write this tedious blog of yours...’

‘What do you mean tedious?’ I snapped.

He turned around his monitor and then pointed to the wall next to my desk outside his office. ‘You’ve been taking pictures of our walls again,’ he said. ‘Only this time you’ve been posting them to the web.’

‘I did it once,’ I replied. ‘But I was bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. So utterly bored! You make me sit on the same uncomfortable office chair for eight hours, giving me only thirty minutes for lunch. The only view I have is of a wall painted cream and the exciting diversion of some plastic electrical conduit. And the work is not stimulating for a man of my many qualifications and talents. I’m a creative man with imagination. You can’t expect me to enjoy fixing margins and proofreading copy. The weather just doesn’t interest me in the same way as it does you.’

‘You don’t really want to be here, do your Richard?’ tutted Simon, sadly.
I thought it only right to be honest. I’m a man who hates deception and nothing gives me greater worry than when a person has misjudged me.

‘To be honest, Simon, you’re right. I really don’t want to be here. This is not the life I would have chosen for myself yet now I can’t find a way out of it. I once had so many hopes for my future... Ronnie Corbett once told me that he’d only ever wanted to be a dentist but the height restrictions came into play. I now know what he meant when he said that I should never trust a man holding a diamond tipped drill who has to stand on a wobbly orange crate to see into your mouth. Well, Simon, not being published is my wobbly box of oranges. And I’ll never overcome that obstacle so long as I’m being dragged up here every week. Do you know how many books I have sitting unfinished at 30,000 words?’

‘But you have a book coming out in October,’ he said.

‘And believe me, I’ll review it on my blog as soon as I receive my complimentary copy from the Richard&Judy Foundation.’ I explained how they had authorised some other chap to write the thing for them and that it would probably share very few characteristics with my blog. ‘I bet there are very few laughs in the whole volume and not a single mention of Bill Oddie’s owl fetish or my beating Stephen Fry at Scrabble.’

‘So it’s not even written by you?’

‘Only the blog is written by the real Dick Madeley,’ I said. ‘Ask yourself, Simon: how can I find time to write a book? I’m in this office two days a week and recovering for another two days. I lose four good writing days whenever you pluck me from Judy’s arms for two eight hour shifts parked behind a desk and proofreading scripts.’

The man was clearly moved. ‘I didn’t realise that we were standing in the way of literary greatness,’ he said.

‘Well, now you know, Simon. Literary greatness has been left bound and tethered and dumped in an alley somewhere between Manchester’s Chinatown and Gay Village.’

‘I didn’t mean to be so hard on you, Richard...’

‘Think no more about it,’ I said. ‘We’ll carry on as though nothing has happened. Just so long as you realise that my presence here is depriving the world of the funniest series of books since PG. Wodehouse’s slippers went cold.’

‘Just no more blogging during office hours,’ he warned me.

I agreed though it went against every fibre of my being. ‘No more blogging,’ I promised.

‘And Richard,’ said Simon. I paused at the door. ‘Just so you know: there are other men with rich melliferous voices out there. If I catch you posting from work one more time, your rich melliferous voice will be left bound and tethered and dumped in an alley somewhere between Manchester’s Chinatown and Gay Village.’

My heart sank. Judy has such hopes for ‘Eye of the Storm’ that losing this job would destroy her.

‘I understand,’ I muttered as I slid away.

So, from now on, whenever I’m up in Manchester, expect only silence and think of me sitting staring as a slightly off-white wall and a length of plastic electrical conduit.


Author said...

Oh how tiresome for you!

I think you should flag up the "New Rights for Employees to request time to train" - then use the time blogging! :-)

Lola said...

Bummer. But rejoice that they don't make you wear a dress, like I've had to for a week now.

Dick Madeley said...

Author: 'tiresome'? You make it sound like it's almost a pleasure. It's work that makes me feel indifferent when in heavy traffic or walk near the edge of high cliffs. If only I could find myself a different line of work.

Lola, did I say that I don't have to wear a dress? But that's a post for another day...

katyboo1 said...

Pooh! That's awful Dick. Poor you. Still at least you don't have a deranged two year old with a knack for crashing computers helping you out, or even worse, not helping you out because he's too busy turning on all the taps in the downstairs toilet and shooting the rapids across the hall. Slight consolation I know.

Dick Madeley said...

Katyboo1, I know. I sound such a moan. And I'm sure nobody really believes me. People look on my smiling face and think: 'there's a man with everything...' If only people knew the truth. However, I'm trying to cheer up and to post something tomorrow that doesn't reflect my bad mood. Perhaps it's the last week of the show that's done it to me...

Anonymous said...

Imbecilic managers. You should have struck him down with your left hand explaining you only hit real men with your right.

Barbara said...

You need to stick a picture of Vanessa Feltz's cleavage up there on your cubby wall. That will distract you.

Dick Madeley said...

Elberry, I'll do that first thing on Wednesday and say that you sent me.

Barbara, I'll do that second thing on Wednesday. I'll then have a real chubby cubby!

Anonymous said...


I remember your article in the Daily Express referring to the PJ as "The Keystone Cops".

I recommend you read the facts published in reputable forums, i.e. Joana Morais, Newsfrommybigdesk - Mr Amaral's substantiated facts, PJ's Report & facts on police files.

Martin Smith's report and that of Eddie & Keela's handler confirms the expertize behind the findings.
Conclusions justifiably reached are that Madeleine died in her parents' apartment.

Are you a friend of Clarence Mitchell?

Dick Madeley said...

Anonymous, you're not very observant are you?

Anonymous said...

People called Anonymous are almost always a bit...slow.

Barbara said...

True Elberry, they can't even remember their own names.

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