Monday, 6 October 2008

A Saint Among Herons

I was standing in the middle of an Essex wildlife sanctuary on Saturday, posing with a copy of my new book, ‘Fathers & Sons’, as a flock of migrating herons few over and broke my concentration.

‘Camera, Richard! Camera! Stop looking at the birdies!’

So shouted the guy 'The Guardian' had sent to photograph me. He was standing on a hide constructed from old railway sleepers and hardened clay. It gave him the proper elevation to photograph me spread out on the sandy bank, the sunlight catching the Vaseline he’d smeared onto my nipples so as to make the shoot feel like a hot summer's day.

‘So sorry,’ I replied, sitting up. ‘It’s just that I’m so used to being with Bill Oddie that I can’t let a heron pass by without my trying to see if it’s been tagged by Katie Humble.’

The cameraman lowered his lens and aimed a pair of wider angles my way. ‘You’re nothing like you are on the telly,’ he said as he jumped down from his perch and wandered over.

‘That’s because we’re two different entities,’ I told him. ‘Don’t let the Vaseline on my nipples mislead you. I’m the Richard Madeley who scoffs at everything I’ve become in the name of fizzing tea-time sofa sex. I’m not just a perfect body trapped within a pair of casual slacks and with a grin that can melt a cushion. I have ambitions to better myself as an artist. I want to transcend the daytime schedules and achieve a blogging omnipotence.’

‘Oh, I have a blog,’ he replied, the statement so flat that it slipped out like a pancake slick with syrup.

‘You do?’

He grew shy. ‘If you can keep a secret,’ he said, ‘I’ll tell you all about it.’

I threw my book to one side and turned my back on the herons.

‘My word is my 007,’ I said. ‘Tell me all...’

He blushed a little. It reminded me a female Tufted Dabchick during courtship and I half expected him to squawk and adopt a pose indicating his willingness to receive the male.

‘The thing is,’ he began, ‘I pretend to be a sexually active young woman from Dagenham. My blog is a series of explicit posts in which I relate the intimate details of my latest conquests. I have quite the readership and a book due out next summer based upon my sultry adventures.’

‘I bet you do,’ I said. ‘I’ve heard things about Dagenham which lead me to think that you’d be highly successful in what you do. You’re certain to top the charts.’

‘Oh, I’m certainly successful. I’ve had quite a few marriage proposals and a gentleman from Humberside recently offered to pay for a holiday in Copenhagen. Of course, I had to refuse. He was already married and I don’t think he had the money to keep me in the luxury to which I’ve become accustomed.’

‘As good a reason as any,’ I agreed, ‘though, if you don’t mind my being so blunt, I would have thought that the biggest hurdle to a freebie holiday like that is the fact that you’re not actually a sexually active young woman from Dagenham. Not unless appearances deceive...’

He dropped the big lens into his bag. I took it as the sign that the shoot had come to an end.

‘That’s just it,’ he said. ‘When I’m writing my blog, I do feel like a sexually active young woman from Daggernam. It’s always a disappointment to look in the mirror each morning and realise that I’m just a balding photographer who occasionally gets a nice celebrity gig from a mate I know at The Guardian.’

‘I face similar problems,’ I told him as I began to wipe the oily residue from my chest. The sensation was not unpleasant, though not exactly the sort of pleasure you want to be caught enjoying in an Essex wildlife sanctuary. ‘Woman are continually writing to me, offering me their bodies in exchange for a stab at the celebrity lifestyle. It’s hard to explain that I’m really after something much more meaningful.’

‘Ah,’ he nodded. ‘You mean love!’

‘I was actually thinking of something more like a publishing contract for my comedy. In exchange for that, the right person could have my body two weekends a month and any three bank holidays of their choosing.’

‘A decent offer,’ he nodded.

‘More than generous,’ I said as I began to put on my shirt. ‘But that’s the problem with the world. Nobody wants me for my wits. They just want me to break their hearts with stories from my unfortunate upbringing and tales of the strap. My new book will be a chart success, of course, but it’s hardly going to make people feel like they’ve just wandered through a ray of sunshine. And that’s all I really want. I want people to associate my name with laughter and feeling good about the world.’ I sighed as I finished buttoning up my shirt. ‘But enough about me... Show me these photographs you’ve taken.’

He played with the back of his camera a moment and then broke out into a smile. ‘Would you look at that!’ he declared.

I examined the back of his Nikon. ‘That’s typical of the heron,’ I explained. ‘Bill Oddie once told me why they fly in such a tight formation but I’ve forgotten the details.’

‘But it’s such a fortunate coincidence how they form a natural halo above your head,’ he laughed.

‘Quite fitting,’ I said. ‘But then, the heron is a perceptive creature. They see things hidden from the human eye.’


Black Cat said...

Hahaha! Poor cameraman...

Good luck with the book sales. I will be buying it if I can get over my phobia of giving my details on line (my card details, that is, at least I have control over my blog... "Bozo... Bozo???") :) xxx

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Oh, I think I should warn you that the book will be very unlike my blog, since it's an official product of the Richard&Judy Foundation and technically written by a different hand. I suppose I should sit down and read it but I've not yet found time for that.

okbye said...

Great review in the Guardian! They kind of over-exposed the story, a bit too much detail, but they made it sound interesting.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Barbara, you see, this is why I consider giving up the blog. Great review in The Guardian... It hurts. It hurts so bad. If only I had received a great review in The Guardian.

okbye said...

I guess I should have said article, I didn't see a review, all I have access to is what they put online. Sorry if it wasn't good. The article writer from Saturday liked the book.

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