Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Just Busy...

I've not abandoned you. And I've not abandoned Twitter. I'm just working on a project of such profound significance to mankind that it's eating up every hour of my day. Can't say more about it at the moment. Some day, it might all become apparent but, for now, I can only say I'm still here and that I'm watching you...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Girls With Chickens

I found this while loitering around Dave Barry's blog. It is the website that I guarantee was missing from your life and it is my new reason for getting up in the morning. It is Awkward Family Photos!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

News From Cornwall

Hoping to escape the media attention I’ve been attracting in London, I thought I’d come down here to Cornwall where life is more relaxed and we’re all free to suck our moonshine popsicles in the front seats of the tractors that we regularly drive/plough through the quiet village squares/ponds.

Metaphorically, I’m also ‘in Cornwall’ in regards to my communicating with the virtual world. I’ve had so many emails complimenting me for my ‘beautiful daughter’ that I’ve decided to put a moratorium on replies, in addition to the usual block on people asking me to read their novels, short stories, poems, sign their pots and mugs, or contribute funds to good wellbeing of Iberian donkeys. To put it bluntly: it’s become too much and I’m calling a time out until people read my blog more carefully and begin understand what ‘The Richard Madeley Appreciation Society’ is really about.

I suppose too that ‘celebrity’ finally has me beat. Out there is an insane world full of raging vanity and even more raging stupidity. I want no more part of it. As I cast my eye over the news today, from the weighty to the frivolous, my suspicions are confirmed: you’re all mad! Or at least as mad as a morning spent with Colonel Gaddafi’s hair stylist.

This morning’s news is headed by the announcement that Ken Livingstone is getting married at a zoo. There’s no word yet on whether schoolchildren will be able to watch any part of the mating ritual from across the safety of a concrete moat, but this will no doubt come as a relief to the teachers who’d thought they’d had it tough explaining biology when the baboons got frisky.

Meanwhile, the courts have decided how Michael Jackson memorabilia should be marketed, despite the protests of his still grieving mother who wanted the process to be ‘competitively bid’. Nothing says grief quite like a mother making tough business decisions from behind a sodden handkerchief.

The so called ‘Toxic Waste Ship’ has returned to the UK. Unhappy that the gig was over so quickly, Peter Andre promises to ‘cruise again’ in the near future.

Victoria Beckham won't eat on airplanes because she’s she wants to keep her weight down. As part of a carbon offset scheme, she’ll also be planting tubs of watercress each time she’s crosses the Atlantic.

Simon Cowell has been attacked for exploiting contestants on ‘X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. A performers' rights union aims to end the use of non-paid talent on the shows, though there’s no word yet on the use of paid non-talents.

A Tory MP has apologised for making a sexist joke. This unusual move was prompted by complaints from within his party that he hadn’t made a sexist racist joke mocking the NHS and unemployed homosexual French sheep.

Lindsay Lohan was involved in a heated row in a New York City delicatessen. After losing her phone at the deli, she later went back to claim it back but grew angry when she could not prove that the phone belonged to her. Staff explained they didn’t know who she was. If it’s any consolation to deli staff everywhere, I have absolutely no idea who Lindsay Lohan is either. I thought she was Xena: Warrior Princess.

Legendary director Tarantino is back’. ‘Legendary’ is a word that publicists often use to confuse Joe Public, here in the hope they’ll forget that Tarantino has only made two really decent movies: ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Jackie Brown’.

‘Legendary’ directors the Wayans Brothers are also back, with their latest comedy, ‘Dance Flick’. Already rated 2.9 on the Internet Movie Database, the film is the subject of frantic betting that it will reach the critical heights of ‘Little Man’ which scored 3.4. (N.B. ‘Legendary’ here is a word that I use to remind Joe Public that the brothers have never made a really decent movie.)

X-Men director, Bryan Singer, is to remake John Boorman's ‘Excalibur’, the story of Arthur, the legendary King of the Britons. (N.B. ‘Legendary’ here is a word that I use to remind Joe Public that King Arthur was probably American, chisel-jawed and had a highly lucrative sponsorship deal with Burger King.)

Meanwhile, back in the world of significant things that we should really care about: Colonel Gaddafi was grinning like an X Factor judge as he welcomed ‘legendary’ Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi into the next round of the ever popular game show ‘No Deal or Deal Involving Swapping Murderers For International Trade’. He thanked everybody from Prince Andrew to Gordon Brown for freeing the man found guilty of killing 270 people over Lockerbie. (N.B. ‘Legendary’ here is a word that I use to remind Joe Public that the scale of this man's crime cannot be understated.)

The release comes only weeks after Ronnie Biggs was set free, much to the disgust of the tabloids that previously earned millions off his infamy. Biggs was found guilty of smug and arrogant behaviour after escaping from Wandsworth Prison in 1965. In Brazil, in the 1960s and 70s, he routinely adopted funny hats and t-shirts. The fact that nobody actually died at the hands of the Great Train Robbers mocks the system of compassionate release which was clearly intended for use by people who have murdered 200 people or more. Who next? Tax dodgers or OAPs refusing to pay their council tax? I find it disgusting.

Hand me some more of that moonshine. I’ve got a tractor to drive in an erratic fashion.


And on a personal note: I’ve had an email from Elberry who tells me that he has deleted his blog. I’ve always been as envious of Elberry’s bravery as I have of his intelligence and willingness to post pictures of woman in various states of undress. May he find freedom beneficial to both his spirit and his bank balance.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Why I Think I’m Falling Out of Love With Twitter

If I receive one more message of sympathy from a well wisher, I might well give in to temptation and dismantle a certain French super-mini and reassemble it into a robot that will do much more than shift its hips in a funky dance. This one will mete out destruction on a grand scale; which, when you think it about it, is pretty much what it has already done in the Hamstead Heath region of North London this week.

I’m not saying that people’s sentiments are misplaced but they do fail to understand me as a man. I regularly consider abandoning my Twitter account for precisely this reason. It’s fine that people think I’m funny or that I’m upstanding because I always follow my followers and respond to their messages, but I do that because, in my view, it is just common human decency. I was brought up to respect others. So, if somebody takes the time to follow me, then the least I can do is try to return the compliment. If somebody writes me an email, I will take time to write one back.

Broaden that out to my whole presence on Twitter and you will see that I am primarily trying to entertain people and bring people to my blog. I enjoy the challenge of trying to be funny inside 140 characters. If I can make people’s day a little brighter, then I’m happy. The effort I put into the work is considerable, the reward only spiritual, yet it is, nevertheless, a reward.

If I mock a celebrity like Peter Andre, it is because I believe that celebrities slight people without even realising it. To promise, as he recently did, to follow 10 people a day is, in my view, scornful of his relationship with his fanbase. Even if he does Twitter (and doesn’t simply employ a clever publicist), then following 10 people a day is still a ridiculously insignificant number. It would take 10 to 15 seconds out of his day and 63 years to follow all his current followers. Of course, I wouldn’t expect him to follow 100,000+ people, but he could put enough time into his account to show that there’s real investment into the work of connecting with his fans. Stephen Fry managed to follow 54,000 people before it became impossible to keep up but at least he has set the standard by which any other celebrity is judged.

I suppose it’s the problem with many supposed celebrities on Twitter and, to be fair, Peter Andre is far from the worst. In fact, in Twitter terms, he’s one of the more virtuous characters out there. Claudia Winkleman has 41,000 followers yet follows only 30 people. Let me say that again. This is Claudia Winkleman I’m talking about, not Elizabeth Taylor. 41,000 followers yet she follows only 30 people. The question of how she can only follow 30 people is perhaps eclipsed by that which questions why 41,000 people would to follow Claudia Winkleman. Yet, perhaps the worst offender of all is Alan Carr who is followed by 298,343 people and goes to the trouble of returning the compliment to 28. Is he deliberately trying to appear arrogant? Or is he just giving me a reason to dislike the man for something other than his vile, lewd innuendo and teeth-in-a-meat grinder voice?

The numbers game looks and sounds childish when set out like this. Yet what does it say about celebrities when they can’t be bothered to engage with real Twitterers? That they’re arrogant, vain, lazy, insincere, or, as in many cases, merely some sham fabrication created by a PR company to make their client look in touch with the real world?

Which takes me back to the kind comments that people have been sending 'me'. It’s right and good that people look out for other people. What troubles me is that their praise is predicated upon motives that have much to do with my supposed celebrity and not the efforts I’ve put into Twitter. If I didn’t have this name, would they think me funny? I guess not. And, from my side of the equation, it’s hard to feel any sense of accomplishment when you know people are judging you by a show you may have done in 1993 but you really can’t recall. The same, to a lesser extent, is true of this blog. I’m not so big a fool as to think that much of the attention it has received hasn’t had to do with the Madeley brand.

Those few of you who have read me long enough, know that I have this debate with myself regularly. I have yet to decide if I’m giving up Twitter (or even, to an extent, blogging) but I sometimes feel that effort is just not worth it.

So, though this makes me sound ungrateful, please don’t send me any more messages of support during this difficult period. If the person addressing you now is going through a tough time, I can assure you it has nothing to do with some young girl crashing a car into a parked mini. There really are bigger tragedies in the world that never make the front pages of the newspapers.

Monday, 17 August 2009

The Prick and the Porcupine

I have to ask you to forgive me. If there was a reason for filling Saturday’s blog with an unforgivable level of the black stuff, it was my exhaustion after two days in Manchester.

I’d been up north, lending my honeyed tones to a new wildlife documentary for Channel 5, which quite took it out of me. You can expend significant reserves your lung juice on tricky lines such as: ‘Deep in the swampland of Baluchestan, the hunters are waiting to hear the mating call of the whelk-eared porcupine, the world’s rarest spined mammal. Their pelts can fetch nearly two hundred dollars on the open market. Most will end up as luxury pouches worn by Japanese wrestlers in the highly illegal sport of space hopper sumo...’ The skills required for this kind of gig have to be up there with hosting ‘Have I Got News For You’ in terms of getting the intonation right. Phase it wrong and you’ve either slandered a heron or suggested Tory Party politicos like to mate in Norfolk marshes.

I suppose it’s why I’m on the big money but I always return home deflated after one of these recording sessions. Saturday, I felt worse than ever. A thirty stone sumo might well have been sitting on me whilst wearing his whelk-eared pouch. I wouldn’t have had the energy to complain if he had. I was certainly in no mood to be told that my latest comedy script had hit another obstacle within the BBC.

As a consequence, I spent the day sleeping or sobbing, sometimes both at the same time, occasionally with added brow beating, self-loathing, paranoia and raging alcohol abuse. However, Sunday morning, I woke up clear headed and sporting something of a surprised look on the old A1 visage.

Or, at least, I did once I opened my eyes and found myself lip to lip with a large yellow beak.

‘Well? What do you think?’ asked the beak.

I blinked and the beak floated away to reveal a large fluffy head connected to an equally fluffy body by a length of flexible ventilation duct. I didn’t require Bill Oddie to spot the big yellow ostrich in the room. Nor did I need the ‘Who’s Who of Celebrity Ostrich Riders’ to recognise that perched on the bird’s back holding the reins was my dear wife, Judy. The illusion lasted all of three seconds before I recognised the legs sticking out from beneath the bird’s body. I could see the Granada Reports tattoo on Judy’s ankle peering through the thinly stretched yellow stocking.

‘Judy? Why are you dressed as an ostrich?’ I asked.

‘Oh, Richard!’ she replied. ‘Don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten!’

‘Forgotten wh...’

I suddenly remembered. It was the Sunday the 16th of August, the date of this year’s ‘Bernie Cliftonfest’, when those of us in showbiz honour the nation’s finest funny man. The five mile sponsored ostrich run takes in the whole of this undisclosed area of North London and would raise hundreds of pounds for Bernie’s favourite charity for failed trombonists. As you know, Judy is one of the charity’s patrons and this perhaps accounted for the enthusiasm she put into getting me up out of my divine Slumberland.

‘I’m too tired,’ I moaned. ‘I couldn’t sleep my way through five miles, let alone run it.’

The ostrich beak came in and pulled back the sheets to reveal my nakedness, glory be its name.

‘Get up, Richard. You are not going to let me down,’ she said. ‘You’ve got an hour to be ready.’

As if to warn me, there was a loud clap of an ostrich beach snapping shut and a sudden sharp pain in my lower left cheek.

‘Godfrey Paul Daniels,’ I moaned. Judy just snorted and went padding out of the room, possibly to top up on millet before the run.

I rolled over, stretched, and lifted myself into an upright position. I gazed at the yellow stockings draped over the end of the bed and smacked my lips once before I grabbed the phone.

It rang ten times before the voice answered.

‘Terry? It’s Dick Madeley here. Glad I caught you. Listen. I’d like to take you up on your offer. Yes, that one. I know it’s a bit short notice but...’


My wife has as remarkable a facility for stating the obvious as she does in turning ordinary words into mild vulgarities.

‘Great leaking buckets of water, Richard! You’re not wearing your stockings.’

‘I know I’m not. I didn’t fancy them,’ I said, brushing down the tailoring of a casual safari jacket and cream chinos. On my head was perched a pith helmet that matched the outfit. I looked like the product of a breeding programme between Michael ‘Zulu’ Caine and Winsor ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ Davies; just the kind of ‘lovely boy’ who could ‘blow the bloody doors off’ anything, if asked.

‘You can’t come dressed like that,’ said Judy. ‘The stockings are integral to the clever illusion of riding an ostrich. Without the stockings, you ruin the effect of the balsa wood legs!’

I looked at Judy and then across at all the celebrities lined up across the start. They were all completing clever illusions of their own. Jamie Oliver’s ostrich was apparently free range, accounting for the lack of meat on the bird’s legs. Daniel Craig was straightening his tie and putting on the style in his pinstriped ostrich with rocket propelled knees and bullet proof beak. The only real disappointment was Phillip Schofield’s ostrich, which I didn’t think was all that special. In fact, I thought it lacked any single discernible talent, though it was well plumed and would appeal to the 40 to 70 year old age group.

Judy frowned at me as she stood at the end of the line. ‘If you let me down, Richard, I’ll never be able to forgive you. I hate to think what Bernie would say if he saw you like this.’ She moved in closer, perhaps for ‘the kill’. ‘Listen here, lugnuts,’ she hissed, ‘you either get into that costume now or I’ll tell everybody about your letter.’

‘My letter?’ I asked, trying to pretend I didn’t know to which of the many daggers in my heart she referred.

‘Your rejection letter from the BBC. The one that said you’re not even in the top 10% of people sending them scripts. The one that said they didn’t read past the first ten pages. The one that said you’re about as funny as linoleum...’

I took a few steps back. ‘I get the message,’ I replied and tried a smile. It didn’t work. Judy’s beak moved from side to side like a fluffy cobra preparing to strike. That’s when I spotting my mate Terry, waving to me from the back of the crowd. ‘Look, it will be okay,’ I muttered and planted a quick kiss on Judy’s beak. ‘I’ll be back in a minute,’ I added and sauntered off through the sea of soft yellow ostrich fuzz.

I found Terry unlatching the back of his trailer. ‘I knew you’d make it on time,’ I said.

He didn’t seem that impressed. ‘I hope you know what you’re doing,’ he replied. ‘I’ve had to leave the otters frisking in the bath.’

I told him to spare me the tales of his frisking otters and to get a move on. Five minutes later, I was back at Judy’s side, only she was distracted for a moment, picking bits of pink fluff from her ostrich’s costume where she’d rubbed up against Graham Norton’s bird.

‘Well,’ I said, from a couple of feet above her, ‘I’m ready.’

She turned to me and gave a scream. ‘What’s that?’ she asked, using her ostrich’s head as a barrier to fend off the amorous attention of my mount.

‘This,’ I said, ‘is Patrick. Patrick is a genuine African racing ostrich.’

‘Get down at once, Richard,’ she snapped. ‘You’re going to kill yourself.’

As if to prove I was the master, I tugged the rein.

‘I can assure you that he’s quite tame,’ I said, calmly. ‘He’s maybe a bit randy but he’s certainly very tame. And he comes with Terry Nutkins’ seal of approval, which, in this case, is actually a real seal.’

Judy replied with something unkind about Terry Nutkins whilst Patrick began to show interest in Graham Norton’s plumage. Wedged up there between his wings, I could feel the shiver of sexual excitement run through Patrick’s body each time Graham limbered up for the run by bending over and touching his toes.

It was something of relief when the starter’s pistol cracked. Patrick responded immediately and strode off with me acting as little more than a very handsome observer with an impeccable tan. Within a hundred yards, we’d left most of the field well behind. It was just me, Dame Kelly Holmes, and Ben Fogle in the lead, and Fogle was fading quickly.

Now, here’s an interesting fact: did you know that there’s very little difference in pace between a real ostrich carrying a well proportioned man and a middle distance Olympic champion hampered by rubber ostrich boots? As I took the first turn, I was on the outside of Dame Kelly. I could see the sinews standing proud on her neck, her beak moving in metronomic rhythm with her legs.

‘Would this be the wrong time to ask you about the state of middle distance running with in the UK?’ I shouted down to her.

But the question only seemed to spur Kelly on and she quickly pulled out a lead of a metre or more.

I’ve conducted hostile interviews like this before so I knew how to respond. I kicked my heels and Patrick found an extra gear.

‘Do you think that the London Olympics will be a success or a financial disaster?’ I cried as we again pulled level.

A look of fear came to Kelly’s eye but again she kicked.

I kicked too and Patrick gave a shriek and picked up his pace.

‘Kelly, do you think that woman with high muscular torsos can retain their femininity given the modern approval of the larger mammary?’

I think that’s what broke her. She reached for another kick but found it wasn’t there. However, a heel against Patrick’s backside and we leapt into the lead.

‘Tallo ho!’ I cried, lifting the pith helmet from my head and giving Dame Kelly and the vanishing pack a wave.

Five miles later, the finishing line was in sight. My buttocks were getting a little sore but I could not care less. I was already thinking of my victory speech and how I would use it as a vehicle for a withering assault on the woeful ability of the BBC’s Writer’s Room to spot ‘talent’. It probably accounts for why I wasn’t looking behind me. With only a hundred yards to go, I was suddenly aware of a shape in my peripheral vision.

It was Jeremy Clarkson in a motorised scooter decked out in ostrich feathers. He opened his throttle and grinned that offish grin he has. I kicked my heels one, twice, and thrice into Patrick’s flanks but I can only assume that he was as shocked as I to see the nation’s top curly perm blazing past.

Clarkson took the line by a rubberised bumper/beak.

I wasted no time and slid from Patrick’s back and racing up to Clarkson who was preparing to respond to the adulation of the crowd. He had already unfastening his trouser belt and lowered his trousers. He was now in the process of inking the word ‘Losers’ across his bottom, cleverly adapting the topography to form a particularly scornful ‘o’.

‘What’s your game?’ I demanded. ‘You have just spoilt a friendly charity race by using a mechanised monstrosity.’

‘No more than you ruined it by taking a real ostrich to an ostrich race,’ said Clarkson.

Even if I knew he was right, I wasn’t about to back down.

‘This isn’t the last you’ll hear about this, Jeremy,’ I warned him. ‘This will be on my blog before the week is out.’

‘Ha!’ he cried. ‘So says the man whose scripts are a laughing stock within the BBC.’ And with that he turned his back on me, bent over and the word ‘Loser’ reared up to great me.

I would have felt particularly offended by this final humiliation if it wasn’t for what happened next. It is perhaps best not to describe it in too much detail, though, needless to say, the best efforts of Terry Nutkins and three firemen couldn’t stop Patrick from finally fulfilling his intentions in a way that was beautiful to see. After two minutes, I left the commotion behind me in order to find Judy, who placed a rather respectable fourteenth. I wanted to shield her from a sight that even I’d have trouble narrating for Channel 5.

‘Did you win?’ she asked, breathless.

‘I placed second but I’m not bitter,' I replied. ‘To the victor go the spoils and all that...

Judy rubbed her side. ‘I’m going to be sore in the morning,’ she grinned.

I placed my arm around her waist and guided her away from the finish line. ‘Not as sore as some,’ I promised her. ‘Not as sore as some...’

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Screw the World, I Want To Get Off

There was a large manila envelope waiting for me on the dining room table this morning. I recognised it immediately. I’d addressed it to myself a long time ago.

Rejection is like holding a conversation with yourself, only with a matter of months separating the reply from the question. ‘Will they like your work, Dick?’ I asked back in May when I sent the script for a radio comedy to the BBC’s Writer’s Room. ‘They bloody hated it!’ came the answer, written in my own hand, today.

Since I sent this script way, I’ve written a dozen sketches for NewsJack, dozens of jokes and one-liners, which were all ignored. The standard opinion within the BBC is that I’m not funny. So, I suppose this package shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yet I don’t know how to take more rejection from the BBC, who only seems to exist in order to torment me. I haven’t the heart to open the package and, thankfully, Judy hasn’t asked me about it. It’s her belief that my next project should be in my own name. She doesn’t see the point of my writing and submitting work in the name of my alter-ego, Gus Scrottee.

I suppose I really should open it...

Rejection letters come in many forms. I’ve had compliment slips that read ‘Not this time’ (a favourite phrase of editors and agents as if to imply that there might actually be a time). Then there’s the formal letter which is sent with every manuscript that doesn’t take their fancy. When I say ‘their fancy’, I mean the fancy of the eighteen year old trainee who they’ve hired to open every envelope in their slush pile and tip the contents into the Self-Addressed Envelope. I figure most agents are off cosying up to the next Z list celebrity to whom they’ve offered a book deal. This week, we’re told that £1.5 million has been offered to Peter Andre for writing a cookbook. A cookbook!

Meanwhile, in the world of Gus Scrottee...

Okay. I’ll open it.

It’s a form letter, only this one actually grades my sense of failure. In the case of the BBC’s Writer’s Room, they receive 10,000 scripts a year and less than 10% get through the first sift. I didn’t make it past the first sift. They didn’t bother to read more than the first ten pages. They thought it was rubbish.

What am I to do? Accept that some other would-be writer out there has read this and doesn’t like it? But who is it? Some hack who produces the usual crap I listen to on Radio 4?

Or do I have to question my own sense of self-worth? Was it really so bad? Is it so much less than every Radio 4 comedy out there? Am I really than unfunny?

Screw them. Screw the lot of them. They’ll never understand Gus Scrottee. Never.

Meanwhile, I’ve put the script in ‘the vault’ where those in the know can read it and wallow in the misery of another poorly written script.

[NOTE: Not that this has anything to do with anything but I fail to see the point of projects like this.]

Friday, 14 August 2009

Thursday, 13 August 2009

I Love Richard Madeley

Hugely exhausted tonight but I have time for a quick 'shoutout' to the person who came to the Appreciation Society by typing the phrase 'I love Richard Madeley' into Google.

Hey! Love you too, sweetheart. And just for you, I'm putting on my Bagpuss hat...


I thought I might blog today but I'm in Manchester, questioning the vagaries of existence, and with no great insights other than to say that even a pair of cotton chinos can't make some men happy. Why are some of us born to achieve greatness and other end up sitting outside Manchester Town Hall feeding the pigeons? Looking back on my week of blogging, I counted up the many hours it took me and wondered 'what for?' I had fun but to what end? Where's the new series on Channel 4? What's happening with my books?

I'll see you all some other time. I'm here with the pigeons until 4.30.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

My Letter to The Sun

Sent to: letters@the-sun.co.uk
11th August 2009

Dear The Sun,

As much as I am reluctant to respond to yet another of your salacious stories, I feel obliged to reply to the article published under the heading: ‘Madeley: I hate wearing knickers’ (08/08/09).

You do not make it clear in the headline that you were referring to Chloe Madeley not Dick Madeley, the famous blogger, Twitter hero, and Norfolk's newly crowned balloon bending champion. As a consequence, I have been caused considerable embarrassment with no fewer than three people coming up to me in the street and asking me why I don’t enjoy the sensual touch of women’s underwear against my skin.

You probably think it an overreaction to write to you like this but I have a reputation to maintain. To that end, I think it only right to make it clear to your readers where I stand on the matter of women’s underwear. To be perfectly honest, I have no particular dislike for the silken hot pant, the miniaturised thong, or the well gusseted girdle. They each have the use, their time and their place. However, let it be known that I am among the legion of men in this country who like to go as nature intended: sans underpant. I live life on the edge, with only my pair of highly fashionable stretch nylon slacks to protect my modesty.

Yours, securely zipped away,

Dick Madeley
The Nation’s Favourite Uncle
The Richard Madeley Appreciation Society

Too Much Blogging...

There are some days when I just feel like giving up. They are usually Tuesdays.

My Apology to Mr. Peter Andre

There has been some confusion in the media about my relationship with Peter Andre. This may have been exacerbated by my recent Twitter comments directed toward Pete, such as ‘Thinking of you at this difficult time. In fact, I wake up screaming most nights, wondering if the new single is out yet’.

Comments such as this (there have been 42 since I started to Twitter) have led people to wrongly believe that I’m not a fan of the man. This can’t be further from the truth. Admittedly, I have tried to encourage his fans to move on to Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Neil Young, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Sparks, CSN&Y, Patti Smith, and Bob Dylan, but this doesn’t mean I haven’t got room in my life for Mr. Peter Andre.

As a way of finding closure, I contacted Pete’s management and we’re delighted to announce the forthcoming collaboration. He agreed to make the record only if we could donate all the proceeds to charity. Pete is giving his half to Unicef but I’ve written a promissory note to West Norfolk's Home For the Mentally Insania. They do good work with people driven witless by the incessant ‘groove’ of dance records. They also help people who have listened to too many high pitched whining ballads about ‘missing you’ leaving their sentimental side to run rampant through their psychology.

So, when you’re out buying my new ’12 Love Songs & A Sea Shanty’, why not pick up ‘Lovin’ You In Woollens’? Not only will it help heal the rift in my relationship with Pete but you’ll have an additional deterrent to keep the squirrels away.

Uncle Dick's Guide to Mail Order Heaven

In a break from the usual Monday night fare, I thought I’d review some of the purchases I’ve recently made from the catalogues that fall out of the Sunday papers. As you probably know, I’m a man who enjoys a bargain and I think these are some of the best bargains to be had in the retail sector. Just don’t proceed any further if you don't have the money to invest in the very best in high-end luxury goods.

What I most admire about the Polar Fleece Poncho is how it marries two different geographic themes in one stylish item. Not only is it the clothing of choice for your Antarctic or Arctic adventures, it will keep you looking trendy in South America, possibly Bolivia. And it now comes with a bonus continent, Australia, in the form of a pocket to keep your kangaroo safe. Is there anything the Polar Fleece Poncho can't do?

Many hours have been spent in the Madeley household looking for the perfect ornament for the coffee table but both Judy and I have finally agreed that this is so 'us'. But please take note: this is not a practical poker set. You can’t get many people around this table. We tried and four was a bit of a squeeze.

In some countries, this might be a source of amusement. But not here in the UK where every home has at least a two pump action shotguns. I would go so far as to say it's a necessity when you need to keep a scoped sniper rifle with silencer out of the reach of the children. Judy swears by it, as she also swears by her scoped sniper rifle with silencer.

This handy gun rack also comes with a 'full length drawer' for all your 'odds and sods'. We just use the drawer for unused ammunition, though it is big enough to hold some small anti-personnel mines if needed.

We must be thankful that the inventor of this great product looked at a blanket and thought: that blanket needs sleeves. Nothing now says comfort quite like a blanket with sleeves. Simply put: it's a design classic. Just think of the many things in life that could do with extra sleeves. I know I wait for the day when I can buy myself a good pair of sleeves that come with their own sleeves.

And what's amazing is that this blanket with sleeves fits all sizes! What an amazing bit of kit!

The next item caught my eye because, as you know, I'm one of the UK's biggest collectors of object d'art. When next you come around to visit, you must have a look at my equisite Victorian figurines, marble statues, modernist pottery, and my miniature samurai sword letter openers.

Please note the justified warning. These letter openers really are miniature samurai swords and are lethal in the hands of miniature samurai.

I often wake up in the morning and cringe because of my painful wrist. Thankfully, since I bought this wrist support, I can refer to the helpful arrow that quickly show me where it hurts.

Don’t let the description fool you. This long reach toilet paper holder has a thousand uses. Whatever the hard to reach place: this handle is sure to reach it. Just think of it as a back scratcher that can go the extra six inches.

Another design classic. The fur trim is a inspired touch but the eye is drawn to the central motif on this beautifully crafted seat cover. Created by one of the UK's most 'talented' artists, it is a stunning lifelike representation of a cross-eyed dog.

This catalogue is clearly aimed at the armed robber with the perfect kit to keep his gun clean. Don't forget to look down the barrel as you polish the trigger.

I've been into amateur butter cutting for many years but I see this as the opportunity to move into the big league. Some might say I'm arrogant but I think I'm ready to cut butter professionally. Why not join me?

We once to have a dog that was into 'self warming' but we had to get rid of it because it was making a mess of my trousers. Now Judy just keeps terrapins. However, now we’ve got this thermal mattress, we can keep her terrapins warm all day long without resorting to the Defrost setting on the microwave.

Finally, do you need ask what drew me to the Invisible Sheep Urinal? Having been plagued by invisible sheep for many years, I was delighted to find that somebody was finally addressing the bladder-control issues they cause. You have to hand it to the inventors. It 'allows full social, business, and sporting activities'. Personally, there's nothing that gives me more satisfaction than relieving myself during a business meeting or when I’m on the golf course with friends. If only I'd had one of these when I was dating! Nothing is bound to impress a woman than a man who takes his bladder so seriously that he has one strapped to his leg.

However, if I have one concern, it's that bit about it being 'virtually undetectable'. Surely that means it's detectable and I'm not sure if I could allow myself to relax at some semi-formal engagement, perhaps an awards ceremony, knowing that any invisible sheep could tell that I was passing water. It's most off-putting. I doubt if I could 'go' under those circumstances. Even if it was only the BAFTAs.

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Independent on Sunday

I don’t want to detract from the piece I've published below but I must express my thanks to 'The Independent on Sunday' who kindly reprinted part of my letter. If I were to be critical, I would ask why they edited me down. There can’t be many days they receive an email like mine. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I start to feel outraged that they took out all the best bits. I'm disgusted. I really am! In fact, I've got a good mind to write them a letter...

A Russian Tale

Amid the creped curtains, voile panels, and tumbled sheets of the dim bedroom lay the body of Richard Madelesky, the famous poet, lover, and orthodox onion impresario. His lithe form arced gracefully once as he scratched himself awake. Then, further roused by the sound of the day, he rolled over on the mattress and opened one eye. The letter’s edge smiled at him from the adjacent pillow.

‘What is this?’ he said aloud as he took the crisp parchment between his fingers and turned it carefully around. ‘Oh you fool! You wretch! You scoundrel! Surely, it is only a note from my dear wife, Judi. That is all. No need to sound the alarm. Dear me! What would she say if she heard you talking to yourself naked and alone in the bedroom?’

With excited fingers, he pulled apart the folded sheet and read the few words written there in the hand of his one and only: ‘The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak.’

A faint terror gripped Madelesky as he recognised the quotation from Spinoza. He swung his legs from the bed and stood, wondering if the message could really be from his wife. They had been married many years and, in all that time, never once had she left a letter upon his pillow quoting Spinoza.

A minute passed and then two. His mind raced. What could the letter mean? At this point he resolved to ring his old friend, Bill Oddieski, who had once advised him in the matter of V. Singletoni’s turnip whisky. Surely he would know what to make of the message.

The phone rang five times before the bearded voice answered. ‘The Oddieski residence.’

‘Bill, it is your old friend, Richard Madelesky. I fear some terrible thing has happened!’

‘Ah! This is not the story of the geese that have already migrated to Nova Scotia? Just last week I paid 75 roubles for geese pellets and now the geese are gone!’

‘Ah, you blockheaded dunder!’ cried Madelesky. ‘Does the whole world revolve around your geese? I have just woken in my bed to find a note on my pillow. It is written in Judi’s hand.’

‘Then what did this paper say?’ asked Oddieski. ‘For I know what kind of man you are: always fearing what is not there. You are like the Snowy Owl who hides at the slightest creak of the barn door blown by the first gusts of autumn.’

Madelesky read the note aloud to his friend who tutted his disapproval.

‘I’m afraid I cannot help you,’ said the old owl warden and amateur spoon musician. ‘Your wife, Judi, is playing tricks with you, my friend. I want no part of it. Do not call this number again.’

‘But Bill,’ cried Madelesky, his hands shaking as he held onto the telephone, ‘I fear this is some omen. I am a wretch. Oh, how my life is ruined! I must have said something out of place.’

‘All men say things they live to regret,’ replied Oddieski. ‘The hardest thing is to work out what it is you have said and to make things right. Now goodbye. I must go. My tufted grebes are calling me.’

The phone clicked and Madelsky stood motionless for a moment before throwing the receiver to the bed. What did his wife mean by this cryptic message? He could bear it no longer. In a matter of minutes, the curtains were open and Madelsky stood in his finest Sunday suit; the elbow patches worn by many a dry sermon, the knees thin from unanswered prayer, and the jacket pockets gummed with broken fragments of the fruit sherbets that had once given much fizz to his faltering faith.

On the landing, he paused to listen to the sounds of the old house. A radio played somewhere and he suspected his wife was in the kitchen.

‘What am I to do?’ thought Madelsky. ‘Has Judi grown so tired of my bed that she seeks the words of Spinoza?’ He crept slowly down to the kitchen door and opened it slowly. He had intended to spy upon his wife in order to judge her mood but, seeing her with her head stuck in the oven, he burst into the kitchen and supplicated himself upon his knees, on her linoleum still smelling of Cillit Bang.

‘Oh, Judi, you have left this piece of paper upon my pillow and it has given me grave concerns,’ cried Madelsky. ‘Take your head from that electric oven and tell me what’s wrong. You have so much to live for.’

His wife lifted her head from the oven, where she had been admiring the smell of her newly baked squirrel meat buns. As she looked at him, her face tore up the sunlight. ‘Oh, Richard,’ she cried, a smile rippling her cheeks like it was a damask fabric. ‘That was not a note but the bookmark from Andy McNab’s “Immediate Action” that I finished reading last night.’

Madelsky crawled to the kitchen chair as he felt tears relieve him of his burden. ‘A bookmark? But I thought I had upset you with something I had said.’

‘Ah,’ replied his wife, ‘you have been reading too much Chekhov. Not all things have the significance of the small apparently insignificant objects you find in Russian literature. Here, have a squirrel bun...’

But Madelsky could not touch the bun. For there, burned into its light fluffy crust where the singed tail slightly poked through, he was sure he could see the face of a Snowy Owl. And he could not tell his wife that on his cheek, he thought he could feel the first draughts of autumn.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Just A Big Thank You...

... to all those who attended last night's London gig. The response to the material from '12 Love Songs & a Sea Shanty' was superb and it was an absolute pleasure to perform to such an appreciative audience. I also hope you enjoyed my twenty two minute version of the Grace Jones classic, 'Pull Up To The Bumper'. But do you want to know the funniest thing? When I came off stage and went to find my car, I discovered that somebody had actually pulled up to my bumper and I had to wait exactly twenty two minutes before I could get out.

I'm hoping to perform at Castle Donington next month with more tour dates available soon.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

12 Love Songs & A Sea Shanty

As you all know, for the past year, I’ve been travelling up to Manchester at least two days a week. What you didn’t know was that I’ve actually been recording my debut album. Well, the time have now arrived and I’m finally delighted to announce that ’12 Love Songs & A Sea Shanty’ is released today and is available from all good record stores (though, sadly, not yet available via iTunes). Promotional work for the album will take up much of my time for the next few weeks but, with your help, I think we might be able to chart this sucker. I’m aiming for a top five place.

I just want to take a moment to thank the people involved in the project. I’m very proud of the result of all their hard work. Naturally, I want to thank Judy, who kindly provided a trombone solo to ‘Sweet Girl of Mine’, but my main thanks must go to Jim Sharman up at Rochester Studios in Manchester for all the work he put into producing the album. Though we disagreed on a few points (sorry Jim but I think the sea shanty had to stay), he was always supportive. Vic Neal provided engineering and helped make the record what it is. I would also like to thank all my management company for keeping this news from the media.

Finally, I would like to thank all of you here on the blog and on Twitter who have been so supportive. I look forward to hearing what you think of the album.


Friday, 7 August 2009

Restautrant Review: Albert’s Shed, Manchester

My blogging activities are limited since I’m still in this strange corner of Manchester where the weather is sultry, the men dress as women, and everybody sports tribal tattoos. The office overlooks a drag club, a Turkish restaurant and a college which isn’t a college since it doesn’t have students, just a woman who spends her day stamping certificates. We’re not far from the pub known as ‘Paddy’s Goose’, which I noticed this morning is actually called ‘The Famous Paddy’s Goose’. I admire their bravado.

Yesterday was taken up with high level meetings and lunch at a restaurant called ‘Albert’s Shed’. Apparently, the shed used to belong to a man called Albert who used it to store his tools. He only moved out after they agreed to name the restaurant after him. I can’t help but feel that Albert got a raw deal. Not only did they renege on their agreement and name the restaurant after his shed but it was a shed bigger than most people’s homes. Air conditioned too. Albert should have managed his property portfolio more carefully, what with real estate prices in the fashionable Castlefield area of the city. He would now be living on the Med, having his shovels polished by supermodels.

The meal itself went well, beginning to with delicious shiitake mushrooms. The waitress must have heard the joke before. She didn’t react when I pronounced them ‘shit-ache’, which is closer to how they were written on the menu. I then made the mistake of ordering their ‘spiced pizza’, which I expected to be a slice of bread with a little topping. It was, in fact, a full pizza covered by red chillies (possibly the Dorset Naga). I spent the whole meal blubbering into my jug of iced water and seeing visions of Albert and his shovels.

Possibly the most interest part of the meal was the other customers: a large group of men wearing big collars and even bigger shades, pinstriped suits over bodies honed by months in the gym or prison yard. The person buying lunch looked over and muttered ‘no doubt they’re in property’. I wasn’t so sure. If an armoured car gets taken down in the next week, I can identify the suspects. They all ate ten ounce sirloin steaks at £16 a pop.

I will return to normal blogging activities over the weekend. Until then, I’ll simply sign off.

The Famous Dick Madeley.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Silly Film Titles

I’m away in Manchester for two days, so have some of my Twitter nonsense from last night. The theme was #welshfilms:

The League of Extraordinarily Hairy Gentlemen
FF for Vendetta
Whatever Happened To Baby Jones
The Lllllllllion King
The Ex-Coalminer’s Daugher
Buck Rogers in the Nineteenth Century
A Farewell to Rams
Austin Powys: Man of Mystery
Kung Fu Rhondda
Mad Max Boyce
The Silence of the Lambs Who Accepted The Out Of Court Settlement
Three Men And A Baby And A Pickaxe
Don’t Tell Mam That The Babysitter’s English
Hairy Potter And the Half-Blood Prince of Wales
Bridgend’s Too Far
Eisteddfod Scissorhands
The Bloody English Patient

And my personal favourite:

An American Werewolf in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

A Word From Our Sponsors...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Fred Dinenage Appreciation Society

A quick note to the person(s) arriving here this afternoon, searching for the 'Fred Dinenage Appreciation Society': sorry to break it to you but I very much doubt if there is one. I've got nothing against Fred Dineage but he was yesterday's man. This blog is about today, men who have a strong connection with youth, talk their talk, walk their walk, and allow their trousers to hang loosely around their hips, revealing three inches of underpant (if I wore them).

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't sound like Fred Dineage, even on a good day.

Dancing Monkeys!

I owe you all an explanation about the onion.

It's a truth of blogging that whenever you put effort into something, your rewards are minimal. I could have easily sat there for half an hour last night writing 2000 words about how my day was ruined by Judy's incessant wittering on about her latest Andy McNab. However, I knew there had to be an easier way. You, see, I'm beginning to understand blogging. I'm catching on. Post a picture of an onion, I thought. There are sure to be people out there who like onions. And I was right.

I was inspired by this thread, over at Thought Experiments. 34 comments and counting! It's enough to make a writer weep into their Salvation Army issue blanket.

It’s why I’ve decided to take a zero-effort approach to blogging. From now on, I’ll just be linking to videos of monkeys dancing.

See, how easy that was? Now to curl up on my flattened cardboard box and finish the last of this soup...

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

An Onion

Not So Easy Money

24 hours have now passed and my letter to 'The Independent' has still not recieved a reply. This is just so typical of journalists, happy to abuse a chap's Twitter account but haven't the decency to slip him a few thousand in the post for the distress they've caused.

But on the topic of hard earned money, I have to admit that my return to blogging has caused some debate on the Madeley/Finnigan ranch. Judy believes it's a pointless waste of time that only has a detrimental effect on the purse. 'Stick a donate button on the side!' is all she can say whenever I raise the subject of expanding my Appreciation Society. I blame Elberry who has gone the donation route and is now lighting cigars with twenty pound notes tucked into the garter belts of his thousand pound a night Bulgarian love midgets.

I suppose we're not alone in finding times tough. Judy's taste for leather bound contemporary hardbacks has given way to her reading a well thumbed copy of an Andy McNab she picked up at the local bring and buy. So when I noticed 'The Independent' had been taking my copyrighted material from Twitter and posting it in full, I thought this was the chance to make a few quid. God knows, I've given 'The News of the World' enough chance to tap my phone (passcode 423632).

What I suppose saddens me the most is that I only seem to get grief despite the great efforts I put into pleasing people. Whatever the opposite of 'needy': that's me. I'm a 'giver'. Such as the photos I sent out just the other week. Two kind letters of thanks: one from the UK and another from Spain. But what about the rest? I didn't hear a thing. But that's people, I suppose. Once they get the 4x10 glossy snap of you posing in your swimming trunks, they just don't want to know you...

Monday, 3 August 2009

Old Goats and Grey Squirrels

The following email is now on its way to 'The Independent'. I will publish their reply/apology should I receive one. [UPDATE, 10th August, 2009: They did print part of the letter, here.]

3rd August 2009
Re.: Old Goats and Grey Squirrels


I am writing in response to the piece ‘Silly Old Goats Grow Old, Disgracefully’, which appeared in the 2nd August (Sunday) edition of your newspaper and cited my Twitter account.

On the 9th May 2009, I placed the following ad online: ‘EMPLOYMENT REQUIRED. Sexy man, experienced sofa operator, Ali G beard. Licensed squirrel catcher. Will travel for work but not to Belgium.’ I hardly expected to see this serious attempt to raise my public profile reprinted in your newspaper and used as the basis of a dastardly assault on my character. The piece was sour, spiteful, and poorly punctuated. My wife was in tears after she read it and vowed never to vote Independent again.

In these days of mass unemployment and a rampant grey squirrel population, I would have thought that any attempt to find work proactively would have been applauded and not used to categorise a man as a ‘silly old goat’. I suppose you think I should simply fade into obscurity like Lenny Bennett, Bernie Clifton, or Suzanne Charlton. Well, I’ve been told by some of the nation’s top publicists that I could become the next Adrian Chiles or Russell Brand, but with the advantage of speaking Estuary English and requiring very little public nudity.

I also saw, with some concern, that you listed my name alongside that of Silvio Berlusconi, who I consider a prince among men given that he has provided employment for many of Italy’s most impoverished young women with money from his own pocket. Similarly, you mock Jack Nicholson, asking: ‘Can there be anyone who doesn't feel repulsed by the pictures of Nicholson holidaying with his paunch?’ But, with respect, what would you expect the poor man to do? Abandon his stomach in a box? Bury it in the garden? Leave it in the park reading a newspaper?

This insult comes at a time when I have noted, with growing frustration, that ‘The Independent’ is trying to cater to a younger audience through garish colours, shorter sentences, and constant mention of Lily Allen. All populations are ageing (though you newspaper types do like to repeat that ridiculous cliché about ‘the ageing population’) but there are increasing numbers of men, like me, in the early throes of middle age. We are your core readership and you would be wise to cater to our interests rather than mock us. You could make up for this personal insult if you began to address issues of an interest to me and my kind, such as: thermal socks, sheds, Barnes Wallis, rambling, onion diets, Harris tweed, rotavator reviews, and (please!), less coverage of Graham Norton who wouldn’t know how to trap a squirrel if he had one up his trouser leg (and I’m not sure that he doesn’t).

Yours, in a state of some discomfort,

Dick Madeley
North London

The Richard Madeley Appreciation Society

An Open Letter to Dave Barry

I was browsing my regular haunts yesterday when I came across this post on the blog belonging to Dave Barry, the American wit and all-round sharp needle.

Although I rarely leave comments on his site (rather too many Americans to make me feel at home), I found the contents of the post so utterly irresponsible that I fired off an immediate reply, which I am now following up by extending it to a letter, expressing my disappointment on behalf of all my fellow Dicks.

Dear Dave Barry,

As a proud Dick, I would like to express my disgust and outrage at the cheap joke made at the expense of Mr. Dick Pole, the pitching coach of the Chicago Reds. Although I’m English and don’t understand a thing about ‘pitching’ (it means something else here in North London and I could never see the need to coach teach what comes so naturally to young boys of a certain age), I’m certain that Dick Pole is good at his job and doesn’t deserve such ridicule. I am also sure that his friends and family would stand firmly beside Mr. Pole to show the world a united front against such cheap Dick shots.

How would you feel if we mocked your name? Here in London, it’s the highest insult to call somebody a ‘Dav’, but would I call you ‘Dav Barry’? No, of course I wouldn’t! It would only cause undue hurt to an American. Yet I wish people were equally sensitive to Dicks. People laugh at Dicks all the time and I can cite the example of Mr. Dick Spring, the former Irish politician, who had to suffer years of sniggering at his name. I also fondly remember Dr. Dick Shaft, a director of British Petroleum, and my good friend, Mr. Dick Drop, head of regional programming at BBC Radio Carlisle.

Are we really living in such unenlightened times that men called ‘Richard’ can’t have a familiar abbreviation? All Dicks face an unenviable choice. Do we bear the stigma of the shortened form of our name or do we append an ‘ie’ to become a ‘Dickie’? Though I respect Dickie Davies, Dickie Bird, and Dickie Attenborough, I’ve always believed that ‘Dickie’ is the coward’s way out. It’s fine if you want to be patronised as some doddering national treasure but I want to be taken seriously as a modern vigorous Dick.

So, in speaking out on behalf of all Dicks who have been mocked because of our name, I would ask you to think again should you feel tempted to smirk at the next Dick you spot. To be honest, I didn’t expect it of your normally excellent blog as I would have expected somebody in such a high profile position to stand up against the rampant scoffing of Dicks.


Dick Madeley (Uncle)

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Uncle Dick's Guide To Love, Relationships, and Power Tools

A reader writes:

Dear Uncle Dick,

I'm kind of tired of relying on the Tarot, so can you sort out my love life for me please?!

Yours, in anticipation...

A x

Dear Ax,

I would be delighted to advise you in regard to your love life, especially since I too fell afoul of the Tarot at an early age. I remember when I was about 19 years old. I was doing work as an Eagle Scout around Judith Chalmers’ house when she got out her old deck of the mystical T. Being young and impressionable, I didn’t think twice about turning over three cards. Only I picked out the Hierophant, Temperance and Moon cards and, two weeks later, found myself dating a pasty faced astronomer with Catholic leanings who claimed my Vimto moustache was the work of the devil. I learned a valuable lesson, not just about love but about Judith Chalmers’ magical power: neither is to be trifled with.

My advice to you in regard to matters of love is to ignore physical qualities and look for somebody who can connect with you on an intellectual level. I need only refer to the current problems of Pete and Jordan to remind you of what happens when two unequal intellects collide. A man who can pen ‘Mysterious Girl’ was never going to find happiness with a woman whose greatest achievement in life is retaining both of her nipples.

Forgive me for being old fashioned about these things but I will assume you are after a male. In which case, I suggest you avoid making the usual mistakes that women make when looking for a man. Perfume and lacy things might work on TV but, in the real world, you should accept that men are motivated by more down to earth matters such as beer. Have you tried rubbing malted hops behind your ears? It’s sure to attract any man who likes to drink. However, to ensure he’s not an alcoholic, you should also carry with you a breathalyser. Proper urine/blood tests can be conducted at a later date. In the early stages of dating, you’re only looking for a ballpark figure for blood alcohol content.

Take this example further and think of the things that interest men. You can never go wrong with power tools. If you could carry a high-spec drill with you at all times (Bosch are particularly appealing to men), you will immediately find something to talk about. If it’s got a ‘hammer’ setting, then all the better. Personally speaking, I always enjoy it when Judy dresses in overalls and we work on the car together. There’s nothing sexier than a woman lying on her back, her feet sticking out from under a 1966 Ford Anglia she happens to be restoring.

If you can lure a man in with these tips, you must then turn your mind to keeping him. There are always other women liable to come along with more attractive power tools or a classic 1960 VW Mango Bus with original interior. However, men are generally loyal so long as they don’t feel threatened. Men appreciate silence, especially while reading the newspaper in the bathroom on a Sunday morning. However, they also enjoy loud noises at least three times a week. Arrange regular detonations in the back garden and they will thank you in ways it would be indiscreet to mention on a website rated ‘F’ for Family Friendly.

I hope this advice helps and trust that you won’t lose fingers due to my recommendations. Take proper advice when handling explosives and remember to unplug your power tools before changing drills/blades.

Kindest regards,

Uncle Dick

Your August Calendar

Simply click the image for the full size image which you can then print out and stick on your bedroom wall.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

A Response to the Scurrilous Newspaper Reports Regarding 'Strictly Come Dancing'

01/09/09:12.02PM. Press Release on behalf of Uncle Dick:

"I’m asking people to stop sending me abusive emails about ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. The news that I have ‘snubbed’ the show is overstated, as is my reported wage demand. I asked for a paltry half a million and not a penny more.

On the whole, discussions were friendly and I always felt it certain that the BBC would eventually allow me to wear my spats with a sequined cummerbund. In the end, negotiations broke down when could not agree to my reasonable demand that a duck should be waiting for me in my dressing room at the start of each show. Nor would they allow me to partner Melinda Messenger in the naked Bolivian Tango. Suggestions that I wanted a rigged phone vote are as scurrilous and unfounded as the suggestions in some print media that negotiations ended when I made a joke about a toupee. I didn’t say toupee but tepee, Polish not polish, and Dusty Lee not Brucie.

Finally, I would like to make it clear that this does not close the door on my future participation in the show. I wish them well in the coming series, even though I’ll be watching Bill Oddie’s new ‘Owl Odyssey’ on BBC2."

Uncle Dick Madeley,
North London

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Taboo Sucks, To You...

I see that Chip Dale is back and has blogged for two days straight! Why did nobody tell me? And how long will those pineapple-scented thighs keep up in the current blogging climate?

Things have changed since he last graced us with his innocent optimism and questionable quips. Of course, it would be churlish to remind people of the poorly written posts that characterised much of his blog output, so, instead, I simply welcome him back like a long-lost relative from the side of the family that nobody cares to talk about because they live on Merseyside and drive taxi cabs for a living.

Despite my initial wariness of Chip – I’m still not convinced that it’s healthy to be so obsessed with thongs – I have been slowly developing a soft spot for the man who has overcome so many obvious physical difficulties to succeed in the emotionally demanding world of male stripping. Admittedly, I have a similar attitude towards Gordon Brown and politics, though there’s also a nail gun fetish somewhere in that mix. Chip, however, just brings out the best in me and I’m glad to have him around so long as we’re separated by a few hundred miles.

It’s one of the drawbacks of being famous that people often stop me in the street and demand to know what I think about stripping as a career. ‘I lack the flexibility,’ I reply, though in truth, I encourage all men to take off their clothes for money unless they suffer some obvious physical defect such as good looks or a perfect body. It’s why I could never make a career as ‘Big Dick Madeley’. The Great Sculptor damned me by using clay free of blemishes. There’s not a wart on my body; just shapely legs, firm buttocks, and a thin waste angling nicely into armpits to die for. And as Chip proves, to be a male stripper, you have to put all your obvious flaws on show. It’s what makes for a rowdy evening and Judy return home at four thirty in the morning threatening me with a thong slingshot.

The world of female strippers is, of course, something quite different. It’s all about darkened booths heavy with a sordid musk and fetid bodily odours reminiscent of Clapham Common on New Year’s Eve. By contrast, is there anything funnier than seeing a man strip for a living? I remember thinking it strange when there was an outcry about the stripping postmen on our final Channel 4 show. People complained that it was wrong if me to enjoy Judy’s obvious embarrassment and that she could laugh at another person’s anatomy.

In these days of ‘right thinking’, we’re not meant to express an opinion about (or find humour in) anything out of the ordinary – though as the great S.J. Perelman once said, ‘humour, in its simplest form, is the unexpected [...] the sudden disruption of thought, the conjoining of unlikely elements’. It’s why we can laugh at a funeral, in the middle of a battle, or during Bruce Forsyth’s act. Stripping provides instantaneous access (or exposure) to the unexpected and though Chip would probably disagree: his success probably has more to do with embarrassed laughter than it has anything to do with his sex appeal.

After all, some of the oldest jokes in our culture are directed to people with large noses or enormous bottoms. What is the Venus of Willendorf if it isn’t a series of Benny Hill reduced to fit your hand? Unlike our primitive ancestors, we’ve simply moved on to laugh at oddly placed tattoos and tricks involving novelty sailor hats.

I suppose all forms of stripping appeal to the prurient part of our nature, where the infantile taboos lurk. Yet men like Chip seems particularly good at demonstrating that taboo and humour are reverse sides of the same screwed-up coin. Just ask the greatest stand-up of all time, Sigmund Freud, who often shocked audiences with his jokes about Dora, a plate of spinach and the baboon called Ferdinand. Comedy trails after taboo and skirts around the acceptable.

Political correctness may currently define what is acceptable but its strictures will never abide. I have lost track of the number of times I’ve been told off for using the word ‘midget’ recently but my mind naturally reaches for it when looking for a shorthand way of expressing the unexpected. Midget. Earlobe. Lubricated. Onion. Stripper. Owl. I know that three of these words might offend people below four feet but I have never heard either Ant or Dec complain. And is there anything funnier than a midget stripper? A lubricated onion? A heavily earlobed Owl? Unless, of course, you’re the producers at Channel 4 who wouldn’t allow the talent to book the acts for the final show of a successful series.

So, welcome back Chip. It’s just a shame you’re so tall and not an owl.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

My 50 Cents On Plinths

There are some constants in the world, such as knowing that knee surgery involving a lumber saw is preferable to any film with 50 Cent in a supporting role. Another constant is that all roads lead to this undisclosed borough of North London where those in power eventually come, seeking advice about capital punishment, road safety, public decency, air combat, and the moral conduct of Welsh hill farmers.
Last night, I was sat watching ‘Righteous Kill’, the latest Pacino/De Niro hamfest, with Judy beside me on the sofa doing her Scarface impressions, as she tends to do when watching her favourite actor chew dialogue like a Chihuahua savaging a postman’s all-weather heel. I’ve heard the lines a thousand times before and soon found my mind wandering. It wasn’t long before my slippers did the same, leading me to my den where I found an email waiting to distract me from Judy telling De Niro to ‘say hello to my little friend!’.

The message read:

Dear Richard,

Just read with interest your latest in the Daily Express. I’m currently canvassing opinion about the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square and wondered if you would care to contribute to the consultation process?

Yours, affectionately,


Normally I don’t acknowledge emails from people who read the ‘World’s Greatest Newspaper’ (I’m contractually obliged to call it that). I don’t want fans to read this blog expecting the same level of highbrow analysis, polished prose, and cutting rhetoric as they find over there in the Richard&Judy column, which is actually written by a friend of the family with a sociology degree and time on her hands.

However, I digress...

For Boris , I was happy to make an exception and to write a reply. Since he’s become London’s Mayor, he’s done a fantastic job. I haven’t met a single newt on London’s buses, nor have I been forced to apologise for my great great great grandfather once buying a pot of Robinson’s marmalade and being slightly amused by the label.

And if Boris wanted to sort out the problem of the Fourth Plinth then I was only too happy to lend a hand. It’s a project that clearly needs a new direction and who better to give it that direction than a man who’s not going to skim a few hundred thousand off the National Lottery for coming up with some dumb idea. You get my dumb ideas for nothing and at no cost to you Lotto addicts.

The way I see it: sculpture is in crisis. Chosen by committee and pandering to the excesses of the current liberal hegemony, public art makes no real statement about anything at all. I want to reinvigorate Trafalgar Square with a statue that will say something definite about Britain. I have therefore made a shortlist of subjects for your consideration. I’m pretty confident that you will see that any one of them would warrant a permanent place on the plinth.

Mr. Bronson

I was wasting valuable minutes on Twitter the other night when I received a message from Grange Hill’s Roland. He’s now called Erkan Mustafa but was once the boy who made it fashionable to eat crisps whilst wearing ill fitting blazers during the 1980s. The message brought many happy memories back to me of Trisha Yates, Mrs. McClusky, Zammo and his smack habit. But it occurred to me that there would be no finer candidate for the Fourth Plinth than Mr. Bronson. He had what the nation now lacks: the steely eye looking down on us and ready to crack us behind the ear with a history of the Punic Wars whenever we’re not paying attention in class. Mr. Bronson was the teacher we all feared yet the man who could have saved the country from steering from the straight and narrow. If only we’d appreciated him when he was around, he might not have gone off to found the Third Reich and watch as Indiana Jones skirted around a book burning to reclaim the Grail Diary from Doctor Elsa Schneider.

Sir Jimmy Savile

We’ve had disabilities represented in public art and we’ve had heroes. So isn’t it about time for the nation’s slightly strange bachelors who leave you with an uneasy feeling? Visit any town centre on a Tuesday morning and you’ll see them emerging from the greengrocers with a selection of strangely shaped vegetables in their Lakeland eco-friendly carrier bags. What better way is there of using the plinth than with a statue of Jimmy Savile waving a courgette?

Victoria Pendleton

In my mind, nothing demands a wasteful use of the public’s purse than a statue of an attractive woman wearing Lycra and riding a bicycle.

Roger de Coursey

People remember Nookie Bear but what about the man behind the voice? Is there a single statue in the country that represents our proud tradition of ventriloquists? And what’s novel about this idea is that the statue would have technology allowing it to throw its voice. Imagine Nelson making crude remarks about his column and I think you see the genius behind the idea.

Uncle Dick

I submit my own name, not out of any great belief in my genius (I’m far to humble to mention it more than twice in an essay) but because I believe my genius can make a difference. I would represent the 19 million people in this country who choose not to wear underwear. In addition, my genius speaks to the young and disenfranchised. To young gangstas, I am ’50 Pence’, the rebel who wear denims in semi-formal settings or a casual scarf worn indoors at the height of summer.

Judy Finnigan

Who would represent the approximately 7 million people in this country married to people who choose not to wear underwear. A fine bronze of Judy playing her trombone would be the perfect roost for pigeons.

Jamie Oliver

Unlike the previous proposals, I’m not suggesting we recreate Jamie in bronze. I actually want the real Jamie Oliver up on the plinth, preferably via some ladder or skylift which can be retracted once he’s in place. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m taken with the idea. Let’s go with this one and damn the expense. It will be like a David Blaine stunt only without any chance of him whimping out after forty days without food and water. If Damien Hurst had come up with this idea but using the head of a sheep, you’d call him a genius. I expect nothing less.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

On Poetry and Vacuum Pumps

I woke up bright and bushy this morning, played a game of wardrobe lottery and emerged a winner in a pair of brown corduroy slacks, a shirt with Gladstone collar and generous tie, all topped off with my favourite black beret. A quick look in the mirror and two snaps of my fingers later, I sloped off down the stairs, turned right at the weights room, went down the corridor past the swimming pool, arboretum, and tanning salon, and made a sharp left into the kitchen.

‘Morning Jude,’ I said to Mrs. M as I slid to a halt in front of the fridge.

Judy was sitting at the Formica work surface, her old vacuum cleaner dismantled before her and a vacuum pump held to her lips. When she replied, she made a sound not unlike a Clanger addicted to morphine.

‘I know what you’re saying,’ I said as I cracked open the Zanussi, ‘but Fate has ordained that I’m wearing a beret today.’

She gave another toot at the pump’s inlet valve.

‘You could say that but let’s see what the day has in store.’

Toot, toot!

‘Nonsense!’ I replied. ‘It’s not certain that Jeremy Kyle would ever say that, even if he did breed budgerigars...’

No matter how much you try to keep the small talk going with a person speaking through a dismantled dust manifold, there is only so much of it you can take. This is especially true of a woman whose lungs have been hardened by years of trombone practice. Some of the sounds Judy made were like a duck armed with a megaphone. It wasn’t long before I realised that eating breakfast in the kitchen was not for me or my beret.

Seeking a little P and Q in the garden, I took my toast, orange juice, and my copy of ‘The Guardian’ to the shade of Judy’s new trampoline. There, to the distant sounds of nozzle flushing, I ate my breakfast, read the paper, and tried to discover what the day had in store.

It didn’t take long to figure out why Providence had ordained that I should be wearing my beret on a Saturday. Once I was done with the Swine Flu update and cheering Jeremy Clarkson’s attack on Gordon Brown, I paged through to the arts section and discover a selection of poems about Iraq commissioned by Carol Ann Duffy. But don’t you worry, kind reader! I’ll mercifully quote only one stanza from ‘Big Ask’, the only poem in the selection written by our new poet laureate:

Guantanamo Bay - how many detained?
How many grains in a sack?
Extraordinary Rendition - give me some names.
How many cards in a pack?
Sexing the Dossier - name of the game?
Poker. Gin Rummy. Blackjack.

Now, as you know, I’m something of a poet myself; or should I say, I’ve been writing under the pseudonym, Gus Scrottee, for some months now. And by the time I’d finished reading Duffy’s latest, I’d stuffed my beret in my mouth to stifle the cries of anguish that would have otherwise ruined the quiet of the morning in our undisclosed part of North London.

I don’t mean to be pedantic or to criticise somebody trying their best but what sort of question is ‘how many grains in a sack’? Would that be grains of corn or grains of rice? And how big is the sack? Bigger than a gentleman’s sack, a swag bag sack, a sack of coal, the sack of Rome in 1527? Even when she has a chance to be clear about a detail, she waddles off, her pockets full of abstraction.

‘How many cards in a pack’? asks Carol Ann. Well, there are normally 52 but are we going to count the jokers? Or are we talking about Tarot cards (there are 78) or a deck of Italian cards which contain 40?

I’m often asked why the old book club hasn’t included any of Ms. Duffy’s work and this is the reason why. You won’t find this vague speculation in David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’, even when he’s talking about clouds at a very high altitude. And you certainly don’t find this kind of confused thinking in Kate Mosse’s ‘Labyrinth’, even if it was about David Bowie leading a Fraggle Army.

The rest of the commissioned poems were little better and made me realise how far poets are from ordinary, down-to-earth people such as ourselves and Judy. But why should poetry be something for the privileged classes? Why must it be highbrow and elitist? And why shouldn’t poetry be written by a handsome TV presenter wearing a black beret while sitting beside a trampoline as his wife plays tunes on the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner?

No sooner had I reached this conclusion than I moistened the nib of my pen and sat down to scribble my own poem inspired by recent events. It is my gift to you, this fine Saturday morning, and my gift to the world.

Uncle Dick Madeley’s Meditation On Responses To Tragic Events Across The Globe But More Specifically In Iraq By Contemporary Poets; Inspired by Carol Ann Duffy’s Poem ‘Big Ask’ And Written After Eating A Slice Of Toast Whilst Sitting In The Shade of Judy’s Trampoline

I remember
thinking I should write
a poem about Iraq when
my wife told Englebert
Humperdink that she believed
he had the best horn section
in popular jazz. He
thanked her and I thought
I glimpsed mortality
in the damp spall cast from
his eye; the vague sense
that having the best horn
section in popular jazz
was to be his legacy,
like George W.’s legacy
was not a popular horn
section but the war in Iraq.

Oh Iraq! You have seen
the best and worst of us,
requiring the occasional
random italicising
as if to say this is
more meaningful
than any of the other
evils that the world
has to offer, such as
swine flu, recession,
the new series of
Top Gear on BBC2,
Peter Andre’s next
album or Real Madrid’s
transfer policy in the
summer of 2009.
Such terrors demand that
I randomly insert some
glib violence of mine:
the blood smearing my
hands from when I
butchered an onion.

Although the cut was little
compared to the blood in
Iraq, it was making my
italicised lunch that day
that first convinced
me that I understood
your suffering. From the
heart of NW3, I now see that
no war is exotic and all
wars taste of crimson cheese
and the bloody onion.

Oh! The brutality of America
that I like to attack because
they are not like we English
but powerful and full of evil,
except for ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’,
‘24’, and ‘Prison Break’.
However, quality TV comedy
and drama does not atone for
the B-52s (the aircraft not the
New Wave rock band) and
the evils done by your
helpfully rhyming hand.

And so Judy, the vacuum
bugle blows and
my poem ends
with some trite sense
of resolution, perhaps
written as though I’ve
left my elbow on the
keyboard, which conveys
the sense that I have
suffered because I know
how to strangely enjamb
a line, which is rather like
saying ‘we’ll see you after
the break’ or ‘in next
week’s show...’ before
eventually our season
ends and silently to writing
Daily Express columns we go.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Meet Gus Scrottee

Me in disguise as Gus Scrottee, failed writer, singer, loin tamer, pickle magnate, sawdust tycoon, and backyard ventriloquist.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Chronicles of Gus Scrottee

When I told Judy that I’d finished a script for another of my radio comedies, she shrugged her shoulders and carried on plucking her turkey. But before you think she has some plucking fetish, I should add that this was back in December when the feathers were already lying crisp and deep and even.

‘You’re not impressed?’ I asked, standing at the back door and watching my wife’s fingers work deftly around the gizzard.

‘Oh, I suppose I am,’ she said, snorting few feathers towards me. ‘Who are you sending it to? Ken or Mary? Or perhaps Lucy? She owes us a few favours.’

My hand tightened against the door jamb, as my fingers have a want to do when frustrated and in the region of door jambs. ‘Are you suggesting that they’d only produce my work because of my name?’ I asked.

‘Well I think that’s the only way you’ll get one of your scripts broadcast,’ she admitted.

‘That sounds remarkably like a dare,’ I replied.

‘If you want to see it like that,’ she said, grabbing her cleanly plucked bird by its crop and swinging it casually over her shoulder.

That was over six months ago; six long and frustrating months since I pledged to re-launch my career as a writer and broadcaster the hard way. Any man can ring up his friends and ask them to give him work based on years of favours owed. But I’m not any man. I am Gus Scrottee and, today, Gus finished his second project.

In order to work undercover as an unknown writer, I was forced to adopt this pseudonym which, by now, is familiar in production offices across the land. I’ve been writing my own material and submitting it, just like anybody else without a production credit to their name. The first of Gus’ full length scripts went to the BBC, via their Writersroom, where it has languished for nearly four months. We expect their rejection any day, given that only 2% of work submitted catches their eye. The second of Gus Scrottee’s big projects was finished this week, but, instead of sending it to the BBC, he thought he’d try independent radio production companies.

Turns out, finding an independent radio production company willing to read a script is as easy as sucking marbles through a chair leg.

As soon as I knew the script was done, I dragged my copy of the ‘Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’ from the shelf, thumbed through the section for Independent Radio Producers and began my research. The list of production companies is pretty abbreviated:

Above the Title Productions
All Out Productions
Angel Eye Media Ltd.
Athena Media
Baby Cow Productions Ltd
Big Heart Media
Bona Broadcasting
Campbell Davison Media
Classic Arts Productions Ltd
Crosshands Ltd/ACP Television
CSA Word
Electric Airwaves
Ruth Evans Productions
Festival Productions Ltd
Fiction Factory
First Writes Theatre Co. Ltd.
Heavy Entertainment Ltd
Loftus Productions Ltd
Made in Manchester
Jane Marshall Productions
Pier Productions
Promenade Enterprises
Random Entertainment
SH Radio
Smooth Operations
Square Dog Radio LLP
Lou Stein Associates Ltd
Sweet Talk Productions Ltd
Tintinna Ltd
Torpedo Ltd
UBC Media Group plc
Whistledown Productions Ltd
Wise Buddah Radio

That’s only thirty six independent production companies in the UK making programmes for the radio. Yet this far-from-impressive list is made to look even more humble once I remove all the companies that don’t make radio comedies, which happens to be Gus Scrottee’s speciality.

Above the Title Productions
Angel Eye Media Ltd.
Baby Cow Productions Ltd
Bona Broadcasting
Random Entertainment
Sweet Talk Productions Ltd
UBC Media Group plc

Not too bad? You might think so, except many of these won’t accept unsolicited scripts, or only accept scripts submitted via an agent.

Thankfully, I am Uncle Dick Madeley, world famous author, presenter, and trapeze artiste, who can’t cross a London road without having agents slicing him with laminated business cards. However, for the purposes of this exercise, Gus Scrottee is unrepresented. So, the possible market for Gus’ script comes down to:

Random Entertainment
Sweet Talk Productions Ltd

Except that ‘Random Entertainment’ (the highly prestigious, award-winning company formed by Graeme Garden and Jon Naismith) has only a limited web presence and ‘Sweet Talk Productions Ltd’ has none. In other words: it’s likely that neither company are actively seeking scripts and highly probable that they’ve simply forgotten to mention that they don’t accept unsolicited submissions. Which leaves a hole where there was once a list of thirty six...

The answer to this problem is, of course, to get an agent. And here, unknown writers like Gus Scrotee, have the ‘Writers and Artists’ Yearbook’ to advise them. It helpfully suggests that: ‘the best way to get an agent is to first get an offer of a deal on a project’. What the ‘Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’ fails to explain is how to help the dog catch its own tail: how to get a project so you can land an agent to help you get a project...

But what we can say is that ‘The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’ costs £14.99 and at 832 pages, contains more publishers, agents, production companies, newspapers, and broadcasters than you could shake your fists at.

Which is all you can do once you realise that you’re as stuffed as Judy’s turkey last Christmas.

Season’s greetings!