Monday, 23 February 2009

Well, Listen To My Story About A Man Named Dick

I’m constantly at the mercy of people demanding to know how I do it.

‘Richard,’ they’ll say, ‘how did you manage to update your blog last night when satellite images prove that you were busy in the Lakes helping stricken motorists push their cars to the side of the road?’

‘Richard, how did you manage to Twitter today when Sky News said that you were in a clinic having your nostrils scraped?’

‘Richard, you couldn’t possibly have blogged a week last Sunday when there was a picture of you in Hello Magazine that showed the clock on your kitchen wall to be the same time as when you posted your piece about David Dickinson’s spa.’

And so it goes...

‘Richard, there’s a definitely incongruity between your blogging activities and the membership records of your health club where you were definitely receiving a Korean ear massage at the time you claimed to be making a tapioca pudding with Bill Oddie.’

Despite this, I’m also asked to update my blog more and people often demand that I spend more time Twittering to them.

‘Richard, where are you today, love?’ will come the echoing cry through the corridors of cyberspace. ‘Coo eee! Richard? Are you in today? Where’s your witty banter?’

I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. And to be perfectly honest: my blog earns me no income and takes a good amount of effort and time to write. I have other projects which demand my attention. There are my many novels that need finishing, scripts that need polishing, as well as the banjo lessons I’ve taken up.

Yes, that’s right. You heard me correctly. I said ‘banjo lessons’.

It was Judy’s idea, nearly two months ago now. We’ve often talked about my love of music but my inability to play any instrument but it was listening to the Verdi’s Requiem played on the trombone that was the genesis of the whole affair.

‘I really do admire the way you’ve put your heart and soul into the trombone, Jude,’ I said to her one night. She was in the process of packing her instrument away for evening after her usual ritual of calming herself down before sleep by playing the trombone in bed. I’d been sitting by her, trying to get through Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ – a novel that thwarts me even when I’m not distracted by the delicate strains of the Requiem filling the spacious Madeley boudoir.

‘There’s nothing to stop you from learning to play an instrument,’ replied Judy, emptying out her spit valve into the bucket she keeps next to the bed. ‘God knows but you’ve got enough time.’

I closed my book. It seems that the damn thing was never going to get cheerful and I wanted to consider Judy’s suggestion.

‘You promise you won’t laugh,’ I said.

‘Laugh? What at?’

‘What I’m about to tell you.’

Judy laughed. ‘What is it?’

‘I’ve always wanted to play the banjo. You know... Like they do at the beginning of The Beverley Hillbillies.’

Judy laughed again. I shrank down into my pillow. ‘Well, if that’s what you want, Richard,’ she said, turning over and turning out the light. She fell asleep chucking to herself, occasionally muttering about ‘Texas gold’.

The seed was sewn. It was about a week later that I was attending a bash in honour of some fairly forgettable cause when I bumped into an old friend I hadn’t spoken to in a long time. Dame Maggie Smith and I go back years; in fact, back to when I first trod the boards and played Laertes to her Gertrude in Ken Dodd’s one and only performance as Hamlet.

‘Maggie!’ I cried, going over to plant a wet one on her cheek. ‘You’re looking well.’

‘Well, Dick, I’m keeping busy,’ said Maggie. ‘You know what they say about an active mind.’

‘Indeed I do,’ I said. ‘I keep myself busy on my blog.’

‘Hmmm,’ she replied. ‘Do you ever think of doing something more productive with your time? I always thought it was sad that you gave up acting.’

‘One has to specialise at some point,’ I said.

‘Well,’ said Maggie, ‘it’s still not too late. You might have refused the world your Hamlet but we might still get to see one of the great Lears.’

I frowned. Maggie’s a dear and that kind of talk is a bit below the belt. I still think I could carry of a Hamlet, or one of the young lovers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. To talk of King Lear was... Well, I could see that Hollywood had changed her.

‘To be honest, Maggie,’ I said, ‘I have been thinking of taking up an instrument. I want to be more musical as I approach my middle age.’

‘Middle age!’ she laughed. Then her face straightened. ‘What instrument were you thinking of, Dicky dear?’

‘The banjo.’

Well, if I’d said that I was making a return to the stage playing the back end of a pantomime cow, the effect on Maggie’s face wouldn’t have been as strong.

‘The banjo!’ she cried. ‘Dicky, Dicky, Dicky! My dear boy! I play the banjo!’

‘You do?’

‘I’ve been playing the banjo for nearly fifteen years.’

‘How amazing,’ I said. ‘Well perhaps you can give me some advice. I wouldn’t know how to go and buy a banjo...’

She tutted and placed her hand on my arm. ‘Dicky, for you, I’ll give you a banjo. I have dozens.’

I was moved. So moved that I probably donated so much to the quite forgettable cause that I had to hide the bank statement from Jude at the end of the month.
True to her word, not twenty four hours passed before a taxi arrived at my door and Dame Maggie Smith brought me a banjo.

Judy is over the moon, of course. Mr. Shawcross my new banjo teacher comes around once a week. He says that I have a knack because of my natural clawhammer. Judy has even started to call me The Claw, though my repertoire is limited. But I have mastered the classic bluegrass tune, ‘Dipple Doo Me Chicken Hoo’ and Judy has the trombone version coming via mail order any day now. I can’t see us performing it live for some time but who knows... It all depends if I can get the practice. And if people give me chance to be myself beyond my blog.

19 comments:

Rose said...

You went on and on and didn't tell us how you do it!
But I guess it was rhetorical question anyway... the answer is so obvious...

Dick Madeley said...

An answer so obvious, Rose, that it would be an insult to put my name to it.

Rose said...

Feel yourself insulted then lol!

Simon said...

Look, I know it is you because you said so.

This obvious answer, is it something to do with alternate realities.

I'm a whizz with alternate realities, I have my dried frog pills and a few bottles of Dr. Ethaniel Nightswerve’s Velvet Cudgel (a beer with very similar reputation to Bill Oddie's fabled buttercup wine). Armed with these I can slip between realities easily.

As everybody knows, everybody inhabits a slightly different plane of reality (which is why when police ask witnesses for descriptions of the offender, they never end up with two identical descriptions).

In every reality, time runs at a different speed - which is why you find these annoying people who seem to be able to achieve so much in a day while others struggle to tie their shoelaces.

So, by slipping seamlessly between realities you are able to operate in different rates of time and hence achieve both an Armenian buttock massage while still having time to knock off a quick banjo concerto, a couple of twitters and a blog.

Rose said...

Simon
You have been watching too much Lost!
The obvious answer is not that! lol
Come on Richard, tell him!

Dick Madeley said...

Simon, an excellent account of this strange phenomenon. I've always said that it's me. I look in the mirror each morning (a few times in the afternoon and far too many times in the evening) as say, 'hey you, you handsome brute. You're so lucky being me or you, depending on your point of view'.

Rose, I've no idea what I should tell him. Except he should continue to enjoy this blog and my Twitters. The rest, as they say, is for history to decide.

Mennard said...

What are you on !

And where can I get some ?

Will it eventually kill some brain cells if I take whatever goes in your tea !

Your perplexed

Mennard

Dick Madeley said...

Mennard, some do maintain that it's a chemical imbalance. Others claim it's something in the water. I hold that it's the energy of your natural celebrity. We are not made like the rest...

Simon said...

I'm not a great fan of Lost. It's a Merkin series you know.

As for being told, I want to keep that firmly in my own reality. Imagine you are seven again and you were told that Father Christmas is really Sir Alan Sugar while all along you just knew that it was Brian Blessed.

Dick Madeley said...

Simon, that is seriously an admirable trait. Too few people care for the old fashioned myths. Fact, detail, truth: all good on their day, but give me talking ravens and tales of the Norse gods.

Simon said...

The world would be a much better place with a few talking ravens.

Rose said...

Gee guys
You nade it really complicated now!lol
All I meant was that the obvious answer was that Judy is the strength behind you.
pfff men!

Dick Madeley said...

Simon, it's something I wish for every single day.

Rose, I could never deny a truth so profound.

Simon said...

Rose, are you a talking raven disguised in human form?

Mennard said...

Never mind the what are you on comment....

What are you all on? !!!!
I mean ...

Dr. Ethaniel Nightswerve’s Velvet Cudgel ?

In every reality, time runs at a different speed ?

Too much Lost ?

Lookin in the Mirror ?

Ravens ?

Its like being in the Betty Ford clinic ..

I think this is a case for DS Bradley Walsh from Law and Order UK ...he will soon sort this out with a lot of walking to the camera and a bit of cheeky chappy.

Back to the real world ..its time to get back to my job as body double for Robbie Coltrane

Rose said...

Mennard
I know what you mean lol but I promise you, I am clean...

Lola said...

We seem to have ironed out many of the bugs in our time travel machine, but I think we must have missed a few of the more obvious flaws... I'll see you in the basement in 10 minutes, Dick.

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