The party lasted long into the night at Madeley HQ, here in our undisclosed part of North Londonshire. The great and good of showbiz had come to mark the end of the Richard&Judy partnership and Bruce Forsyth was there, too, entertaining us all with his soft shoe shuffles and his famous anecdote about a golf umbrella, Jimmy Tarbuck’s 9 iron, and a sticky eighteenth hole.
The night was a success worthy of our long career in television but, eventually, around 2am, I saw Judy tap her nose and fiddle with an earlobe and I knew it was time to ease our guests casually towards the front door. Or, if that didn’t work, drag them by whatever surgical enhancement provided a firm enough grip.
‘Have you seen the genuine Tudor buttress on the end of the house?’ I asked David Dickinson, who had spent most of the evening on his hands and knees, looking for maker’s marks beneath the IKEA coffee table.
‘Genuine Tudor!’ he cried. ‘This I’ve got to bloody see!’
He didn’t, of course, ‘see anything’. But once I’d got him to the front door he did feel the creped underside of my right boot placed in the small of his kidneys. Similar tricks worked on Alan Titchmarsh, Natasha Kaplinsky, and Dame Kelly Holmes, each of whom I’d managed to lure away from the buffet table with the promise of a drooping plumb tree, a photo opportunity, or the challenge of a sprint up the drive in aid of Cystic Fibrosis. In the process, I’d also managed to get Forsyth out the front door by tying a five pound note to a thread attached to Dame Kelly’s dress. I know she prides herself a running a good middle distance race but I’m sure even she was flagging when she turned the end of the road chased by Brucie out to top up his income.
Back in the house, the party continued to shed talent like the BBC during a pay review. A pair of recognisable sandals were sticking out from beneath Vanessa Feltz so I grabbed them by their heels and gave a yank. There was a loud squeak and a ‘pop’ noise, much like a cork coming from giggly bottle, before the yank produced a Yank. An anglicised Yank, to be specific, dressed in quality tweeds to go with his Jesus boots and horn-rimmed spectacles.
‘Oy! What did you do that for?’ cried Vanessa and made a move to drag Johnny Depp back towards her.
‘Where am I again? What am I here to promote?’ asked Johnny, probably confused due to the usual high build-up of CO2 in Vanessa’s cleavage.
‘I think it’s time to let Johnny go,’ I said, quietly pleased with myself for rescuing my favourite Hollywood ‘A’ list star from my second favourite member of the triple D brigade.
‘Well, would you like me to take him home?’ she asked.
I know her games and I couldn’t do that to the poor lad. I tucked a ten pound note into his breast pocket and whispered into his ear the directions for the local bus stop. That’s the thing you can sure about with Johnny Depp: he’s a true professional. You only need to direct him once and he’ll give you a performance worthy of the Number 14 to Kensington.
By this time, Judy had managed to get rid of most of the minor celebs, working her charm to great effect. Whenever they threatened to stay, she’d sob on their shoulders, breath tales of woe in their face and ask if they could help revive her career. There’s nothing more certain to upset an ambitious young celebrity than the taint of failure or retirement. And any that prove particularly resilient to tears will eventually scarper if you offer to put them in touch with Les Dennis’ agent.
Soon, we were down to one old favourite who would be stubborn to shift given that early in evening she’d disappeared with a bottle of Drambuie. Thankfully, Vanessa stayed long enough to help us in our search.
Eventually, I found Cilla Black down in the cellar, blowing tunes over the empty end of the empty whisky bottle.
‘Surprise surprise!’ she’d cried as I opened the door of an old wardrobe in which Judy used to keep her spigot collection.
‘Come on, Cilla,’ I said as I lifted her from the wardrobe and threw her over Vanessa’s shoulder.
‘Don’t worry,’ said Vanessa, ‘I’ll take her from here.’
‘I used to sing with the Beatles!’ cried Cilla.
‘Of course you did,’ I replied. ‘There had to be a good reason they broke up.’
The last I saw of the two of them was Vanessa walking down the drive with Cilla over her shoulder, trying to pat out the rhythm of ‘Obla Dee Obla Da’ on Vanessa’s bottom.
With the last farewell made, Judy put out the milk bottles before I turned the lock on the front door and we both breathed a sigh, or, more accurately, two sighs divided by the familiar ampersand that has served us so well.
‘So, that’s that for Richard & Judy,’ I said.
‘We’ve had a good run but I think we’re making the right decision to retire before you hit your mid-life crisis,’ she replied moving in for a cuddle.
‘Indeed we have,’ I replied, my arm draping around Judy’s shoulders. ‘I just wonder what the future has in store for Barry Madeley...’
‘Who’s Barry Madeley?’ asked his wife.
‘Barry is my new name,’ I said, already cursing myself for having spoken my thoughts aloud. These were plans to which I had failed to make my wife privy. It was time for some firm explanations. ‘You see: I don’t want people expecting to hear “& Judy” whenever my name is mentioned during my solo career. That’s why I’ve changed my name to Barry. I’ve been meaning to tell you ever since it became official two months ago.’
‘Two months! But I don’t understand why you’d change it. Richard goes so well with Judy.’
‘Well the name’s now Barry,’ I said, ‘but if you want to be informal, you can call me Baz.’
‘But I don’t want to be married to a Baz,’ she replied.
‘So call me Bazzer or even Bazroid if you prefer the exotic.’
But Judy just fell silent and realising that our hug had gone cold, I gave a shrug and climbed the stairs to bed. I was already fluffing my pillows by the time Judy joined me.
‘I don’t understand why you won’t let me call you Richard,’ she said.
‘Look, Jude,’ I replied, ‘I know you’re attached to that name but I’m seeking a new audience that is beyond your reach. I want to appeal to dynamic go getters in my own age range. If they’re older than 35, they’re ancient in my book, Daddio. Baz Mad doesn’t do fossils.’
Judy’s face turned a shade of beetroot high in the Betanin, which as you’ll know, is the chemical that makes Judy red.
‘Baz Mad?’ she spluttered.
I’d done it again. I hadn’t meant to let Judy in on my plans so early on in my separate career but the cat was out of the bag, as they say. So far out that it was probably thinking of bringing a dead rat back in through the back door.
‘I thought I’d abbreviate my surname as well,’ I explained. ‘“Baz Mad” has a certain ring to it, don’t you think? Sounds a bit like Gaz Top and do remember how successful he was?’
‘Well, I don’t like it,’ said Judy, sourly folding down the sheets on her side of the marital mattress.
‘Abbreviations work in this increasingly fast culture of ours. Twitter has taught me a lot about being brief, Jude, and “Baz Mad” will look great on the cover of my novel...’
‘Your novel?’ asked Judy.
That’s when I realised that I’d done it again. As you know, Judy sees herself as a writer of some potential.
‘That’s right. I’ve decided that I want to write fiction,’ I said. ‘And I know what you’re going to say. We agreed that you would be the one writing erotic fiction and I’m not going to step on your toes, Jude. I won’t touch your eighteenth century courtesan, Jemima Flirt. Oh no! Baz Mad’s erotic fiction will be of a different tone altogether.’
Judy sank onto the edge of the bed without even bothering to fluff her pillows.
‘Erotic fiction? But that means you’ve stolen my dream!’
‘Not stolen, Jude. I merely took an interest and found I had a natural flair for soft-core eroticism. I’ve been writing my book for many months. It shouldn’t bother you. It will have been published months before you get yours in the bookshops.’
‘Oh Richard! It was my dream to publish a book of erotic tales.’‘And your dream is still your dream, Jude. However, Barry just got there before you. Here,’ I said, sliding my four hundred page manuscript from beneath the bed. ‘Cast your eyes over that. But take care. Some of this is so juicy it will drip off your chin. It’s a story set in a Lancashire town about a tyre fitter and his mature lover.
She looked at the front page.
‘Mrs Chatterley’s Rover: A Tale of Six Strokes?'
‘Catchy, isn’t it?’
She snorted or perhaps just cleared her throat before she began to read aloud from one of the more sexually explicit parts of the book, when the tyre fitter first meets Mrs. Chatterley on the A573 outside Golborne, Lancashire.
As he jacked up her rear, her marigolds squeaked seductively on his bald crown like two rubberised otters in a frisky dance. His passion overwhelmed her; her frigidity falling away like the rust on a large lug nut, oiled with WD40 and tapped with his spanner.
‘I feel so hot and dirty,’ she said but he just whistled and kicked her knees. ‘Perhaps you’d like me to rebore you cylinders,’ he replied.
Ten minutes later, her foot was suspended by the elasticated cord of her pine air freshener as she felt her fan belt snap and her hot exhaust splutter his name. ‘Ronald’.
‘My Rover’s a coupe!’ she cried. ‘It doesn’t have four doors!’ But he knew different as he packed her generous luggage space and ran a masterful finger over her vulcanised tread, every stroke of his foot pump engorging her inner tube, her being swollen to eternity!
Judy sat there in silence for nearly a minute.
‘Well?’ I asked. ‘Did that make you feel better? Did you like that bit at the end. Thought it made it sound a bit like D.H. Lawrence.’
She handed the manuscript to me and slid her legs under the sheets before leaning over and putting a kiss on my upper right cheek.
‘Richard,’ she said, ‘I should have known I had nothing to worry about.’
And with that, she reached over, turned off the bedside lights, and left me listening to her snoring that may have trembled the bed but they also made Baz Mad feel very contented with the world.