Sunday, 5 July 2009

The Jesus Suit

My new braces (teeth, not trouser) got caught in my best cufflinks this morning. I won’t say what I was doing to get them trapped – it certainly had nothing to do with licking my own wrists, despite the evidence of the CCTV that Judy’s installed in the bathroom – but I will say that it shows you the lengths I’ll go to look both handsome and fashionable for my new solo career.

‘Are you sure you want to go to church, Richard?’ asked Judy as she manned my elbow and tried to part me from myself.

‘Barry,’ I replied, my voice muffled by six inches of quality cuff in a tapioca brown silk. ‘Will you please call me Barry?’

Judy gave my arm a tug and the cuff came clear but almost at the expense of an upper left incisor.

‘How many times have I told you that I’m not going to call you Barry?’ she replied. ‘It’s just ridiculous!’

‘And how many times have I got to show you the official documents proving that my name is now officially changed to Barry Madeley and that by...’

‘Oh, rubbish!’

‘... by not calling me Barry, you are denying me my rights as a human, a celebrity and as a Barry.’

My wife sat down on the edge of the bed and kicked off her pink frilled slippers. ‘You’ve changed, Richard,’ she said before she slipped to the floor in search of the black shoes she usually only wears on BAFTA nights. After a moment or two of activity under the bed and one sonorous ring against the chamber pot, she appeared again. ‘I mean, this new look just isn’t you. What on earth do you think you’re doing? A man your age getting his teeth straightened! And what do you think you’re wearing? You look like Des O’Connor having one of his senior moments.’

I had no need to defend myself. I could recognise the envy of a woman who had been left behind by the changing times. Judy has never been a fan of my crushed velvet jackets, my flared trousers with strips of silk running from hip to ankle. Judy is resistant to the eternal cycles of fashion and she won’t accept that my body has exactly the same ratio of body fat to exquisitely cut shank as it had when this fashion first came around in 1973.

‘Don’t worry, Judy,’ I said, straightening the bow tie given to me by Mickie Most. ‘Just because I’m dressed like this doesn’t change the way I feel about you. You are my one constant in an ever-changing world. You’re like the rock of Gibraltar.’

She glared at me.

‘But, obviously, without the baboons...’

That seemed to do the trick. ‘Do you really mean that, Richard?’ she asked, a sweet smile developing as she reached out for my hand.

I gave her hand a firm shake. ‘Nice to meet you,’ I said, introducing myself with a raffish charm, ‘the name’s Barry...’

How her face changed! She stuck a foot into a shoe wish enough force to cause a slight fold to develop in the carpet. I’ve always suspected that our carpet fitters used substandard carpet grips and this was the proof.

‘Barry! Barry! They say that insanity strikes men earlier than woman... And now he wants us to go to church! I don’t see why we need to go to church.’ She muttered this last bit but not so far under her breath that I couldn’t make it out.

‘We’re attending the house of the Lord because I believe that this new start is more than just a reconfiguration of the Richard&Judy partnership,’ I explained. ‘I think it’s a calling.’

‘A calling?’

‘You just can’t accept it, can you Jude, that I’ve been called. You know? Like that guy in the Bible who was told to pursue a solo career out in the desert.’

Judy frowned. ‘You mean Jesus?’

‘I’ll be facing my own demons. And who knows what temptations await me in the wilderness of light entertainment? The devil has many guises. Well, perhaps one less since Natasha Kaplinsky went to Channel 5.’

‘So, you are comparing yourself to the son of God?’

‘But not in any way that makes it blasphemous,’ I replied. ‘I’m just noting the similarities between my life and that of another handsome man who had the common touch and was widely misunderstood by an ignorant public too busy worshipping false gods, such as Richard Hammond.’

‘I knew there was a reason you’ve been wearing a lot of sandals lately,’ said Judy before she stood up and disappeared out on the landing.

Well, no more was said on the matter. We sat in silence as I drove the Ranger Rover at a Christian’s pace all the way to the local C of E. We would have been there much sooner if the Christian had moved out of the way but the fool didn’t seem to care how much bumper I applied to his tail lights.

At the church, a small crowd gathered to welcome us. They cheered Judy as she climbed out of the car, though I think there were a little surprised to see me given the things I’d said the last time I visited. However, they have a new vicar and I gave her my winning smile before I paused by a young woman parked in a wheelchair by the door.

‘God bless you, Uncle Barry!’ she said but I just smiled and lay my hand on her head. I’m not saying it would help her. I mean, I wasn’t about to restore to her the use of her legs. Or, at least, not immediately...


James Higham said...

What's the case of braces these days?

By the way, have you heard anything of Chip lately?

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

The last I heard of Chip, he was performing from the back of a mobile stripping wagon to itinerant shellfish fisher-women in South East Asia. I got the last email from him some months ago. I expect he's now reached Australia, where he believed his act would prove hugely popular. I should email him to check he hasn't been bitten by one of those famous 'thong spiders' they get down under.