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


Hogan's Goat said...

Well said, Sir!

Let's see if that shower of craven bedwetters at the Independent has the decency to publish.

I'm not holding my breath.

On another matter. I was chatting with young David Schneider on Twitter this morning. Coincidentally it transpired that we both rearranged our sock drawers yesterday. I mentioned to him that I'd come up with a novel layout, namely the colours of the spectrum. Thing is, and here's the bugger of it, there isn't a solitary indigo pair to be had in the house.

Sadly Schneider wasn't able to oblige. You wouldn't have a spare pair squirrelled away in some corner of Madeley Mansions would you?

You would not find me ungrateful.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Well, being one of the few men who have written epic poems about sock drawers, I should be able to oblige. However, I have blue and I have violet but alas no indigo. Could I suggest you wear both stretched to allow the colours to blend?

Mrs North said...

Goodness, fellows, I just want to be reassured that you don't 'ball' your socks, it will stretch them most monstrously. Take my advice, never put balls in your drawers.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Mrs North, I would never dare do anything as exotic as ball my socks. I'm in enough trouble with my open letter to Dave Barry about the name 'Dick', as well trying to get in contact with the 'The Independent on Sunday' about my squirrel hunting they reprinted yesterday.

All told, I don't need sock balling adding to the list of my crimes.

hogansgoat said...

There's no getting away from it, Madeley, you are a remarkable fellow. Epic odes to socks? Ridding the nation of those pestilential squirrels? Is there no end to your talents?

And naturally, I knew you'd come up with the goods on my pigmentation dilemma. I shall try your suggestion and report back tomorrow with a full briefing.

Welsh Girl said...

I am shocked that your letter has not yet appeared in The Independent, along with a grovelling apology from their editor and possibly a knighthood to try and make amends. What is the world coming to?

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Precisely right. It's an example of why the print media is failing in this country. They don't listen to good advice or acknowledge when they're wrong (preferably in the form of a large cheque).

rutty said...

I'll drink a hefty dose of Arnica 30C to that, good sir.

Good luck with the squirrel catching. I hear they're rather frisky little buggers - wear bicycle clips

yorkee1 said...

It is with some interest I read about sock balling. I do believe a well known Swedish flat pack furniture store sell devices that actually section your draw into portions. This eliviates the issue of stretching and balling. Of course it most definately assists the art of organisation as well as providing a source of comfort to those with OCD.

I might also make a suggestion to those who find themselves in the unfortunate position of being the owner of an overstretched, overballed white towelling sock. By some false eyelashes, talk in a squeaky voice, attach said garment to your hand and call yourself sherry. She made a fortune out of lambchops and Socks I do believe.

On the subject of grey squirrels, my mother has an awful time of it with regard to them attacking her nuts in the garden. A handy tip for all you ornithologists is to cover you nuts in chilli powder. Apparently the furry blighters take considerable umbridge to chilli coated nuts whereas our feathered friends remain unpeturbed and apparently suffer no ill effects. I now await a complaint from terry nutkins to say I'm talking out of my posterior.

I do hope that I have been of some help to all you ballets and nutters.

A final note to uncle dick- I was suprised to note that you didn't mention mr peter Andre in your letter to the independent.

Yours yorkee1

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Rutty, bicycle clips? I've not heard that advice before but I should have thought of it myself. When you've had a squirrel shoot up your two or three times in a day, it soon loses its appeal, despite what they can do with their tails.

Yorkie: I will be certain to raise the issues of sock balling and Peter Andre in my next letter to a national newspaper. My success urges me to seek more success in that area. I just need to find a suitably reason to write to them.
I’m a bit cautious about applying the chilli power approach to the nuts. I’ve heard that it does work (mothballs too are supposed to be effective) but after the incident when I cleaned out the bird bath and inadequately rinsed it, I don’t want to be seen inflicting more injury on the local birdlife. A year later and I still see the odd sparrow flying around with bleached plumage. They have often been confused with canaries.