Saturday, 29 December 2012

A Brief Tale In Which I Receive A Phone Call

I can tell right now that he’s going to become a nuisance…

I mean, there I was, helping Judy break the seal to an old chamber we'd recently discovered beneath the kitchen floor, when the phone rang.

‘Go and answer it,’ said Judy as she chiselled away at the crumbling masonry. ‘We can wait. This chamber hasn't been opened since the days when this land belonged to the old nunnery, deserted since the Reformation when it was closed due to dark tales of black magic and naked witchcraft.’

I was reluctant to leave her but I scrambled back up to the kitchen and through to the hall where we keep the phone in an old hollowed out bust of David Dickinson.

‘Dick!’ said a voice I recognised but couldn't place.

‘Yes, this is he,’ said I. ‘Who that?’

‘It’s Stan.’

My heart sank, as you know it might, dear reader, if you've read the blog over the last few entries.

‘Look Stan,’ I said, ‘Judy and I are a little busy at the moment. We've just found a long-hidden chamber beneath the kitchen and we’re just about to break the seal, written in strange mystical runes hinting at terrible fates for all who dare proceed. I should really get back to see what Judy finds down there.’

At that moment there was a sound like hell itself had just been cracked open. It came from the kitchen.

‘I'm sure you’re busy,’ said Stan, ‘but I thought I should give you a heads up.’

‘A heads up?’ I repeated as a hot breeze suddenly whipped through the hall and I tasted sulphur. ‘What about?’

‘About the ticket inspector.’

‘Look Stan,’ I snapped. ‘Stop talking in hints. I'm not going to stand here being the pings to your pongs as you say things like “It’s him” and I say “Who’s him?” “The man,” you say. “What man” I say. Just tell me what you’re going on about!’

‘It’s my new blog. It’s up and running and today I'm posting my infamous letter to the ticket inspector at Manchester Piccadilly station. I thought you might want to know in case somebody accuses you of victimising a man who was only doing his job. I know how touchy you get about your public image.’

There was another noise from the kitchen, of crockery being smashed, a kind of barren wailing, followed by a blood curdling cry I've only heard one other time in my life, when I accidentally dropped a crystal ball on Russell Grant’s toe.

‘I don’t care what you publish,’ I said. ‘Don’t ring me again unless you have something really important to tell me.’

With that, I rushed back to the kitchen where I found Judy standing by the sink, wiping sweat from her forehead. In her hand, she was holding her favourite lump hammer which, had I livelier mind, I might have believed was covered with ectoplasm.

‘Are you okay?’ I asked.

She nodded to the hole leading down to the long abandoned chamber.

‘You didn't break the seal did you? What happened?’

‘Do you remember that episode of “This Morning” when Denise Robertson tried to make a flange pudding and she forgot to add the egg yolk yet still went ahead and put it into an oven already preheated to Gas Mark 4?’ She nodded grimly. ‘It was even worse than that.’

I gave a shiver and looked down at the hole.

‘And you still want to use that room as your new underground writing den?’

Judy looked at me, her wonderful face full of the fierce determination that made me so proud to become her husband that crazy night at the Kentucky Fried Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas so many years ago. ‘You've kept me in that attic long enough, Richard,’ she snapped. ‘And I'm stick of discovering that my manuscripts have been nibbled by the squirrels. You promised me an underground lair and I intend to have one.’

And one she will surely have, dear reader. One she will surely have…

Friday, 28 December 2012

Up With The Walnuts

Phew! What a solid nine they were! I was out as soon as my head hit my Tempur pillow. My documentary (‘Richard Madeley Meets the Walnut Smugglers’) better win me another BAFTA because my dreams were deep and meaningful but crammed with more walnuts than a slab of Marks & Spenser Deluxe Christmas cake. I can’t stop thinking about them! I see walnuts wherever I look. Walnuts, walnuts, walnuts. I was watching BBC News 24 over Christmas and they had a programme about Dr. Jonathan Miller, who has always been one of my favourite TV eggheads and a man on whom I modelled myself in my early career, in that he’s witty, urbane, knowledgeable about everything, multilingual, and looks good in corduroy slacks. Mind you, I say it was Dr. Jonathan Miller but I could only see a walnut speaking German and discussing Shakespeare.

Anyway, I’m up a bit late but I wanted to report in lest some of you were worrying about Judy’s peanut allergy. Despite my still reeking of walnuts, she looks no different and is currently up on the roof blocking the holes where squirrels have been getting into her attic studio. Her novel is coming along great (thanks to all who have been asking). She tells me that she’s on page 1384 in a size 10 font, the part when Baron Samuel Dingleberry attempts to seduce Norma behind the coal shed but is interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Crotch on his lard omnicycle.

Today I’m off to meet some ex-walnut mules and to learn about the problems they suffer when they stop cramming their insides with the seasonal nut. But before I go, I must commend Stan. He’s on a roll, though I’m sure he’ll never keep it up. His letter to the Advanced Hair Studio reminds me of a funny story I can’t possibly repeat but which ended with my nethers resembling a North Sea seagull after a particularly bad oil spill.

Walnut Smuggling

Apologies for the lateness of the update. I’m also a little bit bleary-eyed this evening. I'm just back from the Port of Dover where I spent the day hiding in an industrial-sized rubbish container as part of my new hour-long documentary, ‘Richard Madeley and the Walnut Smuggers’.

Did you know that 23% of the walnuts consumed at Christmas this year would have been smuggled into the country up the alimentary canals of so-called 'walnut mules'? These poor people cram themselves with dozens upon dozens of whole walnuts before coming over from France, usually in loose fitting clothes and springy shoes to prevent the dreaded 'walnut cascade'. It’s an amazing story and should be an amazing documentary, airing sometime on ITV in the spring.

Walnuts aside, I’m updating my blog to tell you that my friend and professional lookalike, Stan Madeley, has launched a new blog. He’s calling it his ‘Dead Letter Box’ and he’ll be updating it daily (unlikely, I say!) with some of his unpublished letters to the rich and powerful. Head over there and I’m sure Stan will explain it better than I ever can. To be honest, I just want to get into the bath for a long soak. My clothes are ripe with the smell of walnuts freshly dislodged from their smugglers and Judy has already refused to let me in the front room. Can't say I blame the old girl. Can the smell of walnut oil set off a peanut allergy? I don't know but I guess we'll have discovered if it can by the morning!