Thursday, 2 May 2013

Want Google Glass? You Bet Your Ass!


I just wanted to add my upbeat warble to the chorus of excited chins wagging about the next big innovation from Google called ‘Google Glass’. I had a chance to demo an early version of this fine technology (see picture, right) and, even if I haven’t heard anything from them about the Google Nexus 10 I’m eager to demo, I believe Google Glass will revolutionise the way we look at the world.

If you don’t know how it works, Google Glass resemble a pair of lens-free glasses which respond to simple touch commands along the side stem and project the results onto a small screen raised and to the side of your vision. The screen can display different things such as the date and time, which is great if, like me, you’re too busy to raise you left hand and look at your watch. Instead, you simply raise your right hand, swipe your glasses with an upward motion to access the main menu, swipe it to the side three times until you get to time, and then double tap your glasses to access the clock functionality. Then you read the time from the screen. It’s really that quick and easy.

Yet that’s not all that Google Glass can do for you. It can display photos, access your Facebook account, and, perhaps most amazing of all, give you directions if you've managed to get lost because you weren't looking where you were going whilst you were wandering the streets accessing your Facebook account. That's a great time saver and stops you having to log onto Facebook and tell your friends: 'Help! I'm lost in Stoke Golding (it's near Nuneaton).' That's minutes saved every day of your life and they do add up!

My favourite feature is the ability to take photographs with the simple act of winking. Unfortunately, this did prove a bit problematic when I trialed the glasses since I am one of the few men with a rare congenital condition that makes me wink whenever I pass water. This did cause my glasses to overload the Google servers with pictures of urinals, trees, bushes, lampposts, brick walls, stone walls, rocks, the sea, bins, the back wheel of my Jag, the left leg of Jeremy Kyle… What can I say? I drink a lot of coffee…

Yet perhaps the most exciting part of Google Glass are the plans for the future. There will be a chance for people to document their entire lives via live webstreams, which means fantastic opportunities for those of us who would like to document our entire lives up here on the web. I’m hoping to get a live camera stream on this blog going as soon as my Google Glass arrives. I want people to get real-time access to every exciting thing that’s going on in my life, whether that’s my walks to the post office, production meetings, Judy’s darts nights at the local village pub, or my reviewing the papers on BBC News 24, which is the best gig in town and earns me £50 a pop, just for scratching my chin over the day's papers. And, what's more, I get to keep the papers!

Exciting times ahead? You bet!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Uncle Dick’s Alternative Book Club: My Ebook Recommendations for May

I've spent a good deal of my winter reading books but, more specifically, ebooks which are cheaper, lighter, and less liable to stain when I read them in the bath. That’s why I thought what better way to celebrate the arrival of Spring than to give you a quick rundown of some ebooks that you can’t read outside, under the glare of the sun, unless you have an e-ink reader. I, of course, don’t have an e-ink reader and read everything on my iPad, which does, however, allow me to turn the background to black so I can look at myself until the sun goes down. This is especially helpful when I’m in the bath. Not that I’m making a case for me to buy an e-ink reader when what I really want is a Google Nexus 10. But nor am I doing what some bloggers would do, which is to write something like that and hope Google will send them a brand new Nexus 10 to review… Oh, no. That sort of thing doesn't happen to me and I really wouldn't want to use this blog in a blatant attempt to cadge luxury goods for purposes of review. However, if I did review a Google Nexus 10, it would undoubtedly be positive and I would recommend everybody I know to move over to Android…

However, I digress.

The point of this informative blog post is to give you a quick rundown of a few of my favourite recent reads and I hope, in return, that you’ll offer me some suggestions of your own. Or perhaps you’ve just written an ebook and want a place to promote it… If so, send me the details (and a free copy and/or Google Nexus 10) and I’ll slap it on this page. However, I can’t promise to read it given the aforementioned sun, shiny screen, bathtub situation and my lack of a Google Nexus 10.

Anyway, my five favourite recent reads were:

1. Bedford Park by Bryan Appleyard

One for the more literate among you, this novel is about a moment in time, beautifully realised. It's the story of a corner of London that just happened to be vitally important to who we are today since it was home to many of the great scientific and artistic minds of the early twentieth century. I enjoyed this one all the way to the end, so much so that my bath water went cold... Incidentally, my word processor wants me to change that ‘who’ to ‘whom’ but ‘whom’ doesn't sound right. I’m sure the word processor on a Google Nexus 10 wouldn't have that problem.



2. The Book That’s Actually Much Filthier Than The One You Were Looking For by Felicity Grope

One for those of you in need of cheering up or simply wanting to laugh about our more primal urges... The book is a series of five short stories about romance, sex, and high adventure in a land populated by pandas, cowboys and men called Buck. It’s actually a lot less filthy than the title makes out but, as parodies of erotic literature goes, Ms Grope had me laughing out loud, especially the story called ‘Fifty Shades of Clown’. Thankfully, it wasn’t a sunny day so I could read this ebook a second time once I’d finished. There was, however, a serious lack of any mention of the Google Nexus 10 which I hope the author addresses in subsequent volumes.



3. The Church of Fear by John Sweeney

An often funny look at the Church of Scientology and how they harassed one Panorama journalist. Not that I’m knocking Scientology. Wonderful people, especially the big ones that lurk by your car late at night. This is a relatively quick and enjoyable read if you don’t want to tackle the longer but also excellent ‘Going Clear’ by Lawrence Wright which still isn't available as an ebook in the UK, even on the Google Nexus 10. I've read both and Sweeney's is probably the gentlest introduction to the whole trouble with Scientology and a reasonable explanation for his now notorious outburst which become such a big hit on Youtube.


4. Them by Jon Ronson

This is a collection of articles about extremists by Jon Ronson, so you know what you’re going to get: light, whimsical, and yet with enough meat to make some serious points. Judy looked over my shoulder at one point and suggested that ‘Them’ should be ‘Those’ but she’s been going through a pompous phrase recently after hitting Number One in the paperback charts. I hope when she gets her first royalty cheque she might buy me a Google Nexus 10 but I’m not holding out much hope. I'll be reading Ronson's latest soon so I might come back and tell you how it went.


5. 3 Classic Spy Stories by Alan Furst

This is what I’m reading at the moment (or will once the sun goes in) so I’m going to go out on a limb and recommend it before I’ve finished. So far these are wonderfully evocative stories, rich in detail, about people trapped in politically turbulent times and how violence affected their lives. Judy thinks I should try writing a spy story so I’m reading this with a notepad open on my lap. Of course, if I had a Google Nexus 10, I’d take notes on that…

Mayday! Mayday!

The 1st of May and I’m dropping by to do a bit of spring cleaning. Judy is still hibernating and won’t emerge from her bed of dried leaves and navel fluff for another week or two. However, I’m here to take a scathing blade to my old blog roll and to otherwise clean up this mess. There are many things to talk about, not least the way that my dear darling wife managed to leap to the top spot in the bestseller charts.

If you've not read her novel yet, then I suggest you go out and buy it. I've not read it myself simply because my signed copy has still not arrived, but, as I understand it, the book tells the story of an SAS operation to Cornwall that goes terribly wrong when Ricardo Monsoon, the glamorous special operations captain who wears tight polyester pants in hazardous conditions, discovers a hotbed of radical book clubs in the area of The Lizard. Not one of them has the prescribed reading list and it’s up to Ricardo and his team of grizzled war veterans to eliminate the opposition and install their own benign dictatorship in the form of a highly popular national book club filled with popular best sellers. Where she gets her ideas, I really don’t know but the numbers cannot lie: Number One in the charts for weeks on end and probably a Nobel Prize for Literature to arrive in the post in the New Year.

What else is there? I suppose I should mention, in passing, the threat to our bees. Not much I can do from this end but I encourage you to douse your gardens with enough pesticide to ensure there are no other critters out there stealing the bees' supply of pollen.

And what about the lack of seagulls this year? What’s that all about? I haven’t seen a seagull in about a week. Please email me if you see a seagull. Photographs would be a bonus.

Congratulations to Adele for winning an Oscar for the song to the last James Bond film. The producers still have my CV if they think about replacing Daniel Craig so fingers crossed… My Bond would be a return to the staples that made the franchise such a success: flares, fringes, and villains with deformities.

Radio 2 still hasn't called to say they want me back presenting in the mornings but I have landed a few gigs doing the newspapers on BBC News 24. You might indeed have seen me giving my rather strident opinion about potholes recently and I have to say that the feedback has been phenomenal. I was queuing to renew our TV license the other day and somebody in the post office gave me a ‘thumbs up’. I've not been so overwhelmed since we arrived at the Watch studios and they showed us to our own private broom closet.

 And what is it with eyelashes on car headlamps? The world’s gone crazy.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! And I mean that with sincerity spilling over in my heart. We had a simply fantastic New Year, as you will know if you've seen the videos of Judy playing a slightly merry trombone on the Tube’s Bakerloo Line. I've promised her that I won’t link to the video from here. She’s a little ashamed, to be honest, though I know the video has already gone viral as she’s already getting requests to play her trombone 'Gungham Style' on South Korean State TV.

In other news, I notice that Stan Madeley is providing a very valuable service this morning with his very entertaining ‘Top Ten Ways To Excite An 86 Year Old Billionaire’. I know that Stan had his heart set on becoming the next Mrs. Hugh Hefner, so I think it’s very noble of him to offer Hugh’s new bride some helpful tips. He's clearly given it a lot of thought and I know I'll certainly be using a few of his tips should I ever fall fortunate enough to meet an 86 year old with billions in the bank.

As for me, I’m spending the day helping Judy deflate the enormous illuminated Santa currently sitting atop the Madeley Mansion. We’re hoping for no repeat performance of last year when a freak gust of wind dragged the Santa down the street with my poor wife still hanging from the bottom. Now how *that* never got onto Youtube, I really don’t know.

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!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Stan Madeley on the Radio...

And hello Stan Madelyites! What that fool, Uncle Dick, failed to remember was that I, Stan Madeley, still know Dick's password to access this blog and I can now clarify a few points erroneously made by my namesake and nemesis.

I am indeed appearing on Radio 4 tomorrow morning between 9 and 10 but the decision not to appear with Dick was made entirely by myself with encouragement from my wife, Sandra (54), who, she would like it made known, invented the whole fish through the letterbox ploy, as well as any ploy involving an iron perched perilously on a bedroom door, a wheelbarrow down the stairs, or hot fiery pins in the y-fronts.

The wonderfully spry, witty, and double-jointed J.P. Devlin did indeed join me on my tour of North West working men’s clubs yesterday and we met up in Warrington where I was playing the Parr Hall with my new four-piece cabaret jazz band/thrash metal combo, Halitosis Jones, named after our bassoonist who can be sure to clear out the front four rows before we’ve finished opening with ‘In The Mood’.

Listen in as I set a few things straight such as why I am entirely correct in my accusation that lapdancers tattoos make them squeak more on their poles, why coal should be reclassified as a root vegetable, and I explain how I’d solve Greek debt in three easy steps beginning with hostage taking, a weekend in Vegas, and putting everything on red.

Uncle Dick on the Radio

Aftenoon Madeleyites! Uncle Dick here with your mid-afternoon media update.

I’ll be on Radio 4 tomorrow morning with that blithering idiot Stan Madeley. I know I once said that I’d never appear on the same bill as the man whose lookalike career once led me to be chased through the streets of Soho by an angry mob of lapdancers but I think it’s time that we made peace. As you might know, Judy is trying to break into the lookalike market with her new Judy Garland act and, with Stan’s contacts in the business, we hope she’ll be singing ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ in working men’s clubs across Stockport as early as the New Year.

Of course, that doesn’t invalidate anything that I’ve previous said about Stan. Between you and me, the man is still a bald buffoon but it’s his first radio interview and I’ll be interested to hear what he has to say about pretending to be me on a semi-professional basis. I’ll be getting there bright and early ahead of broadcast, with the interview scheduled for somewhere between 9 and 10AM.

I’m told that Stan has already recorded his part of the interview. I’ll share the bill with him but I’ll be damned if I’m going to be in the same room as the man. There was a time when I trusted Stan enough to run this blog in my absence but he made such a terrible mess of things (including the insulting remarks he made about lapdancers and their tattoos) that our animosity became deep, terrible, tragic, and occasionally involving one of us slipping fish through the other’s letterbox, though that was mainly Judy’s idea.

So there you have it. Listen in or don’t. Just so you know: I’ll be conducting the entire interview wearing my bottomless cowboy chaps and Movember moustache which runs from my nostrils to my armpits after looping twice around my chin. Among the many topics I hope to cover are: how to build a wigwam, Scandinavian otter conservation, and the state of the English horseradish in a word gone pickle crazy.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Still No Tits

I always said that the media can be as cruel as the natural world. I now find myself saying that the natural world can be as cruel as the media.

My latest broadcasting venture it’s clearly heading the way of our old show on Watch. I mean, of course, The Official Richard Madeley Appreciation Society Bird-Box Cam. We’re currently broadcasting the second episode of Season 1 and the guest list is worse than the days when we worked out of Liverpool’s docks. Not a single tit has stuck its beak in the box and, as I type this, Judy is standing in the garden making dark threats to every passing chaffinch.

Her latest suggestion is that we market the box as the antidote to celebrity culture. After all, there’s something remarkable Zen about staring at an empty bird box. I’m not so sure about that plan, though I still hope to lure Fred Talbot into the garden and I’ve been draping brightly knitted woollens on the bird feeder every morning.

So all I can say is: stay tuned! This bird box is prime real estate and if it doesn’t get a nesting pair of tits within the month, I’ll make the hole bigger and try to attract a couple of first time buyers happy to find a place to live inside London for less than a grand a week.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Tit Update

What a beautiful day! I opened the curtains on immaculate blue skies and a verdant plenty aka ‘the back garden’. I also saw plenty of tits frolicking around the bird bath, though, as you can see via the live webcam feed, none have gone near the box. It’s really disappointing given my big tit ambitions. The box is big enough for a pair of tits but I’d happy to look at just one. As Bill Oddie always tells me: a tit in the hand is worth two in the bush and there’s nothing you can’t tell Bill about tits. He’s the only man I’ve seen with a tit perched on each shoulder, though that was in a Soho nightclub after a couple of drinks…

Okay, Judy has just told me to stop making vulgar comments regarding tits, which I hadn’t noticed I was making until she pointed it out.

Other than the lack of tits, big or small, I have little to report. I have nothing planned for today. Later on, Judy will be getting her jugs out in order to practise for the Sussex Jug Band Competition and I plan on having a couple of pretty large baps for my lunch. I’ll then go up into the attic to tinker with the big chest we keep up there but haven’t opened it in a while. The lock is rusty so I might have to put some oil on its nipple...

Right, Judy says she won’t warn me again. I’ll leave this tit update here before anybody else criticises me. The last thing I need at the beginning of a new week is a pair of knockers…

Oh, that's torn it. Judy is reaching for her mutton mallet. I better post this and get out of here.

Later pardners…

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Official Richard Madeley Appreciation Society Bird-Box Cam

As any good looking man with the world at his fingertips will tell you: life rarely runs as smoothly as your trouser press.

Take as your shining example my life of the past seven days. No sooner had I returned to my blogging career than life leapt in the way of me and my keyboard, whipped open its coat, and shook its money-maker at me with an indecent glee.

So, to begin, I want to apologise for my silence. It was as unacceptable as it was necessary. You see, Spring has just sprung and, as you know, last week Judy and I (or as I like to put it, me and Judy) decided to sponsor a hedgehog. It was going to be the big hit of the season, the talk of celebrity salons across London, and I was going to give it a run out in aid of Sports Relief by putting it on a leash and dragging it down the Mall for the length of a tarmac mile. Only, when the moment came to wake it, it turned out the hedgehog sleeping in the potting shed wasn’t actually a hedgehog. It was my old auditioning quiff from my days as an amateur thespian. The upshot was that there’s no hedgehog to sponsor.

‘You’ll have to do something,’ said Judy as she watched me try on my quiff for old time’s sake. ‘You’ve promised people an exciting sponsorship deal.’

I could tell she had something in mind. ‘You have something in mind,’ I said. ‘I can tell…’

'As it happens, Richard, I do.’

I gazed at myself in the mirror and tears came to my eyes at the thought of a life I could have led. ‘They said I had everything to become the new Richard Burton,’ I sighed.

‘You mean multiple marriages and handiness around a stiff drink?’

I scowled at her with a scowl made all the more stinging because of my stiffening quiff. It didn’t seem to have much effect.

‘Instead of sponsoring a hedgehog, I want you to sponsor a bird box in the garden,’ she said, ‘and I want it fitted with the very best surveillance camera that money can buy.’

Suddenly, the reason for Judy's late night phone calls and the sound of hooting into the early hours became clear.

‘You’ve been talking to Bill Oddie again!’ I said. She didn’t deny it but adopted that look that women tend to adopt when thinking about the nation’s favourite bearded twitcher.

So there it was: the challenge laid out. And I’m pleased to say that after a week of effort, I’ve finally managed to construct, wire, and install the official Richard Madeley Appreciation Bird Box With 24 Hour Surveillance.

The box is now three meters in the air and fully powered and providing a feed live to this blog. However, here are the things I’ve discovered over seven days spent building this remarkable feat of civil engineering.

Firstly, it’s impossible to buy wood these days. At one time, you could go to the shop on the corner of your street and buy a length of timber. It took me two days before I realised that it’s nearly impossible to source decent wood locally. I even trailed to B&Q and still couldn’t find anything shorter than 8 foot, which was far too long to carry on my pushbike. I ended up buying a flat-packed set of drawers and building the box out of those. The only problem is that I now have half a dozen knobs I’ve no use for.

The second thing I discovered is that it’s very easy to drill through your knee when not following correct health and safety advice. Thankfully, it wasn’t my knee and Judy’s making an excellent recovery.

The third realisation I arrived at is that Judy is a natural up a ladder.

And finally, after a week of hard work, grotesque expenditure, arguments, ladder abuse, mild electrical shocks and severe electrical shocks, I now realise that birds don’t immediately leap at every new vacancy in the property market.

So, watch this space or more specifically, watch the space to the side of this blog. Even if I don’t update, there will always be a picture of an empty bird box to look at and admire.

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Mask Competition

In a bit of a rush today but I thought I’d mention the official ‘Richard Madeley Appreciation Society Mask Competition’. It’s the mask competition that everybody is talking about!

You might have noticed that with the help of ex-NASA scientists I’ve developed a mask to mark my spectacular return to the blogosphere. With this mask you too can pretend you have a Twitter account and write a blog. The mask was all Judy’s idea. One morning she turned to me and remarked ‘the world really couldn’t handle more than one of you’ and that put the idea in my head. The result is a full colour printer-friendly reproduction of my face but, depending on demand, I might yet release a second mask of the back of my head.

I’ll also be sending out prizes to anybody who can email me a photo of themselves wearing the mask in an interesting location. Please: no nude or swimwear photos unless you adhere to this website’s strict guidelines for adult-related material (you must be over 18, under 25, female, buxom yet lithe, preferably double jointed, and, if possible wearing rubber spats/stockings/earmuffs whilst in the nude or wearing swimwear).

The photographs will be used for my personal edification, though I reserve the right to use them in any way I see fit including (but not limited to) t-shirts, books, magazines, and blackmail.

UPDATE

I’m still in a rush today but I took time to check my inbox and, lo and behold, I discover that somebody has actually sent me a photo of themselves wearing my mask! There are only a few problems I have with the photo, given my strict rules about adult-rated material. So, "Mr. J.", whoever you are, I thank you for the effort but ask that you keep your mobile phone snaps to yourself in future.


The Friday Lookalike


Thursday, 15 March 2012

Professor Madeley's Thursday Brain Squeezer

Meet the Newest Member of the Team

You might have noticed but are too polite to mention a certain aroma coming from this blog. Dare I say it’s an earthy smell, not unlike that of the ancient fertility gods getting liberal with the Lynx For Men? Well, to mark the beginning of Spring (on the 20th) and my newly aroused fecundity, I thought we’d do something a little special. So this year, ‘The Richard Madeley Appreciation Society’ is proud to announce that we’ll be sponsoring a hedgehog. That’s right, a hedgehog. And after some feverish voting around the Madeley breakfast bar, we’ve decided to name him ‘Ralph’.

Judy found the little spiker snoozing in the potting shed. As you might recall, Judy used to collect clippings of motor-homes but, since her ‘Towbar of Rage’ (The Sun’s headline, not mine) incident on the A49 outside Ludlow, her passion waned. She eventually dumped her caravan clipping collection in the potting shed, where they provided a winter home to wildlife.

The hedgehog is expected to emerge form hibernation at exactly 8AM on the 20th since that’s when Jude says I’m allowed to start poking him with a stick. And once he’s up and about, I’ll release more details about the ways the sponsorship deal will work, along with our tour schedule as I exploit Ralph in the cause of light entertainment up and down the country. However, I can say that preparations are going well and I have some exciting projects lined up for the little fleabag in 2012.

In the summer I’ll be touring the UK with a one man show in which I play all fifty-six presidents of the United States. It will be a mammoth undertaking made even more challenging because Ralph will be playing Lincoln’s beard, Taft’s moustache, Teddy Roosevelt’s hairpiece, and one half of Ulysses S. Grant’s mutton chops. And what’s more, it will be doing it without any aid other than a strip of double-sided tape stuck across his belly!

August will see me play a series of practical hedgehog-centric jokes on my showbiz friends. For example, I intend to leave Ralph in Fern Britton’s salad bag. Note to self: Danger of suffocation so I must make holes. Another note to self: does Fern even have a salad bag? Yet another note to self: Judy says she does but it’s technically a plastic bucket and usually contains spiced meat.

Before then, I will spend April filming a new reality TV show in which one man (me) and his hedgehog (Ralph) work to clear Chigwell of its criminals and/or slugs. High chance that I might get knifed, beaten up, or turn rabid (again) but this will make for a great series finale! Note to self: get Fiona Bruce to provide the voiceover.

Concurrent to these projects will be my new online presence. Judy has agreed to paint a toothbrush moustache on Ralph and I’ll launch a new website for hedgehogs that look like Hitler. I’ve already bookmarked the domain name: www.hedgehogsthatlooklikeadolphhitler.com. We aim to make a million within the first year with all proceeds going to animal charities and/or/most likely me.

More news to follow.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Tuesday Quiz Question

Save Me The Hairy One, Norman!

‘Hey Dick! Long time no see!’

I looked up and saw the postman’s face peering through the hedge. I just waved and hurried back into the house, conscious that my Mediterranean tan might look a tad decadent on a dreary North London morning in the middle of March.

‘You know, you wouldn’t feel so out of place if you put on some clothes,’ said Judy when I happened to mention this incident over our smoothie-maker a few minutes later. ‘Lord knows what the neighbours think when they look out to see you bending down to pick up the milk.’

‘Oh, you’re only jealous because I sing the body electric,’ I replied, quoting my favourite poem by Walt Whitman, written shortly before he took up yodelling and changed his name to ‘Slim’.
Judy snorted a laugh but I could tell she was rattled. She might mock my youthful energy and zest for free living but she also knew I couldn’t help it. The moment we’d arrived in Sardinia, naturism had become my new thing. Now that we’re back, I’m finding it hard to adjust. Frankly, a man spends so much time under that hot sun that his body learns to hate the restrictions of jollies and vest. And when a man has a body such a mine, one has an obligation to treat it well, polish it daily, and to show it off whenever possible. It’s a bit like owning an Audi.

‘You know,’ I said, sitting down at the breakfast table with my red meat and muffin smoothie, ‘I wonder if we’ve done the best thing. I know you wanted to come back, Jude, but I could have retired out there under the Sardinian sun, just you, me and the friendly goat herders.’

‘The only reason you liked it there was the fact that you could talk to those herders for hours and they’d never tell you to shut up.’

‘What can I say? Sardinians are a pleasant people. They have all the ebullience of the Italians but without the prostitution rings in the corridors of power.’

‘They also didn’t understand a word of English. What you wouldn’t accept was that they’d never debate the fluid dynamics of the sun’s core no matter how many times you tried to explain nuclear fusion. No, Richard, you are better here where we can put your energies to some use devising some new ground-breaking talk show format based around obesity, gypsies and/or weddings.’

I suppose she had a point, which I expect you to agree with. Yes, I’m talking to you, Norman.

Norman, you are the reader who waited for my return and I’m sorry that you’ve had to wait so long. Sardinia was my idea of heaven minus the afternoon slot on Channel 4 and too little choice in the range of soft cheeses. But now that I’m back, I intend to breathe new life into this blog. A hot spicy breathe, Norman, fragrant with salsa and beans and maybe a little truffle. And I’m doing it all for you.

You see, my old friend, I did receive all the emails you sent me and I’m sorry that I ignored you for so long. But I now I’m back and ready to tell you the truth. So, no, I’ve never shaved my armpits except for a brief period in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War when it was all the rage. Yes, we do intend to attend the London Olympics but only in a sporting capacity. I hope to qualify for the marathon now that my giant transparent jelly costume has arrived. As you know, Judy will be dressed as a custard.

As to your other questions, I’m afraid I’ll have to be quick: a) Formica, b) Lewisham, c) cheese pizzas, d) a big Hungarian, e) squirrels, and f) never in goggles except once on my honeymoon.

Finally, you ask me I’d like to adopt one of your kittens. Such a generous offer and I’d be a fool to refuse. So, save me the hairy one, Norman. Let’s call it ‘Hope’, for that’s the new theme of this blog. I return to you a changed man. Positive outlook, clean smile, and buttocks browned and blessed by the warm Sardinian hills and ready to blog again.

As I used to tell my friends up Punta La Marmora where the goats roam free: I’ll see you all tomorrow when I’ll explain the basic logical operations of semi-conductors, eleven ways to sex a mollusc, and how to do CPR using a couple of jumper cables and a bag of lemons.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Other Facebook

‘Sex sells,’ said my friend who, for reasons of discretion, I won’t name beyond giving you his initials which are ‘S.M.’ ‘I’ve been giving serious thought to the future direction of your blog which I’ve been overseeing for the past six months.’

‘And doing a lousy job of it,’ I complained. ‘You’ve not updated it once in all the time I’ve been away filming my new series celebrating some of North Africa’s most popular and long-serving leaders.’

‘Nonsense,’ he replied. ‘I’ve merely allowed the field to lie fallow before we put you out to stud.’

‘I don’t like your analogy, Stanley,’ I confessed. ‘You don’t put out a horse to stud until he’s past his best.’

‘All the same, the analogy still holds,’ said my friend who was rapidly losing his claims to that title. ‘The point I’m trying to make is that you need to transform your blog into the next social networking phenomenon and I think I’ve hit upon a fantastic plan. You’ve heard of Facebook, that hugely successful and some might say unbeatable website? However, they have a clear disadvantage.’

‘Which is?’

‘Do you know where the face ranks in the list of the internet’s most popular anatomical features?’

‘No idea,’ I said, for, indeed, I didn’t.

‘Nineteenth. Which means there’s plenty of room for us to beat it...’
I shrugged but he just took that as encouragement.

‘What I propose, therefore, is that we take the name of the Richard Madeley Appreciation Society and change it to…’

I held my breath.

‘Arsebook!’

‘Arsebook?’

‘It’s just like Facebook but without the faces.’

‘But we’d have arses, right?’

‘Exactly so!’ he said. ‘They are the third most popular anatomical feature on the internet but number one if we discount those that are pornographic.’

I quickly grabbed his hand and tested his pulse. Much to my surprise, he wasn’t throwing a temperature and his pulse seemed normal.

‘I don’t think Judy would appreciate it if people started to associate my name with the human posterior,’ I said.

‘They won’t,’ replied my friend. ‘They’ll simply think “arse”.’

Well, I wasn’t sure they didn’t think that already. I looked out from under my brow which had descended to settle on the upper slop of my classically handsome nose. The conjunction of hairy caterpillar on schnoz usually sends out the warning signals.

‘What’s up?’ he asked. ‘You don’t want to become an internet billionaire before you turn forty?’

‘I’d close my blog and delete it from the face of the earth before I’d allow you to associate me with an arse,’ I said. ‘Besides, I have other plans for the blog. Plans that involve certain a British television presenter, freelance journalist, and model…’

‘Not Andrew Neil,’ gasped my friend who, as many of you will know, is somewhat obsessed with the man and his sideburns.

‘I mean Chloe, my celebrated daughter, product of my loins, the apple of mine eye, the second generation Madeley with improved battery life that sits easier in the hand. Since I’m considering retiring to the radio, I think it might be time to change the title of my blog to the Chloe Madeley Appreciation Society so it might appeal to the eager young thrusters out there keen on highly-talented blondes.’

‘But this is barefaced nepotism,’ countered my friend. ‘Has she worked years in regional television? Does she have the requisite qualifications to call herself a journalist? What about her membership of the NUJ? What right have you to call her a “presenter, freelance journalist, and model”?’

‘Those are not my words,’ I replied coolly. ‘Those are the words of Wikipedia.’

My friend seemed to sink into his suit. ‘I refuse to be part of this,’ he said, finally. ‘You wouldn’t be allowed to hand over power like this if we lived in the Middle East. Have you learned nothing from the example of Egypt? If Hosni Mubarak couldn’t get away with this, they why should you?’

I smiled. ‘Hosni Mubarak didn’t have his own book club and a loyal following on Radio 2 ready to defect from Richard Bacon.’

Saturday, 13 November 2010

A Big Issue in The Big Issue

Hello fans of Uncle Dick and casual internet lurkers brought here looking for pictures of Clare Balding's nipples (yes, you know who you are Mr. BT Broadband from Chipping Norton)...

This is Stan Madeley still here, with Uncle Dick currently investigating reports of phantom moles in the area of his potting shed and refusing to blog until he's give his own show on Channel 4 (after the watershed).

However, on this chilly morning in November, it gives me chance to promote myself a little more and ask you to point your eyes in the direction of the 'Big Issue' where my latest diktat to the nation was to be found last week.

The piece was titled 'King for a Day' and outlined my plans for the nation should the constitution get a rewrite to include mention of a handsome chisel thrower from Luton. I encourage you to read it, especially if you're of a political bent and wish to understand this exciting new ideology from the man who made gourd swallowing a family friendly act.

Need I add that more of the same can be found in Second-Class Male, my book of misguided letters to famous strangers.

As Uncle Dick said to me this very morning:

'I hope that all my readers buy Second-Class Male, your book of misguided letters to famous strangers, Stan, but could you just grab Judy's legs and pull her out of the hole? I think she's shouting something about being attacked by moles.'

And with an endorsement like that, what kind of man wouldn't pull?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

It's Competition Time

Greetings my friends, colleagues, and fellow adventurers in the world of cabaret! Stan Madeley here, sitting in for Uncle Dick who is currently away in France where he’s hunting truffles with his pet pig, Snouty.

Having the keys to his domain, I thought I’d do something a little different to keep this slumbering beast of a blog going. In fact, when he handed me this great responsibility, Dick’s last words to me were ‘have fun, keep out of trouble, and never mention that Michael MacIntyre has only slits for eyes’.

Frankly, I hadn’t noticed that Michael MacIntyre has only slits for eyes and, if I had, I certainly wouldn’t mention this fact on the internet. Who knows where such things might lead?

So, instead, I’ve decided to liven things up with a little audience participation. It always works at the Gormfield Old Folks home and I don’t see why it won’t work with you, men and women under ninety years of age and in full control of your bladders. I won’t ask you to wave your hands in the air as I play Vera Lynn classics on my harmonica but I will ask you to participate in a competition!

Yes, I said: we’re going to have a competition! You’d like that, wouldn’t you?

So, sorry… Slipped into my nursing-home mode for a moment…

I have a signed copy of my new book, Second-Class Male, sitting here on my lap and I’m willing to send it (the book, not my lap, though perhaps both if you’re lucky) to the person who can tell me the name of my favourite Norwegian fjord. That’s right: my favourite Norwegian fjord.

Just email me your answers at stansfavouritefjord@stanmadeley.com and the winner will be the first correct entry that my wife Sandra (54) retrieved from down my pair of oversized comedy trousers.

Closing date for the competition is Friday, 29th October and the draw will be held during our performance at the Wittling Cross Social Club on the following Saturday night. It should be an exciting evening as I’ll be attempting to become the first man to glue himself to a bassoon in the cause of light entertainment whilst attempting to advance rectal science.

Tickets are available at the door but please be advised: anybody sitting in the first three rows might be asked to assist in the case of a medical emergency.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Second-Class Male

I’m breaking my self-imposed blog silence to point you in the direction of this book, which many have compared favourably to this blog.

Ah! But do I hear you cry: 'Hold on, Uncle Dick! How is that possible? Surely you've not had a hand in this book's conception? Have you been lying to us when you said you’ve been busy combating pirates in Somali waters?'

Well, I’ll tell you the truth: it beats me! However, I’m not ashamed to admit that Stan Madeley is my kind of man: fearless when the circumstances call for it but with a dash of the romantic when his wife Sandra (54) hits the dimmer switch. He’s also the UK’s top Richard Madeley lookalike and a trained cabaret chisel thrower to boot, so you don’t need me to point out that he’s blessed on more than one front.

Second-Class Male contains the letters Stan has been written to the great and the good of showbiz, politics, and high street retail. He even butters up old General Noriega with only a second-class stamp, so why not buy a copy of the publishing sensation of the year (excluding Paul O’Grady’s collector's guide to SAS Land Rovers).

In summary: please make your old friend, Uncle Dick, very happy and buy Stan’s book. I’m giving it two thumbs up, a high five, and one shin slightly inclined towards the perpendicular. It’s impossible to give it more praise than that.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Am I Crazy?

Okay, it’s official. I’m crazy. I’ve now updated the Richard Madeley Appreciation Society three times in a day. I'm now getting emails and comments from people who still think I'm a full time blogger. Apparently, I've also got a programme on ITV tonight, 9pm, called All At Sea. I encourage you to watch it. It’s quality entertainment.

But let me repeat: don’t get it into your head that I’ll be blogging here again soon.

I have things to do. I still haven’t finished creating my giant Judy made entirely from candle wax.

A Birthday Treat

The surprise wasn't that I've returned to blogging because I haven't except for this one special day. The surprise was awaiting me when I slid down the banister this morning and did my customary somersault onto the hall rug.

'Happy birthday!' cried Judy, emerging from the kitchen with a pile of laundry in her arms.

'Oh, Judy!' I cried out in surprise. 'What on earth have you done?'

'Well, it is your special day,' she said. 'And I know how much you've wanted one...'

I pushed her to one side to look at my present parked squarely beside the antique hat stand holding my collection of wide-brimmed fedoras and false moustaches.

'And bright pink is my favourite colour!' I said, slipping out of my dressing gown and throwing it over Judy's head. Unfortunately, my pockets were full of my usual morning walnuts so she took a few cracking against her chin. But even that couldn't ruin the moment.

'Have you filled it?' I asked.

'Of course,' she said, watching as I jumped into the seat and turned on the engine.

It has been one of my ambitions since we gave up the show to take up go-carting and this was just the sort of go-cart I've been eyeing: sleek, powerful, and pimped out in a luminous pink with fur trim. Even though I was still only wearing my underpants and socks, I couldn't resist revving the engine.

'Sounds great,' I shouted, as exhaust fumes filled the hall.

From off somewhere in the toxic cloud, Judy mumbled something about feeling dizzy but I wasn't about to allow my day to be ruined by my wife's complaints or the sound of something heavy dropping to the floor. I suppose my excitement got the better of because, without a thought, I gave the accelerator some toe and set off down the hall leading to the house's east wing where Judy keeps her collection of antique spigots. Turning right at the library, I sped down past the gallery containing our priceless collection of portraits of Yours Truly, and past the swimming pool which we've recently had mosaicked with the R and J united by ampersand. I was carrying too much speed when I reached the locked utility room where we now keep the feral Fred, so I threw the back end out and drifted around the rear of the house, past the kitchen, wood shed, Judy's meditation suite, the hydrotherapy spa, the pet closet, the cinema, and finally turning the last corner to come back past the indoor arboretum back to where Judy was on her back but slowly coming around.

'That's fantastic,' I said.

Judy sat up and frowned at the seventeen feet of tyre marks I'd made under braking.

'It will take some scrubbing to get that off the carpet,' she remarked.

I jumped out and grabbed my dressing gown, wrapping it tightly around my body which looks no older than it did when I was a strapping twenty four year old, now nearly eleven summers ago.

'Forget the carpet, Jude,' I cried, reaching into my pocket for my first walnut of the morning. 'Finish off your washing and I'll race you around the block.'

Judy sighed. I could see she was in no mood for running.

'Come on, Jude,' I said, helping her to her feet. 'It's my birthday. I'll give you're a head start of half mile.'

She smiled. 'Okay, Richard, but only because it's your birthday. After all, you only turn thirty five once…'

'You say that every year,' I replied, 'but you've never been right yet!'

Happy birthday me!

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday Uncle Richard!
Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Just Busy...

I've not abandoned you. And I've not abandoned Twitter. I'm just working on a project of such profound significance to mankind that it's eating up every hour of my day. Can't say more about it at the moment. Some day, it might all become apparent but, for now, I can only say I'm still here and that I'm watching you...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Girls With Chickens

I found this while loitering around Dave Barry's blog. It is the website that I guarantee was missing from your life and it is my new reason for getting up in the morning. It is Awkward Family Photos!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

News From Cornwall

Hoping to escape the media attention I’ve been attracting in London, I thought I’d come down here to Cornwall where life is more relaxed and we’re all free to suck our moonshine popsicles in the front seats of the tractors that we regularly drive/plough through the quiet village squares/ponds.

Metaphorically, I’m also ‘in Cornwall’ in regards to my communicating with the virtual world. I’ve had so many emails complimenting me for my ‘beautiful daughter’ that I’ve decided to put a moratorium on replies, in addition to the usual block on people asking me to read their novels, short stories, poems, sign their pots and mugs, or contribute funds to good wellbeing of Iberian donkeys. To put it bluntly: it’s become too much and I’m calling a time out until people read my blog more carefully and begin understand what ‘The Richard Madeley Appreciation Society’ is really about.

I suppose too that ‘celebrity’ finally has me beat. Out there is an insane world full of raging vanity and even more raging stupidity. I want no more part of it. As I cast my eye over the news today, from the weighty to the frivolous, my suspicions are confirmed: you’re all mad! Or at least as mad as a morning spent with Colonel Gaddafi’s hair stylist.

This morning’s news is headed by the announcement that Ken Livingstone is getting married at a zoo. There’s no word yet on whether schoolchildren will be able to watch any part of the mating ritual from across the safety of a concrete moat, but this will no doubt come as a relief to the teachers who’d thought they’d had it tough explaining biology when the baboons got frisky.

Meanwhile, the courts have decided how Michael Jackson memorabilia should be marketed, despite the protests of his still grieving mother who wanted the process to be ‘competitively bid’. Nothing says grief quite like a mother making tough business decisions from behind a sodden handkerchief.

The so called ‘Toxic Waste Ship’ has returned to the UK. Unhappy that the gig was over so quickly, Peter Andre promises to ‘cruise again’ in the near future.

Victoria Beckham won't eat on airplanes because she’s she wants to keep her weight down. As part of a carbon offset scheme, she’ll also be planting tubs of watercress each time she’s crosses the Atlantic.

Simon Cowell has been attacked for exploiting contestants on ‘X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. A performers' rights union aims to end the use of non-paid talent on the shows, though there’s no word yet on the use of paid non-talents.

A Tory MP has apologised for making a sexist joke. This unusual move was prompted by complaints from within his party that he hadn’t made a sexist racist joke mocking the NHS and unemployed homosexual French sheep.

Lindsay Lohan was involved in a heated row in a New York City delicatessen. After losing her phone at the deli, she later went back to claim it back but grew angry when she could not prove that the phone belonged to her. Staff explained they didn’t know who she was. If it’s any consolation to deli staff everywhere, I have absolutely no idea who Lindsay Lohan is either. I thought she was Xena: Warrior Princess.

Legendary director Tarantino is back’. ‘Legendary’ is a word that publicists often use to confuse Joe Public, here in the hope they’ll forget that Tarantino has only made two really decent movies: ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Jackie Brown’.

‘Legendary’ directors the Wayans Brothers are also back, with their latest comedy, ‘Dance Flick’. Already rated 2.9 on the Internet Movie Database, the film is the subject of frantic betting that it will reach the critical heights of ‘Little Man’ which scored 3.4. (N.B. ‘Legendary’ here is a word that I use to remind Joe Public that the brothers have never made a really decent movie.)

X-Men director, Bryan Singer, is to remake John Boorman's ‘Excalibur’, the story of Arthur, the legendary King of the Britons. (N.B. ‘Legendary’ here is a word that I use to remind Joe Public that King Arthur was probably American, chisel-jawed and had a highly lucrative sponsorship deal with Burger King.)

Meanwhile, back in the world of significant things that we should really care about: Colonel Gaddafi was grinning like an X Factor judge as he welcomed ‘legendary’ Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi into the next round of the ever popular game show ‘No Deal or Deal Involving Swapping Murderers For International Trade’. He thanked everybody from Prince Andrew to Gordon Brown for freeing the man found guilty of killing 270 people over Lockerbie. (N.B. ‘Legendary’ here is a word that I use to remind Joe Public that the scale of this man's crime cannot be understated.)

The release comes only weeks after Ronnie Biggs was set free, much to the disgust of the tabloids that previously earned millions off his infamy. Biggs was found guilty of smug and arrogant behaviour after escaping from Wandsworth Prison in 1965. In Brazil, in the 1960s and 70s, he routinely adopted funny hats and t-shirts. The fact that nobody actually died at the hands of the Great Train Robbers mocks the system of compassionate release which was clearly intended for use by people who have murdered 200 people or more. Who next? Tax dodgers or OAPs refusing to pay their council tax? I find it disgusting.

Hand me some more of that moonshine. I’ve got a tractor to drive in an erratic fashion.

***


And on a personal note: I’ve had an email from Elberry who tells me that he has deleted his blog. I’ve always been as envious of Elberry’s bravery as I have of his intelligence and willingness to post pictures of woman in various states of undress. May he find freedom beneficial to both his spirit and his bank balance.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Why I Think I’m Falling Out of Love With Twitter

If I receive one more message of sympathy from a well wisher, I might well give in to temptation and dismantle a certain French super-mini and reassemble it into a robot that will do much more than shift its hips in a funky dance. This one will mete out destruction on a grand scale; which, when you think it about it, is pretty much what it has already done in the Hamstead Heath region of North London this week.

I’m not saying that people’s sentiments are misplaced but they do fail to understand me as a man. I regularly consider abandoning my Twitter account for precisely this reason. It’s fine that people think I’m funny or that I’m upstanding because I always follow my followers and respond to their messages, but I do that because, in my view, it is just common human decency. I was brought up to respect others. So, if somebody takes the time to follow me, then the least I can do is try to return the compliment. If somebody writes me an email, I will take time to write one back.

Broaden that out to my whole presence on Twitter and you will see that I am primarily trying to entertain people and bring people to my blog. I enjoy the challenge of trying to be funny inside 140 characters. If I can make people’s day a little brighter, then I’m happy. The effort I put into the work is considerable, the reward only spiritual, yet it is, nevertheless, a reward.

If I mock a celebrity like Peter Andre, it is because I believe that celebrities slight people without even realising it. To promise, as he recently did, to follow 10 people a day is, in my view, scornful of his relationship with his fanbase. Even if he does Twitter (and doesn’t simply employ a clever publicist), then following 10 people a day is still a ridiculously insignificant number. It would take 10 to 15 seconds out of his day and 63 years to follow all his current followers. Of course, I wouldn’t expect him to follow 100,000+ people, but he could put enough time into his account to show that there’s real investment into the work of connecting with his fans. Stephen Fry managed to follow 54,000 people before it became impossible to keep up but at least he has set the standard by which any other celebrity is judged.

I suppose it’s the problem with many supposed celebrities on Twitter and, to be fair, Peter Andre is far from the worst. In fact, in Twitter terms, he’s one of the more virtuous characters out there. Claudia Winkleman has 41,000 followers yet follows only 30 people. Let me say that again. This is Claudia Winkleman I’m talking about, not Elizabeth Taylor. 41,000 followers yet she follows only 30 people. The question of how she can only follow 30 people is perhaps eclipsed by that which questions why 41,000 people would to follow Claudia Winkleman. Yet, perhaps the worst offender of all is Alan Carr who is followed by 298,343 people and goes to the trouble of returning the compliment to 28. Is he deliberately trying to appear arrogant? Or is he just giving me a reason to dislike the man for something other than his vile, lewd innuendo and teeth-in-a-meat grinder voice?

The numbers game looks and sounds childish when set out like this. Yet what does it say about celebrities when they can’t be bothered to engage with real Twitterers? That they’re arrogant, vain, lazy, insincere, or, as in many cases, merely some sham fabrication created by a PR company to make their client look in touch with the real world?

Which takes me back to the kind comments that people have been sending 'me'. It’s right and good that people look out for other people. What troubles me is that their praise is predicated upon motives that have much to do with my supposed celebrity and not the efforts I’ve put into Twitter. If I didn’t have this name, would they think me funny? I guess not. And, from my side of the equation, it’s hard to feel any sense of accomplishment when you know people are judging you by a show you may have done in 1993 but you really can’t recall. The same, to a lesser extent, is true of this blog. I’m not so big a fool as to think that much of the attention it has received hasn’t had to do with the Madeley brand.

Those few of you who have read me long enough, know that I have this debate with myself regularly. I have yet to decide if I’m giving up Twitter (or even, to an extent, blogging) but I sometimes feel that effort is just not worth it.

So, though this makes me sound ungrateful, please don’t send me any more messages of support during this difficult period. If the person addressing you now is going through a tough time, I can assure you it has nothing to do with some young girl crashing a car into a parked mini. There really are bigger tragedies in the world that never make the front pages of the newspapers.

Monday, 17 August 2009

The Prick and the Porcupine

I have to ask you to forgive me. If there was a reason for filling Saturday’s blog with an unforgivable level of the black stuff, it was my exhaustion after two days in Manchester.

I’d been up north, lending my honeyed tones to a new wildlife documentary for Channel 5, which quite took it out of me. You can expend significant reserves your lung juice on tricky lines such as: ‘Deep in the swampland of Baluchestan, the hunters are waiting to hear the mating call of the whelk-eared porcupine, the world’s rarest spined mammal. Their pelts can fetch nearly two hundred dollars on the open market. Most will end up as luxury pouches worn by Japanese wrestlers in the highly illegal sport of space hopper sumo...’ The skills required for this kind of gig have to be up there with hosting ‘Have I Got News For You’ in terms of getting the intonation right. Phase it wrong and you’ve either slandered a heron or suggested Tory Party politicos like to mate in Norfolk marshes.

I suppose it’s why I’m on the big money but I always return home deflated after one of these recording sessions. Saturday, I felt worse than ever. A thirty stone sumo might well have been sitting on me whilst wearing his whelk-eared pouch. I wouldn’t have had the energy to complain if he had. I was certainly in no mood to be told that my latest comedy script had hit another obstacle within the BBC.

As a consequence, I spent the day sleeping or sobbing, sometimes both at the same time, occasionally with added brow beating, self-loathing, paranoia and raging alcohol abuse. However, Sunday morning, I woke up clear headed and sporting something of a surprised look on the old A1 visage.

Or, at least, I did once I opened my eyes and found myself lip to lip with a large yellow beak.

‘Well? What do you think?’ asked the beak.

I blinked and the beak floated away to reveal a large fluffy head connected to an equally fluffy body by a length of flexible ventilation duct. I didn’t require Bill Oddie to spot the big yellow ostrich in the room. Nor did I need the ‘Who’s Who of Celebrity Ostrich Riders’ to recognise that perched on the bird’s back holding the reins was my dear wife, Judy. The illusion lasted all of three seconds before I recognised the legs sticking out from beneath the bird’s body. I could see the Granada Reports tattoo on Judy’s ankle peering through the thinly stretched yellow stocking.

‘Judy? Why are you dressed as an ostrich?’ I asked.

‘Oh, Richard!’ she replied. ‘Don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten!’

‘Forgotten wh...’

I suddenly remembered. It was the Sunday the 16th of August, the date of this year’s ‘Bernie Cliftonfest’, when those of us in showbiz honour the nation’s finest funny man. The five mile sponsored ostrich run takes in the whole of this undisclosed area of North London and would raise hundreds of pounds for Bernie’s favourite charity for failed trombonists. As you know, Judy is one of the charity’s patrons and this perhaps accounted for the enthusiasm she put into getting me up out of my divine Slumberland.

‘I’m too tired,’ I moaned. ‘I couldn’t sleep my way through five miles, let alone run it.’

The ostrich beak came in and pulled back the sheets to reveal my nakedness, glory be its name.

‘Get up, Richard. You are not going to let me down,’ she said. ‘You’ve got an hour to be ready.’

As if to warn me, there was a loud clap of an ostrich beach snapping shut and a sudden sharp pain in my lower left cheek.

‘Godfrey Paul Daniels,’ I moaned. Judy just snorted and went padding out of the room, possibly to top up on millet before the run.

I rolled over, stretched, and lifted myself into an upright position. I gazed at the yellow stockings draped over the end of the bed and smacked my lips once before I grabbed the phone.

It rang ten times before the voice answered.

‘Terry? It’s Dick Madeley here. Glad I caught you. Listen. I’d like to take you up on your offer. Yes, that one. I know it’s a bit short notice but...’

***

My wife has as remarkable a facility for stating the obvious as she does in turning ordinary words into mild vulgarities.

‘Great leaking buckets of water, Richard! You’re not wearing your stockings.’

‘I know I’m not. I didn’t fancy them,’ I said, brushing down the tailoring of a casual safari jacket and cream chinos. On my head was perched a pith helmet that matched the outfit. I looked like the product of a breeding programme between Michael ‘Zulu’ Caine and Winsor ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ Davies; just the kind of ‘lovely boy’ who could ‘blow the bloody doors off’ anything, if asked.

‘You can’t come dressed like that,’ said Judy. ‘The stockings are integral to the clever illusion of riding an ostrich. Without the stockings, you ruin the effect of the balsa wood legs!’

I looked at Judy and then across at all the celebrities lined up across the start. They were all completing clever illusions of their own. Jamie Oliver’s ostrich was apparently free range, accounting for the lack of meat on the bird’s legs. Daniel Craig was straightening his tie and putting on the style in his pinstriped ostrich with rocket propelled knees and bullet proof beak. The only real disappointment was Phillip Schofield’s ostrich, which I didn’t think was all that special. In fact, I thought it lacked any single discernible talent, though it was well plumed and would appeal to the 40 to 70 year old age group.

Judy frowned at me as she stood at the end of the line. ‘If you let me down, Richard, I’ll never be able to forgive you. I hate to think what Bernie would say if he saw you like this.’ She moved in closer, perhaps for ‘the kill’. ‘Listen here, lugnuts,’ she hissed, ‘you either get into that costume now or I’ll tell everybody about your letter.’

‘My letter?’ I asked, trying to pretend I didn’t know to which of the many daggers in my heart she referred.

‘Your rejection letter from the BBC. The one that said you’re not even in the top 10% of people sending them scripts. The one that said they didn’t read past the first ten pages. The one that said you’re about as funny as linoleum...’

I took a few steps back. ‘I get the message,’ I replied and tried a smile. It didn’t work. Judy’s beak moved from side to side like a fluffy cobra preparing to strike. That’s when I spotting my mate Terry, waving to me from the back of the crowd. ‘Look, it will be okay,’ I muttered and planted a quick kiss on Judy’s beak. ‘I’ll be back in a minute,’ I added and sauntered off through the sea of soft yellow ostrich fuzz.

I found Terry unlatching the back of his trailer. ‘I knew you’d make it on time,’ I said.

He didn’t seem that impressed. ‘I hope you know what you’re doing,’ he replied. ‘I’ve had to leave the otters frisking in the bath.’

I told him to spare me the tales of his frisking otters and to get a move on. Five minutes later, I was back at Judy’s side, only she was distracted for a moment, picking bits of pink fluff from her ostrich’s costume where she’d rubbed up against Graham Norton’s bird.

‘Well,’ I said, from a couple of feet above her, ‘I’m ready.’

She turned to me and gave a scream. ‘What’s that?’ she asked, using her ostrich’s head as a barrier to fend off the amorous attention of my mount.

‘This,’ I said, ‘is Patrick. Patrick is a genuine African racing ostrich.’

‘Get down at once, Richard,’ she snapped. ‘You’re going to kill yourself.’

As if to prove I was the master, I tugged the rein.

‘I can assure you that he’s quite tame,’ I said, calmly. ‘He’s maybe a bit randy but he’s certainly very tame. And he comes with Terry Nutkins’ seal of approval, which, in this case, is actually a real seal.’

Judy replied with something unkind about Terry Nutkins whilst Patrick began to show interest in Graham Norton’s plumage. Wedged up there between his wings, I could feel the shiver of sexual excitement run through Patrick’s body each time Graham limbered up for the run by bending over and touching his toes.

It was something of relief when the starter’s pistol cracked. Patrick responded immediately and strode off with me acting as little more than a very handsome observer with an impeccable tan. Within a hundred yards, we’d left most of the field well behind. It was just me, Dame Kelly Holmes, and Ben Fogle in the lead, and Fogle was fading quickly.

Now, here’s an interesting fact: did you know that there’s very little difference in pace between a real ostrich carrying a well proportioned man and a middle distance Olympic champion hampered by rubber ostrich boots? As I took the first turn, I was on the outside of Dame Kelly. I could see the sinews standing proud on her neck, her beak moving in metronomic rhythm with her legs.

‘Would this be the wrong time to ask you about the state of middle distance running with in the UK?’ I shouted down to her.

But the question only seemed to spur Kelly on and she quickly pulled out a lead of a metre or more.

I’ve conducted hostile interviews like this before so I knew how to respond. I kicked my heels and Patrick found an extra gear.

‘Do you think that the London Olympics will be a success or a financial disaster?’ I cried as we again pulled level.

A look of fear came to Kelly’s eye but again she kicked.

I kicked too and Patrick gave a shriek and picked up his pace.

‘Kelly, do you think that woman with high muscular torsos can retain their femininity given the modern approval of the larger mammary?’

I think that’s what broke her. She reached for another kick but found it wasn’t there. However, a heel against Patrick’s backside and we leapt into the lead.

‘Tallo ho!’ I cried, lifting the pith helmet from my head and giving Dame Kelly and the vanishing pack a wave.

Five miles later, the finishing line was in sight. My buttocks were getting a little sore but I could not care less. I was already thinking of my victory speech and how I would use it as a vehicle for a withering assault on the woeful ability of the BBC’s Writer’s Room to spot ‘talent’. It probably accounts for why I wasn’t looking behind me. With only a hundred yards to go, I was suddenly aware of a shape in my peripheral vision.

It was Jeremy Clarkson in a motorised scooter decked out in ostrich feathers. He opened his throttle and grinned that offish grin he has. I kicked my heels one, twice, and thrice into Patrick’s flanks but I can only assume that he was as shocked as I to see the nation’s top curly perm blazing past.

Clarkson took the line by a rubberised bumper/beak.

I wasted no time and slid from Patrick’s back and racing up to Clarkson who was preparing to respond to the adulation of the crowd. He had already unfastening his trouser belt and lowered his trousers. He was now in the process of inking the word ‘Losers’ across his bottom, cleverly adapting the topography to form a particularly scornful ‘o’.

‘What’s your game?’ I demanded. ‘You have just spoilt a friendly charity race by using a mechanised monstrosity.’

‘No more than you ruined it by taking a real ostrich to an ostrich race,’ said Clarkson.

Even if I knew he was right, I wasn’t about to back down.

‘This isn’t the last you’ll hear about this, Jeremy,’ I warned him. ‘This will be on my blog before the week is out.’

‘Ha!’ he cried. ‘So says the man whose scripts are a laughing stock within the BBC.’ And with that he turned his back on me, bent over and the word ‘Loser’ reared up to great me.

I would have felt particularly offended by this final humiliation if it wasn’t for what happened next. It is perhaps best not to describe it in too much detail, though, needless to say, the best efforts of Terry Nutkins and three firemen couldn’t stop Patrick from finally fulfilling his intentions in a way that was beautiful to see. After two minutes, I left the commotion behind me in order to find Judy, who placed a rather respectable fourteenth. I wanted to shield her from a sight that even I’d have trouble narrating for Channel 5.

‘Did you win?’ she asked, breathless.

‘I placed second but I’m not bitter,' I replied. ‘To the victor go the spoils and all that...

Judy rubbed her side. ‘I’m going to be sore in the morning,’ she grinned.

I placed my arm around her waist and guided her away from the finish line. ‘Not as sore as some,’ I promised her. ‘Not as sore as some...’

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Screw the World, I Want To Get Off

There was a large manila envelope waiting for me on the dining room table this morning. I recognised it immediately. I’d addressed it to myself a long time ago.

Rejection is like holding a conversation with yourself, only with a matter of months separating the reply from the question. ‘Will they like your work, Dick?’ I asked back in May when I sent the script for a radio comedy to the BBC’s Writer’s Room. ‘They bloody hated it!’ came the answer, written in my own hand, today.

Since I sent this script way, I’ve written a dozen sketches for NewsJack, dozens of jokes and one-liners, which were all ignored. The standard opinion within the BBC is that I’m not funny. So, I suppose this package shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yet I don’t know how to take more rejection from the BBC, who only seems to exist in order to torment me. I haven’t the heart to open the package and, thankfully, Judy hasn’t asked me about it. It’s her belief that my next project should be in my own name. She doesn’t see the point of my writing and submitting work in the name of my alter-ego, Gus Scrottee.

I suppose I really should open it...

Rejection letters come in many forms. I’ve had compliment slips that read ‘Not this time’ (a favourite phrase of editors and agents as if to imply that there might actually be a time). Then there’s the formal letter which is sent with every manuscript that doesn’t take their fancy. When I say ‘their fancy’, I mean the fancy of the eighteen year old trainee who they’ve hired to open every envelope in their slush pile and tip the contents into the Self-Addressed Envelope. I figure most agents are off cosying up to the next Z list celebrity to whom they’ve offered a book deal. This week, we’re told that £1.5 million has been offered to Peter Andre for writing a cookbook. A cookbook!

Meanwhile, in the world of Gus Scrottee...

Okay. I’ll open it.

It’s a form letter, only this one actually grades my sense of failure. In the case of the BBC’s Writer’s Room, they receive 10,000 scripts a year and less than 10% get through the first sift. I didn’t make it past the first sift. They didn’t bother to read more than the first ten pages. They thought it was rubbish.

What am I to do? Accept that some other would-be writer out there has read this and doesn’t like it? But who is it? Some hack who produces the usual crap I listen to on Radio 4?

Or do I have to question my own sense of self-worth? Was it really so bad? Is it so much less than every Radio 4 comedy out there? Am I really than unfunny?

Screw them. Screw the lot of them. They’ll never understand Gus Scrottee. Never.

Meanwhile, I’ve put the script in ‘the vault’ where those in the know can read it and wallow in the misery of another poorly written script.

[NOTE: Not that this has anything to do with anything but I fail to see the point of projects like this.]

Friday, 14 August 2009