Brownlegg at Large: June 2001 

1 June 2001

Good day to you all once again, my loyal – and rapidly growing – ragged army. Welcome to the second meeting of the Assembly for Middle England (affiliated). Please stand for the Adored-Redpepper March, and don’t make up your own words.

First, a brief recap on last month’s exciting developments here in my home in the London Eye. The Assembly agreed – well, I took it as read – that we would arrange to use our army to steal back Associated-Radiation’s adastral symbol. Therefore, sometime later this month, after the Tories have been returned to where they belong, our army will be doing the following:

  1. We will be going round to that Victor Loombucket-Smith’s house, armed with an effigy of PussyCat Willum on a stick.
  2. We will rough him up, or press-gang him, or simply goad him with a rolled up Daily Mirror. I’m not that fussy.
  3. We will steal the adastral and bring it back here to my headquarters.

I hope part one of the plan is clear to you all – I don’t want to have to use the cat o’ nine tails again, not least because of the difficulty Margaret had in getting it out of the carpet.

I have gathered some of my old diaries and battle plans from the study at “Heave To”, my last mortal domain, and I am reminded – oh so frequently – of the glory days, when television pictures were made of four hundred and five lines, and every one of them meant something.

And so I thought I would watch the ten o’clock ITN bulletin. So I carefully put on my ITN corporate tie and settled down. I mean, the news still has authority and gravitas, does it not? These days, it’s all “Sturm und Drang”, with Gottdammerung type music to introduce “Tonight’s main news again – there is a cat stuck in a tree. The Prime Minister said there is no reason to panic. A spokesperson for the Stock Exchange has reported that the Catfood Corporation shares have gone up by 15p to a closing price of 500p”. Balderdash! News was consequential in the early days of ITN, and when they read it they meant it – newscasters made the news happen. Christopher Catatonia, now there was a fine young man, and an athlete too, and when he addressed the nation every evening he didn’t need any virtual reality studio – the actual reality of the Cold War was frightening enough for the audience.

And in the same rancid breath, may I mention the arch-nemesis of President Nasser, Robin Day, who would put the wind up any of these pinkish-fellow-traveller politicians. Didn’t think much to his taste in bow ties, but no one is perfect, I’m told. I myself have tried many varieties of whiskeys, and none of them is perfect, but I keep trying. That’s the important part of being British – the ‘never say die’ and ‘never think through the consequences of an action’ spirit we so successfully displayed in Dunkirk and Pearl Harbour. I was there, you know, commanding a small ship across crystal waters with some ice and lemon. My heart swells with the thought of those days and the ship’s rum ration, which ran out very quickly. I’m sorry, I seem to have forgotten what I was talking about.

Oh yes, ITN. I was in the news myself recently, in an item from Wales involving the little-known practice of throwing eggs at politicians, and I even got involved in a spot of Professional Wrestling too. I was hoping that Kent Walton would commentate, but he would probably say that farm produce wasn’t covered by the rules. By the way, I won on points, but unfortunately didn’t win the Adultarated-Readmeoften Trophy. But I will try again. After all, there’s an election campaign on, and I’m wearing my party tie. Although I find these petty election rules damn annoying. Having to be resident in the constituency for so many days. Having to be alive. Having to be sane. Why, for heaven sakes? Has no one read the Broadcasting Act 1990? Surely they know living, sane and constituency-resident MPs didn’t write this?

What’s all this talk of Digital Broadcasting? Wearing my ONdigital tie, surely accountants don’t run television companies these days? Set-top boxes made of ticky-tacky, indeed. In my day all you needed to do was to grab the knob and give it a turn… to Channel 9 of course.

And you can play games on these television sets? We used to do that – having games of backgammon or canasta on the veneered wooden cabinet after dinner. What was wrong with “Don’t Say A Word” or “Double Your Money” anyway? One would be far better to trust Hughie Green, the director-general of the BBC, I think, than Lara Croft, the latest presenter of Blue Peter. Or something. I’m not sure, I haven’t got my ‘youth’ tie on – it’s too small.

We had subscription television too, but at least the viewers got Test Cards C and D free with an option to view Test Card F if they inherited money or burgled a TV rentals outlet. And they were grateful for it too. As I was saying to my young friend Gloria last night, I said, Gloria, please, put them away, I’m tired. And she did, which just goes to show.

I was talking with Harletch, Huw ABC and Grandad the other day (it’s all right, I was wearing my ITA tie) about the lack of talent on the television screen these days, and the BBC’s attempt to recruit new blood. I can’t offer much blood in my state (Gloria doesn’t notice the decomposition, but working as a Rank starlet, this isn’t a surprise) but I have always wanted to be a performer rather than a manager. I mean, this Richie Branall of that firm, Maidenhead or something, made himself famous by taking balloon rides, didn’t he? The BBC hasn’t recruited him to redo those BBC-1 symbols though; they probably think he’d lose the balloon.

I’ve applied to BBC Talent, but they won’t see me as they say I’m too old, and they reckon I don’t exist. Death certificate, my eye – I was wearing my BBC tie! Therefore I’ve bypassed them to appear on “Search For A Star”, where I will do a little recitation entitled “The Green Eye Of The Little Yellow God” with help from my spin-doctor and doorstop Spencer-Wells – he also knows Gloria, but that didn’t help her career. I expect to win. Either that, or submit my film script to BBC Films or Film Four about my voyage on the seven seas, where I strum my instrument, play shanties and have young ladies in every porthole. It is called “Captain Brownlegg’s Mandolin”, and Spencer-Wells has sycophantically told me that I should win a BAFTA award. I don’t agree with his casting suggestion though: who is this Ali G chap anyway?

May I read a piece of correspondence I recently received? I would not want to prejudice you against the sender, even though they are an execrable maggot. “I believe that Adulterated-Redpepper is rather dull, and too much like the BBC. It rather defeats the purpose of Indefensible Television really”. We had people like this in the navy, who would rather tell vulgar jokes than take orders and be a proud sailor, and those outside the navy were referred to by their correct title, “Conchie”.

Adored-Readmepaper will never be a cheap station, and I will do my utmost, in 2001 or whenever this is, to ensure that television on London weekdays will never be cheap. And on the subject of cheap television, what about that Australian charlatan Richard Drydock? He has more channels, I’m told, than the rest of us have had hot dinners. What a shame that most of the channels aren’t even worth the price of a hot dinner. I mean, if there must be minority channels, what about the HSF Network, which I mooted last time? “Huntin’, Shootin’ and Fishin'” “twenty-four seven” as the likes of Mr Smith, the Cultured Secretary, says, complete with an Advertising Magazine, called “Brutal Buys”. The Enkalon Mint could do limited edition animal heads to put on your study wall – collect the set, Gloria does – and there could even be a version of This Is Your Life, called “These I Have Shot”. (“Do you recognise this voice?” “AARGH!”). As regards serious programmes, I will expect my staff to produce balanced documentaries with a right-wing bias. The colours used in HSF Network’s logo will reflect my personal views (black and white). Of course, all production will need a starring role for Gloria Gaumont, who is currently starring as “young woman number three” in Rank’s latest ‘B’ picture “The Sky, the Sky”. I’m sure Margaret wouldn’t disapprove, but please, don’t bother her at the moment as she’s ironing my ties.

That reminds me – it isn’t only General Managers of Indefensible Television companies that get reincarnated, but serials do too. “Crossroads” was the jewel of paste in Loo’s cardboard crown, with sets that cost fifteen shillings and the type of lines that make George Bernard Shaw wish he’d taken up panel-beating, but at least they had the wonderful actress Flash Gordon. So Catflap Television have rebuilt the sets, created new characters and called it “Crossroads”. It has an increased budget too, of eighty new pence per episode (my ready reckoner suggests this to be 16 bob, but this would suggest either a typing error or hyperinflation under Mrs Thatcher. Therefore, it must by a typing error). Mind you, if Cathole TV attempt to revive “Emergency Ward 10”, their budget for the show will be around the same as a NHS ward. I hope they leave “Sixpenny Corner” and “Jim’s Inn” as good memories. I remember spending many a happy hour in Jim’s Inn. Lots of alcohol, strictly medicinal, plus a constant hard sell. Note to self: ITV Network Centre has expressed an interest in this idea. Apply to the Patent Office tomorrow morning.

You will find that I now have my own “e-mail address”. I am told this stands for “electronic mail”, but I have been unable to use it properly as I cannot find any electronic stamps. I have also ended up getting the envelopes stuck in the computer’s disk slot.

I will accept it in time, I’m sure, but writing it has been difficult as I cannot see the screen clearly because of the Tipp-Ex I’ve used to correct my mistakes. I have my letter opener – whom you know better as Spencer-Wells, spinster of this parish – at the ready, and his nose is still sharp enough to deal with the toughest jiffy bag, though painful where most required. I look forward to receiving large amounts of epistles from my apostles in our Ragged Army. Forward march, with your pens at the ready – you have nothing to lose but your ink. And my respect, such as it is.

I now have news of the utmost importance. Margaret has just telegraphed me (I was wearing my Consignia tie, so it’s all above board) to report that we have retrieved the Adastral, symbol of our organisation and its forefathers, British Elastic Tension. Spencer-Wells hold up your valise*… This is a very emotional moment for me (apparently the operation was not successful and I still have them)… Yes, the phoenix that was Adored-Readmeoften will rise again from the ashes.

Spencer-Wells, boy, open the case and show it to us.

Not THAT… What is this???

You dolts! Incompetent imbeciles! This is not our Adastral! It’s more of a circular saw blade- and it’s got © S2 Television on the back.

As this is not strictly a military organisation, I cannot hold a court martial, so I will banish the guilty parties in a fitting modern manner.


That Mrs. Robinson could give both Gloria and Margaret a run for their money! We need more strong women in entertainment. Speaking of which, Glo, er, Margaret, bring me a gin and lime and my blue tie, there’s a good Wren.

Stop Press: In the afterlife, I have decided that I would like to receive a posthumous knighthood. If anyone is selling one, or giving one away in a house clearance, could they either contact me or leave an advertisement in the front page classified column of the Times. I would appreciate a prompt reply. Capn. T.B. RN (Retd.), Box 9.

* = Note: No, I don’t know what this means either, but I’m assured it’s neither rude nor anti-Government, so I’ve left it in.

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