Brownlegg at Large: July 2001 

1 July 2001

REVEILLE! REVEILLE! REVEILLE! Good morning gentlemen of the Assembly for Middle England (registered at the Post Office as a Pressure Group – all enquiries to Mrs. Ethel Spange, The Gables, Cockfosters). I trust the hour is not too early for you, but I used to have meetings Loo Glade at 6 am, at an undisclosed location in Kingsway. We’d share a glass of whiskey, a cheroot, a nice glass of port, and discuss how we were going to beat the Incredible Television Authority at their own game over a glass of Pimm’s. Inevitably, we lost, in a manner of speaking, but what can you do when Sir Robert had all the cards up his sleeve, including Lord Dull of Ditchwater? My Margaret once dated him during the war, apparently, but his constant obsession with fibre somewhat dulled their passion although the advice provided her with some warmth in later years.

Charles Dull was a formidable opponent in business and at breakfast-time: not only did he always take the last muffin, but would expound on the qualitative nature of his morning meal – as he once said, “We have looked at the cornflakes, and at the sausage, and while there is nothing wrong with the sausage, we decided the competitor would provide a better, more substantial breakfast. We are grateful to the sausage for its offer of breakfast, but have chosen the cornflakes for the good of my stomach”. Unfortunately, if he took the cornflakes, I was left with the sausage, which doesn’t go well with your morning scotch, I find, but I must say I dealt with it in a very diplomatic way by hiding the sausage just like we were taught in the navy.

I hope you don’t mind a working breakfast. Sorry there’s no crumpet, but Gloria Gaumont (pictured) is posing either for a new Test Card or the centrefold of “Parade” – in any case you should see her soon either on the top shelf or on Trade Test Transmissions. More than likely that it will be “Parade” as I’m sure her striped dress didn’t have a 2.5 Mc/s frequency grating, and would be highly unsuitable for a Test Card. They’d be better off choosing a child. Or someone who understands the rules of noughts and crosses. Gloria is shortly to have another starring role, this time as “lady in Post Office queue” in J. Arthur’s forthcoming ‘B’ picture “Lorry Ride to Shame”, also featuring Violent Carson on the pianoforte.

As I was remarking to Margaret (pictured, I think, it’s not a very good likeness) whilst we were punting on the Humber last week, some individuals, including my disloyal bootlicker, pumice-stone wielding quisling of a butler, Spencer-Wells, of whom I am very fond, have accused me of being out of touch with what a modern television audience would like to see. I say, pish-tosh – fashionable television was around in my time at A-R you know. “Cool For Cats” made many teenagers slash their seats, until the parents complained about the damage to their three-piece suites. All that cavorting, writhing and jiving, to the “heavy metal” sounds of Chris Barber’s Jazz Band, and the eclectic ethereal mumblings of Alma Cogan, causing these youngsters to get tattoos and ear-rings (I believe a lady called Kate Bush stole all of Alma’s ideas).

Gloria has attempted to get me to be “hep” and “with-it” – I even did a skip-jive to Peter Paul and Mary’s “Puff The Magic Dragon” at the Athenaeum Club, until I was removed by two large chaps who claimed I had drunk all of the furniture polish. And don’t forget “Ready Steady Go”, because Dave Clock didn’t. I well remember the run up to our first edition, turning to Cathy Kirby and wishing her luck. Her grateful reply, “get your hands off me, you drunken creep, or I’ll scream”, are still true to this day, I find.

Now, what’s “IN”? “Big Brother”, that’s what. Those of you who are “with-it” will know what this is, but for those who are “without E4”, let me explain the basic premise of this programme: you have a lot of people in one room, who argue with each other endlessly, until you whittle it down to one winner. I appeared in the 1967 version, when it was called “The ITA Interviews Potential New Programme Contractors”, the only difference being that they didn’t televise the assignations that went on. Not that anything went on at Brompton Road. Or anywhere else for that matter. How dare you? Note to self: check renewal date on Groucho Club membership card. I expect it expired when I did.

Talking about profanity – and I really was trying not to – I received one of those electronic mails this month, and I got a shock – both anaphylactic and electric – on reading it. It was an advert for a device that replaces swear words as spoken on television with cleaner, Godlier words. For example, “Did you two have sex?” is replaced by “did you two have hugs?” Frankly, I’m shocked by both. I did try it the other day on my television set, and it worked, but not how I expected it to, for it started deciphering programme titles and formats, revealing where they came from. “Accident and Emergency” translated became “Casualty”, which became “Emergency Ward 10”. “TV to Go” turned into “The Fast Show”. “The Simpsons” became “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home”. Mind you, I saw the benefit in this new toy when it translated “Campton” into “Themes Television”.

The application for a satellite transponder is on its way too, as soon as I put a stamp on the envelope and clean the marmalade stain off the front. After a lot of discussion with you all, your ideas have been taken on board, and, as you may have gathered, I am in charge so I’m afraid that I get the credit and you’ll get the blame in equal measure. As I was saying to Gloria yesterday, I said, “Glo, please, not where the neighbours will see”, which is indisputable and a lesson for us all, I find.

Channels under development include:

  • The Huntin’ Shootin’ and Fishin’ Network, which will incorporate the latest devices, like the interactive bit – you can select the animal of your choice and shoot it, without feeling any guilt. I will bring back “The Golden Shot”, and will appear as myself, blindfolded, shooting a peasant with a 12-bore shotgun attached to a camera. (“Brownlegg the Bolt – FIRE!”) We will have to hire a new studio staff, as on the pilot programme the pheasant lived, but everyone else didn’t.
  • A channel for anglers everywhere, called the FIN Channel (Fishing Interactive Network). You can select any babbling brook and fishing fly (a march brown, a ginger quill, Greenwell’s Glory and so on) and just sit and wait. If you throw your catch back, or it gets away, you can request a picture of the errant fish.
  • If you wish to cook fish, you can watch the HSC Network (Hunt ‘eh, Shoot ’em and Cook ’em) where I, Captain Brownlegg – the fully-clothed chef (and aren’t you grateful for that? I am, I find) – will give you recipes for fish and programme executives, for example Peter Grilles au gratin with shallots and carrots julienne (and a nice Chianti).

Oh dear, I appear to have put you all off your breakfast. No matter. I note there are a few vacant chairs this morning, because two ex-members of this organisation failed to meet my demands to bring back the Adastral – the bright and shining symbol of Associated-Radiation. In other news, my observations of London show that a Kensington hairdresser uses my company’s logo to promote the use of lacquer and blow-waves! The situation is becoming more urgent, so I again urge you to look around and seize anyone, or anything, which bears a close resemblance to our mighty symbol. Send the details on the back of a stuck down website to the usual address. Please, do write to me this time, or you’ll be on a charge. I find your emails amusing and as useful as ballast.

I would like to say something about the stupidity of Americans.

At a previous meeting I presented a clear plan for torturing the current licensee of the adastral with an effigy of Pussy Cat Willum on a stick. Judging from the silence, Mr Victor Lewis’s-Sale is obviously not scared by this. So, I have another element to this plan that I wish to run up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes. Previously we were going to go round to his house with the aforementioned cat on a stick and goad him. I now propose that we go down to the headquarters of the Daily Minor and lie in wait, disguised as members of the clergy – it’ll be less noticeable that way. When he turns in for work, one of you will distract him with a mime of the animated TSW ‘bra’ ident, whilst everyone else, unnoticed by the victim, will check his pockets for the adastral. As soon as it is located, we will make our escape by Riverboat or Docklands Light Railway, depending on which has a bar. I’m sure you’ll all agree this is an excellent plan – so sure in fact that I’m not even going to ask you.

Anyway, gentlemen, this meeting is now concluded, as I wish to bathe in asses milk with Gloria, and the milkman has delivered several yoghurts to go with it. As Riff Clichard once said, “time to slip into the shadows”. I never did understand what that young delinquent was on about.

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