Brownlegg on Tour: May 2003 

1 May 2003

We present…

Captain T Brownlegg, DSO, RN (Rtd), E.V.I.L

A swashbuckling daredevil of the old school (Putney Mixed Infants)

Gloria Gaumont

Mother of one, lover of many. Now in cherry flavour.

Jean Morton

Wordsmith and head of viewer relationships.

Gus Brownlegg-Fearn

The hardman of Independent Television and The Pheasant and Scaffold.

Carlton Gaumont

An ickle baby… just like his fathers.

Leslie Harblo

Mystic seer and secret videotaping.

John Spencer-Wells

Tray 4, A3, Duplex, no staple.

Dame Muriel Young, Bt.

A heroine for modern times and last Tuesday week.

The bus hurtled on through the night, as Leslie Harblo laid his tarot cards down. No matter which way he read anyone’s fate – and this counted for Gloria, Muriel, Jean, Carlton, Gus (who was driving the bus as if making his way through Basra), John and the Captain – the last card was always “Death”. As a result, there was a cloud of gloom over the Brownlegg Media Group crew as they made their way to the next stop. Surely things couldn’t get worse?

“The ‘Death’ card is a good sign!” Harblo insisted as the crew continued to beat him. “It’s the ‘Lovely Summer’s Day with Happy Squirrels’ you have to watch for!”

Brownlegg picked up the communication pipe, removed the remains of the slut’s wool from the brush attachment around it and blew – “Gus! Are you there? Over!”

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Gus picked up the pipe, and replied, “Yes, Unc! Receiving!”

His Nibs continued. “It’s pitch black outside, can’t see a bloody thing. Are you sure you know the way to Birmingham?”

“Oh yeah, Unc”, Gus interjected, desperately trying to unwrap the map with one hand, and fight off the attention of Muriel with his left leg. He put the pipe back in place in its holder, and suddenly said, “Oh bloody hell no…” as he passed the sign saying “WELCOME TO SCOTLAND – Beware of low flying bagpipes”.

An extraordinary unusual meeting was called immediately. Extraordinary in that for once, the Captain said very little except to berate Gus for his geographical illiteracy.

“Who taught you to read a map? If we needed to go to Dover you’d go via Rhyl, and the works outing would be London to France via Honolulu. You’re a disgrace to the fine navigational skills so inherent in our family. What have you got to say for yourself? Hmmm? Boy?”

Clapped in irons (well, not actually irons, more a set of jump leads, ’cause there were no manacles on the bus, and anyway the shop was fresh out… do we have to tell you everything?) Gus looked up, defiantly, and said, in a kind but menacing tone, “Look, I know how to drive this bus, and if you put me in the brig, you’ve gotta drive sometime. Anyway, me sextant was bent.”

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“Plus,” Gus added with the air of someone playing a winning card, “I’ve been a bit distracted. You realise that Muriel’s come down with Bus Pox? You’ve been pushing this crew too hard.”

Brownlegg was shocked. “I’m used,” he said, “to Muriel looking like she’d been rode hard and put away wet, but I didn’t realise that she’d got Bus Pox. You could have told me!”

Brownlegg’s mind drifted back to his days on the high seas. The Pox was a common enough ailment for sailors in those days, but the tug pilots suffered most badly due to close quarters and a lack of interaction with others. The dreaded Tug Pox was awful enough, but the land variety could only be much worse.


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PART TWO Cockeyed The Noo!

Brownlegg gently mopped Muriel’s fevered brow with a wet nappy. “Poor Mu, if only I’d known. I wouldn’t have done anything, but if only I’d known!”

The appropriate sympathy for his crew having been shown, he turned back to the task at hand.

After interminable driving down the high road, the low road and any other frigging road, The Captain and his crew finally arrived at Cowcaddens in the heart of the old country, and at the request of the Sottish Media Group (headquarters – Fort 1, Hadrian’s Wall) donned kilts and had haggis sandwiches. Sufficiently nauseous, and the worse for wear, they approached the security guard.

“Halt! Who goes there?”, he said, bayonet at the ready.

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“Och aye!” said Brownlegg, in a pale imitation of his cousin who went to Gordonstoun before expulsion for taking his classmate’s Lucozade, “Let us in, yer bastard, we’re wantin’ to see ye programmes!”

The guard lowered the bayonet, and said, “Hush! Go in peace!”

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They decide to go around the studios anyway, to see Sottish and Grumpier’s summer schedule being filmed in advance: –

Studio 1 – “Take The High Road, Ye English Pigs”. Now entering its 125th season, in this pop-riveting episode, they see Mrs McTavish being viciously beaten at Scrabble.

Jean tried to join in, but the director started to get angry at her shouted interjections – “invigorating” for a triple-word score! Really!

Studio 2 – Scottish dancing.

Studio 3 – Scottish dancing.

Studio 4 – Scottish dancing for Schools and Colleges.

Gus started to smell something familiar…”isn’t that a smell of petrol, Unc? And printer’s ink? And potcheen?”. They were, by this time, in a badly lit corridor, which had “Grumpier Studios – this way to Channels 8, 9, 11 and 12 and Glasgow”.

They had to fight their way through the purple heather and a number of dead Sassenachs to a room marked, “Do not go in here under any circumstances. Dr. Alcohol’s Surgery – ‘He makes you not care’ (Sunday Post). Drink by appointment only”.

After Gloria’s persuasive cries failed to elicit a response from behind the tattily painted door (well, would you respond to her screaming and moaning? I mean, in that context?), the door was eventually opened with a heavy creak…

“Come in, will ye, hinny? And mind y’dinna touch anything!” The voice came from a dark corner of what appeared to be an illicit distillery.

His Nibs adjusted his sporran, fixed his tam o’shanter at a suitable angle. “Don’t come the old sailor with me, boy! I met your type in the Navy! Speak as your mother taught you to do, not as a histrionic eccentric Caledonian!”

“All right! All right! You’ve made your point! And”, the voice said enigmatically in perfect BBC-speak, “We know all too well of your reputation, Captain Brownlegg. You are a man of influence, written off by history, but who bounced back to take on Indefensible Television at its own game: now you are, once again, very successful!”

Everyone was shocked. “So, the Boss has a reputation! How do you know of him?

An entry in ITV 1964? Through the MPs he taught to do Party Political Broadcasts?

“‘Who’s Who in Television Rental?’ Brian Sendout’s tome? Writing on the toilet wall outside Adastral House?”, asked Muriel.

“No”, said the stranger, “I steam open all of his letters. Actually”, he continued, “I thought I found anthrax in one, and tried to dissolve it in water, only to discover it was Creamola Foam”.

In an instant, he walked into the light, and revealed his identity for all to see.

“Rob Roy Thompson of the Fleet! I might have known!” growled Brownlegg, “Still getting the make-up girls to apply wattle? Still brewing the best Scotch money can buy?”

Rob Roy glanced nervously at Gloria and the tiny bundle cradled in her arms. “What an ugly baby!” he said involuntarily, before adding “it’s not mine, is it, Glo?”

Gloria gave a girlish laugh and grabbed him by the lapels. “I’ve never been to Scotland before, Roy,” she hissed, “and it’s time you remembered our agreement to that effect.”

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Thompson disentangled himself from the former starlet, did some hurried mental arithmetic and looked relieved.

“Come to the point, Brownlegg,” he demanded. “You must be here for a reason – I already send you a gallon of scotch a week in tribute, so you’ll get nothing more from me.”

Brownlegg looked at him pointedly, then pointed at him in a looking way. “You know why I’m here. I’m looking for the seat of power in ITV, but it’s already evident that wherever it is, it ain’t here.”

Brownlegg glanced around, taking in the tartan wallpaper, saltire-themed cornices and other items of Scottish tat that in other countries would be enjoyed only by tourists.

“Your taste in decoration is appalling, but that I can forgive. However, this expedition I’m on, not to mention the associated medical costs, is very expensive. So I want cash.”

Thompson gasped. “I may not be Scots, but I still have a very native attitude to that particular commodity,” he breathed. “There’s only one way you’ll get even a bent shilling out of me, and you know what that is.”

Brownlegg looked stern. Turning back again, he spat “very well. A drinking contest it is. You get the whisky, I’ll get the industrial-sized hip flasks”.

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Brownlegg turned to the photocopier and tapped in the lid. A tired voice issued from the ventilation slots.

“Whaddaya want? I’m sleeping!” said Spencer-Wells from Tray 4.

“Wake up, ex-minion, and hand over the hip flasks” ordered Brownlegg, “I don’t see why you’re so tired, anyway. All you do is sit in that photocopier all day. You’ve been in there for months now.”

Spencer-Wells produced the hip flasks from the maintenance flap on the rear of the copier, then groaned a reply. “I know, but Andrew Woyd-Lebber was writing a new musical and he’s been making double-sided copies all night. I got no peace at all!”.

The two ITV barons sat in front of each other, and began taking large draughts of the local tipple in turn.

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At this point, we could describe the entire drinking game that followed, but you’ve probably already got the picture – assuming you’ve read this far – so we’ll just give you the final score. Brownlegg won, Thompson didn’t.

Brownlegg pointed to the recumbent form of the drunken Scottish-Canadian-London lord, and specifically his over-sized sporran. He said to Gloria, “Reach in there, see what you find…” Ms. Gaumont found a large key. Eventually.

Pausing only to rearrange Thompson’s sporran and to wipe her hand, Gloria took the key and put it in the lock of the large oak doors at the end of the room.

“Tommy, darling, what are we going to find behind these imposing doors?” she asked sweetly.

Brownlegg, retching gently, said “I’ve long been sure that wee Rob Roy here was misquoted. If I’m right, behind these doors we’ll find…”

He flung the doors open and there was a collective gasp.

“Blimey, unc – that’s a surprise!” said Gus. “I wasn’t expecting another set of heavy oak doors.”

Biting back his anger, Brownlegg flung the second set of heavy oak doors open, and there was another collective gasp.

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Brownlegg opened his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief.

“Blimey, unc – that’s an even bigger surprise!” said Gus. “I wasn’t expecting a fully-operational printing press producing an average of 5,000 Scottish five quid notes an hour. It’s a model ZD-52, as well – top of the range!”

“Er, yes,” said Brownlegg. “All of you, when I say so, lift this on top of the photocopier, and prepare to run like the clappers. With,” he added hurriedly, “the photocopier and printing press being pushed in front of you.”

A short time later, back on the Brownlegg Bus, with the printing machine firmly chained to the back seat, Gloria sat up from the pile of money she was resting in, and, stopping only to wipe little Carlton’s mouth with a fiver, said “there’s just one thing I don’t understand, Perry, er, Tommy.”

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“Don’t worry, Glo,” reassured Brownlegg, “I’d long thought that Thompson was misquoted and that his licence to print money was actually a machine to print money. After all, he couldn’t have been making money out of his programmes.”

“No, not that,” said Gloria. “I don’t understand how you managed to out-drink him.”

“Oh,” smiled Brownlegg, looking at his watch as the cue-dot appeared in the corner of the windscreen, “I filled one of the flasks with water when no-one was looking.”

“So you were drinking only water?” asked Gloria, astounded.

“No!” said Brownlegg fondly but firmly. “I gave him the water – too much of that Highland Spring muck would knock anyone out.”

Captain Brownlegg is currently appearing in The Little Shack on Shaftsbury Avenue.

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