Gossiping Heads

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Beautifully shot in video, like the Talking Heads programmes, we see a northern front room. Stephen is sitting there, in drag, a cup of tea and a biscuit in one hand, a family album in the other. He looks through some photographs.

Stephen Oh, yes ... yes ... well, I'll never forget this one. That was before they pulled down the gasworks and built that Netto Superstore. Oh, he looks good in his Littlewood's Keynote cardie, does our Alan. I said at the time, I said "Alan, if you want to get on in the world, you'd be wise to write down everything I say, because it's gold, is what I say. And don't hog the Peak Freenes, lad. Pass them round." Lovely boy he was. Teeth weren't his strong feature, of course, and his hair wasn't what you'd call Leslie Howard, but I always say, "Teeth is teeth, what does it matter so long as you've got your wealth?" He said, "I can't wait to get out of here, Auntie Ivy, and make my fortune down south." I said to him, straight, I said, "Alan," I said, "I may not be as cabbage looking as my tongue is a fisherman's doiley, but what's London got that you won't find in the Arndale Centre in Todmodern?" Well, he was stuck for a reply. I said, "You want sophistication, you stick with us up here, love." He knew I was right, bless him. I mean we've got a Body Shop in the parade now and you can't move for Volvo's in the autumn months. But then he's always had his head in the clouds has our Alan. Caught him trying to scour a milk pan with a tea bag once. I said "It's all very well knowing long words, but if you can't tell the difference between a box of brillo pad and a packet of Typhoo One-Cup, you'll never get on." I'll go to the back of our fridge. He did leave, though. Got a scholarship to Oxford. I said, "You make sure as there's somewhere as you can buy Kendall Mint Cake, and a good bar of Wright's coal tar soap, because they've no idea, down there." Well, I mean fancy ideas and tropical mix croutons are all very well, but they don't get the Vimto buttered, do they? For all your fine Italian red lettuce, which to my mind tastes as bitter as a Skipton wind. He said "Auntie Ivy, I'll be fine." Well of course I didn't know him when he came back. Green corduroy jacket and duffle coat, horn-rimmed spectacles you could eat parsley out of and a head crammed with I don't know what. And books, you've never seen so many. Some of them that dirty I blushed to the roots of my Playtex. I said, "Alan," I said, "those books are going straight into the Hotpoint and no buts." Came up lovely they did. Amazing what a bit of Lenor can do if you've a mind. No, but that Oxford and his smart friends, they've changed him. Ideas, that's what it is. I said, "What use is ideas when you've a capon to baste and the tally-man's due any minute? Name an idea," I said, "that can get the front steps scrubbed, the sausages pricked and the navel oranges squeezed in time for a meat tea and finger buffet." Well, he didn't know which way to look. These Oxford types, they're all apricot facial scrub and yesterday's suet turnover: to look at them you'd think a packet of Bachelor's Savoury Rice wouldn't melt in their Vosene Medicated, but they've no savvy. I could take a Black and Decker nose drill to the pack of them and still have change left over for a bag of peanut brittle. Left home of course, got involved with the BBC, all party eggs and tomato chutney. Next thing I know he's got a damehood and a brand new hostess trolley to show for it. They'll fall for anything them Londoners. Well, I'm off down to Morrison's for a jar of melon lip balm and a four-pack of interuterine devices. Got that Pat Routledge round for elocution lessons at twelve. Tarra.

Vox Pop

Hugh Okay, so the woman was mad. She was mad, she was paranoid, she was megalomaniac and she was completely deluded. But somehow when she was in charge, you know, Blue Peter was Blue Peter.

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