"Dillie, why don't you start up a campaign?" I am constantly asked by the powers-that-be. "You know, like the campaign for cheaper CDs we ran a few years ago. Nowadays CDs, which only cost about 50p to make, retail for about, er, pounds 15 ... Um." Still, it's a good idea. With my trust fund, of course, I can afford any amount of CDs, so that wouldn't do. Then it hit me! A campaign to bring back real stand-up comedy! Let me explain. I was recently invited south of the river - here be dragons, yah? - to a "comedy club". Things have changed since Ben Elton wore his shiny suits, that's for sure. My younger brother Tarquin Tante (the model) and I were alarmed to find the punters were mostly large, drunken, bald men. I remember when heckling used to be witty. Come to that, I remember when stand-ups used to be witty. After the third time "Shut up, you f*****g c***" was used as a put-down, it got a bit boring. One comic started his act by announcing he was gay. Silence, as little cogs went round and round inside bald heads. He made a rather nervous joke about lads, then managed to alienate the only sympathetic segment of the audience by saying, "Straight women - they're so patronising. They say: 'Aww - you can't be gay! You're too kyooot!'" No, you're not. Total silence this time. The final comic got the biggest laugh of the night by staggering round the stage saying "Duh ... duh ..." and hitting his head with the mike, pretending to be what used to be called a "spastic". So the campaign starts here - for wit, style, originality and charm in alternative comedians!
Or I could just start a campaign against TV adaptations of classic novels. Jane Eyre tonight - I hope Samantha Morton is more convincing as plain Jane than she was in Emma, where her inner-city pallor was most unsuitable for cream-fed Harriet Smith. Round up the usual chuffing suspects, why don't you? Here's Ciaran Hinds (Persuasion, Ivanhoe) as Mr Rochester. This is getting ridiculous: in the forthcoming Fever Pitch, the film version of Nick Hornby's book starring Colin Firth, there's even a bizarre moment when you realise, yes, that's TV's Mr Darcy and Mr Knightley (Mark Strong) down there on the touchline, yelling on their team. Now I discover there's a new office development outside Coventry called Middlemarch. It uses the title of George Eliot's classic novel of hypocrisy, greed, small-mindedness and self-delusion for its blend of hi-tech units in a lovely landscaped park with lakes and trees. "It's George Eliot everything round here," says a spokesperson. (There's even a Middlemarch Middle School.) And the developers have cutely named each office block with a location from the book: Hiram Ford, Stone Court, Lowick Gate, Lydgate ... Hang on! That's the name of the doctor who leads an utterly miserable life in the novel.
"Oh! It's a lovely building, though!"