Even if I was Batman, I wouldn't be cool all the time, says the writer of `Father Ted'

I was travelling back to central London from Heathrow, my suitcases in the back of the taxi (I hadn't been flying, I just sometimes like to go to the airport with lots of suitcases), when I looked to my left and saw something that actually made me do a real double-take. Just like in a movie - I performed the full "Whu-whu-what-the" triple double-take. Driving alongside us, effortlessly drawing level with the taxi, was a silver BMW driven by two ... what looked to me like ... well, two 12-year- old children. And it was two 12-year-old children. Two boys. All right, maybe in their teens but only just. Their little necks straining so they could see over the dash. One pair of hands white-knuckled on the wheel.

For a moment, I seemed to forget who I was and almost shouted: "Get them!" What I thought the taxi driver and I might do if we caught up with them I dunno, although you can bet that there would be one or two stern words involved - harsh, wounding words like "little menace" and "tearaway", words that would send them away with something to think about, I can tell you. Sanity regained, but my imagination still doing cartwheels, I started to see myself in various dangerous situations, coming out of most of them doing very well, I have to say.

What if I was suddenly in a large building taken over by terrorists led by Alan Rickman? Would I be able to keep it together and engage the terrorists in a deadly game of cat and mouse? I had to say, looking at all the evidence, that yes, I would. I wouldn't wear a vest like the one Bruce Willis had because I don't think I'd look good in a vest. I think I'd wear a plain black T-shirt and black jeans. But apart from that I'd behave exactly as he did.

And if I was the marshall in a small seaside resort that was being terrorised by a giant shark, would I be able to hang on to the only part of the sinking boat still visible and shoot at the oxygen canister lodged in the animal's mouth? Again, I didn't see much of a problem. I'm actually a pretty good shot, as my recent imaginary showdown with the guy in the dress from Silence of the Lambs proved. All these fancies fail to take into account the fact that whenever I've been in any kind of physical danger in the past, I've run away as fast as my little legs could carry me. But even then, as the sound of derisive laughter dwindles behind me, I'm still thinking about how they'd be laughing on the other side of their faces if only they knew my true identity: Batman.

All right, I'm not Batman.

But if I was Batman would I be cool all the time? No. Even Batman can't be cool all the time. I have a lovely mental image of Batman having just received the Batmobile, getting all excited and beeping the horn. So I'll just have to be content with being cool 99 per cent of the time. Ninety- nine per cent of the time, of course, I'm either sleeping or staring out of the window. The remaining 1 per cent covers many things, all of which come under the banner marked "Interaction with Humans". After I'd finished flipping through my mental Rolodex of possible hijack situations, I came back to earth somewhat. What if, somehow, we did manage to catch up with those two kids? Would I be able to reason with them? Talk the language of the street and point them towards a better life?


And what if it got violent? I'm pretty tall, would I be able to take them? Two 12-year-olds?

Again no. Even if they had their hands tied behind their backs, even if I was wearing a black T-shirt and jeans or a vest, I'd somehow end up with a dustbin on my head. Heavily armed terrorists? No problem. A pair of bold children? You hold them off and I'll run for help.