The Weasel: Just in case I might possess inexplicable powers of strength, I have been wary of leaning against Canary Wharf Tower for fear of putting a kink in it
Saturday 16 November 1996
I had been with my pal only briefly when the manager approached us. I thought he showed a very slight sign of trepidation, as if he might be encountering someone not in full control of their emotions. "I believe you came in contact with the door a few minutes ago," he announced. "Did you know you've broken it? I'm not blaming you, but I wondered if you were all right." I assured him that I was fine and, though slightly puzzled at the nature of the damage, expressed my apologies. When he had departed, I sneaked a glance at the scene of my explosive arrival. I discovered that the lower half of the six-foot pane of glass in the door was crazed with a network of fractures. My mouth gaping, I watched horror-struck as striped warning tape was stuck across my personal piece of vandalism.
Within half an hour, an emergency glass-replacement van had arrived on the scene. While the glazier went about his business of measuring up and cutting to size, he drew an appreciative audience of topers. His final task was to get his bill signed by the manager, which, to give him his due, the good fellow did with scarcely a recriminatory glance in my direction.
As you might imagine, I was extremely careful on my way out and have been ever since. The weird thing is that my knee has shown no sign of injury, not even the faintest bruise. Just in case I might possess inexplicable powers of strength, I have been wary of leaning against Canary Wharf Tower for fear of putting a kink in it. Similarly, I have avoided derailing locomotives by an accidental nudge and have trodden gently on bridges to ensure that I don't inadvertently stamp holes through them. At 47, it is slightly disconcerting to discover that one is SuperWeasel.
The Blessed Delia has come in for a bit of stick recently. Though she is the highlight of Sainsbury Magazine's "Christmas Roadshow", her performances have been criticised as lacklustre and over-egged with plugs for Sainsbury's products and its glossy journal (which coincidentally is produced by Michael Wynn Jones, otherwise Mr Delia Smith). Worst of all, the brisk cuisiniere, who has usurped St Nicholas as the patron saint of the British Christmas, admitted that she actually passes her yuletide in Barbados.
At Weasel Villas, we too have undergone the painful journey from devotion to disaffection. Mind you, our belief in the seraphic Smith once seemed unshakeable. Mrs W was among those acolytes who cleared the nation's pharmacists of liquid glucose in order to construct the infamous Chocolate Truffle Torte. While far from displeasing, this confection was, I feel, surpassed by Iced Chocolate Chestnut Creams with White Chocolate Sauce. The fact that Mrs W's right forefinger was partially numb with radial nerve damage for six months after struggling to dislodge the individual ices from their ramekins was not a contributory factor in our loss of faith.
The first falterings occured at a Christmas party when one of our guests announced loudly beforehand: "What's the betting that this meal will be entirely Delia from start to finish?" Mrs W's cheeks glowed like a Bessemer converter at the uncanny accuracy of this prediction. Though her version of the Terrine with Four Cheeses was acclaimed an unalloyed triumph, our mindless credence had been cruelly exposed.
But the final straw came a few months later with Pot-Roasted Beef in Red Wine with Red Onion Marmalade. Curiously, the recipe for this condiment does not contain any sugar (unlike Delia's Ginger Onion Marmalade), only butter and wine vinegar. Though there might have been something wrong with my formulation, the result was strangely unsatisfactory. Bricks without straw, you might say. Our faith in tatters, we turned to the gospel of St Rick of Padstow. Mr Stein's Hot Shellfish with Garlic and Lemon Juice is just heavenly.
I must have missed the passing of the legislation which impels the BBC to keep Billy Connolly in constant employment. Rarely a week seems to go by without his resistible drollery filling the box, often from distant spots around the globe. Most recently, he was filmed, all moody and introspective, on an ice-floe. Sadly for the rest of us, the Govan gagster was spared a visit by a peckish polar bear. Now it has emerged that he is to play Queen Victoria's servant John Brown in a new BBC film. Currently being shot in the Grampians, Her Majesty Mrs Brown is based on the persistent, if unfeasible, notion that there was a degree of hanky-panky between the Queen-Empress and her adored gillie.
Though Connolly's numerous previous attempts to forge a movie career have scarcely been crowned with glory, this time he does have a significant advantage, having a close association with younger members of the current royal family. Earlier this year, he was photographed grinning fit to bust at an expensive celebration organised by the briefly united Duke and Duchess of York. In his biography of the comic, Jonathan Margolis notes that Connolly "always takes care to address Diana and Fergie by their correct titles", adding in extenuation "social climbing is something that 99 per cent of the population would do if offered a social ladder". Perhaps that is true, but it is not unreasonable to expect that the remaining 1 per cent might include a certain comedian who has declared himself to be "not a monarchist", and whose act is largely devoted to the wry observation of hypocrisy in others.
Despite his unpalatable toadying, there remains a significant obstacle to Connolly making a success of his role as Victoria's retainer. The character he plays was a notorious alcoholic, suffering towards the end of his life from delirium tremens, while Connolly is famous for promoting non-alcoholic lager on TV. The idea of John Brown enjoying a refreshing glass of Kaliber is hard to swallow.
Somewhat to the surprise of our milkman, sackcloth and ashes has become the uniform at Weasel Villas. This expiatory dress code is in response to several readers who have written in about an unfortunate error in my French. I am now only too aware that the French for "tail" is "queue" rather than its near homophone "cour". In atonement for my nominal aphasia, I promise to abstain from all foreign tags from now on, unless, of course, they provide le mot juste
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