Who was the wisest fool in Cricklewood?

Someone will put on the ultimate quiz show with Tarrant, Robinson, Paxman and Deayton
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The Independent Online

For what it's worth, and that must mean upwards of £1m, I also know that the reason James I had a horribly misshapen head is that when his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, was eight months pregnant she yanked herself into a corset with a 20in waist.

For what it's worth, and that must mean upwards of £1m, I also know that the reason James I had a horribly misshapen head is that when his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, was eight months pregnant she yanked herself into a corset with a 20in waist.

If you weren't watching ITV last Thursday night you won't know what I'm talking about. But the chances are you were, because everybody watches Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. Except me. I was making shepherd's pie in the kitchen, listening to Art Tatum playing "Tiger Rag", which has to be the most brilliant piece of virtuoso piano playing ever, when one of the couch potatoes yelled through from the sitting room: "Mum, who was the wisest fool in Cricklewood?"

Mercifully it wasn't the one doing A-level history. "If you mean Christendom, it's James I," I yelled back over Art Tatum and the pressure cooker. "Why do you want to know?"

No need to ask. "Do you realise, Mum, if you'd been in the hot-seat opposite Chris Tarrant you could have won us £1m?" said the couch potatoes with awe. Us, indeed. What makes them think I'd share it? If I won £1m I'd buy myself a tiny house with a garden in Old Church Street and then - hang on, £1m wouldn't by me a garage, let alone a house, in Old Church Street.

In any case, it's academic. I haven't won a million, though, funnily enough, I could have. I knew all the answers except for the one about Madonna's middle names, which I could easily have found out if I had rung my oldest friend who has just become grandfather to the new baby, Rocco. "No you couldn't" said John when I spoke to him yesterday. "I haven't a clue what Madonna's middle names are, though I do know," he added proudly, "that Rocco's middle name is John."

If I could choose which quiz show to be on, it wouldn't be Who Wants To Be a Millionaire - Chris Tarrant gives me the creeps - it would be the now defunct Mastermind quiz with puddings as my special subject. Failing that, I wouldn't mind a crack at The Weakest Link, the one everyone's talking about because its presenter Anne Robinson is so beastly to the contestants.

I love beastly women, doubtless because when it comes to confrontation I'm such a complete wet. I'm ace at writing rude letters, but when it comes to an eyeball-to-eyeball stand-to I'm pathetic. When the children were small we had a live-in mother's help from Yorkshire called Margaret who could reduce me to gibbering jelly with a single flash of her pale air-force-blue eyes.

Wrong service actually, Margaret was a six-foot-two former lance corporal in Her Majesty's Army on the Rhine who had come to Schloss Arnold as a single mother having been impregnated by a fellow squaddie, married of course. I once asked Margaret politely - for how else do you address a six-foot-two former lance corporal - if she could please wipe the jam off the kitchen table to which she replied: "Wipe bloody table thisself." If only, like Anne Robinson, I could have snapped: "Margaret, you are the weakest link. Goodbye."

Apparently you don't win much on the Weakest Link. £20,000 is the top prize because it's the BBC, which isn't allowed to squander serious licence fees on frivolous prize money. It's not the money I'm after, anyway, it's the assertion skills I'm hoping to learn from Miss Robinson in the flesh.

'Are You a Dragon or a Doormat?' is the first chapter in a new self-help manual I've been sent about women's empowerment. Dragons and doormats pretty well describes the roles played by quiz-show presenters and contestants. Even motherly Cilla Black cuts up rough occasionally with those simpering lads on Blind Date. One of these days someone will put on the ultimate quiz show with Chris Tarrant, Anne Robinson, Jeremy Paxman and Angus Deayton as contestants. And who will present it? Me. Why not, I'm learning to be assertive - and I do know who the wisest fool in Cricklewood is.

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