Nasal jewels, boomed the Voice of Common Sense A hip replacement, pronto, or watch your neck

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold

Share
Related Topics
There was something about my old friend and quaffing partner Willie Rees-Mogg, when I bumped into him outside the new editor's office desperate for a job, that made me a little unnerved, but I could not put a finger on it. What on earth was it? Then it struck me! There was what appeared a jewel stuck to his left nostril!

"Good Lord, William," quoth I. "Someone's pinned a diamond to your left nostril."

I'm sorry to say a blush began to appear on the cheeks of Lord W. One is loth to embarrass a colleague, but I was worried lest someone had been "pulling his leg", as the old saying goes. It was at this point that my eyes started to wander further down his body, only to halt somewhere below his midriff.

"Is that - ahem - a skirt you are wearing, old man?" I ventured. Had he by any chance, as it were, "done a Jan Morris"? Must we now prepare to peruse the thoughts of Ms Wilhelmina Rees-Mogg?

"Certainly not," he bellowed. "It's a kilt by Jean-Paul Gaultier - the very latest from the crown prince of fashionable menswear!"

The poor fellow must have espied my unsuccessful attempt to stifle a discreet giggle, for he set upon me with ill-concealed ferocity.

"I trust you're not planning to enter the new editor's office dressed like that?" he hissed, pointing with a sneer at my accustomed garb of tweeds, bow-tie, spats, cap, brogues and trusty pipe.

"Of course I jolly well am!" I replied. "Give or take the odd change of underwear, it's been my attire since 1951, and I have no plans to change it now! It has seen me through 12 years as the Motoring Correspondent of Punch magazine, a further five years as Arts Adviser to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and six years as The Voice of Common Sense on Rothmere's Daily Mail. During my 15 years as principal panellist on BBC TV's popular quiz show Call My Bluff my tweeds drew a loyal following all of their own. I need hardly remind you that one lady viewer even wrote a personal letter to my tweeds, begging them to leave me and run away with her to a secret address in the Cairngorms. I promise you this, Wilhelmina: whatever happens, I will never be parted from my tweeds!"

It was at this point that William bent back the old lug'ole and told me that the new editor was dead set on making this newspaper more - ahem - "hip". It was not an expression I had encountered before. If he had told me that she had plans to make the newspaper more "ankle" or more "neckbone" I would have been scarcely less bemused.

"She requires her senior columnists to be sassy, street-cred, metropolitan, fashionable, cool, wicked, sorted and hip," explained William. "Or it's curtains."

As is my custom in times of crisis, I took a long, thoughtful puff of my pipe. Was I to surrender all my long-held principles - tradition, common sense, decorum - simply for the sake of a marketing manoeuvre? Was I to buckle like a straw whenever the disagreeable wind of "fashionability" came a-knocking? Man or mouse, Wallace - man or mouse?

"You wouldn't have another piece of nasal jewellery handy, would you, old girl?" I asked William, who most eagerly obliged.

Half an hour later, I found myself in the new editor's office, my trusty pipe hastily converted into a New Age pendant, my spats dangling from my ears in tribute to exciting new trends in British jewellery, my tweeds slashed hither and thither, giving them a more dangerous, vital and - dare I say it - sexy air. Very Elizabeth Hurley, very Wallace Arnold.

I took my seat in front of the new editor's orange desk and launched straight into a frank and friendly chat.

"Phew!" I said, "It's been a bit of a `bad hair day' for me! I almost forgot to renew my subscription to the Melody Maker - and then I would have lost touch with what's really happening on the mean streets, dig it, forsooth."

By the look on the new editor's face, I could tell I was making quite an impression, so I continued.

"I've always kept a finger on the pulse," I said, "ever since I used to hang out with Toey Mistle."

"Toey Mistle?" she inquired.

"I mean Buddy Holly," I corrected myself, adding, "though, of course, I was a great friend of Toey's too. Lovely man, Toey."

I then proceeded to tell her of my plans for this column - dinner at the Garrick with the great Acker Bilk, visits to Stoke Mandeville with Jimmy Saville, personal appearances with Diddy David Hamilton in "supermarkets" centres, and much, much more. New Labour, New Wallace Arnold.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

If children are obese then blame food manufacturers, not Zoella

Jane Merrick
Amos Yee arrives with his father at the State courts in Singapore on March 31  

Singapore's arrest of a 16-year-old YouTuber is all you need to know about Lee Kuan Yew's legacy

Noah Sin
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat