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

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

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker