The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold : When Mrs Bridges marched with the miners

Share
Related Topics
Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, morning, noon and night. Personally, I've had enough,

And do not imagine that there is any less sex when the main TV channels close down. Oh dear me, no: for little more than a few hundred pounds a year, subscribers can hook themselves onto "Red Hot and Gulping For It", live from the least salubrious parts of Old Amsterdam. Even at three in the morning, judicious twiddling of one's remote control can produce an unashamed feast of naked breasts, thighs, and b-t-m's, forcing one to hold the aerial at an awkward angle for hours at a stretch.

So it is with arms akimbo that I welcome the announcement of repeat showings of that most fully clothed of all series, Upstairs Downstairs. Hard to believe, but it is now 25 years since it first appeared on our screens. How the world has changed! Gentlemen no longer wear wing-collars, maids have foresworn their crisp white aprons for hot-pants or "mini-skirts", the basement which once contained kitchen and scullery has been given over to student lodgers with "bean-bags", "joss-sticks" and a full range of solvents, and in place of pheasant and all the trimmings for Sunday luncheon one must expect a single vacuum-packed sausage, choc-a-bloc with Bovine Spongiform.

Veteran viewers will recall that I myself was a frequent visitor to Number 165 Eaton Place, Belgravia in the early years.

"Mr Wallace Arnold has arrived sir. Shall I show him in?"

"Very good, Hudson. Oh, and Hudson?"

'Sir?'

"There'll be one extra for luncheon. That's all Hudson." This snippet of dialogue eventually became so regular that viewers would hum it in the streets. I soon found myself a much-loved figure, recognised and admired by our old friend, the Man on the Clapham Omnibus, with fans writing in from places as distant as Dar es Salaam.

Of course, I went on to be one of our greatest men of letters. But what, I hear you ask, became of my fellow characters? Fascinating question. In their story lies the history of our topsy-turvy age, an age in which established values have been thrown to the winds and the social order has been overturned. Shortly after the series ended, Mrs Bridges, who had served as our loyal cook and housekeeper for many a long year, opened up a chain of health-food restaurants in the North-east before turning her attention to the political sphere. Throughout the series, none of us had the foggiest idea that she was a member of the Hard Left. It only emerged when, during the miners' strike of 1983, she made a fool of herself by marching side-by-side with Arthur Scargill, a baseball cap where her cook's bonnet had once been.

I need hardly say how the news cut Lord Bellamy to the quick. Shocked and upset, he made the journey all the way to Barnsley to plead with Mrs Bridges, "I beg you to leave things be, Mrs Bridges!" he intoned. But Mrs Bridges would have none of it. "One out, all out" she replied, slamming the door in his face.

I sometimes think it was the shock of this rebuff that hastened Lord Bellamy's decline. Before the year was out, he had moved from Eaton Place to a two-bedroom flat above a turf accountants in Balham, and his losses with Lloyd's only served to make matters worse. I last saw him in an old blazer selling copies of The Big Issue just off Sloane Square. So as not to embarrass the poor chap, I crossed the street and strode off with due haste in the opposite direction.

Frederick the footman came in for fierce criticism last year, when, as chairman of a privatised water company, he was found to be paying himself over pounds 1m a year. Ruby the Und- ermaid is now Shadow Spokesman on Food and a member of Mr Blair's inner-circle. Thomas the Chauffeur has the largest Rolls- Royce franchise in the South of England, and is a leading contributor to Conservative Party funds. Meanwhile, The Hon James Bellamy, after a short term in custody for fraud, is now said to be earning in the region of pounds 250 through selling the story of his three-week fling with the Duchess of York to a leading Sunday newspaper. And what, you may ask, of our old friend Hudson the Butler? He was last seen arm-in-arm with Mr David Mellor, performing the hokey cokey at a party thrown by Mr Adnan Khashoggi. Some things, I fear, do not change for the better. 0 tempora, o mores!

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A police officer carries a casualty to safety  

Tunisia attack proves that we cannot stop terrorists carrying out operations against Britons in Muslim countries

Robert Verkaik
Alan Titchmarsh MP?  

Alan Titchmarsh MP? His independent manifesto gets my vote

Jane Merrick
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings