The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: How the Prince and I plan to expose Paxman

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The Independent Online
FRESH back from work on an immensely exciting new project - of which more in two tics - may I first avail myself of this opportunity to apologise to regular readers of the Independent on Sunday for leaving them 'high and dry' amidst the somewhat worthy 'think-pieces' - now THERE'S a misnomer] - that tend to clutter these pages, and without the necessary dollop of Arnoldian wit and rumbustious good humour to leaven the pudding, as it were.

Though I make it a firm rule never ever to run down a colleague, I must sadly report that friend Ascherson is hardly a dab hand with the old tickling-stick, and though my old friend and quaffing partner Alan Watkins has a number of first-class humourous recollections of Keir Hardie up his sleeve, they are not, perhaps, quite as 'accessible' (dread word]) as they might be to those of us who are still the right side of 75.

I have received many thousands of letters inquiring as to my whereabouts these past few weeks. I can now reveal that I have been appointed joint managing director of a thrilling new media set-up to be known as Ardent Productions Ltd, working alongside a bright young fellow called Edward Windsor. Might I add that Edward Windsor wishes it to be known that he should henceforth be called just 'Edward Windsor', and not Prince Edward, which he would be, if he did not prefer to be called Edward Windsor, and we earnestly hope that everyone 'in the business' will go along with His Royal Highness's wishes, and not make a song-and-dance of a 'Prince Edward this, Prince Edward that' nature.

I have already submitted a list of highly convivial projects which we fully expect to be snapped up by the Powers That Be at 'Auntie Beeb', as (Prince) Edward likes to call it. These include An Agreeable Stroll Around our National Heritage with Wallace Arnold, with exclusive colour footage of the Queen Mother picnicking at Balmoral; Wallace Arnold's Colourful World of Pipes, an eight-part series co-sponsored by Messrs Bryant and May, in which I seek to introduce the uninitiated to the nefarious delights of Pipes and Pipe-Cleaners (did you know, for instance, that the Aztecs used to be avid Pipe-smokers?); A Walk Around The Western Isles, in which Terry Worsthorne, Paul Johnson and myself follow in the footsteps of Boswell and Johnson and - the jewel in our crown - Wallace Arnold's Garrick Club Ties, a jaunty - and at times outspoken] - parade around one hundred and sixty-two exceedingly high-spirited years of the good old Garrick Club.

This last project is full of memorable vignettes, to include:

John Mortimer filmed with a secret camera working out in his leotard in the exclusive Garrick Club gymnasium.

Sir Kingers and Sir Robin as the ugly sisters in last year's Garrick Club Panto - and, may I add, proving positively merciless to Willy Rees-Mogg as Buttons]

My Lord Woodrow Wyatt filmed acting the giddy-goat with a cigar, an elastic band, two billiard balls and a pair of skin-tight swimming togs]

and - most controversial of all]

Exclusive footage of the bumptious Paxman being given the old heave- ho by yours truly and A N Other at the top secret meeting of the selection committee. 'No call for one of his ilk here,' I say with a wink to camera, popping the black ball into the appropriate orifice. 'He would only bring discredit to our select membership. We cannot compromise the dignity of our most distinguished members, among them Reginald Varney, Derek Nimmo, Sir Arthur Mullard, Norman Lamont, Simon Bates, Mr Roger Gleaves, the self-styled Bishop of Medway, Lord Kagan, Melvyn Bragg, Peter Stringfellow, Sir Terry Worsthorne and Rod Hull and Emu by taking on a television 'personality'. Let's take him down a peg or two, eh, Fluff?'

More on this vexed issue next week, methinks, Mr Windsor permitting.