Vomiting children are not my idea of clean family fun

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WE SHOULD be careful of people like Noel Edmonds. They may act like ordinary fellows but in fact they are infinitely, I say infinitely, more intelligent than one. Noel introduced us to Mr Blobby. Now, according to a 'source', he wants to follow up with a chain of 'Crinkley Bottom pubs and restaurants'. I don't know what they are, but I'm not encouraged. They don't sound good. 'Noel believes that one thing Britain needs more of,' the source goes on, 'is family- type pubs where parents and children can feel at home.' There would be practical-joke facilities, from what I can understand, and a Mr Blobby play area. God. Someone ought to tell the poor man he's barking up the wrong tree. His trusting public will be outraged. Youngsters from the Edmonds mould are not meant to associate alcohol with Crinkley-Bottom-type fun, nor with fun of any kind. And youngsters from every mould are prone to over-excitement at the best of times. They can't hold their drink. We must prevent them from bouncing around the Blobby play- pen after too many pints of ale, or the family fun might turn sour.

A GROUP of disillusioned young journalists were toasting their hopeful lives in the pub the other day. Conversation had followed its usual course - round one: how to make a million; round two: when to emigrate to California; round three: the brainwave (let's start our own magazine); round four: but what should it be about? round five: er - me. I mean us. Let's say I'm editor. No. Oh all right, you can be editor at large, I'll be associate production editor, you can be managing editors. You can be managing director, you can be director-general, you can be VIP and everyone who's not in the pub with us can be writers. OK. But what should they write about? Silence. Well. We came upon it finally, the real brainwave - I mean the subject matter. The magazine could be a series of one-offs, on any subject at all. That would be good. Then there'd always be that element of surprise. Issue number one: Does anyone remember the Clangers?

We thought it was great at the time. But in retrospect I suppose it was a sign that we ought to have been heading for bed.

MUCH more important than the Clangers, does anyone remember the Pogues? This'll impress you. Guess who I sat next to on the airplane to Lisbon last week. It wasn't Shane MacGowan, because a) he doesn't sing with the Pogues anymore and b) if he did, he'd probably have been sitting in first class. So it wasn't Shane but it was the bass player from the Pogues, and he was called Daryl. He and I were talking. He wanted to swap his vegetarian option for my - yes, my - something disgusting.

My companion was very impressed, because he'd sung along to the Pogues when he was young - oh - in the glory days of his singledom. Now then. What happened next? He put us on the guest list of his Lisbon gig and we waltzed to their music up there in the VIP gallery. It didn't matter waltzing, because the Pogues aren't fashionable any more and anyway we were in Lisbon, so nobody we wanted to impress would be likely to see us doing it. I drew so much from the experience, luvvies. First and foremost, that airplane neighbours can be fun. Always talk to your neighbour in case he's a member of the Pogues. Second, that not only do the Pogues still exist, but that they are brilliant. And third, that, er, I could probably use them as a subject matter for issue number two in the series of one-offs, soon to be published from California.

'EXCUSE me, sir. Do you have a minute? I'm from the Government, and I wonder if I could ask you if you worship the devil?'

'Why yes, in fact I do.'

'Do you abuse children?'

'Why no.'

How did the goverment inquiry into child abuse among devil worshippers gather up its ludicrous material, I wonder? And what, more to the point, is the matter with this country's devil worshippers that they're all denying they're doing it, anyway? Bunch of lily livers. They should stand up for what they believe in. Think of a decent saint who would have denied his/her religious methods for fear of a couple of years in jail. These devilites are in need of a public martyr to lend their movement credibility. The Christians did very well by it, God bless them. I'm not being glib. The devilites should have leapt at the chance; found someone with a nice face and an easy manner to explain that they're all at it, all the time. It could have been quite interesting for the rest of us. And when the chat had died down and the friendly-faced child abuser had been designated to the Lady Buck shelf of Good Conversations We Have Had, the devilite could still be put behind bars and we'd all live in a slightly more ordered world ever afterwards.

MY USUAL car insurers had quadrupled their demands on my poor bank balance for reasons I thought particularly unfair, so I began the monumentally boring task of employing a new company. It's an

awful, humiliating process. An anonymous voice fires incomprehensible questions in machine-like monotones; when you ask for a better explanation, when you grovel for failing to understand it, the question is simply repeated. Actually, I hung up on one company half-way through. I could bear it no longer; the voice wouldn't stop: tappety-impossible question-tappety-silence-tappety-repeat-tappety- was I a smoker? That was when it happened. Nice feeling. I've been listening out for reasons to do it again ever since.

The company whose services eventually seduced me sent a boring letter with the bill. It advised me to avail myself, at a small extra, extra cost, of something called 'Motorist Legal Protection Cover'. From what I could understand, this particular protection cover claimed to cover me, or to cover part of me at least, when the cover I'd taken decided not to

cover me after all. Curioser and curioser, you might think. But I'm sure they meant well.

Geraldine Bedell is on holiday.