William Donaldson's Week: Alway and his bleeping jokes

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The Independent Online
MUZZLED for the past few weeks by Mr Alway of Oswald Hickson, Collier & Co, I'm off the leash at last, and able to be as provocative as I like; to name names, identify counties, describe a fellow's occupation and proportions.

On Saturday at 5pm, I received a phone call from a team of paramedics, informing me that a Mr Alway, stunned senseless by England's defeat at the hands of those demented little Irishmen, was wandering round Twickenham's west car park in a state of shock, able only to mumble my name again and again. Assuming that I was his next of kin, they begged me to come and pick him up.

'And what if I won't?' I said.

'We'd be obliged,' they said, 'to book him into a clinic for the severely disappointed.'

'I've never heard of him,' I said.

It was with some excitement that I pitched up at Kudos on Monday morning, where, as you know, Geoff Atkinson and I are toiling away on El Independo, my satirical soap for BBC2.

'Mr Alway is banged up,' I said, 'in the secure wing of a clinic for the severely disappointed. We can be as audacious as we like.'

'We can say that bleep doesn't live in Suffolk or Wales but in bleep?' said Atkinson. 'That the common little north London printer is in fact a bleep who lives in bleep? That his two daughters - the prim little baggage and the scrubber - are in fact called bleep and bleep? Let's go]'

I know what you're thinking. Still chuckling at the excellence of old Bill Deedes's Welsh and Suffolk jokes, you're thinking that I dismissed him from the enterprise a trifle hastily; that without him Atkinson and I immediately ran aground; that we were obliged to ring him up

and beg him to come on board again.

You'd be entirely wrong, though we did have a slight altercation, prompted by Atkinson's suggestion that without Mr Deedes we lacked an expert on the upper classes.

'Nonsense,' I said. 'What have we got? A common man who lives in bleep; another common man who lives in bleep, and his two common daughters, bleep and bleep. All members of the lower-middle orders. I, obviously, have never met such types, but you, being of their number, must meet them all the time. You can do them.'

Atkinson looked worried and scratched his ginger wog. 'You'll just have noticed,' he said, 'that you have to be careful typing ginger wig, otherwise it comes out ginger wog. Apart from that, what about the half-witted old Wykehamist?'

'Eh? Do what?'

'The upper-class pervert,' he said.

'What upper-class pervert?'

'The one,' said Atkinson, 'who was spending all his money on the prim little baggage before bleep took her off his hands.'

At this point I wondered whether Atkinson might not have to be the next one to

go. 'We don't need him,' I


'Of course we do,' said Atkinson. 'We're dealing here with the confusions attendant on the educated mixing with their opposites. You told me yourself that when this silly old fool first booked the prim little baggage, he sought to reassure her by saying he was a Wykehamist; that, on looking the word up in the dictionary, the little prig, failing to locate it, assumed (and rightly, in my opinion) that Wykehamist must mean pervert.'

I explained that that wasn't funny in the least; that what we needed was a scene in which we establish the two sisters and their parents' selective inattention; the latters' inability to see that the daughter who worked in a wine bar and slept with British Airways personnel was in fact less off the rails than the one who had no job but drove a Jeep and spent pounds 500 a week on clothes.

We scratched our heads, and then rang old Bill Deedes.

'No problem,' he said. 'The parents ask the little prig - who, by remaining speechless for the most part and by composing her sharp little features into an expression of half-witted disapproval, has convinced them that she doesn't in fact work at Bleep Girl Escorts - to have a word with the one who sleeps with British Airways personnel.

'Excellent]' I cried. 'Do you have a joke?'

'How about this?' said Mr Deedes. 'The little prig tells the wine bar daughter that she should be more affectionate. The latter's very shocked. 'At the moment,' she says, 'sex is as far as I'm prepared to go.' '

I rocked with laughter, asked Mr Deedes if he had another.

'I think so,' he said. ' 'You're sex mad,' says the little prig. 'Nonsense,' says the wine bar daughter. 'For most of the day I don't have sex at all.' '

I was pretty excited, I can tell you, even more excited by the fact that, thanks to Mr Alway being in the clinic, I'd been able to complete a column without his bleeps or rewrites. Imagine my surprise, then, when he rang me up on Thursday to ask me how I liked the column.

'In my opinion,' I said, 'it's all the better without your bleeps and rewrites.'

'If you read it again,' he said, 'you'll discover that it's peppered with bleeps.'

'I thought you were in a clinic for the severely disappointed,' I said.

'That was a joke,' he said.

I ask you. Who can you trust, if not London's most eminent libel lawyer?