William Donaldson's Week: Talk of sex in Leamington

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LEOPARDS, spots, old dogs, new tricks and so forth. Which isn't to say that Penny's - my beloved's - fat man is off the rails already. Further, were he off the rails - which for all I know he isn't - I'd not be the one to blow the whistle on him here.

You must draw your own conclusions from the fact that Classy Cressida, who, on Monday, should have been dining with me in La Bonne Bouche gourmet restaurant, Leamington Spa, was, in fact, seen leaving her agency accompanied by a fat man with a Cornish accent.

That said, it might have been a different fat man. How many possible fat men might have struggled up the stairs of this possible agency that night? And how many possible fat men have Cornish accents, anyway? Nor, for the moment, will we go into the philosophy of possible worlds, since Quine is better on the subject, as, in due course, you'll discover for yourselves.

Meanwhile, and over the past few months, Tiger Aspect Television has had many exciting developments in the pipeline - none better in my opinion than their decision to replace, as creative co-ordinator, Jenny Zamit, whom I never liked, with Colette Blair, who is a different pair of boots entirely.

Indeed, had this decision not been made, I might never have discovered that Penny, my beloved's, possible fat man is off the rails already, and with Classy Cressida - not that he necessarily is.

Miss Blair rang me last week to say that Justin Judd, who is producing the new Root series for Tiger Aspect, had decided that I must now sit down with a script editor who knows his business.

'You'll be working with Steve Attridge in Leamington Spa,' she said. 'He lectures at Warwick University, so he'll be just your cup of tea. You'll be joined by Classy Cressida, I take it?'

'I couldn't afford that,' I said.

'I dare say not,' she said, 'but Tiger Aspect could. Here's the scam. I'll book you in for a week, but you come back after two days. Tiger Aspect will never twig that their bloated account includes Classy Cressida en suite.'

'Thank God,' I said, 'that Miss Zamit isn't still in charge.'

'I'll not hear a word against Miss Zamit,' said Miss Blair, 'but she had no idea of a young writer's needs.'

Having made the necessary arrangements with Classy Cressida, I went to the Tudor Arms Hotel,, Leamington Spa, where Steve Attridge was waiting for me in the lounge.

'This won't take long,' he said. 'The trick is to make Root as funny as possible and to have in the cast one girl with whom all the viewers want to go to bed.'

That made sense, and left us, as creative artists, with nothing to do for the rest of the day but patronise our fellow guests: mere members of the general public, one of whom - a middle-aged lady with a hairstyle - ruled over afternoon tea that Grace Kelly had been no better than she should be.

'She was no Serene Highness,' she said. 'She slept with all her leading men.'

Her companion, who was possibly Baroness Finchley, though a shade less obviously common, took this badly. 'You don't know that,' she said. 'How do you know that? You don't know that.'

'She slept with Bing Crosby,' said the lady with the hairstyle.

'You don't know that,' said Her Serene Highness's representative. 'How do you know that? You don't know that.'

'And Gary Cooper. And Cary Grant. And . . .'

Baroness Finchley's mouth was as tight as a housewife's purse. 'You don't know that,' she said. 'How do you know that? You don't know that.'

Attridge and I were so busy taking this down in our writers' notebooks that it was some time before I realised that Classy Cressida should have pitched up an hour ago. I rang her agency and was told by my friend Millie, on the desk, that she'd just left with a fat man with a Cornish accent.

'Not the fat man?' I said.

'Possibly,' said Millie. 'He did say 'Not a word to Penny'.'

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The situation was, on

the one hand, even funnier than England being dumped out of the World Cup; on the other, even sadder than Dan the Man miss-

ing the rest of the Dolphin's season.

''Keep calm,' said Attridge. 'Surely it was Quine who, in 'On What There Is' (From A Logical Point of View, Harper & Row, 1953), had it that a slum of possibles is a breeding ground for uncertainty. 'Take the possible fat man climbing the agency stairs,' he wrote. 'And, again, the possible Cornishman climbing the agency stairs. Are they the same possible man, or two possible men? Are there more possible fat ones than possible Cornish ones? And how many of them are alike? Or would their being alike make them one? Are no two possible things alike? Is this the same as saying that it is impossible for two things to be alike? Or is the concept of identity simply inapplicable to unactualised possibles?' Isn't it jolly not being a mere member of the general public?'

'Absolutely,' I said. 'The new Root series should be a cracker.'

I was quite cheered up, but later depressed while dining alone in La Bonne Bouche gourmet restaurant; was grateful, indeed, when the lady with the hairstyle, who had earlier been criticising Her Serene Highness's morals, invited me to join her, the possible Baroness Finchley and their docile husbands at their table.

'You look so forlorn,' she said. 'Nor am I surprised - what with Classy Cressida going off with Penny, your beloved's, fat man.'

'You don't know that,' I said. 'How do you know that? You don't know that.'

Nor did she, nor do you. And look on the bright side: Tiger Aspect's account, will, after all, be as unbloated as Quine's ontolog.