Anyhoo, I was getting ready to go out on Saturday night, and I had the television on and it was Who Wants To Be a Millionaire (C. Tarrant in the chair) and it was a real eye-opener. Other people have described it as a real eye-closer, but they are the ones ready for swinish sleep at 1900 hours and have no place in this discourse. There was a man answering the questions, 30-ish, not too ugly, quite common. He was struck dumb by the following: which of these artists shares a name with a town in Lincolnshire? The choices were Lowry, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Hockney. He gazed at the selection as if seeing the Rosetta Stone on autocue. Then he gazed at his interlocutor. Then he made a vague mumbling noise and looked up to the heavens. He stood to win £20,000 for the correct answer; if he fucked up he would be back to a grand. "Is anything ringing a bell?" asked keen campanologist, Tarrant. "Noh reeely", said the dolt, "but I got a ninkling". His ninkling was that it was most likely Hockney. Hockney, the well-known Wolds town, famous for bespoke linoleum, and Hockney Hardcore, the local delicacy, a sort of pemmican made from mashed yeast and boiled bronze.
So, he was royally stuck and he'd used up his Ask The Audience on a car question and his 50:50 on a tricky one about tropical fish, so he phoned a friend, and his "friend" was his mother-in-law, which most of us would surely regard as mutually exclusive, but hey. Needless to say, his MIL knew nothing and said she hadn't heard of any of the artists, and if only the county had been Worcestershire she would've been ok, and then she hung up. So, that was that. But he still went away with 20 grand, which is a result in anyone's language. But it had made me cross and distracted, and I must have sprayed myself with Ange ou Demon for about two minutes and I stank like Portsmouth on pay-night, but I didn't care. How dare people be so dim? And how dare they go on game shows and make a virtue of being dim? Who would want to advertise dimness on prime-time television? The whole thing is beyond reason.
That is not to say that I would denigrate game shows; far from it. Or, at least, not game shows of old. Some people have commented cruelly on my love for Guy Lux, and other people (K. Musgrove) rag me mercilessly about Michael Miles, but I turn the other cheek. Key references here include Criss Cross Quiz, The Sky's The Limit, The Golden Shot and, crucially, Double Your Money. Everyone remembers Monica Rose, but hardly anyone recalls Julie de Marco, which is barely understandable. She was almost ludicrously sexy, and when I didn't want to be Kathy Kirby, I wanted to be Julie de Marco, because even at that age I could see a bottom like that could take you very far. It is a glorious maxim I have carried with me all these years.
I would gladly volunteer for Ask The Family, if some of you kind people would agree to be my kin. Kevin could be my husband, and Scarlet and Emerson Marks could be our toddlers. We would win the lovely Dartington Crystal Rose Bowl in a trice. Most of all, though, I see myself on Family Fortunes. Daphne could be my aunt, Gadjo my troublesome cousin. Inky could be my foster-child and Pat could be my twin. And Scarlet could make up an opposing team with some of the appalling deviants who frequent her grimy site. My team would win, of course, and we could all pile into the cerise Punto, which is always the star prize, and wave gamely from the smeared windows. It is my dream.
I was lucky enough to witness the FF episode where the two grandmothers went head-to-head over the buzzer. The question was: name something, or someone, who people believe in, even though its existence has never been proved. Mine host was B. Monkhouse. He was expecting the nans to say something like Father Christmas or the Loch Ness Monster; he expected too much. Grannie One said "Ay-dolf Itler" and was gonged out. Gran Two (who was on industrial doses of Haloperidol) said "Driving Licence". It was magnificent.
Anyhoo, I watched Millionaire to the end, and I truly feel I could win. My only weaknesses are motor racing, mountains and the films of Matt Damon. Apart from that, I know everything. My evening was ok. I went to the newly refurb'd Boulters Inn at Maidenhead with my grisly old beau, Tullough Kiltpin, the moronic miser of Balbeggie. At the end of the meal he promised me the Three Words I Longed to Hear and rasped "Separate checks, please". He is a git.