Inadvertently, I committed Internet suicide a fortnight ago. Concerned messages were left, enquiring after my well-being, after my bon mots stopped appearing on various forums. Over at Cook'd and Bomb'd, the absence of my usual Wednesday night pretend radio strangeness augured ill for those disturbed enough to tune in. I had even abandoned one thread in mid-argument, which was the surest sign that something sinister had occurred. The messages that I received were incredibly touching, but the simple truth was that I had a couple of piss-ups to attend in London, a research trip to the BBC Written Archive Centre at Caversham to do and some visiting of relatives to fit in, these being family members without broadband.
I'll spare you the full Fear and Loathing travelogue, but a couple of highlights spring to mind. First was the Oldie Travel Awards at the East India Club. Now, despite being a mere stripling of 35, I've been an Oldie contributor for nearly a decade. I live in hope that the magazine will still exist when I'm a real oldie myself.
Second was the fulfilment of a long-deferred ambition, while visiting Mrs Cheeseford's parents in Bristol. In one of his 1960s documentaries on the west country, John Betjeman had featured a small escarpment in the Avon Gorge by Clifton Suspension Bridge, down which generations of Bristolian children had slid on their backsides, rendering the rock completely smooth. When I saw the programme, I thought 'I'm having some of that'. I ascertained that men in hard hats hadn't cordoned off the area for health and safety reasons, but somehow other commitments our our great western jaunts always got in the way. Until now:
Just one question arises. For the first, say, 100 years of the slide's existence, wouldn't it have been quite a rough ride? The darning needles of north-east Somerset must have been well-used.
Finally, there was the Blue Peter Goes Gold event run by the estimable Kaleidoscope at BAFTA. A day of laughter, hilarity, hard hats, vast quantities of beer and mock shock when we heard Biddy Baxter using the word 'cleavage'. After the 7 (count 'em) hours of clips and panels (something that might be perceived by some as an ordeal, only marginally preferable to spending the time with Peter Stringfellow in Basra, but they're wrong, it was great), we trooped upstairs to mark the publication of Ian Greaves and Justin Lewis' Prime Minister, You Wanted to See Me, and BAFTA: Behind the Mask by Reginald Collin. As well being a former director of the Academy, Collin is also a former director of top-rated drama series like Callan, and a fund of superb stories about the golden years of television. It was made apparent, at one time, that BAFTA could easily become RAFTA if it so desired. The desire, however, wasn't there. One reason was the potential for confusion with the Royal Academy over the road in Piccadilly, giving rise to the image of cab drivers asking fares if they wanted the one where the pictures moved, or the one where they stayed still.