1.5×-scale mechanical Roger Moore

On Tuesday night, I dreamt that Jen and I were in a seaside penny arcade. I don't know why, but I believe the penny arcade was in Whitley Bay on the north-east coast of England. One of the arcade's main attractions was a 1.5×-scale mechanical Roger Moore.

I should, perhaps, explain that the larger-than-life, although otherwise extremely life-like simulacrum of the former James Bond was dressed in a double-breasted khaki safari suit, complete with buttoned pockets, and was poised in mid-backhand-throw. Initially, I assumed that the famous actor's facsimile was about to throw a shaken—a Japanese throwing-star martial weapon. On closer inspection, however, I realised that it was about to launch a toupée.

Roger Moore

The real Roger Moore.

Before I could stop her, Jen inserted a coin in the slot alongside the likeness of the erstwhile Simon Templar and, with a whirring of wheels and a clicking of cogs, the mechanism began to advance towards her, karate-chopping and kicking in an extremely robotic, though disconcertingly life-like manner. Fortunately, Jen acquitted herself extremely well, fending off the likeness of the one-time Persuader's blows with ease.

And then I woke up.

Most dreams are pure nonsense, but it is often claimed that great ideas can also come to people in their sleep. Which was this, I wonder? Is the world ready for a coin-operated 1.5×-scale mechanical rendition of Sir Roger Moore, or is it an idea ahead of its time?

A Lidl touch of glamour

The glamour has gone out of supermarkets.

—Prof. Jeremy Baker
ESCP Business School, Oct 2014

Prof. Baker pretty much hits the nail on the head, here: what modern supermarkets most certainly lack is glamour.

When I pulled up at Sainsbury's last week, would it really have been too much to ask for the foreign gentlemen in the car park who offered to wash my car to have worn something a bit more glamorous than damp-looking, brown overalls? Sequins, perhaps, or maybe even a top-hat. Furthermore, within the store itself, I can't help thinking they missed a golden opportunity recently when they installed new spotlights in the bananas section. Would a chandelier or two really have been all that out of place? And as for Deidre on the checkout: a very nice lady, I'm sure, but I reckon someone more of the calibre of Scarlett Johansson, say, or Cate Blanchett, might add a certain je ne sais quoi.

Carte Blanch

Sainsbury's new checkout lady?

Of course, where the supermarkets really missed a trick was at George Clooney's wedding last week. A civil ceremony in Venice is all well and good, but I'm sure, for the right financial incentive, the star of Ocean's Eleven would have been just as happy to lead his blushing bride down the Home Baking aisle at the Dewsbury branch of Lidl.

Tesco and Sainsbury's are in a bit of a mess at the moment. Put me in charge, and I'll soon add a touch of Hollywood sparkle.

Some people are never bloody satisfied

It has been suggested to me that my scoop about Stense sitting on a hill with her dog last Thursday was somewhat unsatisfactory, in that it was totally un-newsworthy. I would beg to differ. Hello? It was about Bafta-award-winning Stense, directrix of prime-time TV shows, and a total fox. It even involved a dog. Animal interest, and all that! How much more newsworthy could it possibly be?

But if it's genuine, no-holds-barred, rock ‘n’ roll gossip you fickle punters are after, try this for size…

Steve ‘Copperhead Road’ Earle has a new drummer:

Bill & Steve

Bill (L) and Steve (R) on Friday.

Apparently, Bill's going to get Steve to cut back on the mandolins. A bit less Fairport, a bit more E Street.

Once again, remember, you read it first on Gruts.

Ca. y.. te.. m. h.. t. ge. t. th. Ho.ida. I.. pl..s.?

Hitchin emailed me yesterday to draw my attention to this succinct one-sentence summary of the career of the late Norman Collier:

BBC: Comedian Norman Collier dies aged 87
… Collier went on to make regular appearances on television and at theatres across the UK in the 1970s and 80s, and is arguably best remembered for his act featuring an intermittently working microphone - and his chicken impression.

I don't think there's any ‘arguably’ about it.

True story: I met Norman Collier once. I was walking down the street in Liverpool, when he pulled up alongside me in a Rolls Royce (a gold-coloured Rolls Royce, if memory serves, although that might be an embellishment). He asked for directions to the Holiday Inn. I told him to turn right at the bottom of the hill, carry on till the next set of traffic lights, etc. He thanked me and sped off. It was only then that I realised I had meant to say turn left at the bottom of the hill. I've felt bad about it ever since. I also deeply regret not thinking to pretend that my microphone was broken when I was giving him directions. Oh how he would have laughed!

Jen and I saw another comic Norman once. No, not my dad; Norman Wisdom. He was waiting for a plane at the Isle of Man airport. I dared Jen to shout “MISTER GRIMSDALE!!!!” at him. Jen told me not to be so stupid.

Jen and I bumped into another comedy legend at a different airport once. No, his name wasn't Norman. That would have been too much of a co-incidence. It was Stan Boardman. He looked very hassled. Tempted as I could see she was, Jen did not seize the opportunity to shout “THE GIIIIRRRRRRRRRRMANS!” at him.

And then there was the time Irish Mick and I saw Mike Harding struggling to light a barbecue in ridiculously strong wind. You couldn't make this nonsense up.

I could go on to tell you about my close encounter with Roland Rivron at the Albert Dock in Liverpool, but I've already done that, and I'd hate to repeat myself.

How about you? Have you ever had any random encounters with comedy legends?

Gabby Logan, deux points

I have what I like to think is a healthy cynicism regarding any so-called sport which is performed to music, and where points are awarded for artistic merit or international relations: figure skating, certain gymnastic events, the Eurovision Song Contest, and so on. Top of the list, obviously, must be synchronised bloody swimming.

The other week, ticket-sellers cocked up and oversold 10,000 tickets for the forthcoming Olympic synchronised bloody swimming competition. Yes, ten-thousand: there are ten-thousand saddoes out there prepared to part with their hard-earned cash for the privilege of watching girls with bulldog clips on their noses perform semi-aquatic dance-erobics with Phil Bloody Collins blaring away in the background. No, come to think of it, there are far more saddoes than that, because that's just the oversold tickets. Jee-zuss!

It's phenomenally popular, for some incomprehensible reason, synchronised bloody swimming. Which makes me wonder whether the BBC might have missed a trick. They've managed to get the clueless public glued to their telly sets every Saturday evening to watch no-mark Z-list celebrities take ballroom-dancing lessons. Quality telly, that—and cheap as well. So how come they haven't latched on to the idea of celebrity synchronised bloody swimming? Hell, even I would watch that. Even an old cynic like me would be unable to pass up the opportunity to watch Ann Widdecombe, Jordan or Kerry Katona putting themselves at severe risk of drowning.


No risk whatsoever of drowning.

Actually, no, I don't think Jordan would be at any risk whatsoever of drowning. Better make it Emma Bunton instead.