Monday, August 31, 2015

The Afternoon I Helped Sara Blizzard Prevent The Death Of An Elderly Spinster — With A Weathercock

   It’s a rainy Bank Holiday Monday and everything is down in the world. 

   I know this in advance as I autopost on ahead not because I am a God or a precogGod or a precogGodbarometeroid — it’s just that when it comes to all things climatic and predictive, I owe everything to Sara Blizzard, weathergirl incarnate.

Sara Blizzard: In All Likelihood The Most Accomplished Weathergirl On The Planet

   According to Wikipedia, Sara has presented the weather for the BBC since 1999, and viewers in the East Midlands region have lapped up her talents down the years, planning holidays, excursions and loft conversions on the basis of her sage advice.

   Taken this way, her story reads Local Girl Made Good or Great Dresser Nabs Top Beeb Weather Slot, possibly even Hairdo On Legs Ready For Any Tornado.

   But there’s more to Blizzard than meets the eye — as I found out for myself back in the day when I strimmed the lawns for the National Trust as part of their UK-wide turf maintenance S.W.A.T. team.

   Return with me now to a heady August afternoon in 1997 as I stand, scythe in hand, overlooking the architectural magnificence of West Wycome Hall in Buckinghamshire.


   Julie, the ice cream girl, is hard at work dispensing her home whipped Strachiatella to the tourist throng, and some juggler from the Black Country is going down a storm as the hapless target for infant-hurled missiles thanks to a combination of too many beers at lunchtime, a pollen-induced sneezing fit, and a glitch on his GP’s computer that substituted laxatives for his epilepsy medication.

   Even before Blizzard appeared on the scene, it was turning into quite a day.

   Little did anyone know that it was about to get even quiter.

   Just as I’m scraping a crescent of clogged grass from my scythe’s blade, a voice cries out from the National Trust promo marquee on the far side of the Hall’s sumptuous lawn and one of the marketing team streaks from between the bee-print tent flaps, her frumpitude bundling adults and children alike from their feet.

   “There’s a masked gunman,” she shrieks.  “Doris and I tried to stop him from opening up the till but he was too strong for us!  He overpowered Doris and stuffed the better part of £157.52 down his underpants — and I know this because I’d only just counted it up with a view to getting some more change from the café inside the Hall.  Now he’s got Doris in an arm lock, with a pistol held to her head, and I believe he means to make his escape with the loot using my dear, dear friend as a hostage.”

   An angry Dad, primed to beat up the juggler for inflicting misery on his two daughters, steps forward, rolling up his sleeves to reveal the tell-tale signs of heroin addiction.

   With a flick of his head, he addresses the crowd.  “Come on, lads.  Let’s take the fucker out.”

   As several of the nearby men leap into action, along with a woman I’d presumed all afternoon to be a man on account of her waist-length beard, Doris’s friend urges caution.

   “Didn’t you hear me?  That masked gunman in there has got a gun.  And a mask.  He’s more than a match for any Dad’s Army of have-a-go heroes.”  She stills her flagellating breast.  “It’s a sunny August afternoon in rural England.  No one deserves to die.”

   “Ain’t that the truth!”

   (The Titan of Allure stepping forward was Blizzard, clad in the OTT Elizabethan attire demanded by the youthful exuberance of a fledgeling weathergirl starlet, but I didn’t realise right away.  No one did.  This was back in the days before she was famous.  The BBC were road testing potential new presenters for the Antiques Roadshow, and this sunny August afternoon just happened to be her virgin media audition — alongside Fiona Bruce, Claire Rayner and Jimmy Somerville.  Just sayin’.)

   The formidable figure surveys the scene, the rolls of her Elizabethan gown complementing her confident demeanour like whipped cream works with strawberries or ladyboy buttocks.

   “What we need,” she says, whooshing a 15th Century weathercock from beneath her bustle, “is for me to disarm this evil villain under cover of a considerable distraction.  I want all of you to start screaming — NOW!”

   Cacophony erupts, kids first, and Blizzard ducks behind the marquee.

   She's so heroic, so assured, like the first Queen of England herself, and I must have presumed it was game over because I lit my pipe and dug out some loose change for an ice cream.

   Then two very bad things happen.

   First, the masked gunman sneaks his head from the tent and proffers a gagged and bound Doris.

    “No one move,” he yells, “or the fat lady gets it.”

   Second, Blizzard trips over a tent pole and sprains her ankle.

   In that moment, as the superstar weathergirl-to-be writhes and moans in a bed of pansies, and Doris toys with the handle of a flick knife hidden in her ‘anti- cellulite tsunami’ corset, I knew I had to act faster than Sir Ian McKellen playing King Lear on amphetamines.

   I hurl my pipe at the gunman like a boomerang and dash over to where Blizzard lies writhing (her ankle clearly bruised, and her gown split along the midriff to reveal the best Haircut 100 tattoo I’ve ever seen).

   “Hit me with the cock,” I scream, as the dull thud of pipe on gunman cranium lofts o’er gasps to kiss my eardrums.  “Seems I’ve managed to stun the bad guy, so maybe now I can follow through with a spectacular impaling.”

  Blizzard throws me a distressed look, like a shot putter mis-tossing a rotten pumpkin.  “The beak is caught in my gown!  I can’t…prise it…free!”

   Quick as a flash, I summon all my ‘fight or flight’ adrenaline, and flex my innards till it squishes in miniature fountains from my skin pores.

   Before me, in the pansy bed, a rusted garden fork stands pronged into the sod, its mighty tines screeching to be used as a gown shredder.

   I grab the fork and twist the least sod-enclodded tine into the split in Blizzard’s gown next to Nick Heyward, and screw on down till the seam tears right up to her neck.

   The weathercock tumbles onto the feisty weathergirl’s outstretched thigh, and before you can holler Jack Robinson, I say, “sorry about the dress, missus, but I’ll make it up to you after we’ve fixed the villain thing” — then I wang the poultry-themed ironmongery at the concussed gunman.

   As it turned out, Doris had slit the guy’s throat while I was fumbling around freeing my weaponised cock from Blizzard’s Elizabethan finery, and Julie the Strachiatella girl took a hit to her arm which cost me £34.55 in replacement blouse fees from Fenwicks.  But that’s another story.

  Main thing was, Blizzard and I had saved the day, and it was all Fiona Bruce could do to nab the Antiques Roadshow presenter slot after Blizzard’s heroic performance.  Had the BBC’s all time favourite weathergirl not sustained a sprained ankle and not ended up inappropriately semi-naked after her heroics, I’m certain she’d have won out over the competition (Jimmy Somerville included) and gone on to thrill the nation with both her love of antiques and her beautifully formed shoulders.

   I still send a Christmas card every year, but to date Blizzard has not responded.

   My guess is that the ankle took a while to heal, and the day-to-day demands of being the BBC’s flagship weathergirl must necessarily take first place over looking up the random guy with whom she tackled crime so effectively in her youth.

   But that’s life — and this is another rainy Bank Holiday Monday in England.

   Whatever you're doing today, I hope it's exciting.

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 Jimmy Somerville in his Erasure and Pet Shop Boys Heyday

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