109. Fried

Tapehead no 109

Is there anything worse than well-meaning members of the aristocracy ? 

This week’s Cutting Edge (Great House Wives) looks at three women nobly struggling to manage their husbands’ stately homes.

When Lady Pamela Mansfield married her witless husband, she also married this “en-or-mous hee-ouse”, to which she has devoted herself, while he potters around Europe pretending to be a politician. Said hee-ouse is Scone Palace, which is appropriate considering that she is a MacDougall (“of the self-raising sort”). 

Lady Peven becomes concerned when a commoner has a heart attack in the gr-ee-ounds. And not just because he spoils the view.

When Lady Montagu of Beaulieu wants to see her husband, she has to talk to his secretary and even then, it seems to be in order to satisfy her obsession with preparing his lunch. (“So there might be a lunch ?”) 

Her bedroom used to be part of the tourists’ tour. Now at least she can watch Coronation Street in peace. The sight of 200 toffs singing Rule Britannia round the piano almost begins to make you feel sorry for her.

Lady Cobbold’s husband maintains, “If you live in a stately home (Knebworth) everybody thinks you’re very rich, you stay in bed until lunchtime and employs lots of servants. But it’s bloody hard work.”

As he works in London all week, the bloody hard work is left to the missus. She has even learnt caning (to upholster the chairs, she reckons).

Every night she drives to London on the grounds that “he doesn’t want to commute” and it’s “better all round” (going against the traffic).

“He needs looking after,” she blushes, obviously aware of her humiliation. 

Now listen Lady Cobbold. Tapehead needs looking after too.

Don’t Leave Me This Way a marvelous, hugely depressing film by James Mach, suggests Brian Connolly’s version of an ancestral-home-he-has-given-his-life-to is seventies glam-rock band The Sweet.

With the added pressures brought about by alcoholism and a broken marriage, the band took its final toll on Connolly, who had 14 heart attacks in 24 hours. He was given the last rites and his ex-wife was told, if he lived, he would probably be brain-damaged. What happened instead is almost worse.

At the Bognor Regis branch of Butlins (the club they named Manhattan) he is helped to the microphone the way you help an old man to the toilet. His drink is pinned to the mic stand because he can’t reach down for its. He sucks on it through a straw, like oxygen. His eyes are virtually lifeless, his face withered with age and illness. He speaks with a slur, head and hands shaking constantly, and walks with difficulty, as if his jeans are full of rice pudding.

Connolly’s sorry state is highlighted by the enduring health (and hair) of the rest of the band. Mick the drummer’s is even longer than it was in the seventies, like Bonnie Tyler’s run riot. 

Andy, The Sweet’s ex-guitarist, sums Connolly up: “it’s like a fried egg. Once it’s been fried, you can’t un-fry it.”

Ex-bassist Steve Priest disagrees but only in that he prefers “scrambled.”

Speaking of scrambled, it’s a tough week for Joe in EastEnders. (Aren’t they all ?)

After his Jeffrey Dahmer phase (an unhealthy interest in Auntie Nellie’s dead pussy, a bout of pyromania etc) and mounting sexual frustration (storming into pubs and demanding total strangers “tell me about women !”), Joe is still recovering from the video evil in Nigel’s shop. 

“They get in to yer ‘ead and you can’t get ’em owt !” 

Every scene ends with Joe either frowning blankly or jogging out of the door and sprinting into the Square. Where he goes, no one knows.

This week, as the residents of Albert Square enjoy Bonfire Night Lorraine is worried about the effect it will have on Joe. (“They get into yer  ‘ead and you can’t get ’em owt” et cetera.)

Last week’s bizarre cake-making episode came out of nowhere.

Joe’s pain was tangible as Cakes And Cake Icing joined the list; betrayed by a book about cakes.


Cutting Edge: Mon, 9pm, C4

Don’t Leave Me This Way: Sat, 11.25pm, C4

EastEnders: Tue, 7.30pm, BBC1