I have of late been most distracted. My head has been filled with an unexpected admiration for Noel Edmonds.

Noel Edmonds. Lover of helicopter flight, beard dye and cosmic ordering.

This will be a shock to those who have seen my show, ‘Stand Up, Weather Girl’ and who know that Noel is the punchline in the list of famous types who attended the school I went to for sixth form: Sir Robin Day, Sir Hardy Amies, Douglas Adams, the Right Honourable Jack Straw… NOEL EDMONDS EVERYBODY!

Yes, he is the absurdity in a list of distinguished individuals. 

Except that it turns out, he isn’t as absurd as I thought.

My experience of Noel Edmonds began with the Saturday morning TV show, Multi Coloured Swap Shop where he would mediate between kids trying to offload a game of Operation missing the funny bone in exchange for an Etch-a-Sketch with a dodgy knob. (Make your own gags, people.)

Later, he’d unashamedly utter the words ‘crinkly bottom’ on prime time telly during Noel’s House Party and roll around the floor with a man dressed up in a pink foam costume. (Junior Common Room japes.)

And then there was the curious stuff around ‘cosmic ordering’ where he’d ask the universe for something (new TV show, younger wife, book deal) and then wait for them to be delivered. (Don’t bother with this at home. I’ve had a Ranger Rover, contract with Channel 4 and a cleaner who actually cleans under the loo seat on order since 2007.)

What an idiot! What a smug, self satisfied bastard! I thought.

And then he showed up on ‘I’m a Celebrity.’ “They’ll all loathe him in the space of a day,” I assured my husband.

But they didn’t. Because he turned out to be a good sport. A team player. Somebody who listened. And clearly someone who works out regularly.

Those abs, people! That hydrated skin! The muscle tone! The guy is 70 next month!

Step aside, Ian Hislop! The universe just delivered me up a new fantasy! (Happy birthday, Noel!)



My brother and I were struck down with chicken pox one summer when we were around 8 and 9.

Smothered in calamine lotion and plonked on a sofa covered in dust sheets, my mum told us to entertain ourselves. With the chess board.

My brother was a good chess player. He was in the chess club at school. He sometimes played competitive chess on a Saturday morning, representing the Boys Brigade, while I was watching Swap Shop.

I knew the pieces: knight, castle, prawn etc and I knew roughly the direction some of them moved in. But I got so bored.

There was too much silence. No buzzer to go off when you failed to extract the Adam’s apple; no lead piping with which to do in the Reverend Green, and no hotel on Mayfair to shore up your property empire.

Apparently, if you overturn the board the game is terminated. But do try to avoid the hazard of losing the white knight down the hole in the floorboards.

This week, the chess championship saw a record breaking twelve drawn games between the world’s top two players.

‘Fifty hours of tense play’ was how those games were described.

I’m struggling to see how anybody could pay good money to watch two men drag out a board game for that long.

And I think even the paid audience was losing the will to live.

Chess lovers complain that there used to be more intellectual challenge; developing powers of calculation, learning to beat traditional moves like the Sicilian.

These days, I’m told, everybody learns by playing against the computer. It’s soulless, they moan.

In the end, the championship was won once again by Magnus Carlsen, the good looking one from Norway.

The really good looking one from Norway.

And now I wonder, might a Scandinavian opening move be more fun than I imagined?

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