We had Radio 2 on in the car the other day. It’s not my usual choice of station, but for whatever reason we were listening to Graham Norton as we drove to the gym on Saturday morning. He had some bloke on the phone who seemed to be telling the dullest anecdote in the world. You know those middle-class characters from sitcoms like “The Good Life” or “Ever Decreasing Circles”? The ones who are achingly aspirational and are forever trying to make out that their far posher than they are? You know, the same kind of people who went on and on last summer about Kate Middleton being “a commoner”. Yeah, the kind of commoner with millionaire parents who hang around with the polo set? Just like the rest of us then. This guy was one of them, for sure.
Anyway. He was wittering on, and Norton prompted him by saying something like “You live near the actual Bleak House, don’t you? Where Charles Dickens actually lived.”
“Yes. Yes I do. They sold it a few years ago to some people who I believe made some improvements, but they’re selling it on again now….”
See what I mean? Thrilling radio.
At one point he actually described - admiringly, I thought - how the house had some “castellations". I thought he'd got this wrong, but apparently this actually is the word for decorative battlements used to ornament a house in the style of a castle. I’d always thought that they were called “crenellations”, but it seems that the one is a descriptive term for a defensive battlement with an actual military use, and the other is the term used by the aspirational for the faux decorations they put on top of their stone-clad house for ornamentation. Castellations! Have you ever seen anything so marvellous? Yes, I suppose castellation would be something that this chap would admire. I bet he has some miniature statues in his own garden too. Perhaps he has some design ideas for his own coat of arms too.
At this point, I tuned out of what the guy was saying until the droning seemed to stop and Norton began to play “Human” by the Killers.
“Ah”, I said to C, “Apparently this song is based on something that Hunter S. Thompson once said.”
“Yes. And that’s exactly the anecdote that the boring man on the radio just told”
...although, now I think of it, a miniature David or Three Graces would look marvellous in our little garden, don't you think?