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WEEKEND WEB: Tina is too busy today, I’m afraid

John Ward with his Game For A Laugh award.
John Ward with his Game For A Laugh award.

WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

It started off by somebody approaching me recently as in the now time honoured tradition, he said to me: “It’s you innit?!” and in time honoured tradition I replied: “I never said I wasn’t..” but the question as to who he thought, or knew, who I was never seemed to drift to the surface but we had a conversation that involved putting the world to rights as in why we waste so much money on questionable ‘projects’ or ‘initiatives’ plus other known forms of pouring it down the drain and keeping a straight face afterwards.

On similar sorts of challenges I have been known to point out they are confusing me with Tina Turner as it’s happened quite a number of times now and then point out I did at one time do a Tina Turner tribute act but I had to give it up when it was pointed out she was taller than me and so I retired gracefully and in common sense terms this does bring a good bit of instant silence from the inquirers.

In a social club with Colin, an old school friend who was meeting somebody he thought we both knew from the ‘good old days’ (I feel sure I was on holiday that week these ‘days’ occurred..), and as he came towards us I knew it was going to be a battle of wits, assuming he had brought his with him.

Derek, and not to be confused with any other Dereks of the same name, stood there looking very impressive in his grey trousers, brown check tweed sports jacket with the ‘Air Gun League’ patch badge on his breast pocket and in true tradition was hand sewn on at a wonky angle so you sort of tried not looking at said badge to make sure it was not suddenly going to ‘right’ itself – although black edged badges sewn on with thick grey thread is really not recommended.

Conversation then lifts off with Derek – id I know he’s in his local area air gun league? – well no I said, I was not aware as he had kept it very quiet I replied – taking the lead before pointing out he could not remember me but I did, he said, ‘look like that daft sod who does them daft bits’ he had seen at various times, while not out air gunning one would assume, or was he confusing me with Tina Turner?.

We now pass onto another variation of the theme bordering on ‘self involvement’ or thereabouts I should say as the following example of trying not to be left out proves. In the 1980s there was a programme on a Saturday evening on ITV called ‘Game for a Laugh’ and it was quite popular and I was asked to take part – Tina Turner was busy.

We did prior filming around home and parts of the town where we lived plus also in the studio with an audience later on to collect my GFAL award (I have two as the ‘real’ one with my name on was not ready in time so I had a miniature version presented on the show with the real one coming later in the post).

While we filmed around town we had a lunch break so crew, the family and presenter Matthew Kelly went to the local pub/restaurant for din-dins.

All went quite normal, we dined, we chatted and we left to carry on filming.

It was some weeks after the show was broadcast that we started to hear about various people that claimed ‘Matthew Kelly bought me a drink in the pub you know’ and this sounded quite normal, but then we heard this had ‘happened’ to seven other people we knew or knew of but as time went on it grew into double figures these supposed people whom boasted that ‘Matthew Kelly bought me a drink..’

Minor points to be considered are the fact there were only three other patrons in the pub/restaurant at the time we invaded plus the staff of two, so quite how all these hordes who live the fantasy that ‘Matthew Kelly brought them a drink’ does pale slightly as we never saw any of them.

Another wonderful example of seemingly being ‘involved’ was the following.

History bit: In 1980, the Iranian Embassy in London was taken over by terrorists and was under siege for days, watched by millions around the world on live television as it happened, then the SAS went in and did their thing in ‘sorting’ the matter out in a positive way as only they could – or can.

Now its late nineties and along with other guests I was on a late night chat show thing on Radio 5 Live and among the other guests was one chap who had served within the said SAS and he was there to give ‘an insight’ into ‘special operations’ and related matters. Afterwards over a coffee he pointed out that the ‘Iranian job’ was quite something as those SAS taking part in the ‘op’ wore black balaclavas for various, and perhaps obvious, reasons.

However it seems a sort of ‘cottage industry’ had started up since the siege and the tally of those claiming to have ‘taken part’ in it was then running into hundreds and mainly in pubs whereupon there would be a real chance that on hearing such information from a supposed ‘veteran’ somebody would be silly enough to say ‘have this drink on me, mate’ and it seems in a lot of cases it worked.

One cracking example of mouth over fact was one incident in the mid eighties when one such person in a pub was ‘talking the flannel’ about ‘his part’ in it and on getting into conversation it turned out the ‘veteran’ was a pensioner, suffered with bad eyesight (blamed it on ‘too many smoke grenades’ going off, oh um) plus had a pronounced limp but still maintained he ‘went in with the lads on the Iranian siege’ but as fellow guest pointed out, there were no known reports at the time of anybody in full kit seen abseiling down the Embassy building with a Zimmer frame – a small point but perhaps worth mentioning as he put it.

What made me smile was his deadpan humour. He suggested that if a reunion was held for those who, allegedly, did take part in the operation they would have to hold it in Wembley Stadium to make sure they would get everybody in.

More recent times then.

I arrived at one event where I was going to be giving a talk at short notice, I was ushered in and told how long it was going to last (?!) which was enlightening as it was me doing it but never mind I thought, wadda I know.

Then they said it was very good that I was able to ‘step in at the last moment’ (the supposed booked person either rung in ill, got lost or pleaded insanity I assumed) then added: “We didn’t know who else to invite as the other chappie on our list is supposed to be dead (lucky devil I thought) so we must update at some point..” as she wittered on and I replied I thought that Tina Turner was perhaps also busy.


Not totally committed

Lest we forget


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