Perhaps my favourite story from this grim week was the news that Noel Edmonds got stuck in a traffic jam. It was to prove a seminal moment in the Twitter career of the humble self-effacing star of Noel’s House Party, Noel’s Telly Years, Noel’s Garden Party, Noel’s Addicts, Noel’s Christmas Presents, Noel’s HQ, The Noel Edmonds Show and The Noel Edmond’s Saturday Roadshow.
Noel’s Twitter Storm launched shortly after Noel (Ernest to his friends) tweeted:
Just tried to get somewhere. Allowed loads of time but abandoned journey. Am I alone in feeling Britain is full?
— Noel Ernest Edmonds (@NoelEdmonds) January 13, 2016
The tweet landed as if it were gunge newly-released from a tank suspended above a much-loved celebrity from the mid 1990s. Perhaps it was Piers Morgan or Annika Rice. Did I say ‘well loved’? Okay scratch Morgan and let’s gunge Bobby Davro instead.
The metaphorical slime was soon everywhere as the British public responded to Noel’s cryptic message. Just where had Noel been going? How much time did he allow? Was he really alone? How does he feel? And is Britain really full?
Most of the questions were easily answered.
- Portwrinkle nr Sheviock.
- 45 minutes.
- Can you ever be really alone when you’re Noel Edmonds?
- With his fingers, tongue and whiskers.
As for the last question: well that’s where things became complicated. Did Noel really think Britain is full?
Some saw his tweet as a biting indictment of Conservative immigration policy and a Europe that has struggled to respond to the migrant crisis. Noel’s remark seemed to say much about political indecision, radicalised migrants, lapses in border security, as well as curfews, electric fences, forced deportation and a totalitarian police state run in the fashion of a BBC light entertainment special, with special guest Barbara Windsor (dame).
Others, foolishly, though he was merely speaking in comedic hyperbole to describe a familiar situation in which drivers are routinely stuck in the traffic that crowds Britain’s aging road network.
Yet how could we discern Noel’s deeper meaning? Is he a right-wing prophet or a light-entertainment clown? How could we know what Noel Ernest Edmonds really meant without peering into his soul and, if we did peer into his soul, which soul should we peer into first?
I chose the soul in box number 11 but was disappointed to see that it contained only the secret of Mr Blobby’s marshmallow fetish. I was tempted to keep it when the banker rang and offered me £300 but I decided instead to push on and open box number 7. I was in luck. The box was filled with soulful thoughts about helicopters. Box number 10 contained warm memories of talking sweaters with John Craven. Box 2 was filled with mean scorn for Philip Schofield. Box 4 was beard grooming tips whilst number 9 contained detailed plans for Noelworld, a concept based loosely on Disneyworld but with greater emphasis on running, hopping, squealing, and clapping.
I examined soul after soul, each time rejecting the banker’s increasingly desperate offer. Eventually, the box containing the last soul sat before me. What would I see as I peered inside? The banker had rang me and offered me £10,000 not to open it. God knows I was tempted. That money would see this writer set for life! But no. I had to know. Just what did Noel Edmonds mean when he asked if Britain is really full? Was this icon from our childhood about to become the last shattered illusion of adulthood? Was he really some raging right-wing reactionary? Was his Multicoloured Swap Shop a lie? He had promised us a utopia where people could exchange their unwanted toys but had he really prepared us for a future dystopia in which you could get your name on the TV for the price of an old Subbuteo missing a plastic Peter Shilton in goal?
Unable to wait a moment longer, I snatched box number 1 and threw open the lid. Then I saw it. It was the secret that lies at the very heart of Noel’s soul. It was the only truth that matters. It was a picture of Noel Ernest Edmonds laughing in the manner of an excited schoolboy as Kenny Everett wore a pair of plastic breasts as earmuffs. And that’s when I knew. Noel Edmonds might be many things but a bigot is not one of them. That’s when I realised that it’s not Noel who has grown bitter. It’s the world around him that has grown so cynical. We no longer know how to laugh and foolishly look to the Noels of the world for wisdom where once we were simply happy to gaze upon his Crinkly Bottom.
I stepped back from the box, feeling foolish that I’d ever doubted Noel but also realising that I could have saved myself about half an hour (about 700 words) if I’d just chosen box number 1 to start with. Why do these people waste all that time going through boxes, blabbing with the banker, when they always settle for the last box?
That’s when I finally realised that I’d come to a moment of profound self-knowledge. I could finally admit that I just don’t understand Deal or No Deal. It all just seems so very random…