Light ReliefPerhaps 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:

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.

NoelDone2I 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…

David Waywell writes and cartoons at his blog The Spine.

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6 Comments on "Heel or No Heel: The Noel Edmond Twitter Storm"

  1. By coincidence last night I was stuck in a horrendous traffic jam due to a crash that closed the M62. The local radio station said the whole area was grid locked and some people were delayed for 3 or 4 hours. My journey home took an hour longer than normal so I got off lightly. But I must admit I sat there thinking, would this have been so bad 30 years ago? If there were less cars would this jam might not be so bad? My grandparents were Immigrants and I appreciate what this country has done and love this country but I must admit sometimes I do wonder how many people can our tiny island take and is there a point where it does become unsustainable? I know complex difficult questions but I guess I am not the only one who has thought about it.

    • Thanks Paul. If we’re talking seriously about Noel’s point then I think the problem is that people take photos of empty fields and then Tweet him about there being plenty of room. Pretty dumb, to be honest. The point isn’t whether we have room but whether we have the infrastructure to handle a sudden influx of new citizens. Obviously, until the point when we’re stacking people like they do in Japan in their little cubicles, we have plenty of room. Not not necessarily enough places to live, sit, learn, work, and defecate. Again, seems like a reasonable point to make and a vital discussion to have. But, of course, it’s easier to just whisper ‘racist’ and every shuts up. When you think about it, perhaps we have the quality of debates we deserve in this country of ours…

      • I remember experiencing Inverness’s rush hour while on holiday in the Highlands and then having to return to my home in the South East, I was depressed for about a fortnight, a shame that we can’t redistribute the population more evenly.
        Japans mass transit system is fantastic David, so much so that despite the population density there being much higher it is much quicker and feels less stressful getting about, and that is even when your face is pressed right up against a carriage window during the morning rush hour, they know how to pack a train unlike the supposed ‘full’ tubes in London which would be considered only 3/4 full in Tokyo, but then again no one gives you aggro when you push them on the Tokyo metro, it is expected. Outside of this the Japanese are so polite that I have never once been barged while walking while in the UK it is a regular occurrence despite there being more room on the pavements, no wonder it often feels more crowded over here.

        A friend of mine met Noel recently, he was very nice apparently though it was noted he looks better on TV than in the flesh, now theres a surprise.

        • The thought of Tokyo frightens me due to my being too big (height, but increasingly/depressingly width) but also my occasional claustrophobia. Plus they have that different concept about privacy, which explains why businessmen have strange fantasies about being packed on a train with the all girl members of J-Pop bands. Or am I imagining that?

          Manners: we’re loutish in the UK. Rare instances I go to London I always make the dumb mistake of holding doors open for people. Usually end up stood there for five minutes as people assume I’m the door attendant.

          I’ve never met Noel but he followed me on Twitter which seemed like a kind thing to do given that nearly nobody follows me on Twitter. I assume everybody looks better on TV than in the flesh but that’s the problem with eyeballs being high fidelity and TV relatively low fidelity.

          • London is a place you really need some familiarity with to enjoy which is probably why so many visitors have a negative experience.

          • That sounds right, Rob. Only visited twice in ten years and though both were best days of my life, neither were exactly ‘easy’ days. First time to meet a publisher who’d agreed to publish my book (bliss) and the other time I lucked into a free ticket so decided to go look at the Ralph Steadman exhibit at The Cartoon Museum. Got in London about 11am, and immediately propositioned by a guy wearing a cardboard box on his head quoting the Bible. I ran to the museum, discovered Ralph Steadman sitting there. Freaked out. Waited in line to meet him and get him to spatter ink over some random books I quickly bought. Blabbed something daft in my incomprehensible Lancashire accept (I think he was a bit deaf). Left. Felt lousy. Freaked out even more. Went to sit in some gardens to cool off (really hot day) where three women decided to go topless in front of me which freaked me out the third time. That doesn’t happen very often up here. Decided I was entering into a spiral of depravity, I somehow convinced myself I was on the path to become Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy. Rather than end up dressed as a cowboy turning tricks in a Soho cinema, I ran back to the station. Home in the NW by about 5pm swearing that I was done with London.

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