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image for My 15 Minutes of "Fame' The old Sworter fizzog: Trust it hasn't frightened one's bally horse...

A 'Blog' from the escrivoire of Major I. Sworter MA RS (bar) :

Gentlemen, (and dear Ladies, if any use this scurrilous internettal site!)

I would like to consult one's fellow blaggers on their feelings about an all too brief '15 minutes of fame' that occured to your humble narrator almost 50 years ago...

By pure serendipity, I found myself on a wireless quiz which was broadcast on the then Light Programme. Its title was 'Have A Go' and was hosted by the Davina Mitchell-MaCall of those days, the ubiquitous and brash Tyke, Wilfred Pickles.

The young Sworter was dragged to the recording by Great Aunt Ermintrude, who was what would now be called a 'groupie' of the said Wilfred. Of course, with her air of authority and booming voice, Great Aunt ensured we were sat four-square in the front stall seats. All of a sudden I was grabbed by a homely matron of a woman and marched up onto the stage. The large lady, who it transpired, was Mrs. Mabel Pickles, then introduced me to her craggy faced husband as the next contestant.

Now, brains don't run in our family. In fact they don't even manage a crawl, so I was quivering with fear. However, in true quiz tradition the first few 'dolly' questions didn't tax the Sworter grey matter too much. I managed to answer my name without too many mistakes and won five bob for my troubles. As I reached the 'Big Money' stage though, the sweat was beading...

I was faced with a series of really tough A or B optional stumpers, such as "Who's the Prime Minister - A. Harold McMillan or B. Joseph Stalin?". I was just about to answer B when Wilfred repeated the question. As he said "A" there was the unmistakeable sound off-microphone of someone breaking wind! It was Great Aunt Ermintrude. I grasped the mettle and answered A. Correct! A rattled Pickles tossed off an ad-lib about someone 'treading on a duck', as Mabel's little Tshitzu lapdog scampered hurriedly off-stage in fear of taking the blame.

There followed a sequence of lethal, but deadly accurate knowledgeable trumps, which repeated themselves until I was soon successful enough to be faced with the last "Jackpot" question.

A trucculent Pickles fired the last multi-options at me. Alas, this time not a sound was heard. He repeated the poser, but again, nothing. I stalled and asked him to repeat it one more time. I glanced over to Great Aunt E., who was, by now, sitting on her own - the first three rows having been vacated by the rest of the "shock-and-awed" audience. Her face was the colour of lobster thermidore, with eyes on stalks and an unearthly rictus grimace. I stalled for time and asked Wilfred for the answers one last time...

A barely audible rectal strangle eeked its way into my shell-likes, followed by what sounded like the flutter of doves on the wing. The poor Old Girl had followed through. However, it was enough for me to have a stab at the answer.

"Give 'im the money Mabel!" the tight-fisted tyke growled through clenched teeth. Cue applause, cue musical catchphrase - "Have a Go Joe, come and have a go, if you think you're hard enough...", cue the adolescent Sworter waltzing off with the crisp £5 note jackpot clasped firmly in sweaty palms.

Alas, the joy was but fleeting. Some Beeb sound-engineer Johnny had picked up Aunt's guffs in his headset. Pickles swiped the fiver back and threatened to call the Rozzers.

The gutter press of the day, the Telegraph, picked up on the story and I made a penny or two. However, it was several years before I could walk into the Mess without the inevitable 'Fartergate' jibes.

I was that young innocent lad. But was I really a scoundrel and a cheat - or merely 'riding my luck'?

You, the jury, decide...

Poodle Rip!

Ian X. Sworter


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