What is not to like about the Radio Times? Who could not fall for its knowing philistinism and insightful church-newsletter-esque platitudes? Who could fail to admire Barry Norman’s ability to review the same twenty films over and over again week after week (truly a reviewer after the AR’s own heart)? Who could not hang on pointy, serrated tenterhooks as Alison Graham describes, in real time, each micro-second of the cognitive process of first anticipating, then watching, then reflecting on a children’s film, e.g.
“At first I was sceptical about Pirates of the Caribbean as my aunt once told me that pirates were dirty people who stole things and also I knew someone who went to the Pirates of the Caribbean theme-ride in America and the man who operated the ride was really rude to her and it spoilt the whole trip. But when Johnny Depp turned to Keira Knightly and said ‘Arrr’ [the sound that pirates make – RT ed.] with a cheeky but charming smile on his acceptably greasy face, my preconceptions began to vanish.”
Truly, the Radio Times is a Cahiers du Cinema for short, fat English people who find the Empire Strikes Back challenging. You know: people like you and me.
Anyway, while reading the Christmas edition of said periodical this morning, I encountered a review of a festive film with the pleasingly tabloid-esque title ‘I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus’. Using only the review, I have attempted to imagine what the film might be about.
I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus
“Mother, you have defiled the marriage bed with your lewdness. Out strumpet! See how you grapple and grunt with your swarthy, hirsute lover beneath the palling face of Tinkytoes, the Christmas Tree Fairy. Look away, Tinkytoes, look away! See how the branches of that melancholy fir shed their spines with shame! Out jezebel, out! You have cuckolded my sire madam. Now his horns vie in size with those of your desperate, murder-eyed lover’s reindeer.
What care I how they do things in Lapland, mother! You are standing on an English hearth and an Englishman addresseth you (that is, I, your son, Marmaduke De Lancey Butterbury III, Marquis of Hamsbury, aged 8 and three quarters). What is this you say? “He’s not swarthy, that’s just the soot from the chimney, down which he slithered like a vile bat so that he might grasp at your bosom this Michaelmas Eve”? A pox, mother, a pox. I’ve never heard such villainy.
How shall my father greet his fellow lords? He shall be excluded from the hunt, mother. No more shall he follow on the heels of reynard and spear him through the eye with the ancestral Butterbury sword, watching the hot red life spill out of his furry eye-hole, bellowing at the forest gods, all the while cheered on by his fellows. A cuckold lead the hunt madam? They’d never allow it! Nay madam. He’s contaminated now. Contaminated by your sinful rubbings! Yea, it is true, as you point out, that Herne the Hunter sported a hearty head of horns. But then his wife wasn’t a vile drop-bloomers now was she, so it hardly applies.
Out, doxy, out! I too am besmeared by your offence. For did I not come via the same gates at which your dark, desperate paramour now hammers with his meaty cudgel? Is ‘Strumpet’s Son’ not branded into my pale marquis’s forehead? “Can anything make this go away,” asks your grim, bushy suitor? Yes. Get me a Scuba-Batman playkit with removable Batspeedoes by 6am tomorrow. Then we can talk.”