With Brigadier General Sir Crispin Maddingley-Snorrt, K.B. (Retired)

Sir Crispin's reviews come to us from Upper Rogering, Surrey, England

This week, the Brigadier General at the "Oscars."

All right. I know I'm a bit late with this, but I think that if you'd just spent the last four weeks banged up in a Los Angeles clink with a revoltingly hairy poofter called Ramon and no chance of a decent gin and tonic, churning out the regulation 400 words about a gathering of what they refer to there as "the glitterati" but I prefer to call a bunch of absurdly dressed turds would not be top of your list of priorities.
   The fact is that the first thing I did when I got off at Heathrow was head down the Badger and Feathers and let Squiffer buy me a stiff one. Only now, fortified with most of a bottle of Gordon's, do I feel strong enough to put pen to paper.
   Ask anyone down at the Badger and they'll tell you I'm not an enthusiast for aeroplanes. "You'll never get old Crispy up in one of those things!" was Reggie's reaction when he heard of my plan to fly to Los Angeles. Reggie was with me at Biggin Hill in '41 during the Regiment's annual cricket match against the RAF boys, when a low flying Messerschmidt caused me to drop my false teeth into my tea. I was so shaken by the experience that I allowed myself to be surprised by a googly and was out third ball. Reggie has never let me forget it.
   Still, never let it be said of Brigadier General Sir Crispin Maddingley Snorrt, K.B. (Ret'd) that he's not one to rise to a challenge. And I must say, things started off pretty well. The booze is all free, don't you know, and I settled on the plan of anaesthetizing myself before take-off. I had the pretty little thing with the drinks trolley up and down the aisle more often than Liz Taylor and it must have worked pretty well because I don't remember the plane actually taking off. Next thing I knew, I woke up to find some sort of a tray with what looked like it had once been food on it. Pretty gruesome, but no worse than the pork pies at the Badger, and a chap's got to eat. Anyway, when I finished I had another couple of g & ts and reached in my pocket for my pipe. I had just lit it and was settling back into my seat when I became aware that a spotty oik with a badge on his lapel that said "Damien" was leaning over my seat and saying something, which I couldn't make out, owing to the fact that I had earlier discovered a device resembling a toy stethoscope which I had playfully inserted into my ears to amuse the child beside me, and the end of it was now dangling in my glass of Gordon's. The oik seemed to be pointing at my pipe. This is something I

am accustomed to. It is a magnificent pipe which I brought back from Kenya in '58, and is often admired by strangers for its ornate carvings of mating baboons. I started to explain the ritual significance of the baboons amongst the Masai people but I'm afraid the lucidity of my explanation may have been somewhat impaired by the influence of that last gin and tonic. Events from this point on are a little blurred.
   I remember that the trouble all started from his misapprehension that I had said he looked like a baboon. This was doubly unfortunate because, seen from a certain angle and in a certain light, he undoubtedly did. I felt obliged to point this out after he rudely told me to extinguish my pipe, gesturing with a podgy hand at a little sign above my seat showing a cigarette with a line through it. Nothing about a pipe. Anyway, my attempts at working out a reasonable solution, acceptable to both parties were met with nothing but impudence. It must be remembered that I am a fighting man. I wasn't scared of Hitler and, as I felt obliged to point out, I certainly wasn't scared of a pimply nancy boy in a toy uniform and, if he cared to step outside, I'd give him a thrashing he wouldn't forget. Next thing I knew, there were three of them pinning me down on my seat. I don't remember much after that, as I must have passed out from nervous exhaustion.
   There is nothing to interest film buffs in a detailed description of conditions in a Los Angeles jail or indeed of Ramon. I mention the episode purely to explain my inability to render a first hand account of the "Oscars" ceremony. In its place I offer a review of the movie I saw on the flight back to civilization. I never did catch the name of it, but it was absolute drivel, consisting of a crude rendering of an aeroplane against a background of an equally crude map of the Atlantic Ocean interspersed with meaningless subtitles like "distance to destination." It was so boring I can only assume it was French. There were other movies too, but none of them had any sound, so I eventually gave up and did the old stethoscope trick with the glass of gin for the little girl beside me until she started crying and her mother made me stop.

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Issue 1 Feb 2000
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