As it’s the pantomime season, Inside Croydon is proud to present a special Croydon-themed show, not featuring Gareth Gates and unlikely to be performed at the Fairfield Halls any time soon, but starring Croydon’s First Couple, Dudley and Margaret Mead in their familiar roles as Terry MBE and June.
Cue the Ronnie Hazlehurst theme music:
Da-da da-da-da da-da da-da da-da-da-da-daaaa…
SCENE 1: The breakfast table of a comfortable pensioners’ home in Mountwood Close, Selsdon. Terry MBE is seated with his full English and cup of tea, reading the Telegraph.
Enter June, stage left, carrying a tray with more food and the day’s post.
JUNE/MARGARET: Here’s the post for you dear.
TERRY/DUDLEY: Thank you dear.
JUNE/MARGARET: Anything there for me dear?
TERRY/DUDLEY: I’ll let you know once I’ve gone through all these bills. You know, June, now that we’re no longer getting almost £90,000 per year from Croydon Council in our councillor allowances to top-up our pension pot.
JUNE/MARGARET: I worry about nothing else, dear. Well, nothing else apart, perhaps, from all the numerous committees I have to attend that have various links to the Whitgift Foundation. Now that that Mr Newman’s in charge of the council, I worry that we won’t be able to exert quite the same amount of influence to ensure that our various jolly good causes, such as the Fairfield Halls, or the Whitgift almshouses and carers still get the backing from the Town Hall and the very useful grants that they always got.
JUNE/MARGARET sits down at the table. Looks very concerned
TERRY/DUDLEY: I wouldn’t worry your silly little head over that, m’dear. David Brent’s still making all the really important decisions at the Town Hall, you know. He’s a bit like one of those “sleeper” secret agents that that cove Le Carre used to write about. Everyone thinks he’s working for them, when in fact…
JUNE/MARGARET: Hmmm. I’m sure you’re right, dear. But I’m still worried that we won’t be able to afford our subscription to the golf club this year. Just how much worse off do you think we really are?
TERRY/DUDLEY: Well, m’dear, I’ve had a lifetime in accountancy, so I ought to know how to balance the books. After all, look what a spiffing job I managed to do when in charge of the council’s capital spending with the council’s headquarters building. It cost us nothing.
JUNE/MARGARET: Really dear?
TERRY/DUDLEY: When I say “us”, dear, I mean us. You and me. It cost all the other Council Tax-payers lots and lots. When I met John Laing, they showed me a spreadsheet and it had lots and lots of noughts. But they seemed decent sorts, so I let them get on with it. But it won’t cost you and me much at all. Brent’s already told Newman there’s nothing worth looking into.
JUNE/MARGARET: That’s good to know.
TERRY/DUDLEY: Anyway, I asked Brent how much we’ll be banking now that we are not running the council and all that… He got his electronic abacus out and said that things are not so grim after all. With me still as a deputy leader and you still being a cabinet member even just in the opposition group at the council with not much real work to do, Brent reckons we’ll still be paid nearly £40,000 a year in councillor allowances. We should just about make ends meet, even after we’ve bunged a few grand into the pot towards Gavin’s election campaign.
JUNE/MARGARET: That is such good news. Was there anything else in the post, dear?
TERRY/DUDLEY: Just the perks of being councillors – a couple of free tickets to the panto that they’re staging at the Fairfields. Who is Gareth Gates?
JUNE/MARGARET: I have no idea, dear.
TERRY/DUDLEY: Hurrumph. The panto’s always a bit low-rent anyway. I’m sure the New Addington lot and Gavin enjoy it. I suppose we should show willing.
JUNE/MARGARET goes to pour more tea. Notices the pot’s empty, so starts to get up to leave the table to re-fill. But stops when her husband speaks…
TERRY/DUDLEY: There’s a couple of letters here forwarded from the Town Hall for you with various questions from residents in your ward. One’s about to be made homeless, the other one is complaining about the rubbish on the streets. I wouldn’t bother about those… [throws three or four envelopes over his shoulder in a careless manner]
JUNE/MARGARET: Whatever you say, dear. I’m sure you know best.
TERRY/DUDLEY: But this one’s for you, too. Got OHMS on it, and is embossed and has Buckingam Palace written in smart capitals on the back of it… I think I know what it is.
JUNE/MARGARET: Oh, do please go ahead and open it and tell me what it’s all about, dear.
TERRY/DUDLEY rips open the envelope and holds up the single sheet within to read it
TERRY/DUDLEY: Just as I thought. It’s your MBE from the Palace, dear. Well deserved for all that hard work you’re supposed to do, and no mention of the Whitgift Foundation to cause anyone to question whether it is just the Establishment patting itself on the back. I thought it would be a nice treat for you, dear. Yours can go on the mantlepiece alongside mine.
JUNE/MARGARET: What a lovely surprise. How totally unexpected. I’d forgotten you said that you’d be putting me up for a New Year’s Honour.
TERRY/DUDLEY: Yes, well we were going to nominate that fool Fisher. But after that video of him as Hitler in the bunker went viral, we thought someone in Whithall might have put the kibosh on that. So I asked round and then I told Pollard and Barwell that we would put you up for a gong. [TERRY/DUDLEY gets up from his seat, kisses JUNE/MARGARET on the forehead]
TERRY/DUDLEY: There’s the letter for you. Well done. Now, I’m off to the golf club. I’ll be back in time for tea. Cheerio.
Exits stage left, pursued by bare-faced cheek
RUN END CREDITS.
- Council’s Mr and Mrs act that defies proper declarations
- How long does it take a £43k per year councillor to answer a letter?
- Council allowances and politicians’ secret consensus
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Jan 3
- Purley and Coulsdon debating society: Philp v Benn, Jan 5
- David Lean Cinema, Mr Turner, Jan 8
- David Lean Cinema, Leviathan, Jan 13
- Norwood Society talk: Penge, the making of a suburb, Jan 15
- David Lean Cinema, The 78 Project Movie, Jan 15
- David Lean Cinema, Hannah Arendt, Jan 20
- David Lean Cinema, The Imitation Game, Jan 22
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
- David Lean Cinema, Night Will Fall, Jan 27 (Holocaust Memorial Day)
- David Lean Cinema, Kon-Tiki, Jan 29
- Norwood Society talk: Crystal Palace and Dulwich, Feb 19
- Norwood Society talk: Charlies Dickens in Norwood, Mar 19
- Norwood Society: Balloons and airships at Crystal Palace, Apr 16
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