The Cutter has once again trumped Fleet Street with a first sneak peek of the book they all want.
‘The Keys To My Soul’, the autobiography of shamed TV presenter and radio banter God Richard Keys is currently flying around publishing houses, creating a ferocious bidding war. But why shell out millions for serialisation rights when we know Sandra in Accounts who photocopied the juicy bits for us and e-mailed them onto us?
So here, in abridged form, is Key’s astonishing confessional……
The Luftwaffe and me
Growing up in post-war Coventry was a grim affair. For one thing there was no cathedral thanks to the Luftwaffe. The women weren’t up to much either. All fat ankles and barely any make-up.
It was a depressing time in a depressing city.
I was largely a sickly, lonesome child who stayed in my room, playing with whatever makeshift toys I could fashion out of scraps of wood or small pebbles I would sneak in from the allotment. Mother didn’t believe in toys. She said they were made from the devil’s horns.
As you will shortly discover, my mother was a bit odd.
If that was her rather skewed perception of marbles and Mouse Trap then you can imagine her views on television. To this day she believes I am in the employee of Beelzebub himself. Which, I suppose in a way, working for Sky, I am.
Or rather, I was.
In the early-60s, when I was a small child, mother was out one day running some errands when my uncle Les brought around a cumbersome wooden box with a small glass screen in the middle. I had never before seen such a thing! The polished veneer was a golden mahogany and I was truly mesmerized by all the wires hanging out the back of it.
My uncle switched the set on and, after several minutes waiting for it to warm up, grainy pictures began to appear. Serious men with bald heads were talking from a studio that may as well have been another universe to mine. I was hooked.
My mother however soon returned home and had one of her ‘episodes’. She violently shooed her brother out, brandishing an empty chamber pot above her head, and screaming passages from the Old Testament at an ear-shattering volume.
She dismantled the very expensive present with a small axe, an act that took her several hours.
From that day onwards though I was entranced by the strange object that had – ever so briefly – allowed another world to enter mine.
I purposely befriended a shy boy in my class called Dennis Hargreaves who suffered from immense hygiene problems but who, crucially, came from a rich family. A family that owned a television set.
At every opportunity I would accompany him home from school and watch agog at the images that flashed before my captivated eyes, doing my best to ignore the heady odours radiating from nearby.
Even now I associate Fireball XL5 and the Flowerpot Men with the stale stench of pissy pants.
Going to the Hargreaves house straight from school was my only option because once I returned home my jumper and shorts would swiftly be stripped from me and I would be forced to wear a very different kind of uniform. That of the Virgin Mary. It was an ill-fitting blue smock with sewn strips of white fabric that Mother had knocked up herself during a rare period of activity.
On each occasion that I wore it she felt safe – her world made sense – and, being a dutiful son, I very reluctantly went along with this unusual charade on a daily basis until I approached puberty.
A few years ago I visited her at the institute where she is now being taken care of and she confirmed all of my childhood fears.
‘I always wanted a daughter Dicky. Then you came along. You.’ The last word hung heavy in the air yet was whispered with a weary sigh.
Follicles of shame
For any youngster puberty is a horrendous time full of doubts, confusion, and body changes. My own experience was so traumatic that it impacts upon me to this very day.
Even now I can remember that awful spring morning so vividly.
I had gone to bed hairless aside from the girly curls mother always encouraged me to grow.
I awoke a monkey!
In the space of a few nocturnal hours my arms had developed hair so thick and black you could weave a doormat from each. My puny chest resembled a pipe-cleaner.
Mother screamed when she saw me. Screamed the place down. When she finally came around from fainting she insisted God was punishing me for self-abuse, claiming to have once heard my bed squeak near to midnight.
From that day to the present she holds up a cross that dangles from her neck whenever she is in my presence and audibly mutters the Lord’s Prayer.
I was scared and more alone than ever before. A simian freak with any lingering hope of normality seemingly lost forever.
I was forbidden to attend school. Heck, I was forbidden to leave the house!
A doctor who was eventually called out by a concerned neighbour blamed stress for the strange affliction. He furrowed his brow and tutted a lot when he was examining my clumps and tufts and matted mass but I vividly recall hearing him chuckle in the street outside when he left.
I climbed from my bed and spied on him through the window. He was chatting to the neighbour who had raised the alarm and he pointed up to where I was and started swinging his arms about like an orang-utan. Doctors can be so cruel.
I tried shearing myself with scissors. I tried hacking through the undergrowth with a razor. I tried everything.
Alas, the following morning, it would all return.
Many years later I viewed the Michael J- Fox film Teen Wolf. I cried uncontrollably throughout.
Turn on, tune in, and watch football
My teenage years coincided with the swinging sixties and flower-power. Britain was the cultural epicentre of the entire world and hippies were experiencing free love and taking copious amounts of psychedelic, trippy drugs.
I, however, was not. By the age of eighteen the only drug I’d ever taken was Tixylix cough syrup and as for free love…..well, I once spied old Mrs Moorcroft taking her bra off the washing line.
Yet my later teens were relatively happier times for me. I was still ensconced in my room and Mother’s paranoia was ever-worsening (she was now convinced I was some sort of pagan sacrifice) but my love of television now had a serious rival for my affections.
My Uncle Les has secreted me into Highfield Road for a night game and, wearing a thick duffel coat and scarf (to hide the neck growths), I was able to, for the very first time, lay eyes upon a green glorious pitch and smell what I later discovered were something called ‘hot dogs’.
Sure the standard wasn’t great. There was no sensational Giggs flying down the left wing – a player I have always felt a great deal of kinship with following his shirtless celebration against Arsenal first exposed his chest rug – and no magical Rooney.
In fact none of my heroes were there that evening. It was Coventry vs Bristol Rovers in the Watney Cup.
Even so, the epiphany that I experienced on that cold winters night was so profound that it would change my life forever. Sitting in the passenger seat of my uncle’s Talbot, clutching my programme tight to my chest, I vowed to one day combine my twin passions and become a respected normal man.
A respected normal anchorman.
Sex and hurtful bantz
I am twenty-one years old and finally my time has come. A girl called Valerie had drunk enough Babycham to venture into my second-hand Talbot and was now enthusiastically pulling down her tights from beneath her plaid skirt.
I know what to do and how to do it. I think.
I’m going to smash it.
She starts to pull up my polo-neck sweater but I instinctively place a hand on hers to prevent exposing my freakishness.
Instead I bravely guide her hand to the zip of my corduroys. Incredibly she follows my lead and places a hand inside my trousers.
I want to explode at that very moment but I resist by thinking of Mother.
Her expression changes from giddy excitement to one of confusion. Then horror soon spreads across her plain face. She swiftly pulls back her hand and holds it out in front of her. It dangles limply; a part of her body she no longer wishes to be attached to.
‘Uuugh, its like a wet dog down there’ she chimes in genuine disgust. ‘What the hell are you?’
It’s a question I am yet to solve.
Read part two later this summer if we don’t get sued in the meantime.