Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Tim Marshall Letter

Well, I found a stamp. My 'Tim Marshall' letter has gone. It's now on the long two hundred and six mile journey to London and BBC headquarters where I hope (but doubt) it will cross the desk of James Harding, aka 'Harding the Hack', aka BBC's Director of News and Current Affairs. I felt quite nostalgic writing the letter. Perhaps there are lots of crazy people out there who write letters. I've never considered myself one of the 'crazies', though no doubt some people have questioned (and will question) my sanity. The 'comedy' is merely the justification for writing otherwise serious letters which, in truth, it really would be mad to send to people in authority since, in reality, what are our opinions really worth to them?

At one time, I was writing three letters a day and I did that like a religion for about 18 months. It cost me a small fortune in stamps but I think I learned quite a bit about letter writing. I find writing them a wonderful outlet. In them, I become the person I wish I could be. Gone is the indecisive man who cares too much about his work yet questions himself to the point of impotent indecision. Instead, I adopt this strangely confident voice which isn't my own. I love calling people by their Christian names and being chatty and informal and terribly direct. My letters have a cocky swagger which isn't me but probably is me at some deep level where the id rages. I suppose in a way they're the expression of my rebelliousness. I refuse to address anybody other than as a fellow human being. In that respect, letters are wonderfully egalitarian and an expression of our simple shared humanity.

Perhaps I'll get an answer. Perhaps I won't. My success with the BBC has always been around 50/50. Some of them clearly enjoyed my letters. Others, by their silence, either didn't or never received them. I suspect quite a few of them suffer that terrible dullness of 'professionalism' which means they take what they do far too seriously to understand the serious edge to my apparently trivial letters.

Printing the letter has itself been quite the struggle. I haven't used my printer in a long time and I was disappointed to discover that I didn't have any yellow ink left. I use an old Canon printer for which I used to buy cheap cartridges without security chips. I had some reprogrammable security chips I could stick in them using a chip reprogrammer. It saved me a fortune over the years but now I find I have a draw full of yellow ink cartridges but no chips. Even if I had the chips, I think my reprogrammer has bust. Stan's head came out looking purple. It means I couldn't print my letter with the usual handsome face at the bottom right corner.

Strange looking at this face. I got such mileage from such a simple combination of a comb-over and Richard Madeley's face. I had such great hopes for those books. I still maintain my second book is even better than the first and the first was the best thing I've ever done. Poor Stan. Staring into those big bright optimistic eyes, it's hard to believe that so few people got the joke. Perhaps Jim Harding (or his PA) will. Perhaps he'll be on the phone to Tim Marshall over the weekend and he'll stop the world travelling even further down the road towards the banal and bland. Probably not. The point is: I tried my best and I can do no more.

Wish I could go back to letter writing. Of all the things I've done, it was the only one where I actually felt quite at home.


  1. Hello, I'd be grateful if you could pass on my best wishes to Stan for his one man campaign to have me enthroned at Her Majesty's BBC. I felt the spirit of Henry Root pass over me and almost wept as I read his glowing report into my modest efforts to advance world peace.

    Tim Marshall
    CC - Col Bufton Tufton (retd).

  2. […] visit from news royalty this morning: a comment from the sorely missed Tim Marshall. My sister (a real news junkie) gasped when I told her, however, his visit also puts a slight shot […]

  3. Well, this was a wonderful surprise. I'm honoured you visited and slightly ashamed of Stan's behaviour. I can only apologise for his enthusiasms but his heart was in the right place.

    And readers of the Eye are always welcome here. ;)