Noel Edmonds phoned my cat

I’m still struggling to process it. I don’t understand why it happened, or what it means; its purpose eludes me. The whole thing defies explanation; I frequently find myself attempting to rationalise it, to find sense and reason in it, but I cannot.

All I can do is present the facts. On Saturday, at 12.26pm Noel Edmonds phoned me up and then proceeded to talk to my cat, offering her words of affirmation and motivation. And it confirmed what I had long suspected: that Edmonds is a man whom we should all seek to emulate.

The call was not unsolicited: a few days previously, I had filled in a form on his website, promoting his phone-A-pet service. But that does not mean the call was expected. I had submitted my details, and those of my cat, out of curiosity. I never actually thought the actual Edmonds would actually call and actually speak to my actual cat. By Saturday I had forgotten all about it.

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Noel’s House Party 1994

I was thrown from the outset: his first words when I answered were an abrupt “What kind of cake?,” which I asked him to repeat, not knowing who was calling. “What kind of cake?” Suddenly, the reality of the situation struck me, for I had mentioned on the form our pet’s predilection for patisserie. Before long, the phone was placed beside the hairy ears of the cat, while Edmonds offered reassurance and hope. And that, bar one tense moment when I expressed reservations about certain species of beard (I had momentarily forgotten the most famous feature of the man I was talking to), was that.

There will be some who will view the entire episode not so much as Edmonds calling a cat, but as Edmonds calling for help. After all, here is a man who was once the Sultan of Saturday, spending years entertaining the nation of a Saturday morning, and then spending years and years and years entertaining the nation of a Saturday evening. Those years are now gradually evaporating from our collective memory, and Edmonds’ latest TV hit has been axed, so he is reduced to telephoning animals to maintain his spirits.

But I don’t think it was that at all. It’s clear to me that the man his local paper calls “Bitton celebrity Noel Edmunds” is living for pleasure alone, and that the opprobrium he attracts results from our suppressed desire to be more like him.

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Noel Edmonds – Brass Eye – Cake

Edmonds is a man who stands alone among his peers. Unlike them, it’s never been entirely clear what he does, what particular talent he possesses. He’s not what one might call an entertainer; he isn’t renowned for his wit; he’s not an actor; he’s not known for his expertise on any particular subject, or for his sporting ability. Nor is he a broadcaster as such; he’s not a Wogan, still less a Dimbleby. It’s impossible to imagine what he might have done with his life had he been born in a different age.

Luckily for us, however, we need not dwell on such hypotheticals. Because all that matters is that he has no equal when it comes to presenting live light entertainment on television. Should the set collapse and the lights go out, you know he’d somehow keep going, a steady companion on the other side of the screen. Even on Brass Eye, when he was hoaxed into warning the young about the dangers of a pretend narcotic, he conducted himself with a cultured professionalism, amending a script he then delivered so naturally that viewers may have ended up wondering whether the “made-up drug” Cake might be real after all and the joke might actually be on Chris Morris.

Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby in 1994.
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‘Our age is blighted by irony and self-consciousness and a desire to label people. Noel Edmonds stands as a corrective against all that.’ Photograph: News Group//Rex Features

At the heart of all this is that Edmonds is profoundly unironic. He’s clearly entirely sincere in everything he does, says, believes and wears. He’s an autosatirist: there’s little point in caricaturing him, because the real him will always outdo any comic fabrication. There’s this, which he’s written about a bus he’s bought; this, about his next book; this, about the business potential of internet radio. He is intensely uninterested in being cool or in being liked by the right people. Which of us wouldn’t enjoy that freedom?

I mentioned the beliefs of Edmonds. These have landed him in what we could generously call difficulties. Little wonder: he appears to occupy a space on the political map hitherto uncharted, namely that between Ukip and the Natural Law Party. He’s a conservative hippy, deriding schools for getting rid of competitive sport, lambasting the BBC for failing to believe in the family unit, while promoting the supernatural power of positive thinking. Arrows come at him from all angles. He doesn’t care.

And he doesn’t need to care. Our age is blighted by irony and self-consciousness and a desire to label people. Noel Edmonds, whatever he is, stands as a corrective against all that. Why did he call my cat? Probably because he just felt like it. How refreshing. From me, the cat and at least some of the rest of us: thanks, Noel.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/21/noel-edmonds-phoned-my-cat-motivation

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