THE fog that has smothered important parts of Britain and brought TV journalists to a standstill is arriving in Spain. I lurk on the roof of our rural casa and watch it flooding Andalucia, welling up from the Mediterranean like something malevolent in an old Shepperton Studios film. Agnes the cat lurks with me, coiling round my legs. She remembers The Day the Earth Caught Fire, with Janet Munro and Leo McKern, and she’s expecting the worst . . .
Last night Agnes and I watched the BBC and ITV news and were horrified by the spectacle of London shivering in a cold sweat beneath a damp eiderdown of dirty white. A fog in London, we whispered in incredulous wonder. How unusual. Just think what Dickens could have made of that.
We watched a TV journalist reporting from inside a fog-bound aeroplane at Manchester Airport. His flight to London had been delayed by one-and-a-half hours. We were gripped by the revelation that internal flights had been affected by adverse weather conditions. But if he and his film crew had not been affected, would this incident have made the national news? When a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound if it’s foggy?
“Viewers of a more cynical nature,” I explained to Agnes in an attempt to relieve her anxiety, “might be saying to themselves: ‘Why didn’t the stupid fellow catch a train and get to London in half the time and at a fraction of the price instead of running up expenses which we, the viewers, ultimately pay for in either licence fees or advertising costs? Do these insulated people think that the man on the Oldham omnibus gives a monkey’s todger about executive types being inconvenienced by meteorological phenomena that have been commonplace since the end of the last Ice Age and almost certainly before?'”
“Did you know Bernard Braden was in that film?” I say to Agnes. “You know, The Day the Earth Caught Fire. Bernard Braden from Braden’s Week? Remember Braden’s Week?”
Agnes casts me an anxious glance then turns her whiskers back to the fog.
“He played the role of the news editor on the Daily Express. And get this. Arthur Christiansen played the editor – the job he did in real life. He played himself. What about that?”
Agnes casts me another, almost hostile, glance and says in a rare moment of lucidity: “I don’t read the Daily Express.”
“Fair enough,” I reply, as the fog engulfs us.