Time-Life called him “possibly the best English eccentric inventor living today.” He designed and makes the annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award trophies and is currently creating a trebuchet – a giant catapult based on medieval siege engines – for next year’s World Egg Throwing Championships…
John Ward thinks the standard of TV researcher may have fallen over the years. Yesterday he told me this story…
It was a nice day to start off with, being Tuesday, and so I loaded up and headed down the road to see Roger in Cleethorpes to try out the Egg Throwing Trebuchet Mark II as Roger’s field is quite large and should anything get out of hand, it won’t effect anybody (hopefully..)
So there I was setting it up and loading said device… and the mobile throbs away… and the day takes on a new meaning…
“Are you John Ward? – the John Ward?”
“Yes,” I said, “or, at least, one of them.”
“I am Tamara Hyphen Whatever and I am a television researcher…”
And then a deathly hush was heard and, not knowing if I should bow and kiss the earth beneath me, I replied: “Oh yes…?”
Miss Hyphen continued: “Yes, I am working on a new television programme and came across your web site and I have to say its very impressive. I could not believe the sheer amount of things on there that you have done. What a trove of fun it is!”
“Thank you for that,” I said, “and…?”
Then Miss Hyphen explained the format and I replied that it sounded – once again – like Scrapheap Challenge with the contrived supposed items made in a scrap yard but all the ‘bits’ are spread over a yard area in order for them to be picked up and slung together at the end of the show and it’s not the people on camera that are the builders but the list of Production Assistants at the end of the show credits that give the game away although I had sussed it about twenty minutes in when I saw the first ever episode because can you think of where you would find a scrap yard that has a turn the key and its works Land Rover on hand…
To which Miss Hyphen replied: “Yeessss, I see…”
She then wondered if it would be worth her while to come down to see me at some stage and I pointed out that the local cinema still – I believe – had a stage but any cafe would perhaps be better, moreso if they were showing a film projected onto the said portion of the stage quoted..
By now, I was thinking there was an intellectual barrier between us but I could be wrong of course – Time will tell, I thought..
After various useless questions and answers that I got the impression she at the other end was scribbling notes down to, the Gifted One then asked the usual clunker thus:
“By any chance, have you appeared on television at all?…” and I parried this by asking:
“You’ve not been working at the BBC for long?”
She then asked how I could possibly know? and I said I was shit hot at reading tea leaves as well.
I then put it to her, as best I could, having brought up children of my own you understand, that if she had indeed ‘seen’ my web site, she would know the answer to that question without being so brain dead as to enquire.
After all this and going to Roger’s field and getting back home, another bit arrived via e-mail.
“I have just seen you online with a bird table. Could we come and see you and film you for an interview?”
…to which I replied I was not that bothered but whom shall I say is coming along? And the nice man said he was a ‘field researcher’ for CBS Factual in the US of A.
On the one hand, somebody was ‘wondering’ about coming to see me from about a hundred miles away and, on the other hand, a crew of four were going to get onto a plane and come from the Colonies to film an interview some three thousand miles away.
Thus we are to arrange a date in the next week or so.
So today – so far – I have found out our Trebuchet can hurl half a house brick a distance of 230 yards and I have found out people with strange three barreled names seem to be lacking in the thinking department.
Ah! The simple joys of the (allegedly) eccentric inventor.
Here is John Ward demonstrating a new type of television to presenter Chris Tarrant on the sadly forgotten ITV series Prove It!