He is a former member of the Monster Raving Loony Party and is the former Minister for Inventions in The Eccentric Party.
In November last year, he told me about an encounter with a less-then-well-researched journalist. Now history has repeated itself.
I had no idea yesterday would be one of those days…
The phone burbled.
It was from a (NAME CENSORED) who explained he was a freelance journalist and wanted to speak to “a John Ward” – I pointed out that he was in luck as my name was John Ward but with no ‘a’ in front, so would I do?
He explained he had got my number via “a friend of a friend” – I think it was somebody who covered the Reliant Robin Fire Engine saga a few years back.
The gist of his call was “the current coronavirus matter”.
He wondered if I could give him an idea of The Eccentric Party’s political view on the matter and some idea of precautions or measures that might be of help to the present government.
He said he had tried contacting “your leader Lord Toby Jug” via email but with no response and so decided to contact me as he gathered I was “good for quotes and background ideas”.
I pointed out that Lord Toby Jug was no more as he was dead… no longer with us… only on the website.
“Was it caused by coronavirus?” he asked.
“Not unless,” I replied, “it kicked off a year last May and, if so, he was the very first, unannounced victim.”
“So,” he said, “he was one of the first victims…”
I pointed out it was he who had just suggested coronavirus to start with, not me.
There was a short bit of silence and then…
HIM: So there is not much likelihood of being able to speak to Lord Toby Jug…
HIM: I suppose his death was real?
ME: Well, yes, I think it’s perhaps right to suggest that.
HIM: I mean, him being, well, eccentric… it could have been some sort of stunt thing…
ME: Well, if it was, he may well qualify for the Guinness Book of Records for holding his breath the longest, without toilet or tea breaks being involved and without checking his social media for updates during the performance.
HIM: I am saying, if it is a stunt…
ME: Well, might I say you just suggested it…
HIM: I was just hoping to clarify the situation as I don’t want to interrupt an on-going stunt as there may be a bigger story here…
ME: Like rising from the dead? – Well, with Easter approaching it would be topical
HIM: So there IS something planned for Easter then?
At this late stage in the proceedings, I asked if he was for real.
He explained he had got into journalism through assorted ‘family friends’ after leaving college but had chosen the freelance line – He said he was named after his grandfather, who was not a writer, and, in so doing, bypassed his father whose name was not the same, who owned his own business based in Plymouth and who also was not a writer.
I did not like to ask what sort of business his father had as there were concerns he would tell me.
The bottom line was… I was unable to help him.
ME: Lord Toby Jug is no more. Deceased
HIM: There was no mention on the Eccentric Party web site about this.
ME: His demise came without prior warning. He had no time to update it on this minor point.
HIM: So, as an eccentric inventor, which you are… and you are still alive of course… what are you working on at the moment as there could be some copy here?
ME: I am trying my best to appease freelance journalists, but I am having trouble getting the wood.
John Ward has now designed and made a Plank Award.
It stands just over one foot in height, made from a sustainable material, and he says this newly prestigious award will be presented annually “as soon as the coronavirus thing is over”.
It will, he says, be presented “to the journalist/writer who shows the greatest ineptitude in their research into the subject matter before contacting people with regard to possible stories or ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ moments”.