Thursday 14th March 2013
International Wassock's Day has been trumped by Steak and Blow Job Day (which as a supposed antidote to Valentine's Day also threatens St Skeletor's Day as well). Maybe the three should amalgamate into one day of male stupidity. I had aimed to make March 15th International Wassock's Day (to coincide with tomorrow's Metro column) and I've been gazumped by these Steak and Blow Job idiots who don't even see the danger of limiting those things to one day a year.
My editor at the paper got in touch to tell me that according to the OED the word wassock is spelt "wazzock" and asking if they could change what I'd written. Overwhelmed by the intellectual superiority of such an august publication I conceded the issue. But everyone at the OED is a wassock. Wassock is spelled "wassock", not "wazzock". I might set up an International Wazzock's Day on March 16th dedicated to intellectual idiots who don't even know the correct spelling of obscure West Country insults. I don't care what the Oxford dons in their ivory towers think, it's wassock, you wassocks.
But even as a 45 year old the thing I most enjoy about my job is the time when I waste the time of people with proper serious jobs with ridiculous trivia like this. Two or three people spent several minutes of their day being concerned with how to spell the word "wassock". No one can say I haven't made my mark on the world.
I felt a bit better today, though still a little fugged up so devoted my energy to podcasting and got Talking Cock Rodcast #5 up and running. It's quite a bum-clenching, ball covering one all about penile injury so it's not for the faint of heart. Also as I was still in my dressing gown when I recorded it (due to being ill and that's what you do) at one point I absent-mindedly referred to my own penis during the recording, using it as a visual aid (luckily only for myself as this is an audio podcast) to affirm that all penises have a long fusing line along their length formed when the organ is created in the womb. Still if you want to hear audio of me touching my penis you know where to go. It'll be up on iTunes and the British Comedy Guide as usual.
I allowed myself to get a bit distracted by Youtube in the afternoon, starting with this fantastic clip located by one of the funniest women in the country Christina Martin titled The shortest time anyone has ever owned a trouser press. I clicked some other gameshow themed links and ended up sitting through an hour long expose of the coughing "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" Major (though he was the only person who never coughed). It's a comical story of what looks like an open shut case of a rubbish attempt to cheat. More telling than all the coughs is the way that a man who seems to know next to nothing decides to take a stab at all the questions, veering from a wrong answer to the correct one, which he had entirely dismissed moments before. He has never heard of Craig David and seems intent on answering A1 (who surely he can't have heard of either if he doesn't know who David is) but then decides to go for David because he usually guesses incorrectly.
Similarly on the million pound question he says he's never heard of the word "googol" and seems to be favouring another answer, but a few coughs later decides that by a process of elimination (giving none of his working out) that it must be the correct answer. It would be a brave man or an idiot who would take such a high-risk gamble and Ingram might be both. The evidence lines up pretty spectacularly to prove that he was being helped, but the transparency of the system makes it all rather endearing and his refusal to admit to the ruse does add this tantalising possibility that he is an idiotic man who just happened to change his mind about answers at a time when another man was coughing (and Jon Ronson gives an intriguing argument for responsive coughing being responsible). It's all very well showing that the other contestant was coughing and audibly saying "no" at pertinent points, but the question that doesn't get addressed by the documentary is how audible that would be from the chair in a a room full of people. Tarrant didn't hear any of it and there were a lot of coughs coming from elsewhere.
I am pretty certain that this was a terrible attempt at fraud, mainly because it's against all human nature to risk so much so often on questions that you clearly have no knowledge about.
It's the artlessness of the con that is fascinating and ultimately that makes me wonder if there was no con, just a very stupid man behaving like an idiot and getting impossibly lucky.
I did meet the Ingrams back in 2005 when I interviewed them on my poker chatshow, though I hardly remember anything about it, apart from Diana being an alluring big-nosed beauty (I love a big conk on a woman as many of you will know - you know what they say, big nose....).
Weirdly I mentioned all this when I was playing poker tonight (with Grub Smith who was also on that same interview show that week coincidentally) and one of the other players was a producer who had done some work with the Ingrams, saying how he wanted to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence. But years on the producer had had an idea revolving around putting notorious criminals who claimed they were innocent through a series of tests based on latest lie-detecting technology and Ingram had declined the opportunity.
It's a fascinating story, filled with drama and intrigue and ridiculous farcical humour and allows for just enough of a chink of doubt to let you think that these idiots might be innocent. Why don't the Ingrams come clean and make some money out of it?
The producer suggested that Ingram was really annoyed because although there had been a cheat it was more complex than the one they were accused of. This might be the case. I wish I had done a better job as inquisitor when I had the chance. My interview technique was not perfected eight years ago. I could have distracted him with the ham hand or sucking own cock question and who knows what I would have got out of them. It feels like there's a great film in this idea, but also that a more subtle and intelligent conman might have done a better job of getting away with the heist. It could have been beautiful - to steal a million pounds in plain sight, whilst being filmed. This is what Hollywood is all about surely. But it's much funnier that they fucked it up so royally.
And as a mildly amusing post script a few years later Ingram cut off three of his toes with a flymo. He's one of the truly great Britons, though every so slightly scary too.
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