We printed sexy pictures of your daughter Chloe in our August issue. Did you mind?
She asked for my opinion. After she assured me they wouldn’t be topless, I said to give me a day to think about it. I spoke to the girls at work and they all said they’d kill to do it. If my mates down the pub tease me, I couldn’t give a shit. Chloe is beautiful, so why shouldn’t she flaunt it?
As an Essex boy, were you a bit of a tearaway growing up?
Well, I was born in Romford but I got sent to a grammar school in east London. This was back in the late ’60s, during the first wave of skinheads. A lot of the boys carried blades and there were plenty of stabbings. One kid was beaten unconscious with a metal bar outside the school gates, and another got shot with a high powered air rifle. As an outsider I had to be careful. Even so, when I was 14 I had to leave because I was told I was going to get rumbled, which was slang for getting stabbed. A friend had overheard some Cockney boys planning to do me in the park as I walked to Mile End Tube station. I phoned my dad and he collected me. I never went back.
Was there no discipline back then?
We had the cane at school, but I have to say the punishment was rather sexualised. The master in charge of giving the beatings insisted on bringing in a witness, and it was always the same teacher, a blonde woman who taught English. She just happened to be his fiancée as well. She liked to watch, no doubt about it. There was definitely something extra going on there.
Did you get corporal punishment at home?
When I was about eight, my father started to beat me. I’d done something trivial and he told me to wait in the back room. He came back with the sort of bamboo stick you tie rose bushes to and he laid into my buttocks and the back of my legs for a full minute. The beatings only stopped when he finally went too far and gave me a leathering. I didn’t bleed but there were huge welts on my body. My mum threatened to go to the police.
It’s nothing compared to what happened to my granddad. I’ve just written a book called Father And Sons covering 100 years of my family’s history, and you wouldn’t believe what he went through. His own father went broke in 1907, and was forced to borrow some money from relatives who owned a farm in the remote Shropshire countryside. They agreed to give him enough cash to emigrate to Canada if he left one of his children with them in exchange.
That must have been a difficult goodbye!
They never even said goodbye. The whole family stayed overnight at the farm, then did a midnight flit and left my grandfather sleeping. He woke up the next morning, saw the bags were gone, and ran around the farm very scared calling for his mother. Finally, he found his new owners and they told him about the deal. He spent the whole day speechless with shock. It fucked him up. It made him emotionally distant, and that got passed onto my father. These things have an impact, there’s a chain of pain, but I hope I’ve managed to break that as a dad.
What is your curse word of choice?
Oh “cunt”, every time. And sometimes, if I stub my toes, say, it will be, “shit fuck cunt bollocks!” But I don’t swear in an argument. If someone cuts me up at the lights, I try really hard to shut down. I’m too old for any nonsense.
Do you ever feel unmanly, backing down from a row?
One incident a few years ago gave me a really bad day. I was driving to work and there was a white van blocking the road. I pulled up behind it and waited. I could see through the back windows that there were two blokes in the front seat so I gave a quick beep. One of them turned round but nothing else happened, so I did it again and flashed my lights. Then the door opened and this huge bloke got out. A fucking gorilla. I thought, “oh shit”, especially as I was in a soft top Triumph Spitfire with the roof down. This guy lumbers over and says, “You got a problem, John?” I said, “No, it’s just that it’s rush hour, and I’d like to get to work.” He says, “Oh no, John, you went beep beep, didn’t you? I think you should get out and we can have a chat.” At this point, my whole car began to sink. I looked round and the other bloke, who was even bigger, had parked his massive arse on my bonnet. Then the first guy wrapped his huge sausage fingers over the top of my window and forced it down before leaning in and slapping me on the cheek. “You be a good boy,” he said, getting a real kick out of it, the way bullies do. I was so wound up. If I’d had a gun I would have shot him. I spent the whole day at work feeling humiliated.
What type of underpants do you favour?
I don’t wear them. I’m sitting here in my jeans and that’s it. It’s been 15 years since I wore any. As an uncircumcised man, I don’t experience any chafing, and I’m always careful to shake the drops off after having a pee. That’s important if you’re wearing pale linen trousers.
Do people try to catch a glimpse of your member in public toilets?
I’ve never noticed any sidelong glances, but when I visited the urinal at a Spice Girls concert a bloke sneaked up beside me and took a photo. It was outrageous. I turned on him and asked what the hell he was doing, but he just replied, “Don’t worry, it’s only for me, not the internet.”
What’s the most drunk you’ve ever been?
Christmas Eve, 1990. I woke up at four in the morning, totally naked in the cupboard under the stairs, on my knees among the wellington boots. I was holding a can of artificial snow. We’d had a family argument about whether we should put artificial snow on the tree, and I’d been outvoted. So I must have woken up and drunkenly tried to prove them all wrong. The mess was terrible. That was because of whisky.
How would a torturer break you?
Just by threatening me! They’d only have to show me the electrodes they were planning to attach to my bollocks, and I would sing like a canary. The thing is, everyone breaks under torture, so it’s only a matter of time. Even if you’re Andy McNab or whoever, it’s going to happen.
Do you ever dream of being a hero?
No, but I do dream of playing football for England. It always involves taking a penalty and I always score. I think it stems from an incident years ago, when I was playing in a charity match for Border TV against the local fire brigade in Carlisle. I was a heavy smoker in those days and I actually threw up on the side of the pitch. When we got a penalty, the captain, a producer who hated me, ordered me to take it. He was hoping I would mess it up. There were about 100 people watching and I slipped as I made my run up. But, amazingly, the ball went really hard by mistake, straight into the top right hand corner. It looked fabulous. In my dreams, I do it at Wembley.
Richard & Judy’s new show starts on Watch this October
Original interview by Grub Smith in the October 2008 issue of FHM UK magazine