I was trying to fight back the throb of pain coming from my broken legs but at least it was keeping me awake which was some achievement considering Smasher was telling us an anecdote. He once sent half of the Firkinside Doctor Who League into a coma with a lengthy story about how he’d organised the most efficient shared taxi pool to take the actors back to their hotels after DWAT-Con-V. I made it as far as Colin Baker sharing a taxi with Maureen O’Brien and John Noakes (a blundered booking for which heads rolled I can assure you) until O’Brien’s hotel and then having to wait 45 minutes in the rain to be picked up by a car already containing Caroline John, Lisa Bowerman and Clive Swift. The idiot even left out the funniest bit which was that Francois Devine moved one of his generic post-it style notes during the planning phase which meant Sylvester McCoy ended up paying twice as he’d been booked in two cars at the same time. Smasher not wanting to look like an utter clown robbed the story of its only humorous aspect.

““Mr Ganache” continued Smasher’s effeminate impersonation of Lola Whitecastle. He takes over the narrative once again from now on.

“Mmm?” I replied from my mouthful of sandwich.

“I want this book to reflect the highs and lows of my career.”

“You mean ‘Tudor Timewarp Turmoil’ which is generally regarded as the best story of your time in Adventures into Space and ‘A Question of Black and White’ which regularly tops the list of your worst episodes?”

“Adventures into Space was only a tiny part of my career” she told me. “Although it put me on the cover of every magazine that mattered in my sexy space policeman’s minidress. I was up there with Honor, Diana and Linda at the peak of my fame. I drove a sports car, I bedded every footballer that mattered and had so many filthy fan letters that I had to stop reading them all as I was getting too excited to do any work.”

“I trust you kept examples of your incoming and outgoing correspondence in your extensive archive?”

“I kept some of them, yes.”

“Excellent. I shall include any details I consider relevant under the heading of ‘unsolicited feedback and contemporary opinion’. I won’t be quoting any dirty words though as bad language INFURIATES me. What is the use of a good, clean tongue if people want to make it filthy? It makes me very ANGRY.”

I banged my fist on the table and caught my saucer with a glancing swipe. It threw my cup of tea in the air and showered my remaining sandwiches with liquid.

“Do you SEE? Do you see where smutty talk gets us? My sandwiches are RUINED now. I shan’t speak again for a few moments as I may say something we’ll regret.”

I sat quietly and snapped the rubber band I keep on my wrist at the insistence of a vindictive magistrate and his court appointed psychiatric quack. Whitecastle took this opportunity to outline her vision for her book.

“My childhood in Hampshire – such an idyllic place – then on to London in the early 60s where I became a model and was in such demand that they offered me dear Ilona’s job on Space. I was so pleased they found a way to bring her back – she was such a sweetheart. I’d like to focus on the pop culture side of Space rather than the actual shows themselves as they were a bit dismal really. Lorne, bless him, was a lovely man – the only man who ever turned me down – but hopelessly out of his depth as an action hero. Then I’d like to talk about my film career with Hammer and how I was one of the top stars wooed away by Mallet Pictures when they tried to take over the British film industry. Hollywood beckoned and I spent the early 70s living in California and have the most wonderful time. That was where I met Serge and gave birth to my three wonderful children – Lanyard, Ramekin and Tiara – before I caught him in bed with identical triplets and we ended up arguing so fiercely that we both fell into the swimming pool. I’d rather like to gloss over Bungalow as it was dreadful, and the less said about the Jim Davidson series the better. Then…”

“Please stop” I told her, my wrist red raw but my temper more even. “I am well aware of your list of credits and severely doubt whether there is any interest in your children, your swimming pool or any of your sports cars. You’ll be telling me next that you want to include some full colour photographic plates.”

Instead of laughing at the absurdity of my sarcastically offered suggestion she staggered me by agreeing with it.

“I’ve got so many wonderful photographs that choosing just sixteen or thirty two pages will be so difficult. For every dear friend I include there will be two that I simply don’t have room for. Heart-breaking but these things must happen.”

“Stop it. You’re making a mockery of my book.”

“It’s my book – you’re only the ghost writer” she insisted.

“How DARE you make me out to be some kind of hire-by-the-yard hack or scribe” I shouted. This time I slammed both hands on the table in justified rage at the grave insult she’d just provoked me into giving myself. The table was poorly constructed and gave way at the slighted touch. The remaining food ended up splatting into my lap, ruining the front of my trousers. Whitecastle went too far by laughing at this MONSTROUS turn of events.

“That’s IT” I told her. “You’re FIRED. I’ll get someone else to let me write their biography.”

She got up and left which at least meant I eat whatever I could salvage from my lap without feeling obliged to share it with her.”

Smasher, red faced, exhausted and fuming, sat back as his tale reached its sticky climax. Francois Devine and I sat in silence. Smasher was officially out of the running. Our chances had just increased by some mathematical amount.

“You chaps will agree that she was entirely in the wrong but that I am right to offer to forgive her?”

We mumbled non-commitally.

“My solicitor sent her a letter outlining my terms and conditions but I’ve not yet received a reply. Frankly I’m CHEESED OFF with her tardiness. I’ve half a mind to go back to my room and leave another telephone message on her answer phone. In fact I think I’ll do that. Good afternoon.”

“Bye, Smasher” I said with my first genuine smile since I realised he’d joined us.

A great weight had been lifted.

“Now that he’s gone” began Francois Devine, “do you fancy a quick game of I-Spy? You know how infuriated he gets when he loses.”

“I do, Francois Devine, I remember it well. I spy with my little eye…”

“Hold hard – who said you could go first?”

“I naturally assumed…”

“Well don’t – it was my idea so I get to go first.”

“That’s not how it works…”

Smasher may have been a violent oaf that ruined every single occasion he was present for but at least he wasn’t as petty as some people I could name.