Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Another in my Bank Holiday telly posts. Long, challenging, grim, tedious: just think of this as the equivalent of that Zizek programme about cinema. Even though I don't have the interesting speech impediment.

The Story Of Light Entertainment - why do I actually look forward to watching this on a Saturday night? It just tells me stuff I tend to know anyway and features a lot of people I don't even like. Within the first five minutes narrator Steven Fry always says "...its roots go back to the days of music hall". There is always some footage of "Big Hearted Arthur" Askey, who was the AntiChrist.

Once more, it's to do with being a certain age, and being able to have a laugh about the Billy Cotton Band Show, Pete Murray and Mike Yarwood's wig.

It also underlines that even though I'm old, I'm not as old as Cilla "R" Cilla Black or Ed "Stewpot" "I Remember When You Used To Play Sparky's Electric Bloodybastard Piano On Junior Choice And Ruin My Saturday Mornings" Stewart, who both recall with great clarity how appalling post war Sundays were. Look, at least we can go to Ikea or have a lie in! In the 1940's, according to them, your day would consist of the following:

(i) Get up at 5 in the morning. Grate the leading. Or is it lead the grating?
(ii) Travel to holy communion down some muddy country lanes on your bike.
(iii) Help yer mam peel some spuds.
(iv) Have a Sunday roast with congealed gravy, a Yorkshire, leathery rationed lamb roast and tinned peas.
(v) OH JOY!!! Listen to the radio! The Larkins followed by the Navy Lark followed by Wot Larks Pip followed by .....


Yes ....

THE BILLY COTTON BAND SHOW!!!! The highlight of the weekend - in fact, the entire week!

Actually, I cheated as that wasn't the Bank Holiday Weekend show, which featured some boring impressionists.

Anyway, the other thing about the Story Of Light Entertainment is that the opening sequence features some graphics which seem to owe a lot to the template for Lubin Odana's blog. Hey, will the person who designed it be able to sue the BBC?

I can watch anything that Stephen Fry narrates. I could watch a dog poo if he was the voice over.
... which reminds me. I've spelt his name wrong. Still, goes along with the theme this week. Yesterday I called Phill Jupitus Phil Jupitus.
Re Cilla - I absolutely detest her now and everything she stands for. But in last weeks programme she did look wonderful in that skinny frock with the cutaway arms. SORRY, I just couldn't help noticing.
And she does *the* best version of *the* best Randy Newman song - I've been Wrong Before - before he got all political and ironio and it was all nigger this and coon that.,... (said in similarly ironic RN vein, before the PC police get their truncheons out)

Yes, those Sundays were just awful I remember the early slot was just as bloody bad - 2 way family favourites and all that crap. I just have this abiding memory of the really stuffy atmosphere generated by my Nan's coal fire (in April???) and all that stuff acting as aural chloroform in the background...

Explains a lot, actually...
Did you watch the programme on June Whitfield afterwards? Oh, when the Queen eventually goes, just kick Charles in the nuts and stick her on the throne. Quite wonderful.

With you on "Light" though. I find it bizarrely mesmerising despite the fact that it's packed to the rafters with bastards. Thankfully most of their careers involve doing just that off a cliff.
Got my 40s sunday just right there Betts, except it happened to me in the 50s. God, life was nice in them days - not that I'm complaining, don't get me wrong. But would we all have been happier without the invention of the spinning jenny?
Kaz - yes, she did look pretty cool in those days, oddly enough. Apparently she only dresses so garishly now for image reasons. She is a WORKING CLASS TORY SCUMBAG TRAITOR though. I would say that: I came of age during the Thatcher years.

Bob - that song is on Bobcast Volume 372, isn't it? Available from all good newsagents under the counter now, folks. I'm not averse to Cilla's Best Of collection, actually.

Two Way Family Favourites always used to feature that song about little green apples and Indianapolis which I find really depressing.

Del - unfortunately I didn't see the June Whitfield programme but she would definitely be preferable to the current incumbent at Buck House. There is a drama upcoming about Diana's death which features Helen Mirren as the Queen. Saw a clip of it yesterday and she looks really strange as HRH.

Tom - aye, but I wouldn't go back to the days of diptheria, consumption, people dying of old age at 30, National Service, families of twenty living in a two bedroomed house and the death penalty.

Anyway, it was a whole lot worse for Cilla and Ed Stewart in the grim postwar years. I can imagine them cycling down the back lanes of Bootle to holy communion together, then later on sat round their mam and dad's listening to the wireless and thinking "one day, tharull be me ... if only I can gerrout of this 'ole ..."

Sorry for rambling on. I woke up today feeling hugely depressed, and I'm trying to shake it off by writing absolute bollocks.

Sorry again.
Long live Cilla singing. A good song well sung I say!

My mam had a brown wood-stylee trolley that she would wheel in with crumpets on (why she needed the trolley for the crumpets I'll never know but there were 14 of us kids - perhaps they were heavy) and we would sit there watching TV with dribbly Stork margarine fingers.

And that was before we ate the crumpets.

I hope you are ok Bettster. You know...you never ramble on...and you never write bollocks....

*Gets all choked up and runs away again*
June Whitfield?

Is this what it's all about when you succumb to old age?

If this is so, then Pete Townsend had the right idea. But unfortunately, it never came to pass.
Molly - my dad reckoned that Cilla had "had" all of the Beatles, because some interviewer asked her if the Beatles were real men as they had long hair (?) She said "oh yes, I can assure you, they're real men alright". To my dad, this meant that she was obviously A Complete Tart. "She used to spend her time in that bloody club in Liverpool, the Bunker they used to call it".

I still eat crumpets.

I'm okay. Depressed as hell, but okay.

Istvanski - cheeky bugger. It was Del who first mentioned June Whitfield, and he is 26! Anyway, now I'm old and toothless sod Kate Moss, June is my style icon. What's wrong with box pleated skirts and M & S cardies with gold buttons down the front?
"What's wrong with box pleated skirts and M & S cardies with gold buttons down the front?"

I'm still trying to think what's right with 'em.

I know I'll have arrived at being old when I go into M&S and start thinking:
"Hmmm, those sky-blue slacks look rather nice..."
That's the thing - you stop wearing jeans and start wearing "slacks". With elasticated waistbands. The main criteria for buying an item of clothing is that it has to be "comfy" or "warm" (even in summer).
I have photos of me in that cardigan with gold buttons. If I post it up, will you laugh? My husband actually said to me when he saw it..is it *actually* possible for someone to look 40 when they are 14?

Obviously it is. And it is me.

I knew it was so when I went to my Auntie's Silver Wedding Anniversary celebrations and they asked me if I wanted to make a speech to celebrate my 'long and happy union'. I was 15.

I'm sending you a virtual crumpetxx

NO, Bob! I said crumpet, not CRUMPET!
Feeling depressed in yer forties - blech. Betty, I commiserate. But even on my worst day I believe it's not as bad as feeling depressed as a child, on a Sunday evening, listening to 'Sing Something Simple' with the Mike Samms Singers,on the radio. Tinned mandarin oranges. The pain.

Hope a hot toasted crumpet helps.
Molly - I wouldn't laugh at the picture. Is it the inverse of the "when I was young you definitely *would*" post that is running through blogworld like a dose of salts (slight exaggeration)?

Arabella - actually my Sunday afternoons as a child were alright. My parents used to let me have the run of the *Front Room* all afternoon so I could listen to Tom Browne's Solid Gold Sixty by myself (and to give themselves a bit of respite, I suppose). I could look out of the window wistfully at twilight as "dark brown voiced" Tom spun Lady Eleanor by Lindisfarne ...

Me 'n' Geoff had an argument over the lyrics of Sing Something Simple. He thinks they were singing "we'll sing something simple my friend" and I thought it was "we'll sing something simple for you". Still not resolved.

Thanks for virtual crumpets, but remember: a second on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.
Pretty sure it was "for you". And it wasn't Mike Sammes, it was Cliff Adams. God, I hated that show, impatiently sitting around waiting for the Top 20 to come on. (That and Charlie Chester.) I especially hated the way that the Cliff Adams Singers kept it "simple" by la-la-la-ing the verses, so that we could all sing along with them at home without developing inferiority complexes for not knowing the words.
Ah, but the Mike Sammes' Singers did backing vocals on I am The Walrus!

My parents were of the opinion that Charlie Chester was A Very Nice Man. High praise indeed. They used to hate most people on the radio or televsion.
"Sing Something Simple"...The Mike Sammes Singers...genius!

God, I used to whinnnnne waiting for T.Rex or Albert Hammonds to appear on the top-20 run-down...

hearing "Life on Mars" for the 1st time on a playground transistor radio...

Sorry. Retro-Nostalgia flip-back...
For some mysterious reason, until about an hour ago Blogger refused to display your blog to me.Instead it was stuck on the one previous to this one saying it had only 1 comment even though it was displaying all on 'em. Bugger. Now I've missed my chance to annoy. I didn't think you could have stayed quiet that long.

Maybe it's just me but with the exception of Cheerful Bloody Charlie Bloody Chester, remembering those programmes brings a strangely comforting feeling. I loved the Navy Lark and Round the Horne and I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again was fucking genius. It was Cliff Adams and the Adams Singers. With Jack Emblow on the accordian. And Catweazle was on telly.
Steve - no problems, I think I spend about ninety per cent of my life on a Retro Nostalgia flip-back. Well, there's nothing else interesting to occupy my time ...

Richard - oddly enough, I can't remember my parents listening to any of the comedy half hours on the radio. So I didn't know how "subversive" Round The Horne was until recent years, with all that Bona Fide Wotsit Picadilly Paloney what have you.

... in a pathetic attempt to carry on this thread ...

if there was a fight between The Cliff Adams Singers and the Mike Sammes Singers - who would win?
Mike Sammes, unless The Black and White Minstrals stepped in; they're well 'ard.
I liked the Cilla Black live autopsy, myself.

Hey, my life in the Eighties was: get up starve before Church - or being that we're talking about the Catholic Church that will compromise on everything that doesn't matter, make sure you haven't eaten for an hour before Communion thus try and guess the length of the sermon and whether there will be hymns to work out when communion will be.

Lay table for and wash up after Sunday lunch

Wait for Top 20. Be called down for tea and have to watch Songs of Praise, thus missing Tpp Twenty.

do homework
Kek - The Mike Sammes Singers wouldn't stand a chance against the Black And White Minstrels, especially that fat bloke. The thugs in the film A Clockwork Orange had an image based on a negative picture of the Black And White Minstrels, due to their fearsome reputation on the football terraces of London clubs.

Gert - I seem to have missed Cilla's live autopsy, but it sounds like fun. I know that during her live variety show there used to be a broadcast from a viewers' home - except that once it accidentally broadcast from a brothel and there were loads of really embarrassed looking people on live television.

My childhood sounds completely unburdened compaired to yours. Except for the Sunday afternoon maths homework in my teens.
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