Thursday, November 13, 2008


First up, I'd like to issue an apology to Arabella. According to Geoff, my response to her comment on the previous post was probably viewed by her as "sarcastic and patronising". Whoops! That certainly wasn't the intention. As I've always imagined Arabella as the sort of bird who would wear immaculate red lippy and a 40's style floral frock even if she's going to the garden centre, the last thing I would want to do is upset her, and therefore look completely uncool ...

Anyway, as Bonfire Night is over with, we're officially hurtling on the free fall towards Christmas. Time to consider a hit single from a Christmas past ...

From the film Way Out West, The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine by Laurel And Hardy was a big hit in Britain in 1975.

It was also the subject of what is known as a "send up" that year on my local early evening news magazine TV programme, Midlands Today.

Midlands Today cast a long shadow over the earlier years of my life with its monochrome drabness. The overbearing memory of its 1970's coverage was of industrial correspondent Peter Colbourne and his terrifying Flying V eyebrows grimly announcing yet another round of redundancies at Coventry's Jaguar plant.

So it came as something of a surprise when Midlands Today decided to let its hair down on that momentous Christmas show in the mid 1970's with the Laurel And Hardy skit. The times - they were a changin'.  As Adam Buxton's dad would tell you, PUNK ROCK was just around the corner.   Joe Strummer was going to deliver us all from the three day week and unburied bodies piling up in the streets.  So was Midlands Today.

Main presenter - burly Tom Coyne - was in the Oliver Hardy role. Skinny little David Stevens (the news reporter) was Stan Laurel.  The only suitable modern physical equivalent to the pair would be Phillll "Gogol Bordello" Jupitus and Simon Amstell.

I don't think there was an appearance by Peter Colbourne and his flaring eyebrows, unless he was one of the barmen.

I haven't even bothered to look up this gem on YouTube. On YouTube, you can't even find a full, unexpurgated version of Paul Shane's You've Lost That Loving Feeling (from Pebble Mill At One - another Midlands TV show). That was the greatest live vocal performance of the past century. What hope then for Tom and David and their Trail Of The Lonesome Pine?

No, the approximation of Laurel And Hardy must be the stuff of legend instead, talked about in hushed tones by, er, me and no one else.

Still, that's part of what blogging is about - keeping a record of the seemingly tiny, insignificant ripples in the great ocean we call life.

Tom and David: gone but never forgotten.

Keep the faith.

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I remember the Laurel and Hardy hit of 1975 very well but I can't remember why it was a hit in 1975. There used to be L&H films on the telly in the school holidays in those days, after the Banana Splits and before the Flashing Blade, maybe that was it.
Our equivalent of Midlands Today was also shite and unmitigatingly grim - people being blown to smithereens and so forth, no L&H skits though.
Please confirm to me that all of your responses to my comments are intended to be sarcastic and patronising. A chap likes to know where he stands.

wv - hershriz - chocolate bar given away with papers to save a return trip to the shop when ingesting cannabis results in craving for sugar. A damned good idea.
I can vaguely remember Nationwide, which was all brown jumpers and extremely dull.

At least we have Christine (permagrin) Bleakley to liven things up on the One Show these days.
I'm sure they never did a version of 'The Lonesome Pine' on Nationwide. Mind you, Frank Bough did get up to some pretty odd things, as I recall.
I wear red lippy and a 40's style floral frock when I'm going to the garden centre.

But the lippy is bleeding and my breath smells of Irish whiskey and there's always the danger I'll keel over in the power tool aisle like we see with poor old Stan.
christine bleakley is either:

a) made of wood and polymers

b) an animatronic presenter from jim henson's creature workshop

i like to tell small person that if she doesn't immediately go to sleep, the wardrobe door will creak open and christine bleakley will lurch out and deliver a piece to camera about people who dance with their dogs.

works every time. brrr.

wv: dance. it's just no fun any more, is it?
I thought this one was more up to the minute Northern Soulish.
Vicus is absolutely correctomundo. I delight in receiving sarcastic and patronising comments. Truth be told, it's my raison d'être for blogging.

Whenever my ego requires a smidge of sycophantic knee-sucking I simply click over to Facebook and look at all the crap that my peeps send me.

I am so very, very, thankful to have been born in the Rock Era. Had I been forced to listen to all of those old-timey, generic, wishy washy, churn-'em-out-by-the-dozen ditties, I would have gone postal.
"As I've always imagined Arabella as the sort of bird who would wear immaculate red lippy and a 40's style floral frock even if she's going to the garden centre..."

No, that'd be me Bettster...

"What's levity??"


p.s. wrod vrefcificificatoin:


(Eric Morecambe as a ventriloquist singing Roxy Music???)
Just got back from the garden center and missed all the excitement. Did we have a tiff?!
Rather than sit and cough in the depressing miasma that is remembering Midlands Today, I will instead get out extra sherry for the visits your generous name-check will generate. Thanks me wench. (No one else will understand that last bit).
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Realdoc - actually, most of the national news featured very grim news from Northern Ireleand in the 1970's, therefore making Midlands Today seem like a bit of light relief with the endless industrial disputes and strike votes and Derek Robinson.

Vicus - all of my replies to you on this site are genial, warm and loving. All of my replies to you on that other site we both frequent are sarcastic, stern and of course I get particularly angry when you forget to do your home work. Still, best not to go into further details here. It's our little secret.

Garfer - Nationwide featured Michael Barrett and Sue Lawley of "f*ck me 'til I fart" fame, ahem ahem splutter. It was full of short local features about haunted pubs and skateboarding ducks. If only those golden TV days would come back again, eh? We knew where we all stood. Surly Girl may have a difference of opinion about Christine ...

The Dotterel - dear old Frank. Don't seem to see much of him on the telly these days, do you? Apparently he said "ha ha, when are you and I going to have an affair then?" to a young Fern Britton when she first joined the BBC Breakfast Team. I wonder if she ended up giving him a good whipping?

MJ - that sounds just like me, actually. Except I'll be wearing a threadbare 1960's car coat with dubious stains all over it, and the lipstick would be orange. I usually fall into a display of potted plants.
Well I must say that spam above is extraordinarily like one of Sarah Kennedy's morning shows on Radio 2 when she's had a few too many anti-inflammatory's with her morning snifter. I was brought up on Nationwide - Bernard Thingy, Hugh Scullard, the oh so (un)hilarious and be-bearded Richard Stilgoe who I seem to recall did some frighteningly awful duet with Peter Skellern. We always used to call him Peter Skellingkton. And Bob Wellings and Sue Lawley. Later on when I was of the age where you pretended to be ill to get off school I was forced to watch Pebble Mill as punishment whilst eating a bowl of Crosse and Blackwell Big Soup but that was ok as Crown Court was on after wards and I loved that. Ugh word verif: peadeco - reminds me of Peter Skellern again!
Surly Girl - I can't make any negative comments about Christine Bleakley, or Garfer will have my guts for garters, or something like that. At least she isn't Myleeeeennneeee Klaaaaas though. Everyone in the world is preferable to Myleeeeeeeeneeeee Klaaaaas.

Murph - that's a tremendous video. Now I can imagine David Ball and Marc Almond as Laurel & Hardy (or Hardy & Laurel).

Mr Coppens - I love all the comments I get on Facebook and MySpace along the lines of "LOL fug, epic fail". Certainly puts me in my place. I've been called a fat virgin rat and a moonfaced troll by other bloggers, so it isn't as if our lot have got the moral highground! I must admit to liking some pre-rock crooning. Not my own crooning, I should add.

Bob - no, you're definitely more a coral metallic lipstick and black rubber body stocking sort of a gal. That's the only way I imagine you.

Arabella - right you are. Sorry for evoking memories of Midlands Today. It's all from the long distant past though, and deserves to stay there. Tara a bit.

Luos - hello and welcome. This is fantastic news! I love the passion and the people myself. What's more, and by amazing coincidence, we're having an Ugg boots and wholesale furniture party round ours tomorrow night! Bring your own bottle! See you there darlin'! xxx
RoMo - Richard Stilgoe was the spitting image of our terrifying geography teacher (he obviously hated children and was witheringly sarcastic at all times). I think I hate Richard Stilgoe more than almost anybody. Pebble Mill At One was unbearable. I wonder what happened to craggy faced Bob Langley, who looked as if he used to be a knitting pattern model?
I remember Midlands Today. Despite the therapy.
Laura - if something doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger. Respect to my Midlands peeps.
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