The long dark Sunday teatime of the soul
Posted 2 Days Ago
I've never been able to shake off that dreary, bleak, awful Sunday late afternoon/early evening feeling of childhood.
That time of the week when the only things happening on television were Going For a Song and a classic serial (another Dickens adaptation, or maybe The Water Babies... again), followed by the God Slot (probably with David Kossoff).
There was a delicious () tea of boiled ham (or possibly tongue), limp lettuce, a few tomatoes, some sliced cucumber, and salad cream. Maybe some Jacob's Cream Crackers and a bit of cheddar. Tinned fruit and single cream for afters.
The choice of entertainment on the wireless was either Pick of the Pops or Down Your Way.
The shops were closed and had been all day except for the newsagent, who shut at 3pm (where else were you going to buy that box of choccies while on your way over to see Gran?).
There was no sport. All the footie happened on Saturday and the cricket Sunday League hadn't been invented yet, nor was there any Sunday play in test matches.
The pubs would have shut at 2pm and they wouldn't open again until 7 o'clock (not that that was likely to matter to an eight-year-old kid, particularly as kids still weren't allowed in pubs then... oh, what halcyon days those were for the beer drinker).
The cinemas were also shut, until the 7pm showing of the new release. That's right, the film week started on Sunday evening, when everyone was either at church, coming back from Granny's or watching Sunday Night at the London Palladium. There probably wouldn't have been a 10pm show.
It could be worse. You might have had to visit the relatives and put on your Sunday clobber and your best behaviour.
Despite being in a place now where there's no such thing as a God Slot, there are 400 channels on television (not that I have one), a full panoply of sport is to be had, the bars, cinemas, restaurants and shops are all stiff with punters and doing a brisk trade; although I have at my fingertips more films than I can shake a lava lamp at and there are no relatives to visit, no parents telling me I can't go out because it's Sunday, certainly no tongue, limp lettuce, or salad cream for tea (or fruit cocktail), Sunday between 5pm and 7pm still feels as grim as it did 50 years and 5,000 miles ago, and it takes a superhuman feat of will to dig up the motivation to do anything.
It's the main reason I've enjoyed Monday mornings so much all down the years.
Posted Last Week
When I was a kid we'd say that we "went shopping" or "to the shops" whenever we needed make purchases, and in the case of the latter, even if we were only going to one shop (usually the sweet shop ), because shops rarely existed on their own (apart from corner shops) and clustered together, either on a High Street or a parade, or around a market place.
The former usually indicated something a bit more substantial, like a... well, we didn't really used to do a weekly shop then the way a lot of us tend to nowadays - my mother would go shopping two or three times a week, so it would involve visiting the butcher, the grocer, the greengrocer, the baker, the dairy (perm any three from five). Shopping for ingredients for the pantry, to cook meals with.
So this morning I need to go and buy a few things - eggs, flour, milk; a few basics rather than a big shop, which I'll do after the weekend. Even though I shall be buying them all from one place, I still feel like I'm going to the shops (because there are other shops in the same place), and I'm definitely going shopping.
My friends from around these parts will say "I'm going to the store", even if they're going to more than one, so sometimes I feel a bit odd, now, about saying "I'm going to the shops" when I'm only going to one, as I will be in a few minutes.
That's an interesting word for a place where things are sold. A store is a place for keeping things, like a warehouse, but the whole point of a shop is *not* keeping things. To the extent that when I had a Saturday job in a department store (not unlike Grace Brothers) I was taught to look out for anyone from the top floor trying to trick employees by asking "Do you keep ?". If you answered "Why yes, we do." you'd get the reply "Well stop keeping them and start selling them!"
This land is my land, from California to the New York island
Posted 3 Weeks Ago
Right hand raised, oath taken, voter registration card mailed.
Posted Sep 8, 2014
Well, maybe not exactly fortunes, but maybe priorities.
I watched a film I haven't seen for years - Sparrows Can't Sing - over the weekend. It was directed by Joan Littlewood, and starred/featured several of her company of actors (at the time) from the Theatre Workshop, based at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. I suppose you could say they were the Comic Strip of their time - new, brash, cutting edge, left-wing, anti-establishment, although focused more on drama and satire than comedy. And the comparison doesn't end there (more of that later).
Although the Theatre Workshop wasn't a comedy outfit, the cast list of Sparrows Can't Sing reads like a Who's Who of British comic actors of the 60s and 70s, and this is what interests me. The Workshop was such a serious and intense group of people, and yet so many of them went on to become well known in what you couldn't really call highbrow productions.
Barbara Windsor made her name in the Carry On films as the busty blonde.
Yootha Joyce and Brian Murphy both went on to star in sitcoms, both of them ending up in Man About the House and then its spinoff, George and Mildred.
Stephen Lewis, who wrote the play Sparrows Can't Sing was based on as well as the screenplay for the film, became famous as Blakey from On the Buses.
Also in On the Buses, although having a part so small in Sparrows Can't Sing that you'd miss it if you blinked, was Bob Grant (Reg Varney's conductor).
Arthur Mullard and Queenie Watts, both in the film although I'm not sure for certain if they were members of the Workshop, starred in two sitcoms - Romany Jones and Yus My Dear.
All the sitcoms in that list are the sort we look back on now with a degree of, well, not exactly embarrassment, but they're not what you might call quality fare, relying as most of them did on stereotypes, innuendo, double entendres, cheap laughs and stock situations. Young women were sex objects. Older women were either battleaxes or sex-starved maneaters. Husbands were henpecked. Any young or unmarried man was only after one thing.
Which brings me to the Comic Strip. Or, more specifically, Ade Edmondson. Now, I have to say here that I love Ade to bits and I don't intend any criticism - I'm only making an observation. His work with Rik Mayall as 20th Century Coyote and the Dangerous Brothers has always had me in stitches. I much prefer Bottom to The Young Ones because it gave both he and Rik far more scope to be their own comic selves, plus Ben Elton was out of the picture as writer. And indeed, in The Young Ones Vivyan is easily my favourite character.
In recent years I've noticed that Ade has turned into a sort of professional quaint English eccentric. I've seen (and enjoyed) all 20 episodes of the first series of Ade in Britain, and I've seen the first four or five of the second series.
They're in that genre of programme that seems to have sprung up in the past three or four years - bung a celebrity in an interesting vehicle and wheel them around the country looking for oddballs, old crafts and customs, strange businesses and shops, grand houses and mansions, buildings with macabre histories, and British traditions that everyone (except the people who take part in them) thought had died out.
But mostly they get the celebrity to try their hand at one of these old crafts or customs, inevitably looking very silly.
There's been Ade in Britain (followed by Ade at Sea, which I haven't yet seen) going around the country in his Mini towing that odd little caravan, Rory Bremner's Great British Views (in a Morgan), Robbie Coltrane's B-Road Britain (in a beautiful old Jaguar ), Richard Wilson in Britain's Best Drives (in a different vehicle each episode, to whit a VW minibus, a 1957 Ford Zodiac, a Morris Traveller, a Triumph TR3, a 1958 Austin Cambridge and a 1952 Bentley Mark 6), and Griff Rhys Jones in Britain's Lost Routes (mostly on foot, but also on a Thames barge, and in one episode in a beautiful Rolls Royce limousine).
And we mustn't forget Clare Balding on her bike, or Timothy Spall and wife sailing around the UK in their coastal barge
Clare, to her eternal credit, kept things on a serious level and didn't look a fool by trying to make clogs, spin sugar or Morris dance, and there wasn't much that Timothy and Shane could find to try their hand at while two miles off the coast, except having the occasional barney and trying not to drown.
I won't include Oz and James Drink to Britain because that was more of a specialist programme in that it dealt specifically with booze, but it's in the same vicinity, particularly since they were in a Roller towing a crappy old caravan, thus satisfying the wacky vehicle rule
Any road up. It strikes me as interesting that people who spend their youth being so apparently anti-establishment will sometimes end up being such a part of it.
This is a bit worrying
Posted Sep 7, 2014
It's been so long since I last drank any wine that I honestly can't remember when it was. You know me, I'm beer through and through, and whisk(e)y. Quite partial to a jinnantonnyx too.
But in the last few weeks I've been getting a strong - and growing - urge for a glass of red.
I blame Floyd