Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday supplement

I'm feeling my age: for the past four weeks I've been traipsing round in doubled-up socks and a body warmer. Here I am, trying to put over early George Saunders and I'm dressing like Norman Clegg. The snow has gone - huzzah! - except for the odd patches on the pavement where it got piled up. Usually by public-spirited people who cleared their driveways by shifting all the snow into three-foot-high walls either side, on the pavement. And fingers to the bloke who got cross because I kicked his walls down so that an old chap with a stick could get by. (Not an entirely selfless act as I was that old chap.)

This is a single male household, and I gave up on standards a while back, but even so I am distressed by the state of the hall. Again. I was so distressed by it last weekend that I steam-cleaned the floor. I could have saved my time, it's as bad again. Snow, salt and big heavy walking boots have done their worst: it looks like every pigeon in Christendom has roosted in the hall for the past two months. So I set to again, and the floor now looks merely grubby.

In the process I noticed that the radiator pipe needed resealing again. I've learnt from experience that this isn't one of those jobs for duct tape, it needs sealing within the nut of the valve, which requires the use of a silicone gun. That's me, with a silicone gun. Like all good DIY prats I work on the basis that more is better and by the time I'm finished I look like a five-year old pastry chef. But let's see some water leak out of that, eh?

The third time's the charm. I think.

Sundays used to be so different. Nothing to do all day except listen to the wireless and get thumped by my sister for pinching her 'Action Man' so that the goldfish had someone to talk to. We'd start off with Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart with Junior Choice, which always seemed, even in the 1970s, to choose the same variety of 1950s novelty records that Uncle Mac used to play before him. Then it would be Worldwide Family Favourites.

"What's the weather like over Cologne?"
"Well, Jean, it's a bit drizzly today."

"And here's a card from Sapper Loomis of BFPO 45 in British West Hartlepool saying love to mum, granny and the kids and to tell Mavis that the rash has nearly cleared up completely now."

Ah yes. Then it would be a comedy show. Sunday at 2pm on the Light Programme usually meant something from the North of England, usually from James Casey's stable. It wasn't always 'The Clitheroe Kid,' though it sometimes felt like it. 'The Clitheroe Kid' did have smashing opening and closing music, though. If it wasn't from the North of England it was 'The Navy Lark,' a series I have come to treasure as I realise the parallels between the cartoon world of H.M.S. Troutbridge and Naval Command Portsmouth on the one hand and my own working environment on the other. (I know that I'm not alone in noticing the parallel between 'The Navy Lark' and the public library sector.)

Hereonin it was downhill all the way. The fading daylight of winter and the damp from the washing-up of the Sunday meal signalled that it was time to start putting off the weekend's homework. Just to make the point that life can't be all fun, the BBC would give us two hours of Cheery Charlie Chester.

"And here's a letter from Mrs. Ailsa Mutterbucket from Chorley who tells me that her husband's poorly in hospital with a horrible disease he caught at work, that both her infant children have had to go out to work in the mill to pay for her medicine after being under the doctor for the past ten years and to cap it all, last Wednesday her beloved cat, Marmalade, was run over by a corporation steam roller. Mrs. Mutterbucket asks if I could play something by Mario Lanza as he was always such a comfort at Catterick Barracks. Thanks for your letter, Ailsa. And just for you here's The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, to sing 'Hey Little Hen.'"

And the homilies. Oh the homilies! All preceded by a 'jungle' chant jingle that was a bit iffy even in those days.

"Down in the jungle, working all the day, here's what the natives all say!"

Then he'd drift off into some dreary platitudinous drivel. Suffice it to say that the tag line for the programme was: "With a box full of records and a bag full of post, it's radio Soapbox and Charlie your host!"

Then things got worse. As you sucked the end of your pencil and wondered whether you could persuade your parents to buy a dog so that they could eat your maths jotter it started.
"Sing something simple..."

Yes, it was the Cliff Adams singers, with that bloody accordion, to bring a slough of despair into the merriest of households. Here's one of their more upbeat numbers.

So here I am, umpty-dump years later, still not doing my homework but at least not festooned by the miseries of radio. Another triumph for The Ascent Of Man.

STOP PRESS: Russell Grant's horoscope tells me that I should "invest in a computer to ease your workload." Well, good luck to the idiot.


Webrarian said...

Ah, The Clitheroe Kid and Sing Something Sinful...

And Round the Horne and Grand Hotel.

And Down Your Way with Franklin Engelmann on the Home Service.

And crumpets.

Well. I managed the crumpets this evening. And yesterday I was listening to Toytown (and it was seriously funny...)

Webrarian said...

It went something like this, I think

KAZ said...

You've made me feel quite young now.
I had to Google Norman Clegg.

Unfortunately, I remember most of the rest.

savannah said...

*sigh* not only do i feel like an outsider, i feel old! you were doing maths homeworkin the 70's, sugar? *sigh* i was doing other stuff and not at home...

Gadjo Dilo said...

Kev, don't fret, Norman Clegg is now Wallace off of wallace and Gromit, you know, possible the coolest single Northern Geezer who ever drew breath!

Webrarian said...

I've now been reading about Edward Judd the actor on a messageboard. Lots of speculation as to whether he was still alive in 2005. He was married at Norma Ronald - Mildred Murfin in The Men from the Ministry.

This is, of course, just the sort of nonsense the librarians find themselves drawn into...

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Christ on a Stannah Stairlift, Kev, you must be even older than me. I remember the Clitheroe Kid, but I was very advanced for my age and brought up in a houseful of elderly ladies. That's my excuse. No wonder we thought John Peel too racy!

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madame DeFarge said...

I recall the excitement of hearing a request by my aunt on Worldwide family favourites. A momentous moment in my early juvenile years. And as for 'Sing Something Simple'? Well, it made Tiger Tim Stevens on Radio Clyde look like high art.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Chris: I'm far too young to remember Franklin Engelmann. I came late to Toytown via the medium of cassette tapes.

The Radio Times is neat (we'll say nothing of the fact that you're hoarding old copies). I honestly don't remember 'Round The Horne' being on the Light Programme, I'm convinced we always had to switch to the Home Service for that and 'Does The Team Think?' (We had to be careful as given one-quarter of an opportunity our radio would shoot off to Hilversum and spend all day playing 'Dardanella.')

I'm going to have to do that 'Round The Horne' post, aren't I?

Kaz: depressing innit?

Savannah: you know by now that I am just a mere slip of a thing.

Gadjo: there'll be a run on tank tops.

Chris again: I'm convinced that Norma Ronald was in something else I used to listen to regularly. I'm wary of asking just why there was so much speculation as to whether Edward Judd was alive in 2005...

Daphne: it were compulsory. Right up to the winter of discontent we had to shout: "eeh, Alfie!" Some still do.

Madame DeF: I'm really going to have to research Tiger Tim, aren't I? I'm a bit scared to, to be honest.

Kevin Musgrove said...

BTW - have a look at the photo of Humphrey Lyttleton in Chris' copy of the Radio Times!

savannah said...

well, sugar, don't press it with a mere slip of a thing, i'm not THAT much older than you! ;~D xoxoxox

Lulu LaBonne said...

That line-up was what I had to listen to when we drove back from Grandma's house on sunday evening. SSS still haunts me

worm said...

you read a Russell Grant horoscope? - You must have been bored

Anonymous said...

It was no wonder that Douglas Adams called it "The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul". On the up-side if you switched BACK to the light programme you got the Top 40 which my sister and I used to listen to while washing up the tea things and still get to rejoin the adults for "Songs of Praise"

Kevin Musgrove said...

Savannah: (-:

Lulu: a generation has been scarred by that awful refrain.

worm: a bus ride from hell. I even looked at the "Home & Property" supplement!

Major: you sneaky devil!

Scarlet Blue said...

Sing something simple is still going, isn't it? But then it was the Top 40 with Diddy Hamilton!

Kevin Musgrove said...

Scarlet: I hope not! There's enough misery in this world.