THESE PAST few weeks, BBC Television has been awash with nostalgia, celebrating 50 years of this astonishing but now takenfor-granted medium of
communication. I have myself been featuring frequently, if not prominently, from What's My Line through Crackerjack to This Is Your Life.
1 murmer that to have appeared on television during the last 50 years does not mean you were actually there 50 years ago, but the conversation seems to drift on as it does when one mentions the weather or the crops or toothache.
At the time of writing, I have had the courage to look only at Crackerjack (believe me, there are few subtler tortures than watching oneself on television) and was astonished by its air of innocence or possibly naiveté as I saw Leslie Crowther and Pip
Hinton and Peter Glaze and the children yelling back at us on the stage at the old Shepherds Bush Empire Theatre.
Funny to think of them now yelling "Quiet!" at their own
children, disrespectfully chattering in front of the box, impatiently waiting for The Tube or the latest episode in Blockbusters.
By now I was hooked, of course, and what a reward came my way when my old friend, the late Huw Wheldon, came chortling back with Cliff Morgan lovingly presenting extracts from this most eloquent and wittiest of broadcasters.
I had not seen before but wholeheartedly supported Huw's droll protest at the medium's arrogant use of the credit "created by". "Only God created" sighed Weldon.
I was even invited to the Royal Television Society's Golden Ball at Grosvenor House, a positively lavish affair, sparkling with champagne, chortling from a witty speech by Sir Robin Day and savouring a tender piece of beef in a boot of succulent pastry.
The Society, quite rightly, pays more attention to the technicians who made television possible, but nevertheless suffered with good grace the more luminous faces of people like Angela Rippon, Michael Parkinson, Russell Harty, Terry Wogan, Michael Aspel, Sylvia Peters and so on. It was long past the witching hour before it was over.
The only serious stumble in the night was when a highly professional and proficient group called Wall Street Crash (The Big Bang?) were allowed to go on for so long that the restlessness of the audience became both visible and audible.
It had a strange knock-on effect on me too as Saturday night became Sunday morning. Later, much later, I hauled myself down the road to Evening Mass, my head still ringing with memories of the Wall Street Crash.
As I folded myself into a seat, my heart sank. Young musicians began to assemble themselves and their instruments at the top of the church. It was to be a Folk Mass. The Vatican Bash? Forgive the levity. I'm sure the hearts of the congregation were lifted even higher by the music.
HIP, hip, hooray, for Mrs Dora 011ey in Blackpool, whose gentle reprimand is received with joy.
"You were certainly not the only one to enjoy bread and dripping. As a child 70 years ago, I, my brothers and sisters ran home from school, particularly during the first world war when butter was short, to a teatime treat of toasted Hovis and dripping, with, as you say, a pinch of salt and pepper . . .!"
Better than that, she goes on to say that, after she was married and started her own family, even the youngest child starting on crusts had just a touch on it of the "best' as we all called it".
During the second world war, her family grew from seven to ten and their tea, she says, was always a slice of bread and dripping.
"They even made a song about it". A song? That's a new one on me.
SOME people feel, not without root cause, there should be a law against dentists making jokes, more especially at a time when you are in a position to emit no more than a choked gurgle, indistinguishable from mirth or rage. Let me give you a true "for instance".
Following a series of clucks and tch-tch's and sharp intakes of breath, the dentist said: "If only you'd come to me ten years earlier, I could have saved you a lot of trouble. Never mind. A lot of water's gone under the bridge since then . . ."
PS — Admittedly the Television Society's Golden Ball did have a few old-timers present. Nevertheless, calling it Golden Pond was going a bit too far, I thought!