I have been in reflective mood recently. Lots of time spent in the past.
I have always loved the radio. “The wireless” it was in the old days. We had to wait for the valves (tubes) to warm up. Dad used to build our radios and indeed he built our first TV when we lived in Gelli Deg. And then came the transistor and as I grew older, listening to Radio Caroline under the bedclothes. I checked out some photos of old transistor radios and I can say for sure that I definitely owned an ITT Colt at some stage. Today I can listen to virtually anything on my phone, iPad or laptop. There is an excellent free ‘app’ called TuneIn Radio that allows you to listen to any radio station broadcasting over the internet. So I get my morning fix of the BBC World Service or weekend dose of Radio Five Live (for sports) via this. Highly recommended.
My principal love was comedy. I listened to The Clitheroe Kid, ISIRTA (Full Frontal Radio), Round the Horne, The Goons, The Men from the Ministry, The Navy Lark and probably a few others. Say “Left hand down a bit” to many a sixties chap and he will think of HMS Troutbridge and Leslie Phillips.
As the years went on I bought the books of the scripts for the Goon Shows and Round the Horne. I bought a wonderful book on the history of (British) comedy from 1960-1980 called “From Fringe to Flying Circus”. And I bought cassette tapes and later CDs of many of the shows.
When I need a pick-me-up I often turn to these or another invaluable source of material, You Tube. And I did so today. I listened to a Goon show on my iPad. They Goons were wonderful. Secombe was the sanest of them. Milligna (the well-known typing error) the craziest. Who else could have got away with calling Prince Charles “The little grovelling bastard” on live TV? And Sellers, perhaps the most talented but troubled. The problem is I have listened to these shows many times and in some cases I can almost recite them. I wondered to myself whether perhaps, just maybe, I could find something new to download in the iTunes store. And I could. (Disclosure: I am ‘long’ APPL).
You may not find that much of a deal but iTunes has until very recently been off limits to those of us in Hong Kong. Copyright issues apparently. Good old IPR disputes and restrictions. So I have never really trawled its vaults. There were some very old recordings for sale and, as with Amazon there was a section that shows you other items of interest based on the one you are looking at. Pete & Dud were there. They tempted me. Suddenly I saw another Sellers album, called, appropriately, The Peter Sellers Collection. As I looked at the contents I knew I was going to download it. Track two is one of his finest performances. I beg you to follow the link and listen to A Hard Day’s Night. There are twenty tracks on this album. It starts with Any Old Iron and ends with Balham – Gateway to the South. I can still see in my mind Sellers and Loren in Goodness Gracious Me. However if you like Unchained Melody then Sellers singing it as Bluebottle might not be for you – but the man was a genius. Lets call it an acquired taste.
This is of course living in the past. Many of the names I grew up with have passed on. Whilst it picks me up it also reminds me of my mortality. I doubt if I could name a single contemporary ‘band’ or comedian. My brother’s funeral is on the 22nd, six thousand miles away. I read the Order of Service yesterday. The finality is what struck me most. It prompts me to think I should look forward more and back less. But if you don’t mind before I do I’ll listen to The Goons just one more time. Let’s make it I’m Walking Backwards for Christmas, shall we?