Saturday, December 13, 2008

The LWT graphics department was always one of the best in the business, as day 13's offering goes some small way to prove. It's a still from the ident that heralded London Weekend's late night programming in the mid-1980s. The neon effect of the lettering is clearly being used to indicate glamour, glitz, excitement and possibly even naughtiness. The purpose of the graphic is to persuade insomniacs and sociopaths that sitting up into the dark watches of the night watching cheaply bought-in programmes was somehow comparable to hitting the town and having a good time. This comes from a tape of an edition of The Monte Carlo Show, featuring Anthony Newley. It was recorded (on Friday 21 June 1985, I am informed by the Times Digital Archive) for the benefit of my grandmother, who thought the sun shone out of Newley's backside, and for 'Strawberry Fair' alone, I'll concede that she may well have had a point. It was recorded on a timer as, on the night of transmission, my grandparents were actually out having a good time, probably at the bingo in Kingston. Unfortunately, an earlier programme had over-run (most likely the Athletics from Birmingham) and as this was very early in the Cheeseford family's adoption of wondrous VHS technology, padding the recording time was unheard of. So, we ended up with the last 10 minutes of a dubbed foreign film called There Once Was a Cop, and poor old Tony Newley being truncated in the middle of a disco version of 'Who Can I Turn To?'. The dubbed foreign film contains a child actor who would have been supremely slappable even if he hadn't robbed my dear old Nan of the finale of The Monte Carlo Show.

Talking of slappable, I was almost roused to violence at the cashpoint earlier. Now, I try wherever possible to avoid the Daily Mail 'hell in a handcart/isn't everything ghastly?' view of modern life. This isn't because I think everything's just dandy. It's because I believe fervently that man's default position is rudeness and self-interest, and that we've always been closer to hell than we care to acknowledge. However, the arsehole who pushed in front of me as I tried to pay a cheque in must be closer than most. There I was, standing well back from the person ahead of me in the queue, doing that ostentatious 'I can't see your PIN. Ooooh look at the watch straps in Timpsons' window' thing. I turned back to notice a chap had taken up a position at my side, a little in front of me. It came to what I knew to be my turn, and this bloke stepped forward with me, and stood at my side, looking at the keypad. Momentarily discombobulated by the brass neck of the man, I turned to him and said "If you're that desperate, you'd better go in front", rather than telling him to get behind me and wait his fucking turn. He said "Thanks", barged in and inserted his card. To the back of his head, I said "Actually, I was being a little sarcastic back then. I've got better things to do than stand around by cashpoints on freezing cold nights, giving way to pisstakers". He got his money out. He went back to his car, where his fugly wife/sister/both was waiting. I put my card in, and the screen changed to read 'Temporarily out of service'. At this point, had I been in need of cash rather than depositing, I wouldn't have liked to be this twunt. I would have thrown my bike squarely at his windscreen and taken the consequences fully. How do people like that go through life without ending up perpetually in traction?

1 comment:

Robin Carmody said...

I genuinely consider much of Newley's 1959/60 work (specifically 'Idle on Parade' / 'Gurney Slade' / "Strawberry Fair") to be, for all its mostly flip sarcasm, as eloquent and appropriate a response to the national humiliation of Suez, the grand-scale collapse of "Britishness" or "Englishness" as a credible cultural model, as anything from the Armchair Theatre stable.

Then of course he went to America and started playing up to the very same myth whose obsolesence he'd gleefully acknowledged.