Monday, June 07, 2010

Anorak hierarchy

Just back from a splendid weekend in the West Midlands, staying with old friends and attending one of the always excellent Kaleidoscope archive TV events at the Talbot Hotel in Stourbridge. Normally, the audience at such beanos is predictable. It consists largely of men of a certain age, many with beards, most with a sartorial style that suggests that they dress in the dark in a tearing hurry. I'm not being judgmental there, as I have just described myself. Saturday's symposium had a wider appeal, though, being about music programmes. There were even some females attending of their own volition (as opposed to the loyal spouses who attend regularly with their chaps, out of duty, and sit through the delights on screen reading a good book - ladies, I salute you and hope that he's as supportive of your interests).

The most prominent of the ladies in attendance were all too familiar. I'd never met these particular examples before, but, as a Shadows fan, I recognise all too easily women whose main ambition in life is to throw themselves onto a Cliff. At Kaleidoscope events, there's a main screening area, and a secondary screening area in the bar. It was the latter that was playing host to a screening of a 1960 ATV Cliff Richard Show and A Matter of Diamonds, the recently recovered drama starring the erstwhile Harry Webb. Normally, there's a bit of give and take. If the people at the bar are talking while you're watching something, you move a bit closer or turn the TV up. Also, if you're watching the programme yourself, but passing comment on its content ("Oooh, look, it's Mario Fabrizi" and "I wonder if it was Wood Green or Hackney. Elstree wasn't open by this point.") you sit at the back and try to keep your voice at a tolerable level.

Neither of these were good enough for the bachelor boy's biggest fans. Turning around, hissing "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" and then "We're trying to watch, and you're being very rude", before applying a blood-curdling death ray. At one point, they even shhhhhed the rather lovely Pan's Person Dee Dee Wilde, who was being greeted warmly and not too loudly at all by the event's organisers. Now, I have to say that even sitting at the back I had no trouble making out what was being said. At some points, I felt I was hearing too much. Maybe I haven't been deafened by a lifetime's exposure to 'Congratulations'. It really did seem that they felt Cliff required reverent silence. A couple of friends were bemused by the whole display, so I took them out into the hallway and explained. "They're Cliff fans. They've heard about this on the Internet and I bet they've come hundreds of miles. When the Cliff material finishes at 2pm, they will bugger off."

Almost right. They filed into Richard Marson's interview with the aforementioned Dee Dee for the first 10 minutes, but when it became clear that she wasn't going to talk about Cliff any time soon, they buggered off. Anyway, despite everything, I was glad to see them. For once, somebody made the male anoraks look normal.


Nick said...

So, long story short - you've been to a Cliff Richard convention. If caught in a similar situation, simply and regularly refer to him as Cliff Richards and comment on your love of This Ole House.

Robin Carmody said...

I must admit I avoided them altogether, other than giving a brief homily on Cliff Richard's brief accidental radicalism as a previous Old Etonian PM was opening the loop of consumerism. But then I wouldn't have missed Soft Machine and Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.

Louis Barfe said...

I have not been to a Cliff Richard convention, Nick. Look at the programme and see how little Cliffalia there was. They were on my turf, the terrible old Dorises.

Kevin Bromfield said...

She was a WILD woman! The first time she did have some reason, as it did get quite noisy so a quick friendly comment would have been acceptable, but the Dee Dee Wilde incident was unforgivable - We were way back from her and we could hear perfectly - Those at the bar were just talking normally.
By the way, we thought Dee Dee Wilde was well worth travelling up for, even though to be honest, I've only ever seen Pan's People 'second hand' many years after they ended being of er... tenderish years. My second event, and I'll be trying to add my wife to the list of loyal spouses next time!

Louis Barfe said...

After a couple of times, I'm afraid I went into wind-up mode, and I made one rather choice comment about Sir Cliff's acting abilities just loud enough for them to hear. Dee Dee Wilde was ace. Richard Marson was a good interviewer too - knowing how much more effective it is to ask a succinct question and let the interviewee do the talking. I doubt I'll ever persuade my wife to come to an event, but if she continues her current form, my daughter might well accompany me to anorak festivals in a few years time.

Kevin Bromfield said...

Richard Marson was indeed excellent - I've never seen him before, and was surprised by his subtle and paced approach - Totally in control of the structure and pacing of the interview, but without imposing himself. How much I enjoyed that interview surprises me - I was expecting only a passing interest.

Kaleidoscope events becoming 'Bring a Family' - Might happen yet! Here's to September!
By the way, stumbled on to your website and hadn't linked your name with the Light Entertainment book - The sample on Amazon looks excellent, so I think I might need to open my wallet!

Louis Barfe said...

Richard really does know what he's on about. Before he joined Blue Peter, he did a lot of work on LE shows while people like Stewart Morris were still active.

Robin Carmody said...

He also did a very good interview with Paul Stone and guide to children's drama for Primetime in 1988. He's been through a lot of shit on at least two levels, so I respect him no end for coming through. I must admit I was elsewhere during the Dee Dee / Diddy bits, but then I had other, deeper friends to spend time with.

Bricu said...

I saw Cliff and the Shads at the NIA and they were great.

The first time I had ever been in the posh seats, complete with wine and food.

So let's not shoot the messenger.

It's these mad old biddies we should aim your irk at.

Has noone told them Cliff lives with an ex priest?

The chances of them becoming Mrs Cliff or having a bit of Ladies and Gentlemen are therefore extremely low.