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.