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Month: April 2008

Occasionally, I hear something on television or radio and wonder to myself “Did that person really say what I think they just said?”. So it is with a clip from GMTV the morning after the 2005 general election. Like the proper anorak that I am, I recorded both the BBC1 and ITV coverage – 2 VCRs, 2 long play E240s, job done. While transferring all 16 hours of actuality to DVD the other day, I chanced upon John Stapleton calling Tony Blair “Mr Blower” and then tripping over the name of a gay Labour MP who had lost his seat (please, no, stop it). After 5 replays, I’m convinced that Stapleton really does say what I think he says. Watch the clip, wait until 1:40 and see what you think. Must have been a long night chez Stapleton.

My status as a serious researcher of weighty topics has just led me to look up the 1970s Yorkshire TV children’s show Animal Kwackers on Wikipedia. What I found knocked me sideways. The original Bongo was, believe it or not, Geoff Nicholls, the lugubrious Northern drum tutor on Rockschool. Now, I watched the whole run of Rockschool on BBC2 back in the day, and my main memory is of lusting after Nicholls’ rather lovely green Yamaha 9000 kit. At no point do I remember him explaining the whys and wherefores of providing a solid backbeat while wearing an outsize dog suit. Nor do I recall Deidre Cartwright explaining how to grip a tremolo arm firmly while wearing a nylon lion’s paw, or Henry Thomas showing how to play slap bass without opposable thumbs. The producers missed a trick there, I reckon.


You can’t keep a good title down, as I discovered when I chanced upon a March 1982 edition of the Radio Times (East region, 6-12 March 1982, to be precise – printed on that rarse clart that RT devotees of a certain age will remember only too well) during a recent stocktake at Schloss Cheeseford. Just over 26 years ago, BBC2 viewers were watching something called The Apprentice.

However, in place of ritual humiliation by misanthropes with a line in lo-fi hi-fi, those pre-Falklands War viewers were treated to a gentle explanation of what it meant to be a 16 year-old trainee undertaker. The trouble with leafing through old TV listings is that I now want, rather desperately, to see the programme. Of course, there’s an outside chance it’s in the clump of Betamax tapes I bought off eBay ages ago. I’ve already found an obscure and rather lovely Peter Greenaway documentary about lightning strike survivors, made for Thames in 1980. If nothing else, it illustrated how the broadcasting landscape has changed. Complete with Michael Nyman score and clever, clever captions and editing, it screams early Channel 4 or current BBC4, but it went out on ITV.

Being as poor as a church mouse, I’ve become rather good at making things for myself. I bake my own bread, I grow my own seasonal veg, I brew my own beer, and my kitchen is constructed entirely of bits that friends had going spare. In many ways, Mrs Cheeseford and I are, to all intents and purposes, Tom and Barbara Good. My proudest achievement so far has been installing a Belfast sink that had been rescued from a friend’s garden and then creating a worktop and surround using surplus oak from another friend’s very expensive installation.

The Belfast sink proved its worth today when I began the first batch of beer since it was put in place. It replaced a nasty brown plastic sink, the shallowness of which meant I couldn’t top up the fermenting vessel directly from the tap. In contrast, the new sink took the vessel without a murmur, saving me the bother of relaying the water to the bucket using a large jug. Anyone wondering why I didn’t use a hose will be unaware of the sterilisation that has to be performed on all brewing equipment – tedious, but necessary if you don’t want your brew to taste and smell of old socks.

Anyway, in a week or so, this lot (36 pints’ worth of Woodforde’s excellent Nelson’s Revenge, using a kit purchased from Mr Alexander Carr’s rather wonderful Market Place Wine Shop in Halesworth – 01986872563) will be ready for bottling, and I’ll report back on the ale’s progress.