Category Archives: 1972 Diary Entries

December 31st 1972

“New Years Eve. Not much dun, went out on bike, frosty day”

Quite the suitably uneventful finale to what some of you may have been mumbling was an uneventful un-blog-worthy year?

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December 30th 1972

Not much dun all day as car broke down on way to Dick Emery” / “Watched the Goons on Parkinson”

Looks like my folks had a torrid time getting to that show last night?

I did wonder if a diary entry would throw up the opportunity to write about The Goons?!

The Goon Show was a BBC radio comedy programme which entertained the UK  for most of the 50’s. However, its influence continues to pervade well over half a century later.

Created by (the world’s GREATEST comedian EVER) Spike Milligan, The Goon Show featured anarchic surreal comedy decades before anarchic surreal comedy became fashionable. Spike’s eccentric scripts – acted out by Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike himself – were ludicrous to the extreme, combining obtuse plots, puns, silly voices and daft sound effects.

The shows were VERY much the precursor to – and the primary influence behind – the likes of Peter Cook, Monty Python, The Firesign Theatre, The Young Ones… in fact almost all alternative comedy.

Spike created characters like Neddy Seagoon, Eccles, Bluebottle. Moriarty and more, whilst single-handedly inventing (IMHO) the “catchphrase”. Radio listeners would sit and wait for their favourite characterto utter things like “I ‘ave been deaded“, “You rotten swine you“, “We’ll all be murdered in our Beds” or (my favourite) “He’s fallen in the wah-ter

From 1951 until 1960, Spike and the gang banged out over 260 episodes. However, the pressure of writing, and then having to perform, all this material took its toll on Milligan who suffered from (what later came to be called) bipolar disorder. Thus consigning Spike to the seemingly never-ending list of “tortured comics” (see “Lenny Bruce“, “Bill Hicks” or “Mitch Hedberg“). Indeed, Spike was absent from the show for several months in 1954 after he attempted to murder Peter Sellers….. with a potato peeler!

The Goon Show ceased to be in 1960, but was repeated constantly on BBC radio. (Indeed, it is STILL repeated on BBC’s Radio 7!).

In 1972, to celebrate the BBC’s 50th anniversary, the troupe were persuaded to get back together for “The Last Goon Show of All“. Although far from the tightest or funniest of Millgan’s scripts it nevertheless serves as a suitable tribute to how bizarre The Goons were, even outside of their heyday. It was simulcasted as a BBC TV documentary… here seen in 5 segments (the funniest, I think, being Part 3)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

As per my diary entry, the Goons obviously got together to promote the show on Michael Parkinson‘s popular TV chat show, although I can find no footage to substantiate that.

Years later – in 2001 to be precise – I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting Spike in person. He was nearing the end of his time, very frail and weak, but still willing to travel the country to do instore meet & greets to promote his latest book “Treasure Island“.

I dutifully queued in line at the Southampton Waterstones to meet him and have him sign my copy of the book. When it was my turn to at the desk I told him “Mr Milligan, I’d like to shake your hand” and held mine out. He looked me in the eye and said “You don’t have anything do you” (referring to sicknesses or illnesses). I shook my head at which point he grabbed my hand with both of his – in a genuine friendly grasp – to which I simply mumbled “Thank you sincerely for all the laughter you’ve given me over the years”. He smiled. I smiled. I walked away.

I’m not normally phased by ‘stardom’ – always reminding myself that these people are just “people” – but on this occasion I felt genuinely starstruck and in awe of the presence I was in.

There are a million and one online sites dedicated to The Goons, but this one seems to be pretty comprehensive.

Finally, here’s the Goons’ novelty hit single “The Ying Tong Song” from 1956!…

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December 29th 1972

“Mum + Dad went to see Dick Emery. Recorded various groups cassette”

Whilst I amused myself composing a “mix tape”, my folks took themselves off to see a live show by 1972’s BBC Personality of the Year!

Dick Emery can best be described as a one-man seventies version of “Little Britain“. His BBC TV show ran for almost 20 years and consisted of sketches featuring Emery dressed up as various characters, mostly all riffing on social aspects of the age.

Many of the characters – again, much like “Little Britain” the “Catherine Tate Show” or “The Fast Show” – became very much part of the public’s consciousness, whilst Emery dished up catchphrases left, right and centre.

They included a toothy vicar, a man-starved spinster, a stuttering pensioner and a massive-boobed middle-aged blonde. If those weren’t ‘bad’ enough, and in deference to the utter lack of political correctness that (happily) existed in the 70’s, Emery also featured an outrageously OTT camp male, Clarence, whose catchphrase was “Oooooh, Hello Honky Tonk, how are you?“…

I think the following falls into the “don’t ask, don’t tell” category?…

Whilst this was cutting edge comedy in 1972….

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December 28th 1972

“Went up Trevs, borrowd Recs, Went up Gra’s, bort ticket off him’ / “Went in Fred’s in Eveng” / “No Monty Pyfon, Bludy Tom Jones”

Sacrilege!

How dare I make the comment “Bludy Tom Jones”?!

I must have been unaware of “It’s Not Unusual” at 14, a tune later to become my VERY favourite pop song.

Tom is now, of course, SIR Thomas Jones, knighted by the Queen in 2006.

As for the records I borrowed from Trev, what ticket I bought off of Gra or the events at neighbour Fred’s in the evening, I’m afraid I can’t remember a damned thing!

As regular readers of this blog will concur, also not unusual.

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December 26th 1972

“Went up Tom’s, Good Larf!”

In Great Britain – as well as in Canada, Australia and other members of the former Commonwealth – December 26th, is known as “Boxing Day”, an extra public holiday.

In olden days the wealthy and/or landed gentry would have large gatherings or parties on Christmas Day, where their staff (cooks, maids, butlers, groundsmen etc) would be forced to work to make sure everyone had a good time.

In return, the rich households would allow their staff the following day off to spend with families. By way of an additional thank you they would also hand each worker a small box which would contain a gift or some money. Hence, “Boxing Day”

The USA has no such public holiday. Christmas is crammed into the one solitary day. No time at all for me and my wife to have a “Good Larf” like I obviously did in 1972.

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December 25th 1972

“Dan, Dan, Dan, Dan, Dan, Daan, Da, Dan, Today is Chrismas, Today is Crismas, Today is Xmas, Today is Xmas, Today is Xmas, Today is Xmas, Today is Xmas” / “I got Emerson lake etc LP, Mains Adpt, Scrabble, Chess”

Later in life I would become FAR more cynical about Christmas – mainly as a direct result of one particularly upsetting one when Mum was very ill – but it would seem that at 14 I was very much “an excited little boy”?!

I can’t recall getting the game of Scrabble, but I do remember the chess game. It was a little electronic version with tiny pegged plastic pieces that you moved around a board with holes in it. It meant I could hone my chess skill by playing with myself (pauses for jokes). I actually held onto that game until just a few months ago when I donated it to the local thrift store (charity shop), hoping that another kid gets as much enjoyment out of it as I did for years after this Christmas.

The mains adaptor was for my cassette player, meaning I could probably stop having to buy batteries… and having to report on their lifespan in the pages of my diary!

The ’emerson, lake etc LP’ comment refers to ELP’s debut album. (Why, I wonder, could I not be bothered to write the word “palmer” instead of “etc”?)

This album – originally released in 1970 – contains just 6 tracks, 4 of them incorporating melodies and themes heavily influenced by Keith Emerson’s adoration for classical compositions by the likes of Bartók and Bach. All of them are somewhat lumbering and charmless to be honest.

The stand-out tracks on this album – at least, for me – are both Greg Lake compositions. The first, “Take a Pebble” on Side 1, is one of many signature love songs by the band’s bassist & vocalist. The other is “Lucky Man” which closes the album. This whimsical piece – allegedly written by Lake when he was just a child – is perhaps ELP’s most well-known commercial contribution to “pop” music. It is still played regularly (almost too regularly – even by my own admission!) on “classic rock stations” from coast to coast across America.

Years later, my wife introduced me to the aural pleasures of Bob Rivers and his superb “Twisted Tunes” collection of parodies.

Amongst them, a send up of “Lucky Man” entitled “What An Ugly Man he Was“. This is now the version I sing!

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December 23rd 1972

“I got 10 bob for cleaning car” / “Newcastle 2 City 1” / “Simmonds came up, gave present (cuff links) + 5 bob”

Aaaah, Christmas tips from my regular filthy car owners!

Simmonds was a friend/colleague of my Dad’s. A jolly nice bloke whose wide face sported a red ‘boozers’ nose and one of those ludicrous handlebar moustaches. (Like the bloke’s on the right, but grey and accompanied by thick bushy sideburns).

He was a also local councillor, having been helped into office by the hard work of my Dad who was still the secretary of Eastleigh’s Residents Association, an organisation originally formed to try and stop the council from pulling down several blocks of homes in the guise of ‘redevelopment’ (Much like eminent domain in America).

Dad got involved – indeed helped create the association in the late 60’s – because our previous house was amongst those threatened. Thankfully, the election of resident ‘mouthpieces’ – some with massive majorities – stopped the plans….. at least for a couple of decades or more until the town’s ugly Swan Centre arrived.

Anyway, Simmonds was a generous old chap and his gift of 5 bob (five shillings = 25 pence) was doubtless most welcomed and probably mentally added to the 10 bob from earlier in the day to result in “an album”.

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