Daddy Clanger (imc) wrote,
Daddy Clanger
imc

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be

This probably won't make much sense to someone who didn't grow up in Britain in the 1970s. I realise that excludes about 90% of my friends list, but hey it's only a stream-of-consciousness ramble and it probably isn't that interesting anyway.

You know the song they sing in the current AA advert? I don't know what it is, but the first couple of lines always make me think it's nicked from somewhere else. Try singing "…planes are passing by; they mean a trip to Paris or Rome" to it. Almost a perfect match. That's a Bacharach song which seems to have been made well known by Dionne Warwick, of course; but oddly I don't think I've ever heard her version of it. I know it mostly because the Shadows covered it on their "Another String of Hot Hits". But I'd been vaguely aware of it before then; it had lain dormant in my memory for years before the Shadows proved that I hadn't made the whole thing up after all.

In days of my youth, in the summer holidays from primary school we used to watch television programmes in the morning such as "Why Don't You". This was in the days when you would beware of the Doris and wear red and white stripey socks; before the time of the waily theme song which went "Why don't you just switch off your television set and go out and do something less boring instead"; when the theme was a tune possibly performed on kazoos that no one else except I seems to remember.

One of the other programmes that was on at this time featured William Hartston teaching you how to play chess, which may or may not have had the Dance of the Knights as its theme tune. Wikipedia tells me this was, predictably enough, called "Play Chess" and was on in the 1980s, which seems a little late to me though memory does have a curious habit of mixing things up.

And also at about this time, I'm almost certain, was one that had "Planes and Boats and Trains" as its theme tune. Beyond that, I've no idea what it was. Perhaps it had that as its title too, I don't know. I suppose it may have been a travel programme.

And so I was aware of that song when, according to one of the strange and random bits of trivia that sometimes pop out of my head, a comedian on some programme or other attempted to name a song beginning with "D" (there must have been more to it than that though) and came out with "Drains and boats and planes". My head has Graeme Garden speaking the line (which would make it ideal for a round of "plumbers' song book" on "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue" — but I didn't know about Radio 4 until 1987 really, and I'd left school by then and had had the Shadows album for years), and it may well have been something said on Star Turn, although, now I think about it, it seems a slightly odd song to mention in the context of a children's programme.

Star Turn was, for a time, on the same day as swimming lessons at school. I hated them because the water was always too cold for me and I sort of stood in a corner shivering. (I once told the teacher I'd forgotten my kit in order to get out of it; then I came home and put my towel and trunks — which of course I hadn't forgotten — in the wash, and my mum, discovering that they were dry and didn't smell of chlorine, phoned the school the next day so that I got hauled in front of the headmaster and told off for telling bare-faced lies.) Anyway, for reasons that I no longer remember, Star Turn was my favourite programme of the time and was my reward for surviving swimming lesson day. In every programme there was a whodunnit at the end that I don't think I ever guessed right. ("And then Ivor Notion had a notion." I always thought it odd that he didn't actually say "I've a notion".)

Of course the other programme that I never wanted to miss was "Think of a Number". Sadly, I often did. Once I had started secondary school I didn't get out until 4pm and I had to rely on two buses being timed just right to get home before the programme started at 4.40. Once they had started digging up the road near the bus station, this was pretty much impossible. If they brought them all out on DVD now I would still watch them.

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