Ah, the videos. Ten crates of them. Do I really want to transport them to the North-East, just to stick them in a loft? Am I ever going to watch their contents again?
This is a really hard one, because there was a period in my teaching life when I rose early – this was in the days when the paper was delivered, long a thing of the past – to read the TV schedules before going to work, because there was nearly always some useful snippet on in the afternoon that would fit a lesson that was brewing in my head. Some of my best nuggets came from afternoon TV, as recorded when I was out, including Oprah’s interview with six of the twelve men who’d walked on the moon.
Among the gems I have – I see I have mentioned this before – is the first episode (1955) of ‘Double Your Money’. Hughie Green – the Michael Barrymore of his day, I suppose you might say – was on top form, but the interesting people were the contestants. There were six – one man, one ‘oldest married couple in the audience’, one woman, and one ‘most recently married couple in the audience’. The man and the young couple declined to give their first names: none of that matey malarkey we have now. The couple were Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, and she was a former Miss Thompson. The (single) woman, who was a physiotherapist (cue round of applause) admitted to being Polly (possibly Holly) Matthews, but looked fantastically uncertain about being asked to stand next to Green. He eventually stuck an arm out and edged her closer, but she didn’t feel any more comfortable.
The elderly couple were, by back-counting, born in the 1880s, and married in 1910, after meeting in the Mile End Road (their name – the sound recording is none too good) was something like Whalley. They were tiny, a really remarkable example of the way average height has grown. Oddly enough, Mr. Whalley was the only one who was anything like a modern participant, in that he alone acknowledged the audience and waved to it. He was helped up to £4 (the third question) by Green assisting him. He picked music-hall as his subject, and was asked who the great escape artist of the early part of the century was, and came up with an H, but nothing more, even when given the -ou to follow it. Green wasn’t allowed to give him £8. He let them off with £6, which would have bought several pints – possibly a hundred – in those days. Let’s say, on this poor excuse for a calculation, that he won about £250 in today’s terms. That would be a cause of mass depression on almost all game-shows now.
Yes, I have transferred it to DVD, and watched it, and thrown out the videotape, which looks increasingly ridiculous. Expect more tales of salvage in the days to come.
Will I watch it again? That’s the thousand-pound question.