My Precious

This weekend has found me once again in the garage dealing with the consequences of a policy of hoarding anything which I considered might at some point have some potential use. Old Curtains? What if we were to move back someday into our old house or one with windows of exactly the same dimensions? Well, we’d rue the day we threw these away!

At the bottom of the borehole I have driven through sedimentary layers of junk I found a small box containing the very first things I felt precious enough to hold on to. First out of the box was my autograph book.

Collecting signatures was a craze that gripped me for perhaps a month or so. Frinton was not built atop a hellmouth of celebrity and I would have died of embarrassment if I’d had to speak to someone famous anyway; so I had to resort to polite letters and enclosing stamped self-addressed envelopes. Somehow the exquisite delight of receiving a letter (any letter – Lord, how I miss letters) was more attractive a proposition than standing in the lashing rain outside the theatre at the end of Clacton Pier shouting hopefully at Freddie Starr.

I started with Chelsea Football Club who sent me a 500th generation photocopy of the players’ signatures that even then seemed crushingly lacking in glamour. I was not even sure that they counted as autographs. The BBC were infinitely better. It was as if the knew I’d be waiting, tortured, for the postman to shovel stardust into our gloomy hallway. My hero, Tony Hart autographed a piece of gummed paper so that I could stick it straight into my little green autograph book: so thoughtful, so Tony.

The Mona Lisa in my collection was an autographed photograph of the comedy giants of that moment: The Goodies

Goodies autographed photo

I recently bought a collection of Goodies episodes on DVD. They were so cringingly awful that I switched it off as I simply was not mentally resilient enough to cope with the scale of the disappointment. At the time, however, I had no doubts. They were a chart-topping novelty band (with “Do the Funky Gibbon” and other abominations) and their stories of giant kittens and tomato soup nerve agents turning people into clowns held me rapt. The picture was so precious to me that I stuck the envelope it came in into the book and would only remove the item itself from inside in order to impress my very closest friends and then with a sacramental reverence that would have impressed the Pope himself. I felt as if television had extended a fizzing, scintillating hand and laid it on my shoulder; it was a distillate of pure glamour.

The fever broke and I moved on to he next craze – probably Top Trumps or Pocketeers, and I allowed the BBC to get back to its business. There was, however, a twilight period during which I lowered the hurdle of fame a little and added signatures from people I merely knew and loved. One of these was Father Clover, my priest. I set his contribution out below, firstly to demonstrate that there was a time when people took a pride in their handwriting and secondly because it is only today that I have recognised that his inscription (which I had thought merely a Christmas Cracker proverb of the sort that might amuse an old gentleman) contained a (barely) hidden message for me.

Father Clovers autograph

18 thoughts on “My Precious”

  1. Fair Moobs, I am world class hoarder myself. I have been afraid to get rid of t-shirts on the offside chance I might wear them again, or be sad because I don’t have that wearable display of my love for “Notorious”-era Duran Duran. Just today, I have found ticket stubs from an Arsenal match at the real Highbury, a journal from my senior year of high school (oh the self loathing!!!), and pieces of paper where I was clearly practicing different ways to write my name.

  2. I have a tin box containing ticket stubs from all the movies and other attractions I attended from 1986 through 1990. For some reason, I can’t get rid of it.

  3. Oh the Goodies…
    Sigh…I have Val Doonigan..’member him, David Soul! and I who was that comedian that said ‘Rock on Tommy?’ I remember seeing him at some place at Blackpool.

    Here were there are actually real celebs..I have no autographs as yeah..I would be too polite to bother them.

  4. OMG! In the top of my linen closet? Guess. Come on. Guess. Yes, that’s rigth – the curtains from my old house – that I left, um, 8 years ago….

  5. Bill Oddie et al were HILARIOUS! (I’d be afraid too, to watch The Goodies now, because I suspect I wouldn’t find it funny anymore).

    I’m going to have to think about the quote from Father Ted, because, well, it’s late at night here, and I just don’t get it.

  6. I always think the famous folks need MY autograph–after all, I’ll remember meeting Cate Blanchett but how on earth will she remember meeting me???
    Good luck with the purge. We, too, are on the path through purge-a-tory.

  7. The Goodies never made it to Canada…. Maybe one of the few British troups who did not… and somehow I can not help but feeling a tad proud about that in a self diminishing Canadian type of way…

  8. Well, I am hoping that I’ve turned a new leaf. We recently moved, and with the process of packing house I purged quite a bit. Really, I don’t want to have to do that again.

  9. Don’t judge The Goodies by the silly intro. I have seen *all* Goodies episodes, and I love them. I don’t love all gags, some episodes are not as fun as others, but overall it is the funniest I’ve seen on TV. They could mock *anything*. They are often silly, but always funny.

    It is meaningless to argue what gags are funny or not, but let me say that The Goodies require a bit of patience to fully understand and appriciate, like all good comedies. They are closely related to Monty Python and should be viewed from that angle. Actually “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” follows the Goodies concept (take a theme and twist it, often to an unexpected extreme), not the Monty Python concept (sketches without punchlines woven together). If you don’t like “Holy Grail”, then The Goodies are not for you, but otherwise… Try “The Movies”, “Hype Pressure” or “The End”.

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