Down Your Way

Having been somewhat under the weather recently I have taken to resting in the afternoons and, thunderstorms permitting, listening to BBC radio via my laptop.

Thanks to the time difference the Test Match coverage is over by lunchtime, so the whole range of the iPlayer is open to me….but I’ve been disappointed much of the time by the standard of what is on offer.
Perhaps I wouldn’t be so tetchy were I on top form, but it’s because I’m not on top form that I want to listen to something stimulating and informative.

Still, given that the bumbrushers to big business now running Britain want to reduce the BBC to a muppet show I suppose I had best make the most of what there is while it lasts.

Music – the alternative to the spoken voice – is somewhat curtailed since the arrival of the pups.
They have objections to counter tenors so Purcell’s ‘Sound the Trumpet’ is out…

As is ‘No lo diro col labbro’ from ‘ Handel’s ‘Tolomeo’….

The singer’s lips may not have the courage to utter, but the pups have no such inhibitions. Heads flung back they give it laldy with both barrels.

However they have no such objections to the song derived from the above; ‘Silent Worship’….

Unfortunately I do…much though I enjoy Thomas Allen’s voice I find the lyrics syrupy, so for now on the music front it is pups 15, me love.

What has astonished me is to find re runs of programmes I remember from way back….in ‘The Navy Lark’ Sub-Lieutenant Phillips is still to be found navigating HMS Troutbridge with his unique command of ‘Left hand down a bit’ which results inevitably in an unwanted encounter between several tons of moving warship and several more tons of immovable jetty to cries of ‘Everybody down!’ from the conniving Chief Petty Officer Pertwee to be followed by the wrath of ‘Old Thunderguts’ – Captain Povey.

A period piece now – Britain still had a navy when that series went out after all – and far from ‘edgy’, it is still a delight of comic timing and shines like a jewel among the clumping ‘comedies’ of the current era – as does the superb later series of ‘Absolute Power’ with its commentary on the backstairs of the Blair years.

But, joy of joys, they are broadcasting ‘Round the Horne’ again.
This had my parents in stitches when first broadcast and listening to it now it astounds me that the scriptwriters got away with it in an era when prudery ruled the airwaves.
Especially when you consider that it was broadcast on Sunday afternoons.

Older and more aware of the sheer misery suffered by a man straitjacketed by his society’s rigidity I can still enjoy Kenneth Williams‘ in his persona as folk singer Wandering Syd Rumpo

A lesson in how what you read into something defines yourself.

‘Gardener’s Question Time’ is still going strong, though the egregious Bob Flowerdew has long replaced the gentleman who prefaced all replies to queries with the statement that ‘the answer lies in the soil’, but one old favourite not so far repeated is ‘Down Your Way’ a programme which visited towns and villages across England interviewing local residents.
While my father refused to listen to it, denouncing it as a load of claptrap from town clerks and town bores I found it interesting. In an age where we did not travel much it was an insight into how others lived and worked….and in that pre Thatcher era there were still trades and industries to be described!

‘Down Your Way’ came to mind when I was reading an item in the local on line news: a gentleman has been giving a series of reminiscences of his youth in the sixties and locates the shops bars and dance halls he knew, together with the names of the adults and children of his time….with Violetta’s help I can place most of the shops he talks about – and found too that one of the kids with whom he ran about seeking tips outside the bars is my lawyer!

This sort of thing, oral history, brings the town to life for me….in the same way that the books of George Ewart Evans – ‘Ask the Fellows who Cut the Hay’ and ‘Where Beards Wag All’ to name but two bring alive the life of the East Anglian farmhand from a century previous.
Those who wish to be superior decry what they call ‘anecdotal evidence’…but it is the very life of history.

So, what anecdotal evidence has been happening down my way recently?

Well, things are winding up for next year’s municipal elections so the current bunch of gross incompetents are counting on the short memory effect by a bout of sudden activity.

The alcalde (mayor) has been out and about drumming up grants from state institutions to pay for the obligatory study which has to be made before works can be done to repair or replace the many bridges either down or in a dangerous state during the length of his administration.
puriscal bridge
By the time he has the grants he reckons he will be back in power for another few years and the bridges can be forgotten until next time.

This is unlikely to gain him many votes among the indigenous community at Zapaton whose road exit has not been repaired since the great washout of a year ago, leaving many elderly people prisoners in their houses.

Mark you, he may not even be put up as his party’s candidate as well founded rumour has it that among the four up for the job is one who will be in the toils of the courts in short order, so painting the podium in the park in his party’s colours may not pay off after all.
park puriscal

Still, he may yet be of service to the community…
puriscal dustcart
Following the travails of the municipal bulldozer, the municipal dustcart has been out of action for some time…perhaps the added weight of the alcalde will encourage its compaction unit to work as it should.
Well worth a try.

And we have had visitors.
A pair of black bellied whistling ducks.
They have been feeding with our lot for a few days now, so I’m in hopes that they will stay.
Unlike the alcalde.


57 thoughts on “Down Your Way”

  1. Oh! We love hearing the whistlers, especially when they fly over during the night.
    And I loved, still love, all those radio programmes.When I was little, I was allowed to stay up late to listen to Much Binding in the Marsh.
    I’m going to send this link to a friend in Norfolk as I’m sure it will ring her bells. exits, whistling “Much Binding….”

  2. I too love that the pups are singing. I think it may well be preferable to my Freddie singing along to the early morning call to prayer from the mosque

  3. The true tragedy of Kenneth Williams is that society’s rigidity had infected him most efficiently of all… his most honest expression was probably his performance and all he could do with it was make people laugh. And yet… selfishly… I am grateful for he was an absolute genius.

    1. I have moods for music….at the moment i want something vocal – but not as vocal as the pups. Their howling would have the Hound of the Baskervilles slinking off in shame…

      Lucy Worsley is guaranteed to have me spitting blood, but I shall watch the programme as a once member of that mighty institution. – thanks for the tip off.

  4. Radio 4 and 4Extra are my favourites and having to choose between plays on one rather than the other are quite difficult.
    Down your way came from Harrods one time and that really stuck in my mind. They had (have) their own water supply and it was no wonder that I enjoyed the Ladies Rooms with marble basins and soft water!
    Glad that you are getting back on form, although a rest in the afternoon is not a bad thing.

    1. I remember Harrods having their own water supply….and am delighted to find that the Ladies loo at the Teatro Nacional here is something of the same style…all marble and gilt!

      I did catch the recent John Buchan series of dramatisations – that took me back a bit!

    1. To drown the noise of the above mentioned…not to speak of fireworks exploding in the town to mark the fiesta, men calling for cups of tea and the roar of the cane cutter….
      Who thinks the countryside is quiet…

  5. Love picture of animal life chez vous, Helen. We too listen to Round the Horne here in France on Listen Again. Absolutely love it. And the follow up ‘Stop messing about’. It’s the highlight of our week. Utter brilliance! Fingers crossed the local elections throw up some new blood!! Hope you’re feeling better soon.

    1. I wish they would repeat Beyond our Ken too….
      We have other parties putting up candidates for the elections but it is very hard to dislodge the incumbent one…it was the party that led Costa Rica out of civil war and pushed opportunity for all and the older people remember that – it takes the younger ones to point out that said party has become a whited sepulchre, so let’s hope that enough young people turn out to vote.

  6. So much to love in this piece but I have to acknowledge my abiding passion for Kenneth Williams (my eldest daughter does a wonderful impersonation of him) who never fails to make me smile the moment and is one of the most lamented losses of my life-time

    1. His life makes you realise how lucky we are to have relative freedom in which to express ourselves….probably a brief period before total surveillance and suppression of ‘non violent extremists’ sees us all in the jug.

        1. They don’t need our real thoughts…just expressing mild disagreement with the aims of our masters will do, I suspect.
          Never thought I would be so glad to be out of Europe.

          1. You should read a book called ‘Eric is Awake’ by Dom Shaw …. it works on the premise that George Orwell’s Eric (1984) is accidentally deposited in 2014 London. It’s a good read (a little self-satisfied in places) and written with the present reality of living in a Police State in a so called free country at it’s core

          2. Thanks for THAT lifeline … not come across it but will take a look – Amazon can be a bit hit and miss here πŸ˜€

          3. They sell secondhand books, but are very up front about the condition…I’ve always had books in good condition from them. They also do free postage world wide.

          4. If you can’t find him let me know and I will send you a copy. It rather feels right and you can take it as a get better gift because I’m dreadfully selfish and I really enjoy your writing.

  7. I don’t listen to Radio 4 nearly enough. It’s too easy to take it for granted. We also rather take for granted that in this digital age, we can listen to pretty much any radio station, anywhere in the world online – remarkable! The way England are playing (at least in the last test) you’ll be reaching for the off button quickly. You’re local officials sound exasperating. Are they about what you expected when you moved to Costa Rica? Or were you actually expecting worse? I’ve never heard of those ducks before and they are most handsome. I hope you feel better soon.

    1. Lovely birds, aren’t they! Danilo tells me that there used to be big groups of them locally but that they were hunted to extinction so I hope that i can keep this pair – if they are a pair – safe.
      I’m not too great at the moment but time heals all!
      The council was about what I had expected after life in rural France…it has to be admitted that, given the nature of the terrain they have more challenges than my last French commune but the approach is the same. Given any problem their first question is how to siphon a bit of money from the solution.
      I should be more adventurous with the radio ….I’ll try some other channels, but suppose i had always relied on the BBC for informative programmes and am now disappointed.
      As for the cricket! I suspect Brian Close in his dotage could do a better job than the England top order…and it is time to examine Broad and Anderson much more closely….they are not bowling accurately, but their places seem to be sacrosanct. And who exactly ordered that wicket preparation at Lords?

      1. Agreed about Broad and Anderson. Living rather on past glories I fear. Wood seems to have promise. Yes we really should ensure that the groundsmen assist in our play in our home country with wicket preparation as every other country does.

        1. I’d like to know the thinking behind that slow wicket….have just tuned in today and delighted to see Finn doing well – again, whatever did they do to his action and why on earth did they do it. Nearly ruined him.

          1. He had that unfortunate habit of falling over like a Glasgow drunk when he delivered a ball but he seems better now. Given Anderson’s performance yesterday, just as well that you and I aren’t selecting the team!

  8. Very sorry to hear that you have been under the weather. I wondered why you had been so quiet recently, but thought you might have been tied up manufacturing Marmite.

    Do hope that you are 100% now, restored to rude good health by nostalgia and culchur.

    Whistling ducks. Whatever next!

    1. I’d forgotten about AbeBooks….I used to order from them when in France so I’ll check their postage rates. Many thanks

      i leave Marmite to Higher Authority…who will now be tied up manufacturing Golden Syrup thanks to a recent post by Craig:

      Getting better…at one point I thought that the machinery had fallen apart on me but it’s on the mend.

      When I have the ducks trained to whistle Colonel Bogey be sure that I will post it….

        1. The machine parts have been told where they get off…..and Higher Authority is girding the loins for a session with the Golden Syrup. I think I might leave the house while this takes place….perhaps to train the ducks?

    1. And then things tend to disappear in a mysterious way….I’m still waiting for the second episode of Blofeld and Baxter which is always announced as following shortly…

  9. I sometimes hear or see old programmes from my childhood. They’re an odd mixture of fresh-as-a-daisy and excruciatingly dated. What I especially remember is the endless sexual innuendos at a time when any direct sexual reference was out of the question. I also remember all the blatantly camp characters like Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey, at a time when homosexuality was still a crime and homophobia was rampant.

  10. I’m sorry you haven’t been feeling well, Helen. Hopefully you are on the mend now, and will soon be back to full health. Being from this side of the pond, I wasn’t familiar with any of the BBC programs you referred to. But having read your blog for quite some time now, I am somewhat familiar with the state of politics in Costa Rica. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for your kind wishes…the machine is getting back on the road again!

      Sorry about the parochialism…funny how when you are down pin something you remember from your youth comes back to you and is rather comforting.

      As to politics, Costa Rica is not unlike France – just with more dodgy terrain…I wonder what U.K. politics are like now….from the newspapers and contact with friends – not much difference, it would seem.

  11. I am sorry you’re under the weather and hope you’ll be better soon. The pups seem to be extraordinarily discriminating, although I agree that Sound the Trumpet does take a little getting used to. I didn’t realise these old programmes are still available – good! I confess I like listening to many of the old faves, Desert Island Discs, Just a Minute, etc. But what about the Goons?

    1. The Goons are available at the moment though the offerings seem to come and go at the iPlayer whim (or it could just be my own incompetence at finding them).

      The pups will tolerate a great deal…but counter tenors seem to be a step too far!

  12. I’ve missed reading you, Helen, and this post reminds me why. I feel terribly behind in learning about the pups. I’m sure time will solve that as well as dipping back into your archives. I enjoyed the videos – even the one with syrupy lyrics.

    1. I tried playing them when the pups were in the garden and, I thought, otherwise occupied..

      No such luck. The howls arose from the end of the garden and incited the chickens to join in in alarm followed by the ducks…

      Sometimes you just have to accept being beaten.

  13. When in the UK DH and I love listening to the repeats of The Navy Lark and Round the Horne and many others on our favourite digital channel – Radio 4 Extra. It also repeats documentaries and dramas which often seem so much better than those being made nowadays. Am I turning into an old fogey, I wonder?

    Sorry you haven’t been well and sorry too to have taken so long to read and comment on this. I do hope you are feeling better and ready to cope with all the electioneering which is about to be unleashed.

    1. I enjoy the radio 4 archive….and have to agree with you as to the standard of those programmes. I tuned into a modern programme on Byron’s daughter Alegra and turned it off a while later, appalled by the shoddy treatment of the subject and the inane presentation.

      Quite invigorated by the prospect of Corbyn. If he’s half the man I remember him as being he’ll give a voice to the people upon whom New Labour turned their backs.

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