Today being a Tuesday, we normally have two regular commitments but I have no Pilates class today, as my Pilates teacher is having a well-deserved break with her family. Instead, we knew that we would probably bump into old friends in our local Waitrose coffee bar, which indeed we did. First, though, we took the opportunity to pop the car into an adjacent car washing lot run by a group of Kurds and, anticipating that they might be very busy, we did not mind leaving the car with them for an hour whilst we had our coffee. In the event, the car wash was practically empty so we made our way into Waitrose where we met two of pur pre-pandemic friends, to be joined a little later by our University of Birmingham friend. At this time of year, many people were in a relaxed state and our friends were no exception so we spent a very jolly hour laughing and joking over goodness knows what. Some of our collective memories go back to the 1960s so we regaled each other with stories of some of the exploits of ourselves and our friends when we were young and fancy free. Eventually, we made for home and a rustled together lunch, some of which was the final consumption of the vegetables excess to Christmas Day and just requiring a quick heat up in the oven.
The quality television viewing for today starts at about 5.00pm with a filmed Jane Austin (‘Persuasion‘)which has good reviews in ‘The Times‘. This afternoon there seems a diet of ‘Carry On’ films in which innuendo is displayed to excess and which one does not particularly watch as such but have on in the background whilst one engages in reading or other activities. As I write, there is a transmission of what can only be ‘Carry On Up the Jungle‘ ridiculous in the extreme. For example, out of the corner of my eye, I can see a nubile young woman divesting herself of her clothes in order to go for a swim whereas they are are appropriately appropriated and then worn by a passing gorilla. On wonders what the audience figures might be but I suppose they were relatively cheap to make even half a century ago and there must be some people who have never seen them before and find them even faintly amusing. Incidentally, a very quick Google search did reveal that Barbara Windsor and Sid James had an affair that started off with ‘Carry On’ films that lasted for about ten years altogether. In her autobiography, Barbara Windsor confesses to quickies with a string of men including gangsters Reggie and Charlie Kray, Ronnie Scott of jazz club fame), entertainer Anthony Newley and Bing Crosby’s son Gary. She also had a one night stand with George Best about which she kept silent for at least ten years.
I have got to say that I rather like this time of year when Christmas Day has both come and gone and one is free to relax from the pressures of having to prepare for Christmas but before ‘normal’ life returns just after New Year’s day. I know that our University of Birmingham friend feels just about the same and Christmas has no particular attractions for him. I can well understand how he feels and I promised to buy him a ‘Bah! Humbug’ Christmas hat if I happen to see one. I only mention this because when we were up in Yorkshire recently, a photo was being passed around of my brother-in-law who died just over a year ago wearing a cap, complete with slogan, so I suppose he felt the same way. I seem to remember a few years ago, Channel 4 which is meant to provide a more alternative form of TV, provided an alternative form of Christmas entertainment for those for whom Christmas is a period of the year to be got over with as quickly as possible. This seems to have been a very good idea and I wonder why the idea did not achieve a bit more permanence.
There are some traditions, though, that persist over the course of time. One of the most famous is a short British cabaret sketch from the 1920s that has become a German New Year’s tradition. Yet, although ‘The 90th Birthday or Dinner for One’ is a famous cult classic in Germany and several other European countries, it is virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, including Britain, its birthplace. This has become so much of German culture that it is shown every single year without fail but the interesting thing is that hardly anybody in the UK knows about it. No doubt a Google search will reveal it and a link to it. In the meanwhile, we have traditions of our own such as Boxing Day sales, not to mention the Boxing Day meets of ‘the hunt’ One observation that I read on this was words to the effect that if members of deprived, working class communities went rampaging through the streets hunting ‘vermin’ such as ‘foxes’ then the full force of the law would be brought against them. But somehow, the norms are different when it is the British upper middle classes, mounted on horseback and doing essentially the same thing.