This week sees the celebration of a number of key anniversaries, crucial for very different reasons, but all worthy of a little reminiscence. Humour me, if you will ...
There were two big 20th anniversaries this week, both of which made me stop in the middle of the my kitchen, gawp at the radio, and say "well that CAN'T be right!" I find it very hard to judge the passage of time. I'm not good at remembering if things happened yesterday or a week ago, and I'm really bad at judging whether things happened five or ten years ago.
Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I heard that this week saw the 20th anniversary of the first ever Wallace and Gromit film. A Grand Day Out was quite a coup when it came out. With only the fabulous Morph for inspiration, this was an art project gone mad; a half hour "short" which took seven years to make. I'll say that again. It took SEVEN YEARS to make. How obsessive are these boys about plasticine? (Very). OK. So it's not exactly Shakespeare. But I'll bet every one of you will read the word "Wensleydale" in a very particular way.
Almost (but clearly, not quite) of the same cultural magnitude, can you believe that it's twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall? I think it was the first politically important event that I watch unfolding on the news, with any appreciation that it was significant. A couple of days later, our German master, the slightly mental Herr Schroder (a man famous for his hamster impression, and songs about sausages), cried. His bottom lip wobbled, and he started to sob. It takes something pretty compelling to make a class of 27 twelve year old girls shut up. But we did. Until he felt better enough to sing verse two of the sausage song.
Incidentally, it's reckoned that if you stuck together all the bits of "official Berlin Wall" that have been sold to tourists over the years, you'd have a wall four times the height of the original. Honestly people! All German breeze blocks are not the same!
Also this week, of course, was Bonfire Night, all in celebration of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Let's get this straight. 404 years ago, a group of blokes made a cock-eyed attempt at doing a bad thing, and failed ... and we're STILL celebrating it today. Not bad, boys!
Poor old Guy Fawkes was something of a stooge in this sorry story, being a bit feckless, but knowing a thing or two about explosions. I imagine that, under the circumstances, the (slightly more switched on) co-conspirators were more than happy to stand back, pointing at Mr F, and rolling their eyes. The plot failed, rather amusingly, because one of the team realised that a pal of his would be in Westminster that night, and wrote an "anonymous" letter advising him to be somewhere else. The King, on seeing the letter, suggested someone nip down and have a quick scout around, whereupon Guy was found walking out of a room packed to the rafters with explosives, and (in my mind) a stick of Acme dynamite in each hand. When he asked what he was up to, he told them. Everything. Come of Guy, mate! Play hard to get! Have you never seen 24?!
Odd really, when you think about all the things in our long and varied history that NEARLY happened, that we celebrate this great non-event with such gay abandon. Still, the display on Wimbledon Park on Thursday (set to the theme tune of Star Trek, rather oddly) was much enjoyed. Thank you.
I don't much want to get into chatting about Remembrance Day. I feel a bit sentimental about it all and it reminds me a lot of my lovely Grandad who I might write about another time. Or I might not. I might keep it. But suffice to say, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918 some bad stuff stopped and some good stuff started, and that's worth a nod, don't you agree? Good. Now let's move on.
Ah, of course! Last, and by no means least, today, rather monumentally, is the 40th anniversary of the first ever episode of Sesame Street. I bloody loved Sesame Street, and like a generation of British children, thought that the alphabet ended "double-ewe, ex, why and zee".
Of course it was fine that Bert and Ernie shared a bed! Of course it was acceptable that the alpha male of the street was a large yellow bird! Of course it was socially acceptable to laugh at the grouchy tramp that lived in the bins! Because it's educational! But here's something I'll bet you didn't learn from watching it. Mr Snuffleupagus' first name is Aloysius. Did you know that? did you?
Now then children, altogether please ... "Oh, cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C"!
2 weeks ago