Rafał Blechacz moves on to play Chopin’s Op. 64 No. 2 waltz in C# minor (the Minute Waltz being No. 1 in Db) – which is so much better than Nicholas Parson’s dulcet tones introducing us to the panel. Young Master Blechacz started to learn the piano at the same age as me, and is a lot younger, but he must have stuck at it rather better as his fingers performed acrobatics across the keyboard that I can barely imagine, let alone hope to accomplish. Still, I bet he is far less au fait with the power stations of Europe than I, so it’s very much swings and roundabouts.
I have been listening to Just a Minute for longer than I can remember, though I am actually marginally older than the series. I still find much to enjoy in the series – Ian Messiter’s game is a work of genius – but I feel this enjoyment takes place in spite of the venerable Mr Parsons (91!). I am trying to remember if it was ever thus, or if I used to enjoy Nick’s interjections when I was a lad (and he was already older than I am now), but I can’t. As an adult, I do enjoy the revolving of panel members and substantially greater representation of the stronger sex – whereas as a child I suspect I enjoyed the consistency of Freud, Jones, Nimmo and Williams.
I think Jack Dee on I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue may have hammered the final nail in the coffin of Mr. P’s contribution to the show, the parody is so accurate it now dominates the original. Then again, it will still feel like a missing tooth should Nick ever leave the show. During the credits of ISIHAC, I still expect to hear Wille Rushton’s name after Tim Brooke-Taylor’s, despite the fact that he went to his eternal reward in 1996 and I think I have now heard more editions of the show without him than with (but the Willie Rushton years were the formative ones for me).
As the above might suggest, I am a great lover of radio comedy – it always seems to work better than its televisual cousin. My latest love is for the Elis James and John Robins show on XFM – I listen via podcast which saves time and removes the adverts (which for me make commercial radio unlistenable in its live form). I have enjoyed both individually as stand-ups, having seen John rather more often than Elis, but as a double-act they are absolutely hysterical. If I still drove (well, more than annually), their podcast would be on the banned list – with only ISIHAC (under Humph’s chairmanship) for company – as being too dangerous to listen to while in control of a motor vehicle. At times they have literally caused me to cry with laughter, so they are now only listened to at home. The show was funny from day one, but seems to be becoming stronger each week – though that may be partly because I now know them (and their strange obsessions – in Elis these seem part of a well-rounded personality, in John part of a pathology) better. If ever I am feeling blue (in private and when not operating heavy machinery), it is to EJ&JR that I now turn.
Laughter in public spaces is oddly frowned upon in this country. A few years back I was reading a rather amusing book (I no longer remember which) on the Victoria line in London and laughing, as required – at some stage I looked up to find the entire of the rest of the carriage were staring at me. For the avoidance of doubt, this was not supportive staring (if such a thing exists) but more fear that I might next run amok with an axe (or similar). I also seem to recall as a teenager laughing at a book whilst waiting to be seen at Maidstone eye hospital – and once again, my mirth being frowned upon. Given how depressing this world can often be, I think a little more public laughter would be a good thing – and despite the continuing disapproval, I still try and do my part.
Perhaps to close I should explain why this post exists at all. Last night, at Turner Sims, I did see Mr B play the whole of Chopin’s Op. 64 – and so my tiny mind started a-whirling. I was also served by one of the bar staff who had recognised me (and eventually I, him) when we bumped into each other at the Art House on Saturday night. Does this make me an alcoholic? Increasing numbers of bar staff on the University of Southampton site now recognise me by sight (even out of context)? Am I drinking too much? Or am I just more memorable than I think? Maybe it is just my age, being in possession of neither a Student nor a Senior Railcard probably does help mark me out from the crowd!