Yesterday evening I ventured to the Leeds City Varieties theatre in the company of my twentysomething son Jonny and his mate Josh.
It was good to see them both as a) my son lives in York so I don’t see him much, and b) Josh is really tall and, since someone nicked my ladders, I’ve needed my upstairs windows washing.
I hadn’t seen Jonny’s mate for a good few years and couldn’t believe how much he’d grown in height. Last time I saw him he was only 6ft 5in, he must be at least 8ft 3in now.
The reason behind our sojourn to the venue of the BBC music hall show The Good Old Days (TGOD) was to see a surreal comedy show called Athletico Mince. This a collaborative performance between comedians Bob Mortimer and Andy Dawson.
I doubt TGOD, which finished in 1983 (after a three decade run), ever witnessed humour in the same vein of last night’s offering. The football influenced inanity, an unconventional offshoot from the format delivered there by late great comedians like Les Dawson and Bob Monkhouse back in the day.
As much as I loved the gags of Les Dawson and Monkhouse, they never made me laugh as uproariously as Mortimer and Andy Dawson did yesterday evening.
To clarify, although both funny, fat, northern, great at gurning and rubbish on the piano, I don’t believe Les Dawson and Andy Dawson are related in anyway. That’s according to my mate Greg Twinset, anyway, who’s a researcher on the BBC’s genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are?
Greg, a tenacious investigator who tracks relatives with his bloodhound Reg, is the man who famously went back far enough to find someone who can remember Newcastle’s last domestic trophy win.
Twinset claims his mum knows Andy Dawson’s barber. A known gossip in Cleadon village, the barber apparently discloses allsorts about Dawson’s private life, while stood on a box on the High Street.
These vitriolic outbursts include many shameful things the Sunderland fan has tried hard to forget. These include rumours Dawson has never seen a lion’s penis, along with the embarrassment of having a name of less value at Scrabble than his best mate Zbigniew Xylophone.
Another of the barbers claims is that Andy never stops rabbiting about having no genealogical link to Les Dawson, when lolling in the chair having his hair coiffured.
He also spitefully divulges that cutting Andy Dawson’s hair is a chuffing nightmare as he never sits still when having a number 2……. I’m hoping that’s a hair clipper setting and not a reference to the Sunderland fan s**tting himself in the barber’s chair!!
As well as Andy having no blood line to Les Dawson, Greg also proffers that Bob Mortimer is no relation to 1970’s Coventry midfielder Dennis Mortimer, or West Ham’s Clyde Best.
I don’t recall watching a great deal of The Good Old Days when I was a nipper. The old school music hall show, with it’s elaborately worded introductions by compere Leonard Cohen to an audience dressed in early 1900’s attire, wasn’t ‘go to’ entertainment for youngsters in the 1970’s.
However, my brother Ian and my lack of enthusiasm for the show backfired badly, when our mater cottoned on to the dislike. A fact that started her using the show for behaviour control of my sibling and me.
She regularly threatened to make us watch TGOD if we didn’t behave. A ploy that became one of the most effective weapons in her armoury for keeping her brood in check.
Thankfully, when she overheard me (as a 10 year old) call my our Ian a t**t in 1973, the show was having a break in the Beeb’s schedules. Instead I got the infinitely more preferable punishment of a smacked arse and sent to my room.
I wasn’t as lucky when I told a kid in our street to f**k off after he asked to join Ian and I in a game of football. As punishment I was made to watch two episodes of The Good Old Days. One for swearing, the other for being spiteful.
I’m not sure why I told the kid, who if I remember rightly was nicknamed Curly, to go away in such industrial language. I don’t recall being that spiteful as a youngster.
I may just have been a thing I had against playing football with anyone with curly hair, which if was the case I suppose wasn’t without justification.
I’m not sure what TGOD’s presenter Leonard Sachs would have made of Athletico Mince’s type of humour. How would he have announced this surreal but very funny act to his audience, as they sat in anticipation while clad in their early 20th century garb?
He may have, in one of his deliberately over pretentious lexicological announcements, introduced the act as:-
“A bombastic synergy of Tees/Wear joviality. Gentlemen bequeathing exuberant manifestations of idiosyncratic epiphanies. Sources of tomfoolery borne of boreal climes and proletarian environs. Unconventional masquerades performed with spontaneity, prance and canticle.”
Alternatively, he may have just proffered:-
“Here’s a f***ing barking Smoggy and Mackem. I don’t get them, but my son reckons they’re the dogs bollocks!”
Anyway, regardless of how Mortimer and Dawson would have been introduced by the late Leonard Sachs, they produced a hilarious hour or so at the venue with a special place in TV history.
Right, I’m off to have a game of five-a-side with some straight haired blokes.