Sexual Ealing

Old Ealing comedies – Comfort films that, if I wasn’t outdoors playing a habitual game of football or cricket with pals, eased me through Sunday afternoons in childhood. Bestowals from a West London studio, whose post WWII peak offerings blessed movie goers with celluloid classics such as ‘Man in The White Suit’, ‘Passport to Pimlico’, ‘Kind Hearts & Coronets’ and ‘Ladykillers’.

Yesterday afternoon I watched ‘The Titfield Thunderbolt’, Ealing Studios first comedy shot in Technicolor. Bringing memories flooding back, including how I giggled because the title included the word tit……. Which must have been more about it’s pronunciation as I didn’t laugh at the word title, which bears the same three letters.

That being said, I’m struggling to recollect reasons I wouldn’t have gone out on a Sunday afternoon. It couldn’t have been because of inclement weather as we (mates & me) weren’t deterred from playing footy by risk of pneumonia or king cough……. It must’ve been if grounded, or perhaps if already in possession of pneumonia or king cough.

Anyhow, I was housebound on some Sunday afternoons, otherwise wouldn’t have fond recollections of childhood weekends watching offerings from Ealing Studios. Movies that took it’s viewer into a portal of eccentric vicars, controlling harridan housewives and misogynistic young doctors.

A favourite warm pullover that eased film goers into the 1960’s and the advent of ‘Carry On’ franchise, whisking us into a bawdier world of eccentric vicars, controlling harridan housewives and misogynistic young doctors.

As a kid, occasionally I’d undertake deeper analyze of these gently comic farces. Research that unearthed previously unpublished movie trivia, such as, if written backwards, the Ealing comedy title Ladykillers was Srellikydal. Hardly a groundbreaking observation by yours truly, but worth knowing if you’re ever asked it in a pub quiz.

Watching the sanitised movies from that era meant a shock to the system when I first introduced to use of the ‘f’ word in the school playground. If memory serves me correct, the word came courtesy of Tommy Hardcase from class 6.

With never hearing it before, I’d no idea it was an inappropriate word  Stupidly, though, instead of checking what the word meant and that there must be a reason I’d not heard it, I decided to say it to a kid in our street a few days later.

With my innocent cursing overheard by my mum, I was promptly hauled indoors and grounded for the rest of the day. She wouldn’t tell me what it meant, but from the smack I got concluded it must be a swear word. I learned my lesson the hard way and have consequently never used the ‘f’ word since…. cough, cough!!

Tommy Hardcase was our junior school bully, with a reputation of toughness leading to unsubstantiated rumours he even extorted dinner money from teachers. However, bearing in mind he was only 11 years old, tutors surrendering their lunch funds to Hardcase was highly unlikely.

Looking back, it was surprising how gullible some kids were on hearing idiotic playground tittle tattle. For instance, someone floated an unreliable tale Tim Troutbeck in class 5 had the wherewithal to see into the future. This ludicrous notion based on the fact he was the only one in his class to achieve a 100% mark in a Math test – Leading to claims by classmates he must have cheated by using powers of foresight.

No one seemed to even contemplate the reason he achieved this unsurpassable grade could merely have been due to him being a right clever s***e. Thankfully, the idiotic story soon died when a bus knocked him over on Durham Road a few weeks later. An incident leading the playground chattering elite to conclude Troutbeck couldn’t be blessed with foresight, as he’d have taken steps to mitigate against it.

Thankfully, as it was only a glancing blow, Tim escaped with only minor skeletal fractures and bruises…… The bus wasn’t quite so lucky, being written off after the driver’s evasive swerve led to it crashing into a nearby building. Mercifully, the only casualties were the driver’s pride and passenger Mrs Overboard’s duck eggs, which smashed on impact.

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The story made an appearance in page 5 in the weekly local paper the Gateshead Post. An in depth chronicling of the incident by ace reporter Geordie*** George, which included before and after pictures of the stricken duck eggs beside a forlorn looking Mrs Overboard.

*** – According to another unreliable local rumour, in 1968 Geordie George’s thought-provoking journaling of a push bike theft outside a chip shop in Deckham earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination. An accolade later rescinded after it materialised the only reason he knew so much about incident was it was him who stole the flaming bike!

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