Archive for July, 2015

A Sporting Occasion

July 9, 2015

I’m not terribly sporty, but I love a spot of tennis, especially Wimbledon.  Who doesn’t?  wimbledon

When I was a kid, my mum – whose interest in sport was and is practically zero – would watch Wimbledon every afternoon, and formed strong views on the players.  She still dislikes Jimmy Connors, for example, because he beat the nice Ken Rosewall in the 1974 final.  She liked Arthur Ashe because he beat Jimmy Connors.  She disliked John McEnroe for obvious reasons, so heaven knows who she was cheering for in the McEnroe-Connors final of 1984.

Anyway, that’s all by the way because today’s is a musical blog, specifically the music that accompanies the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage.  You may have noticed there are two tunes: the one that opens the programme which is a brassy, rock-based number; and the closing music which is an old-style march which calls to mind Brylcreem and Dan Maskell.  Have a listen to the whole thing:

It’s called “Music For A Sporting Occasion” and was composed by Arnold Steck, the nom-de-plume of a major in the Welsh Guards called Leslie Statham.  It’s unashamedly old-fashioned which is probably why some knucklehead at the Beeb decided a few years ago to ditch it.  Thankfully it was reinstated in 2013, although last night they played just the last four bars.

Heart-stopping TV from 50 years ago

July 3, 2015

You really HAVE to take 10 minutes out of your busy day to watch this – please!  You’ll love it…unless you’re scared of heights.

A few days ago, Twitter was a-tweet with the news that a man called John Noakes had gone missing – thankfully temporarily –  from his home in Mallorca.  Now, to anyone under about 40 and not British his name probably means little.  But those of us of a certain age ALL know him, for he co-presented “Blue Peter”, a twice-weekly BBC kids’ show that, quite simply, everyone in the playground watched. (It’s still running.  My kids have never watched it.)

shep2It was sad to learn that John is now 81 and suffering from dementia.  Sad not only for his sake, but – selfishly – as a reminder that we’re all getting older.

Yet, in our memories, John Noakes is forever young, forever daft, forever a daredevil, doing incredibly dangerous stunts for the show – like the one in the clip below.  The idea of sending a presenter out on such an assignment would these days be unimaginable.

I’ve seen interviews with John Noakes in which he has bemoaned the recklessness of the assignments: there were no health-and-safety precautions, nor even any insurance.  I don’t doubt that, in hindsight, he was unhappy about it – although I rather wish he had kept his misgivings to himself, the better for us to marvel at his daring.

Incidentally, in 1971 John acquired Shep, a lively border collie which appeared with him on Blue Peter.  The following year, my family also got a border collie, Sheba, inspired by Shep.  And when, four years ago, I decided to become a dog owner again, it was another border, Jess: all thanks to John Noakes and Shep.