Earlier this year my father, who still ranks ‘Eric & Ernie’ alongside Laurel and Hardy as the two greatest comedy partnerships of all-time, took delight in reminding us that Eric Morecambe died exactly thirty years ago. Since I was working in ITV – to where Eric and Ernie had latterly moved from the BBC – at the time, I still automatically associate the year 1984 with Morecambe’s death but, even so, looking back now, thirty years seems an extraordinary length of time in the past.
When you think about it, I suppose it is.
Saturday 2nd January 1982 is another date that similarly ought to be indelibly etched in my mind, though in fact I had to look it up on Google just now.
I say that because, although these days I can recall virtually nothing before about 2003, I can recall with stunning clarity what happened on that particular date.
England rugby union team beat Australia 15-11 at Twickenham. I don’t suppose anyone who was there, or watching the game live on television as I was, can remember much (if anything) about the game itself.
However, my hunch would be that we can all remember something about the game.
It was the occasion of the famous half-time topless streak by the buxom young lass Erika Roe, whose exploits that day instantly passed into history and rugby folklore, bequeathing the phrase “Doing an Erika” into common English language usage.
At a rugby club dinner I once heard a (probably apocryphal) version of the tale thus:-
In those days, during the half-time interval, it was customary for the teams to remain on the field, with jobsworths scurrying onto the pitch, bringing the players, as a restorative agent, a plate of oranges cut into segments.
England lock and captain Bill Beaumont duly gathered his men around him and began his leader’s oration, mixing his analysis and urgings to greater effort in equal measure. Gradually, whilst in full flow, he sensed that the players’ attention was wavering and the noticed that scrum half and fellow Lancastrian Steve Smith (amongst others) was looking directly over his shoulder.
“What’s going on?” he demanded.
“Sorry, Bill … “ quipped Smith, quick as a flash, “… but there’s a girl over there with your bum on her chest!”
I mention this today only because Erika Roe appears in a piece on the website of the Daily Mail this morning, having decided – prompted by her own sister’s brush with breast cancer – to appear topless again for a related charity fundraising drive. She looks in pretty good nick too.
After this week’s media controversy over Madonna posing topless again at the age of 56 (with the sisterhood split roughly down the middle as to whether it’s a good thing or not), I’m happy to take the opportunity to salute Roe for both her courage and state of preservation – see here – DAILY MAIL