More recent generations than mine might think that there are few upsides to being a senior citizen with a fading memory.
Although – speaking as someone in that category myself – I might even agree with them in principle, you have to try to keep looking at the bright side, don’t you?
As I sit here in my darkened sitting room surveying the debris and litter of my ‘latter years’ existence – wondering whether my disconnect from modern popular music, television and movies is simply an inevitable product of being born before 1985 and therefore suffering from some degree or another of mind-enfeeblement – I find myself increasingly attracted to an alternative explanation, viz. that your most vivid, fondest and strongest memories of things endure longest because they were indeed the best.
In other words, when it comes to music, the likes of the Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Bob Dylan were (and are) light years of quality and creativity ahead of their modern counterparts.
Mind you, it is surely a positive thing to believe that certain great exponents of all intellectual, creative and sporting skills would have been recognised and worshipped by the world around them, irrespective of whenever they had been born. Let’s just call to mind Leonardo da Vinci, Muhammad Ali, Lionel Messi, Sir Isaac Newton, Ghengis Khan, Julius Caesar, Winston Churchill, Napoleon, Beethoven, Charlemagne and Emil Zatopek – the list might be endless and my readers can add their own candidates here …
Might that be your very first sex of all (which, some have argued, is the fount of all sexual drive as the individual spends the remainder of his or her life trying to ‘recapture’ the enormity of that experience); or that with the most the most technically-proficient partner you ever came across; or perhaps its alternative – the sex you had (possibly pretty rubbish sex in a technical sense) with the ‘enduring love of your life’ or possibly the person, of all those you ever met, that you fell deepest in love with; or possibly – as I like to think these days, especially after what I can say with a certain degree of certainty (despite my sketchy memory) is my personal longest sexual drought in history – is it not always the next sexual encounter that you will have (if you have one) … a fact that naturally, when you think about it, tends to keep all human beings ‘in the race’?
When it comes to humour, despite my tendency to fall prey uncontrollable bouts of hysterical laughter at some of the pratfall shown on ITV’s You’ve Been Framed, I like to think I’m pretty discerning.
Without a shadow of a doubt the funniest man I ever met in the flesh, or saw on television, was British comedian Tommy Cooper. He was one of those people who was permanently funny, on or off stage or screen, and I don’t know whether it was a gift he was just born with, or whether it came from sheer hard graft and ‘due-paying’ as he worked his way through years of treading the halls around the country and appearing on countless radio and television shows.
It could just be a personal quirk of my mind or sense of humour, but the simplicity of my favourite Tommy Cooper gag is probably part of its appeal:
“A man goes to see the doctor.
The doctor says “What’s wrong with you?”
The man raises his elbow to a point where it is in line with his shoulder: “It hurts when I do that”.
The doctor says “Well, don’t do that then …”
There’s something about his stage persona – and it’s possible both facile and true to say it may well have echoed Hancock’ character in real life – with its word-weary, hang-dog expression, the overcoat and Homberg hat and the grim (almost black, backs-to-the-wall, wartime Blitz-type) humour and ‘little man striving against the system’ dogged determination to carry on despite all the reverses life is throwing at him, which evokes both sympathy and universal audience appeal.
It’s still sad to recall that Hancock died at his own hand in a rented flat on a tour to Australia in June 1968 at the age of only 44.
That said, some of the Hancock’s Half Hour episodes on BBC radio and television remain classic of their kind to this day. Many of the best were written by (Ray) Galton & (Alan) Simpson.
I was reminded of them when I came across this feature today on the website of the DAILY TELEGRAPH