A mo, A mas, A mat (sic)


Unless you liked to sing along to Songs of Praise, Sunday evenings in the late sixties and early seventies, were interminably dull.

It didn’t help that homework had to be done: Latin words learned (expugnare – to take by storm, being one of the few I can remember – because you’re always using the phrase “to take by storm”!!); ox-bow lakes to be drawn and trying to remember 101 uses for a pipette with a 102nd being you use it to hold chemicals in.  For me, the evenings were even deadlier because Sunday afternoon had gone the way of all flesh.

Sunday afternoons were fun. My dad and I would walk from our flat in Du Cane Court, with our football (me in my Peter Osgood kit (Thomas Müller hadn’t been born, so Peter Osgood it was)) via my mate’s house in Oakmead Road to Tooting Bec Common.  There were lots of kids involved and with them came their respective dads.  One of the dads was a basketball referee and tended to take Sunday-afternoon-up-the-park- football quite seriously and was disturbingly honest in his decision-making.  Many a time the game would come to an abrupt halt as this man would say, “Oh, Simon, you’ve played me offside!” .  He clearly didn’t know the local rule that there was no offside unless a dog, larger than a spaniel, had peed on someone’s anorak, which doubled as a goal, and still stood between keeper and striker.

The trudge back with Simon’s dad still disputing an offside goal was the start of people petitioning for video refereeing. It also meant Sunday evening was looming and deciding what to have with my spam sandwiches and glass of milk.

I have, in previous posts, alluded to my parents’ insistence of me going to bed early https://mikerichards.blog/?s=bayern ; Sunday evenings were the worst.  However, one Sunday evening, 5th October 1969, my dad announced that I could stay up late as there was a new show on the TV which I may like.  It could have been the testcard, I’d have been happy staying up late.

I was 12 and at 10.55 PM, the time, in my mind, when milkmen were probably getting up, the programme started; it wasn’t the test card, it was called Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  It had a massive influence in my life.  The show moved to midweek early on in the series and me and most of the entire class of 30 in my form at Bec would re-enact the sketches throughout the day the next day.

I didn’t know anything about the Spanish Inquisition nor Marcel Proust (and how to summarise his works in fifteen seconds) what we did know it was funny. Our favourite re-enactment was the man at the start of the programme staggering, out of breath, as he moved towards the camera and would only get to say “It’s…”.

We would stagger up the stairs of the 155 taking us back to Balham High Road from school doing this. Bet the conductor (not to mention the other passengers) must have loved it!  We would cough and wheeze and once at the top of the bus shout “It’s”.  But when you had a Red Rover, you were a king.

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