In my Tooting secondary school, during the early ‘70s, I discovered that, as well as bringing in sweets, being able to mimic helped you not being bundled – the medieval secondary school event which involved thirty boys piling on top of one another preventing the entrance of the divinity teacher (and this was a bloody grammar school – no wonder Mrs Thatcher made no effort to keeps ours going).
Mimicking of teachers was the greatest and most revered talent to have, second only to being able to imitate a Trimphone (very popular in the ‘70s) – a great asset to have to confuse people in the silence within Balham Library.
I couldn’t imitate a single teacher, or phone apparatus, but could mimic an assortment of other people: including most of the Goons; Jake Thackeray and Dudley Moore. However, my piece de la resistance was my impression of Fyfe Robertson. Fyfe Robertson was a roving TV reporter in the ‘60s and 70s and would be sent to report from obscure places, invariably surrounded by sheep. He’d start every report with “Hello there, I’m Fyfe Robertson” and would confirm the obscure place where he was standing. I could sound like him and announce to my classmates “Hello there, I’m Fyfe Robertson and I’m standing on a traffic island in the middle of Balham High Road”.
I could also imitate the actions of Reg from the greengrocers opposite my flats, as this greengrocers wasn’t terribly well-known, my likelihood of auditioning on Opportunity Knocks was never on the cards.
I often toy with entering Britain’s Got Talent, but sounding like Bluebootle, Minnie Bannister and Eccles is never going to be as powerful as a song by Susan Boyle.