I am the Queen of Sheba

“Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs” my nan would exclaim in abject horror of something I’d done; given she lived in a one-storey Balham flat, I wondered if this was physically possible?  Was there a secret tunnel which led to the other side of the High Street?  Did she own some collapsible stairs?  Was there an emergency carpenter as a lodger?

Either way, it leads me to things people said years ago and are rarely heard these days.

She clearly had tremendous powers as, if I pulled a face, she would tell me if the wind changed, I’d stay like that; I was never going to run the risk of having my tongue permanently on show the moment the levels of the Beaufort scale rose.

She was obviously unaware of the abolition of slavery, as she’d often asked what my last slave had died of? 

My nan clearly never did history at school as the retort to any of my many lies – “Yes, and I’m the Queen of Sheba” – was clearly inaccurate.  My nan was old and had no teeth, but she was neither 3,000; Arabic (she was from Clapham) nor royalty!

Cat’s got your tongue?  Well, of course not, as we don’t possess any pets.

Given that time travel doesn’t exist it would be hard, unless you’re Superman or Dr Who, to knock someone into the middle of next week.

Unless you’ve a 120-year-old greengrocer, you’re unlikely to hear “much obliged”, “thanking you” or “that’ll be tuppence, three farthings, love”.


Say goodnight to the folks, Micky

People don’t have catch phrases like they used to.

Growing up you’d hear “can I do you now, sir?” – after ITMA stopped, you’d only hear it if you drove, very slowly, up Balham’s Bedford Hill; former resident of my block of flats, Tommy Trinder, would say “you lucky people” – that wouldn’t be allowed these days as it’s unfair on people who are generally unlucky and you could never accuse a cleaner to “look at the muck on ‘ere” as they’d probably sue you.

I would also question some of the catch phrases of yesteryear: did Hughie Green really mean things “most sincerely”?  – as long as he got his salary from Rediffusion and didn’t get into a fight with the Muscle Man, he probably couldn’t give a monkey’s.

Columbo episodes may have been shorter had he not had “just one more thing”; Hawaii Five-O showed Steve McGarrett’s ability to delegate all the unnecessary admin to Danno; Dick Emery showed, as Gloria, that he/she had a split personality; Harold Steptoe introduced us to the importance of hygiene (albeit in a kitchen sink); Bruce Forsyth to palindromes and Jack Regan to the correct dress sense if being arrested.

Perhaps I just don’t watch enough TV these days, but there just don’t seem to be as many – or as memorable.  Am I bovvered? 

Good night, John-Boy.