Meet Sid Cowell

As with any small market town, Sprodlington has its eccentrics.   Most are harmless. For instance,  we all know Colin is unpredictable especially when a casual game of dominoes turns against him, but he isn’t really troublesome.

Councillor Sid Wormell is however a complete pain in the arse. Forever chasing the limelight, Wormell announced to The Sprodington Post this week that he has changed his name to Sid Cowell in honour of his idol Simon.  Having spent time at the local comprehensive school judging their “Sprod Idol” competition, which Fleur Brinklow won with her lovely acoustic rendition of The Grateful Dead’s “China Cat Sunflower”, he has insisted in staying in character ever since.

Last Saturday, Sid came into the shop.

“I can honestly say this is  poor attempt at a Hardware store.” he announced.

“Piss off Sid !”

“But you do have the likeability factor,” he replied “And you remind me of a young Ronnie Barker in Open all Hours.”

“You remind me of everything I never wanted to be Sid.”



Templeton’s Topiary

Last night,  a strange old lady called Susie recommended that I might take up topiary.  I laughed along and joked, knowing that she had no idea that I am actually quite good at hedge shaping.  But, Susie gave me an idea . . “Random acts of topiary”

Here’s the idea.  I visit random houses and without being seen,  snip away a suitable design completely by surprise!  A bit like that crop circle lark a couple of year’s back.

Tonight I visited Molly Pope’s house on Bryant Way and with a slight change to her mushroom design, I created my first masterpiece  “Meat and two veg!”

I’m rather proud of that one !

Trim and Proper shuts down!

There was uproar in Sprodlington as “Trim and Proper” the new Gents’ Barbers, shut its doors less than 3 weeks after opening.

Marc Duvall (I don’t think that’s his real name) arrived in Sprodlington from Australia earlier in the year with claims of having run a successful business just outside Sydney.  Most of the people of Sprodington either cut their own hair or go and see Joe Harper  in his creatively named “Harper Barber Shop”

However, nine year-old Josh Samforth whose Mum Tina works in Pretty Petals the florists, persuaded her to take him to see Marc. She brought him into my shop just after they had fled his seat after Marc has started  to “just tidy up with a No 5 all over.”

Clearly Marc Duvall is more used to shearing sheep, and after taking Josh’s photo, I sent the little lad down to Joes to see what he could do with the dreadful situation!

PC Tucknott the Urban Warrior

PC Tucknott was chatting to Stevie Watts outside the shop this morning.

“Wos crackin’ Tucknott?  Yoos deep man, and I’m jus ya dawg.”

“That’s foreal Stevie,” says Tucknott or PCT as he now wants to be called. “No half steppin’, and I’m just a lil playa!”

“Ha ! Right yeah” goes Stevie  “You no fly guy – you fakin’ jacks”

“Easy” says PCT “Don’t dis me ‘coz ma crew will clock ya.”

“Yeah, I’m throwing bolos!”  Stevie adds.

I walked outside.

“Tucknott, get in here and stop talking like a bloody idiot or I’ll phone your Mum”

“Enough said!”

Jason’s Tattoo

Even if we are being extremely generous, it would be true to say that Special Constable PC Jason Tucknott’s early career as Sprodlington’s eyes and ears has been pretty disastrous.  In fact, Colin was saying last week that  Helen Keller would have been more succesful.

Yesterday Jason came into the shop holding a piece of tissue over his arm.

“Guess what Andy’s done for me” he said.

“Andy who?”

“Andy ! You know, Andy the hairdresser.”

“I’ve no idea Jason” and after glancing upwards I said “He’s not cut your hair”

“No” he laughed “Andy’s done me a tattoo !”

“Andy’s not allowed to do tattoos any more Jason. You know that !”

It was something to do with a misspelled tribute to the TV presenter Brian Cant.

“It’s fine” Jason continued. “He’s kept his old gear in the back of his shop.”

Jason took the tissue from his arm and I could only stare in disbelief.

“Who’s that ?”  I said  “Who the bloody hell is that ? It looks like Ray Reardon the snooker player.”

“No stupid. Its Dracula !” Jason looked at me for confirmation.

“But there aren’t any fangs Jason. Dracula has big fangs.”

“Yeah, I know.” he stumbled. “We realised that after Andy had coloured the lips in. It was too late.”

How to get gagged

Yesterday I was reading an bizarrely interesting blog about “The Private Language of Marriage” written by Delia Lloyd. The blog appears to be a collection of comments from relatively happy souls giving each other advice on how to have lovely marriages (Mrs Templeton take note). Certainly the couple the author depicts look as though they would never let go of each other.

such a lovely couple

But one poster named “Nardeeisms” claimed the following as good advice ;

“Whenever I cook something delicious, my husband says “”This tastes burnt”” It’s a compliment of the highest caliber.”

Well, excuse me but predictably it’s not! I tried it and got popped over the head with a pan by Mrs Templeton.

I was not happy, so I wrote a comment on the author Delia’s blog to explain what Mrs Templeton had done. I was keen to warn other readers that if they followed this suggestion that they too may get something of a surprise in return.

What thanks did I get? Delia scrubbed my comment. How nice is that when I am trying to help!

Others who I have tried to help have been far nicer and details can be found in my new section “Derek Helps Out”

The lovely Nicole Griffin Eakin has sought my help with her addiction for creating lists, and Kevin Shannon was very grateful when I shared with him my delight at the response my glossy adverts received in The Sandwich Shop’s front window

World Cup Baby Names

I jest ye not!

These are a list of babies registered at KwaZulu-Natal hospital during the World Cup. True to Zulu tradition, the newborns have been named for events at the time of their birth.

Offside Mchunu;
Argentina Sibiya;
Vuvuzela Mhlongo;
England Nkosi;
Soccer City Mthembu;
Cameroon Vilakazi;
Striker Hadebe;
Italy Buthelezi;
Midfielder Zwane;
Denmark Ntombela;
Red-card Mbatha;
Brazil Khuzwayo;
Coach Sibisi;
France Kheswa;
Goalkeeper Sithole;
Parreira Mthethwa;
2010 Dlamini;
Jersey Magubane;
Substitute Shandu;
Ball Skhakhane;
Stadium Gumbi;
Kick-off Shabalala;
Park n Ride Khumalo;
Half-time Hlatshwayo;
Tickets Ngubane;
and Kaka Zuma.

How fantastic is that

Regards to all
Dreary Day in Sprodlington Derek

Bill at his very best

Some have questioned my view that Bill Buckley is the continuity God of television. I wanted to highlight that he too is the model professional on radio.

Just listen to how his clear prior preparation enables him to smoothly open his show. Listen too to how he takes full responsibility for his problems and refuses to blame those around him for the troubles. Listen as well to how he considers those, who like me, enjoy the sound of Level 42 and are happy to listen to the same song twice in a row.

Those doubters should ask themselves why Bill would be given the 1am to 5am slot on LBC if he wasn’t such a model professional?

Bill Buckley – A legend in continuity

I recently wrote about Children’s television presenters questioning the ability of today’s youngsters with those of our yesteryear. In discussing Derek Griffiths, I mentioned that his voice over work was only perhaps rivalled by that of Bill Buckley. In her comment on my article, the usually well-informed Doris Brazil asked for more details on Bill Buckley. I guess this endorses his work, as he was always able to make sure that he didn’t detract attention from the programmes themselves.

Bill’s big break came in 1982 when he appeared on Ester Rantzen’s “That’s Life”. Until then Bill has appeared in the written press and in his own words he ” didn’t mind swapping the industrial tribunals and magistrates’ courts of Sandwell for the broken washing machines and phallic parsnips of Shepherds Bush a bit!”

From there, Bill was at the birth of Breakfast television with Frank Bough and Selina Scott and he dealt admirably with the pressures of ” Writing a witty, three-minute song overnight then singing it to a sleepy nation at 6.45 and 8.45am .” Well done there Bill ! He also appeared on Songs of Praise where he beautifully sang the David Essex hit “A winter’s tale” backed by a huge choir.

Following time on The Holiday Programme, the powers that be decided that Bill’s attributes were now more suited to radio and he moved to the BBC Radio Solent where he did a fabulous job. But you couldn’t keep Bill regionalised and he popped up Nationally when he “appeared on Ken Bruce’s show on BBC Radio 2 as a celebrity contestant in his Popmaster quiz, ” and “thrashed the charming lead singer of Del Maitri, Justin Curren, 30 points to 9. (I think Del Maitri or Del Amitri as I remember them disbanded shortly afterwards – it’s not easy getting over a drubbing by Buckley)

Following more television work where Les Dawson described him as “ballast” on Blankety Blank, Bill then moved to the legendary work he accomplished as Channel 5’s weekend continuity announcer. He says he was there for five years from Day two (I can only imagine Bill was busy with prior commitments on the launch day itself.)

And so to understand Bill’s work a little closer. Just have a listen to his dulcet tones as he provides the continuity itself and introduces the “pec-oiling”Mr Gay UK in a way only Bill could.

What a talent Bill Buckley is.

Where did the best children’s televisions presenters go ?

What on earth happened to the children’s television presenters of old? I can’t think of anyone who oozes the qualities of Val John and Peter for example. How I laugh still when I remember watching Lulu the elephant with my daughter Tracey one afternoon.

You just simply don’t get that quality television anymore. I couldn’t even name five children’s television presenters these days. There’s Dick and Dom who appear to be able to shout “Bogies” loudly (which was clearly worthy of a contract) and that’s about it.
There are no real characters anymore. The marvelous Brian Cant, for example I mean, yes, Brian did well in his personal life marrying Fern Britton’s sister, which means he has chef Phil Vickery as his brother-in-law; but he was so versatile. Play School, Play Away, Trumpton, Chigley, Camberwick Green were just some of the fantastic programmes Brian brought to life.

And who could forget Derek Griffiths? He was a trained Royal Shakespearean actor, who not only appeared alongside Brian and Chloe Ashcroft in Play School, but he even sang the theme tune to Bod. Derek recently did the voice over for JamJar adverts where I feel he is one of the best in his field, rivalled only perhaps by the brilliance that resides in Bill Buckley.

The best? Well I have to say Johnny Ball. From Bristol to Bolton, and then earning an apprenticeship the right way with Butlins(following some National Service) Johnny entertained and taught at the same time. Tracey learned maths from Johnny through Think of a Number; Think Again; Think Backwards; Think…This Way and Johnny Ball Reveals All – Johnny certainly liked the word Think didn’t he!

So, there we are. The best children’s television presenters, and whilst my license money has increased from £18 in 1975 to £145 now – we’re not getting value for money these days are we?