Last Friday morning conversation at Chronicle Towers took a turn for the nostalgic.
It was all prompted by the unwise decision of a couple of members of staff to sample some dusty and neglected bottles at the back of the bar of the pub where they just happened to find themselves the previous evening.
This serious scientific endeavour led not only to a much fuller understanding of why very few people drink Dubonnet these days, but also headaches all round for those who were foolish enough to partake.
All of which is a roundabout way of asking that age-old question: “Were you truly wafted here from Paradise?”
Anyone of a certain age (self included) will know the answer to that one.
But for those who need some background or are less than hem-hem-hem years old and don’t remember the ’70s, the question was first asked in an advert for Campari.
Campari was (and still is) a strange orangey-red alcoholic tincture which was mixed with soda water and sipped in sophisticated surroundings by men in safari suits.
It is also one of the few mysterious drinks we didn’t try last Thursday.
Anyway, in the ad itself, a suave young Lothario, played by an actor who might or might not be Nigel Havers, entertains a glamorous-looking young lady on the terrace of a stylish Mediterranean villa.
He mixes her a Campari and lemonade and then asks her the immortal question about wafting and Paradise.
And then comes the punchline.
For the glamorous seductee is none other than Lorraine Chase – later known as Stephanie Stokes out of Emmerdale – who replies, in a Cockney accent so strong you could jelly eels with it:
“Nah, Luton Airport.”
Now the printed word is a powerful instrument, but it can’t do justice to Lorraine’s Force Eight glottal stops. So if you want to hear them in full effect, either for the first time or to relive old memories, go to www.visit4info.com and search for Campari.
The advert spawned a hit single and a host of playground imitations.
It probably also put the mockers on future sales of Campari, whose makers were apparently trying to re-position it in the marketplace by broadening its appeal. It would seem that they failed.
Because, let’s face it, who drinks Campari these days, even in a spirit of scientific research?
If you do a bit of digging on Campari’s own website you’ll find that they don’t even have a UK home page, but that they do market Brazilian Liebfraumilch (another concoction we never got round to investigating) and that they also make Cinzano, the subject of another series of subversive ’70s telly adverts.
These featured the late, lamented comedy star Leonard Rossiter drenching Joan Collins with the herby beverage, against glamorous backdrops ranging from Spanish cocktail bars to first-class airline cabins.
In those days most people’s experience of life in the Med was on a par with that experienced by the merry travellers of Carry on Abroad, and in retrospect you wonder how many more bottles of the stuff were sold.
Those whacky advertising agency types are still trying it today, though.
If you’ve ever used public transport around Bath recently you can’t have helped but notice that most of it is run by First Bus. So why Stagecoach Bus is advertising here is a bit of mystery.
The ads are a spoof of Little Britain, with Tom Baker doing the voice-over as a number of characters make their journeys on what Stagecoach modestly calls “Bus of Britain”.
The night before last a would-be WAG called Tanya Brown (geddit?) took the bus to a tanning parlour and ended up all crinkly. Other ads feature Professor Harold Hooterson, who grows himself a pair of comedy boobs, and Gale Windybottom, a green campaigner whose sorry fate cannot be described in a family newspaper.
All right, they’re good for a chuckle, as were the Campari and Cinzano ads before them.
But they do leave you with the nagging suspicion that if you ever got on a Stagecoach bus you’d end up sitting next to an orange chav, a scatter-brained Frankenstein or a large and flatulent tree-hugger.
That’s the problem with subversive adverts: as soon as you start thinking too closely, the magic is broken.
Still, at least you know where you are with First Bus and a pint of best bitter.
This column was first published in The Bath Chronicle on January 17 2008. Copyright Bath News & Media 2008.