Thursday, December 01, 2011

LIttlewoods have messed with my memories

What goes around comes around, they say. And the run-up to Christmas, apart from anything else, is a good time for dredging up ancient memories. And shuddering.

Readers of a seriously middle-aged persuasion may recall spending Saturday and Sunday mornings listening to the dulcet tones of Ed Stewpot Stewart as he presented kids’ request show Junior Choice.

It was that magical time before teenage lie-ins, when you still woke up at a sensible hour to go to the shops and spend your pocket money.

(Or you did on the Saturday – Sunday shopping wasn’t even a glint in Tesco's eye in those days, and anyway, one-and-sixpence a week didn’t stretch far beyond Saturday lunchtime.)

One of the regular favourites on Junior Choice was a song/monologue by Terry Scott called My Brother. It’s quite hard to track it down these days – the original isn’t even on iTunes, which is one in the eye for anyone who might be tempted to argue that Apple and all its works are perfect in every way.

But you can find My Brother on YouTube. And the lyrics, if you look hard enough. Google is your friend.

Big Tel sings/monologises at length about his naughty little brother, thuswise: “Who put salt in the sugar bowl? Who put fireworks in the coal? Who put a real live toad-in-the-’ole? My brother!”

Terry goes on to cast aspersions on their mum’s parenting skills – “Every night when we’re wide awake, she makes us go to bed. And then in the morning when we’re fast asleep, she makes us get up!” – before getting back to more of his brother’s crimes and misdemeanours: “Who keeps maggots in a tin? Plays the Twist on ’is violin? Who's been gettin’ at the gin?... My brother!”

All of which was pretty damn chucklesome, especially if you really did have a little brother who really did play the violin. At least, he tried to. But he never got as far as the Watusi, let alone the Twist.

They were happy and (relatively) innocent days, days of bike rides and bruised knees and fishing for tiddlers in the canal and all that stuff that made growing up fun.

And now Littlewoods have come along and spoiled it.

“Who put an XBox under the tree? Who got a Fijit just for me? And who put a laptop on Grandpa’s knee? My mother!”

To the very same jaunty tune as My Brother.

Apparently this paean to buying far too many expensive Christmas presents and then “spreading the cost” (£1,500 at a rough guess) has already prompted several hundred parents to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority that Littlewoods has blown the gaff on Father Christmas.

And the ASA is already trying to wriggle its way out of a very tight corner by claiming that the existence or otherwise of him in the red coat is “not capable of objective substantiation”.

But that nauseatingly coy advert has done more damage than that.

It’s taken one jolly item of nostalgia, mangled it into a TV ad and – before you can say “June Whitfield” – one blogger’s memories are ruined forever.

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