Sunday 14 March 2021

Light refreshment

I have a theory that the first conversations one has on waking up are the truest indicator of your real state of mind. You know, before all the other stuff kicks in, when your brain is still freewheeling, your thoughts still oblivious to the baying hounds of things-you-must-do. That must be how a relaxed chain of topics, taking in the film ‘Scum’ and Mike Leigh plays, led us to an unexpected conclusion this morning. 

All I’d said was, “Oh, and do you remember ‘On The Move’ with Bob Hoskins, and that other bloke, I can’t remember his name…” 

To which Mr SDS replied: “Yeah, what was he called?  Tall, thin, strong nose…. he was in Dr Who too. And on the subject of removal men: Coo-ee, coo-ee Mr Shifter! Light refreshment!

“What?”  It didn’t mean anything to me.

“You know, the PG Tips ad with the chimps. Irene Handl did the voice.”

“Hmm, not really, remember we didn’t watch much ITV in my house… “

So middle class!” 

I know. I’m pretty sure I shared this mostly ITV-free childhood experience with Tracey Thorn, which always makes me feel a bit better. But we must’ve watched it sometimes, because:

“ I do remember some of those ads, though, with the chimps. I didn’t really like monkeys as a kid. Well, I didn’t like monkeys in clothes," I shuddered.  I recall a couple of the PG Tips commercials, but not this Coo-ee Mr Shifter thing.  

Anyway…never mind that, there are more important things and I needed to correct myself. “Erm, but chimps don’t have tails, do they? So they’re apes aren’t they, not monkeys. Only monkeys have tails," I continued.

“Yeah - chimps have those bob things”

“Like little nubs?” I asked. (I do like the word ‘nub’).

“Yes, little nub/bob things - like Manx cats. I used to think Manx cats only had three legs too”

“Ha, you were just thinking of the Isle Of Man flag” 

“Yeah, Manx cats: no tail and three legs”

I’m picturing it now. “They’d have to be sort of triangular. But what would the configuration be? Two legs at the front, one at the back? Or like the wheels on Del Boy’s van – one at the front, two at the back?

“Two at the front, one at the back.”  Mr SDS was clear about that.

But so was I.  “No!  It’d have to be one at the front, two at the back, so that they could jump.”

At which point we dissolved into unhinged laughter and I realised that lockdown life has most definitely taken its toll.     

(But, erm.... what do you reckon, where would the legs be?)

Coo-ee, coo-ee Mr Shifter!


  1. Not sure but they would be a stick on to win a three legged race!

    1. Indeed! They'd be the cat's pyjamas...

  2. You've got to the nub of the matter regarding three-legged cats :)

    1. Perfect!
      (I like the word 'nubbin' too. No idea why.)

    2. I've got nubbin against it...

      (I'll get my coat...)

  3. Crikey you've covered a lot of ground here. Despite our telly always being tuned to the BBC (and we definitely weren't middle-class) I don't remember On The Move at all but if it was the springboard for Bob's career I'm glad he got the gig. I do remember the PG Tips ad though, they carried on for years but of course would never be made today - Different times.

    I had forgotten all about Manx cats and their lack of a tail (although it often used to pop up in quizzes) - The idea of a 3-legged cat freaks me out a bit though as whenever you see such animals it means they've probably had a horrible accident.

    As for front or back for the legs, I'm going for the front, not like Del-Boy's van but like the little Bubble Car my granny's neighbours had when I was growing up. They were retired and it got them about nicely to everywhere they wanted to go. Don't think they were from the Isle of Man though!

    1. It just tickled me, realising how we quickly got from a TV programme about removal men to where the legs would be on a Manx cat... Something about that surreality sums up life at the moment, I do wonder if I'm going a little mad. But light relief at least against a darker backdrop, and we all need that.
      'On The Move' featured Bob Hoskins and Donald Gee (I had to look up the name) as removal men but it was actually an educational programme - about literacy. Indeed, the first time I knowingly saw Bob, as it was mid-70s, a few years before I then saw him in The Long Good Friday (great film). I really didn't like those PG Tips ads, and very glad they don't treat chimps like that today, but certainly very of the time.
      I know what you mean about 3-legged animals - horrible to think they must've been through something awful, but often heartening to see them doing well and looking as if they don't even realise they're missing a limb with the aid of special harnesses and wheels, amazing what can be done now.
      Ah, bubble cars! Funnily enough we touched on those too later, Mr SDS said he thought you could only go forwards in them, not backwards, and we were contemplating all the situations and parking places where that would present a real problem! Is it true?

  4. Irene Handl and Pat Coombs really were the voices of PG Tips and 70s tea drinkers in general; oh, and that bloke out of On the Buses married to Olive.
    In my friend Riggsby's house the BBC was locked on. It was like the state TV channel; hang on a minute...

    1. Ah yes, I'm very fond of both those ladies, they sum up my '70s too! Remember Irene in 'The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle' as the cinema usherette calling Tenpole Tudor "Oi Tadpole!" in her unmistakeable voice (best part of the film...)
      Yes BBC all the way here too when I was growing up; my parents loathed adverts!

  5. I'm not sure about the legs, but my mum had a similar aversion to chimps in clothes.

    1. Glad it's not just me. I also hate having to draw animals in any form of clothing - unless I can put them in a Clash T-shirt or a 60's go-go boots perhaps - sadly have never had the opportunity!

  6. If you didn't watch ITV, when did you ever find time to put the kettle on for a pot of tea, or go to the loo??

    1. Hello, thanks for dropping by and good point! Were there decent breaks between programmes? Whilst some terribly well-spoken anchor person told us that the next episode of Z Cars was coming up in a minute? I can't remember... I do remember though that our ancient TV had a wooden shutter you could pull across when it wasn't in use. Another world.


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