Friday, 18 May 2012

Sticky Back Plastic

A long time ago, almost as long in years as there are stars in the sky, Fantasy Bob had 2 burning ambitions.  The first was to be a commentator on Test Match Special.  He thought he was eminently qualified, he could talk about cricket and he could eat chocolate cake.  OK, he might be better at the cake eating than the amusing chat, but that seemed a minor detail.

His second burning ambition was to be a presenter on Blue Peter, of which he was an avid fan until the mid 1970's when Valerie Singleton left the programme.  There was nothing impure in this attachment, and the waning of his loyalty at the time the young FB's thoughts were turned by the gyrations of Pans People should not be misconstrued.  For FB, Val's ways with sticky back plastic remain second to none.

And now, having been reduced last year to one episode per week, Blue Peter is about to be confined to the children's digital channels, torn from BBC1 whose schedules it has graced since 1958, making it the longest running children's programme in the whole universe.

FB has not seen Blue Peter for many years.  He suspects it is much changed - its presenters no doubt have incomprehensible regional accents and think that they must shout at their audience to convey enthusiasm to children at all points.  Sticky back plastic has no doubt been digitised and become an app.  It may be that CBBC is the best place for the programme, but it feels to FB like another piece of that world full of certainty which defines FB's upbringing is being chipped away.  First the Test Matches went from BBC to Channel 4, then only highlights, now only Channel 5.  Where next?

But Blue Peter's memory lives on in FB's bursting nostalgia archive.  He does not remember much by way of cricket on Blue Peter, although he is sure it would have been mentioned from time to time in amongst the dogs, tortoise and the peeing elephant.  But was there never a demonstration of how to make a pair of cricket pads out of toilet rolls, Sqezy bottles and sticky back plastic?  Was the Blue Peter garden never mowed and rolled in a demonstration of how to make a good batting wicket?  Were old cricket boxes not collected at Christmas to fund a lifeboat or some other worthy cause?   Did Valerie never bowl an outswinger?  These memories seem so strong to FB - they must be real.

Purves, Singleton and Noakes - not a Test cap between them
FB was privileged to have watched Blue Peter in its golden age when the spin trio of Valerie Singleton, John Noakes and Peter Purves presented the programme.  None of these seem to have played or made any mark on cricket, but amazingly enough Cricket Archive contains both a John Noakes, who played 2 first class games for Kent during his short life from 1802 to 1840, and a Peter Purves who played for Huntingdonshire in 1873.

Blue Peter's Peter Purves was a keen cricketer as a child - he played at Furness CC in Cumbria and remembers breaking his ankle in his first match,  “I had scored about 22 runs in double quick time and we were just running the fourth of four and I jumped over the ball as it came in and I broke my ankle when I came down.” he said in an interview a few years ago.  Purves did not reveal whether he used sticky back plastic to fix it.

But Purves did reveal that he and Valerie Singleton had enjoyed a one night stand romantic encounter during their time on the show.  This news was devastating to FB - shattering another of those certainties.  Someone will no doubt try to tell him some day soon that Santa does not exist or that the Tooth Fairy is made up.  That would be too much to bear.

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