18 February 2009


In the first three or four years of my life, my family didn't own a television and when we finally got one, it would show only one channel - BBC - which in those days was only in black and white and came on around teatime, finishing just before midnight with the national anthem. It was all rather primitive and a poor subsitute for the full colour real life adventures I could have as I grew up in and around my East Yorkshire village.

In the summertime, I would sometimes be away all day on my bike with my mates. We'd build dens by tunnelling into haystacks, swim in the local canal or liberate rowing boats. We found clay in the banking of a drainage dyke and then made pottery that we baked in the sun. We watched piglets being born and a farmer shoeing the village's last working shire horse. We played football till it was dark and scrumped apples. In lots of ways it was a truly idyllic childhood when the world around me felt both safe and interesting. There was absolutely nothing to worry about and plenty to laugh about. At night I read voraciously then slept solidly till morning.

Returning to television, between the ages of five and seven there were three children's programmes I grew to love. "Andy Pandy":-
"Bill and Ben", the Flowerpot Men with the surreal Little Weed:-
And my all time favourite - "The Woodentops", the forerunner of all those soap opera families that inhabit our screens nowadays but secure, warm and innocent like the family which I was lucky enough to to be born into:-
Somehow you could forgive the black and white and the strings, the jerky movements, the predictable plots and the posh voice of the narrator. It was all as comforting as my mother's mashed potato on Sundays, in which we made gravy lakes and imagined little climbers scaling those snowy peaks - like Edmund Hillary and Norgay Tensing. It seems - it seems... like yesterday and yet so long ago...


  1. Yes Yes! All that here too! And in addition, eeling and making rafts and biking everywhere and a feeling that the world was my mollusc.
    Happy days. Thank you YP.

  2. I did all those things, too - except the football, of course! Ugh!;)

  3. Now YP, the Hovis theme tune - you know, that Dvorak New World stuff - should have been playing over that blog post. But this might be even better.

  4. those were the days of proper childhood and into bed by 6pm after magic roundabout. Feel so sorry for today's kids, ferried around everywhere, not allowed to play in the park, over protected or not at all and pregnant at 12.....

  5. I don't know any of those shows. We had Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo and Cecil the Seasic Sea Serpent over here.

    Just how do you scrump an apple? I'm not familiar with that particular word.

    So much to learn and so little time...

  6. Anonymous7:38 pm

    ......And the biggest spotty dog tou ever did see!

  7. Anonymous7:38 pm

    ermmm you even.

  8. And is there anyone who saw it who can't do an impression of how Spotty Dog walked? And how about Picture Book on Mondays and Rag, Tag and Bobtail on Thursdays? I loved them all. And I loved "playing out" too and did it lots even in suburban Leeds, building dens in the woods. I think we had Proper Childhoods.

  9. Well, this post seems to have hit a nerve with my visitors. Nostalgia - it ain't like it used to be!
    KATHERINE - Eeling? Did all NZ eels originate in the Sargasso Sea too?
    JENNYTA - You seem to have a thing against football. Do you know a good counsellor?
    MOPSA - I will get round to finding out what "this"is after I have responded to all the comments.
    MUDDYBOOTS - You're so right. Today's childhoods are far less free than ours used to be. Innocence doesn't last for long.
    MR RHYMES w PLAGUE To scrump basically means to steal! It means climbing into a garden or orchard and rescuing the forbidden fruit. It's shameful I know and I'm sorry.
    STEVE - You are calling me a spotty dog? Well you...you... you're a cad, a bounder and a damned rotter so there!
    DAPHNE - I always walk like Spotty Dog at midnight on a Saturday when I am also tempted to pee against lamp posts!

  10. Anonymous3:18 am

    Thanks for the photos! Mr. Goddess has often spoke fondly of Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men and Andy Pandy (I'll have to ask him about The Woodentops). There were no apples to scrump or Woodentops in suburban Philadelphia, substitute in Stickerball wars and Magic Garden, and I'm right there with you.


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