Door number 2 on the advent calendar in chez Strachan has just been opened. It was preceded by a formal ceremony, during which the band of the Coldstream Guards played a moving version of Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems’.
The lament was beautifully delivered on pipe and drum, although having 80 soldiers in full regalier marching in the front room was a logistical nightmare. There was much treading on toes, knocking over of ornaments and tripping over the dog…….. God only knows whose dog it was, it wasn’t ours!
Tomorrow we’ll probably just open the advent calendar door and lose the build up of pomp and circumstance…. Not to mention the laxative induced dog!
Despite this attempt to make the opening of the calendar a memorable occasion, the gloss from its cheery festive greeting (an elf fighting with liberals) has been tarnished with news of another high profile passing in 2016.
This mornings announcement of the death of actor Andrew Sachs at the age of 86, a chilling reminder the seemingly endless celebrity loss in this annus horribilis continues unabated.
In the mid to late 1970’s, Sachs was escalated to the upper echelons of viewers much loved comedy characters with his portrayal as the feckless and put upon waiter Manuel, in classic TV comedy Fawlty Towers.
I’d just turned a teenager when John Cleese and Connie Booth’s comedy masterpiece was unleashed on the viewing public. Like everyone, I had no idea how the twelve episodes (over two series) would become so much part of our culture.
In the show’s wake came column inches galore; not to mention hours of discussions with peers about the funniest bits.
When Fawlty Towers was first aired, a school day wouldn’t be the same without a playground conversation starting “Did you see the bit where….?”. That or an off the cuff mimicking of Manuel exclaiming in pigeon English “I’m from Barcelona”, which generally set the group laughing…… Apart from the pigeons, who seemed to have a problem with it!
Yes, it was amazing then how the words “I’m from Barcelona”, three simple words from a simple TV character, could raise such jollity amongst the dark grey tarmac break areas of my school in the north east of England.
The only time we didn’t laugh was when new boy Pepe, who really was from Barcelona, said it as he wasn’t referring to the show…… At least I don’t think he was!…… If you’re reading this Pepe and you were just trying to fit in with the Fawlty Towers banter, I apologise on behalf of the group….. We just thought you were spouting a fact!
I mention above a regular question on the playground in themed 1970’s when discussing our favourite comedies was “Did you see the bit where….?”
I always thought it was a strange inquiry, as it was asked by us despite knowing our peers had seen it, as they’d just regaled us with a different scene in the same episode.
That being said though no one ever responded “Of course I saw the episode, otherwise I wouldn’t know the bit about a concussed Basil Fawlty offending German guests!….. You berk!”….. Or the like.
I was sad to hear this morning of the passing of a man who made a key contribution to the successful synergy of Fawlty Towers. Painted firmly on the ‘good memories’ section of my life canvass, the enjoyment the show has given me both through the medium of watching and discussion are immeasurable.
RIP Andrew Sachs