When TV stopped on Sun­days and fa­mous wrestlers came to town

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

Ithink that these days, tele­vi­sion plays much too big a part not only in the lives of chil­dren but all of us, and I’m as guilty as any­one. Why should it be eas­ier to switch on the old gog­gle-box and stick the kids in front of it than do some­thing a bit more en­er­getic and in­ter­ac­tive? Back in my day be­ing sent to your bed­room was a pun­ish­ment, these days most kids’ rooms are like an amuse­ment arcade and will al­most cer­tainly have a por­ta­ble TV in there to boot. When I was grow­ing up TV was sup­posed to be a treat and not a habit, a bit like choco­late or sweets. Wed­nes­day was sweet day and there was choco­late on a Fri­day af­ter fish and chips. And TV was the same, it was only ever put on at cer­tain times for cer­tain pro­grammes. Af­ter school we had an hour of chil­dren’s TV be­fore tea. I was al­ways more Mag­pie than Blue Peter. My favourite an­i­ma­tion was Mary, Mungo and Midge, and again Fri­days were al­ways a spe­cial treat with Crack­er­jack. Sun­day nights were very mem­o­rable as it was a bit dif­fer­ent. It was bath night at 5.30pm, my brother in first then me in the same wa­ter. I’d come down to the front room and dry off in front of the gas heater and lis­ten to the Top 20 on our Red­if­fu­sion TV mainly be­cause TV stopped on Sun­day af­ter­noon un­til Songs of Praise at 7.15pm, which meant we also had 15 min­utes of Sing Some­thing Sim­ple. The high­light of the evening was That’s Life with Es­ther Rantzen and dogs that spoke words like “sausages” and var­i­ous veg­eta­bles that looked like other stuff, in­clud­ing Je­sus and “naughty parts”. But there is one thing that sticks out above all the oth­ers in the TV sched­ul­ing that shall be em­bossed and at the front of my brain for­ever. Be­fore my beloved nan Ada moved down from east London to Ash­ford per­ma­nently, she would visit us reg­u­larly. And my fond­est me­mory was sit­ting down with her on a Satur­day af­ter­noon, watch­ing World of Sport with Dickie Davies and wait­ing with baited breath in an­tic­i­pa­tion for the start of the all-in wrestling. My nan adored it and I never saw her so an­i­mated. She would also curse and swear like a trooper, es­pe­cially at the ul­ti­mate anti-hero, Mick McManus. It truly was won­der­ful, harm­less en­ter­tain­ment, and that was just watch­ing my nan. A few years later my nan and I would book our ring­side seats at the Stour Cen­tre to watch some of our lo­cal wrestling leg­ends bat­tle it out in the Thomas Hall. I was now old enough for my nan to let me join in with the curs­ing as we watched the likes of Bill Beaney, Ro­many Ri­ley and his son John, and, of course, the Lynch broth­ers, Danny and Butch. Ba­si­cally, there seemed to be much more for us to do back then rather than just veg out in front of the TV and, of course, if there wasn’t any­thing to do we’d make our own en­ter­tain­ment – be it runouts or a bit of tag wrestling with some mates in the sand-pit at the swing-park by Sheldwich, San­dling and Eas­try Close on Stan­hope. Oh, the glory years.

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