08 Feb

Porridge

It’s that time of year when finding something light and frivolous might be a little hard to do. But as we are at that point in the term when we need to cheer ourselves up I thought it best not to talk too much this week about schools and schooling.
 
I have noticed of the last few weeks how retrospective we are all becoming. This is marked most clearly when one considers the favourite TV programme of our young people; it seem to be Friends. A programme which aired it’s last episode some 20 years ago. In addition to that the legendary 1980s Jersey based cop show Bergerac seems to be making something of a comeback too.
 
I wonder in these times of change whether we all too readily hark back to a different era and different days. I wonder whether we take some solace in the comfort of the past; when thing seemed so much simpler. So much simpler either because we forgotten what the hardships were at that time or more likely that we were too young to really understand some of the pressures of life.
 
If we are going to be nostalgic about things I certainly wouldn’t be looking towards our ‘Friends’ across the Atlantic or Bergerac across the English Channel. If it’s TV that we are considering I’d be looking back towards the warm comfort blanket that is a rerun of Porridge (in my opinion the greatest British sitcom – and I know something about great British sitcoms) or classic episodes of Rising Damp or the wonderfully warm Dad’s Army.
 
My family would be so irritated by this. When we have half an hour or so to kill some of us take time to watch something which promotes, what psychologists have called, the reminiscence bump. That is memories stimulated by something from our past which, in some way transports us back to that time. For most it will be music which stimulates those emotions but I wonder whether British sitcoms have the same affect.
 
And so to take us into our weekend some classic lines from the greatest British sitcom written by the incomparable Ian Le Frenais and Dick Clement. Enjoy!
 
You have to know that Fletcher is the prisoner, his cell mate is called Lennie Godber, Mackay is the Head Warder (Scottish), Barrowclough a warder and Mr Venables is the Governor.
 
FLETCHER: I had a friend once – haven’t told you this before, have I? He was a light-heavy. Good strong boy. Won a few fights. Suddenly thought he was the bee’s knees. Fast cars, easy women. Classic story of too much, too soon. He just blew up. He got into debt and ended up in one of those travelling booths. Four fights a night, seven nights a week. Well the body can’t take that punishment. His brain went soft, his reflexes went. You know – punchy. Just became like a vegetable – an incoherent non-thinking zombie.

MACKAY: What became of him?

FLETCHER: He joined the prison service as a Warder. Doing very well.