There’s something wonderful about Friday comedy on the BBC, and I can tell you exactly what it is. There was a playwright on ‘Have I Got News For You’ the other week.
That’s what it is.
I don’t suggest for a moment that Friday night comedy is too London-centric.
Actually, I love the fact that when I look at my flickering telly-box, I can see people who mean something in the West End; that it is assumed I would begin to know what to do with an oyster card, that Uber means anything to me beyond the big vampires in ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’.
I am sitting in a chilly thicket of Devon.
A lot of what happens in London, although it doesn’t stay in London, it doesn’t make it this far west, but I find it comforting. Watching Friday night comedies when I lived in south London made me feel frightfully debonair, as a slightly precocious pre-teen, because I understood the references made to City landmarks and theatrical intrigue.
And I think it goes some way to explain why I like the Legion so much.
When I came down to Devon, I was very much in the habit of calling everyone ‘mate’. Nobody in Devon used that word. Older people called me ‘my bird’ or ‘maid’, which is close but no cigar.
At school, and even into the shop, everyone used ‘honey’ as the soft name of choice. And that might have been the pattern of my life down here except at the Legion, we have a handful of former RAF chaps, and they call me ‘mate’.
I take comfort in a Friday Night at the BBC, whether television or radio, which presumes that I read the Guardian, indeed, that I read anything on a daily basis, which speaks to me about the Mayor of London, and bendy buses, and whatever the newest sensation in the West End is; these are moments of delight and I have missed them terribly.
I don’t begrudge them the license fee because, quite honestly, I am getting sick of commercial television.
It may have to do with the rubbish I watch in the afternoons, but everything comes equipped with adverts for over-50 health plans and funeral cover. And it’s maddening. Not because I am not quite at that age yet, but because one day I will be.
I am bored, terribly, terribly bored of hearing “no medical tests, no awkward questions,” as if that means anything. What awkward questions am I apparently loath to answer?
This won’t happen for another fifteen years, but they’re bound to ask if I smoke (hopefully not, by then). So what am I avoiding?
Am I worried that, when I contact them, they will ask if I have a drink problem? Or if I have some sort of terribly itchy venereal disease?
The only difference these could possibly make to my funeral plans is: maybe don’t mention them during the service.
And all the while as these rotten ads are playing, and I speculate on how diseased I might be in fifteen years’ time, I wonder why they don’t show me an advert for the play the ‘Have I Got News For You’ panellist wrote.
I might not be City-bound for some time but that doesn’t mean I’m dead.