Saturday, December 10, 2005

Death of an Englishman.

One of my favourite broadcasters died a couple of weeks ago. John Timpson, native of Norfolk and proud Englishman slipped away aged 77 years. John had a fantastic accent, a comfy and relaxed rural burr, as mellow as a glowing glass of English mulled wine on a crisp and frosty Winter's evening.

Timpson initially got his big break on the ‘Today’ programme when original anchor, Jack deManio began to lose his marbles. Every now and then, deManio would turn up at the studio ‘a bit tired and emotional’ and inevitably make a right pig's ear of the script. On this particular ‘last straw’ occasion, DeManio was trying to introduce a story about some bloke from the Lebanon.

"And Mr Walid, a lesbian…….

Oh, I’m terribly sorry, that should be, Mr Walid, a Lesbianese…….

Errrr, sorry, that’s not right either, I meant to say Mr Walid from Lesbianon….."

That morning, DeManio seemed to have been obsessed with butch women – it didn’t go down well with the prudish Auntie Beeb – and Mr and Mrs Outraged from Tunbridge Wells had a field day.

The old soak that was Jack DeManio was quietly pensioned off to write his memoirs and Timpson seized his chance. – Various partners joined him, until the BBC had the good sense to partner him with Brian Redhead, a gobby Northerner from Macclesfield with a rare commodity amongst current broadcasters – a brain a sharp as a steel trap, and a true journalist, to boot.

For many years, throughout the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, they co-hosted this flagship radio programme. It was superb radio. Full of acerbic wit and off message, non pc comment, the merciless grilling of some inadequate tosser politician of the day was a regular sporting highlight. It was free of the nefarious agenda that currently infests the present BBC.

It was a sad day when John retired. Some young whipper-snapper called John Humphrys took over his slot – and the programme lost its appeal to me. Timpson said he wanted to retire back to his beloved Norfolk to write about the county and Country he loved so much.

Soon ‘Timpson’s England – a look beyond the obvious’ hit the bookstalls, swiftly followed by a follow up. The books were superb to read - witty little quirky snippets from forgotten corners of this great Country. Timpson toured England, finding odd and eccentric facts and figures in churches, pubs and villages – in essence, he recorded the very soul and marvellous eccentricity of this fantastic Country.

Nearly 20 years on, I’ve still got my copies – and when I’m feeling just a bit low, despairing of what this cowardly bunch of no-mark politicians in power are continuing to do to this Country, I dip into them.

It makes me feel a hell of a lot better – and it’s cheaper than Whisky……


fjl said...

Yes it's sad when an old generation English gent passes on.

David Vance said...

Hear Hear - his voice and attitude was a pleasure. Sadly missed.

Toque said...

I've got a copy of that book. It's a great read.

Laura said...

Good post, alfie. You made me want to check out ‘Timpson’s England next time I'm in the library.