Letters to my sons.

Trying to explain the world to two very small children.

Mr and Mrs – be nice to each other…

without comments

Dear Son,

we watched a bit of ITV’s Game Show Marathon yesterday and they were doing Mr and Mrs. The original program was screened sometime in the 1970’s and was truly awful. I remember watching it along with “Crown Court” when I was off school ill – this was in the days when there were only 3 television channels, ITV didn’t start until 9.30am (it still doesn’t start until 9.30am today officially) and Country Cricket was all there was to watch during the summer holidays.

The premiss of Mr and Mrs is quite simple; the host (Derek Batey in the old days) would ask one of the couple some questions about the relationship. The partner would have been taken away and placed in a sound proof both whilst these questions were being asked. They would bring back the partner and ask them the exact same questions and points would be given if they both agreed on the answer. They would then repeat the exercise with the partner being asked the questions.

I remember one episode when the couple were very old and I knew they were very old even as a child. Around the same time as this memory a man on the street had died and he had been fifty years old which all the adults agreed was not very old at old, indeed it was quite young. As a child I thought 50 years old was very old – today as a 36 year old I think like the adults before me – I will still be paying the mortgage when I’m 50. But back to the old couple on Mr and Mrs – they had been married for something like 60 years and one of the questions asked to man was:

Where did you give your wife her engagement ring? Was it in the jewellers shop? Outside the jewellers shop or somewhere else?

And the old man said he could not remember because it was so long ago but he guessed an answer anyway. When his wife came out she couldn’t remember either but she guessed but it didn’t match the husbands guess. The husband, a frail old man, at this point started to cry because he felt that he should have remembered this small and in the larger scheme of things, trivial, piece of information. Maybe in that one question he was reminded of his virile youth and the reality of his frail body and failing mind where presented to him.

I wasn’t that surprised to see an old man cry as old people would come to the school Carol Concert and the Harvest Festival and a few of them would always cry at the sound of the young sweet voices singing hymns. It’s only now that I am starting to understand the reasons why old people cry for a time that is lost and can never be recaptured.

Part of the magic of being young is the innocence and lack of experience that can lead to the wrong conclusions. If a couple didn’t win at Mr and Mrs they received a carriage clock as a consolation prize. We had a carriage clock in our house that chimed every 15 minutes and the chimes were very loud – they had to be as the clock was used in horse drawn carriage. The chimes had to be louder than the sound of the wheels pulled along bumpy roads and the clatter of horses hooves. My father would wind the clock up every day and almost every day he told us that it wasn’t a toy, it was very expensive and we shouldn’t play with it. The clock it’s self had a glass body inside a brass case that left the spring and all the cogs and gears exposed – it was possible to see big and small wheels going round at different speeds to move the hands.

So when I saw a losing couple being given a carriage clock I naively thought that they were getting something worth having, that all carriage clocks were expensive and chime very loudly every quarter of an hour. It was only years later that I discovered that far from being given a hand made clock of exquisite complexity and beauty they were in fact being given a cheap, silent battery operated mass made “reproduction”. An old man had gone onto a television program, cried at his inability to remember his own past and for all of that he received something of no value to anyone – maybe he was crying because that is how he felt; in his youth maybe he wanted to be someone that people respected, trusted and treasured, someone who would survive the generations in books and TV programs but now, realising that the end was close, he had the realisation that he had archived nothing that would be recorded by history as exceptional.

Written by Administrator

May 13th, 2007 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Memories

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