Monday, 1 February 2016

Egg and Ajax

If I say I was more upset to hear that Terry Wogan had died than to hear that David Bowie had, I suppose I will lose any shred of street cred I may ever have had, (as I never had any anyway, that doesn't really matter, of course)*.

But Wogan appealed to me more. I think that was probably because he was funny. Humour is never as highly valued as it should be - if it were, Peter Cook and Shelley Berman might have shared a Nobel Prize.

Anyway, for some reason the broadcast I always remember from Terry Wogan was nothing especially outstanding, just one episode in a running sequence in which male listeners' shared their tips for coping with life whenever the wife went away and they had to fend for themselves, (and, in describing this set up, I am struck by the loss of innocence that has come about since - where was the outrage at the assumptions built into that scenario: assumptions about wives, about gender and  cooking arangements, and, indeed, about gender and marriage [and on and on and on, swing wide the floodgates, let the rage begin]).

Anyway, the anecdotes weren't all that funny, but it was the way they were told -  the tone of Wogan's voice, the inflection and rhythm he gave to the sentences and so forth - that made them appealing. Thanks to these qualities, I've never forgotten how one gentleman claimed that he always mixed in a bit of ajax to the scrambled egg mixture so as to make the horrible job of scouring the saucepan easier at the end of the cooking process, (no, I don't think he really did this either, but there was a nice absurd illogical logic to the proposition), while another, who had one of those ovens they used to make that had a grill section above the stove top, would put the toast into the griller and then a saucepan containing milk for his cup of coffee on top of the griller. The milk would warm up there, as the top of the griller always got hot because of the flame on its underside. Anyway, the listener claimed he did this because, when, as inevitably happened, he forgot the toast and it began to burn and then burst into flame, at the same moment the milk would boil over and dowse the fire.

No, it doesn't actually sound all that funny. It wasn't, on the face of it. But that just goes to show how gifted Wogan was.

There was something very comforting in Wogan's wry and seemingly unaggressive attitude to the world. He was definitely comical - I like the way he clowns falling over here, (not to mention the idiotic hat):

and, judging by appearances at least, he was a most likeable man. Sadly, the likeable do not necessarily last the longest. What a very great shame.

*I should add, by the way, that I am not at all happy that David Bowie died - in fact, annoyingly, it is his death that has led me to look at some videos about him and realise, too late, that he was a pretty interesting man.


  1. I think a lot of people secretly mourn the loss of Wogan more than Bowie. His Eurovision commentaries were masterly, with a dry wit that made the contest worth enduring, in spite of the awful music.

    1. I haven't got over John Peel yet. Most of his contributors were far from exciting & oftencloyingly sentimental in that Radio 4 show he did, but his humour made up for a lot, I thought. Radio is such an odd medium for making you fond of people you've not only never met but usual,y never seen