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Friday, January 14, 2005

OMFG - OGWT ???

ogwt.jpgOne of my kids has a part-time job in our local county lending library. I went to pick him up to give him a ride home the other night, but turned up too early, and so I wiled away a quarter of an hour browsing the shelves. Shambling past the "New Additions" section looking at books which obviously weren't, I was startled to find there a DVD of this: The Old Grey Whistle Test, featuring a hundred truly excellent bands and legendary presenter, Whispering Bob Harris.

Now, the question is: how the heck did a DVD for the OGWT end-up in a Ventura County lending library here in sunny Schemie Valley? The show is completely unknown here: it doesn't even run on BBC America. Has to be a Brit, with a hankering for the Old Country that the library could scratch?

I had completely forgotten its existence - a shocking lapse - and am being punished now by its theme tune, which has been running around in my head ever since. How could I have forgotten about Whistle Test? It ran late at night on BBC2, and was the television equivalent to John Peel's radio show: it was hard-core serious, its featured bands eclectic, interesting, epitomizing Rock music, and later, punk or ska or reggae - whatever was new and breaking. The rough, bleeding edge of rock, Ziggy to Zeppelin, Elton John to Thin Lizzy, all back in the days they were new and fresh and vital. And all thoughout the many years it ran, presented by Whispering Bob, who spoke and smiled softly, despite his balding 70's hippy hair.

ogwt_bh.jpgIt was a kind of rock show that we do not see any more - at least, not in America, probably not in Britain either? After it went off-air Channel 4 came up with a roughly similar show hosted by Jools Holland, himself an accomplished musician who played keyboards for Squeeze. But it was never as good as Whistle Test. Not to me, at least: but by that time I was losing interest in rock music, beginning my slide into elder conservatism that holds that music, books, television, whatever, these days isn't a patch on what it used to be, in my day.

What has become of Whispering Bob, I'm left to wonder? Perhaps the answer, a "Bob Harris Country" radio show, as mentioned this morning by Norm Geras, in a fit of synchronicity?

Spooky, though.

LATER: That can't be Bob, CAN'T BE! Surely not? That's a BBC Radio 2 show, and he can not have been reduced to that, has he? I don't want to think about that! I really don't want to think about the alternative: that BBC Radio 2 might have caught-up with me? That I must now be counted its intended audience? That would be beyond awful: it would mean that I, young-at-heart Bearded, am now a blue-rinsed Tory grandma, who listens to Jimmy Young or Terry Wogan while knitting a sweater? For that, people, is BBC Radio 2.

No. I deny! No! No!! Nooooooooooooooo!!!



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