5. Ni-hi-hee, Capting!
Round about the time I changed schools there was an earth-shattering event which changed the world.
Well, my world, anyway. And I was not alone, either. It took my generation and many older generations by storm. It coloured my outlook on life for evermore; it may well have protected me against the ridiculous class-ridden regimentation of Wolverhampton Grammar School.
It was The Famous Goon Show!
The Goons and their way of humour fitted in exactly with my enthusiasm for jazz. Both were breaking new, classless ground. Their comedy stemmed in a great part from the protective humour of the Forces. These men had fought a war for the freedom of . . . well, whatever they wanted freedom for.
At first, the pilot shows were titled “Crazy People”. When the Goons materialised, there were four of them: Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine. Bentine was later to leave the group and produced some very funny surrealist stuff by himself.
Spike was, I suppose, the driving force behind them, and they were called “anarchic” by those who never understood.
I did all the voices – Bluebottle, Eccles, Bloodnock, Hen & Min – and I think I believed more in the world they created than in the cruel one in which I found myself. People in Dunstall Road, including my relatives, thought I was a little mentally abnormal. Indeed, I must have come over as a “silly, twisted boy”.
When I went into my Goonery in public, Mom used to blush and apologise to people: “It’s his sense of humour . . .”
Spike, that poor, tormented genius, was to remain a great hero of mine all my life. Maybe it was because I was to suffer depression, too.
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