Sunday, April 13, 2003


This story has been prodded out of me by the Cyberfiction Review, and has been brought to you by the letter “G” and the number “69”.

"Kyak, kyak! Fnarr, fnarr!"
The genuine Durham knockers

“Did you see it? Did you see it?”

If these were the first words you heard on arriving at school in the morning, then you can be sure that something groundbreaking, outrageous or simply not-to-be-missed had appeared on television the previous night. The lucky few who had witnessed this televisual feast could give a blow-by-blow account, while those who had far better things to do could only listen, and lie through their teeth, saying that yes, I had seen it too. And on this particular Tuesday or Friday (I can’t remember which) the playground before morning registration was buzzing with these words.

“Did you see it?”

Yes, I saw it.

I’ve already touched on the genius of Blue Peter in the last month with a doggy tale of mirth and woe. This tale happened about three years later, with the programme already sinking from its televisual peak of Noakes, Purves and Singleton, rapidly gaining speed into a nosedive that would give us Mark Bastard Curry and Caron “Me Mum’s Gloria Hunniford you know” Keating. Everyone still watched it (Hey! We live in the Home Counties - watching BP is compulsory down here), but it was perfectly clear that the programme was already living on past glories. The days of John Noakes’s bruised arse were long gone.

Still, they educated as they entertained. Transient presenter Chris Wenner burned up five mnutes of studio time demonstrating how the door knocker at Durham Cathedral was being replaced by an identical replica, while the old one was being resotred. Oh yes, Noakes’s bruised arse was long, long gone. Wenner finished his piece and handed over to Simon Groom. The was a moment of embarrassed silence as Groom struggled to come to terms with the total disinterest the previous item had produced. Cathedral door knockers. A real one, and a fake one in the BP studio because even Magpie wouldn’t touch them with a shitty stick. After a momen’t hesitation, Groom took a breath. To use a Blue Peter cliche: suddenly, disaster struck.

“What a wonderful pair of knockers.”

The length of the country, cups of tea were spat over TV screens, while the BBC switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree. Wonderful.

Twenty-three years later, farmer’s son Simon Groom is now a presenter on Radio Sheffield where he lists his most embarrassing moment as “announcing on Blue Peter: ‘One of Goldie's puppies is going to become a blind dog for the guides...’”. Bit of a memory slip there Simes, we prefer to remember you as the bloke with the knockers.

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