It’s Black Caviar night. Memories of the big events that made us get out of bed.

June 23, 2012

There’s something special about watching big sporting events in the middle of the night.

Ashes tests. Kangaroo tours. World title fights. Wimbledon finals. And great racing. All celebrated under the moonlight.

In the old days, we’d stay up for the duration. Fuelled by cool drinks, as operating hours were extended by kindly club managers. Now, it’s an alarm clock, slippers and strong tea.

Tonight, anyone who’s ever won a quid at a racecourse will be glued to the box. And plenty of others who’ve never opened a formguide. Midnight ratings will go through the roof.

Yet another chapter in the Black Caviar story. This time she’ll be winning on the other side of the world. In front of Poms in top hats.

We all feel as if we’re on this amazing ride with her. Have done since that first victory. Even from afar, we’ll cheer like lunatics.

The difference this time, is that most of us will be waving the imaginary whip while wearing flannelette pyjamas. And we’ll be back to bed as soon as Peter Moody collects the cup.

Years ago, Dad would wake me, so we could watch the Kangaroos taking on England in the Old Dart. We’d huddle around the black and white tv. I’d have a Milo, while he sipped on a sneaky ale.

They were brutal encounters. When the Poms could actually play. We’d have the lights out and the volume low, so Mum wouldn’t wake up.

One of my great late night memories is the Second Test at Old Trafford in 1990. Ricky Stuart’s longest run, that led to Mal Meninga’s greatest try. In the final seconds of the game.

Future Origin coach to Future Origin coach. When Big Mal planted the ball down and broke their hearts, lounge rooms all over the land erupted. It was one of the game’s great moments.

I recall the night it was standing-room only at the local leagues club, when Jeff Fenech fought for his world title against that punishing little Thai bloke.

They recorded record bar sales that night, as we went with the pair of them round for round.

It was well into the morning when Jeff proclaimed his love for us all, and we made our way home on unsteady pins.

Another night to remember was Pat Cash’s Wimbledon triumph in 1987. Although if truth be told, those memories are a little blurred.

We’d descended on a friend’s house, after a particularly boisterous Sunday night. Someone decided we should have one for the road. Maybe two.

We stumbled upon coverage of The Man in the Headband doing his thing. Pat’s heroics kept us up way longer than was medically sound. But it did provide an excuse for snoozing at work the next day.

It will be a much more sedate affair tonight. The girls will be sound asleep, so I’ll watch the Mighty Mare alone. With a nice cuppa. And  a biscuit.

But don’t be fooled. The cheering will be just as loud as anyone in a pub or racecourse bar. Getting up at midnight lets you do that. Go the Mighty Mare.

Quality tv viewing, from a time when silliness ruled. Whacky shows that shaped a generation.

March 6, 2012

Davy Jones and his mates gave hope to goofballs all over the world.

Those of us who wondered if we could get through life with nothing more than a laugh and a song were truly inspired. Didn’t matter that we were only seven.

When the Monkees lead singer shuffled off after giving his final performance last week, it got me thinking about those early tv shows. The ground-breaking ideas that sparked our imagination.

Before we proceed, an important warning. If you were born after 1980, return to the safety of your iPhone immediately. The following involves programs that you’ve probably never heard of. We’ve entered an old-fart only zone.

I loved the Monkees. Four guys running around in ever-diminishing circles, wearing funny hats and singing cool songs. It was a celebration of silliness.

Dad wasn’t so keen. Pointless, he reckoned. Why would anyone watch such rubbish, when the ABC had decent English comedies?

Before I began Monkee-ing around, it was all about cartoons. The Flintstones. The Jetsons. The Bugs Bunny Show. Ground-breaking animation about the past, the future, and talking animals.

All three worked, because there was a focus on the absurd. Fred’s foot-powered car. The Jetson family’s futuristic house. The Road Runner escaping every single death plot so carefully organised by Wile E Coyote.

My tv time was the hour before the nightly news. Usually in winter, when daylight disappeared. But only on non-footy training nights.

Dad would never miss the news. Even then, essential viewing. Another wonderful habit passed down from my parents.

Before we received our visit from Roger Climpson, there would be a variety of shows keeping me entertained. And only now do I realise they all were based on a ridiculous notion.

I Dream of Jeannie made Dad and I laugh, and quietly inspect every strange bottle we found on the beach. Just in case.

Bewitched made us wonder if that nice looking blonde up the road was actually casting spells on Dad’s old Holden. It was so silly, with twitching noses and meddling mother-in-laws, that you had to giggle.

How could you not love Granny in the Beverly Hillbillies? Lust after Elly May? The concept was as silly as a wheel. But we loved it.

Mr Ed changed the way I approached horses. What if they did have something to say? I’ve been listening ever since. Although it must be said that not one has so much as whispered a tip to me.

Get Smart. McHales Navy. The Flying Nun. All with marvellous degrees of loopiness.

I expect you’re green with envy about now, with the knowledge that I was able to watch such golden entertainment. Well, it wasn’t quite perfection. There was something missing.

Dad never fully explained why, but we couldn’t pick up Channel 10. And in the world of schoolboy tv watching, that made me something of an outcast.

No Gilligans Island. I knew nothing of Ginger and Mary Ann. I had no idea who Hogan was, or Schultz, or indeed any Heroes.

The rest of you had watched six seasons of MASH, before I knew which war they were fighting.

And the biggest blow of all. No Brady Bunch. How could I join in the jokes about Marcia, when I had never laid eyes on the girl?

Somehow, I survived. The beauty of repeats. I still look out for all the shows I’ve mentioned here. And it’s rare that they don’t provide a smile.

What does that tell us? Possibly, that I’m easily amused. And that when it comes to comedy, even now, there’s nothing to match true silliness.

The power of daytime television … and why gardening is the new contact sport.

April 5, 2011

Funny what daytime tv can teach you.

Did you know that the Ab Circle Pro can get rid of flabby love handles? And that you can have funeral costs covered for just 25 cents a day? That might provide loved ones with just enough to farewell you in a cardboard box. 

I know all this because I’ve been sitting at home for the past month, with a leg in the air.

That’s not some form of kinky celebration. It’s how one recovers from a dislocated ankle. And torn ligaments. And bone fractures. A serious, painful, nasty injury usually suffered by elite sports folk in high impact activities.

I would love nothing better than to tell you how I misjudged my skydive, or won the game in the final seconds for a ridiculously fit Masters Touch football side.

No, that would be fibbing. The truth is, I’m one of a growing number of mature men badly injured while gardening.

The list becomes a little smaller when it’s revealed that it was a hedging accident at the mother-in-law’s place.

My misfortune has provided relatives with weeks of giggles and a lifetime of stories for Christmas lunch. It happened while we were all taking part in the first, and last, family working bee.

Somehow, I was the only one to end up in hospital. I’m certain the rest polished off a fancy seafood feast. They reckon they didn’t because they were too upset. Yeah right. Fresh tiger prawns wait for no man, no matter where his foot happens to be pointing.

Anyway, the finer details aren’t important. You probably know anyway, if you’re a member of the Facebook page “Pansies injured while gardening.”

What my home detention has done is allow me to spend some quality time with loved ones. For the first week. After that, phrases like “get it yourself” and “it must be better now” rang loud across the house. They’re a tough breed, these women.

Once the sympathy well ran dry, I turned to tv. And took a stroll back to my childhood.

With the help of a large black comfy recliner, as favoured in most nursing home common rooms, I settled in to make the best of a bad situation.

Movies I haven’t seen for years. Books that needed reading. And Prisoner.

Each midday, as I made a sandwich of whatever scraps the girls had left at breakfast, I would go back in time to join the female inmates of the Wentworth Detention centre.

Remember Bea Smith? Queen Bea ran things inside. When I caught up with the show she’d just been let out on parole. After a nice lunch and a new hairdo, she shot her old man. Bea was back inside before I’d finished my milk.

Franky Doyle the lesbian and dopey Doreen escaped. They stole a kid’s fish and chips, dressed up as nuns, and managed to stay on the run until my physio appointment. For all I know they could still be offering blessings at church fetes.

The crazy thing is, I remembered watching this rubbish, all those years ago. Mum loved it, God bless her. It was a family favourite. And here I was, confined to quarters, once again celebrating the antics and overacting of the girls in H block.

Other small screen memories flooded back. Green Acres. The Cosby Show. Murphy Brown. And every few days Peter Falk would return as the bumbling detective Columbo.

They all provided their own flashbacks to happy times. Nice memories. And a welcome distraction from a crook foot.

The girls from Prisoner did their bit to keep insanity at bay. I think. I’ll know for sure when I get back to reality this week.

There’ll be no marathons in the near future. Walking to the back fridge will do just fine.

I’ll be wary of nuns working in pairs for a while. The good news is that I won’t be needing that funeral coverage just yet. And I could be wrong, but I reckon my abs are really starting to take shape.