Now I may have gone to a funny school (on paper it was a bog standard comprehensive) because I recall the favourite TV programme among my classmates over a couple of years (my O Level years, in fact) being Last of the Summer Wine. I have never been able to abide that programme. I watched a whole episode once, and the effort of trying to glean some amusement from it has scarred me for life. To this day I cannot hear the words 'gentle comedy' without reaching for the off button. But my classmates clearly found it utterly rollicking. Do you remember that bit, they'd ask each other, rolling on the floor and clutching their sides, where Compo got in the pram and... and they would shriek and fall about in merriment as the tears rolled down their faces. And I'd be thinking, can we do some Chaucer now please?
All this is apropos of nothing, but I was reminded of it by the obituary of Kathy Staff in yesterday's Guardian (wrinkled stockings. No wonder they were wetting themselves), where I learned not only that her name was originally Minnie Higginbottom (now how could you even attempt to improve on that?) but that '[h]er first job was with the National Gas & Oil Engine Company at Ashton-under-Lyne ... which created an amateur acting group that she joined.' Sadly a bit too late to have had any involvement with our engine, however.