By Bernie Bell
We’d recorded the last episode – we’ve watched ‘Still Game’ since it started. It’s one of those things – I didn’t know if folk would ‘get’ ‘Father Ted’ unless they’d had an Irish background, and could see how near to reality it was ( honest – it was!), or ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ – I could get the references, as I’d grown up in Bradford with Asian friends – with their fearsome Aunties! But – humour is humour, and all of these comedies work, because they are human, they are about us, us humans and how we are, with each other.
People from all over, ‘got’ ‘Father Ted’, ‘Goodness Gracious Me’, and …’Still Game’.
We were sorry to see it go, but, at the same time, I think the writers were wise. Some of these sitcoms go onandonandon, and…….. just get silly. The ending was inspired.
IF YOU’VE RECORDED IT, AND NOT WATCHED IT – SPOILER ALERT – DON’T READ THE NEXT BIT – IT IS, SERIOUSLY, WORTH NOT KNOWING UNTIL YOU SEE IT!!!!!!
So, we watched the last episode, and the ending, was inspired. They fade away, one at a time. And that’s what we do – we fade away. As we get older, the people we knew when young, whether our friends and family, or even the big figures in popular culture, start to go. That’s what they do – they fade away, and leave us wondering what’s happening – where did they go? And, we don’t make those kind of friends again. I don’t know why not, but I think we don’t – well, I haven’t, that’s for sure. Solid friends, who stick together – as someone said in the programme about the last episode – we slag each other off, but no-one else is allowed to!
It’s a whole way of being – working, going out for a drink, having a natter. Listening to each other, helping each other out – knowing each other’s lives and ways. Some folk might wonder that I refer to my oldest friend as ‘Old Scrote’. It’s because he is one! He knows it, I know it. What does he call me? I’m not saying! That’s a way of friendship, and a way of being, which I’m not sure is there, now. Is it? Can you young people answer me that question?
The people in ‘Still Game’, were ordinary people. Very ordinary people, the back bone of the world.
In the series, I noticed the difference in attitudes, between the older folk, and the younger folk. The younger ones often seemed to be all for themselves. When they saw some old duffers stuck in a lift, they didn’t try to help, or go and get the maintenance people, they demanded money from the pensioners, to do so, then buggered off and left them there! I’m not saying all young people would do this – but – that series was true to life, and I wonder if the observations about the urban young ones, were as true as the rest of it?
These characters went to school together, and, mostly, kids walked to school together – part of the fun of the day. There are larks to be had on a school bus, but – supervision, is supervision. They would attend a local school, then, after tea, they would play out with the kids they knew from school. Then, a bit older, they would go out to ‘the pictures’ and dances, with those same people, and so it goes – life – lived together – knowing each other, and accepting each other, and their individual ways. This might grate on some, but it gave some security too.
As far as I can tell, most kids get driven to school, as the school isn’t necessarily near their houses, and they’re often not allowed to play out after school, as parents worry about their safety. A different world.
And, in the series, the next generation – where are they? Jack’s daughter is in Canada, and would like him to go to live with her family there, but Jack chooses to stay with his pals. Victor’s son, sends him a bottle of whisky every Christmas, never takes the trouble to wrap it properly, and it gets broken – and he phones Victor to tell him about the lovely holiday they’re having – without him! Isa – one of the most goodhearted people in fiction – her son went to Uni and never came back. She still has his clothes in the cupboard, and gives a suit to Methadone Mick when he has an interview. I didn’t even know she had a child, for a long time. No sign of the little bugger.
So – what’s happened, and what’s happening? A set of people are fading away, and a whole way of life and way of being with each other, is fading, too.
Maybe not so much, on Orkney – there is still something of the old ways here, but….who would be young, in these days? It’s not just the politics, and the economics, it’s the way of people, has changed and is changing.
This comes across as being miserable – but, well, I’m old and knackered, and I’m still game! And…………………humour – that’s what the characters in ‘Still Game’ live by and use as their defence against what can be a difficult life. Humour – thank God we still have humour.
What an excellent series it was – I hope they start off and play the whole thing, right through – and that the young ones, watch and learn!
NB I labelled the drawing – ‘Shadows’.
And if you‘d like something with the ‘Father Ted/’Still Game’ kind of humour – have a look at anything reported by Ursula McCarthy, for Irish Pictorial Weekly, on Youtube – here’s one…………………………
All too believable – and they would probably all be having a pint together, next day.
Hi Bernie, you could have added Rab C. Nesbitt especially true if you grew up in West Central Scotland.
“Do I look alright, Rab?”
“No’ bad, Mary, doll.”
I didn’t grow up in West Central Scotland, but those ways of being, and sort of humour, are familiar – I suppose we’re all just peasants, when it comes down to it.
Dealing with life, in whatever way we can.
Here’s a wee tale – some years ago, Mike was in the main Glasgow railway station, catching a late train, and, he was surrounded by Rab. C. Nesbitts! Drunken men, actually brandishing rolled up newspapers – not shouting “Swine that ya’ are!”, but generally shouting and muttering incoherently. Mike had to weave his way carefully along the platform, trying not to catch the eye of any of them.
It just goes to show, if you want material for comedy, just look about you – keep your eyes and ears open – it’s all there!
Morning Bernie, Wasn’t it the late Benny Hill who used to take time out to go and sit somewhere and just watch and note people passing-by?
This is just great, Bernie. I haven’t yet seen the season finale – that’s tonight’s privilege. You’ve identified some key reasons for the show’s longevity – one being that that is something afforded to relatively few of us. There’s such a massive heart at the core of the programme. Essentially it’s a couple of guys dealing with loss and seeing out their days in relative poverty and making as good a go of it as difficult circumstances allow. It’s a brilliantly observed, poignantly written, gem of a show about, essentially, living with austerity. One minor downside – my youngest son has no compunction about coming into the kitchen and saying: “two pints prick!”
Another classic from Ursula……….
“Two 99’s ya’ prick”
A bit of a rant about the constant use of Smart phones –
Yesterday evening, Mike and I went out for a meal, to a very good restaurant in Kirkwall – a pleasant place, serving lovely food. A group of 4 lads arrived, presumably friends, out for an evening. They sat down, ordered their food, and then…..they each got out their Smart phones, and were, individually, glued to them. No exchanges between them, no chat – nothing, just glued to their phones. One of them, had the sound up too loud, some kind of screeching and loud audience ‘appreciation’ programme’. I thought, well, presumably they’ll turn them off, when their food comes, and they did. Except for the noisy one. He turn the sound off, but still…..had his phone in one hand, and a piece of pizza in the other hand, tapping away, stickily, at his phone.
The ones on their phones – that could be said to be entirely their own business, and it is – the noisy one was being inconsiderate and intrusive – no thought for those around him.
If it had continued, I would have asked him to put his earphones in, but, he did turn the sound down.
They uncommunicatively ate, and finished their food, there were a few minutes of talk, then they left.
Why am I going on about this, and why at the end of my ‘Still Game’ piece? Because …It makes me wonder about the future of our society. A group of 4 lads, out for a meal together, hardly a word – each one, glued to their phone, and, the noisy one not giving a moment’s thought to anyone but himself. Now you see why I connect this with what I’ve written above.
What is happening? What does this indicate for the future, and our connections with each other?
This genuinely disturbed me. I remembered being out with my mates at that age – talking, arguing, teasing. Ok, I’m old, it’s a different time, but………it worries me to see this behaviour. Self-centred – centred on self, not engaging with the world around them or each other, not even with their friends. What is happening? And, what is going to happen, if society continues down this road?
Bernie, could this be the cause of the rise in ‘mental illness’, self-inflicted.