In which Compo has a change of scenery…
BOB: As you know, there’s very little in life makes me happier than a good non-sequitur, so the opening lines to this episode put a huge smile all over my beardy, middle-aged chops.
Foggy: I understand the Co-Op has some big reductions in winceyette pyjamas.
Compo: Nigel Hinchcliffe’s nose has turned septic.
Clegg: Two thirds of the human nose could be below the surface.
Alright, let me witlessly dissect these little moments of genius. Foggy’s line is magnificent. He doesn’t start with ‘I’ve heard…’ or ‘Did you know…’, he says ‘I understand’. ‘I UNDERSTAND’!!! Implying that his knowledge of winceyette pyjama reductions has been imparted via a series of clandestine espionage raids conducted by special forces at dawn. In the flaming Co-Op. Two words that speak volumes about his delusions of military grandeur.
And ‘winceyette’! Does anyone ever say ‘winceyette’ any more? Foggy is so precise about every aspect of his mundane existence that he even has to specify the pyjama material in question, lest anyone assume he was sullying his insider nightwear knowledge with references to clearly inferior nylon products. Although such pyjamas were definitely called ‘flannelette’ when I were a lad. Still, the principle of raised-nap cotton fabric is the same.
ANDREW: I must admit that I had to take to Google in order to find out what ‘winceyette’ actually means. It’s not just raised-nap, it’s a cotton flannelette with a nap on both sides, apparently. You know, it’s been ages since I’ve had a nice pair of pyjamas. Do you think one of our readers might send some in if I put the call out?
BOB: Only if you put Nigel Hinchcliffe in the names database. Owner of a septic nose. Which was nearly the title of a Top 40 hit for Yes in November 1983.
ANDREW: When Foggy asks, ‘Is that a view or is that a view?’ I thought to myself, ‘Yes, Foggy, it is.’ Bell, really knows how to make the most of the natural beauty of his locations, even during his earliest episodes.
BOB: Yes, there’s definitely been a deliberate decision to show off the locations a lot more.
ANDREW: Outside Dougie’s Second Hand Shop, Foggy and Clegg shake Compo down for some cash. Literally. Nothing tumbles from our scruffy hero’s pockets as he is hoisted upside-down, though. Where else would he keep his betting money but in his wellies?
COMPO: That don’t half make your eyeballs heavy. Suppose they dropped out?
FOGGY: It wasn’t them dropping out that we were worried about.
Is that our first ball-gag since ‘Forked Lightning’? Also, how many extra site visitors will be sent our way via Google thanks to our use of the phrase ball-gag?
BOB: I think we’ll double our usual traffic. So possibly as many as seven.
ANDREW: Foggy arrives at the café some time before Compo and Clegg who we are told are lagging behind. We don’t often get to observe Foggy on his own, do we? Nothing particularly significant happens during this scene, but it’s odd to see him have a one-on-one with Sid.
Foggy reveals he has installed a new set of trousers on Compo, and Sid is shocked enough to send the items he is holding clattering to the floor. This prompts Ivy to emerge and, when told that Sid has received some startling news, presumes that her husband has been ‘seen with’ Mrs. Jessop! What do we think then? Is Ivy paranoid or does Sid play away from time to time?
BOB: I reckon he has – years ago – and Ivy has never let it go. She’s deeply insecure, and desperate to hang onto him by any means necessary. ‘I’ve been expecting something like this ever since you started reading Harold Robbins’ she sniffs, the second Summer Wine reference I can remember to the grandaddy of the bonkbuster novel. Was Mrs Clarke a fan, do we think? The Carpetbaggers was the Fifty Shades of Grey of its time.
Nice scene in the café too, with a classic Clarke trope – the quickfire repeating of an unusual word of phrase by several characters, to almost surreal comic effect. Here, Nora accuses Sid of startling her by ‘rearing up’… the springboard for a delightful mini-sketch in which the phrase ‘rearing up’ is used over and over with increasingly exaggerated delivery. Clarke does this a lot – I have fond memories of an episode of Open All Hours in which Granville’s ‘dangler’ (calm down at the back there, it’s a medallion) gets similar treatment. The word becomes funny in itself, simply by dint of the repetition – but it’s important not to overstay your welcome with these things. It’s artfully done here, though.
ANDREW: Then in walks a post ‘trouser transplant’ Compo. Now, have I missed something or is there absolutely no explanation as to why Foggy chooses to do this now? Whatever the reason, Compo looks distinctly uncomfortable in his new skinny jeans. As a man who has been forced into a pair by his far more stylish partner, I have all the sympathy in the world for him. I believe they were first developed by the Spanish Inquisition.
BOB: You what??! No-one over the age of 19 should be wearing skinny-fit ANYTHING. Hey, a reference to ‘Bickerdyke’s dog’! That’s from Series 4 Episode 6, ‘Greenfingers’. Summer Wine is finally eating itself!
ANDREW: We also get to learn a little more about Dougie from the Second Hand Shop, who has somehow managed to talk Clegg into purchasing a metal detector. Knowing what is to come down the line, it’s very easy to see the unseen second hand shop proprieter as a proto-Auntie Wainwright, another character who, in Sid’s words, ‘can sell owt’.
BOB: Foggy is mocked by his colleagues for getting excited about ‘buried treasure’, but metal detecting was a big hobby for men of a certain age in the 1970s! Seismic events like the discovery of the Mildenhall Treasure would have made a big impression on men of Foggy’s age…
It was an era when all kinds of oddities could be found with only the bare minimum of digging. Even in built-up towns, much of the ground remained undeveloped, and many deeply-buried treasures had been unsettled by wartime bombing and lay undiscovered on sites that had stayed largely untouched for decades. As a kid, I remember discovering centuries-old coins and the fractured remains of Victorian pottery while scrabbling around in our own back garden.
ANDREW: I once found a copy of Readers’ Wives strewn along a hedgerow.
BOB: Great Radiophonic noise when Foggy finally gets the metal detector working, too! I can imagine Malcolm Clarke slaving away for hours on that. Inbetween putting the finishing touches to the Earthshock soundtrack.
ANDREW: Back on the hillside, Foggy thinks he’s stumbled across something Roman. It isn’t, of course. Instead, he’s found a beer can – Julius Tetley – and it’s off to the pub.
BOB: My dad would doubtless have called that an ‘ancient Roman beercan’! A nice, warm episode, anyway.
ANDREW: I had some fun with this episode, particularly the scenes with the whole gang in the café, but it pales in comparison to the last two. You’re spoiling us, Mr. Clarke.