While I was researching a piece about visiting Billingsgate with Andrew and Fiona Levinson in August 1977 – click here for below for the Billingsgate piece…
…I turned the page to uncover the following diary entries:
1977 was a relatively uneventful late summer for me; my first without a family vacation since I was a toddler. Graham Majin and I made our second animated film that summer, but it was in the can by late August. Graham and I went to the Ashes test match that Saturday (27th August) – my first taste of live international cricket – written up here.
But then my eye landed on my entry for Tuesday 23 August:
BBYO in evening. Boring talk on tractors again.
This got me thinking.
I recall some boring talks at our club (Streatham BBYO), but I don’t recall any on the subject of tractors. Further, I cannot imagine that the organising committee would have made the mistake of arranging, more than once, the same boring talk about tractors.
Who was on the committee at that time? I’m struggling to remember and might need a little help from my friends.
Dave Young was our President at that time, leading us to the granting of our charter to be a fully-blown club in the BBYO sphere. Dave was famous throughout the Nation for announcing himself at regional and national gatherings thus:
Dave Young…(raises arm to nose; visibly wipes nose with sleeve while audibly sniffing)…Stea’ham.
Other committee members back then? I can only recall a handful:
- Karen Harris (no relation),
- Sue Leyons (not 100% sure of the spelling),
- the late lamented Lisa Benjamin – probably the person who did the most to persuade me to start going to club in the first place,
- I’m sure there were others…help!
I think I joined the committee at the end of that year or possibly early the following – I had only been going to club a few months by then, I think. A more comprehensive go through my diaries will no doubt reveal more.
Anyway, my point is, that was not a bunch of people who, to my mind, would have been disposed to arrange talks about tractors. Nor would they have been daft enough to repeat the dose after, perhaps by chance, making the mistake of booking a speaker who turned out to be, obiter dicta, tractor-obsessed.
This leaves two possibilities:
- that the phrase “boring talk about tractors” was, at that time generally or in our circles specifically, a euphemism for a tedious speech on any subject. I do recall years later, when involved in Regional and National programming, that Richard Marks used to refer to a “talk about Bejam” ( a frozen food retailer located near Richard’s home club of Pinner) as his archetype for poor club programming. But I always assumed that Richard’s archetype was based on a genuine experience;
- the phrase written in the diary does not read “tractors” but is in fact an attempt to write some other word. It has been said that my handwriting is less than perfect and some (lesser beings) find it hard to read. Perhaps someone out there can translate my hieroglyphics or can spot the error and work out the intended word.
This is not the most interesting or pressing puzzle in my life at the moment – nor in yours (if there is anyone out there still reading at this juncture).
But I would like to capture some more memories of that early Streatham club committee and would be fascinated to hear any other recollections (from within the Streatham gang or from those from other BBYO clubs who who came across us) of that early era of our club.