When I was a kid…

I don’t really watch TV now. There is so much choice that, by the time I’ve finally decided what to watch, I’m bored; or, by the time I’ve discovered something I do enjoy watching and I’ve managed to belatedly set-up the digibox thing, half the series has gone and the critical episodes took place while I was in the pub or something.

When I was a kid, we used to watch the same things at the same time every week. Bread, Blackadder, Only Fools and Horses, Absolutely Fabulous, Fawlty Towers. I seem to have reached the age where I’m complaining that they don’t make things like they used to.

A few months ago, I went to a conference on online influence. One of the more interesting talks was about the impact of your teenage years. It described how tapping into the shared generational memories was an effective way of reaching particular demographics. That the feelings of nostalgia and the strength of the associations to cultural cornerstones made in teenage years were pretty powerful and pretty universal.

I have been thinking about this because we went to the Faulty Towers dining experience last week. In the surprisingly plush Charing Cross Hotel, 80 or so guests were served by Basil, Manuel and Sybil. It was unexpectedly impressive and pleasingly un-gimmicky. In fact, the actors’ ability to successfully step into the shoes of – and realistically ad lib – such iconic characters blew me away. I don’t think I held Fawlty Towers up there with personal favourites like Blackadder, but I certainly seem to have grown into the very British humour which, as a child, was harder to understand.

So, if you’re in London and enjoyed Fawlty Towers at any point, this is definitely a must do. It does mean that you cower, slightly, while Basil roams around the restaurant abusing the guests (“elbows off the table, where were you brought up?”); Manuel throws bread rolls and garnishes in the direction of your place setting; and Sybil lends a sympathetic ear to aggrieved wives…

I wonder if things replace those teenage memories or they are always more powerful than the ones that you form later on. It is hard to gauge how connected they are to the actual quality of the thing itself or the intensity of the time of life. Maybe that’s what happens with memories – they add another layer to things and it becomes difficult, later, to separate those layers out.

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