Bill and Ben and a Girl Called Weeed
Those Bill and Ben people have a lot to answer for. I blame these self-selected Flowerpot Men for a good deal of the seedy debauchery that inevitably followed their 1950s TV episodes.
I have no idea of the identity of the genius that dreamed up the Arcadian world of these crazy rustics, but he or she deserves a Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medal.
If you have never heard the garden-shed-based tales of Bill and his old mucker, Ben, then try googling it up; there are some delightfully potty episodes on YouTube.
One of my earliest memories is of Bill and Ben and their down-to-earth adventures on our tiny black and white telly. The guys were not very together, and furthermore they had a close relationship with a vacuous but attractive girl called Weeed, whom, I suspect, was stringing them along.
Can it really be a coincidence, however, that as soon as my Bill-Bennite cultist peers reached their teens that they would launch the countercultural flower power movement ? A rather strident female politician once said that the 1960s were a second-rate decade, but she is making a miserablist judgment about the mostly harmless but impressionable youth of that less cynical time. There was something intangible and yet liberating about the 1960s, after the greyness of post-war austerity, but even though I spent a lot of time hanging about on Park Street, Whiteladies Road and the Downs of Bristol, dressed in loon pants and an orange paisley kaftan, I never found anything more subversive than the freewheeling Oz magazine.
I went to one of the few remaining alternative lifestyle festivals a couple of years ago, and it was quite uplifting. I saw no drugs or alcohol, and there was yoga at dawn. So things have moved on; there are far fewer slopabout pot heads around, thankfully, but I would bet that the loose-limbed duo of early children’s telly would have been a whiz at yoga.
PS I do not wear kaftans and loons any more – can’t get them anywhere.