Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Good Life: Silly, But It's Fun

'Silly, But It's Fun...' was the 1977 Xmas edition of 'The Good Life'.

Tom and Barbara Good are successful at self-suffiency because they are unsentimental and know how to make the most of their finite resources. When Christmas comes, for instance, they kill a chicken from the coop, dig up the veg from the garden, make decorations out of newspaper, crackers out of toilet roll tubes and have a two foot tree because that was donated by the greengrocer after it snapped off the top of a larger one. It’s played for laughs but, as you watch, you realise just how daft many of our festive traditions are, and how meaningless if not imbued with the right spirit.

Holly pinched from the golf course...

The top of a broken Xmas tree...

Next door, of course, things are very different. Margo is lambasting a tradesman for delivering an eight foot six rather than nine foot tree. Bill the tradesman is played by the magnificently lugubrious David Battley, a mix of the gormless and perceptive, a man who likes to make quite piquant observations.  There is an extraordinary bit when Barbara asks him what he has observed about her and, utterly deadpan, he says that she ‘has the type of eyes that men kill for. Eyes that reveal a deeply sexual nature’. Barbara is delighted.  

David Battley.

Sexy Barbara.

When moody Margo orders Bill to take the ‘faulty’ tree and all the other attendant trappings (food, drink, presents, decorations) away until they can get the order right, she is haughtily sowing the seeds of her own destruction: her Christmas ‘comes in a van’, and this van, once dismissed, will not be returning. Left without so much as a pine cone or a box of Paxo, Margo has to pretend that Jerry has the chicken pox to extricate themselves from the endless social commitments they have made. Desperate, they turn to The Good’s for help, swapping their all the trimmings, shop bought, spare Goose Xmas for the Good’s homemade one, total cost fifteen pence (they couldn’t make their own balloons).
Have a Good Xmas...

Tom will, the lucky devil.

O, Margo.

At first it’s hard going, Margo can’t loosen up and just enjoy herself. When she pulls a cracker she can’t say ‘bang’ (the crackers don’t have their own bangs), and refuses to wear a paper hat made out of 'The Daily Mirror' and insists on one fashioned from 'The Telegraph'. Taking her aside, Tom says that she’ll have to go home if she can’t enjoy herself and Margo makes the tragic admission ‘I don’t know how to’. A quick pep talk from Tom, and some mild sexual harassment and she soon readily throws herself into the action.

Margo throws herself into the action.

Look at Jerry's face - that's mugging to the audience.

Christmas has come early...

'Who are you calling a cheat?'

At the end, after some raucous games and several glasses of pea pod burgundy, it is clear that, for Margo, free from social convention and the pressure of keeping up with the Surbiton set, this has been the ‘best Xmas ever’, and Jerry has enjoyed it too, particularly when Barbara was rubbing a balloon against his crotch . 
The Goods present the Leadbetter’s with their gifts, voluminous sickly green jumpers made on their loom. As the Leadbetters go next door to fetch their present for the Goods, Tom and Barbara speculate on what expensive impracticalities Margo and Jerry may have wasted their money on – a briefcase for Tom to take to the allotment, for instance, or a silver Georgian trowel – only to be amazed when Margo leads in a gift wrapped cow – far more useful than a big green tank top – the gift that, if milked correctly, keeps on giving.

The original 'onesie'?

& a Happy Moo Year...

Xmas Vulture.
The message: as Doctor Seuss concluded ‘Christmas doesn’t come from a store, perhaps Christmas means a little bit more’, here amended to note that it doesn’t come in a van either, especially one driven by David Battley.

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