Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Letters Back In: Five Post-Pull Out Pick Me Ups

"Dear Sir Steven "Schofield's" Europe,

We the British people (all of us so don't even ask, alright?) are writing you this letter to say we are doing one, sunshine. Don't try and stick your straight bananas and ethnic sweets (an Irn Bru BAR????) down our throats any longer because we int havin' it ok? And as for Eurovision and the currency and funding support for training in thousands of different industries...erm...oh god, what have we done?

I wonder if I can get the letter back before old man Burns sees it...


Theresa May,

A Sort Of Beige Gas"

Regardless of your opinions of in vs out vs shaking it all about, its a weird day for Britain as we wave Au revoir...sorry I mean "DO A PISS OFF, GEEZER" the EU thanks to the votes of people who are already looking for the next thing to blame absolutely everything wrong on. (SPOILER: It is non-white people.) But lets not have our day be defined by THAT missive! Here's five more much better letters...

The Box Tops - The Letter

An obvious one to start with and an always welcome radio hit, this is under two minutes of shuffling perfect pop with occasional stabs of brass made famous by Alex Chilton's world-weary growl of a voice - all the more impressive for him being just sixteen when they recorded it in 1967. The band are in such command they don't even need the last thirty seconds which are given over to a sound effect of a aeroplane taking off over some strings, keys and drums. As in production wise, not physically taking off. That would be hideously cost ineffective. Think about what you're saying please.

"The Letter" - Seinfeld

AKA the one with the painting of Kramer that people have started buying facsimiles of for their own homes now to show how telly-literate they are and also because presumably you can't buy the one of the tennis player scratching her arse anymore. Written by Larry David 'imself and coming from the end of season three in 1992 when the sitcom was reaching its creative sweet spot, the letter in question is here is addressed to Jerry Seinfeld from his girlfriend of that episode (an early role for the brilliant Catherine Keener) which is poetic, powerful...and totally ripped off from a Neil Simon play. Laughs, as you'd expect, ensue.

Letter To Brezhnev

In 1985, Channel Four's film department was making a name for itself with pictures such as "She'll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas", "My Beautiful Laundrette" and this quirky love story about love across the Iron Curtain which introduced the world to Margi Clarke. Featuring the type of honest dialogue (written by her brother and former Brookside scriptwriter Frank) and real housing estates that would be the basis of seemingly every BBC2 and Channel 4 drama commission in the 00's, "Letter To Brezhnev" now doubles up as a time capsule of that strange 'dregs of Cold War' era.

This Letter From Viz

Whilst it would be the edition after that saw Viz celebrate its 10th anniversary and biggest ever monthly sales (1,366,350), issue 38 was notable for a very small “Top Tip” letter which the police felt “might constitute an incitement to commit an offence” - strongly enough to bring in John Brown to Scotland Yard for questioning in December 1989. Obviously it would be terribly remiss and wrong-headed of me to share that tip here.

Naturally Brown did what any publisher worth his salt would do – he denied everything and shopped the Viz editorial staff instead. Chris Donald was eventually questioned by the Anti-Terrorist Branch some days later and thankfully released without charge. All was fine and parodies of the Dandy until two years later when Donald accidentally added the controversial letter for publication in compilation annual “The Sausage Sandwich”. Luckily, the books were caught before they went out to suppliers and replaced with the following sticker…

Wonders In Letterland

The first ever T-Bag and T-Shirt story broadcast by Children's ITV in 1985. Iconic to a generation but not much known outside of it, "Wonders In Letterland" is a bit more pre-school targeted than the stories that followed which invariably involved T-Bag (initially Tallulah played by Elizabeth Estensen, later replaced by Georgina Hale as her sister Tabatha) trying to do something low-level evil but being thwarted by the serial's heroine (Jenny Stallwood and Kellie Bright being the two best known) and her unwilling assistant T-Shirt (John Hasler). It was probably rubbish but it was on so I watched it. Theme tune was good, mind.

So there you go - five much more interesting letters to fill your quietly despairing mind with. For more on this subject try "Strawberry Letter 23", The Henry Root Letters, "We Could Send Letters" by Aztec Camera, Radio 4's "Letter From America", The Proclaimers' "Letter From America", Postman Pat before the helicopter, The Timewaster Letters, endless podcast adverts for Stamps dot com, the Blondie album "Plastic Letters", when they'd pull a postcard out of the bin on "Going Live", Bjork's "Post", Wilfred Owen's "The Letter", not reading the Daily Mail, subscribing to Creamguide, Sesame Street when they did The Beetles' "Letter B", Night Mail (the film, the poem and the song by Public Service Broadcasting), all the Newsreader ones out of the Python bok and your best one - Stevie B's "Because I Love You (The Postman Song)". Which makes you wonder why I didn't write about any of those instead...

Here's hoping today's letter gets stuck down a wino's underpants....

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