Funny how the music to certain TV shows sticks in your mind. I mean, we all have favourite ‘pop’ records. Music that provided the incidental backdrop to our first kiss, our first shag, our first civilian kill whilst piloting an Apache helicopter over Baghdad (oops, sorry, bit political; bit old news but always, always relevant).
But what about those favourite TV theme tunes that you used to hear as a kid and now remind you of happier and not-so happier times?
For me, I can’t listen to the theme tunes of Sesame Street, The Banana Splits or Hong Kong Phooey without thinking of long school summer holidays in the 1970’s. These shows seemed to be ubiquitous every summer. I don’t recall them being on at any other time of the year though surely they must have been. There was something about Sesame Street and The Banana Splits that was kind of special. I wasn’t really that aware of the world at the time. I knew America was another country but that was about it. Sesame Street and The Banana Splits made it seem a wonderfully warm and inviting place to be.
I mean, let’s face it, the American’s had all the best kids TV shows. Sorry and all that, but Rainbow and Pipkins were hardly in the same league, were they? If you pitted Big Bird and Octavia the ostrich against each other in a cage fight Big Bird would win even though he’s a hopeless pacifist. Octavia would get herself tangled up in her own strings purely down to the jerky way she half-walked half-floated over the ground.
And then there are the theme tunes that make me feel depressed.
Family Fortunes. Hart To Hart. Magnum PI.
Yes, even Magnum PI makes me feel a little bit depressed.
These shows were invariably broadcast on a Sunday evening in the 1980’s which, for me, meant school the next day. Secondary school. Big school. And not just school but “Games” first thing and that meant rugby which I absolutely loathed. And not only rugby but the horrible school communal showers afterwards which I also loathed (though am at pains to point out that nothing untoward ever happened to me in the boys’ showers at school, OK? Not ever. I’m hang-up free when it comes to nudity – just ask the young mums who visit my local park at lunchtime).
Hearing these theme tunes meant that bedtime was fast approaching and that meant sleep and a hastening of time passing. Monday morning was approaching all too quickly and the weekend was over.
And then there are the theme tunes that are truly special but for no special reason at all. Just odd slivers of memory that make no sense to anybody else but nevertheless remind you of how loved you were and how safe.
Rupert The Bear. I have this on my MP3 player. I used to watch this as a toddler at my Nan’s when we’d visit her every Wednesday. I think the show had originally been produced in the 1960’s and was probably going round the block for the fifth time when I used to watch it. Nevertheless it had me mesmerized and whenever I hear the music now I am instantly transported back to my Nan’s sitting room with the smell of beef stew wafting in from the kitchen and warm sunlight streaming in through the dining room window. I didn’t know much about the world but I knew it was all going to be OK.
Alas, I haven’t heard a piece of music in a long time that makes me feel that way. But it’s not the music that has changed, it’s me.
I look at my kids now – look at the TV shows they like; the ones they don’t – and wonder if they’ll have their own musical aide-mémoires when they are older.
I hope so. And I hope they’ll be for similar reasons.
Though maybe not the rugby thing. Or the showers. I could have lived without those.
Right. I’m off to the park. See you there.
Second bush on the right (that’s me).