Friday, 18 January 2013

What a Carry On!

Ding dong!  It’s a brand new year; I’m full of the joys of spring and I’m feeling frisky, despite the snow.  And I've got a couple of new books coming out …

Christmas was a bit of a blip for me.  I drank a lot, ate a lot, got given some random presents blah blah.  The one highlight was that the Yesterday channel showed a marathon session of Carry On Films.  The great British comic institution.

I've got a few friends from America and Canada and although we speak the same language – the Canadians even have the Queen on their currency – they’re usually unfamiliar with the Carry On Film.  But if you want to really understand the British psyche, then drinking tea, driving on the wrong side of the road and being terrible at football won’t cut the mustard.  You've got to get our sense of humour and to do that you must understand the double entendre.

Now some of you may think that the phrase ‘no sex we’re British’ has a literal meaning.  Don’t believe a word of it.  We may not have the same reputation as our French neighbours when it comes to a bit of oh-la-la but don’t forget that the bestselling erotic novel of all time, Fifty Shades of Grey, was written by a Brit.  But to get a taste of the British sense of humour, you need to go to the fresh fruit counter of your local shop.  You may see a variety of healthy snacks but to a British person, there is a wealth of smutty jokes.  Melons, cherries, bananas and pears, dear Lord I don’t know where to start.  But the phrase, ‘Cor blimey, you don’t get many of those to the pound,’ doesn't generally refer to the actual weight of the fruit in your shopping bag.

The Carry On film was a series of comedy films that were made from the 50s until the 70s and featured a regular ensemble cast.  Barbara Windsor, Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims, Jim Dale, there were so many.  The films would be set in either a historical or contemporary setting with a group of people who were trying to get their leg over, take the piss and be silly.  Take Carry On Don’t Lose Your Head; Sir Rodney Ffing becomes the black fingernail and saves French aristocrats in revolutionary France from Citizen Camembert and Citizen Bidet.

There are just too many Carry On comedy classics to analyse in detail, but for the curious, then the 60s films are the best.  They capture that level of silliness with a hint of sauce that still retains a level of innocence.  Making me chose my favourite is like asking me to choose between one of my own stories, but at a push, then it would have to be Carry On Cleo for the line, ‘Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me!’  And the king of Carry On – Carry On Camping.  They put the camp into camping and when Barbara Windsor’s bra pings in Kenneth Williams’s face – ‘Oh matron, take them away!’  Outstanding.

However, you must choose your Carry On student carefully.  I remember showing an Australian ex-boyfriend Carry on Camping and he said it was, ‘childish and puerile.’  Kind of the point I’d say.  But this was the man who didn't see the funny side when we visited Ikea (it was the late 90s and Ikea was de rigueur) and I wrapped one of the furry toy snakes around me in the children’s department and said, ‘Oh look, I’m Anthea Turner!’  Well everyone else thought it was funny.

This is a key thing about writing.  It’s got to be fun.  I have fun writing my stories and I hope my readers have fun reading them.  I've just finished another edit of The Ghost Hunters Return and I've been giving The Ghost Hunters Club and dusting over again as well.  I loved writing those stories and I had a blast researching them.  I hope you have fun reading them when they come out in March. 

My new novel ‘The Little Camera’ will be out at the end of January, fingers crossed.  Check in soon for a sneak preview.

3 comments:

  1. You've done it now, LK - I'm going to spend the rest of the week saying 'Ding Dong!' and 'Ooh matron!', to the total incomprehension of my Italian acquaintances.

    As for the recurring idea that the British are repressed, I just like to think we keep a sense of humour and proportion about sex. I once watched a French arthouse film which basically revolved around two suicidally depressed characters who hated each other's guts having increasingly violent and degrading sex, interspersed with incredibly pretentious conversations about gender and evolutionary biology. After half-an-hour of that, I was ready for any amount of Barbara Windsor's pinging bra...

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  2. "Carry on Up the Khyber" is my all time favourite - not least because Khyber is also cockney rhyming slang for arse - my sons managed to catch a few of these films and were in stitches. Is the new novel out yet?

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  3. Well, I like the Cockney reference! The Little Camera will hopefully be out on Monday - been a bit of a delay due to Ofsted turning up where I work so had to drop everything. Ouch.

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