Channeling my inner thoughts for a TV hit
PUBLISHED: 17:52 13 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:52 13 September 2019
Keith Skipper has found that his early morning thoughts often lead to how Norfolk could be used to shake up the nation's TV schedules
An old country saying I wish I'd made up calls on September to blow soft until fruit's in the loft.
Well, September wasn't listening the other night when windows rattled, curtains shivered and timbers creaked as I awoke in the middle of a quandary sparked by being overlooked yet again by Booker Prize judges.
My brain rocks in a myriad of directions when balmy coastal breezes make way for the sort of full-throated gusts wind farm backers can only dream about. I'm up there in the swaying crow's-nest peering down on a boiling sea of quirky traits, quoted trivia and questionable trends.
I used to anchor notepad and pencil by my bed to jot down random musings provoked by drowsy ramblings on retirement or sudden recollections on arising. Then I called it a night as short-term memory loss and too many treks to the loo (when I could recall the way) reduced the whole exercise to an unedifying gamble.
Now I spring to life round about noon with a Norfolk version of "Eureka!". It comes out something like "Cor, blarst me, ent that a rum'un!" when little beads of inspiration fall from my furrowed brow. Trouble is I can't always remember if they formed during hours of creative darkness or while listening to daybreak radio.
My full-time years in front of a microphone ended in 1995 but there's still a temptation to join presenters and contributors in the studio and help with the occasional observation. For instance, latest news from the US Open tennis can renew my belief that Flushing Meadows used to be WC Fields.
Constant plugs for unmissable music treats force me to ask yet again when Last Night of the Proms is really going to mean it. A reminder that an eagerly-awaited new volume is "available in all good book shops" begs for information as to what we can find in the bad ones.
A blatant slip from high grammatical standards teases out a blunt assertion that double negatives are a complete no-no. I drift towards a country postman of the 1950s who on being asked if he had any letters for us replied cheerfully: "No, there ent nun, nut fer nobody".
Might have been his brother grumbling constantly on the farm about lack of support: "Thass the wast o' this here plearce - ent never nobody nowhere ter help anybody wi' noffin".
Scanning newspapers over breakfast can produce the odd positive reaction from someone afraid of being a member of the last generation to digest information like this with cornflakes and toast. I like a good moan and reasons for it to stay on the table in front of me each morning to set me up for the day.
You can shake angrily, crumple noisily or fold a page with exaggerated care to underline feelings towards a fresh torrent of news and comment. The usual suspects line up for dissection. I ignore "celebrities" making a comeback on some dancing or cookery programme out of ignorance rather than spite. I didn't recognise them first time round.
Ah, here come a pair of old favourites destined to push my parochial sensibilities way past the reasonable mark. "This will put Norfolk on the map" and "Must be good for our local economy" have swollen into refuges for more spurious motives built along the road to so-called progress and prosperity.
Just to put the record straight … Norfolk has appeared on most maps since I first went to school. It's that bit sticking out like a plump backside into the North Sea. The local economy is not tied exclusively to embracing excesses that have clearly mucked up other places.
I don't ignore proper culture while falling asleep or stirring back to life. Recent literary outlines include a revised plot for Sap Rise to Cringleford, switching from Edwardian times to the 1960s, and an outline to honour a Norfolk land worker who inspired a rebellion at harvest time several summers ago.
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Creaky Binders is a useful working title to make a pitch for a television adaptation - as long as they can find enough actors outside the cornfields of Mummerzet.
A few other burgeoning ideas to introduce a stronger Norfolk element into several new television shows before I drop off. Here come Ready, Steady, Retire, Last of the Summer Traffic, Murder What She Writ. Snoozenight, Celebrity Roadworks… now bring back To The Manure Born.
The final whistle has peeped for a gentle giant of local and national soccer circles.
Ray Kiddell, OBE, who died recently, first joined Norfolk FA Council in 1960 and kicked on to make outstanding marks as a softly-spoken but powerful visionary, especially in development of the women's game.
I first met Ray in the mid-1960s as he cultivated a growing reputation as a keen ambassador for Sunday football. He was secretary of a burgeoning Norwich and District Sunday League and relished regular rounds in other parts of the county.
He attended a celebration event for Hobbies United FC in Dereham while I was cutting my teeth in town as a sports reporter just as a new national competition, the FA Sunday Cup, began to attract strong interest in local circles.
Hobbies and Yarmouth Sunday League kingpins Nondescripts were among those to make useful progress before Norwich champions Loke United reached the national final of the 1968-69 competition. They lost 3-1 to Leigh Park - and I was there!
I bumped regularly into amiable Ray, pictured inset, at annual meetings and dinners, occasionally sharing speaking duties when it came to proposing toasts and dispensing a few dollops of homespun wit and wisdom. He used to say with a smile: "I'll leave the squit to you. Then I'll add the polish".
Always measured and encouraging in his comments, it came as no big surprise to see him promoted to national service. He became vice-chairman of the Football Association as well as chairman of the Women's Committee.
Important work in other roles as well led to recognition as a life vice-president.
He collected 50-year recognition for services to football from the FA in 2003 and locally for services to Norfolk FA Council eight seasons later.
Ray became Norfolk Football Association president in 1995 - and still held the post when he died on September 5.
His marathon run from grass-roots of Sloughbottom Park in Norwich to the lush turf of Wembley and top table at FA headquarters never seemed to turn his head.
Proud of his Norfolk roots, Ray Kiddell kept his eye on the ball for county and country.