Why, who amongst us can forget K-Tel? Oh yes, that’s right, everyone under 40. Well, let me tell you, boys and girls, there was a company wedded to the concept that the future was now and there wasn’t a problem technology couldn’t crack, and the consumer wouldn’t crave.
Their adverts were apparently filmed in a disused office in Basingstoke lit with the fluorescent overheads abandoned by the previous tenants. Two actors, grateful to have bit of dosh, gallantly threw themselves into the role of Man Who Wants To See The Back Of His Own Head and Clever Wife Of Man Who Wants To See Back Of His Own Head.
The husband would have a concern (see above). Good Lady Wife would bound into the frame, console concerned husband, and proffer hi-tech solution.
Did you need a mirror that you could see your own back in? K-Tel! Did you find it hard to put your shoes on without falling over? K-Tel self-righting shoe fitter! Jumper gone bobbly! K-Tel woolly jumper shaving contraption.
Inevitably the techno breakthrough would be constructed out of cream and brown plastic. It would break around about the Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day, and live the rest of its pre-landfill existence lurking at the back of the wardrobe.
So, technology is a fickle thing. We’ve got this whizz-bang ticket system for Previously . . . Scotland’s history festival. On paper, it’s a great idea. Just log on and trust the super-duper ticket system, which turns out to be as stable as Maria Callas on the day she found out Onassis had plans for a honeymoon cruise that didn’t include her.
The festival registered events by venue postcode. So far, so good. Except our system had a bit of a moment, presumably whilst our backs were turned, and flipped some of our venues to street name and pinged them clear across the Atlantic.
We got a baffled e-mail from some lost punters, and it took us a while to realise that these folks were going to need a whole lot more than a daysaver ticket from Lothian Buses to get to their event. We didn’t know there’s a Chambers Street in Brooklyn. Jings.
There are now five people in America frantically saving the airfare to get to Knee Deep In Claret (Billy Kay, 5.15pm, £8/£5, Adam House. Chambers Street. Edinburgh).
There are five tickets now available. Don’t say I’m not good to you.
Sing Sing for our supper
Now, apparently, it looks like we’ve made money in the States. With the speed of a Republican defending the right for Americans to carry ground-to-air missiles in Disneyland, the American tax system, the feared and ferocious IRS, has tracked us down and is demanding money with menace. Laugh not. These are the people who brought down Al Capone. We could be doing a twenty stretch in Sing Sing.
I was biting my lip after a Naughtie, not nice, greeting
Part of the regalia of any good festival is The Pop Up, those big banners that ping up at events with logos and images on.
They get popped up by means of a sort of springy pole arrangement at the back. At last week’s Robert Louis Stevenson event I was in charge of The Pop Up, which meant taking it down and packing it away, which is when part of the springy pole arrangement snapped shut over the fleshy part of one of my fingers.
I felt that the suited and booted gathering was not quite the right place to give vent to a banshee scream of pain. Ironic, really, since I was in the Royal College of Surgeons at the time.
Brave little soldier that I was, I gave no sound as the skin visibly twanged back into place with a snap I imagine you could hear in Kirkcaldy.
Biting my lip I swung around to be faced by James Naughtie (yes, I will drop names, Louise Welch was there as well – ha! I feed on your envy). He was advancing towards me with his hand outstretched and, before I could stop him, crushed the twanged finger in a hearty handshake.
I had to blink back tears and choke back sobs to say how nice it was meet him, then stumble off, hanky pressed to face.
I hope he thinks I was overcome with awe at meeting a hero. It’s better than telling him I’d just been bitten by a springy pole arrangement.
Carousel contraption had both my mum and dad all tied up in knots
Oh, don’t think I’ve forgotten K-Tel’s big rival back then, the mighty Ronco.
They produced, I believe, the tie selector carousel. My mum bought it for my dad, and loaded it up with his selection of 1970s ties, which were all
regulation 1970s width and weight. The Selector went bonkers one morning and started firing mustard and cream ties all over the bedroom like an artillery barrage of dodgy neckwear.
It went into the back of the cupboard.