… when I look out the window at this time of year, I find myself thinking of a funny little man called Boob. Jeremy Hillary Boob.
Voiced by the one and only Dick Emery, Mr Boob is perhaps better known as the Nowhere Man.
Sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody, Jeremy doesn’t have a point of view, knows not where he is going to … isn’t he a bit like you and me ?
It’s all about the backdrop, you see ?
When it’s one of those chilly, lifeless days in Britain – which is most of the year – there’s a certain nothingness about the sky … it’s beyond grey, not quite white … just a dirty canvas, a bit of scenery in front of which we go about our daily business as usual.
Trouble is, every so often I’ll drift off and start imagining George Harrison’s multi-coloured Rolls Royce is driving up the road, or think that I’ve just spotted the back end of a yellow submarine disappearing behind that lamp-post over there. Is that the faint sound of a brass band blowing in on the breeze ..
When I was 9 or 10, I received my first ever tape recorder for Christmas and it was the best present I ever had. It was only a mono, shoebox-shaped model made by Sharp, but it was my first proper gadget and I loved it. On Boxing Day, my favourite film was on the telly, Yellow Submarine, so I placed my new machine next to the rented DER black and white and recorded the entire soundtrack on one C90, removing and flipping the cassette as quickly as I could when it reached the end of the first side, so I only missed about 40 seconds of the film. Not only did I then have a whole raft of Beatles songs to enjoy, but unwittingly it meant I learnt the whole script from start to finish as well … this was all subconscious on my part. I didn’t intend to be able to recite the damned thing, but I could … and I can, even now.
That scene stuck in my head.
It wasn’t because of Dick Emery – who I was lucky enough to see live a couple of years previously – and nor was it because I loved cartoons generally. What kid doesn’t ?
It was more because I could relate to the vast emptiness of the space in which Jeremy lived because I looked up and saw something similar most days of the year.
I loved the fact that The Beatles looked just like the band in the bubble, too. What a stroke of luck that there wasn’t just one look-a-like, but four and they were all in a group as well. What are the odds ?
Of course, none of this occurred to me as a child and none of it matters anyway, because the movie remains one of my all-time favourites and I still can’t tear myself away if I find it on TV nowadays.
I’ve always wondered if my pathological dislike for all things Lancashire was down to my father being a Yorkshireman and him raising me as a Leeds fan, or perhaps there was a more subtle reasoning behind it, like the 4000 holes reference from A Day In The Life. Though I enjoyed that scene in the movie, it is slightly scary the way our four heroes pop in and out of them, seemingly at will.
A similar scene crops up at the start of the movie, where there’s a long corridor full of doors and all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures start crossing it, rushing in and out as they go. I get spooked whenever I’m in a hotel like that, or perhaps a long hospital hallway.
Sometimes, I just wish we could do those things in real life, I suppose …
For now, I’ll just continue to look up at that whitewashed world above and see if I can turn my head really quickly next time I catch a glimpse of a shadowy submersible disappearing round a corner …