Tuesday, 14 February 2012


King's Reach Tower in Stamford Street

Talking of KING'S REACH TOWER reminds me of when myself and the previously-mentioned KEVIN BRIGHTON were getting into the elevator on the way down to (or way back from) the seemingly football pitch-sized IPC staff canteen.  (No doubt I exaggerate, but it was bloody huge.)  As we stepped into the lift, it was so full that there was only room to stand facing in the way as the doors shut behind us.

So we're face to face with a bunch of people blankly staring out at us, while we self-consciously stared back at them.  It was too good an opportunity to miss.  I raised my hand to my mouth, cleared my throat, then said:  "I suppose you're all wondering why I've called this meeting..."  A split-second's silence while the penny dropped, then the elevator erupted into laughter.

Kevin Brighton and his pal Del in the IPC canteen

I've used that line a number of times over the years in similar situations and it always gets a response.  Casting my mind back, I even recall where I first got it from.  It was around the mid-1970s and a fellow named JOHN HATTLE (my boss at the time), was relating pretty much the same scenario as the one above (with himself as the protagonist, obviously), in the car park outside a pub near his shop where I worked.  I don't know if he'd appropriated it from a movie for his own purposes, or it was a genuine, on the spot 'ad-lib' as he stepped into a lift.  Anyway, there I was, ten years later (though it seemed far longer at the time), regurgitating a one-liner from my past.  That wasn't even the first time I'd used the line, having done so a few times since I'd first heard it.

However, recalling the situation today, it made me realise how often we store things away in our minds, sometimes for decades, ready for use at a moment's notice whenever the situation demands.  As someone who sometimes sports a beard, I'm used to people commenting on it when I grow it back again, usually along the lines of:  "I see you've grown the beard back, eh?"  (I guess they must lead really boring lives for such an event to be considered worth remarking on.)  I usually respond with:  "This one's false - the real one's in my pocket!"  It was only when watching a MAN From U.N.C.L.E. 'movie' a while back that I was reminded of where I'd nicked the line from, so many years before.

A post this dull needs glamming-up a bit, so here's
Bob Paynter's secretary, Caroline

Back in 1982, I sent a 'cassette-a-letter' to a friend who was temporarily living in Bournemouth at the time.  We replayed it about a week ago (to much merriment at the sound of my young voice) and I was surprised to hear myself tell a joke I'd only then-recently heard, and which I still tell today, thirty years later.  It made me realise how many of the jokes I tell nowadays are of a similar vintage.  (Note to self:  Must learn some new material.)

So what's the point of this self-indulgent reminiscence you may be asking yourselves.  Only this:

We really are products of our past, aren't we?


Sadly, King's Reach Tower has lain empty for a few years since IPC Media moved out in 2007.  I understand there are now plans to add six floors, reclad the exterior, and turn it into luxury apartments.  I'll always remember it as it was though. 

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