Fellow queuer Ivy Bunnett could scarcely believe what she'd just heard. "I could scarcely believe what I'd just heard," said Mrs Bunnett, 94. "I lived through two world wars and nineteen series of Noel's House Party and I never saw or heard of anything even a fraction as atrocious as this. I actually swallowed my false teeth when she said it."
Reginald Mossop, 96, was also in the post office queue when Ricketts made her disgusting comment. "I'm a little hard of hearing so I'm afraid I didn't hear exactly what Queenie said. I'm outraged at whatever it was though, obviously. Especially as her husband, Seymour, had perished in the great flood of 1953."
Jobbing builder Dave Plankton, who'd just discovered that you can't buy road tax in the Little Wittering branch of the post office and instead you have to go to the town centre branch in Stowold fifteen miles away, couldn't hide his contempt for Ricketts's sick outburst. "I told her that she was a callous bastard for joking about something that hadn't actually happened yet and that ultimately didn't affect this part of the world too badly, and that she should apologise immediately," he explained, before adding, whilst raising the back of his right hand, "Then I gave her one of these."
Staff members acted quickly to defuse the situation, as manager Briony Muesli, 47, explains. "As soon as the lady said what she did I jumped over the counter and performed a citizen's arrest. Some people will call me a hero but that's not really for me to say. It's just at times like that you only have a split second to react and, although she put up a struggle initially, my colleague Brian (Addams, 56), who also works as a special constable, intervened on my behalf and between us we managed to wrestle her to the ground. I'm just glad Brian had his taser with him."
On her release from hospital Ricketts was arrested and charged under the Public Order Act of 1986 and released on bail until 2017. She subsequently issued a grovelling apology but this came too late to save her job of forty-seven years as a volunteer at the local RNLI station. Her family have since disowned her.
The album represents something of a departure for the group as - rather than recording collaborations and cover versions of already famous songs as on their first two albums - they've written the lyrics themselves this time round, with original music by Swedish composers such as Sara Wilson, Sara Groves and Fredrik Gran.
Rather thrillingly, the gals have already put up a You Tube playlist of some of the tracks from Framtiden. I've only played it through once so far but The Future's already sounding distinctly bright to me.
Buy the mp3 album (from Monday 2nd onwards) HERE
The satire of the radio series especially was so cutting as to make you wonder what's happened to this form of humour in the subsequent two decades. No one was safe from their acerbic wit, be it the royal family, the government, the police or even the institution they were working for, Radio 1, and its stalwart DJs; there were some blatant and what, at the time, must have been pretty risky insinuations about Jimmy Savile's distasteful, disgraceful predilections, and Rob Newman's cruel but hilarious impersonation of the insipid Gary Davies was absolutely priceless.
As well as the aforementioned protagonists, the radio series was at times augmented by, among others, Mark Thomas, Jo Brand, Donna McPhail, Jack Dee, Mark Hurst and Nick Hancock, but Newman & Baddiel and Punt & Dennis were always the backbone of the series, and it seemed fair enough that if only four performers were to survive the move onto TV, it would be these two double acts. Although, having said that, Nick Hancock was also very good in his sporadic radio appearances and even shone in his one and only skit of the TV series, which involved the "other" ones from Sparks, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure and Soft Cell performing a song together on Top of the Pops. That clip also features Newman's Gary Davies impersonation, by the way! Get it watched!
Not much of the Radio 1 series survives on You Tube but you can download and listen to the entire fourth series (the best of the lot, in my opinion) here if the mood takes you. Which it should. Dullards will tell you that a lot of the topical references from these episodes seem hopelessly dated now - as if it's going to be anything else after twenty-three years - but those gripes entirely miss the point. It's the humour and the sheer iconoclastic spirit of these shows that make them special; and, really, who gives a stuff if many of the famous and the infamous of the day have come and gone? We're pretty much where we were then politically and societally now anyway.
Coincidentally, and thrillingly, Radio 4 Extra have just started repeating the radio series again from the very beginning on Friday nights, so now everyone can listen to some no-longer-topical but still eminently invigorating and top-notch radio comedy at their leisure. Knocks any of yer so-called panel shows, or whatever else passes for topical satire these days, into a cocked hat.
As for the TV series, I found series one to be hugely enjoyable, and it all still seemed very collaborative. TMWE may have been comprised of two separate double acts but you got the impression they were still all very much in it together at this point. By series two, however, although still very strong in its content, the cracks were beginning to show, and there was far less of a fluid feel about the whole thing; Newman and Baddiel would do their thing and Punt & Dennis theirs and their styles of comedy suddenly seemed very distinct from each other: N&B's more self-consciously student-friendly and cutting-edge, and P&D's more family-friendly and, well, mainstream. In fact it seems that both partnerships lurched too far in these respective directions at this point, whereas previously there had been far more common ground.
I think the main problem had been - and this may be grossly unfair on the bloke, but it's my perception - that Rob - Robert! - Newman had started taking himself a bit too seriously by series two, as his profile and popularity increased. All of a sudden he'd grown his hair long, started dressing all in black every week and replaced the Shaw Taylor, Ronnie Corbett, Ben Elton and Gary Davies impressions with ones of Robert Smith and Edward Scissorhands and skits about Mark Gardener from Ride and Tim Burgess from The Charlatans. Talk about self-consciously getting down with ver kids. Don't get me wrong, his comedy was still the best thing about the show, for me, but these changes were symptomatic of his increasingly introspective demeanour.
Series two also saw a departure down the catchphrase route: "See that Peter Beardsley? That's you that is", "It's all getting a bit tricky!", Milky Milky!", "Oh no! What a personal disaster!", "What's this? It's got a good beat!" etc - which they'd never done before. Again, still funny, but the increasing reliance on the same characters, scenarios and catchphrases as the series went on did, in hindsight, point to the fact that perhaps, after three years, the Mary Whitehouse Experience had gone as far as it could.
Sure enough both groups subsequently went their separate ways. Punt & Dennis to two series of The Imaginatively Titled Punt & Dennis Show for BBC1 and seven hundred series of The Now Show for Radio 4. Newman & Baddiel, meanwhile, made one series of the prophetically-titled Newman & Baddiel In Pieces for BBC2 and sold out Wembley Arena - in the process inspiring a thousand articles about comedy being the new rock 'n' roll - but their relationship quickly descended into acrimony and the dissolution of their partnership. It was fun while it lasted though.
Here are some of my favourite bits from the TV series - which is available to watch in its entirety on You Tube, by the way.
Newman & Baddiel send up Shaun Ryder and Bez. Short, but sweet!
Punt and Dennis deconstruct a Natwest advert that was doing the rounds at the time, in which a youthful emloyee of said bank goes on about how much he loves his life. "It's not all work work work you know!". Fantastically, the person who uploaded this clip precedes it with the actual advert P&D were lampooning, so you get to put it in perfect context.
This Crystal Maze spoof is very good as well.
A recurring character, Ray: a man afflicted with a sarcastic tone of voice.
And last but not least, Rob's fantastic, much-missed (by me anyway) Shaw Taylor impersonation.
Lush - Hypocrite
Echobelly - Father, Ruler, King, Computer
Sebadoh - Rebound
Smudge - The Outdoor Type
My Life Story - Funny Ha Ha
Daryll-Ann - I Could Never Love You
Pulp - Babies
Boo Radleys - Barney And Me
Green Day - Longview
Aimee Mann - I Should've Known
Cranberries - Linger
Thrum - So Glad
Dinosaur Jr - Feel The Pain
Tindersticks E-Type Joe
Echobelly - Insomniac
Sleeper - Delicious
Madder Rose - Panic On
Magnapop - Slowly, Slowly
Oasis - Supersonic
Pulp - Lipgloss
Inspiral Carpets & Mark E. Smith - I Want You
Blur - Parklife
Crowded House - Locked Out
Smudge - Desmond
Kristin Hersh - Uncle June And Aunt Kiyoti
Beastie Boys - Get It Together
Blur - Supa Shoppa
So there you go. A bit Evening Session-heavy in places, I'll grant you, but I still stand by everything on there. Special mention must go to Panic On for actually sounding better than ever, all these years on. I've mentioned it before but I properly loved Madder Rose. Why weren't they huge? Why?!
"People will start judging them by what they do off the pitch instead of the way they play on it."
To be fair, people are judging them precisely by what they did on the pitch in this instance.
*Well, some of it. The Chart Show bods got bored after a couple of minutes and cut to something else. But the person who uploaded it to You Tube ingeniously stuck the rest of the song on at the Chart Show cut-off point.
(Audio only for Status Quo, Kilburn and the High Roads & Kandidate.)
1 Boney M - Brown Girl in the Ring
2 Exile - Kiss You All Over
3 Hi-Tension - British Hustle
4 Herbie Hancock - I Thought It Was You
5 Frankie Miller - Darlin'
6 The Dooleys - A Rose Has to Die
7 ABBA - The Name of the Game
8 Bilbo - She's Gonna Win
9 The Motors - Forget About You
10 Status Quo - Again and Again
1 10cc - Dreadlock Holiday
2 Clout - Substitute
3 The Boomtown Rats - Like Clockwork
4 Flash and the Pan - And the Band Played On (Down Among the Dead Men)
5 Boney M. - Daddy Cool
6 Kilburn and the High Roads featuring Ian Dury - Billy Bentley
7 Kandidate - Don't Wanna Say Goodnight
8 Darts - It's Raining
9 Blondie - (I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear
10 City Boy - 5-7-0-5
1) The Girl I Left Behind Me
Gorgeous, heartfelt ballad from young Davy.
2) Listen To The Band
Being a huge teen sensation created, of course, by The Man, The Monkees had some of the best songwriters on the planet at their disposal - but they also had someone in their own ranks - Mike Nesmith - who could write a killer tune himself. Listen to the Band is one such number.
3) Gonna Buy Me A Dog
Essentially Mickey and Davy arsing about and ad-libbing over the prospect of purchasing a pooch, for two minutes. Pure, unmitigated fun.
4) Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)
Davy's got a dilemma; he loves two women and can't choose between them. This alternate version is made even better by Peter's voiceover man-style narration during the instrumental bits.
5) Shades of Gray
Lovely, existential ballad. One verse apiece from Peter and Davy. The only way this song could've been improved upon would be if the other two had chipped in with verses too. But it's fantastic enough as it is.
6) Someday Man
A double-A side with Listen to the Band. Two great songs, number 47 in the UK charts. Go figure. Sort of like a sanguine alternative to Shades of Gray. Co-written by Paul Williams of Bugsy Malone soundtrack fame.
7) Your Auntie Grizelda
Peter takes the lead on this hugely enjoyable bunkum. Nice clip too. The TV series may not have aged especially well but the music certainly has - and these clips are just the ticket. Make you want to re-watch the series as well; but, if you're over 12, don't do it!
8) Tapioca Tundra
Mike Nesmith's greatest composition? Works for me!