Young At Heart / Big Brother 8

by

Fred 

Crying at something I’ve seen on the TV? Am I going soft? Probably. But I challenge anyone to watch Young at Heart, the documentary on More4 about a group of pensioners by the same name, and not be moved.

When I recorded this I was expecting a few laughs, if I’m honest, at the expense of some geriatrics attempting to remember the words to a Hendrix number. To an outsider, the premise looks amusing, first and foremost. A choir of OAPs singing contemporary numbers and a few classic rock tunes. What I wasn’t expecting was to be moved to tears by the poignancy of their performances and the dignity they bought to the music. When Dora Morrow and Stan Goldman sang James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good’, it’s impossible not to smile and also feel a tad ashamed of one’s own cynicism. Dora is in her 80s.

Fred Knittle can’t breathe unaccompanied, and despite the breathing apparatus that hangs around his neck and the audible sound of his sucking oxigen through a machine, his rendition of Coldplay’s (originally leaden) Fix You turns a workmanlike ballad into something of incredible emotional power. The lyrics are given added meaning when you consider it was due to be a duet, but his singing partner Joseph Benoit had died just days earlier. It’s a right royal tear-jerker, even for a bitter and cynical blogger like this one. Take a look at the youtube clip of the chorus singing Sonic Youth’s Schizophrenia at the bottom of this article. It’s better than the original.

The fact that these septua and octogenarians are fighting to perform and do something good with the remaining years of thier life lifts your spirit and makes you hope that maybe you will have that strength of spirit when you reach the twilight years.

Then you switch over to Channel 4 and Big Brother is on, and you realise that we’re all doomed, as the generation is made up of the most vacuous examples of humanity you could ever pray you wouldn’t run into. Young adults who can’t name more than one American President. An Englishman who doesn’t know who William Shakespeare is. A woman so self absorbed she completely loses track of what she’s saying every time she starts roaring orders at people, distracted by her own reflection. A graduate who, in matters of love, resembles an 8 year old only child. A vain ex-boyband failure who speaksin cliches. A ‘raver’ (in her 30s, no less) who has a limited capacity for conversation given that she only speaks in long-past-its-sell-by-date 80s Ravey Davey slang. And some other arseholes.

They can’t do anything. They have zero talent, and yet they assume they have something to offer the world, and the world continues to pay them attention.

It’s fascinating for all the wrong reasons.

When you hear the Young at Heart chorus singing ‘Forever Young’ to prisoners in an American penitentiary, your heart skips a beat. The advice in the song is perfectly apt for those with chequered pasts. It enables them a chance to take stock and start thinking about righting some wrongs. You can’t help but wish the inhabitants of the BB house were forced to have a similar moment of clarity and consider that the reason for their existence might be something other than self-promotion and meaningless celebrity.

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37 Responses to “Young At Heart / Big Brother 8”

  1. Clair Says:

    Gaaahhh! That’s nowt! You should have seen me blub when I saw the Young At Heart chorus live in London, and just thinking about that scene in the doco where they sing Forever Young to the prisoners is making me tear up. They are so magical that viewing of that programme ought to be compulsory for anyone who thinks old people are wrong.

    And they could beat Pete Cockerty in a fight, so ner.

  2. Swineshead Says:

    That Petie D swipe was low.

  3. Clair Says:

    Proving that I can be a right nasty fucker for an old bird..

  4. Napoleon O'Cocker Says:

    I watched these old bastards wheeze their way through some old rock songs and I didn’t cry – I wanted to grind their bones to dust and fire the remains from the cannon of a destroyer. You wet blanket – get a backbone.

  5. piqued Says:

    I saw that young at heart programme, chubby city from the outset

  6. Napoleon O'Cocker Says:

    Dirty sod

  7. Swineshead Says:

    You’d have wept if they’d have sung The Doggone Girl Is Mine, you miserable bastard.

  8. Napoleon O'Cocker Says:

    No I wouldn’t. I don’t cry over songs because I’m a man. I listen to songs in a barely disguised rage, then pronounce to the world whether they’re any good or not because I’m an expert. An EXPERT, damn you!

    You people sicken me. I hope you all get plague or something equally disasterous.

  9. Swineshead Says:

    Maybe we’ll catch the inability to spell disastrous off some haggard old shitbag…

  10. piqued Says:

    Ironically, on Piqued today *clang* I included them doing ‘I wanna be sedated’, It is actually moving

    *moves*

  11. Swineshead Says:

    Is that ironic? More coincidental I’d have thought.

  12. piqued Says:

    Ironically coincidental, yes

    I’m having deja vu

  13. Napoleon O'Cocker Says:

    Actually, my spelling of ‘disastrous’ as ‘disasterous’ is correct because I’ve decided to change the English language in any way I see fit. Any future mistakes on my part are, in fact, important re-inventions. So fuck you and your archaic old spellings. I AM THE FUTURE.

  14. Napoleon O'Cocker Says:

    I’ve spent a long time today trying to find Sophie Ellis-Bextor attractive. Finally I’ve succeeded … I now would, whereas yesterday no, no I wouldn’t of, like.

  15. piqued Says:

    Fucking hell, that happened to me last week when I got a shot of her bum in the gutter press.

    WORLD, I WOULD

  16. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    There you are. Until recently I thought the lovely Miss (I’ll start using ‘Ms’ around the same time hell freezes over) Sophie was an alien-faced felineoid from the planet Felix. Now I’m convinced she’s the next stage in human evolution and is, in fact, the most beautiful woman who’s ever lived.

    Her music, on the other hand, is a fucking abomination.

  17. Swineshead Says:

    The problem is, she’d probably look at you and Piqued and subsequently cling to her husband while vomiting.

  18. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    She might not. I can be deceptively attractive to drugged and kidnapped women. Ahem.

  19. Joe C Says:

    I read the post, saw there were 18 comments and wondered which way the debate had gone.

    Never in a million years did I imagine you’d be discussing whether or not Rhomboid Heed would get it.

    You’re an unpredictable lot.

  20. Swineshead Says:

    I’d call it more a trapezium.

  21. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    I’d call it lovely. Superdiscocrazylovely.

  22. imtheotherdave Says:

    A very enjoyable read, Swineshead. I’ve heard a lot about these guys, initially seeing their TV debut on The Graham Norton Show – the man’s cynicism, like yours, was unexpectedly disarmed.

    These guys really are making a difference; if all they achieve is more publicity over the loveless way our old are herded they will have done some good.

    Oh, and isn’t one of the old codgers FHM’s latest agony uncle? Legend.

  23. Swineshead Says:

    I don’t read FHM Dave. Not all men are potential rapists but the ones who read FHM are.

  24. imtheotherdave Says:

    I don’t think anyone actually ‘reads’ FHM. It matters not, I found out courtesy of BBC’s Breakfast. Actually, probably better to admit to reading FHM.

  25. Swineshead Says:

    Anything’s better than GMTV at that time in the morning. Even Nick Fat Fuck Ferrari.

  26. Napoleon O'Cocker Says:

    Did you notice how, within weeks of Dermot Murgggghnagggahan joining the show, every single woman on BBC Breakfast fell pregnant? You’ve gotta hand it to the sly old dog – he even got the sports reporter up the duff, and she looks like a cart-horse.

  27. Badger Madge Says:

    Totally agree with your sentiments. The comparison between these fine specemins of the human race and the contents of the BB house is rather disturbing. Hey, read my thoughts on the Young @ Heart folk when I saw the doc last year http://bmtv.blogspot.com/2006/11/rock-on-granny.html

  28. Swineshead Says:

    Excellent stuff as always Badger.
    By the way – does anyone know who originally wrote the song they performed that had loads of ‘cans’ in it?

    I guess we can
    You know we can
    I know we can, can.
    Who says we can’t?
    You know we can
    You know we can can…

    I liked it.

  29. Napoleon O'Cocker Says:

    I think you’ll find that was Art Garfunkel and Elton John, written during the disastrous 1988 ‘Clown Hair & Hairless Clown’ tour.

  30. Swineshead Says:

    Was it really written by them two? What’s the track called?

  31. Napoleon O'Cocker Says:

    Actually, I think I might have made that up. The song you’re looking for has been invented in your head because you’re a drug addict.

  32. Swineshead Says:

    It’s on the documentary, honest. Unless I hallucinated loads of pensioners singing an uplifting ditty about perserverance.

  33. Napoleon O'Cocker Says:

    You did, you did. I did a similar thing the other day when I thought I’d watched a show about monkeys on the moon. I was completely convinced that I’d watched this thing where the Soviets had established a colony of chimpanzees up there in the 60s. I did spend the entire weekend drunk, so you can see why there was a mix-up.

  34. piqued Says:

    Maybe you got senile dementia by proxy…

    Imagine the smell of piss when they perform, no wonder the prisoners were crying

  35. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    They were probably crying because the warden had informed ’em this was what they would look like when they next tasted freedom. American justice is harsh. Harsh but fair. Well … I say ‘fair’ …

  36. piqued Says:

    …that and the piss (a a bit of poo)

  37. piqued Says:

    (I meant ‘AND a bit of poo’, not ‘a a bit of poo’. Soz)

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