Through the keyhole

Hello - and welcome to my debut at This here new technology is supposed to be the preserve of the younger generation, but I reckon us so-called mature citizens are catching up fast. Mind you, there are times when I have to ask my eight-year-old god-daughter Michelle for help.

I'm just back home from Leeds, where my wife Ellen and I yet again failed to beat the panel on Through the Keyhole. They soon realised the beautiful beach house on screen must belong to the Jameson’s. Ellen's astrology library and my books on newspapers gave the game away.

Can you believe, this was the THIRD time Sir David Frost has invited us to pass through the keyhole? We have three golden keys, which must be a record, though to be honest one of them is a little worse for wear as Ellen's Uncle Jim tried to polish it and the gold came away with the Brasso.

What's the fascination with other people's homes, I wonder? Certainly interest in Through the Keyhole never flags. It has been running for 14 years and is now a BBC programme after doing the rounds on TV-am, ITV and SKY. They tell me it's the most popular of all daytime television.

We may not admit it, but I reckon we're all curious about the way other people live. You know the kind of thing - what kind of furniture, what's the bedroom look like, how have they done the kitchen, wallpaper or emulsion, traditional or modern?

Not that there are many secrets left these days. People are more open and usually quite happy to discuss their likes and dislikes with neighbours and friends. They don't draw the curtains like they used to. Indeed, I heard the other day that in New York modern young couples have done away with curtains altogether.

When we were young, people kept themselves to themselves. If anyone became too curious, parents would tap their nose and come out with such profound truths as: "Ask no questions, hear no lies." Much as we wanted to know what went on behind the lace curtains, we rarely found out.

Ma Wren, the old girl who brought me up in the East End, had this giant aspidistra plant on the window sill of the front room just to make life more difficult for nosey parkers who might take a dekko at what was going on inside. Mind you, we often found her peering through the plant's leaves at people passing by in the street.

We were so poor we drank our tea out of jam jars - that's the God's truth - so that bulbous plant was just about the household's prize possession. Gracie Fields - the world's greatest singer in our book - must have inspired it. It so happened she had a hit song called The Biggest Aspidistra in the World.

Remember Gracie Fields? "Our Gracie," the lass from Rochdale. How we adored her. What's more, you could hear every word she sang. Some difference from today's musical stars. I call them the grunt-and-groan brigade.

Give me the good old bad days every time! 'Bye for now - I'll be back soon.

Copyright© 2000 Derek Jameson / Retirement Matters Ltd. All rights reserved.