Thursday, 30 June 2011

Living the Good Life

When I was growing up I was enthralled by the sitcom 'The Good Life' ('Good Neighbours' in the USA) written by John Edmonde and Bob Larbey. It was the '70's comedy which looked at the self-sufficient Goods and their affluent neighbours The Leadbetters.  I longed to be Barbara Good, the cutesy, giggly, scruffy make-do-and-mender.  Fresh faced and energetic, she'd take every new challenge her lovely husband Tom threw at her with a smile and a wiggle of her 'Rear of the Year,' whether it be planting two tonnes of potatoes or nursing a pregnant pig through her labour.
In my book "Diary of a Mummy Misfit," Libby is the Barbara equivalent and Fenella the Margo.  I guess I wrote Libby as myself and Fenella as a combination of a real friend and Margo.  I've played the pauper with the wealthy friends, in real life - in fact we even joke that we drink 'Peapod Burgundy' compared to their top shelf vintage.
So now, after years of financial struggles, I've decided I don't want to be Barbara any more; I want to be Margo - just for one day.
Just imagine the fun I'd have!

Money no object - she had a cleaner, a gardener, deliveries from Harrods and a husband who would jump as soon as the immortal words "Cheque book, Jerry!" were uttered.  Safaris and cruises, cocktails and dinners at the golf club - you name it she could afford it. Any problem could be solved by chucking cash at it, according to Margo.

Those clothes - flowing, lairy maxi dresses, ridiculous headgear, ample cleavage on show and gardening in chiffon and bows. Not to mention the classic furs, diamonds and ridiculously outsized jewellery. It's great to watch the programme now and see that a lot of the styles have come back into fashion. In fact, I'm the proud owner of a shocking pink and orange floor-length dress which has become known as 'my Margo'.

The snobbery - combine this with the arrogance and shallowness and I want a go at it.  The joy of never having to agonise over sensitivities before you speak and putting annoying people down with cutting words, content in the unfaltering knowledge that you're always in the right. Tradesmen are treated with the contempt they deserve and husband Jerry is kept firmly under a beautifully manicured thumb.

A member of the local am dram music society - she sings badly and can never remember her lines but she manages to blackmail and manipulate Miss Mountshaft to get the lead roles.  Her enthusiasm outweighs her talent and it's not until she bombs in 'The Sound of Music' that we see her vulnerable side.

The friendship - although they have their ups and downs, the neighbours have a close relationship.  Deep down, Margo is a loyal and caring friend and Jerry has the honestly open hots for Barbara.  Help is offered to the Goods in many ways - from financial to dinner invites and much needed drinks.  On second thoughts I do have this friendship with my own Margo and Jerry, and I know the joy it brings, so I've already experienced this one - although it would be nice to be on the giving end.

The flirt - frosty, po-faced Margo can, on occasions, thaw and become Margo the Minx.  Under the frigid façade, there's a saucepot dying to get out.  One of my favourite scenes is when she's drunk and flirting with Tom who is complimenting her on her sexy neck and she finally declares "I'm not a complete woman, I don't have a sense of humour."  And who can forget the classic line, "That's the last time I play the tart for you, Jerry!"?

The perfect hostess - from entertaining ten Japanese business associates with sushi to a simple 'kitchen supper' of 'Soupe à la Champignon' with Tom and Barbara, Margo is the Queen of etiquette and sophistication.  Jerry must never eat his rare Indian takeaway on the sofa because the upholstery will reek of Vindaloo for weeks!

Smoking - one of the few who can make the disgusting habit look elegant and even like it might be good for you. 

The lines - so many classics but to name a few;

"The fact that you come from Balham probably does excuse your ignorance of even elementary Latin. It does not excuse ignoring a written instruction which is sellotaped to the handle of your pick-axe".

"I detest that child. With his nose running on one side, and the Baron's lederhosen squeaking on the other, I shall go to pieces. I know I shall."

"You are very dear friends. And by now I have risen like a phoenix from the fires of your eccentricities."

"The point is, Barbara, I got the dress home, I put it on, and I said to myself, "Margot, that simply looks cheap and nasty". So I wondered if you'd like it?"

Ah yes, they don't write them like they used to.  Must dash now to put on my maxi dress, turban and bejewelled rubber gloves.  I have a little light rose-pruning to see to before I freshen up for my evening G&T.

Read about Fenella and Libby in Diary of a Mummy Misfit on Amazon for Kindle. 
Now also available in paperback at Lulu.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! It's a shame they can't make programs like that anymore. I could just see Margo saying those lines!