walk on the mild side

Look at this lovely old footbridge over the Thames here in ready steady Teddington. A couple of weeks ago we were walking over it with our good friends J&ML. C and I tripped over it for a gentle stroll in the rare balmy weather along the far, Surrey, side of the river this last week-end. I love this bridge and the stretch of the river on either side of it. 

The bridge, well a little obelisk some 50yards downstream,  marks the limit of the tidal reach on the river Thames. This had led to the rather novel notion that the origin of Tedder’s name is Tides’s End Town, which seems eminently plausible to me. According to Wiki however this is fanciful and more likely it’s named after some Anglo-Saxon tribal chief, Ted Ding no doubt. As if. Whatever the origin there’s no doubt about the tidal impact and I guess this explains why there’s a huge weir straddling the river 100 yards to the right of the foot bridge to control the river’s flow:

Looking at this image you wouldn’t imagine that there’d be much river traffic but you’d be wrong; it’s actually packed with all sorts of river craft thanks to the second bit of Thames river management for which Teddington is famous, the massive triple lock system which sits on the other side of the river from the weir, and of which more in a second. But first you may be interested to know that between the bridge and the weir are a couple of great riverside pubs, The Anglers and the Tide’s End Cottage (there’s that name again) and the reknowned Teddington Film Studios which has been the production centre for many of the UK’s most popular light entertainment TV programmes such as Men Behaving Badly, Birds of a Feather, Harry Hill’s TV Burp, My Family, This is Your Life, the long running comedy shows featuring Benny Hill and  Morecambe & Wise and latter-day equivalent, the simply brilliant The Office. Bet you didn’t know that.

But there was one comedy series filmed here which was even more ground-breaking, and which had a big impact on me in my teens; it can only be Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Ask anyone for their favourite Python sketch and I bet that 8 out of 10 cats will probably cite the dead parrot or nudge, nudge say no more squire sketches or perhaps the Ministry of Silly Walks or either the spam,sam,spam or the lumberjack songs or even the Spanish Inquisition, which nobody would have expected. They’re good but not my particular favourites. I happen to like the very camp parade ground routine (ooh scratch her eyes out) but the little sketch I can laugh at every time I see it is the very short and quite bonkers fish dance featuring Michael Palin and John Cleese. I love the scout uniforms/pith helmets and plinky plonky music and Palin’s double-handed face-slapping routine is just sublimely funny. But the punch-line where he gets thwacked by Cleese’s huge fish is just inspired. And where does Palin find himself being dumped into? It’s only Teddington Lock and I had to smile at the memory of the sketch as we walked past the very spot at which it was filmed last week. And it is very deep, dirty green water I can assure you.  Respect Michael Palin. Enjoy:

If you can suggest a funnier MPFC  sketch than this I’ll put a knotted hanky on my head and grow an Adolf moustache.

pp gumby

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