Hey, Happy Birthday Carrott!

On my first trip to Britain I flew British Air. A lot’s probably changed since then but the amenities were unbelievable, even compared to other airlines at the time. The seats were comfortable, alcohol was free, and it was impossible to sleep because every ten seconds somebody was coming by to offer me tea and biscuits. And the crazy thing is this was regular coach. What did people in first class get? Four star meals? Individual hot tubs? Massages? I’m not sure I want to know. It’s even more incredible to look back on it now when airlines nickel and dime passengers in a dozen different ways—although I guess British Airways shillings and bobs them, but that’s another story—and are looking for ways to pack in even more passengers.

Anyway the most surprising feature was the airline radio. If you’re of a certain age you may remember that some airlines had a headphone jack in the armrest and you could tune it to a small number of stations: easy listening, contemporary jazz, light rock, death-techno-thrash-metal, and, of course, an endless loop of babies crying. I remember some airlines made you pay for the headphones. I’m pretty sure British Air would have given them away for free but since this was the early ‘90’s and I was a college student I had a Walkman and my own headphones. To save the battery and to enjoy the soothing sounds of sobbing toddlers I plugged them into the armrest and discovered that in addition to the music stations British Air had a comedy selection. The whole thing ran about an hour and was composed of short bits from various comics, most of whom I knew. And then this guy started talking about a mole problem. If the seats hadn’t been so wide and comfortable—I swear I’m not being paid by British Air which is probably bankrupt now for being so nice anyway—I’m sure I would have disturbed everybody around me because I was laughing so hard.

The comedian was Jasper Carrott, whose birthday is today. My British friends were pleased and a little surprised that I liked Carrott so much and the local video store provided several of his performances, including American Carrott. He’d been to America. I wonder what his flight was like.

Here’s the mole story.

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8 Comments

  1. M. Firpi

    That’s a hilarious video and a great comedian! My aunt used to poison moles with a poisonous peanut you drop in the burrows. Turns out that this is against the law now because it poisons the whole food chain. There are mole proof gardens you can build, but a prairie is a prairie, so if you live on one you’re the invader, not them. So this just another battle against garden invaders, the other one is deer. “Oh my goodness, the deer ate all my blooms!!!” That’s another one. Another one is building a house over ancient ant colonies. Some houses have (or were) built on ancient ant colonies, places called formicaries, which are basic family units around which ants organize their lifecycle. Sometimes to remove these is practically impossible because there will always be some scented trail (out of reach) to which the ants return to.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’d rather put up with pests–or at least what I call pests since like you said we’re the invaders–than resort to poisons. It’s bad enough that poison can damage an entire food chain. They can also affect pets. It’s very sad to me that a large wooded area not far from where I live was cut down a few years ago and turned into a huge shopping center. The result was that the animals that lived there–possums, raccoons, deer, and coyotes mostly–were all displaced and have had to move into the neighborhood. But I understand they had no place to go, and I wonder how much wildlife was lost in that project.

      Reply
  2. Michelle

    Ohhh..thanks for this..I am ALWAYS looking for comedy.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      And I’m always looking to bring comedy, especially highlighting people who tickle my fancy and who may not be as well known, although Carrott’s pretty famous back in England. He’s just not so well known on this side of the pond, which I think is a shame.

      Reply
  3. Margot

    You probably already know that I am “of a certain age”. I do indeed remember those headphone jacks in the armrests. Same ones you used to watch the movie, right? My mother was a little too “parsimonious” (to use the kindest word I can think of) to ever pay for my brother, sister or me to use them. By the time I was old enough to fly unattended and had some spending money I was pretty excited to try them. Turns out that those headphones you had to pay for had been used so often by God knows who that they were pretty greasy, and I couldn’t bring myself to let them touch my face, ears or hair. That was a waste of whatever the current value of $2 in 1980 was. Go ahead and add neurotic to my current list of mental health diagnoses if there’s any room left on it. I don’t think Walkmans were a thing yet in 1980. If they were I didn’t own one anyway. I’m glad you had your own headphones because even if you aren’t as neurotic about germs and grease as I am, I’m sure yours were much higher quality than whatever the airline provided. Scratch that–I forgot you were flying the fabulous British Air.

    That Jasper Carrott video was great! No wonder no one on Peaky Binders can do a proper Birmingham accent–it’s an interesting and unusual mix of sounds. I hope whoever stole his harmonica gave it back eventually, and that he had a great birthday.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I did once use airline headphones on a flight from Portugal–paying for them was partly to spend up some escudos I was still carrying–and I never thought about whose ears they’d been in before mine. If memory serves, and it doesn’t always, they looked clean, and I’m not overly neurotic. If it looks clean then I figure it is clean. And I’m sure British Air headphones were perfectly sterilized after each use.
      A few years later I’d work in a customer service department where I answered phones all day. We had the option of headsets but someone said, “I wouldn’t want to wear one of those when I don’t know who else’s head it’s been on.” So instead we just stuck greasy germy phones to our ears all day. Go figure.

      Reply
  4. Gina W.

    Christopher– you comment about what they must have had in first class reminded me that when I was 16 I got to fly first class with my family from NY to Paris and back (TWA flight 800– you know, the one that blew up a few years later, but I digress). I’m not kidding– all we did was eat. Nonstop. On real china with cloth napkins and silverware. And it was all fabulous food as well. I think we might have watched a movie but hell if I can remember. I was too busy eating. We joked that probably half the plane’s weight allowance was taken up with all plates and serving utensils for the people in first class. It was pretty awesome, I have to admit. Since then I’ve flown nothing but coach though. But I’ll always have Paris…

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That is fantastic. The only time I’ve ever flown first class was from D.C. to New York where I got bumped up due to a seating snafu. Maybe it’s because it was a short flight but first class didn’t seem all that special, especially the food. We got hot towels which I don’t think they got in coach, but, as far as I could tell, we were all served the same food no matter where we were seated. The only difference was first class got served first so farther back the choices were more limited.
      The choice was either steak or fish. I remember. I had lasagna.

      Reply

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