A Boating Holiday: JonnyB

Somewhere in a village in Norfolk lives JonnyB, who writes a Private Secret Diary. Quite what the village makes of that has yet to be determined.

The Alien Question for Anna Littleredboat

Years ago, I was in Germany. On my own for a period of time, I switched on the television set. One Man and His Dog was on, with German subtitles.

Oh good, I thought. They have One Man and His Dog in Germany.

Note that this was before the time when we started coming up with TV show concepts and then selling the format overseas to be remade. It was genuine One Man and His Dog. Not some poor lightweight remake Ein Mann und Sein Hund. Genuine, original 100% One Man and His Dog, Phil Drabble an all.

Except it had a laugh track.

Watching One Man and His Dog with a laugh track and subtitles was disconcerting. I dont know much German, so it was good to learn the phrase for Come by! Come by!. But the gales of laughter seemed somehow wrong. The picture switched away from One Man and His Dog and cut to a man in a TV studio.

Then I realised.

I was watching a German equivalent of our Clive James programme where theyd show foreign TV and snigger at it.

Boooooo!!! The Germans did not watch One Man and His Dog after all!!! They just put it on to hold it up as an object of immature ridicule.

Just because we won the war.

Years later, my Mad Auntie Miriam came to stay. She lives in a tree farm in a remote area of New Zealand. I wasnt sure what to do with her, especially after the cannabis debacle. But no matter – she was amazed and enthralled by the supermarket. She went there most days just to look round. It was an emporium of wonder and delight to her.

My point is that I wouldnt have a clue what aliens might be interested in. If they should land in the wood at the end of my garden, I would probably say something like: that is Mrs Clarences wood, she would really not like you landing there, do you want to park your space craft over here in my back garden, then we will go to the Village Pub and then next door to Short Tonys for a game of darts and some karaoke.

That is what I would normally offer visitors to the Village. But this might not be their scene at all. Outside my house, there is a thirty MPH sign. They might find this the most interesting thing on Earth, with its roundness and its red border and its exhortation not to drive faster than thirty MPH. Who can tell? They are aliens after all. Not everybody is like us. Some would ridicule One Man and His Dog. It takes all sorts.