Friday, 10 February 2012

And a weevil called Edwin

Tommy Handley

I sent Son-in-law-who-cooks an e-mail the other day. As usual it was seeking computer help so I began “It's that man again”. After I had written that I realised the phrase probably meant nothing to him. 'It's That Man Again' (or, commonly, ITMA) was a BBC radio comedy programme which ran from 1939 to 1949. The title was a contemporary phrase referring to ever more frequent news-stories about Hitler in the lead-up to World War II, and specifically a headline in the Daily Express written by Bert Gunn. This was humorously transferred to Tommy Handley, the popular comedian around whom the programme was developed. The scripts were written by the prolific Ted Kavanagh. "ITMA" is believed to have played a major role in sustaining morale on the UK's 'home front' during the Second World War. I'm sure I remember ITMA being on the radio – perhaps it was repeated during my early life (I was born in 1949). If not, I certainly know a lot of it from Mum and Dad's references to it.

Tommy Handley - it's that man again...

Other catchphrases I remember from ITMA include:-

"I don't mind if I do" – Colonel Humphrey Chinstrap's catchphrase, spoken by Jack Train, turning any remark into an offer of a drink. The origin of this catchphrase precedes ITMA, but was nevertheless popularised by ITMA.

"Can I do you now, Sir?" – Spoken by Dorothy Summers as Mrs Mopp the office char.

"It's being so cheerful as keeps me going" – Mona Lott, a depressed laundry-woman played by Joan Harben.

"But I'm all right now" – Hattie Jacques' character Sophie Tuckshop, after describing a long list of food she had eaten.

"TTFN (Ta ta for now)" – Spoken by Dorothy Summers' character, Mrs Mopp. From 1939, initialisms, previously rarely used except by the military, were heard more frequently by the British public. ITMA satirized them by coining TTFN, a "pointless" initialism (no easier to say than the phrase on which it was based).

My first postcrossing postcard is on its way to Finland. Once it is received I join the queue to receive one.

I've just bought a children's book that I loved as tiny child. I used to borrow it from Childwall Library on a regular basis. It's called “Slimtail's” (the author's apostrophe, not mine). It's about a family of mice and their pet weevil, Edwin. If you look closely at the cover you can see Edwin on the right. Having read the first story I was amused to see that I remembered it well – notwithstanding an intervening fifty five years or so. Ironic that nowadays I can pick up a novel in the library and be half-way through before I realise I've read it before.

Have a good week-end.


  1. what a wonderful look into your country during the war, and a radio show that sustained you. I was born in 1952, and sadly, I have forgotten what the shows were that my older sister listened to in the forties. The children's book was marvelous looking.

    (And thanks for your comment. Sometimes I DO simply paint and layer without a plan. That's a marvelous experience.)

  2. "It's being so cheerful as keeps me going"

    I've been using that for years and never knew from whence it came!

    Merci beaucoup SS!


  3. I don't remember listening to ITMA although I remember the sayings and constant references to the programme when I was young.

    I'd love to be able to remember the title of a particular book I used often to borrow from Childwall Library when I was knee high to a grasshopper. Given that I am rarely able to recall images I seem to remember that it was on a low shelf and had a blue cover. Unfortunately this is not a good start!

  4. Ah, but think of the fun we have rereading books when we forget some of the plots and run through them a second (or third!) time. :0)

  5. When, in the 1990s, I made my first tentative steps into the world of internet and chat rooms, an English friend of mine who I met there always signed off with "TTFN". He had told me what the letters stand for, but until your post here, I had no idea where it came from.
    I, too, remember my favourite children's books very well, and I am happy to have most of them here on my shelf. Maybe you have just given me an idea for a blog post!

  6. You're right it went straight over my head!

  7. Thanks so much for visiting my blog and helping me find yours. I am so impressed by how many blogs you maintain! I can hardly keep up with one and you have thirteen or so! How do you do it?!

    I'll be stopping back by to see what's going on in your part of the world...

    In the meantime, warm greetings from Savannah! Silke

  8. I was going to protest that you CAN'T have remembered radio programmes from 1939-1949... But I guess later reruns make sense.

  9. I don't know if they were re-runs or not but I distinctly remember ITMA and I was born in 1937, but it was at least 1947 when I heard them. We moved around so much when I was young that I can date things from where we lived when I heard them. Your blogs don't show up on my reading list too often, hence I am late with this comment. I think I have too many on my list for blogger to keep up with -- and you do have a lot of blogs. I just don't have enough hours in the day to keep up. BTW (now I'm really getting 'with it')I really like your art work and I'm honored that you stop by my blog occasionally.
    Incidentally, being a pastor's wife, I can get away with 'Blessings' as a sign off. It's better than 'Love' (in my opinion) which can mean just about anything or nothing these days and it's definitely less stuffy than 'Regards'. :)

  10. Unfortunately ChrisJ Blessings does not work if the giver/receiver is atheist!


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