Small screen heroes at an affordable price

Published on 21st September 2020
Author George Dodds

For a scholar of the written word my six decades on the planet has seen incredible evolution in the English language.

Surely there has never been a time when the simple verb has undergone a more radical transformation.

Hoovering, googling, pinging, dogging, drifting, Skyping, ramping up, twerking. From the unknown to common usage in a few decades. Every year a rush for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary or Websters.

Reliable sources inform that currently being considered includes what is defined thus: “colloquialism. To unexpectedly inject excitement into otherwise controlled environments, often at high speed with unpredictable consequences. Often innocently, usually, but not always, involving others”.

What we in the borders know as “etheridgeing”.

No doubt the producers behind the online blockbuster premiering on Thursday night as Belle Vue Aces v All Star Select  had his propensity to generate excitement and talking points in mind when they booked him for a meeting which maintains the Aces’ proud tradition of racing every year since speedway came to these shores in 1928.

Jye is no stranger to the screen small or big. Who can forget his starring, ahem, part in Margaret Salmon’s Bandits-inspired documentary Mmm or other epics such as Eagles back straight mayhem and Tigers tantrums?

Fellow Bandits Kyle Bickley and Leon Flint are also booked in for the show which, due to the National Speedway Stadium’s proximity to England’s Covid local lockdown epicentre means that it’s a streaming only extravaganza.

Many of the sports’ twitterati would have you believe that British speedway’s only future lies in the streaming of meetings rather than relying on turnstile twirlers.

Unfortunately, they then kill their own argument by whinging at the price they are asked to pay. Apparently around a fiver would be a “fair” price – a tenner’s far too much and £12.50 extortionate.

Any suggestion that what they want to pay would barely cover the production costs are airily dismissed by that old speedway chestnut “get sponsorship”.

In their minds sponsors are queueing up to spend money so the couch potatoes don’t have to pay the going rate.

Never one to miss the opportunity for a spot of investigative journalism I donned my mask (surgical rather than ski) and headed off to Morrison’s last week.

On reaching the checkout I informed the cashier that the £17.50 she wanted was unacceptable for a simple man’s meal of duck a l’orange, kale, guacamole and a four pack of Yeastus Christ. I valued it at much less and informed her that Morrison’s should secure sponsorship thereby reducing the cost to me. Indeed if they only charged three quid they’d probably sell more anyway.

The rest is hazy and seemed to involve a generously proportioned chap in a black t-shirt much too small for him. Anyway the result is I will not – indeed am not allowed – back until November at the earliest.

My offer to pay £100 for a 718 and allow Evans Henshaw the opportunity to cover the rest with sponsorship was equally surprisingly rejected.

I blame the BSPA.

A little research – a word which I realise is anathema to most keyboard warriors – reveals that second tier English football clubs charge a tenner for individual livestreams. That is in spite of receiving millions of pounds a year in TV money just for existing.

While there is no doubt that a well thought out – and properly priced – league-wide streaming service could bring in a bit of extra revenue over the years it is unlikely to be the instant cash cow supposed by some.

My former profession, journalism, is a stark warning that while people may want what’s on offer getting them to pay a reasonable fee for it is nigh-on impossible.

Anyway just over £20 for the Aces and Saturday’s British Final at Ipswich to be delivered to my settee seems OK value. Adding a couple of pizzas and a large Pepsi would almost double the outgoings – unless I can arrange sponsorship of course.

Jye would appear to be one of the few Aussies not competing for the British crown on Saturday, the Bandits’ flag being flown by young Kyle who, along with Leon, was at Scunthorpe in the National under-19s last weekend.

Which leaves just the under-21 crown to be decided and that, Covid willing, will happen at Shielfield on October 17.

By which time I hope to be back in action after “etheridgeing” a couple of nights’ wild camping and cycling by faceplanting the B6461 on the road to Paxton.

Making my first A&E appearance aged 56 caught many in the family on the hop although arguably it should have happened in my teens/early 20s but a combination of sadistic games teachers and trainers, invariably called Reg, Alf or Cyclops, armed with a battered bucket of cholera-ridden water and a sponge soaked in decades of questionable bodily fluids dealt with any hefty blow or skin splitting collision. An approach which saw you patched up and sent back into the action with motivational: “run it off ya soft bugger”.

Which is how an amateur rugby league team-mate in south Yorkshire back in the 70s came to discover that you can’t actually run off a forearm broken in three places … or anaesthetise it with Stones’ best bitter.

Luckily, I’d made sure I’d popped out every Thursday and clapped for the doctor who dealt with me in Cramlington last week and as a result the fractured elbow should be in action by next month.

In the meantime it’s comfy cushions on the couch and tune it to Jye’s primetime speedway capers …

George Dodds
George Dodds

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