It’s a long time ago, and I was in Primary school, but 1968 was a year filled with violence and protest.
The great civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated causing rioting across the United States. Thousands of French students battled with riot police in Paris and in London anti-Vietnam war demonstrators fought outside the American embassy.
I was aware, as much as any child is, of these momentous events. When I think back to that year there was one huge stand-out event which I remember with clarity. On a school trip to London we went to see the recording of the Basil Brush Show.
For those who don’t know the high comedic work of Mr Brush, he was born around 1962 and first appeared on television with a magician called David Nixon. His fame and stardom ensured his own show was launched in 1968 and it was one of these we went to see. Basil, of course, was a larger-than-life fox puppet.
I loved Basil Brush. I am sure it is from him that I developed a care and concern for his natural cousins, the country fox who was so cruelly chased and torn to shreds for ‘sport’. I never wanted to see Basil’s stuffing pulled from him by a pack of maddened hounds.
I was rather dismayed when it appeared that by using a rather shady parliamentary device the Government was trying to bring back hunting. Good on Minister of Sport Tracy Couch and the forty backbench Conservatives who were going to vote against.
Having lived in the countryside and ministered to the farming community I understand the need for controlling one our nation’s natural and best predators but not the ‘traditions’.
Basil is on tour! I looked in vain for a date in Bridport, though.
One of my few claims to fame was queuing behind Derek Fowlds, the ‘straight-man’ for Basil Bush at a Morrison’s. My cheerful cry of ‘Boom! Boom!’ brought such a withering look of contempt I didn’t ask him for his autograph.