Now, I’ve been listening on and off to The Archers since I randomly caught it and Radio 4 when I was at university. The story lines included David Archer and drippy Sophie, and Elizabeth and Nelson Gabriel and an abortion, as I recall. I wait on tenterhooks for someone to put me straight about that. *drums fingers on table*
It’s the only soap I follow and I’ve always thought that shutting up for 15 minutes a night is the least people can do to take account of my needs. My The Archers time was, at one point, the only oasis of me time tranquility in a hectic day and, although that is no longer the case, I guard my listening ritual fiercely. My offspring have learned never to talk to me between seven and quarter past and even John has finally learn that it’s best to text me that he’s on the train (or not) if he doesn’t want his head bitten off by phoning at 7. I do not answer telephone calls then either, no matter how urgent. Call centres, please note.
Although, unbelievably, not the most diehard of Archers fans, I’ve listened on and off, mostly on, ever since. I was even a member of Archers Addicts* for a while, and when we were living in Paris contributed to the Mustardland* Message Board attempt at the longest forum thread ever about how shocking it was to dress one’s table with paper napkins on Christmas Day. And when, in late 2010, the scriptwriters hinted darkly that they were developing a storyline that would Shake Ambridge To The Core, I was there on Twitter, the initiator of the #SATTC hashtag. I count that as one of my finer achievements in life, actually. I listened, rapt as David
murdered accidentally lost track of Lovely Nigel and screamed as he plunged to his death from the roof of Lower Loxley..
Those who follow me on Twitter will have learnt by now either to avoid my feed for the 13 minutes after 7.02 on weekdays and Sunday mornings as I tweet along with the Omnibus edition while doing my ironing. Unless they are fans of the #TheArchers*, in which case they might care to follow our tweetalong. Or not. We can be quite hysterical at times, and not necessarily funny, but it’s developed into a real virtual village community, a veritable river of gossip and speculation that unites some frankly, rather weird people. It’s our little world and we’re happy there.
So when super-journo and Archer listener @LucyvFreeman announced a #TheArchers themed quiz, my ears pricked up immediately. Yes, it was in The Republic of Walthamstow which, being Norf, is almost too much for me to contemplate but I reasoned that I would be grinding my teeth with envy later if this event went ahead without me adding my tuppence worth. Off I went, then, on Thursday evening, dressed vaguely as Jennydahling in Barbour, cashmere cardi and Hermès carré and a pearl necklace that seemed to be causing a degree of hilarity. Walthamstow actually isn’t that much of a trek through the Blackwall tunnel by car but the parking is fiendishly difficult. As soon as I arrived at Ye Olde Rose and Crowne pub, hub of E17 life apparently, I was recognised by @Greavsie17, one of my most longstanding tweeps. Thanks for the drink, mate. I’ll return the favour next time, OK? The room above the pub had become The Bull Upstairs for the night and Lucy was ably assisted by That Susan Rae Off The Wireless and Sven from I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue (or so they said), though the lovely Samantha was obviously making her presence felt elsewhere. That was a Radio 4 joke, by the way.
My team, and I blush here for no-one has any idea how we found ourselves named the Bell End Team, comprised me, @Gingabeans and @TonysConsultant. As usual it was really strange meeting in the flesh people whom one tweets daily in terms of intimacy and I think we were all rather overawed and shy but we somehow overcame that and won the quiz after an initial tie-break question from Susan to which no-one knew the answer. I had fun and I suspect that this will become an ongoing event. I’m already thinking about a Sarf LDN version, in the spring.
Archers Addicts: the Official Fan Club
Mustardland: the now sadly deceased Archers Messageboard, with background a rather vile shade of dark yellow
*TheArchers: The hashtag I generally attach to my Archers tweets. Occasionally this becomes #thearchers, #theARchers or, on one memorable occasion, #theAshes