Z is for Z-cars #atozchallenge

For the last two years I’ve joined in the #atozchallenge, namely to post every weekday in April using each letter of the alphabet in turn. In 2015 it was places I’d been to, in 2016 it was London themed. This year it is a dictionary of my family, recounting incidents small and large that have taught me lessons down the years, caused me consternation or generally seared themselves into my memory. I hope you enjoy them. To find other bloggers doing the challenge and maybe be inspired yourself, check out the A to Z Blogging Challenge Blog.

Let me start by asking everyone to remember the title to this post is using British English and so it is Zed Cars not Zee Cars. Not a big point but it matters to me as it was an iconic TV programme of its time, when I was still quite a small boy.

Z-cars was a watershed programme, a gritty, true to life drama unlike its predecessor, Dixon of Dock Green which was a rather twinkly-eyed version of British policing at the time. It began in 1962, so I was only 6 at the time. And while I’d been allowed to watch Dixon and its lost dog story-lines I was censored from seeing its successor.

I can understand my parents’ thinking.  It wasn’t what a boy of my age should be exposed to but it was an early example, maybe the first of my battle with my parents over control. Bedtime, TV viewing, what I spent my pocket money on, eventually how long my hair was and what I wore. Music on the radio too. Perhaps oddly they never censored my reading material.

It is the TV that I think caused the most grief. It didn’t help that there were only 2 channels to begin with and we only had one TV.  And as the smaller infant the fights would have been mostly with the Archaeologist over kid’s programmes on the Beeb or ITV. Not that we fought much; I knew when I couldn’t win.

In fact in fairness to my parents they were more liberal than some of my peers.  I was allowed to stay up for Man from U.N.C.L.E that was an extra 30 minutes and required a major piece of legislative intervention because, in the language of the Unions that we all imbibed back then ‘it eroded differentials’ between the Archaeologist and me.

And mum made me get up in 1969 to watch the moon landing knowing this sort of history comes round very infrequently, even though I have a recollection that I wasn’t that keen on being prodded awake. Looking back I’m glad she did.

Indeed, mum was always the more liberal with these sorts of things – the Archaeologist mentioned in response to my post on the weather the other day how he tried to build an igloo in the 1962/63 winter. He’d have been 7 at the time and twice it collapsed on him. I can quite believe him telling mum what he planned and her telling him when he needed to come in for lunch or dinner and not making a fuss about the odd risk of being buried alive.

No, dad was the one who’d come up with ludicrous and arbitrary rules, the ones that  bugged me to hell and back; and those about watching TV in the daytime, if and when he was around – i.e. at weekends mostly – were the worst.

In the early 1960s it didn’t much matter – being outside was great. But as the decade sagged towards its rather drab end, at least for the 9 to 12 year old me, I discovered the glories of sport and, especially cricket. Cricket then was a daytime sport and the Test matches (which were the only international games in the 1960s) lasted 5 days. They always started on a Thursday and ran over the weekend, with a Sunday rest day. How quaint! In 1963 the first major one day tournament started – the Gillette Cup, a 60 over a side extravaganza played by the English county sides. Each year the teams would play a knockout format leading to a final at Lord’s in early September. As with the Test matches this was televised. I looked forward to these events immensely.

Yet dad had this notion that, it was somehow unhealthy to watch them. Too much screen time they’d say these days. He didn’t always impose this rule – I can remember sitting with my gran, absorbed in an England v New Zealand Test (so much so I can talk you through highlights of that match still – I just typed in Dayle Hadlee – Alan Knott catch and this came up

credit: ESPN

I vividly remember seeing this live, leaping from my seat and loving the newly introduced action replays – I’d never seen anything so athletic before), during one holiday at her house – so it was probably the arbitrary nature of the imposition of this rule that got to me. After all any rugby – dad’s sport of choice – that was on the TV was ok to watch!

The rule became a place of challenge and in 1970 I found football too. Briefly I became obsessed with Arsenal’s run towards their eventual ‘Double’ glory – winning both League and FA cup that had only once been done before. So when they made the FA cup final I wanted to watch. And dad said no. It was a sunny day; I should be outside.

I sulked; I grumbled; I threatened… well, no I didn’t. I wasn’t the challenging sort but everyone could tell I was on the extreme end of the miffed spectrum. Eventually mum talked him round and I was allowed. But the damage was done. I hated him briefly; he was utterly loathsome for a few hours. I was 13 and he was a pillock. No question.

We move on; of course we do. We had our fights, we had our great times. But I never, ever forgot that ban. So much so that I vowed, some time after it happened that, if I ever had children, I would not be arbitrary. I would never ever use the ‘don’t do as I do..’ conceit. I would explain; I would have a sound reason for all rules and actions and not my convenience; logic not lunacy would apply.

Total bollocks, of course; I’ve been as ridiculous a parent as everyone else. I have tried (and I’m sure failed) to apologise to my children as and when I realise I’ve let my standards slip but that’s about as good as I’ve got.

I did let them watch pretty much as much TV as they wanted, mind you, and if it involved any sport – Game on!!

And that, reader, ends this year’s A to Z. A self-indulgent set of reminiscences if ever there was one. If some have amused, others informed and many bored then that’s par for the course. I’m just very grateful for those of you who have come along for the ride.



About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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23 Responses to Z is for Z-cars #atozchallenge

  1. Ritu says:

    I have loved your a-z entries His Geoffleship!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. barbtaub says:

    I’ve been terrible about commenting but please let me say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series. Thanks so much for sharing A through Zed!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The one and only TV in the house was pretty much ruled by my father in the 1960’s, which is why we watched golf on the weekends, for hours on end. If he fell asleep, we tried to change the channel. It always woke him up. No problem really, as we spent almost all of our waking moments outside. TV became background noise for a very busy household.

    p.s. I’ve really enjoyed your A-Z, Geoff, some great memories shared.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lindahuber says:

    Great A-Z, thank you! I don’t remember watching Z-cars, but I do remember the music. And the moon landing, which I was forced to watch too. Happy days.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Iain Kelly says:

    Great effort all month – I feel like I know you quite well now! 🙂


  6. Annecdotist says:

    Congratulations on completing your challenge, Geoff (though really, is this a challenge for you?) And I remember those days when we all watched the same TV (although not the sport for me, thanks).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. tlryder says:

    Congrats on challenge completed!
    My kids are 22 and 19. Parenting them has been a window into the fears and motivations of my own parents. I was convinced at the time that had I been killed by a collapsing igloo, my mom would have just resurrected me to kill me again for being a doofus. Now I realize that most of her crazy rules came from love and fear and not from a desire to make me an outcast among my peers.

    One of my teachers brought a tv to school so that we could watch one of the moon landings. Such exciting, hopeful times for us back then!


  8. Ruth says:

    My memory of watching the moon landing was that he was a really rubbish spaceman,and I didn’t see what all the fuss was about 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. noelleg44 says:

    I also enjoyed your A-Z, Geof. I was very limited in what I was allowed to watch and when, on TV. I remember my mother forbidding me to watch Fall of the House of Usher, because she thought it was too adult and frightening. I watched it anyway – she never knew – and yes, I found it very frightening!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, I know I’m late to the end of season party and you’ve probably all gone home to nurse your hangovers – but, it was a good season and I had a great time on your memory ride! I enjoyed all the stories and escapades and today I was right with you…… ZED Cars – loved it! The Man From Uncle – loved it (especially David McCallum) CRICKET 🙂 I remember that catch!! The introduction of one day matches just made summer fantastic. We would rush through our chores, organise food and drink – and later kids (my kids were encouraged to watch TV on those days) – and spend an entire day focused on nothing but cricket. I’ve lost that little bit of delight out of my life since I gave up the television – maybe it’s time to reconsider for next summer ……

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I remember the theme tune to Z cars but didn’t watch it. I do remember seeing on or two episodes of Dixon of Dock Green though. Thanks for the trip down memory lane Geoff, and well done for making it through the A-Z entertaining us on your way! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Charli Mills says:

    I remember staying home sick from school, and the joy of watching television during daytime. Otherwise it was off limits. Even today it feels strange if the TV is on during daylight. Thank you for an enjoyable A-Z journey!

    Liked by 1 person

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