Inside this month: A stroll down memory lane under the boardwalk

Jimmy and Tommy, Chalky, Mickey and Nucky – the dearly departed Boardwalk Empire (no spoilers here, folks) had a code. If your character’s name ended in a ‘Y’, you were permitted a smidgeon of sympathy … if you were lucky (not literally).

It’s the boardwalk itself I feel sorry for. One second it’s rewriting history as the most expensive set in the history of television, the next it’s hosting MTV Grind

Ah yes, the great American public who we have to thank for umpteen series of comedies starring Charlie Sheen and the early cancellation of Boardwalk due to disappointing ratings.

Don’t get me started on anyone who heard Boardwalk was good (“as far as television goes, you know”), but was waiting for it to end so they could binge-watch it. 

You’re the reason Van Gogh shot himself! “Ooh, I’ve heard he’s good, but I’m going to wait until he’s dead!”

How to massacre a song
Personally, I’m aggrieved to find out Boardwalk’s fabulous instrumental title track is written by my least favourite band. It’s like waking up the night after an orgy to a determined disturbance under the duvet and discovering it’s a dude.

I remember watching Dig, a documentary about the said band, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, which I watched with the kind of horror I reserve for actual massacres.

But it cheered me up when I listened to their version with lyrics, because it was crap. Why wait for anyone else, when you can massacre your own song.

How about this lot then?
But yes, I’m going to be lost without Boardwalk. A bit like somebody whose sole source of humour came from their Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris impressions, it’s a bereavement, although I won’t have an inner-voice saying: “How’s about that then … now then, now then” every time I walk past a school. 

Savile and Harris (who I met on a ferry once when I was 13 … until this moment, I’ve been too ashamed to admit I’ve been on a ferry before) were in their prime in 1982, a year of huge significance for three of this month’s major draws: the Crazy Christmas Cabaret, Morrissey and Fransk Affære.

For the cabaret, who this year are staging One-eyed Willy and the Quest for the Big Chest, it was the year it all began. To mark no particular anniversary, Vivienne McKee’s London Toast theatre is the subject of an exhibition at Hofteatret where you can see the memorabilia from all the past shows: so lots of platform shoes, wigs and women’s clothing to fit very large men. 

And the same is true of Morrissey, the cousin of footballer Robbie Keane. For a man prone to spouting nonsense at concerts, he has always taken a no-nonsense approach to his music. In the spring of 1982, he met Johnny Marr and they formed the Smiths that very year. There was no mucking about deliberating over fancy band names.

When Harald lost the plot
The French connection is more tenuous. It was the year that Harald Schumacher took out Patrick Battiston in the most barbaric piece of cheating ever seen at a World Cup and marked the first time anyone ever felt sorry for the French. The annual event Fransk Affære, ongoing until Sunday, is proof that out of that sympathy was born a love as Francophiles multiply every year.

Watching that moment live – expecting a red card and only getting a goal kick while your star player is slipping into a coma – well, it kind of puts concerns about a title track into perspective.