Talking of those darlings of the Cold War, a current British TV comedy show has a regular sketch based on a very simple premise: the Beatles are still together, still recording, didn't take drugs, are still with their first wives.
Oh, and didn't die.
It's funny but sort of heartbreaking too: they are now grey-haired moptops, jolly schoolboys bantering with each other as though they're still in Hard Day's Night (the writer gets the style just right), kept in order by a Norman Rossington figure. George Martin features as a strict but fair headmaster type.
It's heartbreaking because you know the ridiculousness and the impossibility of the situation and yet part of you wants it to be true, wants them to be restored at last to their cheeky, unreal selves.
There's a song in each sketch and this one has the lyric:
I loved you when you were seventeen but you walked out my doorWhich may not be quite up to Neil Innes' standard but it becomes affecting when "the wives" burst into their hotel room and you see John embracing Cynthia, Paul with Jane, George with Pattie - though in an inspired touch Ringo is married to Cilla ...
But you soon came rolling back to me and now you're seventy four
I love you more, more, more ...
I brought this to the attention of Mike on the highly recommended heydullblog (for "people who think about the Beatles maybe a little too much"); re the pitch-perfect banter on the bus, he remarked: "Somewhere Alun Owen is smiling."
The song parodies (all, I believe, by Swanee suspect Phil Pope) aren't bad either - maybe not quite up there with the Rutles (sorry, Phil) but perfectly serviceable. In another sketch, a song entitled Yelp! (about the need to have one's prostate checked in middle age), actually ends with the word "ouch" - corresponding to the "ooh" part in Help! itself:
Help me , help me, help me-ee-ooohhhhhNow, if, like me, you are au fait with other Beatles sendups then that may give you pause. Could it be possible that Mr Pope is alluding to Neil Innes' Ouch, also a parody of Help? That would be a little bizarre, but a very pleasing thought.
Almost as pleasing as the knowledge that two or three of the "Threetles" (the surviving Beatles) once, possibly in George Harrison's garden, themselves jokily sang Ouch back at Neil Innes, thus conferring upon it a quasi-legitimate status in the canon ...
... thereby, I suppose, rendering it suitable for parody by Phil Pope or others. Herewith Yelp! - and appropriately enough it is Mr Pope himself who plays the Irish deity in this clip:
Below, the relevant clip from Eric Idle's orginal Rutles documentary - Ouch! is about 2.40 in: