Seventies TV #1: A False Memory of Ferrets

Where have ferrets been hiding since the 1970s?  There was a time when it was hard to turn on the TV without either seeing someone stuffing a ferret down their trouser leg or Richard Whiteley being bitten by one.  Or am I misremembering?

Ferret-legging was a sport––is that really the right term for it?––which has claims to have originated in either Yorkshire or Scotland.  For a brief period of time, it was as iconic a symbol of the North as were flat caps and whippets and Ecky Thump.  The Seventies saw the Great Ferret-legging Revival, and it provided a popular spectacle for the numerous magazine-style TV programmes, which proliferated at the time, one of which being Calendar, presented by Richard Whiteley, later of Countdown fame.  Whiteley’s own ferret misfortune occurred in 1977, when a ferret, belonging to breeder Brian Plummer, latched on to his finger and would not let go for over half a minute, causing the presenter real and obvious on-air anguish.

Why this sudden revival of memory, you may ask?   Well, the answer is quite easy.  I chanced to open my front door a couple of days ago and, there, walking along the pavement, immediately outside my house, brazenly strolling along my ordinary urban street, was a woman with a ferret on a lead.  I looked again.  And she was gone.

Had I imagined her?  Had I been suffering from the hallucinations of an alcohol-induced haze?  Was it all a false memory?

It made me begin to doubt myself.  Was the ferret-legging of the 1970s just a false memory?  Was Richard Whiteley a false memory?  Were the entire 1970s a false memory? 

It seemed entirely possible.

© Beery Sue

Beery Sue is a Seventies agnostic.

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