The final part of Tales of the Old Skool, brings us an incident even older than my webpage. This goes all the way back to 1995 and involves a hobby horse, Marcus Lush and an email.
Remember Newsnight on TV2? It was a late-night (10.30, usually) news programme that was broadcast in the mid-90s. The first half was the serious news section hosted by Simon Dallow and Lorelei Mason (later Alison Mau), then the second half was the entertaining part hosted by Marcus Lush.
Among the many entertaining things in the Marcus section was the appearance of a hobby horse that was named Horseboy. I think Horseboy had been rescued from outside someone’s house at inorganic rubbish collection time.
An excited viewer had written in with news that they had a Horseboy too, so there was much merriment at the news of two Horseboys.
Then on another episode it was announced that Newsnight had one of those newfangled “email address” things, and Marcus invited viewers to email him. (See, back then, email was a novelty. Its power had not yet been harnessed.) My brother and I decided that we should take advantage of Marcus’ offer, so I wrote a poem about Horseboy:
Horseboy is more than a toy
He fills the screen with love and joy
He’s more than a head on a pole
He fills up television’s empty hole
I would like to take Horseboy for a spin
Lots of fun would soon begin
We could gallop down the street
I think that would be really neat
I like Horseboy’s fuzzy blue face
He travels at a moderate pace
Horseboy is a very nice thing
A good use of old bits of string
Horseboy’s friend has got a mohawk
That must make the neighbours talk
Now that Horseboy has a friend
It seems the fun will never end!
So off it went to firstname.lastname@example.org and lo and behold, a reply came:
brillianty. we will brodcast it. we have put it in out
And then on the Newsnight of 7 November, 1995, Marcus mentioned that they had received a viewer email, and said something like that is was even more exciting than the viewer faxes on Holmes. It was jokingly called “email of the week”.
The email was shown on screen, including my email address, and the poem was read out on air, which was awfully thrilling.
I wrote in my diary at the time:
On Newsnight, Marcus read out the Horseboy poem. He said something like it proved that not all interneters were geeks.
The next day I got an email from some guy who’d seen the item, scribbled down the address and thought he’d email it to see if it was real. I was excited that he’d emailed me, and he was excited that I’d replied. Such was the excitement of the ‘net back in those days.
So I don’t know for sure, but I think this may point to me being the author of the first email ever read out on New Zealand television. Excellent.
Update – 11 April 2009
Thanks to the magic of the internet, I have recently had the opportunity to see this episode of Newsnight, and have taken a few screenshots of the historic poem reading.
Marcus Lush reading the email:
And the graphics of the email:
Ok, I know what you’re thinking – “Why is the emailed signed Herman Afrodyte??!?!” Well, that is another story for another time.
Update: here’s a video of the segment itself.