Well, since you ask me for the life history of Russ Golding

I believe I do have a timeline of events that you might find revelatory.

Currently in Broadcast order
  1. 2020 – Online

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, Deborah and Jerry coordinate to virtually pull a Christmas cracker on a family video call. They are helped in their attempt by Toby and Alex, and lightly teased by Russ.

    While playing a round of charades, Deborah calls the rest of the family “spaniels” for deliberately avoiding the correct guess, even though she had already revealed the answer accidentally.

    The family each rip up the hat that they get from their cracker, although Alex has to first be reminded to do so.

    Instead of Christmas pudding, Deborah has half a scotch egg.

    At one point during the call, Alex tells Toby to let their dog, Oswald, out.

    • Russ is about 36 years old in this scene
    • Deborah is Russ’ mother
    • Jerry is Russ’ grandfather
    • Toby is Russ’ daughter
    • Alex is Russ’ partner
  2. 2018 – Hastings

    In preparation for Pier Pressure playing at a funeral, Russ phones the bereaved to discussed the setlist.

    Russ informs him that they cannot perform Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead and that they have to stick to the original lyrics for Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, but can otherwise accommodate his (largely witch-themed) requests.

    • Russ is about 34 years old in this scene
  3. 2010 – Lanzarote

    On the beach, Alex asks Russ about a little mark on his shoulder. Russ tells him that it is a tattoo of the lower jawbone of a crocodile.

    He explains that a crocodile has strong muscles for closing its jaw but only weak ones for opening it. He claims that the tattoo is to remind him that strength depends on how you measure it.

    • Russ is about 26 years old in this scene
    • Alex is Russ’ partner
  4. 2006 – Larmer Tree Festival

    Pier Pressure perform their version of Woof, Woof, Woof at the Larmer Tree Festival.

    The song is introduced as being “from the diseased mind of the drummer” and features various dog impressions.

    • Russ is about 22 years old in this scene
  5. 2004 – Hastings

    In a band meeting, one of the members of Pier Pressure suggests they do a cover of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. Russ insists that they should do “the famous bit” and gives a short rendition of Woof, Woof, Woof.

    After an initial stunned silence, the rest of the band start to laugh at Russ’ insistence that this is how the song goes. Their hilarity grows as Russ sings in a high-pitched voice and explains that it is the nightingale doing dog impressions.

    The lead singer resolves that they are doing the song. He dismisses the rest of the band except for Russ, to whom he says: “You and me are writing a song, Jawbone.”

    • Russ is about 20 years old in this scene
  6. 2003 – Hastings

    Russ asks a tattoo artist to give him the smallest possible tattoo which is still recognisably an animal. They decide on a crocodile because it is thin but distinctive.

    When asked, Russ admits that he is only getting the tattoo because of peer pressure from his band. In fact, he tells her, that is literally the name of the band (although they spell it ‘Pier Pressure’ because of Hastings Pier).

    The tattoo artist lets him change this answer so that she is allowed to give him the tattoo, but tells him that she can stop anytime he wants.

    • Russ is 19 years old in this scene
  7. 2001 – Hastings

    On his way out for the evening, Russ is quibbling with his mum, Deborah, about the time he needs to be home. Russ tries to argue for midnight, then 11pm, but Deborah insists on 10pm, after invoking the threat of 9pm.

    Then, on his way out the door, Russ comes out to Deborah with a forced casualness, saying: “Not a big deal or anything, but, as it goes, I’m gay.”

    Deborah stops him from leaving so that she can express her support for him. She also insists that she is totally surprised by the news.

    Russ sees through her fake surprise, since his mum specialises in reading people. Deborah admits that she already knew and Russ tells her that he already knew she already knew.

    Russ then attempts to change his curfew to 11pm again, but is told that being gay does not get him an extra hour.

    • Russ is about 17 years old in this scene
    • Deborah is Russ’ mother
  8. 1994 – Dover

    Russ is being harassed by a bully named Craig. When Craig hits him, Russ exclaims: “Oi! Half a glass!”

    Craig then takes Russ’ guitar, but loses interest when Russ refuses to fight him for it, so he returns it.

    Russ, realising he will be late home, asks Craig for 20p to call his parents. Although the sum is revised to 10p, Craig does give him the money under the instruction that he tells no-one.

    • Russ is about 10 years old in this scene
  9. 1990 – Long Buckby

    At Vanessa’s funeral, Deborah leaves Russ in the care of Uncle Newt while she finds her father to prevent him from doing a poem. Deborah leaves Russ with instructions to be “Level 5 good”.

    Russ learns Newt’s name, which leads to a discussion of amphibians and, in particular, why turtles are not amphibians. Newt gives him a brief scientific explanation of the difference between reptiles and amphibians, but Russ does not want to hear more.

    Instead, Russ asks Newt for a story about Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Having been informed that the turtles names are Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello and Leonardo, Newt tells Russ a story about turtles in Renaissance Florence.

    • Russ is 5 years old in this scene
    • Vanessa is Russ’ great-grandmother
    • Deborah is Russ’ mother
    • Newt is Russ’ great-great-granduncle
  10. 2020 – Hastings & Hook Norton

    Russ and Deborah have a Zoom call during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    They both admit that they are secretly enjoying the lockdown. Deborah enjoys the community spirit and her increased communication with people via Zoom. Conversely, Russ is glad to have the excuse not to socialise with others, but instead spend more time with his family.

    Despite this, they make each other promise to keep up the pretence that they are both having a terrible time.

    • Russ is about 36 years old in this scene
    • Deborah is Russ’ mother
  11. 1984 – Dover

    Deborah sings Woof, Woof, Woof in the form of a lullaby to an infant Russ.

    • Russ is less than a year old in this scene
    • Deborah is Russ’ mother
  12. 2008 – Reading

    Myra, Deborah, Benji and Russ are helping Jerry to sort out his things and clear space.

    Jerry becomes unexpectedly upset when he realises that they have deflated his lilo. In his shock, he shouts: “What have you done? Oh, you cockers!”

    He quickly regains his composure and apologises to them all. He explains that he was keeping the lilo blown up because his wife, Hilla, had been the one who inflated it before she died.

    He consoles himself and the others with hugs and his refrain of “half a glass”.

    He apologises again for swearing at them. However, they are able to reassure him that his lingering aphasia has actually saved him from doing so. They comfort him by joking that “cockers” was at worst akin to “spaniels”, and agreeing that they had indeed behaved like “complete spaniels”.

    • Russ is about 24 years old in this scene
    • Myra is Russ’ aunt
    • Deborah is Russ’ mother
    • Benji is Russ’ uncle
    • Jerry is Russ’ grandfather
    • Hilla is Russ’ grandmother
  13. 2017 – Hastings

    Russ returns home from fishing with his dad, Cliff.

    His daughter, Toby is hostile to the idea of fishing and confronts him as he arrives in. Russ explains that he doesn’t actually use a hook, so all he is really doing is “fish feeding”.

    After Toby leaves, Russ and Alex talk more about Russ’ pretend fishing. Apparently, Cliff doesn’t know that Russ deliberately doesn’t catch fish. He just thinks that Russ is bad at fishing, which he enjoys teasing him about.

    • Russ is about 33 years old in this scene
    • Cliff is Russ’ father
    • Toby is Russ’ daughter
    • Alex is Russ’ partner
  14. 2021 – Near Hastings

    Russ, Alex and Toby are walking their dog, Oswald, when they see a group of magpies. Toby counts through the One for Sorrow rhyme, but she only knows it up to four.

    Alex recites a version of the rhyme that goes well beyond the traditional seven, culminating in the revolution of the magpies and the beginning of the thousand-year age of magpies.

    With mock shame, Russ reveals to Toby that Alex used to be in a sketch group.

    • Russ is about 37 years old in this scene
    • Alex is Russ’ partner
    • Toby is Russ’ daughter
  15. 1988 – Nottingham

    On the way to the reception of Myra’s wedding, Uncle Newt, Vanessa, Jerry, Deborah and Russ share a car. They represent five generations of the family.

    Deborah is surprised to hear Jerry ask if he should start his speech with a poem, since she had just assumed that he would.

    Vanessa and Deborah swap theories about the marital status of the registrar at the service, based on their observations of biro marks and reading glasses.

    As they travel, Russ starts to feel unwell. Uncle Newt offers his top hat, should it be needed.

    In an attempt to distract Russ, they all start to play a storytelling game by each saying one word at a time, but this fizzles out as Russ feels worse.

    Next, they try to think of a song which they all know so that they could sing it to Russ. Uncle Newt is too elderly to know Yellow Submarine and Deborah is too young for Knees Up Mother Brown, but there is one song which spans the generations of the family.

    Jerry counts them in and they all sing Woof, Woof, Woof together.

    Unfortunately, they cannot prevent the inevitable, and Deborah is forced to apologise to Uncle Newt.

    Newt replies: “Oh, not at all my dear. It was a very old hat.”

    • Russ is about 4 years old in this scene
    • Newt is Russ’ great-great-granduncle
    • Vanessa is Russ’ great-grandmother
    • Jerry is Russ’ grandfather
    • Deborah is Russ’ mother