Janitor to aisle six

The human brain is quite a thing. A whiff of creosote and I am pinged back in time – walking home from primary school, in through our friendly smelling back gate and straight into the garden.  I forget this memory until I smell creosote out of the blue again and then I ping back as before. A sniff of Linseed oil has the same instantaneous transportive effect, but the destination is my dad’s workshop.

A particular word over the tannoy in Tesco and my trolley and I skid to an emergency stop by the frozen peas. I am mid supermarket sweep, a half hour gap between finishing work and racing the youngest child home from school, when a disembodied voice rings out across the store.
“In store janitor to aisle six.”
Janitor. Whoosh. I am seven years old watching an American cartoon about a clumsy superhero dog with the catchiest theme tune ever. The Tesco lady’s voice repeats its pronouncement, with slightly more desperation.
“In store janitor to aisle six.”
In my head I hear iconic words, summoned from the depths of my seventies childhood:
“…could it be Henry, the mild mannered janitor? Could be…” And then the unmistakable theme tune: “Hong Kong Phooey, number one super guy. Hong Kong Phooey, quicker than the human eye…”


Henry, the mild mannered janitor, was the alias of the super Kung Fu fighting hero, Hong Kong Phooey. I recall that he was rather unaccomplished in the art of Kung Fu and an all round inept kind of hero – which was of course, part of the fun – but my favourite thing about it was the very splendid theme song.

The remainder of my trolley dash is completed in record time with an inane grin plastered across my face, the Hong Kong Phooey song already a retro ear worm.

A google of Hong Kong Phooey rewards me with sixty or so tiny pictures of cartoons from the past. I press the triangle over my super hero and shazam! I am a child sitting on the flowery sitting room carpet, singing along, with not necessarily the precise lyrics, to the opening titles of a dog wearing a purple T-shirt and no trousers – who gets stuck in the drawer of a filing cabinet, is rescued by a stripey cat and then leaps out as orange dressing gown clad Hong Kong Phooey – super hero.

After embarking on a little Phooey research I not only discover the real lyrics to the theme song, but also learn that it is not actually Henry, the mild mannered janitor, but Penry.

It has only taken thirty something years for me to realise my error. Thank you, Tesco lady. Without your janitor plea I would not have revisited Hong Kong Phooey and would not have looked him up on the internet and discovered the error of my ears.

6 thoughts on “Janitor to aisle six

  1. Clearly I am too old for Hong Kong Phoey, even if a dog in a purple T-shirt and no trousers does sound appealing. But I do remember Top Cat who on the BBC had to be “Boss Cat” so as not to advertise a well known pet food.

    Liked by 1 person

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