Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This photo was taken by Fiona recently when she was in Turkey.


I REMEMBER in primary school we learned the multiplication tables by repeating them endlessly until they became fixed in our minds. Spelling too was taught that way and the whole class in unison would chant “eye enn in, eye enn in, ay tee at, ay tee at,” and so on. There used to be a lot of suppressed giggles when we came to “up.”

I REMEMBER that as an adult I paid a visit to that school, and marvelled at how small the rooms were. The toilets are still out in the playground, and a town councillor has been complaining about that for some years now.

I REMEMBER when I was about 10 years old, my mother invited one of her sisters for tea. She was accompanied by her fiance, though it’s possible they were married by that time. He blotted his copybook by spilling his tea on his lap and saying “Damn me!” A Bad Word! Now, if that word was spoken in a radio play, Mother would immediately switch off. I was really shocked, and couldn’t figure out why my father went into fits of laughter.

I REMEMBER on one of our rare visits to the cinema, the film involved aeroplanes. At one point a plane crashed and the pilot was killed. I couldn’t understand why the film star had agreed to play the part when he knew he would lose his life.

I REMEMBER that a fashion model lived across the road from my grandparents’ house. (Models were known as “mannequins” in those days, and fashion shows, which were frequently held in the town hall, were “mannequin parades.”) Her photograph appeared in many magazines - fully clothed, I must add! However, I could sense that the members of my mother’s family didn’t approve of the girl at all.

I REMEMBER that the only time my mother had domestic help was after Rita was born. An elderly woman came to work in the house and sometimes she sent her daughter. I think it was the daughter who on one occasion performed magic!!! She was in the back-court hanging out washing. She broke a piece off one of the iron clothes poles and gave it to me to eat. It tasted just like toffee, and I saw that, sure enough, half-way up the pole, part of the little cross-piece, used for tying the rope, was missing. Magic indeed!


“His Master’s Voice” painted in 1898 by the English artist Francis Barraud 1856-1924.


I’m always delighted when I come across a song or a piece of music that I haven’t heard for ages, and I thought I would begin a regular feature here of forgotten favourites.

Many of my favourites belong to the 1930s, when hotel orchestras and smaller groups were heard daily on BBC radio, playing what was then known as “light” music. And this is an example -

“In a Persian Market” by Albert Ketelbey

Albert William Ketelbey 1875-1959, despite his foreign-sounding name, was born in England.

A brilliant musician, composer and orchestral conductor, he was at one time musical director at London’s Vaudeville Theatre, and he had the honour of conducting a programme of his own music at a Royal Command Performance.

His many compositions include “Bells across the Meadow”, “In a Chinese Temple Garden”, “Sanctuary of the Heart” and “In a Monastery Garden.” Sometimes he published his music under the name Anton Vodorinski. (There was a belief in those days that all good music came from the continent, so perhaps he thought his compositions would sell better with that name.)

Although Ketelbey is largely forgotten nowadays, in 1929 he was said to be Britain’s greatest living composer.


This is one of monologues that Jean used to recite, when she and I went out entertaining. Her material usually involved a number of different accents and this particular one is Cockney.

That there Mrs. ‘arris from Number 18
Is the nosiest parker as I’ve ever seen,
When first as our Lizzie went out with young Ted
You’d never believe all the things what she said
As how he was this, and that, and the other,
And as for his sister, his dad and his brother,
The lies what she told - well, I kicks up a scene
With that there Mrs. ‘arris from Number 18.

I met her out shopping and says to her face -
“What’s this you been spreading all over the place?”
She says “What about?” I says “What about what?”
She says “You’re mistaken,” I says “No, I’m not.”
She says “I can prove it,” I says “No, you can’t.”
She says “You’ll excuse me,” I says “No, I shan’t.”
I says “Just you wait till my husband I’ve seen.”
That there Mrs. ‘arris from Number 18.

The crocodile tears as that false hussie cried
Just 12 months ago when Jim ‘arris he died.
He’d hardly been buried ‘fore everyone knew
That she was out trying to catch number two.
And then, when us all was a-thinking young Ted,
Would marry our Lizzie - the blackguard instead
He puts up his banns at the church on the green
With that there Mrs. ‘arris from Number 18.


The tune is “When you’re smiling” and I certainly smiled when I came across this! BRING ON THE DANCING GIRLS!!!


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