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

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

These paintings were done by Joy Shaylor, whom I met more than 60 years ago. While I was in the services at RAF Brize Norton I was in a concert party run by her husband Bunny.

Sometimes we entertained in small village halls, often in quite remote parts of Gloucestershire. On one occasion, when we arrived outside the hall, Bunny was greeted with “Are you the man from the BBC?” He had probably billed himself “broadcasting entertainer,” since he had once been on the radio in Midlands Children‘s Hour!!!


“Never in a million years will there be a variety bill to top this one.” Wow!!!

That was how a concert which took place in Kirkintilloch 50 years ago was advertised. The occasion was “An Old Tyme Charity Midnight Matinee” on 17th December 1960, featuring “Will Starr - the British Accordion Champion of BBC, Parlophone and HMV recording fame.”

Just one other name was billed - “John Jaap at the Piano.” Yes, fame at last!!!

Despite the show being such a big affair, I don’t remember anything of the supporting acts, nor do I recall the promised “Walking Contest for Girls” or the “Strength Contest for Men.”

A good many years later, when I was backing cabaret, I met a number of well-known artistes, including the Scottish comedian Andy Cameron, Johnny Beattie who now appears in the BBC Scottish soap “River City,” the singers Joe Gordon and Sally Logan, Roy Walker who used to present “Catchphrase” on TV, and Elizabeth Dawn, better known as Vera Duckworth in “Coronation Street.” She gave me a signed photo, but I’m afraid I don’t know what happened to it!

I found an old video of Will Starr on YouTube, and, though the quality is poor, I thought it might interest those who remember him. The clip is from the Grampian TV Hogmanay show in !975. Sadly, Will died the following March.


This poem by Thomas Hardy was unknown to me, but it really took my fancy and I hope you like it.

“The Ruined Maid”

“O ‘melia, my dear, this does everything crown!
Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?
And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?” -
“O didn’t you know I’d been ruined?” said she.

“You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
Tired of digging up potatoes, and spudding up docks;
And now you’ve gay bracelets and bright feathers three!” -
“Yes: That’s how we dress when we’re ruined,” said she.

“At home in the barton you said “thee” and “thou”,
And “think oon”, and “theas oon”, and “t’other”; but now
Your talking quite fits ’ee for high compa-ny!” -
“Some polish is gained with one’s ruin,” said she.

“Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak
But now I’m bewitched by your delicate cheek,
And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy” -
“We never do work when we’re ruined,” said she.

“You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,
And you’d sigh, and you’d sock; but at present you seem
To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!” -
“True. One’s pretty lively when ruined,” said she.

“I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,
And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!” -
“My dear - a raw country girl, such as you be,
Cannot quite expect that. You ain’t ruined,” said she.


Finally, some great pictures of Ireland in this slide show, backed by very appropriate music


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