Hold It!

I can fully appreciate that regular readers may be waiting for two things to happen on these pages soon:

  1. I finally post another episode in The Chain, and
  2. I have a bit of a rant about the forthcoming election, where I nail my colours to the mast and wind up on the losing side yet again.

Fear not, both of these things will happen soon(ish).

In the meantime, something a little different, something relentlessly cheery to get us in the UK through the next six weeks or so (assuming the world lasts that long, of course).

During a recent recurrence of the illness I was struck down by a few weeks ago, I found myself scouring the BBC iPlayer for radio shows to lay in bed and listen to, and alighted upon “Alex Horne presents The Horne Section”.

You’ll know who Alex Horne is if you regularly watch Channel 4’s “8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown”, where he has appeared a few times in Dictionary Corner, or Dave’s “Taskmaster” on which he appears every week, acting as the foil to Greg Davies’ eponymous host, and as the referee to the ridiculous and pointless tasks set for the celebrity contestants to complete. There’s a new series starting shortly; if you’ve never seen it before (and even if you have seen it, for that matter) I would heartily recommend it .

Anyway, on this particular edition of  “Alex Horne presents The Horne Section” the guest was Danny Baker, another person who I admire greatly. If you’ve not read either of his autobiographies, you should give them a go, for they paint an extraordinary portrait of his youth in 1970s South London (turned into BBC sitcom “Cradle to Grave”, which was so good it coaxed Squeeze to reform to provide the theme tune), through getting a job in a record store frequented by Elton John (amongst others) to finding himself at the forefront of the punk DIY fanzine scene, and from there to his time as a journalist at the NME and ultimately on to the TV and radio personality he is nowadays.

Now Danny knows his music, but he’s not the sort of person I would necessarily expect to turn up on a radio show and sing, and make rather a good fist of it too, as it happens.

Which is probably due to his choice of song. Danny is renowned for his speed of tongue, and in his introduction to his selected song, he professes a love for songs which have a word for every syllable, and in particular certain songs from certain musicals.

Now this is where ordinarily our tastes would differ; I’ve never really been much of a fan of musicals, unable to suspend my disbelief to the extent that I can accept that a whole street would simultaneously start singing the same song whilst performing spontaneous, yet impeccably choreographed, dance routines.

Of course, take some songs out of the context of the musical and they can, and many do, stand alone. But today’s two selections – one, the songs chosen by Baker, the other by me – are superlative examples of songs from musicals which rattle along, twisting tongues and leaving you gasping for breath. Both are songs I remember from my youth, songs I grappled with the lyrical complexities and velocity of delivery.

First, Baker’s choice, from “Half a Sixpence” and performed by Tommy Steele:


Tommy Steele – Flash Bang Wallop

And here, just to illustrate my point about the dancing, is  the (considerably longer) version from the film:

Now, I’ve never seen “Half a Sixpence”, but I have seen the musical the next film is from, many, many times; in fact I own a copy of it on DVD somewhere.

Moreover, when I was a young ‘un, we had a copy of the title track from the film on a 7″ single in the house – I assume bought to pacify either me or my brother at some point.

But it was the song on the B-Side which I was drawn to, and used to play, and attempt to sing a long to, incessantly:


Dick Van Dyke – Me Ol’ Bam-Boo

“Have a go, mate!!”

Nope, still can’t manage it.

Oh, go on then, here’s the visuals too:

Given that Van Dyke is supposedly masquerading in this dance troupe to escape the attention of Arthur Mullard, whose hair he has just burnt off, he does manage to pick it all up – and take centre stage (why isn’t the leading man he has presumably ousted obviously trying to wrestle the limelight back?) – with remarkable ease…

More soon.


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15 thoughts on “Hold It!”

  1. I understand you were being resolute when you said (on record 7 times) there will be no Chain until 2020, but because of an unforseen circumstance (another blog being a bit unpopular) you might have to do a snap post

  2. Definitely not a fan of musicals either. But as a lad, the one I tried to sing was “Mums and Dads” from the Lionel Bart musical “Blitz”. As for Dick Van Dyke, I can never forgive him for the abomination that was his Cockernee accent in “Mary Poppins”. Mind you, I recently saw a few minutes of a 1966 film called “The Sandwich Man” – starring every British character you could shake a stick at – which featured Norman Wisdom as a boxing priest with an Irish accent that left Mr Van Dyke sounding like a Ray Winstone clone. Meanwhile, I look forward to your rant(s) on about the forthcoming election. Keep the faith.

  3. Unsurprisingly, I am a fan of musicals, and have no problem imagining a world where we all “simultaneously emerge from our homes and start singing the same song whilst performing impeccably choreographed, dance routines”. Does this not happen where you live? Preferable to the world we seem to have found ourselves in!

    CCBB is Mr WIAA’s favourite childhood film and it is regularly quoted from in our house especially “me ol’ bam-boo”, but also the bit about the “big brown bear lolloping over the hill” and “toot sweets” and “little coo-chi coos”……. – I will go now, but you’ve cheered me up on the day I’ve found out that I am now redeployed and have to apply for my own job!

    1. Actually, as I was writing that I did fear I was stepping on your patch a little. Sorry to hear about your job situation: I’m still waiting to find out if I’m going to have to as well. Fingers crossed for you.

      1. Oh god, is my patch “musicals” – No worries as everything is fair game, even the ‘ol bam-boo. Hope your job situation goes well – As for me, I will have to spend this weekend filling in a very long application form to try and convince them that I am the right person for the job I’ve been doing (pretty well I think) for 4 and a half years! Lots of deleting of posts going on, and the creation of new amalgamated ones. On top of that, the builders are in creating our new LEAN office environment where 18 people will sit where there used to be 5! Happy days and why I would much rather live in a windmill and drive a car with wings, merrily singing and dancing my way through life.

        As for the politics I have a pretty good track record of predicting the outcomes and like with the last time we went to the polls I think this one will not go the way those who have called it, plan. Let’s see.

      2. Talking of stepping on patches I hope I am am not stepping on your one by doing my road trip around the US in song? It’s something I had always wanted to do even before I discovered your wonderful Chain. It is starting to become a bit chain-like now I realise – will get back to what it is supposed to be, one state, one song. (Then again we don’t really overlap much in terms of followers so I’m probably being paranoid but still trying to work out if there is an unwritten “blogging code”)

      3. Nah, you’re fine, that’s not a problem. As for a blogging code, well I think we all just write about whatever we like, but if we’re aware of someone else doing something similar we just make sure that they’re OK with it first. Which you always do!

      4. Will stick with it then but just tweak it a bit to make it less Chain-like. Because I started in New England I was struggling to come up with songs about those states so needed some help – Once I get to the Southern States it will be no problem (although I am suspecting that burn-out may happen first as perhaps happened with you but we were all just enjoying it so much we didn’t notice – sorry).

  4. I do sympathise with you for your health issues and ‘winding up on the losing side yet again’. As a 56 year old I have only voted twice in my life( not out of apathy I hasten to add, I was living outside the UK) both times I too ended up on the losing side. So this time it has to be tactical voting to keep the blue beast at bay. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/how-to-stop-the-tories_uk_58f89312e4b0cb086d7e4de6
    Looking foward to the return of the Chain.

    1. I don’t even have to open that, I know EXACTLY what song is; posted it at the last election but it is bound to feature again. A shouty classic.

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