Wel­come to Roger Miller's La-La-Land

Costa Levante News - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Chris Ash­ley, writer and broad­caster

While lis­ten­ing to BR2FM, a new ' oldies' ra­dio sta­tion (it's good to get your oxy­morons out of the way early doors). Roger Miller came on war­bling his self-penned 'Eng­land Swings.' It's ir­ri­tat­ingly catchy, but ir­ra­tionally dumb even back in 1965, never mind to­day. Here's, pretty much the en­tire opus in a verse.

'Eng­land swings like a pen­du­lum do. Bob­bies on bi­cy­cles two by two. (To­day, would this combo re­ally scare the starch out of some knife-wield­ing ter­ror­ist nutter?).

West­min­ster Abbey, the tower of Big Ben. (To­day, you won't get near the former for Royal wed­dings and Ben is cov­ered in scaf­fold­ing).

The rosy-red cheeks of the lit­tle chil­dren.' (To­day, prob­a­bly ex­ac­er­bated by Ri­talin and too much junk food).

I'd not been back to Lon­don for a good while, so I de­cided to test Mr. Miller's reverie and popped back re­cently (look it's my time to waste). Gods Boots! What hap­pened to my fam­i­lies city? Talk about a stranger in a strange land where 250+ lan­guages are now spo­ken. On Ox­ford Street, a woman look­ing very dis­tressed asked me “Do you speak English?” For a heart­beat, I had to think “Yes, yes, I do, I was born here.” “Oh! thank heav­ens, can you tell me how to get to Kings Cross?” As I 'hummed and hawed' - a nice Al­ba­nian gen­tle­men came over and gave her pre­cise direc­tions. The other eye-opener was to see cops so tooled up, never mind about 'Bob­bies on bi­cy­cles two by two' - these law­men made Robo­cop look like Dixon of Dock Green. Mr. Miller should have penned a re­al­ity ditty like 'Eng­land grum­bles through like we al­ways do' as we coped with 1960's non-swing­ing ev­ery­day life. No cen­tral heat­ing, we had the Coal Man. Cov­ered in soot top to toe, he'd lug a hun­dred­weight of coal off the lorry and dump it down the coal hole into the cel­lar. Oth­er­wise, he had to tramp through the house while mum fran­ti­cally laid down news­pa­per to save the car­pet (that's if you were a wee bit posh with a whiff of Wilton). An­other small plea­sure was the Corona de­liv­ery. The truck would trun­dle up the street with their spring-topped bot­tles of fizzy pop jin­gle jan­gling away like Bob Dy­lan's Mr. Tam­bourine Man. On top of chug-a-lug­ging my favourite (Cher­ryade) I got cash back for the empty bot­tle the next week (how much? I can't re­mem­ber. I need your ra­zor sharp re­call).

Now, the Rag & Bone Man astride his horse and cart I re­mem­ber well.

He was a reg­u­lar fea­ture up our road and us raga­muf­fin kids would shovel up the hay You've read Chris' writ­ing ram­bles - now lis­ten to his ra­dio ram­bles Mon­day-Fri­day, 9-12 on www.br2fm.com - great tunes from the 50s - 80s. burner's do­ings (I re­ally wanted to use a more pro­saic de­scrip­tion here, but our es­teemed Ed­i­tor's blue pen­cil was quite rightly poised) and sell it to up­town posh pads with large gar­dens, un­like our 2 up-2 down and one around the back, where Granny Ger­tie didn't take to any­one call­ing around with­out a prior in­vi­ta­tion. On top of that, she wasn't too fussed on folk from for­eign parts – which was any­where south of Woe­be­gone Wor­thing's pier. So, the 'Onion Out­siders' from across the English Chan­nel (not La Manche, merci beau­coup) beret wear­ing, bone­shaker rid­ing Frenchies pitch­ing up ev­ery sum­mer shal­lot sell­ing were not as wel­come as say, Yves Mon­tand, who she'd make an ex­cep- tion for even though not from our neck of the woods. She got as silly as yard-full of ewes when she saw him with Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe in the film 'Let's Make Love' de­scrib­ing him thus; “He looks like a nice bit of Brie to me. Yum Yum.” (no me nei­ther). Gran did, how­ever, har­bour a life­long loathing of Mar­i­lyn for snog­ging her fic­tional fancy man. The only per­son she would un­equiv­o­cally al­low to cross the don­key stone scrubbed thresh­old unan­nounced was the gypsy woman sell­ing lucky heather with a side or­der of dolly pegs, knife sharp­en­ing and your for­tune told. She firmly be­lieved a re­buff would in­cur a curse which would be­devil our fam­ily for an eter­nity all be­cause we didn't buy the damn nosegay. Spook­ily, in many ways, Gran was spot on (but that, is a tale for an­other time)

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