Sin­ga­long with Harry

Daily Mail - - FRIDAY FICTION -

QUES­TION When I was young, my dad used to sing The Lit­tle Shirt My Mother Made For Me. Can any­one re­mem­ber this song? MY GRAND­FA­THER was Harry Win­cott, one of the great comic mu­sic hall song­writ­ers. He was born Al­fred James Walden in London on Jan­uary 1, 1867.

Harry penned hun­dreds, pos­si­bly thou­sands, of songs in his 60-odd years in Tin Pan Al­ley and was dubbed t he King of Comic Song­writ­ers.

His songs in­cluded The Old Dun Cow Caught Fire, Made­moi­selle From Ar­men­tieres, How’s Your Fa­ther? For Me, For Me, I’m Get­tin Ready For My Mother-in-Law and The Lit­tle Shirt My Mother Made For Me. Obit­u­ar­ies at the time of his death in­cor­rectly at­trib­uted to him the songs Boiled Beef And Car­rots and Any Old Iron.

Charles Spencer Chap­lin Sr, fa­ther of Char­lie Chap­lin, was one of the artists who sang Harry’s songs, along with many of the fa­mous mu­sic hall stars, such as Harry Cham­pion, Vesta Til­ley, Marie Lloyd, The Great Vance, Dan Leno, Gus Elen, Lit­tle Tich, Flor­rie Forde, Kate Car­ney and Al­bert Che­va­lier.

De­spite his pop­u­lar­ity, much of Win­cott’s life was spent in penury. There were no roy­al­ties and songs were sold di­rectly to the artist or pub­lisher for a guinea or so.

Harry and a few friends formed a so­ci­ety call­ing them­selves The Nibs and man­aged to force up the price a lit­tle.

He was con­stantly un­der threat from the bailiffs. One day, af­ter he found they had taken his fur­ni­ture, he re­sponded by pen­ning The Bro­ker’s Man. He lived in cheap lodg­ing houses and even slept on the Em­bank­ment, but kept his sense of hu­mour, writ­ing It’s A Fine In­sti­tu­tion Is The Work­house!’

In 1914, Harry at­tempted to sign up for the war, but was told to stick to song­writ­ing. His three sons went to war whistling Harry’s new tune, Made­moi­selle From Ar­men­tieres.

His re­sis­tance against the blows of fate broke down when, in 1925, his daugh­ter Irene was burned to death when her party dress caught fire. A few months later his wife, El­iza, died of a bro­ken heart.

In 1937, Harry mar­ried Mar­garet Pink, bet­ter known as Daisy Pink, a for­mer mu­sic hall star her­self.

Harry died in Yeovil on April 20, 1947. He had been ad­mit­ted to the town’s pub­lic as­sis­tance in­sti­tu­tion and his last request was for a pint of beer. Harry was buried in the lo­cal ceme­tery in an un­marked grave.

Harry’s song The Lit­tle Shirt My Mother Made For Me tells the story of his at­tach­ment to a child­hood piece of cloth­ing. It has been sung by nu­mer­ous artists and was a hit for coun­try singer Marty Rob­bins. Its first and last verses go: I can’t for­get the day that I was

born Was on a cold and frosty win­ter’s

morn’ The doc­tor said I was a chubby chap But when the nurse, she took me

on her lap She washed me all over I re­mem­ber And af­ter pow­der-puf­fin’ me, you

see She laid me in the cra­dle by the win­dow In The Lit­tle Shirt My Mother Made For Me. Last year when I was on my

hol­i­day Upon the briny ocean I did gaze The wa­ter looked so nice I thought

I’d go To have a swim, but, in a minute, oh All the girls along the beach at me

were starin’ And some were takin’ pic­tures, I

could see Was a good thing for me that I was

wearin’ The Lit­tle Shirt My Mother Made

For Me.

Karen Gee, har­ry­win­ Christchur­ch, Dorset.

QUES­TION In 2 Kings 2:2325, the prophet Elisha is teased by chil­dren be­cause he is bald­ing. He re­sponds by call­ing down two she-bears to tear them, and sev­eral in­no­cent chil­dren, apart. What is the moral of this tale? THE mes­sage is clear, though it may seem ex­treme to mod­ern sen­si­bil­i­ties. Je­ho­vah knows that young peo­ple have a sort of herd in­stinct. Young peo­ple can tes­tify to the strong pres­sure they feel to speak, dress and act like their peers.

If their as­so­ci­a­tions are good, this peer pres­sure can be ben­e­fi­cial, but i f they’re sur­rounded by bad in­flu­ences then the re­sult can be dam­ag­ing.

‘He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a com­pan­ion of fools suf­fers harm,’ to quote Proverbs 13:20. It was to pro­tect the young peo­ple, and all the peo­ple, of Is­rael against con­tam­i­na­tion by bad, re­bel­lious i nflu­ences that the Mo­saic law pre­scribed the death penalty in ex­treme cases.

A stub­born, re­bel­lious son was put to death to ‘clear away what was bad from their midst’ (Deuteron­omy 21: 18-21).

The Bi­ble shows just how bad things can get when peo­ple herd to­gether with­out dis­ci­pline.

Trav­el­ling from Jeri­cho to Bethel, Je­ho­vah’s prophet Elisha en­coun­tered a band of ju­ve­niles. They jeered him, show­ing great dis­re­spect for him and his prophetic of­fice. ‘Go up, you bald­head! Go up, you bald­head!’ they shouted (2 Kings 2:23).

They may have meant for him to get off the earth, as his pre­de­ces­sor Eli­jah was sup­posed to have done, and call­ing him ‘bald­head’ mocked his re­li­gious of­fice rather than hair loss, like abus­ing a monk for his ton­sure.

They didn’t want God’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive around. Elisha en­dured their jeers and taunts for a time be­fore: ‘Fi­nally, he turned be­hind him and saw them and called down evil upon them in the name of Je­ho­vah.

‘Then two she-bears came out of the woods and went tear­ing to pieces 42 chil­dren of their num­ber.’

How the par­ents must have wished that they had taught them re­spect for their el­ders.

Many youths to­day rou­tinely mock teach­ers, par­ents and any­one in author­ity. TV scriptwrit­ers por­tray chil­dren as clever and adults as stupid.

The moral is: cul­ti­vate whole­some re­spect for older peo­ple, es­pe­cially your par­ents. Richard Bar­rett, Belfast.

QUES­TION What started Earth spin­ning and how does it keep go­ing? FUR­THER to the ear­lier an­swer, surely the cor­rect an­swer is — And on the eighth day, God said: ‘Let there be spin.’ R. J. An­drews, Farn­bor­ough, Hants.

QUES­TION Have any Premier League play­ers be­come ref­er­ees? FUR­THER to the ear­lier an­swer, the high­est rank­ing ref­eree to have played pro­fes­sional foot­ball is Dick Jol from Hol­land.

Aside from of­fi­ci­at­ing in more than 400 games i n the Dutch Ere­di­visie (Premier League equiv­a­lent), he su­per­vised sev­eral games in the 2000 Euro­pean Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship in Bel­gium and the Nether­lands, was ref­eree of the 2000 FIFA Club World Cham­pi­onship fi­nal be­tween Corinthian­s and Vasco da Gama and the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal 2001 be­tween Bay­ern Mu­nich and Va­len­cia.

He was also the ref­eree in charge of the friendly in­ter­na­tional be­tween the Re­pub­lic of Ire­land and Eng­land in Lans­downe Road in 1995 that was aban­doned due to the vi­o­lent con­duct of some Eng­land sup­port­ers.

Jol for­merly played foot­ball for NEC Ni­jmegen in the Dutch league, be­fore mov­ing on to Bel­gium, where he played f or Me­nen, Berchem Sport and KV Kor­trijk. Jan Bakker, Bris­tol.

QUES­TION Why aren’t you meant to fas­ten the last but­ton of a waist­coat? FUR­THER to the ear­lier an­swer, though the stan­dard ex­pla­na­tion is that it was a fashion started by the rather portly Ed­ward VII, an al­ter­na­tive, and equally plau­si­ble, ex­pla­na­tion is that the habit was de­rived from men loos­en­ing the waist­coat to fa­cil­i­tate the up-down mo­tion of horse-rid­ing.

Mrs S. J. Lem­ming, Cardiff.

With a song in your heart: Mu­sic hall stars such as Vesta Til­ley sang the songs of Tin Pan Al­ley com­poser Harry Win­cott (inset)

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