The first cartoon from the autumn issue was “Two Lovely Black Eyes” by music hall star Charles Coborn ( 1852- 1945), whose other well- known song was “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo”. The second cartoon was “When I’m Cleaning Windows”, one of George Formby’s biggest hits which the Forces invariably requested during his wartime concerts. The song below should be easy to solve but the one opposite needs more thought.
Many of us remember Constance ( above) singing “Rule, Britannia!” for a record ten times at the Last Night of the Proms. As well as her classical career, for six years she played the Mother Abbess in the London production of The Sound of Music. Born in 1913 at Bulwell near Nottingham, she died in 1999 and Trevor Lee informs me she has just been commemorated with a blue plaque at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.
P. McGrath of Perth in Scotland asked about John Bennett, the popular Ulster Radio presenter of Sunday Club, a late night music programme “designed to soothe away the problems of the week gone by.” This fireside picture of him with an LP of Bing Crosby sums up his appeal to older listeners but, like so many others across the BBC Local Radio network, he is vulnerable to financial cuts. Meantime the BBC wastes vast sums on “stars” and social engineering for which it has no mandate from the listening public.
“MY LITTLE WOODEN TOOLSHED IN THE GARDEN”
The lyrics to this humorous but rare George Formby song were requested by Tarrance Butcher of Withernsea in Yorkshire, and are available on receipt of a s. a. e. marked “Toolshed”.
HOME NATIONS’ TRAITS?
This little gem delineating the UK nations dropped on my desk recently:
The Scots keep the Sabbath and anything else they can lay their hands on.
The Welsh pray to God and prey on their neighbours.
The Irish aren’t certain what they believe in but will fight to the death to defend it.
The English consider themselves “self- made men”, which must spare God a great deal of embarrassment!
When a query occurs to which we can’t find the answer, we turn to an enthusiastic band of Evergreen experts who are always keen to help. Maurice Robson, an octogenarian from Halifax, specialises in music hall and solved an enquiry from Henning Hoffman who lives in Memmingen, Germany, concerning a song possibly called “’ Appy ’ Ampstead ’ Eath” by Albert Chevalier ( 1861- 1923). Maurice says Albert may have performed a song with a similar title but there is no certainty and he never recorded it.
This massive series of mysterious tunnels was featured on Underground Britain on Channel 5 television. Chris Iles sends me the magazine, The Mole, which charts the excavation progress in this veritable labyrinth. Visitor information can be found at:
www. williamsontunnels.co. uk
Lewis from Northwich in Cheshire wrote in about Jimmy Leach ( 1905- 1975) with whom he served in the RAF. After considering becoming a dentist, engineer and stockbroker, Jimmy settled for music and was in the first ensemble to broadcast on Music While You Work in June 1940 ( see Evergreen, Spring 2004). During its 27- year run on the BBC Light Programme, he appeared more than 250 times, and was also the last to appear on the show as Jimmy Leach and his Organolians.
As a composer he wrote the hit song “The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot” and his record, pictured left, was made for ENSA ( Entertainments National Service Association), nicknamed by troops “Every Night Something Awful”.
JOHN BETJEMAN SOCIETY
Their 100th newsletter included a picture of the blue plaque unveiled at his prep school in Oxford ( below). John Betjeman was a lovely man who communicated with the public far more than any poet laureate before or since. You can contact the society at: news@ betjemansociety. com ( newsletter) vitalorg@ msn. com ( membership)
I commend Explore England 2017 published by our sister magazine, This England and, following a recent B& B holiday with my wife at a converted railway station at Bell Busk on the Settle to Carlisle line in the Yorkshire Dales, invite you to write in or email about anywhere unusual in the UK where you have enjoyed staying. You can also recommend enjoyable places to visit for Evergreen’s Favourite Places ( see page 71).
How pleasing that blue plaques recognise places as well as people. The City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds dates from 1865 and is a rare survivor of a Victorian entertainment genre which often operated at similar venues attached to large public houses, most now vanished. Houdini performed here in 1902 and a splendid new book documents all his British tours, showmanship and amazing escapology ( see “Bookshelf”, page 137).
Ian Reed, a former BBC sound engineer, sent in these pictures of Jack Hollinshead, probably the oldest active BBC pensioner. For Jack’s 102nd birthday, Ian and his wife
Joyce took him to a vintage recording studio where he is seen using a 1970s sound mixing system. Jack, who has lived all his life in Swinton, part of Salford in Lancashire, worked for the BBC from 1930 until 1975 and was responsible for all kinds of sound effects, including imitating Romany’s dog, Raq.
Already engaged, during the war he was suddenly posted to Egypt so he got married just before he left and did not see his wife again for three years! A remarkable gentleman.
The former railway station at Bell Busk on the Settle to Carlisle line ( above), is now a patriotic B& B called Tudor House. The Tan Hill Inn ( right), lies in Arkengarthdale, North Yorkshire and, at 1,732 feet above sea level is the highest pub in the...
One of the larger Williamson tunnels underneath Liverpool.
An expert on music hall, this is Maurice Robson’s impressive recording studio in Halifax, Yorkshire.
This cartoon represents a popular wartime song from 1915. Note the stripes on the sleeves of the unfortunate man on the right and you should get it.