With the onset of autumn, Roy is trying his hand at some new if anyone things – and wonders Among has a copy of She Sits the Cabbages and Peas...?
The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – that’s how that romantic young bard, Keats, saw it but this rheumatic old card sees it more as the season to get his agent busy, using all his powers of subterfuge, hypnotism, greymail (a non-criminal form of blackmail) to keep this mountebank busy during the slackest time of the year.
I will have a go at most things. This year I’m trying some things I’ve never done before (not a word to the wife, please!). So many of our chums have enjoyed working on cruise ships that Debbie and me will be on board MV Columbus doing our wander through
I will be catching up with a huge pile of mail, including letters from Yours readers
songs, stories and secrets of our years together. Can’t wait to blow the whistle on all sorts of friends in the business. Hee! Hee!
I will also be catching up with a huge pile of mail, including letters from Yours readers on the hunt for forgotten sheet music. Several want a Marie Lloyd song, She Sits Among the Cabbages and Peas, and I want it, too – I’ve been searching for years but no luck yet. If you have got a copy you’ll make me and at least a dozen readers who are music hall addicts very jolly.
As well as doing half a dozen charity shows, returning favours that pals have done for my charities over the year, I will be part of a TV documentary saluting the unique Sir Kenneth Arthur Dodd (heaven knows how many charities he did a turn for). Incidentally, I’d be grateful if someone could tell me why so many people in my business seem to pass away near Christmas – could it be the thought of three performances a day in the upcoming panto season?
We have an organisation called The Actors’ Church Union and our church is St Paul’s in Covent Garden. Traditionally, street entertainers perform in front of the church’s back door. The very first Punch and Judy Show was performed there in 1662 – they’re still using the same script! If you’re ever around there, do pop into the church and have a look at the place where so many laughs have been heard – all very kind and loving laughs, believe me. Lots of services are held there for us to celebrate the lives of old friends with tales of their triumphs and disasters and unique sense of humour.
Many of my pals have left me with stories that I’m always happy, if I’m asked by those in charge, to share with the congregation. Wickedly funny and moving ones, poignant and loving ones, too. A few years back there were so many of these special services the vicar offered me a season ticket!
The same vicar surprised us all at another ‘do’ by finishing the occasion with a call for a standing ovation from the crowd for the departed one. A dear friend of the deceased whispered to me: “That’s the best he’s ever got!” One of my favourite comments from one of the congregation came from Arthur Askey (no surprise there) at a service for a very successful – but not very popular – producer.
Looking round the packed-to-the-roof congregation Arthur confided to Dickie Henderson: “You see, give the people what they want and they’ll come!”
Punch and Judy’s patter has hardly changed since 1662