Monday, December 26, 2011

Cockney Rhyming Slang - On your tod

Being on one's tod is to be alone, this derives from Cockney rhyming slang.

James Forman Sloan was known by the name Tod, born in 1874 he was a world famous horse racing jockey with great successes on both sides of the Atlantic.

Born in the USA his successes there led to his demand in England where he rode horses for the then Prince of Wales and had victories in the 1000 and 2000 guineas, the Gold Cup and the St. Leger, the only major race to elude him was the Derby.

Such was his success in the UK that George M. Cohan wrote a musical about him, Sloan being immortalized as the character Little Johnny Jones who was the "Yankee Doodle Boy" of the famous song.

In 1915 Sloan wrote an autobiography "Tod Sloan By Himself", whether the title of the book came before or after the rhyming slang is not clear, although if it was after I'd have called the book "Tod Sloan, on his tod".

and Here's Mickey Rooney singing Yankee Doodle Boy

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Wombles

My knowledge of The Wombles is limited to the TV series of the 1970s and the songs of Mike Batt, I may have read the original novels written by Elizabeth Beresford, but the voice of Bernard Cribbins and the catchy tunes are more vivid in my memory than the books. I even went to see them live in concert in Wimbledon AND I had an Orinoco suit.

According to her page on Wikipedia Beresford grew up surrounded by some of the greatest writers of all time, who were friends of her parents (also writers), HG Wells, DH Lawrence, Somerset Maugham, George Bernard Shaw are amongst those listed.

The TV series were narrated and all the characters voiced by Bernard Cribbins, there were 60 5 minute episodes made, the narration style, with Cribbins telling the stories and being the characters seems quite primitive in times of CGI, yet it gives some truth to The Wombles ability to create things from what they find, a slick cartoon effect would not feel right for The Wombles, the stop go animation is perfect. The later 1990s series had countless voice artists and writers and may not have had the feel of the original, but the characters proved popular and a further 52 episodes were made.

Mike Batt's music for the show has remained popular to this day with albums still being released and even an appearance at Glastonbury. The songs were big sellers on release in the 70s, with several top 40 hits. Sadly Mike Batt rarely works with the Wombles these days preferring to count the bicycles in Beijing.

Elizabeth Beresford and Great Uncle Bulgaria
 So here is a bit of Wombles, wishing you a Wombling Merry Christmas and an episode following.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Friendly policeman on duty in Poundworld

So Christmas is a busy time of the year for cardboard cut out policemen.

Hopefully I'm not giving any security issues away.

Given that he is a cardboard cutout, I wondered why he couldn't look a little more sinister, or even why he needed to be a policeman, they could have had a cyberman, Darth Vader, Phil Mitchell, Anne Widdecombe or Dr. Price, my old French teacher, he used to terrify me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Famous Christmas songs by Jewish songwriters: Winter Wonderland

In a new and probably short lived series of bloggery, comes Christmas songs by Jewish songwriters.

The American Jewish songwriters seemed quite happy to pen a song on any subject matter, so Christmas was always going to get a look in, some of the most celebrated Christmas songs were written by some of the greatest songwriters who happened to be Jewish.

The Jewish Felix Bernard, co wrote Winter Wonderland with Richard B. Smith (religion unknown!). He was born in Brooklyn, New York and was the son of German and Russian immigrant parents.

So wander through this Winter Wonderland with Tony Bennett

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Fivepenny Piece's Weight Watchers

Long before Sarah Ferguson had become a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, there was a song by Lancashire singing outfit The Fivepenny Piece.

My parents loved this group, they were fun and funny. Their folk music style was pretty popular with songs of Lancashire and Lancashire folk, they were doing for Lancashire what Chas & Dave were doing for London. Songs of Fred Fanakapan, I'm in Love with Angela Rippon, I'm Powfagged, Stalybridge Market were part of their popular touring shows.

A later addition was this undervalued gem, Weight Watchers ("I LIKE CHIPS")

Monday, December 5, 2011

Giving my arse an headache

Just watching the semi final of the Junior Apprentice and during Lord Sugar's summing up, for some reason an old expression my dad used to use came to mind "you're giving my arse an headache". I actually thought my dad had made it up until I heard it used in an episode of Only Fools and Horses. If you hadn't worked it out it is used when someone has a touch of verbal diarrhoea.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bernard Cribbins' Right Said Fred

Like quite a lot of classic British comedy songs Right Said Fred was produced by The Beatles' producer George Martin.

The removal men in the song are reminiscent of Laurel & Hardy's delivery men in their Oscar winning film The Music Box.

The now iconic star Bernard Cribbins had a hit with the song in 1962, it spawned the name of the pop group Right Said Fred. Cribbins has been in a Dr. Who film and  the TV series, an episode of Fawlty Towers, narrated the Wombles, three Carry On films (yes I included Columbus), he was even the voice of Tufty on the road safety ads.

Anyway Right Said Fred, here's an animated version in Lego!