Like Trumpton

September 14, 2009

Sort of. The choir I sing in, Note-orious, had one of our rare public performances yesterday. It was the Upland Road Street Party- though how a road can have a street party is beyond me. I guess a road party just doesn’t sound as much fun.

Here’s some young whippersnappers who played at the street party last year, just to give you an idea. Yes, that’s how it works. We turn up, stand in front of someone’s house, and sing. Here’s our setlist:

  • Rhythm Of Life.
  • One Day Like This.
  • Unworthy of Your Love.
  • I Don’t Feel Like Dancing.
  • This Nearly Was Mine.
  • James Bond Medley.
  • Chasing Cars.
  • Shine.

In time I’ll hopefully get hold of some pictures. For now, here’s Mayor Hook… oh, excuse me! The Worshipful the Mayor Councillor Jeffrey Hook to give him his correct title, and the Dulwich Ukulele Club.

The Worshipful the Mayor Councillor Jeffrey Hook tells a joke or two

The Worshipful the Mayor Councillor Jeffrey Hook tells a joke or two

The Dulwich Ukulele Club don't clean the windows

The Dulwich Ukulele Club don't clean windows

New extra blog

September 12, 2009

Recently I’ve turned into a bad film critic. Not a critic of bad films. A bad film critic like the Bad Lieutenant. A word of advice; don’t sit in front of me at the cinema. I’m not sure quite what that means, but fans of the original Abel Ferrara film can come to their own conclusions.

And so I’ve set up a new blog just for film stuff, 20th Century Mummified Fox. My first piece is a review of District 9.

Two of our lesser known characters from the days of Going Live! would most likely be The Rogers Brothers. Randolf and Rudy Rogers, an old musical hall act, sons of the popular seaside variety act, Bucket and Spade. Bucket and Spade, both dead, survived only as a framed photograph on top of Randolf’s piano. Rudy, played by me, was prone to awful bouts of depression over the death of his parents. It would descend upon him as a black cloud and the boys would declare “Mr Gloom is in the room”, or “Mr Glum has come” or “Mr Misery is in the vicinity“. Trev, as Randolf, would attempt to cheer his brother up with a jaunty “Hey ho! Pop pop!” As in sketches so in life.

Quite why this was allowed to be on a Saturday morning childrens show is bewildering to me. Obviously we must have sat around and thought, what are the kids into these days? And the answers that came back were hippies, barbers and old-time music hall acts singing vaguely rude songs and weeping openly over the death of their parents. Hey ho! Pop pop!

One of our songs was an old music hall ditty called Carry Your Little Belisha Beacon Everywhere You Go. We’ve sung this song throughout our career in a variety of guises; the Eggrobats- bald men in nappies, The Rogers Brothers, and a scout leader and his boyscout friend.

The Eggrobats- Simon Hickson, Phil Dennison, Trev Neal. Accompanied by Sophie Aldred, Kath Jones and Doon Mackichan.

The Eggrobats- Simon Hickson, Phil Dennison, Trev Neal. Accompanied by Sophie Aldred, Kath Jones and Doon Mackichan.

Here we are accompanied by The Doves from Dan and the Doves. The Doves being Sophie (later to be Ace in Dr. Who), kath, and Doon, (later to be big comedy cheese in The Day Today, Smack the Pony and the recent Taking the Flak). Poor Doon is obscured by the big glowing end of Trev’s beacon.

If you’d like to know the lyrics to this rude song you can find them here. I’ve tried to find out who it’s by but everytime I do a search I come back to me. I promise you, we did pinch it.

Nothing’s new and nothing’s original. We based the Rogers Brothers on The Cox Twins. However weird our creations were, the real deal were even weirder.

The Cox Twins

The Cox Twins

You can find out more about Frank and Fred here. But sadly not much. They married twins, Estelle and Pauline Miles, and then they all lived together in one house. The first time I saw them I was astonished. I can’t remember what they did, I just remember thinking they were nuts. In the nicest possible sense. They were funny and weird, but what did they do? They appear briefly in Funny Bones, Peter Chelsom’s film starring Lee Evans and Jerry Lewis and set in Blackpool. Truly, what more could you want from a film. The only clip I could find isn’t a performance, but you might like it anyway. Here they are being interviewed on TVam. With their twin wives.

Even less survives of the Rogers Brothers. They’re on our live video, the Blimey That’s Good Tour, but who has videos? Even I don’t have it. I used to hate watching it. The day before the show was recorded I had some jabs for a forthcoming holiday in The Gambia. I was given the wrong dose for, I think, Typhoid. Five times too much! Throughout the show I look like I am about to die. Hey ho! Pop pop!

But I did find something. One of the most bizarre clips I’ve seen. It’s us as the Rogers Brothers taking part in a Comic Relief special; singing along with a host of celebrities to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Everything’s here. It ranges from the apalling, Nicholas Witchell miming keyboards; to the moving, Caron Keating gooning around with her mum. You’ll see other faces that might lead to Mr Gloom coming into the room. And I don’t mean Noel Edmonds. And there’s a few degenerates in there too. I’ll let you figure out who they are.

And remember, nothing really matters. Hey ho! Pop pop!

Pardon my Sarong

September 7, 2009


My comedy partner, Trev, very kindly bought me a boxed set of Abbot and Costello movies for my birthday. There’s 24 of them. As it says on the box, “over 32 hours of viewing”. I say kindly…

When we first attempted to be a double-act, back in the early 80’s, we were keen observers, almost students, of other double-acts. And for some reason we were drawn to the nastier ones. There were double-acts out there who seemed to take pleasure in not liking each other, in being downright abusive to each other; modern ones like 20th Century Coyote (Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson), then the more old school acts like Cannon and Ball, and further back, Abbot and Costello.

There were better double-acts; Laurel and Hardy and Morecambe and Wise, where the love for each other conveyed so convincingly through their acts was reciprocated in their real life long-term friendships. But when we were young and angry and foolish we just wanted to see double acts rip each other apart. Or we’d enjoy the dichotomy of an act that seemed to present some sort of a friendship, but when touring chose to stay in separate hotels, or refused to share a 50/50 split of the takings. Double-acts where behind the scenes there was bullying and mutual hatred.

Abbot and Costello were the kings of the dysfunctional double-act. Indeed, when Costello died, Abbot was in the process of suing him for $220,000. To be fair to the two, they’d always had ups and downs with money. In the early years the split was 60/40 in favour of straight-man Bud Abbott; a practice not as outrageous as it might sound. Straight-men were highly regarded and valued within double-acts. And in later years Costello insisted that this split should be reversed; and so it was for their film years. Fair, sort of, but still, the silly old fools.  50/50 is fine. Heck, yes, it’s business, but it’s also comedy; two idiots getting through life, hard enough as it is, should give each other a break. It wasn’t just money they’d argue over. Who’s on first was a big issue, with Costello demanding a name change, Abbot and Costello to Costello and Abbott.

And so, with all that mad aggression seething beneath our sarongs (I wore one for the viewing) I settled down for a good laugh.

The film’s nonsense. As was often the case when double-acts and comedians ventured into movies, someone came up with some daft old story which serves as a way of holding together a number of theatre-tested routines. In this film the boys (trademarked name to be used whenever referring to double-acts) are bus drivers taking a yachtsman to a race in Hawaii. They get chased by the police, end up with the bus floating on a raft, they befriend a seal, they kidnap a woman trying to sabotage the boat race, they end up in a storm, they get washed up on some remote island, the natives mistake Costello for a hero, send him off into a volcano to appease the gods, wearing a sacred special powers jewel, some robbers await to steal the jewel blah blah blah. And everything works out fine. But forget the plot, here’s the best bits, paraphrased and partially remembered (apologies to the screenwriters, True Boardman, Nat Perrin and John Grant):

Costello: Look, a sea-lion.

Abbott: That’s a seal. They use them to make fur coats.

Costello: How do they teach them?

Well, it made me laugh.

My favourite moments, and indeed my favourite aspect of Abbot and Costello’s comedy, comes when the two bicker for what seems like an eternity over some small misunderstanding. The obvious example is their most famous routine, Who’s on First? There are many versions of this, ranging from just a few minutes to almost ten minutes. If you don’t know it, or if you do but would like to see it presented in a new way, have a look at this typographical version.

In Pardon My Sarong they argue over driving the bus, with Abbot constantly saying to Costello “Will ya go ahead and back up.” You can guess how this goes. It’s a funny line, some may say. Once. Well try it again and again with Costello not getting it. And then again. And again. Funny, funny, funny, not so funny, not funny. Then back to funny. I like that.

Another scene sees Costello take on one of the chiefs of the tribe. The film is maybe as dodgy as hell, but I’ll let you decide by seeing a picture of the said chief.

pardonsarong b+w

This may well be racist, but I wouldn’t have a clue who against. Has anyone heard of Claire’s Accessories Island?

So, Costello and this guy get into a bit of an argument and Costello calls him a “stinker”. He, understandably, takes offence, but Abbott steps in to calm things down. He points out that where they are from “stinker” is a form of praise; all the most impressive men are “stinkers”.A set-up for an onslaught of “I’m a bigger stinker than you/ I’m the biggest stinker” etc. Lines that yet again go on and on. A film with a good few minutes of people calling each other “stinker” is ok with me.

As for true nastiness; when Costello has to go through the volcano Abbot doesn’t offer to help. He instead offers Costello a gun. Not to defend himself with, but to kill himself with. Double-act assisted suicide.

It’s possibly wrong to say, knowing that Trev may well read this, but my favourite part of the film didn’t even feature the stars. It’s a musical scene with the Ink Spots and Tip, Tap and Toe. A fantastic routine with moonwalking decades before Wacko Jacko thought of doing it. See it here.

Widow shopping

September 3, 2009


Don’t you hate it when you nip out to your favourite shop only to find it shut.