Friday 26 February 2010

On The Bombsite

"On the bomb site you be mum and I'll be dad. He'll be sad. Waiting for the boat that sails down Garden Street ..." sings Duncan Browne on the gorgeous track On The Bomb Site from his 1968 LP Give Me Take You on Immediate. His partner on this record was the lyricist/poet David Bretton. Now I don't know whether David was from London (though there's a Garden Street Stepney way), but his words for this song will strike a chord with the generation of children who grew up in the Capital in the post-WW2 years for whom the bomb sites were their playground. It's something captured in Leslie Daiken's 1957 film One Potato Two Potato . A couple of years earlier Ken Russell had composed a photo-essay on the Teddy Girls for Picture Post magazine. These photos were then 'lost' for 50 years until some invaluable salvage work resulted in an exhibition at the Spitz Gallery called Bombsite Boudiccas. It was an incredibly important piece of archaeology as it challenged prevailing stereotypes about female '50s fashion. Russell had taken his photos around Walthamstow Market and bomb sites in the area. The girls I believe were art school friends of Shirley Kingdon, who would become Russell's first wife. There's actually some great footage from Russell's first films, from that era, on YouTube with his blessing. One clip is from a 1959 BBC documentary, and features Davy Graham playing Cry Me A River, with some great bomb site backdrops and beautiful beat girl. The astute among you will at this point mention there's a brief clip of Davy in Joseph Losey's The Servant ...


  1. I've said it before and I'll say it again:bravo!! Here's a video I've shot of Ian McLagan talking about Ronnie Lane's "bombsite" songs "Itchycoo Park" and "Debris" and playing "Debris":

  2. That's lovely. I may link to this again for a later post when we head out to Small Faces territory.