Friday 7 May 2010

We All Went To Leicester Square

"One night as I strolled up the West I met this millionaire Smith beside myself. Smith said 'where are you going to?' I said 'I'll go anywhere along with you'. 'Where shall we go?' said Baron Rothschild. Then as I pulled me fourpence ha'penny out. 'Then' I shouted out with glee 'if you're leaving it to me let's go somewhere where there are no girls about' ..." So We All Went To Leicester Square sings George Formby Snr. Oh yes before there was the cheeky chappie with the ukelele his father was a great star on London's Music Hall stages. Sometimes he'd play the provincial fool for the partisan Cockneys. In our favourite book, Sweet Saturday Night, Colin MacInnes describes how "George wore a miniscule bowler, a jacket too tight, pants too baggy, large unlaced boots, a scarf that dangled between his legs, and gloves whose fingers were larger than his own. One of his comic effects, as he ambled about the stage, was the hacking cough that doubled him up in paroxysms of anguish - and his audience in paroxysms of mirth. He was in fact tubercular, and the cough was genuine and killed him after surviving World War 1." The cough can be heard to great effect on his recording of Looking For Mugs In The Strand where he turns the tables and gets one over on Londoners ...

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