14, Just Thought I’d Mention . . .
When I’d written this second “edition” of my “memoirs, I sent a mail to a cyber-friend who is younger than I. I’d been telling her of all the famous entertainers who I’d seen live, mainly jazz performers.
However, I forgot a whole host of top stars of the Variety Theatres. I’d been going with Mom to the Hippodrome in Cheapside, Wolverhampton, since I was more or less old enough to toddle. The Variety circuit had, in the early twentieth century, taken over from the Victorian music-halls. We’d continued to go right up until and a little after I started Grammar School.
After that, television came in and destroyed Variety. No longer would there be venues for up-and-coming acts to practice their trade. No longer would there be shows which included jugglers, unicyclists, and trained dogs on the same bill as well-known comedians and singers.
To list all the top names who I saw and heard would take pages. Some of them – Norman Wisdom, for instance – made the transition to telly. There were even Variety-type shows on the small screen in those black-and-white days; but they faded because they echoed a time which had passed.
I wrote this to my cyber-friend:-
“It does sound like another age, even to me. When I was growing up during and just after the Second World War, it struck me that everything around me was old-fashioned, even then. I don’t know why a kid should see things that way. Then came the 1950s, and things started to become more “modern”, whatever that means.
“Suddenly, there was a bit of money about among young working lads and lasses. Just as suddenly, there were Teddy Boys (with DA haircuts and crepe-creepers). Lonnie Donegan, a Cockney, sang American folk-songs and was king of the Hit parade. Then came Elvis – after him, the whole world changed!
“Yes, it was a long time ago. And, for all the cheating and swindling, the hate and the killing, the insecurity and the mistrust, I find our current Age with its better standard of living for ordinary folk just suits me fine.”
I have wondered, often, why I saw things as being “old fashioned” and have asked youngsters of today if they have the same feelings and impressions. They do not. So it must have been yet another aspect of my introverted mentality . . . or a side-effect of listening to “Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future” on Radio Luxemburg when the station had real radio programmes. (It went all ‘pop’ in the 1960s a couple of years after the “pirate station” Radio Caroline and the like came on air.)
Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with old-fashioned-ness. I do tend to live in the past, even though I admire much of the present.
Winston Spencer Churchill
And that, a piece which perhaps should have gone elsewhere in this autobiography, is that.
Tuesday, 12th May, 2009.
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