Ginger Geezer


TEDDY BOYS DON’T KNIT
(But of course, Vivian did knit.)

Teddy Boys was written and recorded when Vivian was safe in the midst of his first real and only taste of family life. Our daughter Silky Cyme (“... conceived in love”: The Tube) was a wee toddler and we all lived on the Searchlight moored on the Thames. The album and its songs are reflective of the happiest moments in his life - save for that halcyon time before his fourth birthday when he had his Mum all to himself, when the FATHER had yet to come home from the war. (Note to self: must always remember to capitalize this word, FATHER. V’s nemesis from start to finish.)

Come to think, these years on the banks of the river were Vivian’s knitting years.

The songs are a hodgepodge of love for Silky and for me, things he couldn’t find room for in Rawlinson End, reactions to the doings of chums or to overheard exotic phrases, stuff that didn’t make it into a Winwood collection - or got chucked out in the interests of ‘commercialism’, thoughts on his father, and on himself... all in all, an eclectic collection of knitted Stanshallia.

  • 1. King Kripple - hmmmm... no more than it seems. A conflicted rage/celebration of becoming an over-the-hill rock and roller. (As he wrote in another song called Arc of a Diver: “Our rock and roll is putting on weight.” ‘Our’ means himself and all his rock and roll mates.)
  • 2. Slave Valse - don’t know exactly why the Roman Emperor Claudius appealed so to Vivian, but he surely did... maybe it was after we lay in bed and watched all seventy million episodes of ‘I, Claudius’ on the Beeb? Perhaps because Claud was a terribly clever sod hiding behind an affliction... like Hubert Rawlinson, like Vivian. Vivian’s affliction was too much talent and too thin skin.
  • 3. Gums - written for Sir Henry, specifically for the movie version. Gums is the name of a stuffed bulldog on wheels. The eldest brother’s dog, the dead eldest brother, Humbert Rawlinson. From Sir Henry, the book (rearranged a bit for this moment’s sense): “The bulldog was mounted on a wheeled platform, at the rear of which were three pedals. One to activate the jaws, one to cock the leg, and one to make the tail wag. Around the animal’s thick folded neck was a leather collar, dreadfully spiked, but with the name GUMS starred in diamonds. From this collar obtruded, like a knobby antenna, a ‘rigid’ plaited tether. Mrs. E lifted a small flap in the bulldog’s rump, removed a cork, inserted the funnel, and filled the popeyed brute’s canvas bladder with tepid water from the blue-lipped jug. Mrs. E plugged and covered the hole - smoothing the hair over the flap. Then she straightened up, reached into the pocket of her apron, found a pill and bit of fluff, and without looking - swallowed ‘em. Something was worrying her. She sniffed her finger.”
  • 4. Bewilderbeeste - this is my one of ‘my’ songs, a song written for me (like Arc of a Diver and My Love’s Leaving)... but so personal, only Vivian could sing it. I can hear Winnie now (V’s name for Steve Winwood) getting his lungs round: “... wolves mate for life, AHHOOOOHHH!”
  • 5. Calypso to Colapso - another of my songs... this one came out of those long soft conversations on English public phones in terribly public places... ‘lapin* ‘til the pips go’. Meaning: we talked until the money ran out... when the phone would go pip! pip! pip!

    (*not just once, but twice removed: rabbiting = lapin = talking)

  • 6. The Tube - Silky Longfellow-Stanshall’s song through and through... so daddy doting, it speaks for itself. That’s her, she’s eighteen months old and she’s saying Apple! Apple! even though it sounds like appie! appie! At close of song she’s saying, what’s that? whazzat! At the moment of writing, she is nineteen years old. Gak.
  • 7. Ginger Geezer - a song almost entirely in Cockney Rhyming Slang. I even know what some of it means. Sung by a character called Buller Bullethead, it is, as ever, about Vivian, the ginger geezer himself. And why not? What more interesting subject?
    Geezer, wot a ginger geezer, I nearly had a seizure,
    When I clocked him in the Frog.
    Spruced up in me piccolo, me tifter and me daisys,
    Bowling down the rubba with me cherry china fido.
    Rolled an oily rag,
    Me cherry bread and cheesed
    You won’t adam wot I sees:
    Some geezer, an ooly ginger geezer,
    A geezer wiv a hooter I suppose -
    I really had to rabbit an’ pork to this geezer,
    Itie-ice-cream freezer,
    Ginger geezer, sees-ya around.
    .
  • 8. The Cracks Are Showing - A Hubert song, a thoughtful little ditty in the bath... the cracks are showing means no more and no less than the seams in Hubert’s psyche are stretched taut with the strain of living. The psyche in question is Vivian’s, of course... as Hubert is the character he most thinks of as himself in the saga of Rawlinson End. Hubert was the gentle bemused brother, the one tormented by the bloated and outrageous Sir Henry. Who is also Vivian, as he could be and often was - Henry was the Beasht Inside.
    The cracks are showing
    The cracks are showing
    Listen to the Loonies croon,
    While the Man in the Moon
    That they left behind
    Is rising in the east.
    Heigh-ha-ho the way things are
    The clocks are baring their teeth,
    Tick.... grandfather’s stopped
    Time for time to flash her dazzling dentures.
    Heigh-ha-ho the way things are
    The cracks are showing
    The cracks are showing
    The cracks are

  • 9. Flung a Dummy - Vivian came rushing in one day to wheeze breathless, “I just heard a bloke on the train describe an old man’s dying as: ‘He flung a dummy!’” Vivian was mad about stuff like this: the colorful, unexpected, and outré phrase. It electrified him as he mouthed it: flung a dummy, flung a dummy. So he wrote a song, just... like... that.
  • 10. Possibly An Armchair - musings on growing old just like his father, oops, FATHER - who spent the last umpty years of his life impatiently waiting for V’s mum to bring him his tea and ‘vigorously watching TV”.
  • 11. Fresh-Faced Boys - a furious retort to the expectations of his FATHER - who insisted he be a proper lad, neat and tidy and sporty and manly and JUST LIKE HIM. Bah.
  • 12. Terry Keeps his Clips On - A Rawlinson End song trying to find a home. Single of this, somewhere. When Vivian bicycled - and he did bicycle never having learned to drive a car (the first and only time he went under a truck, and that, as they say, was that) - he wore bicycle clips. There was a time there he was regularly bicycling all the way to central London from Shepperton and back, a heroic effort, with half his worldly possessions on the machine. Vivian never went anywhere without half his worldly possessions. I remember once being called by the Teddingrton Police (was it Teddington? oh well, doesn’t matter) at two in the morning. Arrived at the copshop to find him and his bicycle and his tuba and his euphonium and his mandolele and thirteen bags of assorted ‘whateverfors’ all locked in a cell together. Getting him out was like opening that cabin door on the Marx Brothers at Sea.
  • 13. Bass Macaw & Broken Bottles - better go listen to this one and remember. Hold on. Maybe by the next time you come round here? No, no, I remember. It’s about a sweet sad broken girl he met once whilst hospitalized. He was amazed at her courage and appalled by her self-destruction. This is exactly how I feel about him.
  • 14. Nose Hymn - an ode to rudery! At which my old man was a Grand Master.
  • 15. Everyday, I Have the Blows - ditto.
  • 16. Smoke Signals at Night - Ah. This one is about the secret inner working of a man’s private and personal and precious mind... where he does all his real living.
  • 17. Nouveau Riffe - an angry shout about ‘some’ people (who shall remain nameless - getting sued is soooo teejus) who make other people’s (also to remain nameless) lives hell once they attach themselves tooth, nail, and marriage certificate. The person in question was so vile Vivian was moved to write a song, whilst I was compelled to write one of my first books, a murder mystery. Guess who was murdered?

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