A Bit of a Festive Ramble, Not Dreaming of a White Christmas and ‘Medicinal Compound, Most Efficacious in Every Case’

Well, last month I tried to become a daily blogger for a time but all that momentum left me when I called time on my challenge. At times like this it’s sometimes a good idea just to sit down and write ‘something’, to unblock the blockage, so it’s going to be a bit of a web-diary kind of affair I’m afraid with some songs thrown in.

How are we all doing? Back in Spring/Summer I did mention the pandemic a fair bit around here (an understatement) but as time went by I decided to leave well alone as people come here to escape all that negativity. Also, the awful truth is that this new way of living – with masks, social distancing, working from home and being apart from friends and family – has kind of become normalised and I’ve almost forgotten what my old life was like. If we do ever manage to get back together again in large groups, will we have lost all our social skills? What will we do with all the books that seem to have been acquired for Zoom call backdrops and will wearing comfy indoorsy trousers at all times become the norm?

But here we are coming up to Christmas and it’s all getting a bit complicated. We’ve been given the green light to get together in Festive Bubbles, but in some ways it makes things more difficult. We are trusted to be sensible and not put our elderly relatives in danger, but being realistic, sitting outside for Christmas dinner or even inside with all the doors and windows open is not a very appealing prospect. No-one will be ‘dreaming of a White Christmas‘ in my neck of the woods this year. Cue Bing Crosby, or alternatively, the Darlene Love version courtesy of Phil Spector.

White Christmas by Bing Crosby – The teen idol who smoked a pipe!

White Christmas by Darlene Love – That’s her at the back in the yellow cardi


As it turns out we will be on our own for the first time ever. After having lived at home with us for the last six months, DD has now decanted to the holiday hideaway and set up a ‘new household’ with her significant other who has given up his glamorous but all-consuming job and returned to the Highlands. The pair of them have had a really tough year but perhaps things are now looking up and with any luck they will both get back on track in 2021. We had them with us for Christmas last year, so it’s the other set of parents’ turn this year which seems entirely reasonable. On the upside, I think our relationship with DD will improve, as make no mistake, having your adult offspring back living with you is the ultimate test. After six months I think we were all more than ready for a change in living arrangements!

The cottage from the Christmas film The Holiday

My little mum always used to join us for Christmas dinner, but she of course is imprisoned in her care home, being kept safe. To be fair, she has stayed upbeat and smiling throughout this whole sorry situation as her condition means she pretty much lives in the moment. I have been able to visit indoors until recently (under super-strict conditions) but the home has now been shut for a couple of weeks after a scare that some staff might have contracted the virus (they hadn’t). Due to an admin error on their part, I also seem to have slipped through the net for a Christmas Day visit. It’s almost tougher not being able to see your loved ones now than at the start of the crisis and somehow more distressing at this time of year. You remember happy times as a child when your parents seemed invincible and could fix any problem. Sadly, I can’t fix the problem of not being able to visit, as totally outwith my control.

It has become customary for me to share a song that would appeal to my mum around this time. In the past it has often been something by Jim Reeves but I also remember her watching the Andy Williams Christmas shows on telly when I was growing up so how about something from him. We don’t call the festive period ‘The Holidays’ here in Scotland, but hey, let’s roll with it this once. (At least I’ve not shared the song that is bound to make someone who is NOT having the most wonderful time of the year, feel even worse. Oops, did it anyway.)

Andy (with three doppelgangers it seems) and the Osmond Brothers – Whatever became of them?


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’m quite early around here with a Christmas post but somehow writing about anything else just didn’t seem right. Let’s hope all this festive bubbling doesn’t leave too many people taking needless risks. Apparently the messaging is going to be strong on what is advisable. With vaccines just round the corner it seems Easter 2021 is being touted as the best time to celebrate Christmas 2020. Let’s see how that goes?!

Festive bubbles

As for us, I really can’t complain as this pandemic has come along when we were both working from home anyway, and although our business ventures have brought in little this year, I come from the kind of family where having a ‘rainy day fund’ is engrained. In 2020 it’s been torrential. I really do miss socialising with my friends and going to the cinema but I’ve experienced less FOMO via social media, because no-one is doing anything – No exotic holidays, fancy nights out or festivals in my social circle this year, and if anyone does share something they are quickly pulled up on it. ‘When was this taken?’ ‘Where did you go?’ ‘You’re awfully close to each other’ (The ‘Rules Police’ are out in force – grrr…)

2020 has been a year of just trying to tick over, walking and watching television, an awful lot of television. Watching breakfast news this morning a government minister (today’s lamb to the slaughter) was asked about the vaccine that is being rolled out and he replied that it was efficacious. Crikey I thought, last time I heard that word being used was in the song Lily the Pink. Got me thinking, that’s where we’ve been going wrong. What we all need is a hefty dose of ‘Medicinal Compound’ – Cue The Scaffold.

The Scaffold – Mike McGear (Macca’s little bro), John Gorman and Roger McGough


I remember this song well as it reached the No. 1 spot in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks around Christmastime 1968. I know my mum would still remember it if only I was allowed in to see her. What I hadn’t realised was that it’s based on an older folk song called ‘The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham’. She was the inventor of a herbal-alcoholic women’s tonic which is still on sale today in a modified form. Pinkham’s Medicinal Compound was aggressively marketed and became the subject of a bawdy drinking song chronicling its efficacious cures. Hard to believe I know but the backing vocalists on The Scaffold record included Graham Nash, Reg Dwight (the future Mr Elton John) and Tim RiceJack Bruce (of Cream) played bass guitar.

I shall return before Christmas Day but in the meantime I hope your plans for the big day pan out. I suspect many of us will be deferring the whole shebang until Easter.

Until next time…

Lily the Pink Lyrics
(Song by John Gorman, Mike McGear, Roger McGough)

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Mr. Frears
had sticky-out ears
and it made him awful shy
and so they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s learning how to fly.

Brother Tony
Was notably bony
He would never eat his meals
And so they gave him medicinal compound
Now they move him round on wheels.

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Old Ebeneezer
Thought he was Julius Caesar
And so they put him in a Home
where they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s Emperor of Rome.

Johnny Hammer
Had a terrible stammer
He could hardly say a word
And so they gave him medicinal compound
Now he’s seen (but never heard)!

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Auntie Millie
Ran willy-nilly
When her legs, they did recede
And so they rubbed on medicinal compound
And now they call her Millipede.

Jennifer Eccles
had terrible freckles
and the boys all called her names
but she changed with medicinal compound
and now he joins in all their games.

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Lily the Pink, she
Turned to drink, she
Filled up with paraffin inside
and despite her medicinal compound
Sadly Picca-Lily died.

Up to Heaven
Her soul ascended
All the church bells they did ring
She took with her medicinal compound
Hark the herald angels sing.

Oooooooooooooooo Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case
.

Postscript:

I didn’t think of googling it at the time but yes, it didn’t take long to find some Medicinal Compound for sale online. Had never thought to look before, but all these years later it’s still going strong.

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

20 thoughts on “A Bit of a Festive Ramble, Not Dreaming of a White Christmas and ‘Medicinal Compound, Most Efficacious in Every Case’”

  1. What a wonderful post, Alyson. Hard to believe this was more diary entry than thought-out blog post as it flows so nicely. Great choice of songs (thanks for introducing me to The Scaffold…I know of Mr. McGear but had no knowledge of that group or song before today), and the cartoon about books made me chuckle (replace books with CDs & LPs for me, though). I’m sorry to report that my family is now directly affected by COVID, although not my household. Doing all I can over the phone as I’m not permitted inside the hospital, but the good news is things are stable and we’re hoping that we’re past the most concerning point after infection. Thousands of folks around the world are dealing with the same so I can’t complain and just do the best I can. Stay safe & healthy, and best of luck to your daughter and her fella.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rich – It was a bit of a ramble indeed but yes it all flowed along quite nicely. Lily the Pink was a novelty song and although I was very young when it was a hit I remember it well because of the catchy chorus – I really didn’t know about the bawdy version before though. Funny to think of Paul McCartney as having a brother as you never really saw them together. Mike is also a photographer and has put together many excellent books with behind the scenes shots of the Beatles in the early days. Must have a look for one of them.

      So sorry your family has now been touched by the virus but glad things are now stable. An awful disease when you are deprived of the people you would want around you most at such times.

      Thanks for the good wishes – Same to you and your family.

      Like

  2. You remember happy times as a child when your parents seemed invincible and could fix any problem…..jeesus..that brought a lump to my throat.
    Somewhere deep inside we all still believe that…because we need to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It must be because of the ‘times’ but I’ve been thinking about my childhood Christmases a lot. I seem to remember my dad even had to work on Christmas Day as New Year was the big holiday in Scotland. Despite it all they did make it special and I was lucky. My Santa doll’s arms once fell off (as the bit of elastic snapped that held them together). In no time at all my dad had the doll fixed – It wasn’t a difficult fix but at the time I was so impressed.

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  3. Three musical giants sang backup on that song? And Jack Bruce played electric guitar? Unbelievable. By the way, if you are interested in listening to WXPN online, they are in the midst of playing the “greatest” two thousand and twenty songs of all time, as voted by listeners.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, in the days before they were famous. Thanks for the heads up – I’ve just worked it out, the greatest 2,020 songs would only take 4 days and 5 hours to play back to back. Somehow you would think it would take longer. A lot of songs, but a drop in the ocean compared with all the songs that have ever been written. Enjoy the rundown.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words but not sure I deserve them. I just wanted to record some more of this year’s happenings around here and ended up with Lily the Pink!

      Wishing you and your family a happy and safe Christmas too.

      Like

    1. Was it really – We would have been just about the right age for a novelty song like that in the late ’60s. Don’t think the original bawdy version would have made it onto the BBC.

      Merry Christmas to you too Graeme, the blogger who is living under the least restrictions this festive season I suspect. Enjoy.

      Like

  4. Lovely post as ever and I am pleased to read that DD and boyfriend are under the same roof again this Christmas – and seems a great use of your holiday home too in the current circumstances.
    Brilliant to see those bottles of Lydia Pinkham (tempted to give it a try). I do like the word ‘efficacious” too; I can just imagine that well-to-do chappy who used to host ‘The Good Old Days’ on TV using it in an introduction, nicely archaic and overly long! Lily the Pink must surely be the only song in existence that includes it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi C – It is a post that now seems largely obsolete as there are no longer Festive Bubbles and DD won’t be going to visit the other set of parents now. What a situation the country is in and not easy to see how we’re going to extricate ourselves from it. Going to have to stop watching the news as nothing much of joy at all. Yes, glad we had some accommodation for them so that was an upside.

      As for Lydia’s herbal remedy, yes, wish I’d known about it a few years ago! Efficacious just seemed such an antiquated word for a govt. minister to use but a good one. Leonard Sachs was the chap who introduced ‘The Good Old Days’ and yes, just the kind of word he would have come out with. Can’t be many songs that use it in the lyrics.

      Not long until the big day now so will probably do a little round of the blogs this week wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. The merriment has kind of all been sucked out of it now, but I suppose we’re just going to have to dig deep in 2020.

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      1. Yes, I arrived late to this thread having only just reclaimed my internet and already this post seems like a relic of a bygone era. Best wishes to you and yours this Christmas, whatever else comes our way. I think I might just pull the sheets over my head…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yay, you are reconnected to the world. Yes indeed, a few days later this post became redundant. We now WILL have DD with us on Christmas Day and the Festive Bubbles are no more (although I never thought they were a good idea in the first place). Hope your plans haven’t gone too awry? At least there will be no skateboarders trying out their Christmas boards!

          Best wishes to you and your family Rol, although I will try and post something new before the big day (an update) and do the rounds of the various blogs.

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  5. Thank you for this heartfelt post. Who knew it was all going to come down to this. Very sorry to hear about the situation with your mom, it’s all so very sad. Hope you will be able to see her on the 25th and hopefully we’ll all come out of this a little better in 2021. Maybe when it’s all over, they will give free “socialization” classes so we can all get back in our game!!!

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    1. Hi Rick – Merry Christmas to you and your family. Hope you are able to celebrate a little where you are.

      As it turns out things changed quite drastically for us after I wrote this post as we’re all pretty much back in lockdown again with the Festive Bubbles having been abandoned. Probably just as well and it also means we can now have DD with us for Christmas as she can no longer travel elsewhere. I also got a phone call from the care home to say I can see my mum tomorrow after all which is lovely but it’s right at the time I was due to be cooking lunch, so we’ll need to move things around a bit now.

      As for socialisation classes, I think you’re right, they will be needed. We’ll all have beome introverts over the last 10 months.

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  6. Thank you for including the words to “Lady the Pink” (if that indeed is the title,) as I listened to it and could not understand on cotton-picking word! (It doesn’t help that I am deaf in one ear and can hardly hear out of the other!) Very funny song, and on YouTube there is a comment about it having something to do (written by) with one of the Beatles brothers. Any comment on that?

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, and hoping for a MUCH better New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merry Christmas Guy to you and your family. Hope you manage to celebrate where you are and yes, we are all hoping for a much better 2021.

      I imagine a bawdy drinking song from the 1800s (that is no longer politically correct) would be a bridge too far, but Lily the Pink was a massive hit back in 1968. Mike McGear (the one on the left in the video) is Paul McCartney’s brother. You learn something new every day!

      Liked by 1 person

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