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.

The Princess and the Pea’r: A (Tongue-in-cheek) Work of Fan Fiction

For the benefit of any new visitors to the blog, this post is not representative, but a few weeks ago I issued a challenge, asking followers to come up with ideas for future posts. One of these was from Deidra, who after reading my tribute to David Cassidy (link here), suggested I should write some fan fiction in fairytale form involving the man and his music. Anyway, this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, and probably not what Deidra was expecting at all, but always fun to take on a new challenge and run with it. You probably need to be of a certain age to “get” a lot of what is to follow, but if you do, hope you enjoy it.

david cassidyThe Princess and the Pea’r

Princess Deidra looked down from the castle window. The boy from the village had just arrived with baskets of pears from his family’s orchard, and was heading towards the entrance to the large kitchen where he would no doubt laugh and joke with the kitchen maids. Deidra felt sad, and jealous that she could no longer join in their fun, but her mother had deemed it no longer appropriate for her to spend time with Maryberry the cook, Baldrick the kitchen boy and the feisty but fun, Daphne and Celeste.

The boy was called Davyd and his family supplied the castle with much produce in the course of a year. They reared partridges at the back of their humble dwelling so inevitably came to be known as, The Partridge Family. He had a sister called Susan and a brother called Daniel, who also visited the castle from time to time with their mother, a pretty, petite woman, with light coloured hair. The four of them were accomplished musicians and came to entertain guests in the great hall whenever a banquet was being held. The mother and Susan both played the harpsichord whereas Daniel played that strange stringed instrument which looked a bit like a lute. As for Davyd, he was the singer within the group, and as far as Deidra was concerned, had the voice of an angel.

The reason for his arrival today, was because festivities were being planned in honour of a visiting prince. She knew this prince was being thought of as a possible suitor, but fortunately her mother and father, the King and Queen, were kind and loving parents who would never force her into an arranged marriage. The prince, she had learnt, was called Donald and he came from a far away land that had a great salt lake. She’d also heard he had many brothers who wore tabards of different colours so that their parents could tell them apart. Donald always wore purple, and although they denied it, his parents considered him the handsomest of them all, as he had a beautiful smile and dazzling white teeth. Even when his younger brother James arrived, despite his long hair and loving ways, Donald was still their favourite son and they hoped he would find a deserving princess, perhaps in Deidra.

Not for the first time however, Deidra wished she had been lowly born and could simply marry the boy from the village who was now leaving the castle grounds, his baskets empty. He would return home to his family, checking the partridges on the way, no doubt perched on the many pear trees in the orchard. Prince Donald may well be someone she could fall in love with, but right now, all she could think of was Davyd, and the songs she imagined he sang just for her. “Yes, I think I love you too”, she thought to herself, remembering the words of the last song he had performed in the great hall, at the same time knowing full well nothing could come of it.

I Think I Love You:

But the day was warm, and it was time for an afternoon nap ahead of the evening’s banquet and entertainment. She removed her headdress and lay down on her counterpane, but before she could drift off to sleep Daphne appeared, having run up the stairs from the kitchen. The pair had been friends since they were young but of late Deidra had been unable to spend much time with her at all, her mother insisting that she fill her days with needlework, scripture and music lessons.

“Excuse me Princess, but I just had to let you know that Prince Donald is on his way.”

“I know Daphne, but what will he be like I wonder. Will he be as handsome as Davyd from the village? I see he has just been to the kitchen. Did you speak with him?”

“Why of course Princess. He was asking after you but that Celeste had to push in and act all brazen in front of him as usual. Ooh, that girl has no shame but we all knows he only has eyes for you so stick you Celeste. He also told us he has some turtle doves for the princess. Real beauties they are.”

The kitchen maids Daphne and Celeste

“Oh, how kind”, said Deidra feeling wistful that she would not be allowed to accept them in person. “Is he coming up to the castle with his family tonight, to sing and play for us?”

“He is”, replied Daphne excitedly, “and they have a new song he wants to sing just for you. He knows about Prince Donald and told me to let you know, it’s a magical song that can transport you through time. Time and… relative dimension in… sound, he called it. Means nothing to me but he said you would understand”.

Daphne then headed off, to return to her duties in the kitchen but Deidra was left feeling confused. As a young princess she had been allowed to spend time with the village children, and when playing their games had often told Davyd she believed we would one day travel through time. Had he remembered those conversations she wondered, and had he found a way of really making it happen? It was all very baffling, but time for a quick nap now as Trinny and Susannah, her ladies maids, would soon be along to help her choose the perfect costume for tonight’s banquet, and the inevitable introduction to Prince Donald.

The ladies maids Trinny and Susannah

By the time the sun went down, Deidra was ready for the evening of festivities. Trinny and Susannah had picked out the perfect gown and headdress for her and after much pushing, prodding and pulling had secured the bodice into place. They had also brought with them an undergarment called majicnikkers which although made of a very strange fabric that was new to her, had the effect of making her waist appear very small indeed. This was going to be quite an evening, and although she was curious about the meeting with Prince Donald, it was the idea of Davyd’s magical song that truly excited her.

At the banquet Deidra was seated next to Prince Donald. He was indeed very handsome, his dark hair framing his smiling face. His party’s journey to the castle had been an eventful one however, as something had caused their horses to start acting crazily. Something in the air perhaps, an air very different to what they were used to by the great salt lake, over there on the morning side of the mountain. But Deidra could already tell that this was not her prince. He was too young, and for him it would just be a puppy love.

Jacques, Jules et Henri

At the end of the table was a cage with the turtle doves that Davyd had sent up to the castle earlier in the day as a gift. He had also presented the cook, Maryberry, with three hens which had curiously been given the names Jacques, Jules and Henri. All we need now she thought to herself, would be some birds that could sing, and we would have quite the menagerie. Just at that moment, The Partridge Family appeared on the minstrel gallery, ready to play for them. Davyd gave her a knowing look, and once his brother tightened the strings on the lute-shaped instrument, the song began. “Could it be forever, or is my mind just rambling on…… .”

Suddenly Deidra’s head started to spin and she had to look down to gather her composure. The words in Davyd’s song were ringing in her ears. “Could it be forever?”, she thought regretfully. “No, not in my world, where princesses just don’t marry commoners.”

Princess Deidra

The spinning stopped and Deidra looked up. It took a few moments for her to work out where she was. It was still Windsmoor Castle but everything looked different. Her family and Prince Donald still sat next to her but they were all dressed in strange clothes and her flaming red hair was no longer covered by a headdress. The plate, and glassware, was finely crafted and large drapes covered the table. The Partridge Family were no longer up in the minstrel gallery but stood on a low, nearby platform surrounded by large boxes from which the sound seemed to come. Soon the song ended, and instead of retreating to the chambers behind the banquet hall as was usual, the family descended from the stage and came to converse with the guests. Just then, she remembered that Davyd had not just said it was to be a magical song, but that it was perhaps made up of sounds that could transport them through time. “What was it again?”, she frantically tried to remember. “Time and relative dimension in sound. TARDIS for short.”

She was still reeling from this revelation when Davyd came to speak to her. He had done it, he really had. Found a way of traversing through time until they came to an age when red-haired princesses could marry dark-haired, common born entertainers. Without further ado, Davyd got down on one knee and presented Deidra with a pear, from the orchard behind the castle of olden days. When she looked at it quizzically, he just said, “bite into it and see what you find.” Inside was a gold ring, which to everyone’s delight found its way onto her finger. “I started off with five pears and five gold rings”, he said, “but only this final one made it through the sound vortex. It wasn’t until then I knew the time was right to sing my magical song.”

And that my friends, is where the story ends. Davyd and Princess Deidra married in the chapel at Windsmoor Castle a few weeks later and many of their friends came to join in the celebrations. Sir Idris of Elba, Sir George of Clooney and of course Lady Victoria of Beckingham. Prince Donald returned to the land of the great salt lake, married, and had many, many children. Will they all live happily ever after though? Why of course they will, because as we all know, breaking up is hard to do!

 

The End


Could It Be Forever Lyrics
(Song by Wes Farrell/Danny Janssen)

Could it be forever or is my mind just rambling on
[No, it can be forever Davyd, thanks to TARDIS – Time and relative dimension in sound!]
Well I touched you once and I kissed you once
And I feel like you’re mine
Well I feel like you’re mine and I see in your face
I’m not wrong to have these feelings
Well I feel like you’re mine and I’ve never known a time before
That’s had so many meanings

Could it be forever or is my mind just wasting time
Well I don’t think so because you let me know
You make me feel like you’re mine
Well I feel like you’re mine and I can’t remember
When the feelings have been stronger
And all I know is I can’t let go of you
Or be with you just a little while longer

All my feelings come together
All of me is here
Never known when I felt better
Cause I know this won’t disappear

But could it be forever
Or is my mind just rambling on
Maybe it is, if it is
Then I’ll be moving on
Well, I feel like you’re mine
And I see in your face
I’m not wrong to have these feelings
Well, I feel like you’re mine
I’ve never known a time before
That’s had so many meanings

Long Car Journeys, Andy Williams and “Almost There”

Until I come up with some inspiration for which thread to follow next (might involve the Olympics but not too much Brazilian music amongst the “tracks of my years”), here is the earworm that has been haunting me all week.

I am really lucky in that I don’t have to practically get up in the middle of the night to get to work on time, so my alarm is set for 7.30am. As anyone who listens to BBC Radio 2’s breakfast show will know, right after the news at that time we have a “golden oldie” selected by a listener. To qualify as a golden oldie the track really has to come from the ’50s or ’60s so a bit before my time, but earlier this week there was a lovely story read out about the song Almost There by Andy Williams.

Almost There by Andy Williams:

As summer holiday season is upon us lots of families are embarking on long car journeys with kids piled in the back, and of course it has become a bit of a ritual for the driver to be continually asked, “Are We There Yet?”. The person who had sent in the request, who must have been about my age as this song was a No. 2 hit in the UK in 1964, recalled that their dad always had a copy of the song in their family car and at the appropriate time, when they were not too far from their destination, he put it on. This is just the kind of thing my dad would have done back in the day (had our car been equipped with a more sophisticated sound system that is) so it made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

are we there yet

As anyone who has read my posts will know, I am a bit of a fan of the old easy-listenin’ and any song performed by someone who can sing mellifluously (one of my favourite words) is a winner for me. Andy may not sing quite as mellifluously as Gentleman Jim Reeves or Karen Carpenter but he comes close. Waking up to Almost There earlier this week was quite a treat, like being wrapped up in a warm and cosy duvet (oh that’s right, I was).

I hadn’t realised before that Andy Williams had actually appeared in movies in the 1960s and this song was from the film I’d Rather Be Rich in which he starred along with Sandra Dee and Maurice Chevalier. My memories of Mr Williams are mainly from watching him on television as a child when he always closed his show with Moon River. (More warm and fuzzy feelings about “Huckleberry friends” this time.)

It was also on his show that the world was introduced to a family of brothers called Osmond who entertained us with their barbershop-style singing. In a few years time they would become the most famous boy band in the world but at that time they were happy to don their smart little jackets and bring out a new brother every now and again as they came-of-age. I will no doubt revisit these brothers again at some point as they certainly do feature heavily in the tracks of my years, but for the moment, I think I will listen to the mellifluousness of Almost There, just one more time!

osmond brothers.jpg

Almost There Lyrics
(Song by Jack Keller and Gloria Shayne)

Almost there, we’re almost there
How wonderful, wonderful our love will be
For you, for me

We’re almost there where we will share
A warm caress, tenderness, a dream come true
For me, for you

Love has waited such a long time
Now we’re a kiss apart
Darling, this is the right time
To let the kisses start

For you’re almost mine and soon we’ll find
Our paradise, paradise so rare
Close your eyes for we’re almost there

For you’re almost mine and soon we’ll find
Our paradise, paradise so rare
Close your eyes for we’re almost there