Tuesday, 14 July 2009

My Canary's Got Circles Under Its Eyes ...

We couldn't possibly bid a bientot to the elegant eighth issue of Your Heart Out (which oh yes you can download for free in the library on the left) without sharing this little story.

There was at the end a bit of a Dennis Potter thing going on, with references to Pennies From Heaven and The Singing Detective, the music of the dancebands of the '30s, Al Bowlly, Lew Stone, and all that. Well, it's spooky how these happen. No sooner had the virtual presses begun to roll than we came across the excellent blog, Another Nickel In The Machine, which is officially our favourite place on the web, and a superbly timely post relating to the death of Al Bowlly where Mr Nickel In The Machine admits to a fascination with Bowlly that originated with the Potter plays. But that's not the 'alf of it.

On the day YHO8 hit the streets I was on a train into town when at Falconwood a group of senior gents got on. All very dapper, if a little red in the face. Judging by the black ties and bulging collars they were coming from the crematorium. They had obviously had a drink or two. They sat down near me. And before you knew it they had burst into song. On The Sunny Side Of The Street. Very nice singing too. A nice bit of harmonising. Even a touch of scat. Apologising for disturbing the peace, one of the party explained they'd just been seeing an old colleague off, and that he loved that song. Then before I could say anything they were off again. Singing something about a canary with circles under its eyes.

So just as things start to get surreal the train pulls into Kidbrooke and a young girl with an accordian and Eastern European gypsy get-up gets on. And oh yes my good companions can't believe their luck. "Come 'ere darling. Come and sit by us and give us a nice tune ..." She is not sure whether to be scared stiff or thank her lucky stars. But she soon realises they are genuine, and so she smiles a lot, plays a few sad old folk tunes while the old codgers wipe tears from their eyes. Then it's Lewisham, and she's off, several pounds richer.

The old boys incidentally were all ex-Thames river boat captains, and yes there really is a song called My Canary's Got Circles Under Its Eyes. Al Bowlly is among those that sang it, of course. And given the theme of this story here's an appropriate clip ...


  1. Absolutely bloody marvelous. And the Johnny Thunders clip. How about some tunes for us to download ?

  2. Thank ye kindly. Any requests?

  3. A mixture of Johnny Thunders and Al Bowlly
    might be an interesting if unlikely pairing.