Saturday, 2 October 2010


It was another recent BBC radio broadcast that reminded me of one of the most absurdest recordings in my collection.

This strange little gem I inherited from my Grandfather, who would readily quote from it, in an impersonating manner, whenever an appropriate moment occurred; and considering the songs are about smoking, women and bonking your nut - a particular activity I must have performed often, as it seemed he was forever singing it at me - he had endless opportunity to do so.

The Singing Postman, aka Allan Smethurst, had a brief spell of popularity before the swinging sixties got going; tacked on to the end of the fad for folk, he adopted the most over the top of Norfolk accents; the most hyperbolic of dialects you'll ever hear to deliver his curious little ditties.
This is twisted folk like you've never heard before.

It's odd, there's hardly any trace of him now.
He has very little music available, and there seems to be hardly any retro interest.
I mean, compared to someone such as George Formby, who has endless amount of product available, or to make a comparison with a contemporary artist, someone such as Ivor Cutler, you'd think people would be crying out for this sort of thing; but the poor old Singing Postman doesn't seem to get a look in.

My theory about his unpopularity and lack of interest is not one that is strictly due to him being out of fashion, as the documentary kind of suggested - or, you may be thinking, due to him merely being shit - but, due to his songs being incredibly un-PC.
Just take the refrain from 'Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?' as an example:

Molly Windly
She smokes like a chimley

but she's my little nicotine gal.

And if there's one thing left in our often immoral but terribly judgmental world that is so wrong, so morally reprehensible to be absolutely, without question, entirely forbidden, then it's admiring and adoring someone because they smoke; because they have a tobacco habit.

Smoking just ain't sexy!
Right, kids....

He was thirty-eight when he cut this record - that's when thirty-eight really was middle aged - and despite it being his biggest seller, it wasn't long before he faded, and soon retired from the music business.

He became a rather tragic figure in his later life.
Having pissed all his money away, he for some reason refused to accept any more; turning down any royalties EMI tried to pay him.

He died in a Salvation Army hostel in 2000.

Here's a rather twee sleeve note that accompanied this release:

A don' moik em loik is anymoo

The Singing Postman - First Delivery (1966)

Come Along A Me
Moind Yer Hid Boy
Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?
A Miss From Diss

A rather crackly but well listenable to rip from vinyl @320kbs
Get Posted here


. said...

Aah, well, he went postal, didn't he?

I don't know if he's crap or not, but he certainly conforms to a peculiarly English type from this time that collectively and individually give me the creeps. Charlie Drake, Jimmy Clitheroe, and a whole slew of rainy-sunday-on-the-radio "entertainers" I'll be happy never to have to endure again. Still - it makes for a fascinating blog!

(Viv Stanshall - artist. The Singing Postman - singing postman.)

roy rocket said...

You're so right,.. There's definitely something rotten at the heart of English eccentricity; especially when the eccentricity merges with the persona/person.
Interesting you mention Jimmy Clitheroe - a recent favourite with my young daughter (BBC7 ran some shows), along with Steptoe and Son (she's got retro taste) - he was particularly odd.
Killed himself on the day of his mother's funeral...

Kenneth Anger didn't need to go to Hollywood to find Babylon.

Oops, starting to ramble...
Good to hear from you ., roy

. said...

I'm about to post a nasty-minded comment to you Billy Childish piece, so I think your happiness at hearing from me is going to be short-lived!

(Wilfrid Bramble (sp?) - Steptoe Senior - was a very nasty piece of work indeed. And Harry H. Corbett was tragically identical to his on-screen persona. I find all the great British TV comedy to have a bleak rotten-ness at its core, to the extent that I can't watch it any more. Steptoe, Hancock, Fawlty - these are characters in despair.)