You’ll never get nowhere if you’re too hasty
Here’s a question for you: which singer had two top ten hits (and a third in the top thirty) in 1962 all produced by George Martin (clue; not one of The Beatles)?
I could add some extra clues and, perhaps, yesterday they would have helped some-but-not-all of you, guess the name. However, since his death was announced this morning the explosion of tributes to him and his career means you would have to be something of a troglodyte not to know of whom I speak.
Yep, Bernard Cribbins is the answer (aka ‘Perks’ the station porter in the original Railway Children film and star of many other productions). I shan’t repeat here what has been said elsewhere, but I will reinforce the thread that states what a lovely man he was.
As a 12 or 13 year old schoolboy (circa 1970/71) and a keen angler, my English teacher had asked everyone in my class to write to a famous person with whom they shared a hobby.
I wrote to Bernard Cribbins, telling him that I’d heard he was a keen angler and could he give me any tips. I didn’t expect a reply, but I did receive one. Just a short handwritten note telling me he that he was glad that I liked fishing, wishing me ‘tightlines’ and his tip was “don’t fall in”. I was one of the very few, if not the only pupil, that got a reply from their ‘famous person’. I don’t know what happened to it, but I wish I’d kept it safe.
Later in life, one of his top ten hits (his were all novelty songs), Hole in the Ground, became a favourite that Firstborn and I regularly belted out (we tried the same with his other hit, Right Said Fred, but could never remember the words beyond the first verse).
It was a delight to see his resurgence as the country’s favourite grandad in Dr Who although he had never really disappeared from public performance. I shall certainly look out for him when he appears in the Dr Who 60th anniversary episode(s).
Here’s the limerick:
The actor that sang “Right said Fred”
And voiced all the Wombles is dead
It looks like he’s found
His “Hole in the Ground”
As he’s finally reached life’s railhead.
Postscript#1: Cribbins’ third musical ‘hit’ in 1962 (Gossip Calypso) is much less well known than either Right Said Fred or Hole in the Ground. It joined the post-Windrush episode of calypso cultural appropriation of that era.
What set Cribbins’ song apart from those of, say, Lance Percival is the latter’s attempt to assume a mock-Caribbean accent when singing; the vocal equivalent of ‘blacking up’. Cribbins song was all Cockney (or as Cockney as a northerner could effect) without a single Caribbean overtone in sound or word. Still, it certainly wouldn’t be made today as the ‘gossiping women’ trope would be widely deprecated.
Postscript#2: Here’s a birthday/Christmas prezzie hint!