Regular readers will know that, come Hallowe’en, we like nothing better than dusting off our old ten-inchers and slipping our needle into the groove one more time. In the past we’ve had Leslie Sarony, Cyril Smith and George Formby, amongst others, and this year, we’re with the great Stanley Holloway (1890-1982), actor, singer and monologist.
We meet him in the latter capacity (though he does break into a bit of singing towards the end), with a lugubrious account of a funeral for which the chief mourner turns up in the inappropriate footwear of the title. He looks like a ‘bookmaker’s clerk,’ is the general consensus, as he fails to observe the proper etiquette of death, though the real reason for such a fashion faux-pas only emerges halfway through. I don’t know when this was recorded, but the always excellent EMGColonel on YouTube dates it to c. 1935, and his word’s good enough for me.
The song was written by R.P. Weston and Bert Lee. Much of Weston’s best-known work was with other writers (‘What a Mouth’, ‘I’m Henry VIII I Am’, ‘When Father Papered the Parlour’), but Weston and Lee wrote some big hits together, including ‘With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm’, while R.P.’s son, Harris Weston, collaborated with Lee on ‘Knees Up, Mother Brown’.