EDEN, Anthony (She bought a hat like Princess Marina on Arthur) : dapper English politician who eventually succeeded Winston Churchill as Prime Minister in 1955 just in time to make a dreadful shambles of the Suez affair, but originally famous for wearing a hat as Foreign Secretary as the danger of Hitler grew in the ’30s. That could probably be better and more fairly paraphrased. He was at Chamberlain’s side when they came back from Germany after having had a chat with Hitler and making that famous speech, “I have in my hands a piece of paper…” which they claimed meant there wasn’t going to be a war, but actually proved not to be worth the paper it was written on. Many think this failure of appeasement – the futility of backing down to a dictator as a longer term tactic – fuelled his Suez folly later. The actual hat was a Homburg, that very same chapeau honoured in song by Procul Harum in what is usually the second Procul Harum song anyone can remember if indeed they can remember a Procul Harum song other than ‘Whiter shade of pale’. The picture and description below come courtesy of those wonderful folks at The Village Hat Shop (nice resonance here, is it not?) who have a mighty fine website.
” From hat manufactured at Bad Homburg, Germany. Soft, elegant, felt hat with tapered, creased crown and rolled brim that had a bound edge. British version made popular by the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII of England from 1901 to 1910, who went to Germany for the spa. Popularity of the hat revived in the 1930’s the 1940’s and the 1950’s … Dwight D. Eisenhower wore it for his inauguration as President of the United States in 1953. ”
ELECTRIC DWARF (Long distance on SOC) : wishes he was 6 feet tall. For a long time I thought he’d just stumbled in from Bob Dylan’s imagin-ation but lost something on the journey. Then I thought there was an outside possibility it was a nod to Marc Bolan, who wasn’t the tallest of chaps, but is to be forgiven a lot for ‘Twentieth century boy’. But now, after discussion on the KPS web digest, I know it’s Jim Rodford, bassist of this parish at that time. The track is a Dylan pastiche that has always given me a great deal of pleasure, for what it’s worth.
FANCY (Fancy on FTF): not a clue. Nor should I have, given that it now transpires that I haven’t been listening properly down all these days. Seems it’s not a special person at all. Re-reading Ray’s book ‘X-Ray’ it would appear that it’s an abstract notion, about living in the imagination, reflecting the period after sister Rene’s death on the dance floor, when he withdrew into himself to a degree that worried teachers and family . By rights then, I should just eliminate the entry, plain and simple. However, others may be operating under the same misapprehension, so I’ll let it lie.
FANCY DAN (Stand up on OPL) : “Jack the Lad has become Oscar Wilde” in one verse, in another he’s been downgraded to Fancy Dan. Someone who dresses up a bit smart for his circumstances, always putting on … sartorial airs. Turning up at the dog track in a Roller, say. With even less of an etymology than the aforementioned Jack.
FAT FLABBY ANNIE (Skin and bone on MH) : see ANNIE
FAT OLD UNCLE CHARLIE (Picture book on VGPS) : see CHARLIE if you must, but don’t hold your breath
FATHER CHRISTMAS (Father Christmas single 1977, bonus track on Misfits reissue) : an astronaut on a reindeer fuelled UFO. A personal indulgence: I was successful in a job interview as winter drew in, early ’90s, and without missing a beat the new boss congratulated me, offered me the job and invited me to be their Father Christmas – he traditionally turned up at a well attended Story Time there – that year. It was obviously an offer I could not refuse and I dreaded it, my thespian experience being effectively in the chorus of ‘Trial by jury’ and as Rosencrantz or Guildenstern (can’t remember) in ‘Hamlet’ way back in school days. I did it for three years and gradually relaxed into the role, the secret being that you have to be really, really, bad to dispel the magic. That the kids bring with them. It was humbling, and some of the magic rubbed off.
Christmas 2005 we went and saw the Albion Christmas Band with the grand old man of English folk (or one of ’em) Ashley Hutchings. The melodeon player recited something about the physics of Santa Claus’s present giving travels which made us laugh. Turns out to be one of the staples of internet (and xerox) humour. You can find it on the ‘Bits and pieces’ page on this site.
FERLINGHETTI, Lawrence (Art school babe on Storyteller) : definitely a name to drop, known to most aspirant ‘60s Brit beats through the fifth volume of the inspirational Penguin Modern Poets series, where he shared the pages with Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. I am distressed to discover I no longer seem to have the copy that served me so well all those years ago. Born 1920, Ferlinghetti was a major beat player, appearing as Larry O’Hara in Jack Kerouac’s “The subterraneans” and Lorenzo Monsanto in “Big Sur” though not in “On the road.” He was the proprietor of the world renowned City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, from where he first published Ginsberg’s “Howl” as No.4 in the Pocket Poets Series, with its classic black and white cover. I do still have my copy of that.
FIELDING, Henry (A well bred Englishman from 80 days) : early English novelist. I was made to read ‘Joseph Andrews’ for A levels at school and didn’t regret it. A very funny man. ‘Tom Jones’ was his big book, literally and metaphorically. Cue reference to Tony Richardson’s 1963 movie.
FINKLE, Julie (The ballad of Julie Finkle on Storyteller): an enigma. She floats in and out of the book ‘X-Ray’. She’s variously a muse, a female friend, a lover, a confidante; sometimes the relationship is even pretty much platonic. At one stage, in discussing the genesis of ‘Waterloo sunset’ and what it means to him, Ray talks of, “the imaginary Julie, who suddenly symbolised England”. In introducing the song Ray says she was ” … really a mixture of lots of different people. There’s always a Julie Finkle in the audience. Maybe she’s imaginary.” The song posits a definite post-Davies existence for her (a biker from Stoke, a banker from Bolton). Or does it? Earlier she has been “a symbol of all that I believe in”. “Ah, my mystery …”, he sings.
FISH, Mr (Where are they now? on PA1) : Swinging London and all that – and like Mr Chow, Michael to his mother. Opened ‘Mr.Fish’ at 17 Clifford St, London W1 in 1966 – just in time for Christmas, says his friend Ossie Clarke, with whom he stayed in touch – unlike a lot of Ossie’s chums – to the end. Fashion designer who made his name for ‘kipper’ ties amongst other male attire. Also responsible for Mick Jagger’s frilly white outfit at the July 1969 Hyde Park gig – the one where he released the butterflies and quoted Shelley in memory of the recently sacked and even more recently deceased Brian Jones. Described by gig organiser Peter Jenner as “the most embarrassing dress anybody has ever worn” (Uncut, Aug 2013) it had originally been made for Sammy Davis Jnr. Michael Fish also designed the frock coat David Bowie wore for on the The man who sold the world LP sleeve.
FLASH: one of the leading protagonists, along with his rival Mr.Black, in Preservation Act. His schooldays were revisited in ‘Schoolboys in disgrace’, wherein his experiences are not a million miles away from those described by Dave Davies in ‘Kink’.
FLYNN, Errol (Oklahoma USA on MH) : swashbuckler and rake of the Hollywood parish. For many, his portrayal of Robin Hood is the one that springs to mind. Hellraising buddy of David Niven (see his ‘The moon’s a balloon’). The phrase “In like Flynn” has its origins in his legendary pulling power and his acquittal on a statutory rape charge in 1942.. Possessor of a legendary todger. Indeed, put ‘Errol Flynn’ into the search engine used by urbanlegends.com and it asks you, “Did you mean Errol Flynn’s penis?” The tale is related by Truman Capote, as told to him by Marilyn Monroe, of Flynn whipping it out at a party and playing ‘The star spangled banner’ and/or ‘You are my sunshine’ on the piano therewith; this is recorded in ‘A beautiful child’ in Capote’s 1980 collection ‘Music for chameleons’. “My problem is reconciling my net income with my gross habits,” is one of Flynn’s that regularly gets into dictionaries of quotations. He was Australian, born 1909 in Hobart Tasmania, made over 50 films starting in 1933, but didn’t live as many years, dying in 1959 of a heart attack. Autobiography : ‘My wicked wicked ways.’
FOGG, Phileas (80 days) : the lead character in Ray Davies’ musical, as he is in the book Ray based it upon, Frenchman Jules Verne’s ‘Around the world in 80 days.’ Chapter One gives you his background as an Englishman. You can read it here, a charming reproduction with illustrations of the 1873 translation of the book, courtesy of the splendid Project Gutenberg.
FRANK, Uncle (Fortis Green on BUG) : “tellin’ stories from the war”.
FREE (The road on RL) : had their moments in the early and mid-70s, Paul Rodgers lead singer. ‘All right now‘ never fails to get a response from the limbs of gentlemen of a certain age. I’ve always liked their ‘My brother Jake‘ – a lovely poignancy.
FREUD, Sigmund (National health on LB) : or at least I presume it is the father of psychoanalysis and as such the inventor of the concept of penis envy, which in his terms was one of the problems with women, to whom Ray refers. Groundbreaking in his time, pretty much very old hat these days. Like Sherlock Holmes, a cocaine user. I’m more of a Jung man myself. Carl Gustav to you, sir. As it happens, both are featured on Peter Blake’s Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles album cover collage, though Sigmund’s is the least recognisable because mostly hidden image in the whole assembly; I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t documented. He’s the white-haired gent to the left (our left) of the dresser’s dummy with the red and yellow striped hat in the second row down, below Bob Dylan and above Laurence of Arabia in arab head gear. His once buddy Carl fares much better – top row, betweixt W.C.Fields and Edgar Allan Poe.
FRUIT & VEG MAN, The (Working man’s cafe on WMC) : greengrocer, usually more vegetables than fruit, wares displayed outside the shop on the street front. A specialist. Now more likely to be found in a market than on a high street. Not really a working man either, more your family business or small business. Existence threatened by the big supermarkets, hence the nostalgia over his absence in the song.
FU MANCHU (VGPS on VGPS) (London song on Storyteller): on the face of it, not exactly a candidate for preservation. Like Moriarty, a literary villain, the creation of a Birmingham born journalist and of Irish parentage – Sax Rohmer (1883-1959) – who claimed to have found the model for him in London. This Chinese criminal genius and world domination conspirator had a big hand in reinforcing the unfortunate racial stereotype of the sinister oriental. First appeared in a short story of 1912 and in a novel as late as 1959. His fictional nemesis was the redoubtable Sir Dennis Nayland Smith, but nobody remembers him. Rohmer numbered Houdini among his chums and also wrote verse and music for the music halls.