MABEL, Aunty (Nothing to say on Arthur) : “How’s Aunty Mabel?” the singer asks, but seeing as the response is the the ritualistic “Nothing to say.” I guess we’ll never know.
MACCIONI, Alvaro (Where are they now? on PA1) : Tuscan proprietor of Alvaro’s on the Kings Road, Chelsea, very much the ‘in’ place to be at a significant stage in the history of the phenomenon known as ‘Swinging London’. Its phone number was closely guarded. He was a figure of some culinary import in the spread of the Italian food in the UK. Briefly returned to Italy but couldn’t keep away. Opened La Famiglia in Worlds End, Chelsea, in 1975 which remains a celeb haunt of good reputation. It was written up by Jay Rayner in The Observer, July 2002, from which the following quote is lifted. ‘In 1966 at Alvaro’s we had sun-dried tomatoes on the menu,’ he says. ‘I knew what they were because my wife is Sicilian. My biggest problem, though, was getting the customers to understand. Sun-dried tomatoes? They would say to me: What are these, old tomatoes? My job was to educate people.’ Published a book, ‘Alvaro’s Mamma Toscana: The Authentic Tuscan Cookbook’ in 2000.
McCOY, The real (Wonderboy) : nineteenth century African-American inventor, the son of slaves who escaped to freedom in Canada on the underground railroad. As it happens his first and major invention enabled self-lubrication on locomotives on a real railway, while the train was still in motion. Real name: Elijah McCoy.
McQUEEN, Steve (Daylight on PA1) : strange how the theme tune from ‘The great escape’ (him on the motorbike) has become an anthem for Followers of the English national football team who don’t actually achieve much as a rule, let alone escape. For some the epitome of cool … you know, the car chase in Bullitt on the streets of San Francisco. Probably more than is healthy on the web already.
MacRAE, Gordon (Oklahoma USA on MH) : born Albert Gordon MacRae in March 1921, East Orange, New Jersey. Made five films with Doris Day including ‘Tea for two’ before taking the male leads in the movie musicals that the Davies family loved, ‘Carousel’ (1956) and … ‘Oklahoma’ (1955), both of the latter co-starring Shirley Jones. Seemingly wholesome and handsome, like they don’t really make ’em anymore, he was done for drunk driving while making ‘Carousel’ but later, as they say, conquered his alcoholism. Did a celebrated version of ‘America the beautiful’ on the Ed Sullivan Show in July 1969. Even appeared as a sherriff in an episode of McCloud in 1974. Died 1986.
A lot of the time, ‘Oklahoma USA’ is my favourite Kinks song and never out of my Top 5. This is the special relationship- an Atlantic Alliance – in the soul of ’50s Britain. I rhapsodise about the impact the film must have had in grey old Muswell Hill elsewhere in the Shirley Jones entry. Escapology from the mundane. Just look at Richard Rodgers’s dazzling lyrics to ‘The surrey with the fringe on top’ (sung by McRae) and if you’ve never heard it, seek it out now. Apologies for breakin’ copyright, but I’m just tryin’ t’ spread the word-
“When I take you out, tonight, with me/Honey, here’s the way it’s goin’ to be / You will set behind a team of snow white horses /In the slickest gig you ever see!
Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry / When I take you out in the surrey /When I take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top!
Watch that fringe and see how it flutters /When I drive them high steppin’ strutters/Nosey pokes’ll peek thru’ their shutters and their eyes will pop!
The wheels are yeller, the upholstery’s brown /The dashboard’s genuine leather /With isinglass curtains y’ can roll right down /In case there’s a change in the weather.
Two bright sidelight’s winkin’ and blinkin’ /Ain’t no finer rig I’m a-thinkin’ /You c’n keep your rig if you’re thinkin’ ‘at I’d keer to swap /Fer that shiny, little surrey with the fringe on the top!
All the world’ll fly in a flurry /When I take you out in the surrey /When I take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top!
When we hit that road, hell fer leather /Cats and dogs’ll dance in the heather /Birds and frogs’ll sing all together and the toads will hop!
The wind’ll whistle as we rattle along /The cows’ll moo in the clover /The river will ripple out a whispered song /And whisper it over and over:
Don’t you wisht y’d go on forever? /Don’t you wisht y’d go on forever? /Don’t you wisht y’d go on forever and ‘ud never stop /In that shiny, little surrey with the fringe on the top!
I can see the stars gettin’ blurry /When we drive back home in the surrey / Drivin’ slowly home in the surrey with the fringe on top!
I can feel the day gettin’ older /Feel a sleepy head on my shoulder / Noddin’, droopin’ close to my shoulder, till it falls kerplop!
The sun is swimmin’ on the rim of a hill /The moon is takin’ a header /And jist as I’m thinkin’ all the earth is still /A lark’ll wake up in the medder (meadow).
Hush, you bird, my baby’s a-sleepin’! /Maybe got a dream worth a-keepin’ /Whoa! you team, and jist keep a-creepin’ at a slow clip clop /Don’t you hurry with the surrey with the fringe on the top! “
Now that, my friends, is a lyric!
MADONNA (Afternoon tea on SE) : no, sorry, but wash your ears out. Was she even born when this was written? Ray has never been strong on Catholic iconography – it’s Donna, as in “My Donna”. Probably not Ritchie Valens’ Donna either. Oh.
MAD SCIENTIST : links up with the victorious Mr Black at the end of Preservation Act to create an artificial man, their final solution. Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave new world’, no doubt studied at school, was ever one of Ray’s social and political touchstones.
The MAN WHO … says “Shot of a lifetime” (TOTP on LVP&TMPt1) is Harry Goodwin, who was the resident stills photographer for the BBC-TV chart show ‘Top of the pops’ from 1964 (the Rolling Stones were the first band to appear) until 1973. The V&A put an exhibition of his work from this gig together in 2010 and it may continue as a travelling show subsequently. Though it was called ‘My Generation: the Glory years of British rock’ , Harry was much older than most of his subjects, having been born in Manchester in 1924. Not having seen the exhibition (or its accompanying book) I can’t say if the Kinks are actually included among the 200 photos, but he certainly would have snapped them. There was an interview from The Independent when the show opened.
MANTOVANI (Prince of the punks) : no, not Roberto Mantovani (1854 – 1933), Italian geologist and violinist and propounder of an early theory of continental drift. This is Annunzio Paolo Mantovani (1905 – 1980), popular conductor and entertainer in the “light orchestral” style. He is probably more associated with the light orchestra genre than any other person (it says here on Wikipedia). This was the sort of marshmallow stuff my generation’s mum and dad liked if you were unlucky. You couldn’t escape it on the radio in the days before rock and roll. He was born in Venice, Italy and his father had a background in classical music. The family moved to England in 1912. After graduation from music school he formed his own orchestra, which played in and around Birmingham and by the time World War II broke out, his orchestra was one of the most popular in England. He worked with Noel Coward in musical theatre too. Post-war he concentrated on recording, and eventually gave up live performance altogether. He worked with arranger and composer Ronnie Binge, who developed the distinctive “cascading strings” sound. The technique (it says here) aimed to replicate, by arrangement alone, the echo experienced in venues such as cathedrals, in an echo-free environment. It cretainly has its moments (see below). His records were regularly used in stores selling the new-fangled hi-fi stereo systems, being among the first actually produced and arranged for stereo reproduction. He was big in the US too, having a number 1 album with ‘Film encores’ in 1957. The ‘Mantovani Fan Website‘ claims to be one of the largest on the web and says there are 759 videos on YouTube, so you have no excuse if you want to hear something. As it happens, against all the odds, his recording of the song ‘Charmaine’ features elsewhere on this website, on the Glimpses page, as one of my glimpses of the infinite. (29.06.08)
MARGARET (Dear Margaret on TV) : see THATCHER
MARILYN, Dearest (Celluloid heroes on EIS) : see MONROE, Marilyn
MARINA, Princess (She bought a hat like Princess Marina on Arthur) : That’s Her Royal Highness Princess Marina of Greece, Duchess of Kent to you, peasant. Born 1906, the daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and the Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna Romanov of Russia. She was married to one of George V’s sons (the fifth of the fifth in fact), George Edward Alexander Windsor, Duke of Kent (born Sandringham 1902), at Westminster Abbey in 1934. I say ‘was married to’ … Kitty Kelley in ‘The Royals’ (US: Warner, 1997 – and never published in the UK) suggests it was, as was not unusual in royal circles, effectively an arranged marriage between good looking but impoverished European royalty and a homosexual younger son of the reigning monarch. She was a bit of a fashion plate (hence the famous hats) and opened a hospital in East Afica named after her. They had three kids who are cousins to both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip: Edward George Nicholas Patrick Windsor, Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel Windsor, and Michael George Charles Franklin (after godfather FDR!) Windsor. The latter married Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, daughter of Austrian nobility, who is confusingly known as Princess Michael of Kent, in 1978. At the time he was eighth in line to the throne but he gave up that right so that he could marry, she being a Catholic; their children, at least, had shorter names. Roll on the English republic, say I. Princess Marina died in 1968.
MARY, Aunt (Long tall Sally) : partner John was playing away with Long Tall Sally. It is not clear if the singer did indeed go through with his threat to tell her what John was up to.
MERRY MEN, The (Long distance on SOC): this is the band and the production team – who also get individual mentions – on the February, 1982 tour of Australia and Japan. An allusion to Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men … who hung out in Sherwood Forest and robbed the rich and gave to the poor, allegedly, according to English legend.
MILLER, Max (Fortis Green) : ‘blue’ English stand up comedian, prince of the double entendre, one of the most successful variety and late music hall performers of the ’30s, 40s and ’50s. Aka ‘The Cheeky Chappie’, but born as Thomas Henry Sargent, 1894, Brighton. Where on May Day 2005, opposite the Theatre Royal, was unveiled a lifesize statue of the man, sculpted by Peter Webster. Which just goes to show how time changes everything. Dismissed as beyond the pale in his own time – his radio appearances were limited because of the nature of much of his material, effectively banned by the BBC for 5 years at one stage – the audience never quite knew how far he was going to go, which was half the fun. “I got two books, a white book and a blue book. And by that you can gather I got two sorts of stories,” he would say. It can all seem a bit tame these days, but his success was down to his delivery and timing (it says here). Try this: “I was walking along this narrow mountain pass – so narrow that nobody else could pass you, when I saw a beautiful blonde walking towards me. A beautiful blonde with not a stitch on, yes, not a stitch on, lady. Cor blimey, I didn’t know whether to toss myself off or block her passage.” Thomas Sargent left school at 12 and realised he had a talent for entertaining serving in the army in the First World War. After odds and sods gigs he started learning his new trade in earnest when he joined a concert party on the Brighton sea front as a song and dance man.. As Max Miller he would appear in a trademark flower patterned suit with plus fours, a jauntily tilted trilby hat and co-respondent shoes, a gently spivvish look adopted by Ray Davies for Mr Flash in ‘Preservation Act’ as portrayed on the cover of the second album. His signature tune, ‘Mary from the dairy’ told of his designs on said Mary by an old millstream where previously he had successfully courted one Nellie Dean, a neat nod to his craft’s history. Nice quote to go out on: “I much prefer a retired bus driver to anybody in show business.”
A lot of the above is shamelessly lifted from The Max Miller Appreciation Society website, from where you can also find details of how to purchase ‘Max Miller’s blue joke book’ if that tickles your fancy. (Not to be confused with Max Wall, as I was guilty of until the error of my ways was politely and informatively pointed out to me by one of the rare visitors (averaging 3 a day when I wrote this, pre WordPress) to this site.)
Max was one of the comedians (along with Lenny Bruce) featured on Peter Blake’s Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles album cover. He’s lower down on the left hand side with the second biggest white hat, above the wax dummies of John Lennon and George Harrison.
MINDLESS CHILD OF MOTHERHOOD : see Dave DAVIES? No, it’s Sue, or indeed Susannah, who’s still alive. The story is to be found in Dave’s ‘Kink’. He got her pregnant at school, their parents conspired to split them up. In ‘Kink’ he tells of meeting her again many many more years on. In response to my suggestion that it was refreshing that he didn’t sleep with her on the occasion of this touching reunion, Jill Brand (I think it was … forgive if I take your name in vain) said she was just relieved he didn’t sleep with her daughter.
MISSING PERSON (Missing persons on WOM) : Ray seems to have written a fair amount of WOM with stories taken from the news media.
MISSUS or MRS, MISTER or MR, as in Mr.Songbird et al are distributed throughout the sequence by their surnames, no matter how spurious. So …. Mr. Songbird see SONGBIRD etc.
MONICA (Monica on VGPS) : I imagine her with a smile like the Mona Lisa. “She’ll do something wrong and prove to you she is right”. An enigma, she’s unwinnable but the singer doesn’t want to lose her. And apparently she glows at night. Alternatively she’s a prostitute. “I think Ray said he wrote it about a prostitute from Montreal he met while touring” offered Chris Friedrich on KPS Digest 1951, while Olga (Kinks fans will know Olga) reported in KPS 1952 that when she was young Pete Quaife told her it was about a prostitute hoping to shock her; apparently he failed.
MONROE, Marilyn (Celluloid heroes on EIS) : you are either very young and/or have lived a very sheltered life if you need to look this one up. Not the original, but one of the definitive dumb blondes. Iconic Hollywood star, slept with JFK and his brother, among many many others. Died in mysterious circumstances or not as the case may be. Whatever, made a mess of her life. If I’d been young enough I think I would have preferred Jane Russell. Or Rita Hayworth. But she’s the one featured on Peter Blake’s Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles album cover, pretty much centre, second row down, above the real Ringo Starr (as opposed to his wax dummy); that’s the right eye of Naked Lunch author William S.Burroughs you can see there too.
MONTGOMERY, Mr. (Mr.Churchill says on Arthur) : Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, later 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, popularly known as Monty of Alamein. 1887-1976. Commanded the British Eighth Army in North Africa (cue thousands of photos in the family archives of servicemen relaxing by the Nile, like … my dad) and lead the Allied armies in Europe from 1944; he received the German surrender in 1945. His military reputation has risen and fallen over the years; recent biographies suggest a certain homosexual undercurrent to his life despite his widely being quoted as contributing, “This sort of thing may be tolerated by the French, but we’re British – thank God” in a debate in the House of Lords on the 1967 bill legalising homosexuality.
MOORE, Mary Tyler (It on OFTR): seen here with the man with the worst English accent ever perpetrated on the movie going public (Dick van Dyke in ‘Mary Poppins’). 1961-66 she was his wife in a very funny early American sitcom – ‘The Dick van Dyke show’ – and subsequently starred in her own innovatory show, ‘The Mary Tyler Moore show’ (1970-77) with Ed Asner as her boss. She then had a distinguished career as a television boss (MTM Enerprises – Lou Grant, Hill street Blues, St Elsewhere et al). There’s plenty of deserved adulatory coverage on the web. Sad to say, she also features on various celeb plastic surgery websites looking somewhat, um, stretched.
MOORE, Roger (Daylight on PA1) : an actor famed for an expressive eyebrow and otherwise wooden demeanour and technique. As a suave Saab driver he was great as The Saint on the telly (1962-1970) but his replacing Sean Connery as James Bond (Live and let die – 1973) coincided with when those films got very silly indeed.
MOORE, Thomas (London song on Storyteller): or is it Thomas More? Probably, given Moore was an Irish poet (1779-1852), his most lasting work the song ‘Minstrel boy’. So … move your eyes down the page.
MOPP, Mrs. (VGPS on VGPS) : character from the popular UK radio show ‘ITMA’ which ran from July 1939 until January 1949. ITMA stood for “It’s that man again” – the man in the show being comedian Tommy Handley who along with writer Ted Kavanagh created the show, though the phrase was originally applied by newspapers to Adolf Hitler as his deeds began to impact on Europe, and the initials reflected the growing use of acronyms as war loomed; the show ceased with the sudden death of Hanley. You can find more about it here. One way or another the show played a part of some significance in the war effort at home, as debunker, temporary diversion and morale builder. It changed location from series to series, including a period in the seaside town of Foaming-at-the-Mouth and was loaded with characters with catchphrases, one of whom was Mrs Mopp. She first appeared as the office cleaner of the Mayor of Foaming in October of 1941, played by Dorothy Summers. Dusting the mayor’s dado (Chambers: “a deep border of wood along the lower part of the walls of a room” or, in classical architecture, “the cubic block forming the body of a pedastal”) with a lot of clattering of bucket and brush, “Can I do you now, sir?” was one of the things she said, “TTFN” (Ta ta for now) another. The name soon became generic for the job of cleaner. She later progressed to a series of her own, ‘The private life of Mrs Mopp’ in 1946 but it appears to have disappeared almost wihout trace (or at least Google reveals nothing more than you find related here).
Tommy Handley‘s portrait is featured on Peter Blake’s Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles album cover, just to the left (our left) of Marilyn Monroe, and it can only be there because of ITMA.
MORE, Thomas (London song on Storyteller): or is it Thomas Moore? Definitely not. More (1478-1535) became a saint in 1935. London born politician and writer. As one of London’s two under-sherriffs he gained a reputation for impartiality and patronage of the poor; he effectively quelled the mob which rose up against London’s foreign residents in 1517. Rose in prominence as a chum of Henry VIII’s but broke with him over the Engl;ish Reformation, refusing to acknowledge the king as head of the church, for which he was imprisoned in the Tower of London and then executed. His most famous piece of writing was ‘Utopia’ (1516) – good place / no place – in which he sketched out an idea of a perfect commonweal – the “happy island state where all things are held in common, gold is despised and the people live communally” – about which he is ambiguous. Ian Ousby’s ‘Cambridge guide to literature in English’ (1993) says, “It has been seen as a programme for an ideal state, a contemplative vision of the ideal [“imagine!”], a satirical look at contemporary European society, and a humanist jeu d’esprit”. You pays your money and you takes your choice. Like Thomas A Becket he’s had pubs named after him.
MORGAN, Arthur : see ARTHUR (1)
MORIARTY (VGPS on VGPS) : fictional sinister European criminal mastermind, arch-enemy of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Famously met his death with Holmes in a dramatic struggle at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland; Conan Doyle was anxious to rid himself of the commercial treadmill he had created with Holmes. Who later re-emerged from the foaming waters, or rather was resurrected, for a comeback tour; money doesn’t talk it swears. Despite his prominence in the ‘legend’, Moriarty only actually appears a couple of stories, while getting a namecheck in a few others.
MOTHER RILEY (VGPS on VGPS) :see RILEY
MOUNTBATTEN, Mr (Mr.Churchill says on Arthur) : that’s Earl Mountbatten of Burma KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC (1900-1979) to you, sonny. Born simple Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, uncle of QE2’s consort, Prince Philip. Admiral in the Royal Navy, he became Commander in Chief of the British forces in south east Asia in 1943. Played a significant role in the granting of India’s independence in 1948. Prince Charles’ favourite uncle. Assassinated at sea by the IRA.
MUSSOLINI, Benito (Powerman on LVPATM) : Italian fascist dictator – ‘Il Duce’ – 1923-1943. Hitler’s major ally in the Europe. Born 1883, executed 1945 and famously hung upside down from a lamp post by his own people. Was supposed to have made the trains run on time.