Monday, 01 October 2012 17:22

It Just Occured to Me . . .: An Autobiographical Scrapbook by Humphrey Lyttelton Featured

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

It Just Occured to Me . . .: An Autobiographical Scrapbook
By Humphrey Lyttelton
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Anova Books (July 1, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1861059019
ISBN-13: 978-1861059017

Humphrey Lyttelton belongs to that section of the UK population (10%, is the generally accepted percentage, so I’m told) which, all these year’s on from Keir Hardie’s flat-cap, persists in laying claim to ownership of some 90% of UK national wealth. Not that Humph’s family is loaded. But certainly they are the sort of toffs for whom life without maids, nannies and unrestricted access to Hackney cabs would be quite unbearable, don’t-cha know?
As luck would have it, though, Humph turns out to be an all-round good egg who is inoffensively humorous as Frank Muir, destined to have a “good war” (WWII), and never has to do a day’s work in his life. That is to say, “a day’s work” as the other 90% of the UK population understands it.
Humph is never a free-loader, as such. It’s just that – well, Humph appears to become a cartoonist on the London Daily Mail and a member of a top jazz band simply for the asking.
‘Just turn up on the morrow, m’boy, and we’ll take it from there!’
Yeah, like as if! That is to say, “like as if” for the other 90% of us waiting cap-in-hand in the pouring rain of the great forelock-tugging outdoors.
Despite the revelation of such nepotic advantages, though, It Just Occurred to Me makes for entertaining reading, indeed, since the author himself, despite his cosseted existence, is certainly a man of parts.
Philologists and homespun philosophers will love this book, students of the 1950s UK social scene, too. As for jazz fans – well, there are countless anecdotes to cherish, here, featuring any number of jazzmen from Louis Armstrong to Artie Shaw. In addition to which there is all due reference, too, to the fact that Humphrey Lyttelton, it was, who penned the immortal ‘Bad Penny Blues’, one of the enduring jazz classics of the twentieth century.
How well I recall my own 10” shellac 78 rpm copy of ‘Bad Penny Blues’ (recently replaced, courtesy of eBay, albeit on 7” 45rpm and without – sob! – ‘Close Your Eyes’, on the B-side), yes, how well I recall playing that record on a Dansette record-player every Friday afternoon in the late-Fifties. Because ‘Bad Penny Blues’ was guaranteed to dispel at a stroke any headache engendered by previously-administered double doses of any subject on the school curriculum you may care to mention.
What I remember, too, is that ‘Bad Penny Blues’ was remarkable enough to have featured in the UK pop-music charts for six weeks in 1956, that it was the only jazz record John Lennon ever cared for, that it was subsequently plagiarised (perhaps unwittingly) by Paul McCartney for ‘Lady Madonna’. But get this, please do: ‘Sugar Sweet’ by Muddy Waters (‘I Can’t Call Her Sugar, Sugar Never Was So Sweet’), to my mind a dead-ringer for ‘Bad Penny Blues’, actually predates ‘Bad Penny Blues’ by a calendar year. (See Muddy Waters, Wikipedia.)
‘Who’s a naughty boy, then?’ as the similarly cosseted and notoriously nepotic Monty Python toffs used to enquire.
Notwithstanding which, I can still hear Humph’s muted trumpet interspersed with Stan Grieg’s tinkling ivories as I write.
Da, da, dip, doodle, dip, dip – flip that periwinkle – da, da, dip, doodle, dip, dip . . .
Godammit! Genius such as Humph’s deserves to be cosseted! Throw another peasant on the fire, David! Or, preferably, a Tory principle or two!
Reviewed by Bill Keeth
May 2010

Read 449 times Last modified on Sunday, 14 November 2021 19:10

Comments powered by CComment

Latest Posts

  • The Creative Industry Needs to Look at Things Differently Post Budget 2022
    On 29 October 2021, the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz tabled Budget 2022 in the Malaysian parliament. RM50 million has been allocated for the arts and culture industry. This comes after a year and a half after the entire industry came to an absolute standstill. With…
  • ‘The Covid Positives’ – life lessons learnt from the pandemic by Phanindra Ivatury
    After a long drawn battle with the biggest catastrophe in our living memory, global humanity is finally getting to see some quintessential ray of light at the end of the treacherous tunnel in the form of COVID-19 vaccines, currently being rolled out to all parts of the globe. A ‘COVID-19…
  • Chaos of Whole Books
    Is it possible to read several books at once? Aneeta Sundararaj finds out. When I was a child, my cousin used to boast that he could read four storybooks at a time. As an adult, when he invested in an e-Reader, he continued to boast that he could…
  • Writing for You? Or for Me?
    Writing for You? Or for Me? ‘You must always write with your reader in mind.’ This was one of the first pieces of advice that I received when I began my writing career. Honestly, I found this extremely hard to do because more often than not, I couldn’t picture my…
  • One Book That Changed My Writing Life
    My latest novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets was shortlisted for two categories in the Book Award 2020 organised by the National Library of Malaysia. When I reflected on the journey that this book has taken, I acknowledged the enormous influence of one of my all-time favourite books, Joseph Anton:…