At my last chemotherapy session I was treated by a lovely nurse who quietly sang along with the background music playing on a golden oldies radio channel.
The nurse had a beautiful, tuneful voice and an extraordinary memory for the lyrics of the assorted pop hits of yesteryear.
It wasn’t long before I remembered Dominica-nica-nica and
The Singing Nun.
Jeanne-Paule Marie “Jeannine” Deckers aka The Singing Nun was a Belgian singer-songwriter and initially a member of the Dominican Order as Sister Luc-Gabrielle. She hit the top of the charts in 1963 with the release of “Dominique”.
Naturally, this lead onto the 1986 BBC TV drama series
The Singing Detective.
Written by Dennis Potter, the series starred Michael Gambon and was directed by Jon Amiel.
As well as its dark themes, the series is notable for its use of 1940s-era music, often incorporated into surreal musical numbers.
I can remember
The Singing Milkman
but don’t know who he was!
It turns out he was an English pop singer called Craig Douglas.
Born in 1941 as Terence Perkins and employed originally as a milkman, Craig Douglas hit the charts in 1959 with his recording of “Only Sixteen” which actually outsold Sam Cook’s version in the UK.
His breakthrough had come on The Six-Five Special, then the only real showcase for rock & roll on British television. Douglas was booked on the show the same week that Cliff Richard and Joe Brown appeared, but he made an impression even in their illustrious company. A few days later, he was presented with two huge sacks of fan mail from the performance. The Six-Five Special led Douglas to a recording contract and a string of successes. In addition to “Only Sixteen,” Douglas also charted very high with “A Teenager in Love,” “The Heart of a Teenage Girl,” “Pretty Blue Eyes,” and “When My Little Girl Is Smiling.”
Anyone who has heard “Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?”, will never forget the song and its singer-songwriter performer
The Singing Postman.
Allan Francis Smethurst was an English folk singer who earned his living as a postman for over a decade. As well as performing a musical accompaniment to his round, Smethurst submitted an audition tape to a BBC regional radio show, recorded some of his songs and signed a contract with EMI.
“Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?” won the 1966 Ivor Novello award for best novelty song of the year.
Unfortunately Smethurst was afflicted with stage fright and gave up his musical career in 1970. He died in 2000 at the Salvation Army Hostel in Grimsby where he’d lived for several years.