First performed by James Turnbull and Libby Burgess at the Barnes Festival on March 10th 2016.
The Flying Scotsman
One of my early passions was collecting train numbers. The nearest mainline station was Darlington and the highlight of a visit to the station was The Flying Scotsman, a non-stop express running between London and Edinburgh. As we stood on the footbridge we could hear the faint sound of the approaching train getting louder until eventually it roared beneath our feet and disappeared in the distance.
As its name implies, the banjolele is a hybrid instrument using the relatively simple tuning of the ukulele with the percussive sound of the banjo. I was prompted to write this piece after reading a story by PG Wodehouse, Thank You Jeeves, in which Bertie Wooster is evicted from a series of lodgings because of his insistence on practising the banjolele. Eventually even Jeeves, his faithful manservant leaves. I hope our audience is more forgiving.
This is a reworking of a theme which I used in the long-running TV series Midsomer Murders. In this version it depicts a retired dancer who is reminiscing about her career on stage.
Some years ago, Wally K Daly and myself were commissioned by Granada Television to write a musical about Margaret Kelly, better known as Miss Bluebell. At that time Bluebell was running The Lido, a famous Parisian nightclub. The main attraction at The Lido was a troupe of dancers called The Bluebell Girls and we were rigorous with our research into this aspect of the story. It was, as they say, tough but someone had to do it. This piece is reminiscent of that time. "Hoofers", as its name implies, is show business slang for dancers.
Recorded on the CD "Travelling Light" (Divine Art dda 25146) by Richard and Janet Simpson.