Thursday, 21 October 2010

Harry Weldon

My missus’s tightly bound, she’s all tightly bound Ultramarine

The early letters of Lowry have several references to music hall stars such as Stanley Lupino and Milton Hayes. We can only presume from the detail of the letters that Lowry was aware of these stars because he had seen them either on trips to local theatres or when he was on holiday on the Isle of Man or Devon. Lowry mentions several local theatres with music hall traditions in his works including the Argyle and Hippodrome Theatres in Birkenhead and the Olympia in Liverpool.

The above song is an unidentified one performed by Harry Weldon at the Derby Castle theatre in Douglas on the Isle of Man. This reference probably relates to a Lowry family holiday made in 1923 to the island.

Harry Weldon was a big star in music hall and variety, and first appeared in London in 1900, coining the catchphrase “S’No Use!” and creating a popular song from it. Harry Weldon initially came to fame as part of Fred Karno's Company when he played opposite Charlie Chaplin in the sketch "The Football Match". Harry Weldon then used the character of Stiffy, the Goal Keeper, as the mainstay of his solo act. Other characters developed including his boxing skit "The White Hope”. Apparently he cut a very strange figure with his centre-parted wig, eccentric clothes, eyes that always seemed to be shut and a voice of whistling sibilance. He had a unique style, and frequently used the conductor of the orchestra as an extra part in his performance. Harry Weldon's conversational style and his use of the absurd may have appealed to the young Lowry. He worked until he died in 1930 aged forty-nine.

Here is one of his performances:

You can hear some of his recording on a CD called The White Hope

You can hear one of Weldon's songs ''The Policeman' on a podcast here

You can see Harry's daughter Maisie performing impressions of her father below:

MAISIE WELDON (on sleeve as WELDOM) (issue title RIGHT TURN)

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