Monday, June 13, 2011

1972: Er...

If I put a heading in here, I'd be giving the song away, seeing as it's Mouldy Old Dough and the only words are indeed mouldy, old and dough.

This honky tonk piano led knees-up pub singalong was a surprise hit in 1972, a surprise that is to everyone but me. Not that I was remotely aware of charts or anything aged seven, but I do remember this song very well, and it's imprinted in my mind like all the other bubblegum hits of the period. Child-friendly novelty stuff that caught on with the nation as a whole and has stood the test of time, albeit as a slice of can-you-believe-those-crazy-Seventies!

This was played at every kids party from its release right up until we were too old and too self-conscious to be bouncing around to plinky-plonky silliness played by - gasp!- old people. Lieutenant Pigeon were a motley bunch whose numbers included a Mrs Mills-alike, a man with a beard (mother and son, IIRC) and other bizarre specimens. It was apparently written about the introduction of decimal currency the year before by the men behind that kid's TV mainstays and non-hitmakers Staveley Makepeace, and I remember thinking it was ever so slightly rude and therefore must be sung at the top of one's voice.

After Desperate Dan dented the Top 20 to leave not a mark on anyone's soul, no more hits for the Pigeon were forthcoming, sadly, but I do own I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen, which is exactly as it should be. The bagpipe extravaganza that is Amazing Grace was the other big instrumental number one hit of the year, well-remembered by us as Grace was my grandma's name, so everyone chuckled whenever it was mentioned. Still do.

So it's November 1, 1972 and we're at a schoolfriend's seventh birthday party. This record is on a loop as we marvel at the father's train set, taking up an entire conservatory with town and country in miniature. We played what's the time Mr Wolf, ate cake from Paul's Patisserie (THE go-to place for party cakes, then and now) and got pear-shaped balloons to take home. It was All Saints Day we were told, it was dark and cold and so much fun. Nothing mouldy about it.

And that's how to spin out a split-second memory, TT.


  1. For some reason, I'd always assumed that it was "about" (in as much as a piano instrumental with a bloke occasionally shouting over it can be "about" something) actual dough. As in the stuff that bread is made from.

  2. I read a little while ago that Mum was very keen to get out on the road with the band, but as the blokes all had plenty of experience of 'what goes on tour', they thought it best not to expose her to it. She was as cool as a cucumber on TOTP, though - didn't look like she'd be easily shocked.

  3. I'm going to a 50th next month - Jackie loves her 70s trash (Glam/Eurovision/Disco etc); I'll insist that this is the first record played. Maybe she'll even throw a few shapes to it. Thanks for the memory JP.

  4. Is he seriously playing a tin whistle? Why are they wearing the contents of the year 1 playtime dressing up basket? And the audience are dancing to this?!

    The past truly is another country...

  5. Not a hit in Oz, I presume, Cocktails?

    And John, this is considered to be glam rock somehow, so it's a shoo-in for the party.

  6. Duly (albeit belatedly) noted.

  7. Had Tony Blackburn been attending elecution lessons before recording this intro?