Thursday, March 15, 2012

1971: He's stupid

Here's another one of those playground songs that hung around for ages and refused to go away. Listen to those words: even the very first line 'what's e like, Mavis?' screams early Seventies.

Geezers, two-tone tonic strides, lay it on me, dance hall, fringe and buckle stompers, etc. It's so of the time. It does take me right back to the early days of school, when this kid-friendly, reggae-lite apparently skinhead classic could be heard everywhere, mostly people singing it in the playground. I don't remember ever seeing any footage of anyone performing it. Was it ever on TOTP?

It was a huge hit, so very well-known, but of course it's unlikely you'll hear it on the radio anymore because of the Jonathan King connection. Silly JK. Why did he have to go and do what he did? So many great songs there, never to be heard again except in the privacy of one's own home. Who is the singer? Who are those girls whose voices can be heard? I have a picture of them in my mind which is forever '71. I suppose I don't really want that image shattered.

But if we separate the rhyme from the crime, which in pop we have to do a lot, then we can enjoy this at its best. It reminds me of two things:

1. A plump, freckly neighbour called Jennifer Faulkner who smelled of liver, lived in a bungalow with external woodwork the colour of a Black Magic orange cream, had a scary brother with long blond hair and thick NHS specs, and whose father had a metal plate in his head after falling off a bus in the Sixties; and

2. Our new headmaster who came into class unannounced one day and did an impression of a girl in platform shoes smoking at a bus stop. We thought that was peculiar then. It's even more peculiar now.

What's he like, Mavis, indeed.


  1. You might find this interesting, Jon - also the comments below the video.

    I thought one of the girls might be Wendy Richard doing her 'Cam Artside' voice, but, apparently not.

  2. Reminds me of girls with 'Gypsy' haircuts and cork wedge platforms, applying Lip Potion outside Jean Jeanie in Ilford High Road.

    I heard a rumour that once the line 'and he looks me in the eye when he shoots' had been analysed for possible Naughty Meanings, the song was discreetly dropped from all playlists. Crafty old Johnathan King...